Driving back from Southampton to Hampton Bays a few years ago, Ron and I came across an elderly gentleman who had some old treasures for sale beside the highway. He had an old and very rusted cast iron Griswold No. 8 Tite-Top Dutch Oven for sale. I hummed and hawed and we finally decided to buy it for $55 (that was before cast iron became incredibly popular, especially for an antique piece). I was just learning about the magic of cooking with cast iron at that time and wasn’t sure how I would clean it up, what I would cook in it, never mind how we would transport this heavy piece back to Cabo from New York. At the time, I also mistakenly thought that I’d paid too much for this old rusted pot.
I wasn’t in New York with Ron last summer, so I decided to take on the task of rejuvenating this old piece this year if I possibly could. I googled to find if there was any information on how to clean rusty cast iron and there was a great deal of resource material available, thank heavens. I chose one that looked simple and used natural cleaning ingredients. Here’s what it looked like when I started:
I made a paste of baking soda and water and spread it over the entire pot; bottom, lid and insert.
The next step was to pour white vinegar over each component separately and start scrubbing with a Brillo pad until the rust was lifted. It took lots of elbow grease, but when I rinsed everything off, the results were amazing!
I find the best thing to season (to seal the surface and give your cast iron a beautiful black patina) and maintain (apply after every use) my cast iron with is ghee (clarified butter) as it has a high smoke point and keeps the rust away. Here is the finished product:
I was thrilled with how it turned out! I wonder who owned it before and what delicious food was cooked in it. I love that the pot has some history! It was definitely worth the money we paid and I’m very excited to bake some sourdough bread in it very soon!
Ron and I had the most amazing experience the other week! I mentioned to our dear friend, Gabriela, that we had never witnessed the release of baby turtles here in Baja. She cleared her calendar and took us out to San Cristobal Ranch in the late afternoon to ensure that situation was remedied and that we had a hands-on education as to the work they are doing on their property.
Her husband, Rene, owns the land and is the President of a non-profit organization called Asupmatoma, which started their environmental protection back in the early 1990’s. The organization was formalized as a marine turtle center in 1995 and they focus their efforts on protection and conservation of marine turtles.
In addition to the protection and conservation aspects of the work that Asupmatoma is doing, their vision is to promote and increase the active participation and technical training for the local and foreign communities. They have one full-time biologist on staff, and dedicated volunteers come to work on the project from Mexico and far beyond.
The Sea of Cortez and Baja California are home to five species of sea turtles (there are only eight in the world!): Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green and Olive Ridley – all of which are endangered. It is believed that each mother turtle returns to lay her eggs on the same beach where, at least a decade before, she was born. The males, on the contrary, never set foot on land again and live their entire lives in the ocean.
Under the cover of night, the females leave the sea and search for a place on the beach where they were born (an absolute miracle they are able to find their birthplace!) to lay their eggs. With their powerful fins, they dig holes in the sand and make a nest into which they lay up to 150 eggs, one by one. Once the eggs are deposited, the turtles cover their nests with sand, erasing their trace, and return to the sea.
The team at Asupmatoma patrol the miles of beach to spot the mothers or find their tracks to the nests where they lay their eggs. The eggs are moved to incubation areas to protect them from man, predatory animals, and natural phenomena (Rene and Gabriela recounted moving the incubation nests during one hurricane to protect the turtle eggs!). Each new nest is carefully marked to show the species, when the eggs were laid, how many eggs were moved, etc. which makes it almost appear like a little cemetery and not a birthplace.
After 45 days or so, depending on the species, the baby turtles begin their difficult struggle for life. Still in the nest, buried a foot to two feet under the surface of the sand, they emerge from their shells one by one. Then, they crawl to the surface and begin their trek to the sea to begin the next phase of their lives.
We got to be part of the “cleaning” of the nests the day we visited. The vast majority of the babies made their way to the surface and had been released earlier in the day, but some did not. Our job was to carefully dig out the nests and find any babies that were still alive, and clean out the broken eggs and dead turtles that didn’t make it. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to find a baby and feel it wiggling in your hand! With a “Hi guy, welcome to the world!”, I found fifteen in my nest and Ron found three.
Because these little fellows hadn’t crawled up to the surface themselves, it was important to let them move around in the plastic container we put them in to get them strong and to “imprint” them as to their surroundings so the females could find their way back to lay their eggs in a decade or so (amazing!).
After a half-hour or so, we took the babies we’d found to the shore and released them so that they could hurry to the sea to begin their new life.
It’s a miracle that they’ve made it this far, but even more incredible to realize that of one thousand baby turtles, probabilities predict that only one will reach adulthood. Good luck and God speed, little ones! You are truly a miracle and we feel honored to have witnessed a small part of it.
I always feel, when I pull this bad boy out of the cupboard, that we’re part of the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour. Acme was always the brand that the Roadrunner featured and it always puts a smile on my face when I use it.
My parents bought this centrifugal juicer back in the 50’s – sometime after my brother, George, was born in 1956 and before I arrived in 1959. Lots of fruit and vegetables have been juiced in this machine and I am so grateful to have it with us in Cabo.
Getting the juicer here was no small feat. It’s heavy, and I mean REALLY heavy and there was no way that it was ever going to be part of my luggage. Mom’s neighbors and friends, Rob and Kathy, drove down every year from Alberta to Vicente Guerrero, a small puebla located on Highway 1, approximately 175 south of Tijuana, Mexico. They come, at their own expense, to do missionary work at the orphanage located there. We admire their commitment and selflessness very much. Anyway, Rob and Kathy agreed to stow boxes for me for three different years so that I could get some of my heavier articles here. The Acme juicer arrived last winter and we were so grateful to receive it.
After my parents bought it, my Dad belonged to a health club that had a steam room. Dad loved onions and decided to make onion juice for himself using the Acme juicer. It seemed like a good idea until he went to the steam room after drinking the juice. One by one, every single man got up and left. It finally dawned on Dad that the onion juice was coming through his pores and he stunk out the other steam room users. They say that a skunk smells his own smell last! I guess that was true in this situation.
My Mom processed high bush cranberries in that juicer and so much more over the years. One of the highlights when I was a kid was the treat of fresh carrot juice when we dug up our garden. I loved carrot juice then and I absolutely still love it now!
Some years ago, the lug nut in the centre of the machine stripped out and I was desperate to find a replacement. The internet is a wonderful thing as I located a parts provider in Minneapolis, MN, who sent me the part I needed to keep the juicer going for a few more decades (this machine was definitely made to LAST!)!
The other day I dug out “Old Faithful” and did up a batch of juice using fresh organic carrots and beets from our local market, ginger, apple and cucumber that we grew in our Tower Garden, ginger and apple. It was absolutely delicious and transported me to those years on the farm when we made our harvest carrot juice in the fall.
Thanks, Mom (and Rob and Kathy), for finding a way to send this treasure and piece of family history to its new home in Mexico!
We had the pleasure of having my precious Mom here for just over three weeks. She wanted to contribute, so was given the job of checking the pomegranate trees for ripe fruit, then picking and seeding them (and a couple of other jobs as well, but not as fun as this one).
Our Pomegranate Queen!
We had a beautiful rain and, unlike most days when there are one or perhaps two ready, we had over a dozen bursting and ready to harvest the day following when the sun came out. We managed to give a few of them away, but Mom faithfully seeded the ones we were left with and put them in containers in the fridge for our consumption.
Pomegranates are absolutely DELICIOUS when picked off the tree, as any fresh fruit is, and we kept Mom very busy with this task. I promised to make her a very famous Mexican dish called Chiles en Nogada, but we just ran out of time. I committed to practicing and making them for her next year and I made my first batch last night, inspired by a recipe from the Atlantic magazine by Rick Bayless.
Traditional Chiles en Nogada originates from Puebla, is tied to the independence of Mexico, and celebrates the three colors of the Mexican flag: green from the Poblano chile, white from the walnut cream sauce, and red from the pomegranate seeds. This dish is usually served at room temperature, but I reheated the chiles, stuffed with picadillo (a mixture of ground lamb, fruits and spices), then topped them with the cold walnut cream sauce and garnished with the pomegranate seeds. I served the Chiles en Nogada with steamed romanesco, beautiful and fresh from the organic market up the street.
Chiles en Nogada and Steamed Romanesco
This is definitely a time-consuming dish to prepare, but I look forward to making it for Mom next year when she visits. It’s the least I can do for all the pomegranates that she picked and painstakingly seeded for all of us to enjoy!
I have long struggled with using Facebook for personal purposes and have posted very little while I have been signed up on it. The few times that I’ve gone on it to see what’s happening in people’s lives have amazed me with the amount of time that can be and is wasted by people NOT living their own lives. I feel the same way about television: I’d rather LIVE my life in prime time than WATCH it, so I spend very little time in front of it (and I’m very selective about what I do watch). I’ve experienced where people post things without thinking, forgetting that employers, customs officers, police and others in power, check social media and what has been posted earlier and thoughtlessly in their lives, can come back to impact them later. I’ve experienced people using Facebook as a surveilance tool and compromised personal relationships because of their response to something happening in other’s lives.
I believe that Facebook was tampered with during the American election in late 2016 and that it continues to be responsible for promoting and spreading hatred and ignorance to people who do not have the capacity or intelligence to think more critically and check sources.
I have been using Facebook for professional purposes, but I’m rethinking that now. In my opinion, Facebook is for personal use, although it can and is used by many for professional purposes as well (Mexico, for example, uses Facebook extensively for everything, both personal and professional uses).
There are better tools for professional use, like LinkedIn. We can keep the standards high by reporting anyone who is abusing it or using it for inapproporate social contact. It is purely a professional network and needs to be kept as such.
I refuse to ever use Twitter. I refused long before watching a moronic President send out his impulsive and reprehensible “tweets”. He sends out unfiltered garbage that is so far from behavior I expect from ANYONE, and especially from a “world leader”. He is clearly NOT that.
The good news is that we get to vote with our participation and subscription to social media. I, for one, have decided to extricate and opt out of Facebook and Twitter. I hope others decide to do the same.