Category: Food

Cast Iron Cookery

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I’ve long been a fan of cooking with cast iron.  The pans heat well retaining an even heat for long periods.  Usable in most, but not all, appliances, the cookware is sturdy and long wearing.  It is one of those things you pass on to your kids.

Unfortunately, for those of us with arthritis, the heavy weight of the cookware can be a negative.

When I bought my new stove a couple of years ago, I purchased a smooth top electric range.  It ticked all the boxes I wanted and needed, but did not allow me to use my cast iron on the stove top.  I gave it away.  🙁

During a recent bout of at home world exploration, I found myself watching a series of British shows which featured local homes.  I was fascinated by the reaction of visitors to the home kitchen.  Most, when they saw a particular appliance, were thrilled.  Said appliance was an AGA cooker.

I was so curious, I looked up the AGA on Google.  Imagine my surprise to learn that this cooker is a cast iron range that is able to use electricity, coal, or gas or a combination. 

I was fascinated to learn the history of this appliance and how it has become the true center of many homes.  Check out AGALiving.com to learn more yourself.  This article is also worth reading:  Is An AGA Cooker Worth The Investment?

These things are not inexpensive, either.  As with the cast iron cookware, it is something to be passed down to the next generation.

I will always suggest the use of cast iron to cook with.  The end results are often high quality, and with a minimum amount of care, the pans become non stick easily and over time. 

I would love to own – or at least have the opportunity to use – an AGA cooker.  From what little I’ve seen and learned, it is an appliance that is a true work horse in the home.

Categories: Cooking Food Musings

Magic Journeys

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I am a relatively new fan of YouTube’s personal content. By that I mean those folks who create content for non-commercial viewers. I got my first taste looking for walk throughs of the Disney parks and discovered Justin Scarred and Randomland. Then, because I love food, I looked to see what else I could find, and came across Magic Journeys – a foodie vlog focusing on foods found in the Disney parks, Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

A Different World

Food vlogs cover a wide variety of topics and ideas, but Magic Journeys has always aimed to give the viewer an armchair view of the foods, restaurants and possibilities that can be found in the parks.

I love that hosts/presenters Mig Vee and Janell both love to eat and love to share what they discover.  They are honest about their experiences, so the viewer gets an honest opinion.  Mig Vee is not much into fruits and veg, while Janell loves a good salad or fruit plate.  Janell loves (and I mean LOVES) chocolate.  Neither is a fan of old or stale bread.  While neither can be considered a gourmet, both know what they do or don’t like.

I love when they explore the Food Festivals!  These have really taken off in the past couple of years expanding to cover both Florida and Anaheim parks.  The offerings are varied and almost always unusual. 

Not Like Other Food Vlogs

Lots of food vlogs seem to approach the same types of content with an air of expertise that is fine, but just doesn’t do it for me.  Kind of like reading Gourmet magazine when I really just want to skim through Taste of Home.

I do watch some food vlogs that focus on food preparation, but that is not what I look for when I aim to watch Magic Journeys.  I want the experience of walking through the parks, picking up a great snack or sitting down for a nice meal.

Check Them Out – Explore

You can find Magic Journeys by going to YouTube.com and searching for Magic Journeys in the search box.  Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to get notification of their newest videos – and don’t forget to click the “LIKE” button if you like what they’ve offered.

Go back and see their earlier work – the Knotts Berry Farm Chicken Dinner vlog is amazing!

Categories: Musings Vlogs

Keeping It Simple

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Sometimes I just want something simple, easy and tasty. 

I love to eat.  Food is fascinating to me – all the flavors, colors, textures.  The combinations seem to be endless. 

Have you ever considered that chicken is chicken no matter where it is prepared?  That pasta with a lovely tomato sauce can easily translate into pizza with a tomato sauce – and not forget the cheese.  That the Sunday Roast, no matter what kind of roast, is the same in the UK, Canada, US and hundreds of other places.  Dumplings…dropped onto gently simmering broth or steamed or pan seared or rolled out and cut.

The irony of food is that no matter how hard we try to gussy it up, at its base it is simple and straightforward.

I went out for lunch with friends recently and was treated to a lovely cheese gnocchi with grilled chicken in the most amazing cheese sauce/broth.  Simple, easy, flavorful.  Wonderful.  The idea came from a soup recipe that evolved into a main dish that was no longer soup, but carried all the great ingredients to new levels.

With all the cookery shows and emphasis on dinner in a box delivered to your door, I think we might have inadvertently lost the idea that good simple food is what most people crave.  Yes, we do enjoy the fancy meals, but not every day.  We don’t always have time to prepare the amazing creations that those fancy meals call for.

I don’t mind left overs and I am not afraid of cooking forward.  Which is why a lot of my cooking is geared toward make ahead meals.  I like to cook a batch of chicken to use during the week or put aside in the freezer.  Same with a roast or ground meats.  I can try new recipes with part of the batch and put the rest aside for later use.  Saves me time and allows me to experiment a bit.

But there are those times when all I really want is a lovely roast chicken and a pot of rice.  Steam some veg on the side (usually broccoli or carrots) and I’m happy.

Summer lends itself to adding fresh tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots or turnips to the table.  If you haven’t tried them in their raw state, I highly recommend it.  The flavors and texture are different.  It doesn’t hurt that it helps the battle with the waistline, too.  Fresh vegetables and fruits are a lovely way to lighten a meal and add great flavor. 

As you contemplate your menus and prepare your shopping lists, think about testing out some little things to see what you like.  Add the new favorites to your list and see what you can add the next time.  Above all, enjoy!

Categories: Food

Recipe Helpers

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Meals and Time

School is rapidly approaching.  Along with the lists of school supplies and clothes needed for the new year is the contemplation of meals.

There are ways to cut down time spent in the kitchen and avoid wasted food in the budget.

Fresh vegetables are a joy in season, but when the weather is cold and you don’t have a farmer’s cellar with vegetables put away for the winter, what do you do?

Make Use of Your Freezer

Take a trip down your grocer’s freezer aisle and see what is in stock in the vegetable section.  You should be able to find the tried and true items like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, mixed vegetables and broccoli, but look for the groupings of vegetables that have been cleaned and prepped for cooking.

PictSweet has a line of vegetables designed to help out the cook.  Peeled, diced (or sliced) and frozen, these bags of tasty morsels lend themselves to quick soups, stews, casseroles, and side dishes.

Birdseye has a line called Steamfresh that is designed to be prepared in the microwave.  They also have a variety of vegetables with different flavor profiles.  There are also lines of veggie made pastas and fries and tots.

NOTE:  All frozen vegetables can be prepared in the microwave.

Next check out the meat case.  Your grocer will no doubt sell large quantities of poultry and ground beef at good prices.  What this means is you can use these items as building blocks for meals that can be prepped ahead of time and tucked away in your freezer.

One of my local grocery chains has a pick 5 for $25 deal going most weeks.  You pick 5 items from a variety of cuts of mean or poultry and pay only $25.  It is a fantastic way to stretch the budget and fill the freezer.

Building Blocks?

Take five or ten pounds of ground beef, a bag of prepped onions, celery and carrots, some salt and pepper and a large skillet or two and a stock pot or dutch oven and brown all the meat with the additions. You don’t want to put it all in one pot, it will need room to cook and brown.  Drain and bag in one pound portions, labeling the bag adding the preparation date.  Tuck it into the freezer.  You now have five or ten separate bags of meat prepped for casseroles, stews, chili, or sloppy joes.

Or you could take five pounds of ground beef, separate it into two two pound portions and one one pound portions add one pound of your favorite sausage mix to each of the two pounds of beef and one half pound of sausage to the one pound of beef, add salt, pepper, garlic, onion and whatever you like in your meatloaf.  Mix, and bag in the size you prefer, label and tuck into your freezer.  You now have either 2 large and 1 small or 5 small meatloaves.  Or you could use a portion to make meat balls.

The chicken or poultry can also be precooked – I like to put a large flat of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into my slow cooker and cook until done.  I can either cut up the cooked chicken or bag individual pieces.  I now have the start to a pot pie or chicken and rice or a base to use for dumplings.

Freezer labels should include the following:

  • Item in the bag – chicken breast meat
  • Date prepared – 07/01/18
  • Seasonings included – salt, pepper, onion, garlic

If you prepare dump meals be sure to include the cooking instructions.

What’s Next?

This is going to take some time, but it will be worth it.  Really!

Now that you have taken that trip through your grocery store and found out what they have in stock, you can put together a list of all the family’s favorite meals.  Take your time.  Think about Taco Tuesdays and Left Over Nights.  Do you have Game Nights or Movie Nights?  Are there some meals your family really love?  Pizza?  Sandwiches?

Collect those ideas and your favorite recipes.

Boredom Killers

Are there particular brands of food you like?  Betty Crocker, Tyson and the like?  Check out their websites for new recipes and coupons.  For example, I love Near East rice pilaf, but during a recent trip to their website I found new products I wanted to try.  I made sure to add them to my shopping list – and bookmark the recipes.

Congratulations!  You now have the foundation of a meal plan that could take you through the school year.

Categories: Food

Food Vlogs – Why I Enjoy Them

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It is no secret that there are thousands of recipes on the Internet.  I’ve been told that recipes are the biggest category of searches out there.  It may be a little better secret that in addition to food blogs, food vlogs are growing in number.

What Is A Vlog?

A ‘vlog’ is a video blog post.  They can be videos from established bloggers, food companies or just a dedicated group of people who prefer the video rather than the blog.

Some of the major networks also up load older shows onto YouTube so you can watch episodes from your favorite chefs (Mary Berry, Julia Child, etc.)

Adventure!

Why do I seek out food vlogs?  You can find some really great recipes, and if your vlogger is a good teacher, you can learn a few tricks in the kitchen as well.

A good vlog, like a good blog, offers ideas, inspiration, along with a dash of fun.

Foodie blogs often visit restaurants or food festivals to check out the offerings and sample the goods.  On the other hand, for those who are adventurous in the kitchen, checking out what is at the park offers the opportunity to recreate it at home.

My Latest Vlogging Binges

Anna Olson – She showed up on my YouTube recommendations and also on my Amazon Prime Video channel.  I like the way she teaches and her easy manner.  And the food!

Entertaining With Beth – One of my early YouTube discoveries, Beth is a French trained cook with some great ideas for easy entertaining.

The Domestic Geek – This one started out as a way of learning healthy meal prep and has morphed into some amazing recipes.

Magic Journeys – This one is more foodie than food.  They visit various restaurants and food stops in Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm and comment on the food they have tasted.  I find it a great way to get an idea of what is available, which is potentially essential if you are traveling soon and with kids, and what to look out for.

Inspiration, education, adventure.  Food Vlogs provide a lot of material to help you in your kitchen.

Categories: Food

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