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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 1

As you can guess from pretty much every post on this blog, I am deeply devoted to cast iron.  In fact, in the hierarchy of food related things that I love I’m pretty sure it goes 1. Pie 2. Bagel Sandwiches 3. Cast Iron.  And often, #3 is an important factor in achieving #1 and #2.  There’s something magical about cast iron- it’s durable, non-stick, beautiful, reliable.  Consistent.  It’s everything that my very expensive stainless steel pans are not.  In fact, in the years that we’ve had both cast iron and stainless steel our cast iron has never left our stove top.  It moves seamlessly from fried pickles to caramel to sopapillas.  Can you tell I love it?

Today I’d like to introduce a new series on Biscuits and Such, The Cast Iron Chronicles.  Creating series, sharing behind-the-scenes peeks, tutorial posts, and overusing the ever controversial serial comma are all part of the big-picture goals for 2012.  As long as that sounds good to you, of course.

Anyway, back to The Cast Iron Chronicles.  My friends Brit & Aaron (coconspirators in the Dan-turns-27-party plan) recently moved from LA to Alexandria.  When they moved into their new house they found (among other things) this cast iron pan in their back yard.  As you can see, it’s in bad shape.  Covered in rust, battered and weather-worn.  I immediately claimed it.  They brought it up when they came for the party and today I finally took a crack at it.

This series, probably four or five installments, will follow the pan as I remove the rust, dirt, and grime and bring this beauty back to her former glory. My plan is to use a combination of steel wool, sand paper, and vegetable fats to remove the rust and season it again. The Capt’n gave me a few tips, as he has restored many a cast iron cookware item in his day, including Sybil’s cauldron. Even so, I’d love to hear any tips you have for conditioning cast iron, or anystories from your own projects. This should be a fun ride!

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Baked Apple Crisps

Tomorrow is the anniversary of our first kiss, many moons ago.  I know that once you get married other anniversaries are supposed to melt away, but I figure- why not just celebrate more?  We always celebrate the same way– by going to Dougherty’s, the pub where we decided on a whim to gamble our years-long friendship.  Thankfully it was a successful gamble.  At Dougherty’s we’ll get burgers and fries, people watch and maybe even try to figure out what made that night so unusual.  Who knows.  I just remember being surprised.

Afterwards we’ll come home and I’ll pop two of these in the oven– individual apple crisps.  They’re each a perfect one serving, one apple baked with cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Filling, but not too heavy.  A special dessert to celebrate a special day.

Baked Apple Crisps, For Two

2 medium size red apples

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup dry oats

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

Peel and slice apples.  Combine 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp sugar, and apples in a pan.  Cook over low heat until they soften slightly.  Divide into two small serving dishes and turn your oven to 350.  In your pan, melt the rest of your butter.  Pour over oats, remaining sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Toss.  Divide the topping evenly over the two dishes.  Bake for 35 minutes.

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Cheese Straws & Resolutions

Midway through the holiday madness I was contacted by a fellow North Carolinian who was wondering if I would be interested in reviewing some cheese straws.  Not just any cheese straws, but his family’s 100 year old recipe that his mother and uncle just started selling in small, artisan batches.  Now, I’m picky about product reviews because I hate the idea of disappointing someone or, worse, making you all feel disillusioned by what goes on here at B&S.  But cheese straws? From a sweet brother and sister combo in Concord, NC? How could I resist?!?

These bad boys arrived on our doorstep just before we headed on our whirlwind Christmas vacation.  I snagged a few for the road and then spent the next week thinking about them.  They are perfect, everything a cheese straw should be.  Spicy, soft but not too soft, cheesy, salty, amazing.  As we were setting up for Dan’s party last weekend Charlotte (a Tennessean and lover of all things cheese straw) and I spent a fair amount of time savoring these, trying to taste for different spices, carefully considering how we felt about them.  Our conclusion? Delicious.  Everything a cheese straw should be.  We strongly suggest that you visit Ritchie Hill’s site and see for yourself.

In other news, it’s a new year, which means it’s time for goals and planning and thinking into the future.  I know the past few weeks around here have been heavy on the reflections and musings side of things (and light on the recipes and eating side of things), but forgive me as I take one more stab at it (I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the edibles).  My B&S related goals for this year are as follows:

– Continue expanding our recipe collection

– To actually make some instructional movies like I keep promising

– To take more process shots now that I have a fancy new flash

– To add to our set and prop collection

– To create images that inspire and to push myself to stay creative

– To write a post dedicated solely to the photography on this site

– To eat more pie

That’s not such a huge list, and hopefully it’ll be something that is constantly morphing throughout the year.  I’m hoping that 2012 is a year of big growth for me, in the kitchen, in the garden, as a photographer… I have high hopes.  That being said, I’m interested in hearing the sorts of things you would like to see around here.  More pie? Less musing? All the cheese? Let me know.  Let’s make 2012  a great year, together.  Okay, that’s enough cheese.

*Ritchie Hill didn’t pay me to say nice things about them.  In fact, all they did was send me a box of cheese straws (complimentary).  And I ate them.  And they were delicious.

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