Monday, April 18, 2011


Using my lovely newspaper starter pots I planted a variety of seeds back on April 03, 2011. They are now plants!

So far both types of peas, the Swiss chard, Chocolate Cherry tomatoes and Stupice tomatoes are growing rapidly and I am eyeing my garden with concern. Once I start planting, I always realize that it is not as large as I think it is.

Mind you, I can stuff quite a few plants into it, but I may have gone slightly overboard (as I do every year). I will end up planting tomatoes in large pots and peas along the fence line and trade a few with friends. That is the lovely part of gardens, in truth you can never really have too many plants, you will always find a place for them.

I came home from work the other day to find that I had left my oven broiler on all day. I store my cast iron skillets in the oven and, sadly, the lovely patina and seasoning that I have worked into them for the last dozen years had all been turned to soot! It broke my heart!

Once that happens to cast iron, you just have to start all over again. Still wearing my office clothes, I started scrubbing the sooty patches and rust spots out with steel wool and a steel brush. Once the seasoning gets burnt out of pan it opens up the cast iron to rust immediately. It's like it sucks the oxidation right into the metal instantly. You have to scrub out the left over seasoning, otherwise it makes the cooking surface uneven, and of course no one wants to taste rust. Scrub the pan inside and out. Make sure to remove the seasoning from the outside of the pan as well.

Doing it this way is labor intensive, but I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I get uncommon jobs, like scrubbing cast iron skillets, done. Go figure.

Once you have got the surface well cleaned, wipe the surface clean with a just barely damp cloth. Make sure all the residue is wiped out. Otherwise, the first few things cooked in the pan will be black. After you have made sure to wipe the skillet clean, then you start seasoning.

Using a paper towel, spread a thin layer of fat all over the pan. I prefer bacon grease. You can usually find pork fat at your local butchers, but you can use vegetable oil/Crisco if you prefer. Everyone has an opinion. I like bacon grease, you can do whatever you want with your pan, I would recommend avoiding a fat with a low burn point, like butter, though. Just sayin...

I wipe the inside and outside of my skillet and then plop it into a hot oven, around 400 degrees and let the cast iron's pores soak in the oil. You need a few layers of seasoning on a pan for it to be truly stick-proof, but you don't have to do it all at once. Next time you cook something in the oven, grease the pan and throw it in the oven during pre-heat and cool-down. When you use the skillet next, rinse it with hot water and use mild soap, make sure to rinse it well, dry it well and grease it up again.

I am kicking myself in the ass for not taking pictures of the process and will be better about  keeping the camera close at hand when opportunities like this arise in the future.

There are hundreds of how's and why-fors on the Internet on how to re-season a cast iron pan and each one is different but most say something about cleaning out the rust and spreading grease on it. Some say stick it in the oven at 500 degrees for 3 hours some say to put it in a warm oven for 1 hour. Truthfully, either will work depending on how much time you want to spend on it. Do what works for you.

And, now, for something completely different. I know why you all really came looking on here...

They actually look like little chickens now. They are still on the patchy side feather-wise, but they are definitely starting to look like those big-breasted matronly ladies.  You definitely see their breed characteristics and feather patterns coming in, although I get the feeling I got an oddball breed accidentally snuck into the batch. She doesn't look like any of the others and isn't looking like what the breed should look like... We will see what she turns into... They also are starting to get personalities that are interesting to watch. The boyfriend, the big softy, has already started coming up with names for them. 

As you can tell they are now allowed out in the little pen with adult supervision, they are still too little to be let out in the yard. They are enjoying the dandelions and occasional bug that gets caught in their clutches. They remind me of that movie Jurassic Park. Stalking their prey and tearing them to shreds. If they were 6ft tall we'd be screwed.

Oddball Chick
They are growing by leaps and bounds and as of this weekend they are approximately 5 weeks old. They will continue eating their chick starter feed for a few more weeks then it is on to chicken feed and after that layer feed. They also get an assortment of dandelion leaves and kitchen scraps. I like that if I can't finish those leftover mashed potatoes I can give them to the chicks and not have it go to waste. Chickens are omnivores and opportunis-avores and will eat just about anything they can shred and fit into their beaks. They will happily gobble the leftover tuna, pasta and salad hiding in the back of the fridge and I prefer to give it to them than to put it in the yard waste. Although, I still feel weird feeding them chicken...

I will tell you about cleaning up the raccoon (evil little bio-hazards!) latrine on the next installment, I still have to take a few more blazing hot showers before I can bring myself to talk about it... *shudder*

No comments:

Post a Comment