Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

PerfectWaffle

After the success of Round 1 of Waffle Testing, I was excited to get into Round 2, so without further ado, I’m going to quit my waffling and get into it!

The Batter

This batter was from well known chef Alton Brown and I found it on the Food Network, right here!  Like the last round, this recipe uses butter and not oil, but it also adds buttermilk, and mixes both whole wheat and all purpose flour.

Mix the dry ingredients first!

Once again, I made this first to give it time to sit, and once again, it came out really really thick.  Nevertheless, I let it sit, and moved onto heating my iron.

The Waffle Iron

For this round of testing, I used the super unique EC Simmons Keen Kutter Waffle Iron (No. 8).  It looks all innocent from the outside…

But once you open it up, you’ll know that your waffles will not look like all the other waffles out there!

There is no way I would have done waffle testing without using this waffle iron. It is just way too cool!

Let’s Cook!

With this pan, I did the identical  steps to the Griswold in Round 1.  I heated both sides for about 5 mins each on Medium – High, but it was immediately obvious that what worked the first time round wasn’t going to work in Round 2.  The pan was smoking!  The best time to put in the batter is when the pan is just beginning to smoke, but this was about to set off the smoke detectors. Clearly, the EC Simmons pan heats up faster than the Griswold.

I turned the pan down, and put in the batter.  It started cooking way to hard and fast, another indication of a too-hot pan. I took a picture as it was a clear example of what not to do!

A sign of a too hot pan

I reduced the cooking time down to 4 minutes, but I don’t think I reduced the heat enough for this (it was set at Medium), and the waffle ended up browner than I would have liked.

This pan not only heated up faster, but it produces a thinner waffle, so you’ll need to heat up on a lower temperature, and cook for less time to get a great waffle.

The taste, however, was fantastic!  Alton really hit the nail on the head with the flavor.  The waffle didn’t taste dense either, which I attribute to the thinner waffle size.

I tried adding some water too (a cup) and it became quite runny.  It impacted the cooking time (needing less) and it made the waffles almost too light to be able to cope with the toppings I had chosen for today (cottage cheese and blueberries).  In retrospect, Alton’s recipe was perfect the way it was written for this waffle iron.  When diluting batter, don’t do what I did and lump in a cup of water at a time, add it in 1/4 cup increments.  Learn from my mistakes!

Here’s a later waffle with the diluted batter.

And once again, nothing stuck to the paddles!  Clean up was going to be a breeze!

Lessons from Round 2

Use a really cool waffle iron, If your paddles are smoking like a chimney, they’re too hot.  Let them cool a little before pouring in the batter. You may need to play around with the heat time and temperature before you find the perfect setting, You may need to play around with the cooking time before you find the right time for your particular iron You’ll still need to flip the waffle iron to cook both sides of the waffle When diluting batter, add your water in increments and test. You may need to vary the density of your batter depending on your waffle toppings.

Yum!

In Round 3, we’re making Chocolate Waffles, and they will be awesome!

Happy Cooking!

Anna

BobCPix2

I have some “testimonials” on the front page of the site, and Robert C. wrote me a wonderful one, along with photos! Here it is in its entirety…enjoy.

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All pans aren’t created equal!

 

As the primary cook in our home I have usually been a big fan of the latest technology.

Coated cooking pans were the preferred tools for almost all of my sautés, sauces, and frying exercises. Over time I found I had to ask the question, “where are these pieces of  non-stick surface material going?” Much like the question about what happens to the brown in soda drinks I became concerned about the chemicals I was feeding my family by cooking with chemical coatings. Then the government confirmed the issue by changing their regulations regarding non-stick surface chemistry.

The deciding factor really was that these surfaces no matter how carefully I stuck to the rules of using non-metallic spatulas and spoons (what about the plasticizers in those?) would eventually become scarred and make cooking and cleaning more difficult.

My cooking experience changed dramatically when my wife purchased a vintage cast iron pan from the Pan Handler website.

Talk about a great cooking surface! Where I first noticed a difference was with my morning egg whites. They had really been mucking up in the non-stick pan I had been using. I couldn’t get a uniform texture, the eggs were crumbling to very small pieces, and actually were almost unpleasant to eat. The clean up was unnecessarily time consuming.

With the vintage cast iron pan’s smooth as a diamond finish using a steel spatula I  could cook picture perfect scrambled eggs or omelets every time.  They had just the right browning and the texture was perfect. I was surprised at the difference.

The cleanup was simple and really was closer to what I was expecting from non-stick pans. A little soapy water with a sponge, drying and then a small amount of olive or canola oil on a paper towel to keep that finish smooth and shiny!

Making sauces, gravies, and browning meats is also better.

I really couldn’t brown a steak or piece of fish effectively in a non-stick pan, but with the Pan Handler vintage pan it is a breeze and the surface is sealed with the juices captured for finishing in the broiler or roaster.

Another note the vintage pan seems lighter and smoother than cast iron pans available in stores today. I guess the hand casting of earlier ages created a smoother lighter weight pan than those pans made currently in who knows where?

 

Robert C.

Barrington, IL

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I was recently cast iron hunting and picked up a few pans. As is often the case, the woman from whom I purchased the pans had a conversation with me about cast iron cooking. She told me that she had recently heard on the “Dr. Oz” show that cast iron cooking was an easy way to add iron to your diet. I knew about some of the health benefits of cooking with cast iron cookware, of course, but hadn’t heard anything from Dr. Oz. I haven’t seen his show and don’t know much about him (okay, I don’t know anything about Dr. Oz…), but I did some googling to find the information provided to me.

Wow, what a lot of information came up!

Dr. Oz’s website recently posted an article addressing fatigue and iron deficiency. According to Dr. Oz, there are 5 particular signs of fatigue caused by iron deficiency:

1. Feeling fatigued for over a month;

2. Always feeling cold;

3. Particularly pale skin;

4. Inability to focus; and/or

5. Substantial hair loss and brittle or “spooned” nails.

To address fatigue caused by iron deficiency, Dr. Oz recommends sautéing vegetables and other foods, and simmering tomato-based sauces, in cast iron. Experts state that people who regularly cook in cast iron are rarely iron-deficient. Dr. Oz’s article states “Acidic foods with high moisture content, such as tomato sauce, will absorb the most iron from these cooking pans. In one study, the iron content in spaghetti sauce tripled after it had been simmered in a cast iron pot. Sauté vegetables and other foods this way as often as you can to rev up iron intake.” It also suggests restricting coffee and tea intake for three hours before an iron-rich meal, to assist with iron absorption.

I am a big fan of chicken pans. I use the term “chicken pan” loosely; to me, a “chicken pan” is just about any skillet that is extra deep. Some extra-deep skillets are specifically referred to as fryers or chicken pans; some are not. In any event, my Iron Mountain (made by Griswold) chicken pan is my most-used cast iron pan. From my perspective, a chicken pan can often be used instead of a dutch oven. They are a great versatile depth; perfect for sauces. I also like it because it goes from range to oven – I recently gave pan-seared steaks a try, and the chicken pan worked wonderfully! When I make a big batch of spaghetti sauce, it’s my chicken pan that does the duty. It’s a bonus to know that my use of cast iron cookware is providing  healthy benefits to me and my family!