Posted in Back in the Day, The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, The Hungry Hen, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Cookin’ with Cast Iron: A Little Bit of This & That

cfe25d82c2a132311c6c4e88d7542b3e--skillets-cookingI think Cast Iron is makin’ a comeback, even though in my mtns, it never really went away. I can walk into our Aunt Theresa’s house right now and find a gazillion of all shapes and sizes hangin’ from a beautiful rack my Uncle Eddie made.  It’s slim pickin’s at yardsales round here. That’s how prized they are. But in other places, where folks might not know much about em, you maybe able to score big time. Across tables, once in a blue moon, some will be peppered out and all the way across all because they sport a little rust or their famous, traditional black maybe a light grey. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that iron. Grab em if you see em. Walmart sells them as well as Farmer brand stores. (If you’re lookin’.) Lodge is a popular brand, although, I have a few that aren’t and they work just fine.  Rusted up or brand new, they need to be seasoned or fixed. And here’s how you tackle all that and some other little bits you might stumble upon along the way….

First, what’s Cast Iron good for? Well, you ain’t never had fried chicken or gravy like what we whip up in a Cast Iron. Dependin’ on how it’s Seasoned, folks fry up eggs, cook stews, beans and all kinds of goodies. My kids and I swear the best-grilled cheese you ever eat is made with a Cast Iron skillet on a wood stove. Its buttery, crispy, not soggy with a gooey and soft middle. Bacon comes out crispy and sausage nice and brown. Cornbread, biscuits, bread. The skies the limit, dependin’ on what ya got and what you want to do with it.

d6ec5d1a52a2f44c2791c0f16169b406--cast-iron-cooking-cast-iron-pansSecond, seasoning….

Most are intimidated by this but that’s just a shame. Might take a little doin’ but you won’t break a sweat. What you want to do is, lightly rub oil or lard into your Cast iron. Here, I copied these off of Southern Living….

How To Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet:

  1. Scrub skillet well in hot soapy water.
  2. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Spread a thin layer of melted shortening or vegetable oil over the skillet.
  4. Place it upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°. (Place foil on a lower rack to catch drips.)
  5. Bake 1 hour; let cool in the oven. (Source)

Personally, I put it upside down in the oven, but that’s just me.


How to clean?

Every soul out there who has it, has their own way of doin’ this. Some scrub out with coarse salt. Others use hot soapy water. Some yell, NO DAWN or soap that tears off the seasoning. No scrubbing things like brillo pads. No steel wool. I’ll throw soapy water on while it’s still hot. Swish it around as it boils everything off. Dump it and rinse it and then wipe a drop of oil back on. Whatever way you do it, just remember, DRY IT yourself, with a towel of paper after you’re done. Take a napkin, and rub your oil back into it. Lightly. It doesn’t have to drip grease. This is kind of like conditioning your hair. You don’t leave the conditioner on, do ya? No, you rinse, and your hair keeps what it needs. You won’t be rinsin’ your cast iron after this but you do want to work in enough lard or oil so it gets what it needs.

Why Cast iron? On a Practical Sense?

No chemicals. Lasts forever. Will most likely outlive us all– if kept properly. Heats and cooks food evenly– let your brain mellow on that one. Evenly. No Teflon to worry about, coatings wearin’ down that may not be safe to consume. It’s rough and touch and can take a lickin’. Drop a new style pan and it dents all to hell. Drop a Cast Iron, and pray the floor holds out. It’s made to last.

You can use it on the stove, on the camp-fire, on the grill, in the oven or on a wood stove. You can fry, saute, bake or whack your husband upside the head with it. Okay, so you may not want to take that last one literally. winks. The point is if the world came to an end tomorrow, chances are, the only thing that would survive are the cock roaches, my monster- in- law, and the Cast Iron. (Another joke on the Mother in Law. winks)

Seasoned right, it’s naturally nonstick. Again, this stuff is the Mac Daddy, work horse of the kitchen and you can grab it black as night or enamelled coated — I have both that I use for different things.

What if it’s rusty?

Did I cover this one? If I did. sorry, I’m multitasking. If it’s rusty, though, rework the Seasoning steps. That’s all. Rust doesn’t mean death. Again. this stuff is built to last!

Which for which?

What to cook in a Cast Iron (Black and Beautiful in its natural state) and what to cook in an enamel coated Cast Iron?

I save my Mater sauces, soups and stews for my Enamel. I fry meat, taters, even eggs, in my regular Cast Iron. I cook gravy (Southern Gravy), may fry fish, bacon, sausage and all those goodies in my regular Cast.

If things like eggs are sticking–it needs better seasoning. The Cast Iron, that is.

What the heck is this?

That lid goes to a Dutch Oven kind of Cast Iron. Those little pokey things is actually a self-baster. So when you pop that sucker in the oven or stove with, let’s say a whole chicken or roast, in it, then the steam collects to the top and those dotted-points, drips the juice and juice down on your prized meal. Now ain’t that genius?

If you bought one of these and it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth — or any cast iron for that matter– it just needs more seasoning. Wash, again with soapy water and keep seasoning. If you don’t have time to pop it in the oven, then start fryin all your sausage and bacon in it until that grease sinks into the iron and works it up. As you can see, I’m fryin’ sausage in mine. That’s fresh sausage, ya’ll. Mmmmm Mmmmm Goooooooood!!!!!

Still not sure what enamelled cast iron is? Still not sure what regular is? Below are some samples.


Regular Cast Iron


Enamel Covered Cast Iron


Any other questions hit me up!

Posted in Chicken Scratch, The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About

Homemade Fire Starters

I love wood burning. Can I just throw that out there? I mean, I have a fire pit in the back of my house and I have one in the front. Every time someone tells me they are converting a fireplace to a gas log, I cringe. Why? Why would you want to do that? Woodstove, a Fire burning in a hearth—these are just a few of my favorite things. The crack, snap and pop of the wood when the flames lick against the logs. The slow hiss and moan as the fire builds it’s warmth, a warmth that beats back the chill of Fall and Winter. No cold bones here. No thank you. I don’t want to live in a world without that. It’s just too good for the soul. Know what I mean?

All that being said, I have something else to admit. Shamefully, I suck at starting fires. No future Pyromaniac here. No chance at me taking up Arson as a criminal activity. I’d get caught before I could get the first match to take. Maybe its impatience or me wanting to skip step “A” so I can get right to “B?” Who knows. Doesn’t matter, because I have a way of starting fires now, that I’ve discovered, which ROCKS!

I personally use this trick, and it won’t take an extra trip to the store or a ton of cash to get. You can say it’s free, in a way. In fact, if you have a Dryer, then you are half way there.

All you need is….(drumroll please)….

Dryer Lint and Empty Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Rolls.

I keep a pot in my Laundry Room where I stash all that annoying lint every time I dry clothes and have to empty the lint catcher. If you do your own laundry, then you know just as I do, a Dryer gives us more than our fair share. There’s enough lint coming out of my dryer a day, I could weave a new, dang sweater five sizes too big! That being said, anyone with a Dryer has an abundance of Lint. So instead of tossing it in the trash, toss it in a pot or bag or container.

By the pic below, it all looks chaotic until I sort them out.



I keep baskets or containers in the bathroom to hide the empty toilet paper rolls, so that the kids and hubby can stash instead of tossing into the trash. Same in the kitchen.

All you do is stuff the lint inside the empty roll. For paper towels, I tear them in half. I think the short ones work best.


Build your pyramid of wood and stuff a roll or two here or there. (Ignore the plastic. This is my outside fire pit where I toss trash or whatever I pick up in the yard.)


Add fire to the lint.


These little DIY starters catch easily but burn slow, making starting a fire a breeze. And all it takes are two things we’d normally toss into trash.


Posted in The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, Uncategorized

Homemade Wallpaper Stripper


This is a nifty one for all my DIY-ers.

Want a solution that will help you remove that paper on the wall?



You will need:

Wallpaper Scoring Wheel or a Wire-Bristled Brush

1 1/3 cups of VERY HOT WATER



Paint Roller

Wallpaper scraper or putty knife


  1. Score wallpaper gently with the scoring tool or wire brush. Be easy. You do not want to poke up the wall. Imagine yourself brushing a child’s hair except on the wallpaper, you will likely be going in circular motions. Go karate kid on it– wax on/wax off– but without making the kid scream. You have to score it so that the seal is broken. This will allow our mixture to seep in.

  2. In a bucket, mix water and fabric softener. Apply it to the small areas of the wallpaper with a sponge and use the roller for the large areas.

  3. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so.

  4. Use your putty knife to scrape or peel wallpaper off. Go easy until you get the hang of it. You don’t want to dent up the wall.

  5. If there are any stubborn spots, reapply mixture.

  6. When finished, wipe wall off with clean water.

Posted in From Scratch, The Hen & the Hammer, The Hen House, Uncategorized

How to Make Essential Oils

Essential Oils can cost a pretty penny which is why most of us don’t use them. Luckily, there are three simple ways to make them yourself. Oh yeah, and it’s easy, easy, and…..oh yeah, did I mention they were easy?

053 003

First things first….

Before attempting any of these, go get something you can work with.

Rose petals, Herbs, Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Grapefruit Zest, Flowers. Go get whatever you are wanting to make an oil out of. Clean them and in some cases, people choose to dry them. Whether you dry or not – that’s up to you. If you are using citrus fruit, then all you really need is to zest the peel– that’s where all the oil lives. If you can’t zest, then use the whole peel.




2.Olive Oil, Safflower Oil, (Some people will also use Vegetable or Canola)

3.Pour in enough Oil to cover the herbs, flowers, etc.

4.HEAT– DO NOT BOIL. Just bring the temperature up until its warm.

5.Let sit 24-48 hours.


7.REPEAT STEPS 3, 4, 5 & 6 – until you get the potency or a fragrance you desire.

Honestly, it’s going to depend on what you are using and how strong you want it. By what, I mean, if you are using rosemary, then obviously you wont have to repeat it many times because that’s some potent stuff.



Place the herbs in a jar or airtight container and fill with oil. Hide in a dark place for 2 weeks. Strain. Repeat only if its not strong enough.



You want to use Vodka or an undenatured ethyl alcohol.


Place Herbs, Flowers or Rinds in a container with the alcohol and FREEZE. The Alcohol will remove the oils from the herbs. Those oils will separate at the top of the container and gel. Spoon it away.

If none of these tickle your fancy, then you could always use the steam method by building or buying your own little Essential Oil Still. Either way, may your road to essentials be as slick as the oil your —oh never mind, lol. GOOD LUCK!

Posted in The Hen & the Hammer, The Scoop from the Coop

DIY ALERT!!! Finally, an app I can Crow About! Paint Harmony


Disclaimer: I am not being paid to endorse this app.

Can I get a shout out from all my DIY-ers? Because I stumbled across something last night that has completely blown my mind. It’s an app called, Paint Harmony, although there are two versions. One, Paint Harmony, which costs .99 and a free version called, Paint Harmony Lite.


I have been muckin’ around with this thing all night and mornin’. First, let me give you a little back story . . .

Room by room, we have been painting and remodeling our house. The paint, choosing and doing, falls on me. Now, in the past, I have easily walked into any of my friend’s homes and chosen a color quicker than a cowboy draws his gun— with no anxiety and with absolute ease. My friends or family — whichever one I was doing it for— fell in love with whatever I chose and there were never any regrets.

Who’d a thunk  that, that amazing ability would completely fail me when I tried to do it for myself and in my own home. Believe me when I say, the moment I stood in the Paint isle trying to choose a color for a room of my own, all of my securities went right out the window. I was suddenly struck dumbfounded, without a bit of taste—shaking and nervous like an alcoholic tryin’ to dry out—and I don’t even drink, folks! Though, choosing a paint color made me want too.

Think I’m jokin’?

You don’t want to know how many times I have painted my living room. You just don’t want to know. I don’t want to admit it. I really don’t. All I can say is, I tried everything— bringing home color sample cards, meditating on them for months at a time, buying paint samples, matching accent pillows, pictures or furniture. Whatever I did or tried, rest assured that even though I finally felt sure of my choice when I chose it, after I went through the headache of putting it on my Walls, not a week later, I wanted to put my size seven and a half foot right up my bum for bein’ so stupid.

Argh! Just aggravating.

Until now . . . .

While cruising the app store last night for Lowes, I stumbled onto Paint Harmony. I didn’t get too excited. I downloaded the Free-version expecting the same nightmare I get regularly when downloading apps. They promise one thing but it usually never delivers. It freezes or you only get so many features—never enough to know if you love it but because it’s not enough, you are forced to hate it— or it’s a headache to work out.

Kick the Rooster, not this time!

I’ve taken screen shots of what I did, but basically, you take a picture of the room you want to paint— in this case, I did my bedroom— a room I have struggled with painting for too many years. Is this color the right choice? Is that? Dear God, what do I do?


Well, all I HAD to do was take a picture (see first pic below—the dreaded white walls) and then choose a color.


BAM! PRESTO! I got to see what my room will look like with that color or ANY color I am thinking about using. Isn’t that awesome? I didn’t even have to outline or crop my wall. Sure, the paint bled into my lamp a little but the main focal point—the wall and the color—is totally there to help me make a decision.

The only main difference between the FREE version and the .99 cent one is (I’m sure there are more)— the .99 cent has different Paint brands that you can buy at Lowes, Wal-Mart and wherever else. We all know that each paint brand has a different name for every color— so I am going to buy the .99 cent one for sure and take some of this wicked anxiety out of what I do for so many others with true ease and start easily doing it for myself— choosing a dang color for my walls already!I also think you can color walls differently too. If the Free one has that feature, I apologize. I haven’t found it yet. Also in the Free—there isn’t a way to load a picture straight from your Pic-file. I had to take it with the Camera option and then once I closed out, there was no way of pulling it back up.

But don’t take my word for it— TRY the free version and see what you think. Let me know because as of today, I am in Paint Bucket bliss!

Again, I’m not being paid to endorse this app—I’m just thrilled about it!