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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 3

I have to say, I’ve been cracking away at this thing and I’m starting to see real results! Today’s installment shows an additional 3-4 hours of heavy sanding. Or if you measure time as I do, one disc of Criminal Minds from Netflix (including the episode where Morgan (played by eye candy Shemar Moore) drives an about-to-explode ambulance into a field in the middle of New York City, I die).  Things at work have been really stressful lately (it’s grants proposal season for us) so taking some of my angst out on this pan has been really therapeutic.  After my last installment I switched from steel wool to coarse sanding paper, which really got most of the rust out.  As you can see, it’s come a far way.

After I posted the first installment my dad (known around the internets as The Capt’n) emailed me a list of advice.  Since he’s salvaged and conditioned many a cast iron piece I was grateful for his suggestions.  He sad that once I’d gotten most of the rust off that I should “burn the bejesus out of it,” so that is my next installment.  In our urban backyard we combined little oil, our large burner, and some baking soda (for fire extinguishing) and smoked out the neighborhood.  This process draws out a lot of the remaining rust, etc, and (according to the internet) restores some of the free radicals that the iron needs.  If you understand why this works, I would love to know.  I trust that it’s an important step but the science is a mystery to me!  Anyway, those that are following along on twitter will know that yesterday we set the pan on fire and it. was. awesome.  I can’t wait to share part 4.  Thanks for following along, and we’ll be back with more cast iron love next week!

Part 1 / Part 2 

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Green Olive Pimento Cheese

This weekend some friends and I took a “mid-winter” getaway to Morehead.  We planned it in November, as we were discussing how hard life and work can become once it’s cold and dark and dreary.  We were hoping that a getaway to look forward to would help us fight the cold-weather grumps.  And, before I knew it, the last weekend of January was here.  The thing is, the cold weather grumps had never really come.  We’ve had a few days of very cold, even a snow, but for the most part it’s been lovely (and a little terrifying coughglobalwarmingcough).  But wonderful weather certainly wasn’t going to stop us from taking a beach vacation, so on Thursday night we packed up and headed south.

We spent four days in Cateret County, visiting attractions like the aquarium and the Maritime Museum, drinking bloody marys on the beach, and reading on the pier of the Swamp House.  It was wonderful, relaxing, and the weather was amazing.

While we were down there I tried my hand at a recipe I’d been thinking of for a while.  You see, I love pimento cheese.  I love making it, eating it, and serving it to guests.  But I always make the same recipe (my grandfather’s), and I’ve been wanting to try something new.  So I thought about the flavors I wanted to highlight and put together a recipe that included sharp white cheddar, green olives, smoked gouda, pimentos, and of course mayo and spices.

The spread was, as I’d hoped, delicious. The smokey cheese played so nicely against the salty olives, a little bit of garlic and cayenne gave it a hint of a kick, and everything worked together to create a cohesive flavor.  It was perfect with the buttery snack crackers and exactly the sort of snack you want when you’re sitting on the pier all day, reading and watching the marsh life.

This is an owl named Alba that we met at the National Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shore.  She likes to watch the sharks.

Green Olive Pimento Cheese

1 medium size block of white sharp cheddar cheese

1 medium size wheel of smoked gouda

1 small jar of pimentos

1/2 cup green olives

1/4 cup mayonaisse

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of salt, pepper, cayenne

Grate your cheese.  Dice your olives.  Drain pimentos.  Combine.  Stir in mayo and spices.  Stir until well incorporated, adding more mayo to get your preferred consistency.

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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 2

Okay, we’re back with part two of The Cast Iron Chronicles!  This weekend I took a good long crack at the pan, in total spanning approximately 3 episodes of Criminal Minds. My first step was to knock the gunk and as much rust as possible off with steel wool.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  1) Why didn’t I just use an electric dohickey with a sanding attachment (I know for a fact that the Capt’n is thinking that as he send me an email suggesting that I attack it that way) or 2) Why don’t I just cover it in oven cleaner and let it soak overnight?

So for one- we don’t have any electric dohickeys, and I figured that’s why I have hands. And arms.  I know it would be faster to use power tools, but I’ve got plenty of Criminal Minds in my Netflix queue and all winter to work on this pan.  I’m in no rush.  As for the oven cleaner- because cast iron is such a porous  material I don’t want to use anything on this pan that I wouldn’t squirt on top of my eggs.  Cast iron has a tendency to retain the flavor of things and I don’t care to take the risk with oven cleaner, even if it would probably burn off later in the seasoning process.  I’m very careful with all my cast iron, I never use soap to clean them, only ever hot water. According to my Uncle Everett, Sybil only ever used salt to clean her cast iron, no water at all. So, no harsh chemicals during this process.  Just good old fashioned scrubbing.

I worked on the pan for about 2 1/2 hours. I removed all the pieces of debris and a large amount of the rust.  My plan is to continue with the steel wool and then transition to the coarse sand paper as needed.  I’m already beginning to see through the rust, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  I’m so glad to hear that y’all are interested in this process, I am personally loving it.  There’s nothing like sanding the hell out of a piece of metal to take your mind off of the stresses of daily life.

Part 1

My posting schedule for this series will be a little behind the actual work I’m doing, so if you’d like to stay up to date check twitter and instagram (user: biscuitsandsuch). Not an iPhone user? Webstagram or Flickr will have the photos!

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