Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Colored eggs…

Happy Easter!

(In case you’re wondering, the eggs look shiny because I rubbed them with some vegetable oil to give the color a little glow…)



Read Full Post »

This Farming Man is happy to say that he survived yesterday’s earthquake on the East Coast.

I was at work when my sixth-floor office started shaking, like a big truck (or maybe a tank) was rolling down the street outside my window. The shaking got worse, the hanging lights started swinging back and forth, and my coworkers and I ended up evacuating the building through the fire stairs.

I was worried about potential damage to my apartment, but as you can see by the photo above, it wasn’t that bad. Unfortunately, I did also lose a handmade vase that I got from Pam; it fell off my book shelf and shattered on the floor. But luckily, that was the extent of it.

I’ve only experienced one earthquake before, a tiny one that hit last year around five in the morning. The shaking from it woke me up, I thought “Hmmm, that was an earthquake,” and then I fell back asleep. This one definitely got my heart pounding.

I called my parents once I got back into the office to make sure they were alright. My mom said they hadn’t even felt it. She was getting take-out from Wendy’s while my dad waited in the car, and neither of them knew what was going on until they got home and turned on the news.

Hopefully you and your loved ones are all okay. And if you ever find yourself in an earthquake again (or for the first time), here are some safety tips from the Red Cross

Read Full Post »

This Farming Mom loved her birthday cake yesterday. I was worried how it would turn out, because I lost count and thought I might have added an extra half cup of sugar to the bowl before mixing everything up. (Not that the cake wasn’t a total sugar bomb anyway…)

The cake looked pretty good too, for which credit has to go to my new icing spatula. I got it the other month from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s, and this was the first time I used it.

Let me tell you something. There’s a reason why Martha is always recommending using one of these things to frost a cake. It made it so much easier. Unlike a regular knife, which I’ve been using for the last ten years of baking, the blade of the spatula is offset at the perfect angle to smooth out the sides and top without getting your knuckles covered in frosting.

It now has a place of honor in the utensil bin on my kitchen counter.

Read Full Post »

Salting the fields…

Back in the day, when the Romans wanted to truly vanquish an enemy, they would till their fields with salt so they couldn’t grow crops anymore. (They were pretty ruthless…) I read online that this was a safe, natural and effective way to control weeds, so I gave it a shot.

The crack between the wall of my front yard and the brick walkway has always been a hotbed of weed activity. I used one of those super-duper chemical sprays to get rid of them last year, but I felt so guilty about what I was doing to the environment that I decided to try something different this year.

In May, I mixed salt into a bucket of water and poured it in the crack, and I didn’t get any weeds for a good two months. Today, I pulled a few out and then gave it another salt wash.

Obviously, be careful about where you do this, or you’ll get rid of more than just the weeds. But for a small space like I’ve got, it’s definitely been the way to go…

Read Full Post »


I am a very light sleeper. And I normally wake up with a sore back. Lately, I’ve been having some serious mattress drama after finally getting rid of my old mattress (after more than the maximum ten years) and trying to “upgrade” to something nicer.

The one thing that makes my sleep a little bit better is my white noise machine. I’ve had the same one for over 15 years (go, Sharper Image), and I use it every night. (And luckily my overnight visitors have all been fine with it…)

The New York Times Home & Garden section has a great article on white noise machines and other noise-canceling devices, including the “White Noise” iPhone app (which I’ve downloaded for travel but haven’t used yet). I can also vouch for the Marpac Sound Screen, which my brother bought for his guest room for me to use when I visit.

Now about that mattress…

Read Full Post »

It’s important to season a cast-iron pan to maintain its non-stick coating and to prevent it from rusting. My pan came pre-seasoned, but food still stuck to it when cooking, so I decided to try seasoning it again.

I followed these instructions from the Kitchn. I cleaned the pan with warm water and a sponge (no soap needed, although they say it’s OK to use it in this case), then coated it with oil and baked it in the oven for a few hours.

The clean pan coated with oil...

The coated pan ready to bake in the oven...

The finished pan...

I turned off the oven after about an hour and let the pan cool off overnight before checking it out. As you can see from the above pictures, it looked better after just the cleaning! There were a few oily patches on it this morning, and the handle was a little tacky to the touch. Did I put too much oil on it? But there were no oil drippings on the aluminum foil underneath it. So maybe I didn’t put on enough?

I guess the real test will be when I cook with it again…

Read Full Post »

On Saturday, I cooked chicken in my cast-iron pan. I got the pan (a Lodge) last summer in Minnesota on a visit with Megan, but I just started using it recently.

I know a cast-iron pan is supposed to be a kitchen essential, something long-lasting that can get passed down for generations. But I was scared to use it. It just seemed so much more serious than the cheap non-stick pans my family had growing up (and which I had always been using on my own). There were so many rules for cooking in it, cleaning it and just overall maintaining it. Honestly, it seemed like it was more trouble than it was worth.

I finally started to use it just a few weeks ago to cook some chicken and then steak. Both charred so much that my whole apartment was filled with smoke. This last time, I marinated the chicken in an olive oil, mustard and honey mix, then added more oil to the pan, and it turned out great. But, as you can see, there was still a lot of burned residue left over.

And after cleaning it off as best I could, I realized that the pan needs to be re-seasoned (it came pre-seasoned)…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »