Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Jeff Varkonyi and Steph/MNFromScratch as the two winners of the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook.

To make arrangements to claim your cookbook, please contact me at skilletgirlreply@gmail.com.

Thanks for participating in the giveaway.

Photo courtesy of Lodge Manufacturing.

Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook Giveaway!

A few posts back I promised to give away, not one, but two of The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. Well today is the lucky day! 

Here’s how you can enter:  tell me two of your favorite summer dishes.

Simply leave a comment here at The Skillet blog, on my Facebook page and/or send a tweet via my Twitter site. You will be entered for each place you leave a comment. So, comment at all three places, you are entered three times into the contest.

That’s it! Easy as pie. Mmmmmm…did I mention that one of my favorite summer dishes is strawberry rhubarb pie? Might have to make one in my skillet.

The two winners will be announced on Monday.

Hope your summer is off to a fabulous start and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Photo courtesy of Lodge Manufacturing

Shrimp with Fresh Basil, Thai Style

Photo courtesy of Lodge Manufacturing

Photo courtesy of Lodge

A while ago, my husband gave me a copy of the latest edition of the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. I don’t know if other cooks and foodies are like me, but I spend more time thumbing through my cookbooks than actually trying some of the recipes. For me, the attributes of what makes a fine cookbook are a wide variety of dishes, beautiful photographs (preferably color), easy to follow recipes, and little tidbits thrown in on history, techniques, and possible ingredient substitutions. I am also partial to cookbooks with spiral bindings, as they remain flat on the counter when you are working through a recipe.

Lodge’s cookbook meets most of my criteria. It doesn’t have the spiral binding, but quite frankly, most cookbooks don’t. But it has everything else — a variety of dishes, including breakfast frittatas, soups, stews and gumbo, delectable surf and turf dishes, desserts, and an entire section just on cornbread — and an easy-to-follow design with numerous color photos, simple directions, and sections on caring for cast iron, metric conversions, and even tips on bean hole cooking.

The recipes are diverse, not only in cultures (American, Asian, Indian, Cajun, Mexican), but in the different types of cast iron skillets, griddles, bakeware and ovens that are recommended for cooking. Overall, a great cookbook!

Following is a recipe that I tried from the cookbook, something that caught my eye as I love Thai food. I modified it a little, adding some julienned carrots and removing the jalapeno pepper from the recipe. This recipe is very simple, extremely flavorful, and fast to make. And it gets the thumbs-up from my hubby, so what more does one need!

Oh, and stay tuned! I will be giving away two copies of the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook in the near future. Details to follow in a future post.

Thai Basil ShrimpIngredients
2 Tbsps. Asian Fish Sauce
2 Tbsps. Water
1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp. Sugar
2 Tbsps. Oil (Canola or Vegetable)
1 Lb. medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup thinly sliced Onion
1/2 cup Carrots, julienned
1 Tbsp. chopped Garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped Green Onions
2 Tbsps. coarsely chopped fresh Cilantro
3-4 torn Basil Leaves

Stir together the fish sauce, water, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Prep the remaining ingredients, so you can add them quickly when they are needed.

Stir together the fish sauce, water, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Prep the remaining ingredients, so you can add them quickly when they are needed.

Heat oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet, until it becomes very hot, about 30 seconds. Turn to coat the skillet evenly. Add the shrimp in a single layer.

Heat oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet, until it becomes very hot, about 30 seconds. Turn to coat the skillet evenly. Add the shrimp in a single layer.

Cook on one side, undisturbed, until the shrimps' edges turn bright pink. Toss well and turn all the shrimp cooked side up so the other side can cook, undisturbed, for 15 seconds.

Cook on one side, undisturbed, until the shrimps’ edges turn bright pink. Toss well and turn all the shrimp cooked side up so the other side can cook, undisturbed, for 15 seconds.

Add the onion, garlic and carrots and toss well.

Add the onion, garlic and carrots and toss well.

Thai Basil Shrimp

Cook 1 minute, tossing occasionally…

...until the onion softens and becomes fragrant and shiny; continue tossing so it wilts and softens but doesn't brown.

…until the onion softens and becomes fragrant and shiny; continue tossing so it wilts and softens but doesn’t brown. Stir the fish sauce mixture to make sure the sugar is dissolved and pour it around the edge of the pan.  Toss well to season the shrimp, then let cook, undisturbed just until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.

Add the green onions and cilantro, and toss well. Tear the basil leaves into 2 or 3 pieces each,. Add all of the basil to the pan over the shrimp and toss well. Cook 10 seconds.

Add the green onions and cilantro, and toss well. Tear the basil leaves into 2 or 3 pieces each. Add all of the basil to the pan over the shrimp and toss well. Cook 10 seconds.

Serve over cooked rice. Enjoy!

Serve over cooked rice. Enjoy!

M.I.A.

Well, in case of you have been wondering why things have been quiet on The Skillet front over the past month or so, here’s why I’ve been Missing in Action.

One of my dogs had elbow dysplasia surgery in early April and this is her feeling good on her meds.

One of my dogs had elbow dysplasia surgery in early April and this is her feeling good on her meds.

My brother-in-law and his family came for a visit, and I thanked them by backing my new car into their headlight. Yep, brilliant!

My brother-in-law and his family came for a visit, and I welcomed them by backing my new car into their headlight. Yep, brilliant!

I now get up at 5:30 in the morning to take my dog on her therapy walks and get to see beautiful sunrises like this one.

I now get up at 5:30 in the morning to take my dog on her therapy walks and get to see beautiful sunrises like this one.

My Dutch oven group, the Northern Sierra Dutch Oven Group, fed the masses at the Genoa Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival.

My Dutch oven group, the Northern Sierra Dutch Oven Group, fed the masses at the Genoa Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival.

We served Dutch Oven Lasagna.

We served Dutch Oven Lasagna.

Skillet Cookies

Skillet Cookies

Drunken Buffalo Stew

Drunken Buffalo Stew

Five Alarm Texas Chili

Five Alarm Texas Chili

Sourdough Rolls by Terry Bell, The Dutch Diva. These are cheese and jalapeno.

Sourdough Rolls by Terry Bell, The Dutch Diva. These are cheese and jalapeno.

We fed hungry mountain men.

We fed hungry mountain men.

Cowboy poets like Tony Argento, pictured here.

Cowboy poets like Tony Argento, pictured here.

And even Sarah Winnemucca visited our camp.

And even Sarah Winnemucca visited our camp.

Last, but certainly not least, my husband decided we needed to foster a mama cat and her four kittens.

Last, but certainly not least, my husband decided we needed to foster a mama cat and her four kittens.

We've named them all, so I think they'll be staying. This one is Mikey.

We’ve named them all, so I think they’ll be staying. This one is Mikey.

Welcome to my zoo!

Welcome to my zoo!

So, as you can see, life in my household is never dull. But I promise to get back to cooking and will have future posts coming soon.

Happy spring, everyone!

Lodge Skillet Giveaway!

So here it is. My first ever giveaway! The Skillet blog is nearing its six-month anniversary and 50th post, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and I want to spread the love of cast iron cuisine by giving away this wonderful 12-inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Lid.

Lodge Skillet with Lid

I swear by Lodge skillets. They are featured in this blog and used daily in my kitchen. Lodge skillets are pre-seasoned, making them ready for cooking on your stovetop, in your oven, or over the campfire. And they are made in the good ‘ol U S of A!

So here’s how to enter for your chance to win. If you do all three, you are entered three times in the giveaway.

PLEASE NOTE: Existing followers of the blog and on Twitter, and “Likes” on Facebook are automatically entered. That’s my thank you to my loyal followers!

  1. Become a follower of The Skillet blog. Simply click on the “Follow” button on the sidebar to the right, enter your email address, and receive future posts in your mailbox.
  2. “Like” The Skillet blog on Facebook. Hit the “Like” button in the sidebar to the right. (The one with the goofy cowgirl photo – yep, that’s me. Cowgirl Wannabe.)
  3. Become a follower on Twitter. Just look for that cute little bluebird on the sidebar to the right and “Follow @theskilletblog.”

The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, making it my 50th post!

Please leave a comment if you have any questions about the giveaway.

And thanks SO MUCH for reading this blog and joining in on my cast iron adventure!

Indian Spice tea

Indian Spice and all that’s nice…

Now that we all can relax since the world didn’t end yesterday, why not do so with a spot of tea?

Cast Iron Tea KettleAnyone who knows me well knows how much I love tea. But not just any ‘ol tea. I generally don’t drink green tea or any of the fruity or flowery kinds. I like the dark, strong bodied black teas – Irish Breakfast is my favorite blend – and I drink my tea the English way, with cream or milk and sugar. It was how I was raised. In fact, if there isn’t any cream or milk in the house, I won’t drink any hot tea. I simply can’t have one without the other. (My husband has the same relationship with chips and sandwiches).

Blame it on my upbringing. My mother served hot tea when my siblings and I were sick or to warm us up after playing outside on cold, blustery winter days. Today, I rarely start my day without it, whether hot in the winter or iced in the summer.

Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Harney & Sons’ Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea

Last year, one of my husband’s employees, Taylor, introduced him to Harney & Sons teas. He was trying to find a Christmas present for me that he knew I’d really enjoy. Boy, does he know me well! He bought some dynamic tea varieties – including an exotic Indian Spice tea which is divine, along with a Hot Cinnamon Spice blend that he loves and really clears the sinuses if you’ve got a bad cold. But best of all, he gave me a sweet Japanese cast iron tea kettle (pictured above) which is much beloved and used religiously. (I bet you were trying to figure out the cast iron connection.)

Too Soul Tea Co.Today, Taylor no longer works for my husband as she has ventured into the tea business herself and just opened her own tea shop here in Reno – Too Soul Tea Co. For those of you in the Reno/Sparks area, it is located at 542 1/2 Plumas Street – the former location of the Great Basin Food Coop. I visited last week to restock my Irish Breakfast tea supply and check out her new store, which is cozy and inviting, and offers free WiFi and ample seating. The place was busy with people working on laptops, while sampling teas and enjoying friendly chatter. Her shop offers 100 fine teas and tea blends, as well as pastries and sandwiches and the best peppermint hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Taylor plans to introduce online sales in 2013 so please check out her website in the months ahead.

So glad the world didn’t end yesterday. There’s just too much good food and tea to enjoy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Casting call for amateur bakers

  • For any of you amateur bakers out there, I received this casting notification from Cherish Cast. Check it out if you are interested in auditioning. The link provides audition locations and application details.

    CBS is NOW CASTING for AMATEUR BAKERS for a fun new BAKING COMPETITION SERIES!

    Are you a passionate amateur baker? Can you whip up an impressive cake, tart or loaf of bread? You may be the perfect candidate for an exciting new competition baking series on CBS!!

    Amateur skilled bakers will compete against one another in baking challenges that will test every aspect of their baking skills. At the end of the competition, one baker will ultimately be crowned the winner. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the competitors – young, old, from every background and every corner of the United States – as they attempt to prove their baking prowess.

    We are seeking all types of non-professional bakers from across the country, whether you’re an athlete, teacher, truck driver or retiree, as long as you have the zest for baking, we want to hear from you!

    If this is you or someone you know, don’t hesitate, apply today!

    To APPLY, please check out our WEBSITE:http://cbsbakingshow.com/

  • www.cbsbakingshow.com

    The Official Casting Site For CBS’s New Baking Show

PAWSworthy

We’re Blue and Chloe, and since our human is away and we have finally cracked the WordPress code, we are hijacking her blog…just for a little while. We know this is a cooking blog, but we have a cause that we think is..well, quite PAWSworthy…and we’d like to discuss it with you.

Our veterinary clinic brought to our attention an amazing organization that they support…The United States War Dog Association. The U.S. War Dog Association is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that collects donated items for our K9 troops and their military human handlers who are serving overseas. Known as Military Working Dogs, these dogs serve alongside our troops, performing such tasks as sniffing out buildings for drugs and explosives, and protecting military personnel and equipment. War dogs have a long history of service all over the world and have served heroically during modern times in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, and now in the Middle East. Some die on the front lines; many complete hundreds of combat missions. We know that we couldn’t do what they do.

Photo courtesy of The United States War Dog Association

So as Veteran’s Day draws near and the holidays are almost upon us, we’re joining our veterinary clinic and donating items to this PAWSworthy cause. We are also asking our four-legged friends and their humans to consider doing the same. We know that times are RUFF right now. Money and bones are lean. But just a box of biscuits, a ball or tug rope, or a bag of candy for the handler can make a big difference for these K9s and their troops who are so far away from home. Even $20 to help cover postage costs helps tremendously.

A list of desired items can be found here.

We know also that many of you who read this blog are from countries other than the U.S. See if your country has a similar war dog association which needs help or consider sending a care package to your service men and women stationed overseas. Or make a gift to your local pet shelter. Every treat helps.

Rut row, we hear a car pulling up in the driveway. Better stop the begging and act like we’ve been taking a very long nap.

Thanks for lending an ear.

Chloe and Blue

The Health Benefits of Cast Iron

So posts this week have been pretty light – quite frankly, non-existent. The reason? I’ve just been super busy (dog trial, agility awards dinner, crazy work deadlines, etcetera, etcetera) and not able to cook much this past week. I’ll be back in the cast iron swing of things soon and I have some fun dishes planned for future posts. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d cover some of the health benefits and sustainable reasons for cooking with cast iron.

  1. Because cast iron pots and skillets are so well-seasoned, they have a natural non-stick surface, meaning you don’t need to use as much oil or butter when cooking. And that’s good for the love handles.
  2. Cast iron cookware is free of potentially harmful chemicals that are found in non-stick pans like those with Teflon surfaces. Many non-stick pans are made with perfluorocarbons or PFCs, which are known to be highly toxic and carcinogenic. PFCs are released and inhaled from non-stick pans through fumes when the pans are heated on high heat. They can also be ingested if a non-stick pan is scratched. I’ve had a few scratched up Teflon skillets in my time. I don’t use them any more. I strive for a Teflon-free kitchen.
  3. Cast iron fortifies your food with iron, which is good if you have an iron deficiency or want to avoid taking Geritol. One of my Dutch oven cooking buddies was instructed by his doctor to cook in a cast iron skillet once a week to help avoid becoming anemic. Geez…I’m on my way to becoming Iron Man.
  4. Cast iron is made to last a lifetime, if properly maintained. My mother used her cast iron skillet for decades and many of my friends have skillets and Dutch ovens that belonged to their parents and grandparents. Cast iron is very vintage.
  5. Cast iron cleans easily by using hot water, a stiff brush and a little vinegar. No soap is required. Many dish soaps contain high levels of phosphates which act much like fertilizers, increasing algae and aquatic weed growth in bodies of water. Wastewater containing phosphates can end up in lakes, rivers and streams. Cast iron can be very eco-friendly.
  6. Cast iron is versatile, as I’ve tried to demonstrate through this blog. One cast iron skillet can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and over the campfire. You can cook multiple dishes in a cast iron skillet, meaning less equipment to purchase for your kitchen. Unless you’re a total addict like me.
  7. Cast iron is affordable. My favorite Lodge skillet cost around $25 and is the most used piece of cookware in my household. And since I intend to be cooking with it when I’m 90, I’d say that’s the best $25 I’ve ever spent.

Sources:

EatingWell Magazine
sustainablebabysteps.com

The Great Pumpkin Bouquet

Looking for something different to do with your pumpkin this season? Why not turn it into a bouquet?

I found this idea on the cover of All You magazine, along with instructions, so I thought I’d give it a try. It is remarkably easy to do and looks beautiful…a great centerpiece for a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner or simply as fall decor around the home. And it travels well, in case you are heading over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. This particular arrangement joined me on a two-hour road trip over the Sierra Nevadas, virtually unscathed (although I suggest placing it in a box or tub so it won’t slide around.)

Items you’ll need
1 Pumpkin
1 Flower Vase (cylindrical or a coffee can works too), 2″ to 3″ smaller in diameter than pumpkin
Carving Knife and Spoon (I used a steak knife and rice spoon)
Flowers of your choice (I used two bunches purchased at the grocery store, which included sunflowers, mums, and foliage)
Scissors
Ribbon, 2′ long

Place your vase atop your pumpkin to trace the circle to cut.

Carve a hole in the top 1/2″ larger in diameter than the vase.

Remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. I used a rice spoon from my rice cooker, because it has a nice wide surface, and this fork-a-spoon from an old camping kit. (It’s amazing what I keep in my kitchen drawers.)

Once your pumpkin is seedless and pulp free, insert the vase and add water to it.

Divide flowers and foliage into 5 bunches. Trim one bunch so they’re twice the height of the pumpkin. Trim the next bunch so it is 1″ shorter. Continue this same pattern with the remaining bunches.

Make a tight arrangement of flowers by placing the tallest in the center, then the next tallest around them, and continue through the various heights of flowers and foliage.

Wrap ribbon around the pumpkin and tie with a bow. Secure with tape, if necessary. I added some sunflower stickers that I found in the scrapbook section of a craft store. Very festive!