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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

**Quick Post** I've Been Missing Out

This is a quickie post just to tell you about something wonderful.

I've been buying my Cafe Du Monde chicory and coffee blend for the longest via Amazon. It's almost impossible to find it locally unless I use Hy-Vee (and they went WAY up on their delivery fees so.. bye). Last night I was surfing Amazon checking out the latest Cafe Du Monde prices and, yeah, they are still much too high. While I was surfing though, I spotted a coffee I didn't know about from a brand I do know about -Luzianne. I love Luzianne tea so that was great news. Bad news is that the shipping for the coffee almost cost more than the coffee itself.

So, I go and do a general search for Luzianne coffee and...

That's one way to get the video out of the way 

Heck yeah, hold up. I found this place online called the Cajun Grocer.

I can't even breathe right now for thinking of all the coffee, etouffee, and bread pudding with rum sauce. The only thing kind of holding me back is, I love Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee but I don't know how good Luzianne coffee actually is, and the shipping on the perishables (oh me oh my oh jambalaya) is pricey because you have to order at least 5 pounds at a time. Let me tell you something though, I am over here going over my grocery list to see what magic I can work with the budget.

If you have not seen The Cajun Grocer site, do go and check it out. If you know about it, fill me in on details. Is the fresh food worth paying to ship? Is it actually good? Keep in mind that my daddy was the son of a Lousiana man so I know a little bit about Cajun food. I haven't had any since Baby Kay's Kitchen in Arizona (where the spices nearly burned off my tastebuds), but it's good eating.

Man, I wish I had thought to order food like this when my mama was alive. She did love her crawfish and was thrilled anytime someone shipped a batch up to her in Alaska. I personally have no patience for crawfish, but I love the bread and pastries and that amazing coffee. And funny enough, the Cafe Du Monde is pricier at the Cajun Grocer while the Luzianne brand is more expensive at Amazon. Whatever. Come to think of it, I still have family somewhere down in 'Loo-zee-anna'...


Might as well finish the song

Got My Dutch and Tissue

Listen, I just want to cringe every time I remember posting about my missing package. I mean, what a bully. If I can get that cranky from missing a calorie or two, just imagine how awful I am when I am doing a prayer fast? (Which I need to do because it's been a while...)


My missing-but-not-really-missing package arrived. Yay! I'm good for toilet tissue for the next several weeks. Also, I got my water. Water is important when you are trying to lose weight. For one thing, if you drink enough water, it's easier to ignore junky snacks. It's actually even kind of hard to want any food when all that water is literally sloshing around inside you. Yeah.  But I'm getting off track.

Guess what other wonderful thing arrived?

The Dutch oven.

That thing is freaking beautiful.  I was a little worried about a couple of imperfections but they are small and I am choosing to ignore them for now. I don't think they will be a problem. If so, I will let Amazon hear about it...

Anyway, I went ahead and broke it in by fixing my one meal for the day. I had 2 brat sausages and some plain mixed veggies. That's one benefit to using cast iron - you don't have to use much oil at all. I would have taken a photo the way Instagram folk always do but I was finished eating before I thought of it  It was (as my little niece says) "da-nicious".

What I love most about this pot is that the lid is made to be used separately as a skillet.

It's the 5-quart pot

 Yass, girl, I know, right? Even though the whole thing was pre-seasoned, I re-seasoned the pot while I fixed my lunch in the lid/skillet. The food turned out nicely and I didn't even have much trouble cleaning out the veggie residue. When cooking with very little oil, some food will stick on cast iron until it becomes better seasoned with use. (Here's a tip: use some salt and a little oil to wipe out stuck on food bits.) That always worked for my mom and it's kept my other cast iron going good for years.

I have carried this skillet with me from Anchorage to Arizona to here and have had it for at least 16 or 17 years. Originally, it was my sister's "breakfast pan" that she used for cooking small meals when there wasn't the usual army of us to feed. When our mother stopped cooking on a regular basis, my sister Mike inherited all of her cast iron and she passed this small pan on to me. When Mike died, I gave all the other cast iron pieces to my nieces because I'm never going to be feeding as many people as they do.

I have some newer ones, but this one is a keeper

My not-a-diet eating plan these days is heavy on vegetables with small portions of meat for protein and variety. And make sure everything has flavor, flavor, flavor. The sausages and simple veggies were fine to test the new skillet, but I'm ready to do a larger meal with a lot of sweet onions, green onions, bell peppers, and garlic. I adore stinky veggies. Caramelized onions and fresh-roasted garlic are my favorites. Bell peppers are so expensive here - in the freaking food belt of the nation - that when I get ready to buy them, I have to make some serious life decisions and rearrange my budget. And don't even think about finding any fish that's not farmed unless you have some serious cash to spend. But that's okay because, if I have enough onion and garlic, I don't care if I have anything else to go with a meal of mixed vegetables. But I was told by one of my nurses to make sure I am getting enough protein so I'm supposed to always have a least a little portion of meat... So I'm going to be eating a lot of chicken and sausages. Hopefully, if I work my recipes right, I won't have to cook but once every three or four days.

The oven wasn't the only thing I was happy about. That Amazon Presto brand tissue is the business! I ordered it without high expectations. I just hoped that, for the price, it would be as good as Charmin. Listen. That tissue beats the heck out of every other "soft" and plush tissue I've used. And the rolls are humongous. I ordered a pack each of the "ultra strong" and "ultra soft" versions of the Presto tissue. I'm not as crazy about the "strong" version (though it's strong enough) because I prefer the soft version. And the soft version is actually strong enough. At least, it doesn't shred and come apart. You could clean up small spills with this tissue. I won't call out the last brand I used (because it's a decent brand of tissue), but look at the difference:

And the spool on the smaller roll takes up more space...

Right???? That gigantic thing barely fit on my tissue roller. The other brand was a little cheaper than the Presto but it was a good tissue (good enough that I have bought it a few times), but for the size of the Presto roll (and the softness), there was no competition. I have found my new favorite tissue. Of course, I have to use up all of the "strong" version before I buy any more of the "soft" stuff. Now that I have tried the tissue, I might have to check out some more items from the Presto brand.

So, yeah, I am in a much better mood tonight. I have eaten a healthy meal, drank gallons (or at least quarts) of water, and I have the Dutch oven I always wanted. By the way, you do know that there are reasons people cook in cast iron, right? The main reason my mother and grandmothers did was that cast iron distributes heat better than most pans. Also - and this was something my mother taught me - anemics can benefit from the added iron that leeches into food cooked in cast iron. Now, once you get a cast iron pot or pan well-seasoned, it's perfect because food doesn't stick and there are none of the chemicals that other "non-stick" cookware use.

It took me about a year to get one of my newer cast iron skillets fully and totally seasoned. And I mean, seasoned to the point of the pan's surface becoming almost completely smooth and non-stick. If I had cooked in it more than once or twice a month, it would have gotten there so much sooner.

Now, frying isn't the only thing you can do in a cast iron pan - which is why I wanted this deep Dutch oven. My mom and grandma cooked almost everything in cast iron - soups, stews, chili, roasts, baked meat, and pies and cobblers even. I'm not sure they ever owned many other types of pans. I fix cornbread in my large skillet all the time, and Indian fry bread too. You can make delicious (and quick) bread in it. Like I can't say enough, cast iron holds heat really well and keeps a more even temperature inside than most pans of other materials. If you get a pan with a good-sealing lid, even better. The only possible downside to cast iron is that it's so heavy. I usually just keep the pieces I use most out on an empty burner or in the oven. You don't want to drop one of those bad boys on a toe or on your flooring...

If you go online to look, it might be hard to find a lot of recipes for cooking in a cast iron Dutch oven - on the stove or in the oven. Just about anything you cook in any other skillet or pan, you can cook in cast iron, but you just might not find many recipes online. Lots of people use cast iron for camp-cooking - again, I think because it's strong and durable and holds heat so well... However, I found this easy bread recipe from Jenny freaking Jones - remember, she had that talk show? Now she is on YouTube with some really good recipes. I check out her videos all the time and she has this one for a No-Knead Bread. You may never want to hassle with making any other kind of bread after this. I tried this recipe using a neighbor's deep-welled enameled pan. It takes time to bake it, of course, but the prep is so fast. I am not a huge fan of enameled cast iron, by the way. It's pretty and easier to clean (at first) but it can be a little delicate. I don't think I get the same flavor from food cooked in the enamel kind.

By the way, if you are interested in Jenny Jones's recipes (and you should be because she certainly can cook), here's her YouTube channel and her website. Now I have to go and drink another bottle of water before I slosh off to bed.