Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cleaning Up Cast Iron

I was browsing my local Goodwill Store the other day (I love Goodwill, by the way.  How could I not?  It's like a perpetual garage sale that goes on every day from 10am to 6 pm with new things added daily.  What could be better?) and stumbled upon this old cast iron Griswold skillet.  My other cast iron is made by Wagner so this would be my first Griswold.  I knew for $5 it was going home with me.  This is what it looked like when I brought it home:

For the first time in a long time we didn't have anything going on today and so I decided that it would be a good time to clean this skillet up and start the seasoning process.

I went to Orchard Supply Hardware ( I wanted to go to our locally owned hardware store, Hewitt's Hardware (another place I love) but they are closed on Sundays) and picked up several pumice stones--this is the brand I like:
It may be just my own preference but this brand seems to be a softer type of pumice and I just like how it's shape will change as you are using it so that you can really fit it in to tight spots.

So, I had my supplies:

And I got to work.  Now, I am not going to tell you that you won't have to use some major elbow grease even with using the pumice stone, but I can guarantee that it will be easier than without the pumice. 

I started using the pumice by accident.  I had been trying to clean up a huge 12" cast iron skillet that I had seasoned improperly by using too much oil and I had been scrubbing with a low grade steel wool  for what seemed like hours.  In frustration I finally headed to Hewitts to pick up a higher grade steel wool hoping that that would start breaking down the gunk.  I got the highest grade steel wool but then I happened to see the pumice stone and decided to give it a try.  Major improvement!!  It is now my tool of choice when trying to break down a gunky seasoning.

This is the skillet at about the halfway point:

  I like to use a heavier fat the first time I season a pan--like bacon grease.  It just seems to give the pan a better and stronger non stick surface.  After the first seasoning I will use any oil I have on hand...olive oil or vegetable oil for subsequent seasonings. 

And this is at the point where my new old pan  is all cleaned up and oiled down (very lightly) and ready to go in the oven for it's first seasoning:

I think it turned out pretty good.  I'll season it a few more times before I start using it but it is well on it's way to joining my other pans in my continuing culinary experiments. 

Hope you all are having a great Sunday and resting up for Thanksgiving this week.  By the way if you have any tips about cleaning and seasoning cast iron I would love to hear them. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flu, Fear and Finance

The title of this blog post is the same title of an article that I just read in one of our local community papers.  Most of the things that I read in this article I pretty much always suspected but to have it put in front of me in black and white really kind of flipped me out and made me realize that we really cannot depend on our government to protect us or in any way do what is in our best interests.  Big brother should be listed in our dictionaries under the words CORRUPT and INCORRIGIBLE.

This particular article focuses on the marketing of vaccines--especially the "flu vaccines" that are being pushed so hard at this time of the year.  Everywhere you turn, the media is telling us that we must get ourselves and our children vaccinated against any and every disease that might or might not be lurking out there just waiting to jump on us and attack.  I can't tell you the number of commercials on television and on the radio that I've heard over the last few months telling us where to go and what to get. 

I don't like unnecessary vaccines.  I am even leery of the normal childhood vaccines that most of us received when we were growing up and that I did choose to inflict upon my own children--only after many weeks of sleepless nights trying to come to a decision that would ultimately affect the rest of my dear one's lives.  I came to believe that the whole idea of whether or not to vaccinate is a real double edged sword.  On the one hand I would not want to go back in time to the days when so many of the horrible childhood diseases were still prevalent.  Back in my great grandmothers youth, it was not an uncommon thing for one or more of your children not to live to see adulthood whether because they had succumbed to Scarlet Fever or Polio or any other of  the horrible diseases that were still so common back then.  I honestly do believe that vaccines have played a major role in bringing those diseases under control and in many cases eradicating them.

However, I also believe that there is absolutely a connection between some vaccines and the fact that 1 out of every 150 of our children is now being diagnosed with some form of Autism.  So, like I said, a very sharp double edged sword that cuts both ways.

Anyway, I getting away from the main point of this post and it is already getting long...sorry.

To get back on are the main points from this article:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, during the 2006-07 flu season 60 percent of health care professionals declined to get a flu shot....
  • In 1999, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform launched an investigation into federal vaccine policy that's main focus was to look at possible conflicts of interest on the part of federal policy-makers ( you know, the ones who are telling us which vaccines are okay for what and when) in the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) and the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP).  The VRBPAC advises the FDA on the licensing of new vaccines, and the ACIP advises the CDC on guidelines to be issued to doctors and the states for the appropriate use of vaccines.
  • Members of these committees are required to disclose any financial conflicts of interest and to not participate in decisions in which they have an interest but what the investigation determined is that the conflict of interest rules of both of these committees have been lax at best and that "advisory committee members with substantial ties to pharmaceutical companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings".  What the hell?!?!
  • The CDC grants waivers  from conflict of interest rules to every member of the advisory committee on a routine basis
  • The chairman of the CDC's advisory committee owned 600 shares of stock in Merck (anybody heard of Merck? Ya, that would be a pharmaceutical company--a pharmaceutical company that manufactures vaccines.)
  • Four out of the eight CDC advisory committee members who voted to approve guidelines for the rotavirus vaccine in June of '98 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were manufacturing it and three out of the five committee members who voted to approve the vaccine itself in December of '97 had financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies who were manufacturing it.
  • "Researchers and consultants often go back and forth between working for the pharmaceutical industry and the CDC and FDA"
  • In 2003 Chiron (a pharmaceutical company) made "$332.4 million in sales on flu vaccine alone and had a 53% gross profit"
  • According to the Cochrane Collaboration, published in the British Medical Journal in 2006, "there is little scientific  proof that the influenza vaccine is safe or effective for children and adults".
I could go on but I think you get the gist of the article.  It makes me crazy.  But, one thing I can tell you.  Me and mine will not now or in the future be getting the flu vaccine.  What are your thoughts?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Award!

I wanted to give a shout out to Moonshine over at The Diary of a Witch, who surprised me today with a very cool award!  The Clucking Great Blog Award!! Thank you so much, Moonshine! 

Now I am to pass it along to 10 blogs that I enjoy reading.  There are so many wonderful blogs that I follow that it was really hard to choose just 10.  I love my time visiting with each and every one of you.  

  1. Chickens in the Road
  2. Cold Antler Farm
  3. Kitchen Witch
  4. The Medicine's Woman's Roots
  5. Wild Moon Cottage
  6. Divining Women
  7. Heart of a Cowgirl
  8. I Hope They Have Pudding
  9. This New Place
  10. The Crunchy Chicken
Thanks again, Moonshine!  Muah!