New smaller cast iron skillet

Something my wife and I have been working on is switching our nonstick cookware out for healthier alternatives. It’s part of an overall plan to improve our lifestyle. I know the stereotype of an oily, cast iron skillet, doesn’t fit well with the notion of healthy living, but we’re going for balance, not extremes. Healthier food choices, including less meat and desserts. More exercise. Less binge watching and more reading. Reducing clutter in our home to make way for things and activities that matter to us. It’s a weird, happy synthesis of almost vegetarianism, the persistence of good physical fitness habits from my wife’s days in track and my time in the Army, and Japanese minimalism.

So, why cast iron? On the one hand, cast iron is just better than nonstick. Nonstick coatings flake off into your food over time. Someone tried to tell me they don’t, but I have eyes and I can see the inside of our pots and pans. It’s happening. I know we’re consuming that stuff and it just can’t be good for us, so we’re going to move away from nonstick and get a mix of stainless steel and cast iron. From what I’ve read, cast iron can leech iron into your food, but it’s not bad for you at all. Our bodies need that anyway.

So, what do I want to do with this little cast iron skillet? Well, it’s not really big enough to fry much. Maybe one egg at a time, but I haven’t quite nailed frying an egg in our larger cast iron skillet yet. Mostly I got it so I can bake biscuits and cornbread in it. I’m sure I’ll come up with some other uses over time. It’s just fun to have, like it’s a toy or something. And even though it’s a little more work to maintain them, cast iron skillets are oddly satisfying to have and use.

Chicken Vienna sausages in a cast iron skillet.
The seasoning on the skillet still needs some work.

I wish I could say we cooked something amazing in it right after I took that photo, but we just heated up some chicken Vienna sausages to have with eggs and rice for breakfast.

Things to be grateful for 4/26 – 5/1

So, last week was pretty low key. That in itself is something to be grateful for given the circumstances. We’re still in one of the worst outbreak areas of COVID-19 in the world and no one in my family has gotten sick yet, thankfully. I’m a little concerned about how things are going to go with that. We’ve been having warmer weather so more people are congregating and other States are relaxing restrictions already even though they’re still on the upswing of the outbreak.

Some highlights for this week:

  • After many months, our cast iron skillet is finally developing a significant non-stick layer. We’ve baked chicken in the skillet with good results and also made filet mignon (stovetop + oven) that turned out amazing.
  • The filet mignon. We hadn’t had any since last year.
  • Got a lot of work done on last year’s taxes. I should be done with them by this weekend.
  • Got to actually binge watch a series for the first time in a few years. We found a show called “Into the Night” on Netflix that was really good. It has a lot of edge of your seat suspense that kept us reaching for the “Next Episode” button.
  • We finally found out when our stimulus deposit will hit our account.

Sitting at home all the time, I’m not doing a lot that’s exciting. I was thinking the other day that I haven’t posted anything to Instagram in a while because I haven’t been out to see anything that I felt was worth posting. But I’ve been using the time to read more, study foreign languages more, and to try to finish video games that I bought years ago and never got through.

For example, I’m about 60% of the way through “Grand Theft Auto V”. I bought the game about 7 years ago, got about 37% of the way through it and never finished it. I’m having a lot of fun watching Michael and Trevor’s bromance unfold.

Things to be Grateful For 4/12 – 4/18

Last week, I added a section to a blog post I made where I listed a few things I should be grateful for in the previous week. It seemed like a pretty good exercise, given the situation. I think it’s something I’m going to try to continue on a regular basis with once a week lists. Even after this pandemic is over, I think I could benefit from reminding myself of all of the good things that happen over the course of a week and meditating on them for a bit.

  • I reread The Red Badge of Courage and it made a lot more sense to me now as an adult and an Army veteran.
  • I’m continually grateful that the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library have such a large catalog of audiobooks and eBooks that I can borrow through my phone.
  • I discovered free online courses from Harvard. The certificates aren’t free, but it still seems like a pretty good deal to me.
  • The cat we rescued, Mama Cat, is finally starting to improve. She is suffering from some kind of skin condition that we’ve been treating with antibacterial/antifungal wipes. We gave her a bath and she’s finally getting fluffy enough to pick up and pet. She’s super grateful for the affection.
A 9" round cake pan half filled with fresh baked brownie.
Fresh baked fudge brownie in a 9″ round cake pan.
  • I baked some kick-ass brownies.
  • I found a really cool horror anthology on Amazon Prime Video called Hitokowa: The Killing Hour that is kind of cheesy, but in a great way.
  • Honda Financial Services allowed us to defer our car payments for two months, so we’re relieved of that burden until June.
  • My wife and I are both healthy and we’re eating well, which is more than many can say right now.
  • We have lots of toilet paper.
  • Our cat, Dapper, is super happy that we’re around all the time.
One of our cats, Dapper, trying to get attention.
  • I’ve been reading more by Stoic authors and the stuff makes sense. Here’s a quote by Epictetus that is still very relevant:

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.

Epictetus

There’s an element of this in Buddhism as well, where you’re encouraged to live in the present moment. Or maybe I’m mixing that up with Western mindfulness? I’ll have to do some more reading.

No Time For Cooking

We’ve both been busy and we seem to not have time to cook like we used to so here I am, waiting on dinner at this Chinese place at 10:35 at night. I’m not complaining. The food here is good and they have a lot of vegetarian options. They give out hot tea while you wait for your order as well.

Yum.

Name of the place is Empire Noodle. Also, this is a test of the new Pressgram.

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