The Traveling Skillet

the-traveling-skillet said: I live in phoenix, come visit and we'll fly some places ^^* and i quite admire you, you are a wonderful person, nothing will ever change that <3

misshealthgeek:

did you know my chinese middle name means phoenix? :o and how suitable of a named place to live for a pilot! i admire you too! and thank you <3 please tell me of some flying experiences? whats something scary or thrilling that youve had happen!

sorry for the late reply, i was visiting my parents for independence day weekend :)

well one time i did a flight from an airport near seattle out to the coast of washington, and there was a cold front coming in from canada so it was really windy and rainy and the clouds were low. the turbulence was so bad that the plane was either nosediving or was so nose-high that it almost stalled (stopped flying), and right when we were about to descend into the airport our approach equipment stopped working and we were really close to the only hill in the area, so i called the air traffic controller and basically said “I want to go home now”

so we did a U-turn and headed home! in hindsight i’m lucky we didn’t get hurt.

strongfastfearsome said: holy crap I am so excited about your blog and your garlic potatoes. oh man.

They are pretty exciting. I am super crap at posting, since I’m a college student and frequently have either no time or no money, and skillets are high maintenance, but I will try to come up with some more things soon. There are a ton of recipes I want to share and some new things I want to try/destroy until I get them right. Thanks! :D

Best Roasted Garlic Potatoes In the Known Universe

I apologize for my absence. My finger took a lot longer to heal than I thought it would, and it really restricted my abilities to cook and type. And write. And be around sharp objects.

But now I am back, and I bear gifts.

Gifts of potatoes.

When I say Best In the Known Universe, I mean it. I’ve gradually adapted them from a recipe I found a while ago. It’s so easy I never even look it up anymore. And the skillet is hands down the best way to go. I used to do this with baking sheets and end up ruining them. I tried tinfoil once. It wasn’t pretty.

A few words of advice: Try to find the smallest potatoes you can. The fewer times you have to cut these, the better. They will be crispy on the outside and be like mini-mashed potato pockets of magic on the inside.

Ingredients (Serves 2, or 1 starving student)

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes (or other small ones), rinsed
  • Generous amount of olive oil - just keep the bottle standing by.
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour about three or four tablespoons of olive oil into a cup. Grate or mince the garlic into the olive oil and set it aside to infuse.

Cut the larger potatoes if necessary. Make sure they are about one cubic inch in size.

Toss the potatoes in the olive oil mixture to coat them. This can be done in a bowl or a plastic bag. Bowls are scarce around here, so Ziploc it was.

Grind up some salt. A lot of salt - somewhere in the tablespoons. You want to be generous with it; it will draw out the water in the potatoes and make them wonderful. I used garlic salt because I just need that much garlic. They should look something like this:

Look, the potato is even smiling at you.

Grind some pepper over the potatoes. Toss them so they are evenly coated, adding in a little more olive oil if you have to. Be careful not to add too much - if you bog them down with oil, they won’t be as crispy, and you won’t be as happy.

Put them in the oven for 35 minutes. Yes, 35. Trust me.

At this point, flip them over. Try to get as many of them upside down as you can so they will be evenly crispy.

Return them to the oven for 35-40 minutes (add time if it took you a while to flip them, as the oven will have cooled off). Remove them and let them cool until you can eat one without burning your mouth.

They seem to reheat pretty well in a container in the microwave with an almost-closed lid because it helps steam them a little bit, so if you don’t eat them all at once you can always eat them later. They’re a fantastic alternative to french fries at a barbecue. (Which reminds me: I might share my barbecue sauce with you. Might.)

I usually go for the tiniest, crispiest ones.

Seasoned eatings.

Hot Chocolate Brownies

This is a really college-friendly recipe; it only takes one bowl, and you can use pretty much any hot chocolate mix instead of having to go out and buy nice baking chocolate and they’ll still be really good. They can be as fancy or as simple as you like; it all depends on the mix (and you can always use real chocolate, too). You can even forego unpacking the electric mixer and just use a wooden spoon.

I decided to break out the wedge pan I borrowed from home, so I adjusted the baking temperature accordingly (assuming they’ll cook faster and more thoroughly).

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I had two hot chocolate mixes on hand: one regular Dutch process, and one Mayan spiced. The Mayan spiced cocoa is really strong, so I used about a 1 1/4 cup of the Dutch process and another half cup of the Mayan cocoa. Since I was already using spiced cocoa, I added some pink peppercorns and cardamom to enhance the flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups hot chocolate mix
  • 3/4 cup sugar - I found that my results were not as sweet as I would have liked, so if you want them sweeter but with less of a complex flavor, add more sugar. If you want both, serve them with ice cream.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour

Optional ingredients

  • Small pinch cardamom
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pink peppercorns

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Combine the hot chocolate mix with the butter. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time, then incorporate the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl and cleaning off the spoon every once in a while. Mix in the spices, if desired.

(I got to use this amazing mortar and pestle from Thailand to grind up the peppercorns since my tiny one wasn’t cooperating. It’s beautiful and works really well.)

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If using a wedge pan, spread vegetable oil in each wedge. Spoon about a tablespoon of batter into each wedge.

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Bake at about 340 degrees for 30 minutes. Be sure not to overbake. I turned the oven off for the last five minutes and just left the pan in there.

You can also do this in a standard skillet. It might need some more time, but I wouldn’t turn the temperature up since the skillet retains heat so well.

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As previously mentioned, these would benefit from ice cream. Although I honestly don’t know what brownies wouldn’t.

Seasoned eatings!

(Side note: I sliced my finger open on a mandoline today, so there might not be posts requiring knives for a while because now I am scared of them.)

Baked Artichokes and Pike Place.

I’m finally settled in Washington. I started work yesterday, and it was overwhelming but also awesome. I decided to run to Pike Place Market and buy some things.

I bought a lot of things.

Fancy cheeses, postcards, Yakima asparagus, garlic spears, herbs, tomatoes, jams, and artichokes.

I’ve never eaten an artichoke before. I really hate vegetables. A lot. In order for me to eat a vegetable, typically I have to not know I’m eating it. But I’m determined to eat better this summer, and I want to find vegetables I enjoy.

Note: When purchasing artichokes, bring a towel to wrap around them to protect your reusable bags from their spines.

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 artichokes (one halved artichoke will fit in one skillet. You might be able to squeeze in two smaller artichokes.)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Optional ingredients

  • Fresh thyme or basil
  • Additional garlic, thinly sliced

First, de-spine the artichokes with kitchen shears. I had a lot of trouble with the small spines on top. Try not to stab yourself like I did. I would wait until finishing this to preheat the oven (350 degrees).

Do this step before you cut the artichokes. Cut a lemon in half. Juice one of the halves into a bowl and remove the seeds. Mix the minced garlic, olive oil, and pepper into the bowl of lemon juice.

Remove the stalk and save it if you want; it can be peeled and used to make vegetable stock. Cut the artichokes in half and immediately rub their cut surfaces with the cut lemon. Cut out and remove the fuzz and small leaves in the middle. I had to alternate between a spoon and a knife.

Drizzle the olive oil mixture on both sides of the artichokes (I used a basting brush) and sprinkle them with salt. If you want, insert slices of garlic in between the leaves.

In order to get the most flavor from my skillet, I halved the artichoke and placed it face down. Put a lid or tinfoil over them and bake them for about 50 minutes. I dipped them in melted butter, but it wasn’t even necessary.

I didn’t actually like the artichoke heart, but I’m an artichoke newbie. I stood there for ten minutes and just ate the whole thing. It was magical.

Seasoned eatings.

NEW COOKWARE AAAAAH

I’m finally home for a week before I go up to Seattle. My mom let me raid the closet, and I found a TON of cast iron stuff. I guess my dad bought it for us to go camping, but they never used it! I get to have as much of it as I want. It all came from the factory, so it was super cheap, and it would sell for a ton in stores.

Pictures will be forthcoming once I acquire a working camera. HOORAY MORE THINGS. :D

thehayleybreanne said: I don't actually own anything cast iron but I WANT TO MAKE THE COOKIE. Can I use regular, non-iron cookware and get the same result?

Sure! Use a square baking pan lined with parchment paper, butter and a flour dusting, or nonstick cooking spray. Or a regular cookie sheet if you want the world’s flattest cookie. Just be sure to watch its baking time either way; the shallower the pan, the shorter the cooking time.

Brown Sugar Skillet Cookie

It all started with a craving for cake batter. Once I realized I had neither cake mix nor butter extract, however, I settled on a giant cookie. I applied some of the same principles I use when making chocolate chip cookies to making this brown sugar cookie. Results to follow.

I love this cookbook. It’s simple and full of cookies and adorably happy drawings. So I went to the sugar cookie recipe and got to work. I altered a few things - different sugar, melted butter, no lemon extract (that’s up to you), slightly more baking powder (because Arizona), and twice the vanilla.

This is my brown sugar saver owl. I reached the end of the brown sugar today and unearthed him from the depths of the plastic container. He says hello.

My cookie didn’t release from the skillet as well as I’d hoped. My skillets are not very well-seasoned yet since they’re still young, so I added an extra layer of vegetable oil before I put the cookie mix in the skillet. If you have a similar situation, it might not be the worst idea.

I love the combination of texture and taste in this cookie. It’s more satisfying than a cookie made with white sugar, and it seems to bring out more of the many flavor notes in the vanilla extract. It’s not overly sweet; it could easily stand a little frosting for decoration. Onward!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar, white or brown
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened or melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Sprinkles, as many as you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl. I usually melt the butter so it dissolves the sugar better, but it does change the texture of the cookie slightly because of how it incorporates with the flour. I think it works better for sugar cookies because they crumble apart better.

Combine 1 cup of the flour with the baking powder and salt, then fold into the butter mixture. The resulting mixture is slightly lumpy. Don’t worry about it. You can use an electric mixture for any of this; I both prefer a wooden spoon and seem to have lost my mixer entirely.

Mix in the rest of the flour. The mixture should get pretty thick. Break off a piece and taste test it to see if it needs more vanilla. I added a little extra because mine tasted too flour-y.

At this point, flatten the dough out a little (still in the bowl) and dump some sprinkles in. It’s pretty tough to mix; this makes it easier. (You might want to switch to a wooden spoon at this point, if you haven’t been using one already.)

Oil the skillet. Drop the dough into the skillet and press it down into the sides.

Into the oven! Check it at 20 minutes. Mine took just shy of 30 minutes. The edges should just barely be browned; don’t let the top actually start to change color or it’s already burnt and dried out.

I would’ve added frosting, but I was already planning on doing this, so…

Ice cream and caramel. It’s always the answer.

Seasoned eatings!

Turkey Mac

I love cooking blogs. I read a whole bunch of them pretty frequently. The problem I have with a few of them is that they’re written by people with a lot of time and, at least seemingly, a lot of money. I want to try a ton of recipes, but being a college student, I can’t really afford to cook lots of pricey dishes or buy fancy kitchen toys. I’m still dying for a food processor and more than three non-Ikea knives.

Enter macaroni and cheese. I can eat a whole box of Kraft by myself without even reconsidering my life for a second. However, this typically means it’s not particularly memorable.

Another thing I love is Hamburger Helper, because it’s macaroni and cheese made better by MEAT. It’s very heavy, though, so when my cousin showed me how to make it using organic mac and cheese with turkey, I initially wasn’t sure what to think, but it’s amazing.

It’s a very fast dish - it only takes me about 20 minutes to prepare, and it’s really easy. Eventually I want to find a way to make it so the whole thing is homemade, but this is a great adaptation when you don’t have a lot of time but still want a filling meal.

I use 80% or 85% lean turkey. Anything leaner and it falls apart too easily, and the texture’s not as satisfying.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 box macaroni and cheese - I use Annie’s shells and white cheddar; it’s got a better flavor for turkey than the shells and yellow cheddar, but either is really good.
  • Water, butter, and milk for macaroni prep.
  • Salt - I use Himalayan pink salt for salting the water for the macaroni, and garlic sea salt for the turkey. Sometimes I use the garlic salt for pasta water, too. It adds great flavor.
  • Pepper - freshly ground is always the best, but not a necessity. I have a four-pepper blend from World Market.
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoned meat tenderizer

Optional ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp Paprika (I use smoked Spanish paprika from a nearby spice store.)
  • Few drops liquid smoke
  • Spice rub of your choice - I use McCormick’s GrillMates Sweet and Smoky because it blends well with other things. I also have a few locally-made rubs from places here in Arizona. Use your favorite, really. Experiment and find what works the best. Stronger is better with turkey.

In a saucepan, start the water boiling for the pasta, stirring in about a teaspoon of salt. Place the turkey in a cast iron skillet at least 8” in diameter. Use a wooden spoon to divide it into rough sections about two cubic inches in size so the spices will sink in better.

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Now soak it in Worcestershire sauce. And I really mean it. Turkey is a sponge, and if you don’t apply both liquids and spices in large amounts, it will turn out dry and tasteless. Two to three tablespoons should suffice, but don’t worry about adding too much. An ounce or two extra won’t make a difference.

Sprinkle enough meat tenderizer on it to coat the turkey on one side. Season it liberally with salt and pepper at minimum, adding the other things if you want a more complex flavor. Turn the heat up to medium high and fold the turkey over a few times to mix the flavors in. It will break apart more easily once it warms up.

If you’re using a spice rub with sugar in it (including brown sugar), add it when the turkey is about halfway browned. This lets the sugar caramelize later on. If you add it too early, it can add too much color and make the meat taste burnt, even if it’s not.

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Your water should be boiling by now, so drop the pasta in. Mine took about 13 minutes to cook, but I’m at a high altitude in Arizona, so the time might be different where you are. At this point with the turkey, I like to add a little extra pepper, just because.

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Once the turkey is fully cooked, drain it and return it to the skillet. Drain the pasta once it’s finished. I’ve found that the best way to mix the sauce is to first add about a tablespoon of butter to the pasta and mix it thoroughly so the pasta doesn’t stick together as much. You can either mix the sauce mix and milk separately and then add it or mix it all in with the pasta and then add the turkey; it doesn’t matter too much.

I know a real cheese sauce would be better - I know! But I don’t have the resources for that right now. I like to add a mountain of grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses on top of pretty much every pasta dish I eat.

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Anyway, there you have it. It’s not beautiful, but the skillet and spices add a lot of unexpected flavor to the turkey, and a delicious meal in the middle of finals week will bring joy to any college student. My cousin’s family love it, too.

Seasoned eatings!

The Seasoning Process

As much as I love them, I have not treated my skillets well.

I retrieved them from storage today. One was in fine shape. This is what a nicely seasoned skillet looks like:image

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It has a clean, smooth surface free of rust and black crud deposits. There is slight rusting on the underside, but it’s not such a big deal.

My other skillet is not so lucky. When my wonderful boyfriend, Sean, first gave me these two skillets, I had no idea how to take care of them. This is the result.

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Now, granted, I am lucky that it’s not rusted (besides, again, a little on the back around the Lodge logo). But before I can start cooking with this thing again, I need to clean it up and re-season it. Seasoning is part of cast iron’s existence and what makes it so special.

If you have a piece like this that needs cleaning, first toss it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes, just enough to warm it up. Using an oven mitt, place it somewhere that can take some abuse (like the stove top or a trivet) and pour some good coarse salt into it. I used the rock salt from my ice cream maker.

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Top it off with a splash of vegetable or canola oil and get scrubbing. I picked a cheap washcloth for this - after, of course, I used half a roll of paper towels. Use a cloth you don’t mind donating to this specific purpose, because quickly enough it will look like this.

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I scrubbed at this thing for at least 15 minutes. You don’t have to get absolutely everything off, but you want the surface as smooth as possible so it heats evenly, and baked-on food crud isn’t good on any cooking surface because it can make your dishes taste terrible.

If your cast iron is actually rusted, you need to get it sandblasted and re-season it immediately.

So once you’ve gotten the cooking surface to the point that it’s pretty smooth and usable, the process has pretty much dried it out and removed any seasoning that might have been on the surface. Get some vegetable shortening, bacon fat, or lard and rub the cookware all over with it. One of the first mistakes I made was thinking that only the cooking surface needed to be seasoned, when in fact it’s the whole thing.

Once you’ve covered it in shortening or fat, place it back in the oven at about 250. Watch it after about 15 minutes and wipe off the excess fat, then put it back in for at least two hours. Turn the oven off after the time has passed, but don’t open it; just let it cool down so the cookware can stay warm.

Don’t cook anything with a lot of liquid like pasta or rice until the cookware is more seasoned. If the seasoning layer is thin, it tends to transfer some metal taste and sometimes blackness into the food.

I just took my “bad” skillet out of the oven and gave it another coating of oil since the heat dried it out. The true test of this process is to wipe the cookware with a paper towel and see what comes off. If it wipes clean, you’re good. If you get more smears of black, the seasoning hasn’t set. Coat it in oil again and put it back in the oven for longer or at a higher temperature.

This is the result. It’s not perfect, but it’s seasoned and ready to go.

I used the guide in the back of my Lodge cookbook plus this Curbly guide.