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 From Scratch, Pork, Soups & Stews, The Hungry Hen, Uncategorized

Fancy Shmancy Sausage, Mushroom, & Tater Soup


Fresh Sausage, Mushroom & Tater Soup – Gluten Free (also), The Crowin’ Hen.

With this one, you can use Fresh Country or Fresh Italian Sausage. I chose my Spicy Italian for this go-round but you go where your tummy leads you. If you don’t have FRESH, and can’t get your claws on any, then that’s a shame because I wish everyone could try fresh sausage. Don’t worry,. though. Just use your favourite brand of store-bought.



  • 2 Ilbs Fresh Sausage (Italian or Country. I think some people call Country, Breakfast Sausage too.)
  • 3-quart jars Red Taters, diced.
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk
  • 1 Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1 Orange or Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 can of Spinach, drained, or 10 0z frozen–thawed and drained. You can also substitute Kale.
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1- 8 oz package Baby portabellas, sliced
  • Water or Chicken Broth or powdered Broth mix
  • Butter– 1/2 stick or less. REAL butter.
  • Garlic Powder (or crushed cloves), Salt and Pepper to taste.



  1. Fry your sausage. Crumbled. When done, remove from pan and drain either in a strainer or on napkins. DO NOT RINSE. You want to keep the seasoning and flavour of the Sausage.

  2. While that’s frying, or once its done, dice your taters. Now, you dice as big or small as you want. The reason we are using Red is so that you have that option. Red holds it’s shaped better and doesn’t turn into mash like russets have a tendency to do. If there is another tater like, Red, that you have, which will hold it’s shaped, substitute for that.

  3. Once you are done dicing, add them to a bowl full of water and squeeze the lemon juice in. Toss in the rest of the lemon if you’d like. And let them soak while you dice everything else up. This removes excess starch and the lemons keep the taters white.

  4. Once everything else (except sausage and spinach) is diced, add them and the drained taters to your pot. DO NOT saute your mushrooms and onions before hand. You want all that flavour in the stock you are about to make.

  5. Pour in the can of condensed milk and then enough water/broth to ALMOST cover the veggies. ALMOST. You don’t want to fill it all the way up. The veggies add juice, too. You want it to look about like this or slightly less.



  1. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the taters are nice and tender.

img_1649.jpg7. Now, at this point, taste your broth. It should have a strong mushroom flavour. In fact, you may fall in love with that taste and decide not to add the spinach– which will sweeten it some. It’s a two-option meal, here.However, if you are going to add it, now is the time, along with your sausage. Also add your Garlic Powder, (or clove)m salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 15-25 minutes until the flavours are bloomed and all is hot.

Some notes….

Notice how I didn’t add a thickener to this? Don’t need one. As it cools, and because of the way we did the broth, it will thicken up on its own.

Also, optional, you can add some diced Green or Spring onion (Scallions) before serving. Some sprinkled cheese is good as well or eats it as is. I will warn you, though, even though there is no Gluten, this is a very fulfilling dish. Might make you lazy. May make you want to kick back in front of the woodstove and take a nap, lol. Or, it may give you the warmth you need, that stick to your bones kind of warmth so you can tackle a day outside in the cold weather.



Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, Hen Pecked, Hogs, Pork, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Hog Butcherin’ Time


Across the scarcely covered mountains, an icy breeze brings a hint of a woodstove burnin’ from somewhere, where ya’ll know the folks are all toasty and warm. Inside, a there sits a hot cast iron, fresh sausage fryin’ or maybe a hearty sausage and tater soup simmers on the stove. Sure enough, bread or buttermilk biscuits are bakin’ in the oven. Its comfortin’ smell lingers through an entire household just anxiously waitin’. These things make the winter months worth sufferin’. I’m a Spring -hen myself. I like the grass between my toes. Love a river when the sun is warm. But even this chick has to admit, Some things just stir the soul durin’ the cold season and those things make it worth goin’ into. Hog butcherin’ might just be one of em.

I could probably live off the country sausage. Shoot, I ain’t never turned my nose up at Italian either. I love the way it smells when cookin’ and I love the way I feel after gobblin’ some up. We raised four hogs, this year. Two regular, mixed, Yorkshire and Tamworths. Maybe one was part Hereford. Then we tried out hand at two American Guinea Hogs. Those will hang up this weekend or next– dependin’ on the weather. Interested to know how those measure up…which will decide whether or not we raise em next year.

Still, for the past several weekends, my husband and Uncle have been knee deep in the butcher house. His hogs, my hogs, their hogs. It’s an age-long tradition that folks don’t do too much of anymore. Oh, they’ll buy one already raised or butchered up, but not many actually get in there and do it themselves from the little one too big. I know once I’ve butchered, it’s hard to keep em in the freezer. Folks wantin’ it, not to mention what we can easily eat ourselves. Bottom line, though, to me, it’s a clean meat. And by clean, I mean, I know what that hog ate from beginnin’ to end. I know it’s health as we were the one’s keepin’ it healthy. I know what’s in the seasoning of, the cookin’ of, the processin’ of. No preservatives. No big unpronounceable word-poisons. Just the meat. Clean. I can’t describe the deep satisfaction of that. When I serve it to my family, the deeply satisfied feelin’ that I am givin’ them somethin’ as healthy as I can possibly provide. Not to mention the lessons my children learn about traditions, about having a respect and responsibility, some control over their food.

Homesteaders — those who are coinin’ that phrase— are doin’ it and, most certainly, ones who live off grid. Whether you Cure the hams or cut pork chops or grind it all into sausage, though, there’s lots to be made and had from Hogs, which may be why some are jumpin’ in, on the whole, raisin’ them up again bandwagon.

Throughout this week–time permittin’– and possibly month–if time doesn’t turn out to e my friend, I’m going to post up recipes for pork and most likely, sausage. Hope you enjoy……

And if you are lookin’ for recipes in general, of what I already have, check out The Hungry Hen and all the categories within’!



Posted in Beef, Canning & Preserving, Carnivore, Chicken, From Scratch, Other, Pork, Rabbit Recipes, Soups & Stews, Uncategorized, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

How to Make Bone Broth/Stock

broth3Allot of flavor to this one, so beware. In fact, once you do taste how good this is, and how easy, you may never touch store-bought brands again. That being said, this is easily customize-able according to your personal tastes. So, I’m going to give you the basic 411 on how to make it, explain how you can adjust it, and then let you go from there. One thing is for certain, though– you won’t ever throw out bones again. Not until you’ve made this!


This can be made with ANY and EVERY kind of meat/bone out there. Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Beef, Rabbit, Deer (Venison), etc.


Different scenarios….

Now, say, you haven’t cooked any meat yet. Say, you are wanting to make something like Chicken Soup or a Cream of Chicken Soup. (I have a great Cream of Chicken, Mushroom and Kale Soup Recipe made with Bone Stock I’m about to post!). Put a whole chicken in a pot of water– I usually put enough water in to cover the bird– and cook until meat is tender enough to pull off of the bone. Pull the chicken out, let it cool enough to work with– pull meat off. Put the meat to the side. Put the bones (and DON’T worry if there is still some meat left on them) on a pan and stick in the oven under the Broiler. Brown. Flip and Brown.

Why are we browning them? Flavor. To Brown is to Flavor. Memorize that.

Once the Bones are brown, add them back to the pot, add more water if need be, bring to a boil and then Simmer about 4-6 hours. Some add it to a Crockpot and let it go all day. You do what’s easiest for you.

Once done, STRAIN the Bones from the Liquid– and what you have is, Liquid Gold.


Another scenario is what to do with Bones you’ve already cooked or cut the meat off of. Like, left over Turkey bones, Deer bones, etc.


Again, brown under a Broiler and then simmer, simmer, simmer.


If the Bones are from an Uncooked Carcass, no worries. Brown them and simmer, simmer, simmer.

Now, some are against browning and that part is ALL up to you. If you don’t like to Brown, then just cook.


Options: Broth v/s Stock


You can add Veggies and herbs to the water– carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, onions, whatever you like. You don’t have to chop them perfectly. Some people don’t even peel. They just toss em in. You can roast them under a broiler or just toss. They will all be strained in the end.

Now, the strength of your Bone Broth will depend on Cooking Time. I cooked my Liquid down once– by a lucky accident. By doing so, I realized I created something of a Condensed Stock. So, I added it to smaller Jars and then Froze it. This will be used by adding more Water, or for my Cream based Soups, etc. It’s REALLY Potent.

That brings us to the last bit…preserving. Depending on how much I have, depends on how I preserve it. Some, I add to Jars (leaving 2 inches of head space for expansion) and Freeze. Some, I add to Jars and then Pressure Can 11Lbs of Pressure for 70 minutes. (Times depend on rules YOU follow.)

Any questions, YELL!


Posted in Canning & Preserving, Soups & Stews, Uncategorized

Canning Tater (Potato) Soup

It’s that time of the year again. Summer takes a final bow and slinks away into the dying deep. A familiar chill creeps through the air. Leaves begin to turn and collectively fall. Golden, Burgundy and Russet hues vibrantly burst in midair until they blanket the ground we stand on. That being said, as a brisk wind blows and we tighten the grip of our sweaters, I begin to crave comfort food. Today, I began to play around with Tater Soup. It’s an inexpensive Classic. We are Canning it, though, so the cream portion of the recipe, we won’t add until we heat the Soup up for serving.

I’m going to break this down into 4 Quart Jars. I will give you the bulk of the Recipe, first and then I will tell you what I put into each Jar.

The Bulk…

  • 4 Jars
  • 7-8 Potatoes (Use what you have or what you like. I had Russet, so that’s what I used.) Peel and cube.
  • 3/4 cup of Shredded and Chopped Carrots
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, Diced
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped fine
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped fine.
  • Pickled Jalapeno (optional)
  • Seasonings: Salt, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Powdered Chicken Broth, Pepper (Optional)

NOTE: Add your potatoes to a bowl full of salt water while you cut up the rest of the veggies. This will bleed out most of the Starch.

Per Jar, Layered….img_0718.jpg

  • 2 to 2 & 3/4 cups Taters
  • 1/4 cup  Red Pepper
  • 1/2 to 1/4 cup Celery
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Carrots
  • 1-2 pickled Jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cupful of Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 TBSP powdered Chicken Broth
  • Optional : Pepper



Layer all ingredients and seasonings. Then, add hot water. I only add enough Hot Water to cover the Vegetables. This is because I add cream when I heat and serve it. Less broth, the more cream you can add. Wipe your rims and then Pressure Can 11 lbs of Pressure for 20 Minutes. When you go to eat, add a cup of cream. If you want a thick, chowder like broth, mix a tablespoon or two of cornstarch into the cream before adding it.


Other Herbs and Seasonings you can add: A dash of Nutmeg, Rosemary, Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, Basil, Thyme or Sage. When adding herbs, remember, when Canning, it can amplify the taste. So don’t go crazy unless you’ve done it before.

Before serving, you can also add a hand mixer to blend till smooth. That will give it an Irish soup feel but I prefer it chunky.

Update: For Adults, this isn’t so bad. An Adult can add cream, cornstarch (or flour)…whatever an Adult wants. Against all Canning- Police rules and regulations, though, I am about to experiment and make some with cream and cornstarch within because for teens or people in a rush, adding things when heating isn’t the most convenient. So be on the lookout for that recipe.

I will say this, though, by adding veggies straight to the jar, it gives flavor a big ol’ punch! For example, usually when cooking a big pot of something, certain veggies become lost in the mix. But adding them to a jar, raw– pow! This happened with the red pepper I added to this soup. You can REALLY taste it. So when creating my recipe for the “creamed”, I’m going to adapt for that. Stay tuned….


Posted in Canning & Preserving, From Scratch, The Hungry Hen, Uncategorized

Corncob Jelly & Molasses

P9030473.JPGWhat in the world do we do with all those Corncobs? I was giving them to the hogs but after catching glimpse of two Amish Recipes, I’m now thinkin’ twice.

Corncob Jelly

  • 12 Freshly Shelled Corn Cobs
  • 3 Pints of Water
  • 1 pkg. Of Sure-Jell
  • 3 cups of Sugar
  • Red Food Coloring

Heat 3 pints of water. Break Cobs into small pieces and add to hot water. Boil for 35 minutes. Strain 3 cups of Juice. Add Water to make 3 cups if need be. Add Sure-Jell and sugar. Bring to another boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add a few drops of red coloring. Pour into Jars and Seal in a Hot Water Bath for 5 Minutes.

Corn Cob Molasses

  • 15 Clean, Fresh Corn Cobs Broken up
  • 1 gal water
  • Sugar
  • Red Food Coloring
  • ½ gal light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp. Baking Soda to keep it from sugaring

Bring Cobs to a boil. Boil 2 minutes or until water is pink or amber colored. Strain and measure water. Add as much sugar as measured water. Bring to a boil until thickened. Add corn syrup, vanilla, red food coloring and baking soda. Check occasionally by taking out ½ cup and cooling to see the thickened consistency.

Posted in Canning & Preserving, From Scratch, The Hungry Hen, Uncategorized

Dandelion Jelly

file000125728323This recipe came out of a Cookbook that didn’t belong to me. I believe it was Amish or possibly, some sort of Folk. Regardless, I thought it was one worth saving because Dandelions actually have healing properties as I pointed out in another article, HERE.

Regardless, the recipe and instructions were as follows….

You want to pick the blossoms, and only the blossoms, and not the stems, early in the morning. The reason is, this would help avoid some of the bugs, like ants, which apparently love Dandelions too.

Once you have a Quart, boil in a Quart of water for 3 minutes. Drain the Blossoms from the Juice and use 3 cups of that liquid with 1 tsp of lemon or orange extract, 1 box of Sure-Jell and 4 ½ cups of sugar. Cook according to the Directions on the Sure-Jell box and Can accordingly unless you’re freezing or devouring right away.