Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Loving cast iron cooking!

Last night, to go with the Ugandan slaw, I did filet mignon in the cast iron frying pan. Oh how I love my cast iron! I actually like steak done that way more than grilled, as it just sears in the flavors and becomes a big pile of deliciousness. (recipe below) I also sear seafood in the cast iron... I have 2 large frying pans for Seafood Saturdays (yummy tuna in Beaufort in the photo above, although it's a bit harder on the electric cooktop than my gas at home), as well as a cast iron dutch oven and an 8" flat, almost-griddle type pan for eggs and frying toast. If they went in the dishwasher, I might never use another type of pan! OK, they would also pull my pot rack out of the ceiling...

Seared Filet Mignon

* Don't do more than 2 or 3 at a time, as you don't want to crowd them!

thick filet mignon steaks
Lawry's season salt
mix of half extra virgin olive oil and half canola (I keep a jar of this handy all the time!)

Let the steaks sit out, seasoned, for an hour. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil into the cast iron and heat it on high until oil is very liquid and pan is hot. (This oil doesn't smoke much, so I don't wait for that.) Put the steaks in the pan. After about a minute of searing, turn and let the other side sear, reducing heat to medium or medium high (depending on thickness - lower for fatter!). Cook, turning once or twice, until cooked to desired doneness. If you want it done more than rare, you might need to cover to increase the heat - but leave a crack for steam to escape so you don't ruin the delicious caramelization on the meat!

And yes, Lawry's. I realize there are all kinds of steak rubs, but I prefer a more subtle approach. Sometimes I just use kosher salt and cracked pepper. If you get a good quality, thick steak, you want to taste the steak, not all the spices. A bit of Lawry's is subtle but brings out great flavor. And of course, don't forget the horseradish!

I made pancakes this morning. After being in Uganda for 3 weeks and hardly cooking at all, I am feeling the need to be in the kitchen! (Don't worry, it'll wear off!) I like plain pancakes, and my Boy Child and Mr Bob like chocolate chip, so I made both. I always try to make enough to freeze (separate with wax paper and put in a freezer bag), but I'm not sure we'll have any today!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Adventures in jet lag...

After traveling for 32 hours on Thur/Fri, jumping 7 time zones, and being awake 46+ hours, it's probably not hugely shocking that I am still feeling jet lagged. I have adjusted quickly to what time of day it is (except that I keep waking up at 4am, and then 5:30am, which is really not cool), but I am still tired. Not hallucinating, unsafe to drive, ready to sleep in the frozen food section tired, but still. Tired.

My friend Mr. Bob is here, doing some work on our tornado-ravaged other house. We always have great philosophical and spiritual discussions, so it's a treat to have him around awhile. My Wonderful Husband is at the coast doing post-hurricane things amidst the widespread power outage. I've been doing a lot of texting with my Lovely Daughter today - it's much more fun when it's not 50 cents a text, like it is in Uganda. And the Boy Child had a good post-pneumonia check up today, hallelujah! (If you've never had a child in an African hospital for 4 days... I don't recommend it very highly, although to be fair, he got better and they were very nice.) Here's a picture of his hospital room:

So Ugandan Slaw is on the menu for tonight, and the stuff is addictive. I'm not sure why, but it's an almost unanimous opinion, so I will share it with you:

4 cups shredded cabbage (shred it yourself - it's crisper and cheaper!)
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 3 sections, and sliced into thin wide ribbons
1/2 of a small red onion, sliced thin
3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
4-5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients at least 1 hour before you need it. Stir occasionally. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do I need a place to ramble??

This blog started out as an art blog, and I am still painting and taking photos, so that will be part of it. But I also feel the need to ramble... Maybe it's my advanced age (46), or just the need to pontificate every once in awhile, but I am going to try to get a personal blog going once again. (Please visit my non-profit's blog at )

So... photography first. We were on safari a couple of weeks ago at Lake Mburo in Uganda. My second safari there, and my favorite is still the zebras. I'm not sure why, but I find them endlessly fascinating!

My husband blessed me 2 years ago with a 500mm lens, when we were going to Uganda the first time. It's very heavy, but wow, can it take great pictures! Of course, it takes bad pictures too... (It's the lens not the photographer obviously!) Seriously, with that much zoom, the slightest jiggle makes a big mess. And since the drivers always seem to know the second before you are going to shoot and decide to move the van... well, let's just say that my dad's estimate of 1 great photo for every 100 taken isn't too far off. Thank goodness for digital!