Rust Rescue 101: Saving your cast iron or wok

The blight happened.

My beautiful cast iron griddle and grill, along with my new-ish Chinese wok both got rust. It certainly makes a case for remembering to heat up your cast irons and woks after washing to make sure ALL the water is evaporated off.

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to get rid of rust from your cookware. The bad news is that once you do, you will have to go through the lengthy process of reconditioning your pan, grill, or wok all over again.

Below is my 3-step process of how to get rid of the rust. The fourth step is thrown in for good measure.

  1. Put about a tablespoon of sea salt and oil onto your cast iron cookware or in your wok.
  2. With a piece of steelwool, work the salt and oil around the rusty areas of your cookware and scrub it off
  3. Rinse off the salt and oil. Don’t use soap. Just rinse it off so all the salt is gone.
  4. Follow the instructions for reconditioning your cookware.

Happy cast iron or wok cleaning!

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As local as possible: Fresh City Farms

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Earlier this season, a good friend of ours stumbled across a new food box program in our city: Fresh City Farms. After our time with Culinarium, which sadly closed its doors earlier this year, we were open to participating in another food share program.

What is attractive about Fresh City Farms that sets it apart from other programs was its door-to-door delivery, organic promise, and finally, the hyper-local focus of their food philosophy – as local as possible, in fact.

Perhaps organic and door-to-door is obvious, but why local?

1. It’s healthier. The produce we eat is in essence converted energy from the sun. I know this is an oversimplification of a far more complex series of systems; however, at the heart of it, food is energy. The sooner we eat that produce once it’s harvested, the greater the amount of energy we retain from it. The longer our food is in transit, storage, and processing after its harvested, the more energy is lost. It’s no wonder fresh fruit and vegetables from a farmer’s market always looks, smells, and tastes so much more flavourful than the same tired looking fruit and vegetables near the end of a week at a grocery store (or perhaps in a fridge at home for too long). You know the kind I’m talking about.

That said, there is nothing wrong with eating food that has been shipped in, it’s just that we’re not getting as much nutritional value from it. In some cases, it can’t be helped… there are certain things we simply can’t get where we are. At the same time, there is also so much variety locally to be explored and experimented with that it brings to question. Why not?

2. It’s more environmental. The transportation of import foods over long distances means high costs in energy and fuel for their transportation and storage. Eating more locally means a reduction in the need for those logistics and energy burn.

3. It supports local sustainability. By buying straight from local farms and gardens, more of our dollar goes to the families who grow the food. It doesn’t get split up along the way by a series of middle men. (In case it’s of interest, the Story of Stuff is worth checking out if you haven’t already in the past.)

So back to Fresh City Farms. Most of their produce is farmed in gardens right in the city and when necessary, in nearby farms. Only when the produce cannot be farmed here in Ontario does Fresh City Farms bring it in from the outside, and when they do, it’s clearly labeled. You can opt-out of certain produce, or add additional products to supplement your weekly food box. Food boxes come in small and large sizes that contain fruit or vegetable, or both, and can be delivered weekly or biweekly.

When you order, you can also send the foodbox to a pick-up point, or if you have three or more deliveries to the same address, you can create your own pick-up location. Pick-up locations get a few dollars off each food box. It may take a little communication and follow-up to get your box set-up, as they’re still quite new, small, and ironing out wrinkles. But once it’s set up, it’s worth it.

Our friends and we have been getting our food boxes like clockwork this season and it’s been great. If you haven’t yet, give them a try.

Special Delivery from Bento & Co!

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Bento (bnt): A Japanese meal that is packed in a partitioned lacquered box, a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.

Bento & Co.: A dream to the bento and all things Japanese food lover.

Living on the opposite side of the world from Japan, finding some of the specialty Japanese products can be difficult. Finding those products at a reasonable cost can pose an even greater challenge. After all, Japan is over an ocean or two away, and travel distance and import fees really can put a weighty price tag on products.

Enter Bento & Co. My recent shop obsession. They have been around since 2008 and open to the English market since 2010. Yet somehow, I only recently stumbled across it, but thank goodness I did!

For those living on this side of the world (ie: not in Asia), who love Japanese bentos and other adorable things from Japan and have a hard time finding these products… we are all in luck.

Featuring a vast array of unique and even some exclusive products, Bento & Co has since easily taken its place as one of my favourite online shops to date. Their curation of high quality Japanese bentos, bento-related items, specialty kitchenwares, and stationery is expert. Their prices, reasonable – even when factoring in duty (should you need to pay it). Their level of service is extraordinary. Every engagement with their customers, is personal, gracious, responsive, at times whimsical, but most of all consistently outstanding. And the best of all is that they will ship anywhere in the world. Yes, anywhere. Even if your country isn’t listed or does not come up in the shipping calculator tool, Bento & Co can and will ship your package to where you are.

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Love of tea

Love of teaI realized lately that I have a lot of tea. An abundance of tea, actually. Boxes upon boxes housing at least a couple dozen varieties that I’ve managed to accumulate over my travels and from the trips and adventures of my friends and family.

It’s my love of tea that has led to this. A slow accumulation of many teas of all kinds. And the travesty is that I haven’t been drinking it lately as I’ve been on a road a lot.

So the obvious answer: I have to drink it. Now. And as of this week, I’m drinking a different kind every day. None of this waiting until I’m feeling a little under the weather or saving it for a rainy day. Yesterday was the first one: a jasmine tea ball.

These tea balls are a full sensory experience – aesthetically and visually pleasing, aromatic and calming to smell, mild in flavour, and if you listen closely, you might hear the leaves unfurling and small air bubbles being released. After all, it’s the air bubbles that push apart the leaves. Each beautiful little tea ball is crafted in a way where they are tied delicately together and dried. When you steep them, they slowly blossom. I love that. The aesthetic of the blossoming tea ball into a gorgeous floral pattern.

Here’s a short Vine video of the tea opening up:

Love fish? Help keep them around.

Documentaries are a staple in our household. We watch them as religiously as some families follow their favorite sitcoms or catch up on the evening news. This evening, I finally got around to watching “The End of the Line“, based on the book by Charles Clover with the same title. If you haven’t watched it yet and are one for documentaries, I highly recommend it.

The documentary discusses the fishing industry and focuses on the current state of the health of our oceans – and more importantly, the expected degradation we can expect if we do nothing to change our attitudes and behaviors. Having gone diving in some local waters that have been depleted of ocean life and also others that are protected areas that were teaming with life, I have to say the documentary struck a particularly sensitive cord in me. What a shame if within our generation we saw some of our most beloved fish disappear into extinction and the waters look as barren as they already do in some parts.

Upon finishing the documentary, I went to the film’s website where they have more information about what the average person can do, and updated news links about the fishing industry. They also provide links to other sites that give listings of restaurants (unfortunately, mainly in the United States) according to a sustainability ratings, as well as recommended fish to eat and to avoid – based on current population levels. For a detailed pocket fish guide (PDF) of the recommended fish to avoid and eat, you can download it here.

I’ve included a summary chart of the top ten fish to avoid and to eat below, in case it’s of interest to you. I know it was to me.

Image from fish2fork.com

If you’d like more details about why each of the fish is listed in either the avoid or eat list, you can find the original chart on the The End of the Line website. Just select the fish you’re interested and more content will appear.

Locavore food share programs

Photo credit: Culinarium / Ontario Artisan Share

I know. Hannah and I haven’t posted in a while. Our apologies on the recent radio silence. We had a number of serious personal events happen that have kept us away from Foodiologie. It may take a bit more time before we’re back on our regular posting schedule, but not to worry, we’ll be back soon. But enough about that, what of this locavore business?

Eating fresh and eating local is one of the things that means a lot to us. What it often translates into is how and where we shop, and what we put in our grocery basket: trips to farmers’ markets, finding small grocers that carry local produce, or just selecting locally grown foods from some of the larger grocery chains. A lot of times though, eating fresh and local also means eating at a higher cost and greater inconvenience. But all this is about to change, because Pietro, aka my husband-to-be, and I are joining a food share program through Culinarium in Toronto.

Food share programs are nothing new, but suprisingly, not too many people know about them, and even fewer participate. In reality, community food sharing is a significant part of human history. Only it’s far less prevalent in our big bustling cities, and complicated food production cycles nowadays – most of us are completely disconnected from the source(s) of our food. But we don’t have to be. Food share programs put our food and the farmers that produce it back into our frame of reference.

What’s great about the Culinarium food share programs are that you can choose the program that best suits you: produce-only, meat options, or even an artisan option where you can also get locally-made cheeses and pantry items like maple syrups, mustards, and oils in both meat and vegetarian options. The other benefit is that it’s affordable. The only difference is that you’re paying for your food upfront and securing your personal portion of food with the farmers you’re getting your food from. The farmer has secure orders before the harvest, and you get a gorgeous assortment of seasonal, local food products on a weekly basis when the time comes.

I can’t wait for my first basket.

For other food share programs across Canada, Food Share has a listing here. If you’re not from Canada, look for one in your area. Chances are, you’ll find one. They’re more common than you may think. Good luck!

For the love of food

Food has always been a great passion and source of sharing and conversation for our family. We love to cook, bake, and explore new ingredients, but more than that, we love to eat. Over the years, the topic of starting our own food blogs has come up frequently for both my sister and I. This year, we decided, why not start one together and merge our ideas, thoughts, and opinions? The result, is Foodiologie.

Foodiologie will be a culmination of our philosophy around food: the idea of eating fresh, local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. What we’ll share are observations, tips, and recipes we’ve enjoyed (or maybe even not enjoyed) or had success with.

Happy eating!