One Month Down, Many to Go

February one. It is the first day of the second month of 2021 and so also the start of my second month of daily blogging here on castironguy.ca.

I thought about writing of the challenge of finding time, space, and focus to write here every day for a whole month, and while those words may describe the experience, they don’t explain it all.

Sunday afternoon I went for a neighbourhood walk with my wife. Along the way we chatted, and one of the topics was mental health. And I know; if you’ve been anywhere online or reading the news lately, all anyone talks about is mental health.

It’s important, yes.

We should talk about it, of course.

It has been relevant for myself and my family for generations, more than I can elaborate on here without going into long personal anecdotes that I’m not ready to share.

See, talking about it is not the problem I personally face.

On the other hand, while everyone talks about it, few people give others the tools and skills to deal with fixing declining mental health and decreasing mental fitness.

For example, we talk about mental health frequently in meetings at work. These meetings are long, exhausting video conferences that often go overtime and blur into the next time slot. I have made it my 2021 mental health mission to add into every one of these conversations that if we actually want to improve mental health we can start by ending this meeting five minutes early so that everyone can have a short break to get a coffee… or stretch… or pee.

My own personal mental fitness program is a multi-part effort.

I spend time outdoors, walking, running, and adventuring, enjoying nature and the beautiful world in which I live to improve my physical well-being.

I spend time with my family, friends (when I can), and my dog, sharing love, food, time, and energy with those around me to improve my emotional well-being.

I spend time writing, drawing, and creating interesting things (such as this blog) that I can nuture, refine and share to improve my mental well-being.

Simple actions. Real balance.

So, as I post the first post of the second month of a daily blog, looking ahead to more months … a year … or even many years of writing, this is simply me acknowledging that is much more complex than just work. Sometimes the very point a thing is actually all about the challenge of finding time, space, and focus because that’s what gives it value in the first place.

Why I Cook on Cast Iron (Part One)

Do you remember the first time you got the perfect sear?

I do.

We had come into a couple thousand dollars as a small inheritance. The decision had been made years prior that any windfalls like that would be rolled back into our house. It was simple: money from a family legacy transformed into value to our home.

Our choice then was to extend the gas line to our kitchen and replace the electric stove with a gas range.

We had been living the post-university student lifestyle for years at that point, but had been watching too much Food Network. The cheap aluminum frying pans were not cutting it anymore. They needed to be replaced, and I couldn’t help but notice that serious chefs didn’t cook gourmet meals over a glowing red coil burner.

Gas range installed and burning, life went on. We upgraded some of our cookware to stainless steel and expanded our repertoire of recipes. We cooked better, ate well, and thought the world of amazing food was our oyster.

At one point I had been curious about cast iron (for just a few months back when we still had the electric range) and I had fished a cheap pan from a discount rack at one of those surplus merch stores. On the electric range it was unimpressive. Couple with that the fact I had no clue about seasoning cast iron, and the whole thing was a succession of crusty messes. The pan got shoved to the back of a cupboard…

…until one particular experimental recipe we’d found specifically asked for a cast iron skillet on our new gas range.

The breaded chicken seared with a crisp, beautiful, crunch that I would have paid real money for at a nice restaurant. I had cooked it in my kitchen, with my limited skills, and I was hooked.

My cast iron mission had begun.

to be continued…