May Long Weekend

Just like the saying goes not to wear white after labour day, locally there seems to be a start line for the summer season: May long weekend.

As of posting this I’ve wrapped up my work week and I am planning how to spend the first official three day weekend of the vague, loosely-defined stretch of relative seasonal warmth that begins… um… now.

Planting the Garden

As evidenced by the mid-week snow storm we experienced on Tuesday night I was right to put off planting my seeds until, as my grandmother advised me, the May long weekend. Now I’ve got a small collection of packets containing seeds for lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, beans, peas, and other eclectic veggies that caught my eye… and they are going in the ground before I go back to work.

Priming the Yard

While I’ve casually poked away at this for the last month because the weather has been cooperative, it’s time to get serious and get up to my elbows in soil and grass clippings. Everything needs either a trim, rake, edging, turning, tossing, or pruning, and this weekend is prime time to tackle that chore before the real growth season kicks in and I can’t keep up. That new lawnmower is going to get broken in by the end of the three-day break.

Summer Training

The trails are bare and the weather is perfect. While I may not be tuning up for any particular races, for the last dozen years spring and the May long weekend has always meant that it was time to get serious about summer running training. I would like to run a half marathon this summer, even if it is just a quiet, lonely run tracked by nothing other than my watch. That said, my whole crew is vaccinated and the restrictions start to lift next week so something more social is probably on the agenda somewhere.

Family Campfire

I’ve already been excitedly posting about my early dabbling with the backyard campfire, and have posted a couple learned lessons from the action-so-far. That said, the summer plan was to crank up the heat (literally) on my outdoor culinary efforts and May long weekend is looking to be a beautiful, sunshiny opportunity to spark up some coals, break out the cast iron and roast up some meals outside.

Local Adventure

And finally, while we still can’t go too far I plan on taking the dog and the family for a good local hike to explore some river valley trails or the winding paths through the local creek ravine. The news was already warning folks to heed crowds in popular parks and recreational areas around town and outside the city, but my years on the trails have earned me some secret knowledge about interesting places to check out that will likely be less crowded.

Ten Sweet Desserts Made Sweeter By Cast Iron

If your Easter weekend was anything like mine, it involved a lot of food.

And like many holidays it also happened to involve a lot of sweet desserts. Here’s hoping you got your fill of flavourful delights this year. And for next time, here is some inspiration for how to get you holiday sugar rush with help from your cast iron pans.

1. Cobbler. Almost any fruit will do, but peach or apple slices baked with a crumbly sweet streusel topping can be scooped right from the oven to waiting dessert dishes.

2. Apple Pie. With a flaky pastry crust, a cast iron pan makes for a natural pie pan.

3. Dutch Baby. Call it popover or German pancake, or maybe even a Bismarck, this puffed pastry dish in a cast iron pan is delicate and tasty.

4. Ollie Bolen. My Oma’s recipe for these small, sweet apple fritters was passed down through the generations and we deep fry in our Dutch Oven for New Years every year.

5. Funnel Cakes. Fried in a few centimeters of oil, swirly sweet funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar remind me of being a kid at the summer carnival.

6. Coffee Cake. A standard cake doesn’t do great in cast iron, but the dense, crumbly consistency of a traditional coffee cake works just great.

7. Brownies. Thick and chewy bars of chocolate baked right in a big old skillet. No excuse required.

8. Cinnamon Rolls. Sweeten your sourdough bread recipe and then roll it with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Baked up golden and caramelized are great plain or drizzled with cream cheese frosting.

9. S’mores. No campfire required, a graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow open faced sandwich toasted under the broiler on a cast iron skillet is a close second to the camping version.

10. Skillet Cookie. A big lump of cookie dough smashed into a small 6 or 7 inch cast iron pan, served hot from the oven and topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkles is a sharable hit for kids of any age.

People like lists. I like people. So I’m giving the people what they like. I ran a blog for 16 years and one of the most popular posts ever on that blog was a list of “100 things” that I’d compiled and posted. I’m trying to recreate something similar over the next couple months for the cast iron guy blog. This post will eventually form part of that mega list.