Our little piece of the world

A mother, wife, and teacher aims to make life simple

Archive for the tag “Old fashioned products”

Cast iron skillet bread

I’ve posted in the past about my recent discovery of cast iron cookware, and how awesome I think it is… then I discovered that I could bake bread in my skillets… and now my life is complete.

I came across this recipe for italian herb skillet bread on pinterest, and was drawn in by how awesome the picture looked. I tried it (with my mom’s breadmaker recipe for dinner rolls instead of the pre-made dough), and I don’t think I’ll ever make those dinner rolls in any other way.

The bread came out perfectly crunchy on the bottom and soft and warm on the inside. Since the skillet held heat evenlyand baked the crust perfectly.

I’m on the lookout for other amazing things I can make in my skillets- any suggestions are welcome!

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Book review : Country Wisdom and Know-How

Amazon link

This was the first book that my husband and I read about homesteading so it was only natural that it’s the first book review I do on this blog. My parents actually bought this book as a gag-gift for my husband, but it quickly became clear how useful it actually was. This book has so much information in it, it took us a few weeks to fully process all the information and figure out how we wanted to use it to improve our lives. The book contains information on raising livestock, quilting, gardening, training cats and dogs, home brewing and so much more.

There are countless tables, check lists, recipies, and step-by-step instructions for making even the most inexperienced (ie. me) would-be homesteader feel comfortable living a self-sustaining lifestyle.

The only problem that I encountered (and was mentioned over and over in the reviews on Amazon) is the physical size of the book. It’s far too big, and it’s a soft cover, so it’s difficult to hold and read. My copy also seemed to be missing a few pages… I’m not sure what that’s all about (but it could have been a problem with how my mom bought it).

Regardless of those problems I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in homesteading, whether novice or experienced. There is so much varied information that I’m sure there is something that anyone could learn from it.

What our simple living goals were for 2011

I believe that self-sufficiency is a very gradual process for most people. We have always had it in the back of our minds that we wanted to be as self-sustaining as possible, but it wasn’t until 2011 that we really started to set out goals for ourselves to live more simply.

  1. The first thing we did was cancel our satellite tv subscription. I mean really, who needs it? I still watch some shows on Boxee but having no subscription really eliminates the “turning tv on to see what’s on” thing.
  2. The biggest thing that we did was start to build our house. It will be heated primarily with a wood stove and is designed to be as energy efficient as possible, though it’s not off the grid. It is located on a large parcel of land on which we can grow our own food.
  3. We wanted to introduce our son to gardening which I did just last week. Stay tuned for an update on that later this week.
  4. Start replacing some household items (as they needed to be replaced, we didn’t throw anything out needlessly) with durable plastic free items such as cast iron.
  5. I intended to nurse my son until he was 2, but unfortunately had to stop when he was about 16 months. None the less I was proud of not putting him on formula or forcing him to stop before he was ready.
  6. I wanted to start cooking more healthy meals and snacks for my family. No more buying pre-packined products like cookies or pizzas. I do sometimes default back to these convenience foods when I’m running low on time, but it’s far less frequent than before.

All in all I only really failed to accomplish one of these goals, which I’m pretty proud of. We have many more goals for 2012, you’ll hear about them tomorrow!

Cast Iron pans: Why they’re great and how to take care of them

While we’re waiting to move into our new house, I’ve taken to researching old fashioned household products that will stand the test of time. One item that I have tried and absolutely love is cast iron cookware. So far I have two skillets, one small (6″) and one large (12″). I started with the small skillet on a whim one day, and fell in love with how sturdy it was and how evenly it cooked. It’s also fantastic that I can use it outside on the fire, in the oven, or on the stovetop… oh, and the food tastes great too.

Cast iron is amazing for anyone looking to live life with as few harmful chemicals as possible. Cast iron is non-stick, but unlike Teflon it’s not that way because of chemicals, and the coating won’t come off either! Cast iron pans also have a reputation for lasting a very, very long time (as long as they’re well taken care of).

There are many articles online about the best methods to care for cast iron (this is one of my favourites), but for the most part the advice is the same:

  • Don’t use soap or harsh abrasives to wash them. Scour only with a metal brush. I have actually found very little to no need to scrub my cast iron as the non-stick coating is so great already.
  • Make sure that your pan is well seasoned. To season use a few tablespoons of flaxseed oil (or another oil, but flaxseed seems to be the favourite) and let it warm up gradually in the oven to 300 degrees, upside down. Let it heat in the oven for about an hour, and then turn the heat off- letting the pan cool gradually for about an hour.
  • When you’re cooking with your cast iron, use a small amount of oil in the bottom of the pan.
  • Once you’re done cooking, let the pan cool down for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water and scrape off the excess food. I then put a tiny amount of oil on the pan and let it cool down completely upside down in the oven.
  • If you’re storing your cast iron in a drawer or cupboard put a piece of paper towel in between the items to allow air flow. Once we’re into our new place I’m planning on hanging our cast iron items on the fireplace.

I’ve got my eye on quite a few cast iron items, including a dutch oven and a griddle. Someday I’d also like to get a cast iron waffle pan like this one:

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