Campfire Club

Ahhhh… outdoor campfire season is upon us once again. I do try to get outside and warm myself by some flickering flames year-round, but from May through October it is always a little more favourable to casually cooking and gathering around a pit of hot embers.

So I did last night.

Sadly alone….?

Or maybe…advantageously alone.

Reluctant to waste a great opportunity to enjoy a perfect Monday evening in spring, I rather took it as an opportunity to indulge in two of my pastimes. Not only did I light a fire and enjoy a small outdoor cookout, but I tried my hand at recording some more video footage of the whole experience.

I hardly need an excuse to set up a grill experience on my firepit. I mean, it helps immensely to have someone to share it all with, but even our small family seems to struggle to converge our precious free time with great weather and perfect opportunity. Sometimes you just gotta get out there and do your thing, even on a lonely evening. All that said, it never hurts to add another reason to break down those barriers (and create a positive space to fill in my over-planned life) by planning to share those lonely backyard fires with someone… anyone, and if I can’t convince my family, friends, or neighbours to wander by for reals why can’t that “anyone” be with my internet friends?

I’m gelling this whole multimedia creation process, the effort to make more videos and record a podcast to accompany this blog, and part of that gelling means turning sparks of inspiration into creative opportunity.

So, a new video series… a series of one so far… called the Campfire Club:

And if nothing more, I think a good chance for me to break out my firecraft skills at least once per month, record some grilled eats over those hot coals, and share the fun here in a format that transcends words.

If only I could let you taste it, too.

Meta Monday & the Attack of the Creative Heart

I have a luxury that, I would guess, many people who post stuff online don’t have.

I don’t need to generate an income from this.

I’m lucky. I can blog without ads. I can post without sponsored content. Dabble in new media without penalty for failure. I can pay my hosting bills with my real job. This is a hobby. A pasttime. An indulgence.

That means that after a year and a half of writing, five hundred and seven days of effort and three hundred and eighteen posts in — and though there about thirty or so readers who I get to hear from now and then — the fact that I don’t have a million subscribers (and probably never will) nor viral content on this site doesn’t really concern me too much. It’s like we’re doing a small, initimate theatre show here: just a few of us in a cozy room with me up on stage doing my thing, and that’s kinda how I like it.

On the flip side, I have a kid who cruelly laughs at the small number beside by social stats because so-and-so teenage youtuber has eight million subscribers or such-and-such streamer in his early twenties on twitch has thirty million subs and a gazillion bucks and ”geeze, dad, you’re barely even…”

On another flip side, I’m what some of you might call a “Creative Soul” or “Artistic” or (as I like to fashion it) “Inspired to Make Stuff” and, as I mentioned, blessed with the luxury of time and resources to do so.

I’ve often written on the sidelines of this project that I have a lot of reasons to write and to continue writing. It’s cheaper than therapy, for one. But also it drives this cycle of writing about the stuff I do and so doing stuff to have something to write about about, and so on and so on and so on.

I’ve also mentioned previously on this blog times and efforts when I’ve dabbled in other projects adjacent (and not so much adjacent) to this project. (Did you know I play classical violin in a local orchestra, for example??) I like the whole Cast Iron Guy project because I get to write about things I enjoy doing, foods I like cooking, and places I like exploring, and thus I do, cook, and explore more so that I have things to write about. The aforementioned cycle works out great for me.

That said, I have other stuff I work on, and other channels I like to work in.

I used to do a lot of photography.

I used to draw a web comic.

I used to dabble in video editing.

I used to write novels (though I never did publish one!)

Last summer, I took a break from writing here. A year ago the push to press the publish button on the daily (which I don’t attempt anymore) seemed to conflict with taking some vacation and enjoying the outdoor weather. This summer I don’t think I’m going to take that break. I think, instead, I’m going to branch out and add depth and complexity to this Cast Iron Guy project. More stuff. More side projects. More experimentation in other media.

(On a side note, I’ve been backburnering a change of ”brand” and updating the name and general theme on this site to something that is less focused on cooking, but until I go at least two days in a row thinking that’s a good idea it’s not getting much traction even in my own head!)

Some of the things I’m working on include:

I added some galleries last year and I’m going to try and get my camera out more to enhance those over the summer. Hopefully you’ll see more photos.

I already posted about my new Youtube channel where I have a couple ideas to post videos if not regularly, then at least sporadically with some frequency, with films and clips that I think might be interesting and fun to record.

I’m toying with the idea and preliminary work of recording a simple podcast, but I haven’t completely got my head around the format and formula yet. I figure it will take a few episodes before that gels into something I really like and want to write more about.

And of course, on top of all of this, I want to get out and explore, travel, do a lot more drawing, writing, and generally enhancing of my content on this blog as it already is, including longer format articles with more focused topics, more photos and videos to accompany the posts, and overall stuff that I think could entertain those folks who already read my posts while attracting others and building a bigger community around the adventure seekers lifestyle.

It’s a creative-heart attack. I think those are healthy.

And this is hobby, pasttime and an indulgence, and I can try new things without worrying that I’m going to bankrupt myself. A year and a half on, a little more than five hundred days of Cast Iron Guy blog, it’s time to see what I can do with this whole thing.

The summer looks to be full of adventure, filming, sketching, recording, and building a collection of interesting stories to share here… and not because I have to, but because I get to.

Glass

About a week and a half ago I wrote a post about trail stewardship.

Maybe you recall. Or maybe you just clicked here because of the headline and sassy thumbnail. But the gist of the aforementioned article was that after spending a few hours marshalling a trail race one weekend (and during that time noting how much man-made mess was there, including shattered glass all over the path) I made a plan to go back and do some cleanup.

So… I did.

And I recorded a bunch of it.

Because as I wrote in another post I’ve been dabbling in the idea of kicking off a YouTube channel. The little mini film that result from this effort was more about testing my toe in the waters with something simple and obvious, but the result is an eight minute short film about trail stewardship and taking responsibility for the spaces we all use.

And I actually did a little bit of good in the process, I think.

I’ve uploaded it here:

Enjoy!

Friday Frights: Cast Iron Versus Magic

There are countless great arguments to switch to cooking with cast iron, but a socio-political one was outlined recently by the HBO Comedy show, Last Week Tonight, as they profiled a report on the effects to both our health and the environment from the types of chemicals used to make other non-stick frying pans.

You can watch the twenty-minute clip embedded below … which if you are unfamiliar with the show is a late-night, no-holds-barred news-comedy program. (And a language/political-bend warning for those with sensitive minds.)

To sum up ( if the clip doesn’t play in your part of the world) a group of chemicals called PFAs have been used to make all sorts of modern products since the 1950s. While there have been countless conveniences from these products, there have also been many environmental and human health problems that have been identified from the manufacture or disposal of things containing those chemicals.

One of the big, well known products is Teflon™ which could be considered the non-stick alternative to a well-seasoned cast iron pan.

But where cast iron becomes non-stick through seasoning, a process that can be done at home and involves the polymerization of food-safe oils into a thin, slick surface on top of the raw iron, chemical non-stick coatings are factory applied and involve typical sorts of industrial side effects.

Of course, manufacturing cast iron cookware is undeniably a resource intensive effort, too. Mining, refining, extreme heat, and casting, not to mention the costs of shipping heavy pieces of cookware around the world.

Neither of these are perfect.

But as the scales weigh out the pros and cons, cast iron versus coated non-stick pans, factoring in things like longevity of the cookware itself, sustainability of the manufacturing process, impacts to our well-being and our world, and the accumulation of chemical debt that is incurred by the mass production and disposal rates of both these options, I more and more feel like those scales are tilting out towards cast iron.