**Please note: To see the photos contained within a post, you must click on the title of the post to open it separately. Why? I don't know. I just know that it needs to be done to see the pics. :)

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The vegetables at the late summer Farmer’s Markets here in Minnesota are awesome. Tons and tons of wonderful ripe vegetables to choose from. I picked up quite a bounty recently, and set about looking for a recipe. I often pan-roast my veggies with just olive oil and kosher salt, but wanted to try something just a little different.

I ended up making a huge pan of roasted vegetables with a balsamic/mustard glaze. To serve alongside, I made balsamic-glazed chicken breasts. Of course you know that leftover roasted veggies are AWESOME in egg frittatas!

Delicious!

For the chicken breasts, I used this recipe from Recipe Girl. Of course, I used fresh thyme from my garden. I cooked the two boneless skinless chicken breasts in my Griswold slant logo #8 cast iron skillet with heat ring.

The original recipe for the roasted veggies is from Bon Appetit (August 2008). It’s an oldie but goodie. I adapted it just a bit to reflect what I had picked up at the Farmer’s market.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Ingelhoffer stone-ground) 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife blade 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (from my garden!) 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil (also from my garden!)

Fresh vegetables of your choosing. I used:

2 medium/large yellow onions 2 yellow summer squash 2 zucchini 2 bell peppers (I used red/green and green/yellow) 16 oz whole mushrooms (I used two 8-oz packages of whole mushrooms from the supermarket – I love roasted mushrooms!) Cherry tomatoes (from my garden!) Smallish-sized Yukon gold potatoes

Directions:

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and basil. While Bon Appetit says that you can prepare the dressing a day in advance, I prepped it two days in advance, to give the flavors plenty of time to blend. Of course, I kept it in the refrigerator. Wash the vegetables. Cut the onions into chunks. Slice the zucchini and squash into about 1/3″ pieces. Cut the bell peppers into chunks. Cut the (unpeeled) potatoes into chunks. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps. Generously sprinkle the vegetables with freshly ground coarse salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Place into #14 cast iron pan, and into the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the onion to the pan and put it back into the oven. While the potatoes are cooking, start preparing the chicken breasts; timing the breasts to finish cooking at about the same time as the veggies. Set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the zucchini and squash to the pan. Toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Toss the mushrooms and bell peppers with the balsamic oil mixture. After 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and bell peppers to the skillet. Toss the veggies and place the skillet back into the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and place back into oven. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are the consistency you like. I prefer slightly crisp – avoid mushy veggies!

Serve and enjoy with good friends and a glass of good red wine!

 

Screenshot 2016-09-08 13.17.36

I had a fun conversation recently with Jack Seemer, the Assistant Editor for Gear Patrol, for an article as part of their cool 31-part series – “The 2016 Guide to Life.

Below is a reprint (with permission, of course), of Jack’s article, with very cool original illustrations by Radio. You can find the article and illustrations here, and I’ve reprinted it below. Enjoy!

I am in Rockport, TX visiting my 88-year-old mother Betsy, and my 97-year-old stepfather, Roy. Yes, they are blessed.

I had a nice talk with Roy tonight about the history of cast iron skillets, and showed him the blog post I had written with all the pics about vintage cast iron in use.

Roy told me a story about a group of men he lunches with 1-2x/month. On one occasion when talking about the Great Depression, the other men “glossed over” it. Roy noticed that they all were either not born or were very young during the Great Depression. Roy was 14. He lived it. Not as a provider trying to provide for his family, but…he lived it.

Roy shared this article with me about the depression. He felt it more accurately depicted life as it was during the 1930s in the US.

I wanted to share it with you. So we all remember.

Sometimes it is easier to forget. We shouldn’t.

 

Steak_TPH

Anna has been working with The Pan Handler LLC. Please join me in welcoming her and her first blog post!

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Welcome to the first post in our Summer Skillet Series! Gardens are overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and corn is sweet, juicy, in season, and very friendly to the grocery budget.

We are going to test drive some recipes that will help make the most of both your summer bounty and your vintage cast iron skillet, though we may sneak some other pan types in there too.

Today’s recipe is from a favorite site of mine – Epicurious, which includes recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet. The original recipe is here – but I made some tweaks along the way that should help you adapt it for your family.

Epicurious believes this dish delivers “…a lot of summer glamor for very little work, balancing the baritone flavor and fat of the steak with the tomatoes’ coloratura acidity” and they are spot on.

Ingredients • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided • 2 (1 1/2-inch-thick) porterhouse steaks (about 1 3/4 pounds each) • 4 teaspoon kosher salt • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise • 4 (1/2-pint) containers mixed cherry tomatoes • 6 large thyme sprigs • 1 1/2 cups coarsely torn basil leaves

Tomatoes: I used approximately 2 pints of medium – enormous heirloom tomatoes from our garden. I say approximately because it was a very general estimation, however you’ll find that this recipe is very forgiving and you don’t need to be precise with how many tomatoes you use.

This is why we’re featuring tomatoes so heavily in our summer skillet series!

Porterhouse Steaks: My steaks were much thinner (about 3/4 inch thick) so keep an eye out for how I modified the cooking times to take this into account.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until it shimmers.   Meanwhile, pat steaks dry and sprinkle with kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Sear steaks 1 at a time, turning once, until well browned, about 10 minutes total per steak. Transfer steaks to a shallow baking pan (do not clean skillet) and cook in oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of steaks registers 120°F for medium-rare, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let stand 15 minutes.

While steaks stand, pour off oil from skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add tomatoes and thyme to hot oil (be careful; oil will spatter), then lightly season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in any meat juices from platter, then scatter basil over tomatoes and spoon over steaks.

Notes

Firstly, I’ve got to say – ditch the oven! Your cast iron skillet can give a beautiful sear to your steak and cook it perfectly without needing to finish it off in the oven. Personally I found that finishing it in the oven takes away from the final steak. It seemed to miss the sizzling deliciousness that my skillet will give to the steak.

For this test, my steaks were half the thickness recommended in the recipe, so I cooked them for half the time in the pan, about for 2:30 per side (five minutes in total per steak). I also cooked two per pan. I finished them off the oven, but wished I had just kept them in the skillet for two minutes each side.

Another thing I change is the heat for my skillet. My skillet gets hot hot hot, so I usually dial the heat down a notch from the recommended setting. For this dish, they suggested medium-high, but I found medium was perfect for the steak, and almost a little too high for the garlic and other vegetables.

I also kept the garlic in the skillet rather than removing it before the tomatoes came in, and I put the meat juices in with the tomatoes instead of at the end.

The resulting meal was quick, easy, delicious, and best of all – it was cooked all in one skillet!

Serves 4

Heart32

I didn’t even know there was a website called “Extra Crispy,” but lo and behold – there is! A few weeks back I was interviewed by a lovely gentleman about waffle irons. There is a lot of interesting information in his article about the history of waffle irons – you can find the entire article here.

I do feel proud to be a part of the cast iron resurgence, and I love these old vintage pans. From the article:

“Mary Theisen, who restores and sells cast iron as The Pan Handler and has a special expertise in Griswold products, says, “I like to think that I’m restoring and putting back into use pieces of American history. So to me, it’s not just a pan, it’s not just any pan, it’s something that could have been around for over a hundred years. I like knowing that I’m using a piece that is not going to be used, abused, and then thrown into a landfill.” Cast iron is also a “greener” alternative given its longevity, and sidesteps any health risks that nonstick coatings might have. “It’s got health benefits with the leaching of iron. It’s not toxic chemicals leaching.” Waffle irons, she says, enjoy particular rushes around certain holidays, such as Griswold’s “star heart”maker that forges heart-shaped waffles. I forget which holiday they are popular around. I think Presidents’ Day?”

Of course, the heart-star waffle irons (as well as our other heart-shaped products such as patty molds and our heart-star gem pan) are a BIG hit around Valentine’s Day. But then, that is close to President’s Day….isn’t it?