Replacement griddle.

Way back when– way back when– my Grandmother had a cast-iron griddle among other kitchen utensils. It was good quality, had to be because she kept a farm-family going down in Southern Georgia. This griddle came into my parent’s possession sometime in the late 1970s when Grandma passed away. My Dad made good use of it during his last years, bacon, eggs and pancakes were a regular feature on Sunday morning. From Dad, it passed to me in 2007. I married that year, and my wife and her son managed to use it cooking pizza of all things, which probably isn’t the best use of a griddle but it worked– sort of.

In 2009, our marriage went down the tubes. I got called vile things and fair driven out of the place about March of 2009. Shortly thereafter, she threw several of my things– including the griddle– over the porch railing to the concrete patio below. Cast iron doesn’t fare well when it hits concrete from the third floor, so of course it cracked and became unusable. I moved on, got other stuff to replace the damaged stuff and managed not to make too big a mess of things from then on. One thing, I got a cast-aluminum griddle/grill to replace the old one. It’s a big one, fits two burners on the range, and you can flip it so it’s a griddle on one side or a grill on the other. Still, the loss of the old cast-iron griddle bothered me because of the family history.

So— today I bought a new one. Stopped off at Ace Hardware, turns out they sell the “Lodge” brand of cast-iron cookware. I bought the 10-inch griddle, which is the same size that Grandma used to have. Brought it home and prepared it for use.

Now, cast iron needs a little prep. First, wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water. Note that this is the ONLY time you use detergent on this pan, after this you clean it either with a paper towel or with water only. Now you’ve got the pan clean and dried, coat the pan both inside and outside with Crisco. Place the pan upside down in the oven, over a cookie sheet, for about an hour and a half at 375 F. After the time runs out, turn off the oven and let it cool down before trying to remove the pan. This process begins “seasoning” the pan, and from now on every time you cook bacon or sausage or hamburger in it, the “seasoning” will get better and the pan will become “non-stick” by the very nature of the thing. Cast iron gets better with use, so I’m not afraid to cook sausage, eggs and pancakes in these cast-iron skillets and griddles. I can’t make eggs stick to my 9-inch skillet, it’s that good at being “non-stick” just from being used regularly. See photos below, the new griddle. I think Grandma would be happy, it’s good quality just like she would use.

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Thermometers vs. Thermostats: You Don’t Have to be a Bystander

Do I have to say “He’s right”? OK, he’s right. Sometimes– maybe next time– you or I will be the deciding factor on whether someone lives or dies.

Must Be This Tall To Ride

(Image courtesy of iowa.gov.) (Image courtesy of iowa.gov.)

The black smoke was unmissable against the stark gray backdrop of winter.

Something on the back of an RV had caught fire while parked at an interstate travel plaza and rest stop just outside Elkhart, Ind., which is—ironically—where most RVs are manufactured.

I stopped the car and pulled out my phone, called 911, then hit record to capture video of the burning RV. I figured the explosion would be awesome if the fire reached the gas tank. A handful of cars pulled over too and the other travelers joined my gawking. Why do we like to watch things burn?

“God, I wonder if the owner knows their vehicle is on fire?” I asked.

Everyone around me shrugged.

And then it dawned on me that someone might be inside. Seemed unlikely. But possible.

“No one’s in there, right? Could someone be sleeping or showering?”

More shrugs.

I…

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Snow pics.

As most folk know by now, we had a big storm blow through Chicago during the weekend just past. 5th largest snowfall recorded, at a little more than 19 inches. So, I took some photos of the snow here at my place. To begin with, the base: Almost nothing, we had the drive down to pavement after the last one.

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That’s the base. A coating of snow, though enough as I’m given to understand to cause some of my Southern brethren to clean out all the milk and bread from the stores in a blind panic.

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Above, what it looked like yesterday morning. My landlord had exhausted himself moving snow all day Monday, even with a new snow-blower it was a monumental project.

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A path cleared for the mailman, the two photos on the left. On the right, I managed to hack away at more of the snow on the drive and walkway.

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Above, see how the snow drifted a little in the lee of the house. This last photo taken this morning, we got a couple of inches last night.

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Last photo. Can’t have new-fallen snow without critter tracks. I’m thinking it’s a cat but I could be wrong.

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