Cast Iron Love

Last year for Christmas, Scott gave me this cast iron dutch oven. This thing is no joke either, it’s heavy!

I admit that I haven’t used it very much because it’s an odd size.  It’s not small but it’s not big enough to make soups in either. I was unsure what to do with it but I am making a promise to myself to use it more.

I do love it!

Sunday night I realized that this pot would be prefect for cooking up a huge batch of collards and I was right.  This cast iron dutch oven was the perfect size!

I’m going to try and find more ways to start using this pot.  My first thought is perhaps making some baked beans.  Anyone have any great baked beans recipe?  I would like to make the baked beans from scratch as this is something I’ve never done before.

I’ve got a great cast iron skillet as well that I’ve made cornbread in.

And I’ve used it to make pizza!

Cast iron can be so useful! Plus you can add iron to your diet just by cooking with cast iron.  Yup, it’s true! Foods cooked in cast iron will absorb the iron and then you take in that iron when you eat the food.  So if you’re looking to add a little more iron in your diet without having to take supplements, give cast iron cooking a try!

Have you cooked with cast iron before?

Welcome to Food Embrace

Hi everyone and welcome to Food Embrace!  I’m still in the process of getting everything straightened out and doing major housecleaning with the site.  Please know, this is not the site’s final look.  It’s just temporary and site design will be a constant work in progress.  I wanted to get it up and running because I was anxious to get started with this new phase of blogging and career. Plus I missed blogging! It was like a hole in my life developed and it was leaving me a tad cranky.

Sorry Scott!

If you are reading via a reader, check in on occasion to see the changes to the website.Currently there are some new things to check out!

If you are looking for something that was posted on Off Her Cork, it should be on here already. You can do a search and should be able to find what you need.

I have a brand new Facebook page because I wasn’t able to switch the OHC page.  If you’re on FB, I would love it if you liked my page!

Also my twitter handle has changed to Food Embrace as well.  Feel free to follow me if you’re not already!

I look forward to starting this brand new journey with you!

I’ve been on break a while which means we have a bunch to chat about and get caught up on!

OHC Will Be Changing

OHC will be making some changes.  The changes involve a brand new name and a new home on the web.  As you know, I started school earlier this year to become a certified health coach.  With that comes a brand new career and life path.

I debated long and hard about keeping OHC or developing a new company name.  I had many many people tell me to keep OHC because they liked it and thought the name was cute and catchy.  I have to agree, I love Off Her Cork very much.

I’ve spent over two years building up OHC and creating life for it.  To possibly have to give that up was a very hard decision.  Not to mention migrating everything over to a new site, having to rebuild google rank, and rebuild the brand.  Whew! I’m tired just writing that.

Seriously though, this is a decision that kept me up at night. What should I do?  Do I keep OHC or move to something new?  Some people told me to have a new site just for business and OHC for personal.

I could do that but it would take a lot of work to maintain.  Plus, trying to establish yourself is a lot easier if everything is under one name.  Think of The Pioneer Woman, if you want to read all of her different blog categories, you don’t go to different websites, right? It’s all on one site with different sections.

Since I am basically in the midst of a fresh start, I realized that everything should be new. This ultimately led to my final decision of moving everything over to a brand new site.  I hope to launch the site soon!  Which of course will still be under going some changes and may look a little wonky for a bit but please hang with me during that time.

Everything from OHC will be at the new place.  All of my previous posts will be there as well.  Nothing is getting left behind. It’s just going to take a while to get things set up.

In the mean time, OHC will be taking a short break while I work on getting the new site together.  As soon as the new site is ready for viewing, I’ll give you a heads up and you will be able to check it out.

Stay tuned!

Maple Bacon Pancakes

Bacon is popular. And with good reason, it is mighty fine eats.  It’s crispy (unless you like limp bacon, which if you do, let’s not discuss that), salty, and smoky. Bacon has seen a new popularity though popping up in things like cupcakes and ice cream.

Or maybe that’s always been the case but now it’s getting more press.  Regardless it was time to jump on the train and do something with bacon.  We love bacon at the HQ and Scott is always tossing hints my way about putting more bacon on top of things.

I took the challenge.

As I was assembling things in the kitchen you could hear him muttering, “What’s going on Rocks?” (He always pretends to be talking to Rocky when he’s trying to work something out.) “She’s got bacon out but it looks like she’s making pancakes.”

All he had to do was put two and two together which would have given him maple bacon pancakes!

Andrea’s Maple Bacon Pancakes

  • 1/2C Cornmeal
  • 1 1/2C White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 Slices of Cooked Bacon, chopped (the bacon needs to be crispy)
  • 2C Apple Cider
  • 1TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat griddle on medium.  In a large mixing bowl combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk together.  In a smaller bowl, combine the cider, syrup, and vanilla.  Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until everything is combined.

Drop by the spoonful on a greased griddle (I use olive oil) and cook until you see bubbles popping up in the middle of the pancake.  About 2 minutes.  Flip and finish cooking on the other side.  Roughly 1-2 minutes. Remove from griddle and serve warm.

These pancakes turned out way better than I anticipated! They are fluffy and full of flavor making them perfect for a very cold and blustery winter morning.  The bacon and maple flavor is very subtle.  You get hints of smokiness and saltiness throughout the pancake.  The maple syrup on top helps keep everything balanced out.

The bacon softens a bit during cooking so there isn’t any hard crunchy pieces that catch you by surprise.  These are creamy and fluffy pancakes.

When I make pancakes my philosophy is the same as when I make soup or stews.  Go big or go home.  This batch makes a good bit of pancakes which can be frozen and toasted up later.  I reheat pancakes in the toaster oven this way they get a little crispy around the outside edges.

If you don’t have cider, you can use water.  You might have to add in a touch more syrup through to give some extra sweetness to the mix.  I find that milk, both dairy and nondairy, make pancakes heavy.  However if you want to use those instead of cider or water, go for it!

I can’t wait to toast up the leftovers and have them all over again! My first bacon inspired dish was a success!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

This recipe was featured on Maple Syrup World.

The pictures and the thief

I'm talking to you, punk.

A few weeks ago I noticed that someone was hotlinking to some of my pictures from the blog. Not sure what Hotlinking is?  Let’s turn to Wikipedia for help!

Hot-linking is a term used on the Internet. Hot-linking is when someone uses a link to an image that is saved on another website instead of saving a copy of the image on the website that the picture will be shown on. For example, instead of saving picture.gif and loading it on to their own website, the person uses a link to the picture as http://website.com/picture.gif. Hot-linking uses the bandwidth of the person who owns the website where the picture is stored. This costs that person money. This is why many website owners are using .htaccess files and uploading it to their websites.

In some cases website owners use the .htaccess file to replace any hot-linked images with an offensive image to deter any other website owners from hot-linking.

Want more info?  Check out this other Wikipedia article, or this little article over here.

This is considered stealing.

Not cool kids.

I told Scott about the situation and we came to the conclusion that it needed to be addressed immediately.  I wanted to do a switcheroo and either sub in text calling the person some very creative combo of adjectives or redirect it so that the image pointed to some very hardcore adult funtimes.

Because when you decide to eff with me, that is how I roll. I will take you out.

Scott, however, is much more classy and said that in order to be more professional the image will just cease to exist.

Now people cannot steal and hotlink my photos.

Stealing on the internet sucks but it happens.  We have all either witnessed or been a victim of someone stealing images or recipes and using them as their own.  There’s really not to much that can be done about that.  However I can fully stop some punk from hotlinking my images.

If you subscribe to OHC via a reader and my images are no longer showing up for you, this is probably why.  Since I had to stop outside entities from getting my pictures, Google can’t really scrape and pull my images into reader.  At least this is my impression.

I subscribe to OHC as well and I can see pictures just fine in my reader.  When I update Facebook with my latest post, Facebook cannot get images from my site either.  So if you are a fan and have been wondering why there are no thumbnails associated with my posts, that’s why.

Because someone decided to steal my stuff and I had to take care of business.

I understand if not seeing pictures in your reader is frustrating, but I also hope that you understand the situation I was forced into and had to deal with.

Thanks gang! :D

Happy 2nd Birthday OHC!

Party time!  Whooo!  OHC turns two today!  This little website has come a long way and so has its author.  I started this website not really sure what I was doing, no goal in mind, and hoped for the best.  I wrote recipes, a few topical articles, and I also documented my daily eats (showing what I ate everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for just over a year.

Over these two years I have discovered what works and what doesn’t when it comes to me and my blog.  I have learned many things, discovered new foods, and made so many new friends.

The site has changed so much and it is constantly evolving which is always for the better!  Right now I have a clear goal with OHC and it sort of came to me as I was working on several projects last month.

OHC is a site where I focus on food and exercise.  I want to show people that eating healthy and exercising can be FUN and does not have to be HARD.  I want to help people get in the kitchen and cook for themselves.  I want people to realize how important local restaurants are and to support them instead of big chain places that don’t care about it’s customers.

I want people to pay attention to the ingredients in their food, shop locally, and support their local farmers.

I want people to decrease their reliance on processed foods and enjoy meals that they created with whole foods instead.

I want people to take more responsibility when it comes to the food they eat.

I want people to cook.

But most of all, I want people to be happy and healthy and learn how to take the necessary steps to get there.

I used to label myself as a “healthy living blog” and that does not really fit me or my blog style any more.  Plus you know my thoughts on labels!  I’ve decided that needed to change too and I’m now considering OHC to be in the category of a “Food and Wellness Blog”.

Why?  Because those are what I’m passionate about.  Food should be self-explanatory!

Wellness because it is broad and can cover everything from physical health, to mental health, to nutrition, to any number of things.  Being happy and healthy starts from within.  You can’t move forward with your health unless you take control of the situation.  I want people to do just that, take control of their health!

I hope that you’ll stick around to share this journey and my stories with me!

OHC has taught me a lot and I know there is still a lot more to learn.  Happy Birthday OHC, you’ve had a good year!

Different paths

Hi guys!  I’ve been thinking a lot about OHC lately and what I would like for it to become and what I would like to talk about.  I’m sort of leaning away from the daily eats posts.  Mostly because I don’t really have that much to talk about in regards to the minutia of my day.  I ate, I walked Rocky, and I ate some more.  The end.

Snore fest.

And I’m just not really feeling those posts anymore.  Part of the reason is that I also don’t want to bring in discussion topics in those posts.  For me personally, I feel like discussion worthy topics should get their own posts to highlight them.  I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else but me. :p  I am very much a compartmentalized type of personality.  I like things to be neat and orderly.  Things that are worth a big “discussion” should be in their own category while what I ate for lunch should be in its own category.  Because of that mentality, my daily eats posts are full of nothing.  The content is not there and I’m not feeling happy with them.  Therefore I want to maybe put them away for a little while and focus on some other things.

What I would like to do is talk about varying topics in regards to food.  I want to have more time to focus on Tips and Reviews but also recipes and my training.  I’m thinking of putting up a weekly training post instead of daily.  I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet, mostly I’m trying to feel my way through and discover what works and what I like doing.

Rose said something in a post the other day that a reader described her blog as a Life Blog with a food emphasis.  This is what I would like OHC to be.  I want it to be a Life Blog discussing lots of things with an emphasis on food and exercise.  Where along with silly little life stories there are recipes and food reviews and so on.  The OHC tagline is “Food, wine, running, life…” And I really should be sticking with that more I think.  Right now I’m not feeling like my blog fits that tagline.

My daily eats posts were for me in the very beginning.  They helped me keep track of what I was eating and work through my food issues so I could figure out what works for me and what does not.  I’m now at a point where I’m pretty confident in my food choices and with knowing my body.  For a while I kept them going because I thought that other people liked them and/or could benefit from them.  However, now as I write them, I know there is nothing substantial there.  The content isn’t good, or let me rephrase, I’m not happy with the content and therefore I don’t feel happy when I publish it.  I feel like I’m writing it just to get it done and up.

That’s not really okay with me.  Like some other bloggers, I would rather have quality over quanity here at OHC.  I’ve got standards! ;)

I’m just giving you a heads up in case you’re wondering why all of the sudden I’m just blabbing away instead of talking to you about smoothies.  Of course Pizza Thursday will always get talked about because OHC started it and it’s exciting!

I hope that you will stick around but I understand if you don’t because the new content isn’t your thing.  Feedback is always welcome!

Changes to OHC

Hi guys!  OHC is officially over a year old!  We celebrated one year of OHC goodness on the 1st of September.  Hooray!  The past year we have talked about so many things!

I’ve been blogging my daily eats.

I’ve been providing tips.

I’ve been writing food reviews.

I’ve started doing some other exercise and nutrition discussion.

And basically just talking about life in general.

This past year has been rewarding and challenging in so many different ways.  In this year I have also made some discoveries and have come to some conclusions that I would like to share with you.

First up is the daily eats section.  Daily eats is hard, yo!  It’s not taking the pictures that’s hard, it’s dealing with those pictures and writing the post that is hard and time consuming.  One thing you might have already noticed is that I’ve started posting once a day now, in the evenings, instead of two posts a day.  Two posts a day was stressing me out.  Sometimes I would be in the middle of something and I would have to stop in order to have the time to get my afternoon post up.  It takes me at least a half an hour to write a daily eats post and that’s if I do it quickly.  Most times it takes me much longer.

I personally have a hard time keeping up with blogs that post more than once a day.  I have specific times that I can read and comment.  It’s not everyday although I wish it could be.  Just know that I’m still reading your blogs even if I haven’t commented in a while! Sometimes I don’t have anything to add to the conversation. :)  Anyway, my point is, when I finally have a chance to sit down to read blogs and see that one blog might have 25 posts for me to catch up on, that becomes a little overwhelming.  If it’s overwhelming for me, it’s possible that it’s overwhelming for others.  Because of that and because sometimes it is hard for me to find the time in the afternoon to do a post, I’ve started doing daily eats posts once a day and writing an entry about the whole day as opposed to in parts.

I have also started posting mostly about my dinners because my breakfast and lunches are the same the majority of the time.  I will be creating a OHC Fuel page discussing how I stuff mah face, feed and fuel this gorg bod I’m rockin’.  When breakfast and lunch is different, I’ll share it.  I will probably still talk about my smoothies in detail though since I love them and they are something that I consider to be unique.  Omitting the breakfast and lunch portion of the daily eats will free up more time for me to talk about exercise or whatever topic I’m thinking about that day.

I’m also taking a more laid-back approach to posting.  If for some reason, I can’t get to a post that day and it moves over to the next day, no big deal.  I used to stress about this a lot and wonder if delaying posting was costing me readership.  What I’ve realized is that people are either going to like my blog or not.  If they like what I have to say and my style, then when I post is not a big deal.  I’m still getting used to allowing myself the ability to put off a post until the next day but it has happened before and I’m okay with that.

And also, in regards to tips and reviews, I am still going to do these posts because I enjoy them a lot.  However, if there is a week where I don’t get one up or maybe I don’t have anything lined up for that week, then it won’t go up or maybe I’ll talk about something else. :)  This has happened a few times already and nothing catastrophic has resulted because of it.  There are a lot of things I want to talk about and discuss but sometimes there isn’t enough days in the week to post everything! :p  So you might see a tip and review that week or you may not, it might be replaced with something else.  Cool?

And last but not least, OHC has a new look! If you’re using a reader, please click through and check me out. :D  Everything is now on the front page for easier access and reading.  I think with the style before people didn’t understand I had multiple sections and not everything was found on the front page.  Hopefully this should make navigation easier.  The design is still a work in progress and I’m working on additional tabs to provide more information about me and the website.

Here’s a screenshot of how the new design is supposed to look.  Just an FYI, but the site is designed with Firefox and Safari in mind, so it will probably look different with Internet Explorer.  If it looks seriously different, please give me a heads up so I know what to tell Scott. :D  If you are seeing weird issues and are using Firefox or Safari, let me know what those are!

Hooray for 2010 and a brand new year at OHC!

Question regarding OHC Reviews

Hi guys!  I thought I would toss this question out and see what your thoughts on the matter are. :D  I really enjoy writing reviews of products and I was thinking of expanding on that.  I love love love running clothes and gear.  Really just workout clothes period, either for working out or lounging around at home.

I would love to talk about some of my likes and dislikes that I have on gear.  And also share with you some of my thoughts on different products I’ve tried. Would you be interested in reading some OHC Workout Gear Reviews?  It would range from clothing to accessories and also gadget stuff (to indulge my nerdy side).  I created a poll so that you can vote on it without having to leave a comment.  But I would love it if you did comment as well and let me know your thoughts!

[poll id=”2″]

Thanks guys!!

2009 Birthday Giveaway WINNER

And the winner of the chocolate goodies is….

Chocolate goodies

Chocolate goodies

Number 31!! Maggie, The Salad Girl, that’s you! :woohoo:  Congrats!!  Please email me your address so I can ship off this package of goodies to you!  My email is located in the “contact” area of my site.  You have until Tuesday, 12pm EST, to email me your contact info.  Otherwise your winnings will get passed on to another person.

I used Random.org to pick a winner.

Do no fret my lovlies, OHC will be holding future giveaways as well which will also be chocked full of yummy things.  Stay tuned! :D