Cast Iron Seasoning

Greg Blonder – Cast Iron Seasoning:

Cast iron pots are heavy. They can rust. The dark black seasoning will not stand up to hours of simmering if the liquid is acidic, like tomato sauce or sauerkraut. And once the seasoning layer is broached, excess iron can leak out of the pot into your food, risking iron overload disease. Thermal conductivity is eight times lower than copper, which is why cast iron fry pans are notorious for hot spots. The surface is mildly non-stick, but requires a bit of oil or fat to reach its full potential. Cast iron can be cleaned, but not aggressively. And I never use my cast iron pots to cook caramel or make crepes or to scrape off a tasty “fond”.

Thus starts an in-depth analysis and recommended method of cast iron seasoning.

As for myself, I don’t bother with fancy oils and use plain old canola/rapeseed oil. It has worked well for the past several years.

A few months ago, I reseasoned my Lodge 10.25″ cast iron pan for the first time (and seasoned a new 12″ seasoned steel pan) in order to remove any potential allergens from our pre-allergen-free cooking days. We had gone on for over a year without using these pans due to our concern with lingering allergens in the pan, which was pretty painful. I didn’t do the piranha etching, but built a large fire in our Weber grill and placed the pan directly on top of the fire for about an hour. The vents were wide open on the grill, and the high heat burned off all of the old seasoning. After three sessions of wiping on a thin layer of canola oil and putting the pans in a 450°F oven for an hour, a suitable seasoning was achieved.

While over time the seasonings have taken a beating, I’m not going to bother with reseasoning since it is still reasonably non-stick, and anything that does stick will scrape off easily after burning it off and scraping with a spatula.

Lodge cast iron skillet
Lodge cast iron skillet
Lodge seasoned steel pan
Lodge seasoned steel pan


On picky eaters

Dilla Narduzzi for Macleans back in December 2015: A Naturally Picky Eater? There’s No Such Thing

This profusion of taste buds can make kids more sensitive, or even resistant, to strong flavours, but being exposed to those foods over time can make them more receptive. Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize this is a stage, and never offer the offending item again.

The way we introduce new foods to our child is to ask them to try the food at least once per meal. (i.e., stick out your tongue and taste it, and maybe chew it a little.) We offer the food every time, whenever we happen to cook it, and model eating it. Beyond that, we don’t force them to eat it. We also try to have at least one dish during the meal that we know they like and will eat, which ensures they won’t leave the table hungry (at least, not too hungry).

Measuring the carbon footprint of eating

Chris Ying for MAD: The Carbon Footprint of Eating Out

Eating, it turns out, is the most significant interaction most of us have with the environment. Even if we remain cloistered in air-conditioned rooms in front of keyboards and monitors for most of the day, at some point we must eat—and whether it’s a carrot stick or a Big Mac, with our first bite we implicate ourselves in the food system, and the food system is responsible for 30 percent of worldwide carbon emissions. That is to say, almost a third of greenhouse gases are a result of growing, shipping, cooking, and disposing of food.

A good effort in trying to assess the costs of eating out versus eating in. One of the main conclusions is that meats, especially beef, has a very large environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating less meat will lead to better human health, as well as reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Also see this article at The Guardian.


On ‘healthy’ food

No food is healthy. Not even kale.

Michael Ruhlman for the Washington Post:

We will be healthy if we eat nutritious food. Our food is either nutritious or not. We are healthy or we are not. If we eat nutritious food, we may enhance what health we possess.

Because, and this is the judgment call, fat isn’t bad; stupid is bad. And until we have better information and clearer shared language defining our food, smart choices will be ever harder to make.

Besides the rant on  word usage errors, the article seems to rally against two main points – the government dietary guidelines and popular ‘healthy’ food fads.

The dietary guidelines have shifted through the years based on the available science; however, I would submit that following our best research into food and nutrition and human health is the best reasonable course we can take. I do understand that industry, politics and other factors influence the shape of the guidelines but the main ideas in those guidelines are pretty sound. It’s not enough of a reason to throw them out the window.

As for fads, in one sense, they can certainly help reduce the costs for people who absolutely have to follow those diets (i.e. gluten free foods are so much more available now and much cheaper) but they also muddy the waters for others. My recommendation is to look at the fads with eyes wide open and healthy skepticism. And eat foods in moderation.

How to cut up a whole chicken

I find that knowledge of how to prep from basic ingredients (as basic as you can get, anyways) invaluable. It opens up a wider variety of recipe possibilities and can help in saving some money over buying prepared ingredients. One of those things is learning how to cut up a whole chicken.

I like buying whole chickens because we can get a few things from it; namely the meat, the bones and the skin/fat. The meat can then be prepared in whichever way you like. The bones are great for making stock (roasted or not, with veggies or not), and the fat is rendered from the skin. A favourite is also the leftover fried skin bits which can be salted after frying, kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and used as soup toppings much like bacon bits. (I sometimes just take a pinch of them to eat straight up, to get the taste of fried chicken.)

Jacques Pépin’s videos have been an invaluable resource for information on how to cook. Here’s his video on how to cut up a whole chicken.

Bonus – complete deboning of a whole chicken:

On detoxes and cleanses

Scott Gavura for Science Based Medicine – The one thing you need to know before you detox:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body.

Gavura doesn’t mince words.

The lifestyle implications of a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, and alcohol or drug use cannot simply be flushed or purged away. Our kidneys and liver don’t need a detox treatment. If anyone suggests a detox or cleanse to you, remember that you’re hearing a marketing pitch for an imaginary condition.

Oat and Rice Flour Pancakes

1 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rice flour blend*
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ‘milk’ or water
2 tbsp oil
1 egg replacement**

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing as you go so there are no dry lumps. Let the batter sit to thicken.
  4. Heat up pan at medium low, ladle in batter (about 1/4 cup for a 5-6 inch pancake). Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes on the second side.***

Makes about 6 pancakes.

* The rice flour blend I’ve been using is as follows: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups white rice flour, 2 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 2/3 cups tapioca flour or potato starch.
** I use Ener-G egg replacer. I haven’t tested any others.
*** Compared to traditional wheat pancakes, these won’t brown as much, and may even be very light tan coloured. Make the first flip when the outer edges are dry.

  • Place cooked pancakes on a rack in a 200°F preheated oven to keep warm
  • I usually double the recipe, and store the extra pancakes in the freezer. To reheat, microwave for 45 seconds, flip, and again for another 45 seconds.
  • This is essentially a basic recipe for pancakes with replacements for the milk and egg, and the flour is replaced with a 3:1 ratio blend of oat and rice flours, respectively. I find that the oat flour helps to keep the gummyness of the rice flour mixture down, and the end result is fluffier.