New Life For Cast Iron Cornstick Pans!

By Kelly Moreland, Owner of Mama Goose & Mimi’s Attic

I wish I had taken a picture of these cornstick pans when I first spotted them this summer on the bottom shelf in our kitchenware aisle. They seemed to be saying, “Rescue me from this rust!” Cast iron always has a way of tugging at my heartstrings because it is so beautiful, and if you take care of it right, it will function like a champ for years to come. Needless to say, I did buy the pans, and when the first cold snap arrived, I dedicated an afternoon of elbow grease to bringing them back to life. Here’s how I cleaned, seasoned and baked cornbread in these rescue-worthy pans.

My usual maintenance routine for seasoned cast iron is to simply scrub it with a brush or copper pot scrubber and hot water. Like most cast iron users, I don’t use soap on it. After it’s clean, I dry it, place it on a stove for a few minutes to make sure it is completely dry before storing it.

During this rescue mission, however, I started with my usual routine and quickly had to up my game.  Because of all the crevices, I tried a toothbrush, then a steel wool soap pad.

My final tool of choice was a metal wire brush I found in my basement. Combined with the soap from the steel wool pad, this brush did a great job of getting all the rust off. At this stage, it really makes sense to put in extra time and effort to get your pans rust-free, because ideally you won’t need to do this again.

Once the pans were thoroughly scrubbed and rust-free, I dried them well with a lint-free rag (or paper towel) and heated them on the stovetop for a minute or so. The photo above is before oil. The next step was to coat them with a thin layer of Canola oil on the top and the bottom of the pans. I found using a basting or pastry brush useful for getting the oil in the crevices, but when oiling a regular skillet, a paper towel or cloth works fine. It can be tempting to really slather on the oil at this stage, but if the oil is too thick it will clump in the oven and be sticky.

Once oiled, I baked the pans face down at 350 for an hour. I placed a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil on the bottom shelf to catch any drips.

Ta da!  They are ready for batter! After an hour, they were perfect, but if they weren’t, I would have put another thin coat of oil on them and returned them to the oven.

Below is my favorite vegan (northern-style) cornbread recipe. Originally created by an 11-year old, it won a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair. I’ve adapted the recipe by using half the sugar and, of course, making it in cast iron (so I use canola oil instead of non-stick spray). If you have a medium size cast iron skillet, that works great too.

Dana Sly’s Vegan Cornbread. Source: Cook’s Illustrated.

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup sugar (I use 1/8 C.) 
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (or oil your cast iron!)

2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.

4. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture. Beat just until smooth (do not overbeat.)

5. Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

6. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.

These muffins popped out of the pans easily and had that great corn effect on the bottom. Success!

If you don’t already have any cast iron cookware, I hope you’ll consider getting one this fall and giving it a try. If you don’t know a lot about cast iron, here’s a useful Cast Iron 101 on youtube.

Next time you’re at Mimi’s, take a look at the gorgeous cast iron we carry by a local vendor and collector – he really elevates the art of rescuing cast iron! You can also keep an eye out for cast iron that we buy or consign from the community. Remember, we get new items every day. Happy hunting and happy fall!

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You got it at Mimi’s Attic? You could win $30!

You found the perfect chair at Mimi’s Attic. You found the right spot in your home, and styled it with a comfy throw. Every day you walk by and say, “damn… that looks good!” Now is your chance to show us!

Upload a picture of your favorite item from Mimi’s Attic to Instagram or Facebook, add the hashtag #igotitatmimisattic, and you’re entered to win a $30 gift certificate to use towards your next purchase at Mimi’s! Tag as many times as you’d like – there’s no limit to your entries! We’ll select a winner from all entries on Friday, September 21st.

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The Zero Food Waste Summer Road Trip Challenge!

By Kelly Moreland, Owner of Mama Goose & Mimi’s Attic

Utilizing all of your fresh summer produce before it goes bad can be tricky, especially if you get a CSA , fruit share, or have a robust garden. Keeping up with this task gets even more complicated when you are heading out of town for a getaway. Before you resort to throwing everything in the compost bin, I have a Zero Food Waste Road Trip Challenge for you! (Ok, no pressure, but I did it and it was actually really fun.)

A couple of weeks ago, my daughters and I took a week-long road trip through New England. Two days before our departure, I assessed our refrigerator. It was jam-packed with beautiful, perky summer deliciousness (e.g. vegetables, fruit and herbs) which would have been great if we weren’t going to be gone for a week. It also happened to be 95 degrees outside. Overcome with pre-vacation fervor, I challenged myself to a zero-waste departure plan – no food would go to waste and we could enjoy the bounty of the Finger Lakes while on the road. Here is how I front-loaded vacation meal prep that we could eat in parks, on beaches, at roadside vistas or at our AirBnB destination.

I washed and chopped all vegetables suitable for dipping and sandwich making and put them in airtight containers filled with cold water to keep them crispy. These went into an ice chest along with a vat of hummus, tahini dressing, and fresh pita bread.

I rescued the beets that had been hiding in the bottom of my produce drawer and steamed them in the microwave to avoid using the oven during a heat wave. I also got really motivated and blanched and froze the beet greens (along with some turnip greens) which I plan on adding to a soup in the winter. I’m telling you – I took my challenge seriously!

When the beets cooled, I peeled them (optional) and tossed them into a kale salad along with a fistful of mint and a fistful of basil. Honestly, I can’t remember what else I threw into this salad, but this would be a great depository for scallions, cucumbers, radishes, turnips, carrots, seeds, nuts and some kind of cooked grain like farro or brown rice. You could also throw in cubes of day old bread from Wide Awake Bakery! The salad dressing can be tossed in right before serving, but the dressed salad can stay crispy in a refrigerator or well-managed ice chest for a few days.

Here’s the salad dressing recipe I used:

2 T diced shallots (No shallots? Try sweet onion or  just omit)
1 clove garlic, finely minced (Maybe more if not using shallots)
1 T lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
5 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 T honey to taste
1/2 tsp salt (I like coarse salt)
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
Put everything in a jar and shake.

Garlic Scapes always inspire me to make Vegan Garlic Scape & Kale Pesto, and pesto pasta is a great first night dinner when you’re staying at an AirBnB or rustic cabin which may not be fully-equiped for cooking.  It makes a nice spread on crackers or sandwiches too. I also made some simple Tahini Dressing. This didn’t really use up any vegetables, but it helped me up-sell my plan of rest stop pita pocket sandwiches to my daughters and avoid highway restaurant chains as much as possible.

Pictured above: The Tahini dressing, Kale Salad dressing and Garlic Scape & Kale Pesto.

Totally inspired by Sara Worden’s Full Plate Farm Collective newsletter, I made Strawberry Fennel tea. What are the ingredients? You guessed it – strawberries, fennel, and boiled water. The result is a refreshing licorice and berry flavored tea.

With the last available scraps of veggies, I made cucumber and kale sandwiches and, of course, wrapped them with Bee’s Wrap from Mimi’s Attic! I love that we carry  Bee’s Wraps and other sustainable home products, because they really are sturdy and useful and easy to wash.

It felt awesome leaving town with all these goodies. I will be honest- the heat wave made managing the ice chest was a bit of a chore, and some things did end up floating around in cold water sometimes. My next goal is to buy an ice chest with a built-in tray like I had when I was a kid, to keep some things separated from the ice. I also think an ice chest that has a drain spout would make things easier.

All in all, it was a creative challenge and a great excuse to clean out the refrigerator. Here’s the the last photo I took before I hopped in the car:

A pretty darn clean fridge… and I even had beer for my return home!

We would love to hear your creative solutions to leaving town with zero food waste in your refrigerator. Let us know on Facebook or Instagram or next time you’re at Mimi’s!

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We now carry EcoBags for your sustainable home!

When you’ve got one of the best farmers markets in America, produce is plentiful. And when you’re trying to live as consciously as possible, plastic produce bags aren’t part of the plan. Mimi’s Attic is proud to now carry a variety of EcoBags: eco-friendly produce and bulk bags. Made from sustainable materials and easy to tuck into a larger bag, these are perfect for a trip to the market or to your local coop. Take it straight from the store to the drawer – no waste made. Wherever you get your produce – the grocery store, a CSA, or right from your backyard – these bags replace plastic alternatives. Did we mention they’re easily washable for repeat usage?

Score a product bag for $4.99, a mesh produce sack for $5.99, or get a mixed set of 3 for just $12.99.

 

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Environmentally friendly solutions for spills and stains? They exist!

Just landed in the Attic: New Skoy Products! Created by two women inspired to find sustainable and long-lasting solutions to existing cleaning supplies. Don’t limit these to the kitchen – these can be used on everything from outdoor toys to your beloved hatchback.

The Skoy Sponge Cloth takes the place of 15 rolls of paper towels and can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher! And when your sponge cloth has finally seen its last day? Don’t throw it out! Skoy sponge cloths are 100% compostable and biodegradable, taking sustainability to the next level. We’ve got packs of four available for $7.49. Consider that a comparable amount of the environmentally-friendliest paper towels would weigh in around $150.

Need something a little bit tougher? The Skoy Scrub is here to help. Made from cotton and a non-toxic hardener, these scrub pads are built for strength – outlasting traditional scrubbers and saving cash and the environment, all at once. Score a pack of two for just $6.49

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Local sustainable blossoms weekly? Yes please!

Fresh flowers every week? Sign us up! Joining Plenty of Posies’ weekly bouquet CSA means locally grown, beautiful, and sustainable flowers delivered each week to Mimi’s Attic. For $175, you’ll enjoy 15 weeks of farm-fresh blooms, beginning June 12. For more information, email plentyofposies@gmail.com, or call Jane at (607) 564-7416.

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Scholarly study or laid back living- Mimi’s buys it!

You’re off on your new adventure, and not sure what to do with the house full of furniture you’ve accumulated over the last four (or more) years of schooling? Perhaps you’ve got a living room full of sleek and modern furniture finds, or a vintage dining set?  Mimi’s wants to help you make selling your items as painless and fun as possible.

Wondering if Mimi’s is in the market for your pieces? We encourage you to send photos to info@mimisatticithaca.com, and we’ll let you know if we think we can get them sold – or you can drop by the store to sell seven days a week.

We also offer pickup service within the Ithaca area, beginningat $50. Don’t have the manpower, wheels, or time to drop off?  Don’t worry – we’ve got you.

Visit our “How It Works” page to learn more.

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Wide Awake Bakery bread pickup!

Beginning April 24th

Every Tuesday & Friday!

Stop into Mimi’s Attic for some new decor and grab a fresh loaf of bread for $6.50 while you’re at it! Wide Awake Bakery is located in Trumansburg and uses local Farmer Ground flour. It’s one of our favorite Finger Lakes businesses and makes the tastiest creations!

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Succulents for Earth Day in Ithaca!

Sunday, April 22nd

Come celebrate sustainability with us from 12-4pm!

-Succulent Admiration Society event; re-potting & care with Jane from Plenty of Posies.

Master Composter demonstration – ooooh WORMS!

-Wide Awake Bakery samples and loaves for purchase.

Store-wide SALE at Mimi’s Attic & Mama Goose.

Join our Facebook event HERE!

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Redecorate for Spring with NEW home accents!

Doing some Spring cleaning? Spruce up your space with our NEW products! We have door mats, food storage, mugs and more in bright, fun patterns and colors.

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