From My Carolina Home

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Quick Sewing Project for Grilling

Labor Day usually means a cookout here, hot dogs with chili, bratwurst or burgers with beans.  I actually made this quick project last summer, and then got busy.  I am so easily distracted by shiny things and thrift stores.  I realized that I never posted it, so here goes, just in time for the last cookouts through autumn.  It is a simple idea, quick to make, and yet so very useful – a handle pad!! Since I have a glass top stove, I cannot use my cast iron on it. Using a cast iron skillet on the grill means the handle is too hot to pick up, but more important, when set on the tile table, you forget that the handle is hot. Having a pad on the handle keeps hands from burning, reminding you to be careful and that the pan is hot.  This one is heat resistant enough so you can actually pick up the pan with it, not like some hot pads that don’t insulate enough.  But, I usually have a hot pad in my other hand as the pan is heavy, especially full of food.

Cast Iron Handle pad 11

I experimented with the design and filling of the pads, and found the combination of heat resistant fabric, batting, Insul-Bright batting with a cotton cover worked the best for heat control.  I had some scraps of heat resistant fabric left over from my project of Re-covering An Ironing Board but you can buy this by the yard at most fabric stores.  Just 1/4 yard is more than enough for several handle pads. Cut your pieces 5-1/2 inches square.  Note – I made the first one with a charm square and it was too small.  That 1/2 inch makes a difference.

Cast Iron Handle pad 1

Arrange your layers like this, heat resistant fabric right sides together with your cotton fabric, Insul-Brite with the silver side facing the heat resistant fabric’s wrong side, and regular batting behind that.

Cast Iron Handle pad 2

Sew through all layers, about 1/2-inch from the edge, leaving an opening for turning.

Cast Iron Handle pad 3

Clip the corners, and clip some of the fullness out of the seam allowances.

Cast Iron Handle pad 4

Cast Iron Handle pad 7

Turn so the cotton fabric is right side out, with the heat resistant fabric on the other side.

Cast Iron Handle pad 5

Fold in half, with the opening on the side, and topstitch down the side about 1/4 inch from the edge (closing the turning opening) and across the bottom.

Cast Iron Handle pad 6

Easy, done in mere minutes.  You can make smaller ones for smaller skillets, but this size will work for most.

Cast Iron Handle pad 9

Just slide it onto the handle for lifting the skillet off the grill.

Cast Iron Handle pad 10

Then leave it on the handle to prevent burning a hand while serving.  I use it inside as well, when I start a meal by browning some chicken or pork then putting the skillet in the oven to finish.

Cast Iron Handle pad 11

I like corn on the grill, but sometimes I don’t have fresh ears ready for a grilled meal. I’ll use canned corn with a few dots of butter and still get that lovely grilled corn flavor. Marvelous with grilled pork and some grilled zucchini.

Cast Iron Skillet Holding Pad at From My Carolina Home

One note on cast iron, I season mine with olive oil after every use. I’ll clean the pan, then oil it so it doesn’t dry out.

Cast Iron Skillet Holding Pad at From My Carolina Home

Another tip on grilling, heat your grill first, then use a paper towel soaked in canola oil to wipe the grates. Food won’t stick to the grates. Remember hot grate, cold oil, no stick.

Perfect Grilling ~ From My Carolina Home

Your meats will have those wonderful grill marks like a great steakhouse restaurant.  Yum!!

Perfect Grilling ~ From My Carolina Home

Burgers and bratwurst are great on the grill too.  We like cooking out, can you tell?

July 4th Cookout at From My Carolina Home

Picnics have to have some deviled eggs, right?  Maybe try the last recipe you’ll ever need for Perfect Deviled Eggs.  I have enough variations in that recipe to keep you interested for years.

Perfect Deviled Eggs From My Carolina Home

The handle pads would make a great guy gift for the man who likes to grill.  Of course, picking a more guy-friendly print would be good. Pair it with a cast iron skillet, and my homemade seasoning mixes. The download for those recipes and more ideas for making Gifts for Guys is in my Craftsy store.

Cast Iron Handle pad 8

Are you grilling for Labor Day?



Oh Scrap!



National Fried Chicken Day 2015

Ok, I’ll admit it. I am completely addicted to fried chicken. I could eat it everyday, if only my arteries could take it.  The combination of delicate crunchy exterior and tender juicy chicken is happiness on a plate.  Fried chicken was the comfort food of choice for my childhood years, and the very best was made in my grandmother’s kitchen in her cast iron skillet.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

My grandmother lived on a very small farm, about two acres, where she raised chickens and had an extensive vegetable garden. She canned fruit and vegetables, and made pickles, jellies, and chutneys. As a kid, I learned to appreciate the difference that a really fresh egg can make to breakfast.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

This was the era of putting bacon grease in the vegetables, and potatoes were served at almost every meal, often with corn. Her fried chicken started off with catching one, wringing its neck, plucking the feathers, then cleaning it before cutting it into pieces.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

My grandfather was a fried chicken freak as well. He once made a bet with my grandmother that he could eat fried chicken three times a day every day. So she took that bet, killed a chicken every day, plucked and cleaned it, and fried pieces three times a day for three months. He happily ate every piece. Yes, he even ate it for breakfast!! At the end of three months of this, she gave up and told him he won. It was years before she would fry chicken again.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I have searched in every town I have lived in for that hole-in-the-wall, out of the way place that fries chicken the old fashioned Southern way. No cayenne pepper for me!! There is no way that any chain can do this southern tradition the way it should be. The pieces must be huge, crust thick and golden crunchy, delicately seasoned, with tender, juicy meat. Just walking into a place, I can tell by the aroma if they know how it is done. Sadly, the local haunt here that really knew how to fry a perfect chicken has closed.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

Many years ago, I would drive two hours to a mom-and-pop place, just to eat the best fried chicken on the planet. It was in an old house where every room was crammed with tables and chairs and there were chickens everywhere.   Chicken shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, chicken pie plates and dinner plates, chicken planters and candlesticks, chicken trivets and cookie cutters and anything else you can name were displayed on shelves or hung on the wall in every single room with little of the wall showing. The aroma of fried chicken was so wonderful, and it permeated your clothing while you ate. The recipe used there has never been duplicated. All I know is that it was batter-fried and the batter contained honey. Not only would I have a meal there, I would bring home a 24-piece box for the next few days. No, I wouldn’t eat it all myself, but I could have!  It went out of business years ago when the owners retired, and I wore black for a week in mourning.  They supposedly sold the recipe to someone that opened up another restaurant, but it wasn’t the same.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

Back to my grandmother’s chicken, she soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, and sometimes overnight. Then, she would dip them in egg, plunge them into a paper bag with her seasoned flour and shake it. She only used salt and pepper in the flour. She just let the pieces sit in the flour inside the paper bag for about five minutes. Then she would give the bag a shake and let it sit a while longer. Depending on her mood, she might shake that bag several times. Heating up her cast iron skillet, she melted shortening to a depth of halfway up the side of the skillet. Then when the melted shortening was hot, she would take the chicken and gently lay it in the hot oil, frying for about 12-15 minutes per side on a medium high heat. She would cover the pan with the heavy cast iron lid. When the chicken pieces were golden brown and cooked through, she drained them on paper towels. Heavenly!!

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I inherited that well-seasoned cast iron skillet although my chicken will never be as good as hers.  Some years later I found out her secret quite by accident.  I no longer fry chicken at home, but if you do, use self-rising flour.  I accidentally used it once and was amazed that batch was closer to hers than ever before.  It wasn’t until I was cleaning the kitchen that I realized why.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I have several of my grandmother’s chicken salt-and-pepper shakers that now happily reside on my kitchen windowsill and around my kitchen.  They are all in the pictures above. They remind me of a happy time, when getting a plate of fried chicken was the highlight of the week. Those precious memories of a loving grandmother, frying chicken in her warm and sunny kitchen, in her old brick home, and the wonderful aroma of many a Sunday dinner will stay with me forever.

Do you have a favorite grandmother’s chicken memory?