Becka's Babble

Ramblings of a Romance Writer

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good Lord, I Haven't Posted in a Week!

My poor blog has been neglected. Mainly because I've had nothing to blog as of late. Last weekend, the fam and I took my purdy girl (and their bikes too) out for a bike ride. Gorgeous day. We packed a lunch and rode around the bike paths near the Hillsboro Main Library. We stopped to eat on the grass near the pond and were accosted by two big, white duck bullies, who would literally chase away their "competition". It was rather amusing. My daughter named them "Buck" and "Chuck". LOL

My oldest daughters have finished their curriculum for 2nd and 3rd grade. I don't follow the school year in September when I homeschool, because the company we go through has awesome sales in April/May, so that's when we buy their new books and we start shortly thereafter. But my kids do have a break in the spring, which is when we usually take our family vacations. My son and youngest daughter will be finished this coming Monday, because they had a few more "sick" days than my older two. :) But everyone is excited to have some time off. We have family and friends coming to visit us in May, so we're going to have a lot of fun on our "off" time!

I've been sticking to my exercise regimen and have lost a few more pounds. Since April 2nd, I've lost 7 more pounds! The weight loss has definitely slowed down since the beginning, but I'm happy to see it's still going down. I plateaued there for awhile, but I once read an inspirational quote that says, "A plateau is nothing more than a 'dress rehearsal' for maintaining your goal weight." :P I've been drinking tons more water (hello toilet!) in an effort to keep myself hydrated, as I'm an avid Diet Coke drinker. Even though a Diet Coke is "free" according to my dietitian, I've read on a few websites that your liver is what metabolizes fat into energy for your body. If your kidneys are deprived of adequate water, then the liver is forced to "take over" some of their job, thus taking the focus of it's job off of metabolizing fat. So when you drink more water, you're keeping your kidneys hydrated enough to do their own job, allowing the liver to do *its* job. Fortunately, it only takes a week or two before your body to get used to the increased water intake, so the light at the end of the tunnel is that you won't spend the rest of your life on the pot.

I believe it's definitely working for me. Yesterday, I was down two ounces. Today, I was down another six ounces. Of course, it could be due to the fact I exercise every day as well. I'm doing some strength training to get definition (and erase flab) on my arms and legs. Obviously I don't want to be a weight lifter, but I don't want to have chicken arms and chicken legs when I finally do lose the weight. I think a defined arm and leg are sexy. I'm using a resistance band as well as a stability ball to strengthen my muscles and tighten my core. Lord knows I need that!

Let's see, what else? The sun is finally peeking out here in Oregon, but the days are still chilly. What's up with that? It's almost May, people! Wonder if we're going to have a mild summer?

Anyways, I'm sorry for the boring ol' post, but I thought it's better to post something than nothing at all! All this exercising and finally writing a book I owe Champagne Books has been sucking up my free time to blog! Ah well, it's for the greater good. :)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

OMFG - Becka's Moment of Zen



Sunday, April 20, 2008

Becka's Hottie of the Week

Okay, okay, yes, yes, I've given you one other bike on this blog for my Hottie of the Week, but I just had to blog about THIS one. Why? Because I just bought this baby!

We went to the bike shop to buy my son a new bike (which we did) and saw this lovely bike sitting there in the showroom, calling out to me. Actually, we saw this bike before, when we bought my youngest daughter her bike. In the few weeks since, no one bought it.

I don't know why no one wanted it, I think it's beautiful. True, I'd talked about getting the pink Townie and tricking it out with the Hawaiian accessories, but the pink Townie was kind of expensive, and adding the accessories would have been about $200 more than this bike was on the floor.

So I thought about it, not wanting to buy it until we get the tax rebate owed to us by George W. next month. But DH overheard two other people eyeballing this bike, saying something along the lines of, "Well, you could always get that white Hawaiian..." DH walked right up to the sales guy and proclaimed, "WE'LL TAKE IT!" lol

It's kind of a blustery day today, so I only got to actually ride my bike for a few minutes up and down the street, but it's mine. My own. My PRECIOUS!!!

Oogle my bike to your heart's content. It's an "older" '06/'07 model, so they don't make them in white custom any more (even though you *can* get the Hawaiian doo dads), which means this bike is a rare find. It's a sweet ride, 21 speed. I haven't had a brand new bike since I was a kid. Congrats to me, as my new bike is Becka's Hottie of the Week!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Becka's Moment of Zen

DH showed me this video. It's too cool not to share. And because of the complexity of the one-take lip dub, this vid has now become my Moment of Zen. Enjoy!

Lip Dub - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Becka's Impromptu Book Review - IRON COWBOY

IRON COWBOY is a Silhouette Desire, written by Diana Palmer. You can find the book on Here is the back cover blurb:

Rancher Jared Cameron was a mystery to everyone in Jacobsville, Texas…and he liked it that way. Only sweet-natured bookseller Sara dared to intrude on his privacy—informing the loner that a book on ogres might be more appropriate for a man of his qualities. Charmed by her audaciousness, Jared seduced the town's plain Jane. But their burgeoning relationship soon thrust Sara into Jared's hidden world of intrigue.

Now the iron cowboy had to steel himself for the fight of his life…and his heart.


Let's be honest, I bought this book for it's cover. It's gorgeous, really, and promises to be a wonderful western read from Silhouette Desire. Being written by Diana Palmer, who's had a successful career in romance, half the cover is taken up by her name. I've read another Desire book by Ms. Palmer with the same malady, HEARTBREAKER, of which I reviewed on my Google Group, The Magic of Romance, not on my blog, unfortunately. In fact, a quick search of "Diana Palmer" shows a trend in her covers, of GIANT author name, itty bitty book title. With a cred like Ms. Palmer's, where her name alone will get you to buy her book, I've just gotta see for myself if she can live up to her publisher's hype.

First of all, as I also said in my review of HEARTBREAKER on my loop, this book's cover has NOTHING to do with the story within. The hero is mentioned more times as being an oil tycoon than a rancher, even though he owns a ranch, for all intents and purposes. Unfortunately, we never see him on the back of a horse wrangling wild horses. In fact, I'm not even sure why the book is entitled IRON COWBOY, because aside from his Stetson, there ain't nothing "cowboy" about this guy. He calls the small town both he and the heroine live in, which is Jacobsville, TX, "Outer Cowpasture", as if he's making fun of the place. This seems rather odd for a "cowboy", as true cowboys love the wide-open range. I'm sure there are plenty of city-cowboys, but even those men, who's passion in life is on the back of a horse, love to get away from all the hustle and bustle for a cozy campfire and the bay of coyotes.

Therefore, both the cover and the title are misleading, right off the bat.

Secondly, the book appears to be one in a series, and admittedly, I have not read this series. It revisits plenty of other characters from Ms. Palmer's previous books, but I skimmed this information, because it wasn't interesting to me. In fact, in reading one such scene, it seemed to be "filler", to get the book to the appropriate 50K word count for the line. These characters were thrown at me as if I should know who they are, and even the explanations of "this is so-in-so who did such-in-such" were murky at best. Hence the skimming. To tell you the truth, skimming those scenes didn't hurt the story one bit. I still understood everything going on between the hero and heroine.

The love story between the two main characters seemed forced at times. In fact, the hero is so busy, the heroine spends more time "on camera" with the secondary characters, Tony the Dancer and Harley Fowler. I had to wonder to myself why the heroine wasn't falling in love with Harley, because he was obviously a cowboy and a nice one to boot (no pun intended), and he actually LIKED the heroine, unlike the hero. Of course, conflict between the H/h is an unwritten rule in Ms. Palmer's books. If done correctly, the sparks that fly could seriously up the ante with regards to sexual tension. However, Ms. Palmer writes their butting heads as she would two enemies, people who genuinely hate each other. This makes for the tender scenes between them to seem contrived. Why would two people who were just hurling nasty words back and forth suddenly agree to be each other's "family" if one of them gets sick? It made no sense to me.

Let's not even talk about the forced love scene. Well... maybe we should. Many reviewers on call it a "rape" scene. The hero loses so much control, he doesn't "notice" when the heroine is pushing him off, thus he goes all the way, and only notices her tears and shoving after his Big O. Then, he proceeds to tell her it's all her fault.

"Small town girls and their damned hang-ups," he muttered. "What now? Do you think you'll go to hell for sleeping with a man you haven't married?"

It was close to what she'd been taught all her life, that she didn't even bother to reply.

"I don't believe this!" he raged. "I can't be the first man to--" He stopped dead, remembering the barrier that he'd dealth with. "I was the first," he said slowly. "Wasn't I, Sara?"

"Please go," she pleaded tearfully.

He drew in a long breath. "Tell me you're on birth control," he demanded.

"I never needed to be," she bit off.

"Great!" he burst out, furious. "That's just great! And you see me as a meal ticket, don't you? If I made you pregnant, you'll have a free ride for life! Except you won't," he added coldly. "I don't want children ever again. You'll have a termination or I'll take you to court and show everyone who lives here how mercenary you are!"

Wow. The problem with writing such a harsh hero is the fact that there is next to no redeeming values about him. The HEA of this book seems more about the hero getting his way than something Sara truly wants. Therefore the ending isn't satisfying. I don't believe the hero and heroine are truly in love. He seems possessive, domineering, controlling. There's a fine line to writing an Alpha hero. I usually love a possessive hero in books. But when the Alpha male comes off as a selfish bastard, I just can't bring myself to like the guy.

Aside from the romance, there is another plot throughout about a drug cartel trying to kidnap the hero for his millions. I skimmed this plot too. I just couldn't read it. Partly because it, too, seemed like "filler" to up the word count, but really, I couldn't read it because it was more and more pages where the hero and heroine were NOT together. And that's really the crux of why this romance didn't work for me. Sure, the whole forced seduction/rape scene seriously turned me way the heck off, but you cannot have a successful romance when the H/h are never together.

However, one of the main reasons I skimmed both the drug cartel plot and the revisiting of previous characters was the style of writing. Ms. Palmer does a lot of telling in her writing rather than showing. One thing happens, something else happens, which makes something else happen. It was like reading an instruction manual, almost, not because I was learning anything, but because the writing and prose were so dry. You do this. Then this and this. Here's an example:

Could she possibly have an ulcer?

It would pass, she told herself. She'd just sit very still and not move around and it would go away, like it always did.

But it didn't go away. An hour later, it hurt to walk and nausea washed over her unexpectedly. She barely made it to the bathroom in time to lose her breakfast. The pain was horrible. She'd never felt anything like it. She felt feverish as well. Something was wrong. Something bad.

A.) Nausea
B.) Barely made it to bathroom
C.) Pain horrible
D.) Never felt anything like it
E.) Feverish
F.) Something's wrong
G.) Something bad

The problem is, the entire book is like the above passage. It reads like a novel from a first time author, not a multi-published been-around-the-block author. Take a look at the very FIRST line of the book. It pretty much sets up the tone for the rest of the book:

It was a lovely spring day, the sort of day that makes gentle, green, budding trees and white blossoms look like a spring fantasy has been painted.

It's just...unpolished. We're told what it looks like. Put us in the scene. Show us what's going on, don't tell us. Is there a light breeze? A fragrance in the air? Are there puffy clouds in the sky? The above sentence is the only "set up" we get for what the day is like. While I don't need a 10-page diagram detailing every little nuance of the lovely spring day, I would like to picture my scene a wee bit more.

Sure, as authors, we sometimes write books that aren't that great. Not every book we write is going to be the "book of our hearts". This is a business, after all. However, I can't help but wonder if the editors at Desire relax the rules for well-known authors. If "Jane Author" submitted a manuscript with elementary prose and a rape scene, it's doubtful she'd get that coveted contract.

Overall, the cover and title are poor representations of the book, even if the cover is gorgeous. The story within is shoestring at best, with a luke-warm romance and forgettable drug cartel. The prose of the writing is very basic and hard to read at times, as the author in me is cringing at the "she felt" / "that was" wording, which permeated the book.

THE BEST line in the entire book came out of the blue for me. If Ms. Palmer had written her book around that ONE line, it would have been a much better read. The hero actually melted me with that one line, but then goes on to prove himself all kinds of an ass. I found myself wishing and hoping Ms. Palmer would have her romance live up to that ONE line, but alas, she didn't. Here it is, to quench your curiosity:

He felt her shiver in his arms. His mouth roughened for an instant until he realized that she was just out of the hospital, and her side hadn't healed. He lifted his head. His eyes were blazing. His face was set, solemn, his gaze intent on her flushed skin.

"Wh...why?" she faltered, all eyes.

An odd expression crept over his face. "When you smile, the emptiness goes away," he said in a rough whisper.

This book gets one star out of a possible 5 from Becka. It would have only gotten a half-star from me, but that one line bumped it to a full star. Only read this one if you're a die-hard Palmer fan who loves her asinine heroes.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Twhirlin' on Twitter

DH and friends have been using a site called "Twitter". Basically, it's a site you send periodic updates about what you're doing or thinking at any given moment. They've been trying to get me on Twitter for awhile now. I noticed DH and one of my other friends had their Twitter updates posted on their blog. I had to do the same, of course, so I hunted and searched and finally found the code to add it on.

Therefore, you'll see my Twitters in the sidebar over there ---->

If you're on Twitter too and want to connect to me, I believe my "page" is at

Anyway, just letting you know what those weird Twitter updates were all about. :)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Becka's Moment of Zen

I don't usually post about political things, but this one was just too funny to pass up. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Becka's Booksigning Bomb

As you may or may not know, I had a booksigning this past Sunday (4/6) at the Hillsboro Main Library in my hometown of Hillsboro, OR. I'd been talking to Dave Pauli, the man who coordinates special events with the library since September. We'd scheduled the signing 8 months in the future, because the library was brand new and already booked with many other events.

This got me all excited. Sounds like this library is pumpin'!

So the months pass, and as the date got closer, I posted about it on many of my forums and blogs. The library also did their part, by putting my event in their calendar of events not only on their webpage, but in their newsletter, as well as the community events flyer that goes out every month for the city of Hillsboro. They even made a "poster" for me (just an 8X10 flyer) for their bulletin board. I mass-emailed my friends about the event and even lobbied my local author friends to attend.

The morning of the event, I was rushing to get everything ready, sign-up sheets for my newsletter and weight loss group, a raffle and freebies I was going to give away, and my obligatory chocolates to lure people to my table. I even raided my own personal book stash (my books I buy for posterity) because I only had copies of my fantasy books available, not my BEAST books or any of my historicals.

I spent about an hour and a half on Saturday just signing my swag, 200 bookmarks, 10 bookplates, and about 100 business cards, not to mention about 30 post cards. I went over what I was going to talk about and even made "cue cards" for myself so I wouldn't forget and look like a dumbass going, "Uh, uh, uh..." (this event was actually a "talk/slash/booksigning")

I wondered what the heck I was going to wear, and finally chose my blue jeans and a dressy blouse. I'd worn the dressy blouse on Easter with a skirt, but I thought the matching skirt would be a little "too" dressy, so I went for the dressy-cazh. Loaded all my goodies and off I went.

While setting up, Dave Pauli got on the loudspeaker and announced my talk to the patrons 20 minutes before, then 5 minutes before. Yay! My author friend Minnette Meador and her lovely DH came to support me and I informed Mr. Pauli of yet another local author, and he was interested to talk with her.

Unfortunately, after all of this, only one other person came, a lady with her young son, who was almost 7. So okay, two other people, but the boy doesn't count (he was a very good boy even though he was obviously bored out of his gourd). At this point, I'm wondering to myself how advantageous a raffle is, but to heck with it, I had a free book and a $10 Border's gift card to give away.

So I gave my talk, with Mimi, her hubby, the guy who coordinated the event, and the one lady (bless her heart) who came. Four people in all. If Mimi hadn't have come, I wouldn't have sold anything. She bought THE B*E*A*S*T* WITHIN from me, of which I signed. The other lady actually won both gifts in the raffle, which I thought was funny. She obviously had a good time! I signed her book as well, handed her some swag and talked about myself for about 40 minutes while answering questions and such.

Dave himself checked out ON EAGLE'S WINGS from his own library, as he said he loves time travel books. Heh, hope you like that one, Dave! Might be a bit steamy for you, but... :P Well, his wife will be happy he's reading romance, I'm sure.

Yes, my booksigning was a bit of a bomb. If Mimi hadn't shown, I would have been talking to only one person (plus Dave). I suppose it was worth it if only to gain one more fan. Who knows if her friends/family like romance. Perhaps she'll spread the word. I got some great name recognition from the event, as my flyer had been posted to their bulletin board for a few weeks, not to mention my name in their newsletter and the city flyer. If nothing else, people might recognize my name the next time they see it.

I look at this signing as a trial run for any other event I might attend. In the future, I'll try a signing with more than just myself, to try and lure the readership with authors who's name might reach a bit further than mine.

I must say I was disappointed my real-life friends didn't turn out, but they all had plans, I'm sure. But none of my friends read romance, there's the rub. For me, it's hard to be two people, and disconnect my author persona from my reality. Online, I'm "Rebecca Goings", author of best-selling romance, with scads of 5 star reviews under my belt and fans up the wazoo with plans to break into Harlequin Desire.... But in real life, I'm just "Beck", the housewife/mother people sometimes hang out with.

If my head had gotten big from winning the Best-Selling Author of 2007 Award from Champagne Books,

then this booksigning sure did deflate it and gave me a reality check. I'm not quite "there" yet. Someday I might be, but that day is not today - or last Sunday, either.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston Has Passed Away

One of my favorite actors, Charlton Heston, has passed away. :( I remember my mother loving Mr. Heston, as she grew up when he was a big, handsome hunk (her words). I didn't really care about the man until high school, when our World History teacher made us watch the epic Ben Hur over the course of a week (yes, the movie is THAT long lol - well, for 5 hour classes broken up over 5 days *the movie is 4 1/2 hours long).

Every kid in class loved that movie. I mean LOVED. When it was over, we wanted to watch it again. And not because it got us out of more school work. Well, perhaps there were some... lol

After this, I remember catching The Ten Commandments on TV (back when they used to show it every year on network TV) around Easter time. I was a newbie Christian at the time, and I LOVED that movie too. So what did my sister and I do? We found an old video tape (yes, video) and taped it off the network, editing out the commercials, of course, by pressing "pause" whenever they'd come on. :D

For whatever reason growing up, I'd watch The Ten Commandments every Thursday night. It was a ritual. I have no idea how many times I watched that movie. At least until the tape wore out. Heheh

Nowadays, I have DVD's of both Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments. Watching them now reveals the overacting, but all in all, I still LOVE these two films. They meant a lot to me growing up, that's for sure.

Fast-forward to 1997, I had a job at a company that copied medical records for attorneys. We had software that had everyone's address listed. Well, just about everyone's. A friend of mine who worked in the cubicle on the other side of mine also LOVED Mr. Heston. So, she looked him up and found his address up Coldwater Canyon Road (I think that's the name of the road...) Anyhow, she decided to write him an unsolicited letter, telling him how awesome she thought him to be.

He responded by sending her a signed 8X10 glossy of himself, of which she squealed like a school girl, framed, and placed on her mantle (I'm just hypothesizing, I don't know where she put it LOL). I never wrote him myself, because I thought it was a terrible invasion of privacy to write him a letter out of the blue. Perhaps I should have. :(

Thank you, Mr. Heston, for the totally awesome, totally over-acted movies you have given us over the years.

Rest in peace. So let it be written, so let it be done.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Becka's Weight Loss Challenge

Hello again. Just letting you know I've opened a new Google group, Becka's Weight Loss Challenge. I thought hey, since I'm losing weight and DH and my Mom-In-Law are losing along with me, that perhaps some of my online friends might want to join in the fun as well.

You do NOT have to lose weight if you join. You do NOT have to post your weight if you join. The point of this new group is for motivation, sharing, and successes. I will NOT be promoting any of my books in this group; it will strictly be for friends/family to chronicle their weight loss, or for others to cheer us on.

If you'd like to join to either lose weight yourself or keep on top of my weight loss journey, join my new group at:

I really hope to see you there, because no one wants to "go it alone" when it comes to making such a drastic life-long change. Whether you have 10 pounds to lose or 100, anyone is welcome. Even if you're just there to wag the pom-poms. :)


Friday, April 04, 2008

Becka's Hottie of the Week

This week, I've chosen a woman. Yes, it's true, my first female Hottie here on Becka's Babble. I found this lady in a roundabout way. My mom-in-law told me she was watching some vids on You Tube about the correct way to exercise and such, so I decided to go on the site and watch them as well. I found a work out guru who makes walking videos, the exact work out I love to do, but rarely can because it's hard to get out of the house with all my kidlets. And when I do, it's not like I can walk aerobically with 4 kids behind me. *sigh* Who did I choose this week? Ms. Leslie Sansone.

She's got a website located at, and I just bought her "Walk Slim System", located at:

Check out these 30 and 40 second pieces of her workout. How easy is that, honestly?!?

Basically, her program is walking in place, mixed with some jogging in place, little kicks, forward and back toward your butt, side steps and arm curls. Excellent.

So I'm going to try her out and see how well I do on her program. It seems so easy. Perhaps that's the "catch". But I can't imagine this wouldn't help with speeding up your metabolism and burning calories.

And check out her awesome 3-minute walk to get you out of your mid-day office slump, when your eyes are crossing and you're drooling on your desk... LOL

Congratulations, Leslie Sansone. You're Becka's Hottie of the Week! **please help me lose weight!**


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Becka's Moment of Zen

Unfortunately, this You Tube video has its embed capabilities disabled, so I can only give you a link to follow instead of showcasing the video here on my blog. But this is worth following and watching to the end. The video is 8 1/2 minutes long, but you'll be amazed the entire way through. It will change everything you *think* you know about animals that can paint.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008


OMG! People, I've lost 30 pounds so far! I am not kidding. It must be due to how I'm eating, as I'm not exercising as much as I should. I've been doing my part in trying to move MORE throughout the day, such as parking far away from the store so I have to walk, trying to go up and down my stairs more :P, playing Rock Band drums on "hard" - hey, even though it's not a hard work out, my body is moving, and a moving body is burning calories. Heck, even a stationary body is burning calories, but you get my drift. LOL

I've noticed recently that I'll be really hungry by mealtime, but when it comes to making my plate, I only want smaller portions. I look at the portions I used to eat and think dang! That was a lot of food. Yesterday for lunch, I had half a ham sandwich, ten wholegrain rice-cake chips, and a small cup of yogurt and I was stuffed. Dinner time was pork chops, of which I cut some meat off of mine and even so, didn't manage to eat it all. I ate most of my baked potato, half of my corn, and about half of my unbuttered roll. I just couldn't eat it all.

These changes are only for the better. I'm starting to think like a skinny person, I'm noticing. A smaller amount of food fills me up nowadays, and I'm keeping my calorie intake between 1500 to 1800 calories a day (except for the days I "cheat", which is usually Friday and/or Saturday). I used to eat about 3500 calories a day, just whatever I felt like. Fast food, chocolate, 3 rolls with dinner, a huge bowl of ice cream.

The big change for me is thinking of food as fuel for my body rather than an entertainment or some kind of reward or solace. I don't really cheat during the day, meaning, I don't pour myself an extra half cup of cereal. I don't take another handful of chips. I don't double up on my snacks. I do, however, still have the cravings and the urges to do that, so I'll drink some water before I eat, that way, I feel more full when eating the portions I should be eating. Then, I get used to being full with those portions, and before I know it, the thought of eating more makes me go, UGH, no thanks.

What's really helped me is finding the 100 calorie packs of junk food. LOL If I want salty chips, I grab one of the small 100 calorie bags. If I want chocolate covered pretzels (one of my favorite things), I grab a 100 calorie pack sold by Hershey's at Costco. Sure, it's only got two medium sized pretzels in the pack, but it gives me that taste of chocolate I crave at times while giving me a light snack if I'm not too hungry.

Anyway, I'll probably only shout out when I lose ten pounds at a time, as every five pounds might be a bit excessive. :P My goal is to reach a 50 pound weight loss by the end of May. I'm going to be buying a new bike the beginning of May, so I'm hoping that will seriously help me with some weight loss. Sometimes it's hard to get out and walk, but riding a bike is fun and is something I can do with the kids and not have it feel like "work".

Probably not going to get the "Karma" beach cruiser from my Hottie post, I'm thinking about getting a pink Townie with black Hawaiian accents - a black seat with white Hawaiian flowers, black handlebar grips with the same pattern, and black fenders with the same pattern, not to mention a black bag that fits between the frame bars with the Hawaiian flowers as well. Think this bike, but in this color. :)

YAY! The big three-oh. I'm feelin' good!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Frickin' LUV My Cast Iron Skillet

Ever since I was first married, I've wanted to own a cast iron skillet. I've heard such good things about them. Never bought one, though, because I was always "scared" of the care I'd have to give it, as I liked the convenience of popping my pans in the dishwasher or hand-washing the non-stick ones. This whole "oiling" nonsense was for the birds. I don't have time to baby my pan. :P

Boy, was I wrong.

After 12, almost 13 years of marriage, my DH gave me my first iron skillet this past Christmas. Lucky for me, it was pre-seasoned. Bonus, as I was still wary of the whole seasoning process. According to the directions, you need to spray it with PAM the first time you use it. Okay, did that. Then, after every use, merely wash it out with hot water and a non-abrasive, non-metal scrubber. Once it has been rinsed, you thoroughly dry it, then spray it again with PAM, let it cool, and put it away.

OMG, it's *that* easy?!?

Away I went. I ended up using the plastic scrubbers Pampered Chef gives you when you buy their stoneware. It's just a flat piece of plastic, with one pointy edge and three rounded edges. It scrapes my skillet with ease, without scratching the surface of the iron, eliminating the seasoning, or promoting rust. Using HOT HOT water softens the crusties, allowing you to scrape them away. The beauty of the cast iron is the fact that the flavor of the food stays in the metal, making every subsequent meal you cook THAT much better.

After it's scrubbed, of course I wipe it down immediately. That's one of the rules of owning cast iron. Do NOT let it sit with water droplets inside of it and NEVER NEVER NEVER soak it in water. After it's dry, on goes the PAM until it's all glisteny, then away it goes back in my cupboard. I actually prefer caring for this pan rather than caring for my others. It's so EASY, a child can do it.

And let me tell you, everything I've made with it is **drooly**. Oh yeah, this guy makes the best food evar. In an effort to get it infused with all kinds of flavors, I've been using my skillet more and more. It's only the 12 inch size, but now that I'm in love with cast iron, I want to get all kinds of sizes and shapes.

They're not even expensive! They sell them here at Fred Meyer for like $12 for a small one, $15 for a 12 incher and like $21 for a 15 inch. In fact, my brother-in-law's niece just got married recently and for her wedding gift, I bought her a cast iron skillet. If she doesn't LOVE that thing, there's something wrong with her. LOL I only wish I'd had this skillet when I'd first gotten married. It would have made all those meals on a shoe-string budget taste SO GOOD. :P

So, rules for cast iron are:

Never soak it in water.
Never wash it with soap, only hot water rinse.
Never use a harsh metallic scrub pad (like an SOS pad or copper scrubby - try to find a dedicated plastic scrubber if you can. If you get a bristled scrubber, make sure it's only used for the skillet, because if you ever soap it up for any other use, that residue could get into your iron)

Always oil your pan: peanut, canola, vegetable oils work, as well as PAM, however, do not use extra virgin olive oil. I don't exactly know why, but I've read that on a few websites.
Cook fatty, oily foods the first few times you use your skillet, like bacon, fried chicken or the like.

Believe me, you'll be so excited to use your skillet every single day, you'll want to buy more too! In fact, now that I know how to care for one, I wouldn't mind finding some rusty ones and trying to restore them. The seasoning process isn't that hard; you scrub off the rust, wash it with light soap (the ONLY time your skillet should ever see soap), then dry your skillet completely, put your "naked" skillet into a cold oven, then turn it on to 300 degrees. Once it's at 300 degrees, carefully take out your skillet, oil it with a light coating (stress the light), then put it upside down on a cookie sheet and bake in oven for one hour. For older skillets, you might have to season it two or three times. But it's really not THAT bad of a PITA. :P

It won't be long before your cast iron skillet glistens and gives you scrumdiddlyumptious meals. I actually have NOT made cornbread in mine yet (GASP! I know), but only because cornbread is loaded with carbohydrates, and since I have diabetes, it isn't that great of an idea. Perhaps one of these days I decide to "cheat", I'll make some chili and cornbread. By that time, it should be really yummy, since I've used the skillet so very much. :)

Happy cooking!