Swedish Pancakes

We inherited a pile of cast iron pans. I Googled how to restore rusty ones, then checked out the pile on the garage floor. (That curved blade on the upper left is part of a SCYTHE. Why do we have a scythe??)

First I checked if any were Lodge brand, of which I own 4 other cast iron items. I am very dedicated to Lodge! But they were not Lodge.


Next I spread them out for a better look. Several of the pans were not so much rusty as crusty--with baked-on gunk clinging in a stubborn black layer that would take a ton of elbow grease to remove.


I settled on restoring this one pan that has 7 shallow indentations. I scrubbed it with steel wool to remove rusty spots. Then I washed it and dried it thoroughly. Next I covered it with spray-on canola oil and placed it in a 350-degree oven for an hour. The oil baked on in a shiny layer.

Next I went back to Google to find out what the pan is actually for. It turns out to be a "Swedish pancake pan." That makes total sense, as the person we inherited it from had a proud Swedish heritage. So I put it to use for our Sunday morning pancakes. In the above photo I'm cooking up our favorite Bob's Red Mill 10-grain pancake mix.

The little, perfectly round pancakes are super adorable! Shown here with sweetened Vermont whipped cream, my children's favorite pancake accompaniment.

This was a great garage find! Have you found any garage treasure, or used your elbow grease lately?

Salted caramel apple hand pies

Like many recipes I've tried lately, I found this on Pinterest... it's by Just a Taste. I would say these pies are a bit hard to make, and reallllly easy to eat. Actually, they have the same delicious flaky-hot inhalable quality that I remember loving in McDonald's Apple Pies when I was little. Here are my ACTION PACKED photos. (Please visit Just a Taste for the recipe.)

Are there "consciously crafted" caramels at our local food coop? Why, yes there are. 

Basically the recipe has you prepare the dough, prepare the filling, then assemble into adorable morsels.

Top a 3-inch round of dough with filling and some dabs of chopped caramel. Sprinkle on salt.

Cover with another 3-inch round.

Seal with a fork.

Brush each pie with beaten egg, then slash... with elegance.

My helper got creative and made a candy-cane shaped pie. It leaked a bit but worked out fine!

Plate o' pies. Handy!

The filling does shrink a but, but these pies were delightful. Have them plain, with vanilla ice cream, with whipped cream, with cheddar--any way you like.

It seems like the apple baking time of year--have you been doing any? I've made apple pie and apple crisp before, but these little guys were new for me. Recommended!

Hermit Thrush Brewery, Brattleboro Beer-to-Go

There's a brand new brewery in my town, and it may be the closest one to my actual home. It's called Hermit Thrush Brewery and lives on High Street in the location of the old Blue Moose store, formerly known as Collected Works, formerly known as Green Mountain Bookstore. It has been remodeled with storied barn board, shiny brewing equipment, soothing terra cotta-colored paint, and rustic shelves of tasteful house stemware.

Here's what you should do at the Hermit Thrush Brewery. Go in and pick a tasting of 4 beers. Then, pick your favorite and put a deposit on a growler ($3 for small, $5 for large), and pay for it to be filled. Next time you visit, bring your clean empty growler and pay for another fill--no more deposit. If you want to taste again, you can get a single tasting or another flight of 4. It's that easy.

Since the place had only been open for 2 days, we of course had to taste almost everything! The Brattlebeer was super light, made with fresh pressed local apples. Brooks Brown was their brown ale, malty yet still light. The Tardy Pumpkin was an unsweetened, unspiced pumpkin ale--we liked it a lot. The High Street VIPA was, of course, a hoppy treat that I'm planning to get to know better in the future.

Check out this promising new brewery, many more beers to come it sounds like!

Cincinnati and a big surprise

Earlier this month I went on my longest business trip in years: first a daylong meeting in Chicago, then 3 days of meetings in the Cincinnati area. Travel likes this means living in an artificial world of airports, dining out, meeting rooms, and taxis. There's nowhere to go for a walk, nowhere to buy groceries let alone prepare food. I ran 15 miles during the course of the trip, but never outside--it was all on hotel treadmills. It was a fruitful trip though, and I am grateful to have hilarious coworkers to travel with. Here are some food photos that help tell the story.

A shaved beet salad eaten in a hotel restaurant called Andiamo, which is inside Chicago's O'Hare airport. The green part of the salad was mostly arugula and mustard greens, so quite piquant. There were sticky-sweet bits of lemon-almond praline rather randomly scattered about.

The next night's dinner was also at O'Hare, Romano's Macaroni Grill. Here are drinks for three--a margarita, a bloody Mary, and I had the La Rossa.

I ordered appetizer romano meatballs and they were actually amazing. They definitely had some orange zest going on. Also a mediocre house salad.

Then on to Ohio. The facility where we worked had a barista machine: the buttons say things like cappuccino, whipped coffee, coffee latte, whipped milk. I need one of these.

We dined at a Malaysian restaurant (Straits of Malacca) that was pretty good. My dish was called Hokkien Mee—it was thick, chewy, delicious rice noodles with shrimp, chicken, and baby bok choy. Our dinner conversation with local hosts revolved mostly around baseball teams and beer, one of these topics being of great interest to me. (We discussed Vermont's small-batch and highly sought after Heady Topper by The Alchemist, as well as the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati which was home to 38 breweries before Prohibition and is staging something of a comeback. If I ever visit again I want to go on a Cincinnati Brewery Tour.)

The facility with the awesome coffee machine also provided a breakfast buffet (hardboiled eggs, yogurt, berries, granola, bagels, cream cheese) and a hot lunch buffet. Above is lunch on Italian day--meatballs, grilled chicken and vegetables with a creamy pesto sauce.

At another dinner I got a semi-local beer, Commodore Perry IPA by Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland.

Aladdin's Eatery was a Middle Eastern place; I ordered beef kibbee. It looks a bit dry here, but once I asked for tahini sauce and hot sauce to douse the kibbee it was excellent. Rich savory spiced beef studded with pine nuts. I want some more right now.

This wasn't my beer, but it's evidence that we were in Kentucky on this trip. Because the Cincinnati airport is actually in Northern Kentucky. Who knew?!

My beer this time was a Goose Island IPA, from Chicago.


We were at an Outback Steakhouse so we had to get a Bloomin' Onion.

My bacon cheeseburger was surprisingly delicious. Tip: Don't order a steak at an airport steakhouse, because they will NOT give you a proper steak knife. A fellow diner had this problem. We saw a guy at another table actually pick up his steak and start gnawing it.

And then...

When I got home from this trip, late on a Friday night, I was met with a rather major surprise. It was something that had been brewing without my knowledge for weeks, and took three in-laws and several close friends to pull off.

You may recall that a few months back in July I reluctantly traded in my VW Jetta TDI for a Subaru. I missed the VW. It was fun to drive and it had a certain unique class that a Subaru doesn't have. In fact, everybody in Vermont has a Subaru. When I go to drop my son off at his progressive preschool I park in a line of seven other Subarus. Oddly, this dropoff was also one of the times when I would encounter my Jetta being driven around town by the guy who took the trade. I traded it to him for the bare minimum price, in my opinion, being $300. But being a mechanic, he saw its potential and proceeded to fix it up and use it as his driving-around car. So I kept seeing my beloved car, that I'd let go for a pittance, being driven around town and seeming perfectly fine! It's true I couldn't afford to fix it, but still... it bugged me.

At the same time, my spouse's even more ancient car had finally become illegal at the stroke of midnight on Halloween. That's because it was only inspected up until October 2014, and we didn't think we could get it renewed easily without pouring in money for repairs. (For instance, why bother starting your car with the correct key when it will start just as well with a screwdriver? Which is what my husband was using. It was in that kind of shape.) So all week while I was traveling, I kept thinking about how that old Benz would probably be gone when I got home--maybe sold to someone for $300.

These two car stories collided the moment my ride from the airport pulled onto my street to drop me off at 11:30 at night. There in the driveway, in the dark, next to my Subaru, and in the place where the Benz used to be, was MY JETTA. I peered at it as I tried to piece together what I could possibly be seeing. As I struggled to compute, I noticed that a) it really was my Jetta, not some bizarre doppelganger, because it had dents in all the right places, b) it really seemed to belong there, because it was bearing the same license plates that had earlier in that week been on the Benz, and that I knew for a fact belonged to my husband, c) my husband was coming out of the house saying, "Look at my new car! The kids love it!!" He'd been waiting up for me to enjoy the surprise that he'd been working on for days. It was so funny, and I was so totally flabbergasted! What a guy.

Home again. I love my family.