The Pittsburgh Steelers invites you to join over 20 current and former Pittsburgh sports legends on the fourth annual fan cruise vacation through the Caribbean!
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One of the first dishes that I learned to make was corn bread in a cast iron skillet. I’m thinking corn bread because I loved it and the cast iron skillet was because that’s the only thing we used to make cornbread in! We made tons of other food in mom’s cast iron skillets which was the only kind of skillets that we had.
When Teflon came along, I remember us all choosing to use Teflon over cast iron but I don’t know why, other than it was “the new kid on the block”! I started learning how to cook when I was young. I don’t know how old I was when I started learning to cook but I wasn’t a teenager yet and I’ve been cooking ever since!
My Mom is the best cook I’ve ever known which is saying a lot because I went to culinary school and got to eat the food of a lot of great chef instructors. When it comes to everyday home cooking, my Mom has no equal – in my mind. I’m sure you feel the same way about your Mom, Aunt, Grandmother, Dad or somebody, right? I learned a lot from my Mom, a few things from my Dad and both of them taught me how to cook using cast iron. There’s something about cast iron that makes the flavor more intense. It fries and chars beautifully. It bakes like it was made for baking!
My Mom passed away in 2007 and for the life of me I don’t know what happened to all of her cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, lids – etc. I hadn’t lived at home for years but I did notice that they were all gone when I moved back home a few years ago. The sad part is that pots, pans, skillets and things like that can and should be handed down in a family.
Cooking in your Mom’s pots & pans brings back the best memories of her cooking for you and the rest of the family using those same pots & pans. Since I couldn’t have that experience, I decided to start my own collection of cast iron cookware. Of course I had to have a small skillet 5 to 6 inches, a medium sized one 8 to 10 inches and a big chicken fryer 15 inches or more! I also wanted at least one Dutch oven.
One day I was in Walmart to run in and pickup something quick and then leave when I saw a set of 3 pieces of cast iron cookware by Ozark Trail! I didn’t know who Ozark Trail was, in fact the only brand name I knew about for cast iron was Lodge. The Ozark Trail collection was 2 skillets, one 5″ and one 8″ and a two sided griddle for $19.99. Even though I didn’t know the company name, the display was in the camping section on an end cap, so I decided to take a change and give it a go!
Even though the box said the cookware was pre-seasoned, I decided to pre-season them again anyway. I found some instructions online and followed them somewhat. I say somewhat because the instructions said to wash with soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Next you add a little oil to the pan and wipe it (inside & outside) with canola oil, remove oil with a towel and then put it in the oven on 400 – 500 for 1 hour. Then it says do the oil, wipe, oven bake part SIX times – yes six times. Yes, it would take a whole day to season your cast iron that way. I decided since mine was already pre-seasoned I’d do it twice, see how it looked and decide if I should do anymore “rounds”.
If you have cast iron I’m sure you’re using it but if you’re not, please do! If you don’t have any please get some, you’ll love what it does for your dishes!
Stay tuned for an update in this post about how my cast iron seasoning (seasoned twice) went. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Of course that means I’ll be forced to go buy some chops or something similar to fry and I guess I’ll have to bake something too. Maybe a pan of corn bread too! Yippee!
UPDATE!!! I took my new pre-seasoned cast iron cookware and following instructions I found on a blog, I reseasoned them again – twice. I seasoned and fried pork chops and I baked corn bread in the bigger 8″ skillet. It performed flawlessly! No sticking, no burning, no problems! My pork chops were golden brown and juicy and the cornbread was simply delicious!
I included some pictures so you could see the results for yourself! The way I was standing when I took the pics caused a shadow on the cornbread making it look like it didn’t cook properly. Sorry about that folks! It cooked perfectly and looked and tasted delicious. I just need to take some food photo classes! 🙂
I’m happy with Ozark Trails and I recommend them highly. Anytime you can find cast iron that’s reasonably priced and that cooks like a charm, I’m in! I’m in love with Ozark Trails and like I told my sister, I will be buying more of it very soon! I was looking online and they have a 5 quart Dutch oven for $17.82 at Walmart! That’s the best price I’ve seen on a 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven – EVER! I’m definitely getting one. I don’t want one with feet which is perfect for cooking outside/campfire cooking. For home cooking a flat bottom will be perfect!
I love to watch HGTV and I will watch it before news, sports or weather! I have always had a love and flair for interior design. I guess that’s because I grew up with sawdust in my veins! The picture is one of the rooms from “The Lunar Lander” on HGTV’s Fixer Upper.
My mother was raised by her cousin after her mom died when she was just a baby. My mom never called her cousin and in fact she called her Aunt Georgia and her husband was Uncle Frank. Aunt Georgia (AKA – Aunt Georgie) and Uncle Frank built or bought and rented out little houses in the West End of my hometown, one of which I grew up in!
Even though the houses were small and usually only a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom, every room was filled with love and every home was filled with happiness and family! At least that’s the way I remember it!
Growing up in the West End of Washington PA, was like growing up in an African village in many ways. I say that because the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” was like the motto where and when I grew up!
Everyone knew everyone and everybody watched out for everybody else’s kids. If I got in trouble at a friend’s house, I was chastised and sent home where I got in trouble again (for real), for misbehaving!
More often than not, you grew up calling close family friends of your parents “Aunt and Uncle” and their kids your cousins even though you weren’t really related at all. Of course as a child you didn’t know that but it wouldn’t have mattered if you did know. This was simply small town living at it’s best. We didn’t even lock the doors at night! I remember sleeping with the doors and windows open in the summer time to allow a breeze to blow through the small house we called home.
I remember playing in homes that Uncle Frank and his crew were working on, getting them ready to rent out. I’ve stepped on nails and gotten plenty of splinters from the wood that was always laying around. I played with hammers and nails the way other kids played with dolls and blocks! Sometimes I can still smell the sawdust from a freshly cut piece of wood!
I still have a love for renovation and construction. My mom could put up paneling, wall paper, paint, refinish furniture, put down floors – etc. I know it’s in my blood and I’ve tackled a couple of DIY projects over the years. Nothing to the extent to what my mom did though! She’s my shero. She could cook better than anyone I know and she could do anything that needed done in a house!
I love the “before and after” of the projects on home renovation shows. I do have the vision to see what could be before it is. Maybe one day I’ll do something magical with my love for home design. I am currently tackling things one project at a time in my own fixer upper! Stay tuned for before and after pictures. 🙂 You never know or as I like to say, never say never!
The most important thing I learned in regard to my online business today is that you should define your business by the people you serve, not by the product you make. You see, the point is, it’s all about your visitor or customer. You must be prepared to solve their problem and relieve their pain because that is why they are on your blog or website. They are looking for a solution to their problem.
I remember a post I read by a very famous internet guru that said, people don’t buy the drill because they want a drill, people buy a drill because they need to make a hole! I found out that statement actually came from Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt. While brilliant in its insight, it stops short in my opinion of the real reason people buy a drill! Nobody really wants a hole in their wall. What they really want is what the hole in the wall will lead to – you know, the end result. Maybe the end result is a shelf to give the purchaser more storage. Maybe it’s a picture hanging on the wall or a mount for that new flat screen TV! All I’m really saying is the hole is not the payoff. The hole is a means to an end!
The reason I bring this up is part of the reason I wrote this post. The hole is definitely part of the reason for buying the drill, but it’s not the desired end result, it’s not the whole reason. When you are adding a product to sell to your readers & customers, ask yourself if your solution is the entire reason why someone would be motivated to spend money on your product. If your customer really wants a hole, is the drill you’re offering the best tool for your customer to make the hole with! Or can you go a step beyond making a hole and provide the mount for the photo or for the TV?
We should always try to figure out the solution to the problem your customer has and try to provide as much of the solution as you can. Yes, you can provide the drill to make the hole, but why stop there? Provide unlimited value to your customer, tell them the best drill for their job which is helpful because there are thousands of drills out there and give them instructions on how to hang a mount with a link to the best mount for their particular job! Provide value to your readers and customers by taking the time to solve as much of their problem as you can! Provide as much free value as you can. Last but not least, teach everything you know!
Of course we could take the drill/hole theory to many levels and directions but I believe it’s still a valid place to start the thought process of what you customer really wants. No matter what the customer wants the end result to be, if they need to start with a hole, the point is still a valid one. Solve the problem by supplying the best possible means to the end result. Be a part of the solution even if you aren’t the entire solution, be a means to a desired end.
The links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them and make a purchase, I will be paid a small percentage for referring you but it won’t cost you one penny more! Thanks!
I really love fleece and with this coat, there's so much to love! Sheln calls this their Apricot Hooded Batwing Long Sleeve Loose Coat. I call it perfection! It's one size, warm and comfy cozy! I can see this on the coolest girl at a football game! It has a rolled collar, raglan sleeves and yep, a hood! So much coat for so little money! Want one? You know you do! 🙂
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 1/2 cups crushed pretzels or pretzel crackers (I use Flipside pretzel crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 16-ounce Cool Whip (divided – 8oz for filling/8oz for garnish)
1 6-ounce package Strawberry Jello
2 cups boiling water
1 -16 ounce bag frozen sliced strawberries
Cool Whip for garnishing
Crust: Melt butter; add sugar. Crush pretzels with rolling pin and add to butter mixture. Press into bottom of greased 9X13 inch baking pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees; cool well.
1st Layer: Combine cream cheese and 1 cup sugar; beat well. Add Cool Whip; spread over cooled crust. Pour or spoon thickened jello mixture over cream cheese mixture and set until firm.
2nd Layer: Add 2 cups boiling water to Jello; mix well, cool. Add frozen strawberries to jello. Cool Jello mixture to egg white consistency. Pour over cream cheese layer.
Spread additional Cool Whip over the top, cover with foil & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
This post isn’t about recipes, it’s about work flow. This year we’re working smarter not harder!
This year for Thanksgiving I’ve decided to work smarter, not harder! The reasons for this are two-fold.
- I want to be able to enjoy my holiday and my family (some coming from out of town), instead of spending the 2 or 3 days before Thanksgiving stuck in the kitchen, knee deep in entrees, sides and desserts.
- If I cook Thanksgiving dinner the way I usually do (over a 2 to 3 day period) I won’t be able to enjoy my holiday, my family or anything else because by the time I’m done with everything, stick a fork in ME, I’m done! It just takes too much out of me!
Besides, who wants to work harder and not smarter! Not this girl! Not this year my friends, not this year!
To accomplish my goal of smarter not harder, I had to figure out what could be made ahead and frozen without affecting the quality of my dish. After all, we’re talking Thanksgiving here! This is the time when everything you put on the table is supposed to be epic!
There are certain dishes that work well for this type of meal planning like stuffing and mac & cheese. I will also prepare certain dishes up to a point where all I have to do is complete them. For example with my cornbread, I can measure out all of my dry ingredients and put them in a zip lock bag and just add the eggs, oil & milk on Thanksgiving Day, mix it, pan it up and throw it in the oven!
I will also prepare my pie filling (peach cobbler) and make my pie dough a day or two in advance. I can keep the dough & filling in the fridge or I can make the pie and put it in the freezer, ready to bake. Freezing breaks down fruit a bit more but allows me to make the pie further in advance.
I will also prepare my mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and freeze them. I’ll take them out of the freezer the day before and refresh them when heating them, Thanksgiving Day! For the mashed potatoes, that will mean adding some extra butter, half & half and heavy whipping cream. For the sweet potatoes that will mean tasting them to see if they need any more butter, sugar or spices. I’ll add my topping (brown sugar & walnut streusel) during the last 20 minutes or so of baking.
My cousin is making the pound cakes and the sweet potato pies so that frees me up to make another dessert or two. I’m thinking about a 3 layer chocolate cake that my family loves, a banana pudding cheese cake that my niece has been asking for, and a strawberry pretzel salad, a dessert that always a winner with my family! The cake can be baked a couple of days in advance and put in the freezer and iced/frosted the day before. The other two desserts can both be make a day in advance.
The other main dish I’m making is a baked ham, which is no problem. I’ll dress it and put it in the over and it can bake on low all night, the night before.
This year we’re having two (2) turkeys because we have a lot of family coming to dinner so I need to brine them late Tuedsay and let them brine overnight. I want them to brine at least 8 hours. After brining, I will season them, stuff them, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake them in electric roasters on low all night Thanksgiving eve, like the ham.
I will also make the cranberry sauce the day before to give it a day to sit in the fridge to let the flavors marry and allow it to thicken and chill.
I’ll make the turkey gravy the night before and let it simmer on low overnight while the turkeys are cooking.
On Thanksgiving Day early in the morning, I will put the mac & cheese and the sweet potatoes in the oven to bake about 1 ½ hours. After they come out, I’ll pop the peach cobbler in and the stuffing in for an hour. While they’re baking I can heat and refresh the mashed potatoes. Last but not least, I’ll pop the corn bread into the oven.
This is the basic idea of what I plan to do. Of course, I may end up having to move one or two things around and I may even totally change something but at least I have a plan!
I am transferring my plan to a flow chart that I came up with that I can put on my fridge or the counter, somewhere that I can use it as a reference as I go along and check off things as they’re done!
My sister Becky is making the items that I didn’t mention so basically the green vegetables (collard greens and green beans & potatoes), rolls, potato salad, punch and whatever I’m forgetting will be on her watch! Thanks Sisterrrrr!!! In fact thanks Sisterrrrsss because my youngest sister Phyllis who is coming in from Oklahoma has volunteered to take over all things dining room! She’ll oversee getting the tables & chairs positioned, set and decorate, including setting up the buffet tables etc! That will be such a HUGH help knowing I don’t have to worry about the dining room!
I’m posting my plan today but not my flow chart because it’s not done yet. I plan to have it online by Monday November 13, 2017! (Update: Flow chart list is attached!)
I almost forgot to remind you of something that for me is the most important kitchen tool of all – MUSIC! I use my Google Home because I love it! Hands free jamming and such a wonderful time because you get to hear what you want, when you want! Check out my post/review about my Google Home as part of my kitchen toolkit! Believe me, it’s a must have in my kitchen! I sing, dance, cry, laugh – having your music when you’re cooking is the best – Click this link NOW!
Tell me what you’re doing to make your Thanksgiving easier on those doing most of the cooking and the work, you might give us all some good ideas!
Speaking of good ideas, I almost forgot, you know how after the food is in the belly, people relax and then get up, give you a kiss on the cheek and start to leave? Not this year my friends! This year I’m putting together a set up/clean up crew. They’ll help get tables and chairs in place, haul food from home stoves, fridges & ovens to the hall location where we are serving dinner. They will also help with clean up, filling and removing garbage bags, putting tables & chairs back and taking the food back to where we want it to go.
I hope you’ll all take this as a word to the wise, get some help with set up, clean up and tear down or you’ll find yourself and 1 or 2 other loyal family members doing all the work yourself! Get your teams/s set up in advance so everyone will know their role. Don’t wait until the day of the event or you’re team members will claim to forget their obligation and walk away – when you’re not looking!
I hope this helps to get the juices flowing, just gets things organized in your head helps a little. Follow through and commit it to paper and put it on the fridge. You’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you are!
Ok – the following list may not look like the standard flow chart but it’s my idea of a flow chart. I guess it’s really a flow list!!! 🙂
WSNH Work Flow Chart for Thanksgiving 2017
One Week Prior:
Monday – Wednesday Take turkeys out of freezer (Wednesday 11/15)
Make & Freeze:
Chocolate cake layers I love this recipe from The Stay At Home Chef, she calls it – The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipe – and it is!
Mashed sweet potatoes
Macaroni & cheese sauce (SMK – Best Ever Mac & Cheese)
Stuffing (SMK – Sausage cornbread stuffing)
Week of Thanksgiving:
Make sure everything is in place – ingredients, pan, containers, tools etc
Brine turkeys (SMK – How to brine anything)
Make and bag dry ingredients for cornbread – don’t forget you need enough for stuffing and for serving for dinner!
Take mashed white and mashed sweet potatoes out of freezer
Wednesday – All day:
Make 2 cream cheese desserts & refrigerate (strawberry pretzel salad)
Ice cake & refrigerate
Make & pan mac & cheese
Make & refrig cranberry sauce
Make & pan sweet potato soufflé
Make SPS streusel topping
Thursday : 12 AM – 8 AM
Stuff & bake turkeys (overnight)
Dress & bake ham (overnight)
8AM – 2 PM
Make turkey gravy
Bake mac & cheese
Bake sweet potato soufflé
Make & bake corned bread
Finish mashed potatoes
Package and wrap all items for transport
2 PM – Turn over to the “committee” for transport to venue!
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Organization is important in many areas of our lives and some say in every area of our lives! One place that I’m most familiar with that screams for organization is the heart of the home, the kitchen! A disorganized kitchen can literally lead to disaster! Not finding a utensil, container, tool or gadget that you need when you need it can lead to lost recipes, burned dishes and disappoinment!
Sweet Mother’s Kitchen will scour the internet to find the best kitchen tools, gadgets and storage solutions that we can find to help you get and stay organized in your special space! Check our pinterest board and of Sweet Mother’s Kitchen for the latest and greatest kitchen organization finds from the world to you!
The links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them and make a purchase, I will be paid a small percentage for referring you and it won’t cost you an extra penny! Thanks!
I have to admit that I’ve gone back and forth on the 3D Moon light. I love the look of them and I’ve never seen anything like them. They are made on a 3D printer so they don’t weight much but they’re not styro-foam. I guess they’re some sort of plastic??? Anyway, the best part of them is that they are made to look like the moon when they’re on. That includes the craters, mountains and lakes that are on the moon – all the highs and lows! The lights also have 3 different light levels which are activated by tapping on the sphere itself. I’ve decided that my relatives in their 20’s would appreciate this light, but they are also good for night lights for the babies, toddlers and youngsters on your gift list! The lights also come in sizes from 3 inches to 7 inches, so you can tailor the size of the light to the gift recipient! I’ve even decided to give the 7″ plus size to my sisters and my Pastor and his wife for their home. Who doesn’t want a little moon light in their life?!!!