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Cultivate Simple 13: More Better Toast

January 7th, 2013

Calendar Winner: Debbie B

Geeky Corner with Brian

Backblaze Online Backup

Rehash of Last Week’s Topic

*Sometimes you have to buy old items to find good quality

*Often you need to think outside the box. My toaster is a 90 year old cast iron skillet! Toaster, sometimes it’s not as convenient. Sometimes you burn the toast – but it’s a good lesson in being mindful. It forces you to slow down and enjoy what your doing, because eating isn’t just about eating…

*When you buy high quality items you often value them more and take better care of them than when you’re buying lots of cheap stuff.

*Finding things that don’t use electric can save you lots of headaches and expense like the Chemex Coffee Carafe

*Think about the future cost and waste that is produced when you’re buying. Buying used eliminates lots of waste as does simply not buying.

John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley “American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash- all of them- surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.”

Our lovely coffee maker that we keep talking about
Making Christmas Dinner 7

Book Recommendations

Do you have any quality companies, brands or products to recommend?

24 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 13: More Better Toast”
  1. DebbieB on January 7, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Oh, how exciting! Thanks so much for the calendar prize! I purchased one of your large calendars for my husband to give me for Christmas, so this one will be great to give my sister and “share the love”. I was talking to her the other day about your podcast and blog, and she was very interested – she too has been working toward simplifying her life. I’ll email you my snail mail address…

    About the Amazon affiliate program – I bookmarked the link you provided awhile back, and I make all my Amazon purchases using it, so hopefully a few pennies find their way to you each time. In fact, I just bought “Bread Baker’s Apprentice” at your recommendation. Ching!

    I have a lot of those “planned obsolescence” not-so-necessary breakable appliances (toaster, Keurig, food processor, microwave, dishwasher, etc.) and I’m ready to do without them. So when they break, they won’t be replaced (except by hands and tools and time).

    I’ve often wanted to dip my toe into the world of cast-iron, but I’ve seen too many pictures of burned and stuck-on food. I’d love for you to do either a podcast feature or a video or a blogpost on acquiring/seasoning/using cast iron. I’m tired of replacing non-stick skillets once a year (because when they get scratched I worry about the teflon bits getting into my food, and when they start losing their non-stickness, I have to add oil anyway and then what’s the point?) It would be great to have a few cast-iron pieces that I could use for the rest of my life and then pass on to my kids. What’s worked for you, what size skillets and pots do you find the most versatile, and how do you season your pans/pots? Help me, Obi-wan!

    And I promise to be “mindful of the toast”. :)

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Eliza J on January 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I have gotten rid of my non-stick coated pans. I’ve seen too many flake and it’s just not right to eat that stuff. I have 5 cast iron pans and 1 griddle, 2 new and 4 antique. The secret is seasoning it, using the right type and amount of grease (butter, coconut oil which does not go rancid, lard, animal fat ~ don’t cringe :), NEVER EVER using soap, and always storing them with a layer of grease to keep them from rusting. I always put on coconut oil (thanks Susy). I remember when I was a kid that my mother made scrambled eggs and they all stuck in the pan…she was so frustrated. Been there too! I now have a special natural fiber scrubbie that I use to clean cast iron only, and I never use soap. I make scrambled eggs, fried eggs, pancakes, chicken, etc. You just have to get the hang of it. Come on Susy~ tutorial time :)

      Reply to Eliza J's comment

      • Rebecca on January 9, 2013 at 1:43 am

        I need a like button here – I second the need for a cast iron tutorial. My flaky pans are ready to be swapped out for proper gonna-outlive-me cookware.

        to Rebecca's comment

  2. Maybelline on January 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Nothing is built to last now. N O T H I N G. We have purchased many expensive kitchen appliances and they breakdown just as much, if not more, than less expensive appliances. Very disappointing. Now I try to purchase appliances with less bells and whistles and buttons. Washer is a basic model with dials -no electric panels.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  3. Lizzie on January 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I have started experimenting with sourdough baking within the past year or so. I maintain my own sourdough starter, etc., but my results are only mildly edible :) I would love to read a post with your bread baking tips and techniques, or maybe a video! I think part of my problem is the bread pan I use. What container do you use for baking your bread? Thank you for these podcasts – they’re wonderful! My best friend and I listen to them “together” from opposite ends of the country and love discussing them together :)

    Reply to Lizzie's comment

  4. amy on January 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    There are a few things that I have had for years that are invaluable in my life….I have been collecting cast iron for many years…I have many Griswold and Wagner pieces and they were made to last….I have a behemoth wood stove we use to heat our home and I take advantage of its heat by using it to cook stews, meats…etc….to keep my tea pot water hot… percolator…..This obviously saves on the cookstove and electricity….One last thing…. I bake everyday and I treated myself years ago to a wooden bread bowl….It makes all the difference in the raising of my breads.

    Reply to amy's comment

  5. Siobhan on January 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Now, I know this is so stupid, but how do you make the toast in the pan. I love my cast iron skillet, and I’d love to use it even more. Do you get it really hot and throw the bread in? Do you butter it 1st? How hot? Do I trust the 11 year old to do the process? Just wondering.

    Reply to Siobhan's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      Not stupid, a very valid question. I’m thinking with all the great questions about cast iron I should make video about it.

      I make toast by heating up the skillet a bit, then putting in toast. Dry skillet and dry bread. Keep checking the bread, you want the skillet fairy hot so it toasts the bread but doesn’t dry it out. Then when it’s browned to your liking on one side, flip and brown the other. Then remove from pan and butter. Generally I turn the pan off about half way through toasting the second side to save energy and avoid having a really hot pan sitting on the stove. Then I butter the toast. It will take making it a few times for you to get the hang of it, then you’ll learn how high to have your flames and how long it will take.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Eliza J on January 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

        I’ll have to try that!

        to Eliza J's comment

  6. Amy P on January 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Loved the Podcast :)

    It felt like the first half was just for me. I’m glad I asked about toast!!

    Reply to Amy P's comment

  7. stacie on January 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Loved your podcast! So, if I needed to buy 3 things to send my oldest daughter into the world holding on to, what would you recommend? She loves to cook and I am thining a cast iron skillet, and a good knife and….
    Thank you!

    Reply to stacie's comment

  8. Eliza J on January 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I find that I really have to recommend vintage or antique items, as they were made so well ~ and yes, I do value them more and also take better care of them. I recently purchased some Flint Arrowhead kitchen utensils on E-Bay. I have purchased many kitchen utensils over the years, and found that what my mother used really was the best. I absolutely love these items! The spatula is beyond compare with what they sell today, and the potato masher was made to actually do the job. I am a big fan of cast iron and always coat my pans and wooden utensils with coconut oil to preserve them ~ I learned that from you! I love my kitchen utensils by Flint Arrowhead, as well as my cast iron pans. These were quality items made in this Country and they are still going strong and doing their job! I also still have my Grandmother’s broiler pan…50s’ maybe. The top is stainless steel and it all cleans up so easily. So, I know that things have improved over the years, but really…..they don’t make stuff like they used to! On another note, I do have a Chemex coffee maker on my wish list. How do you keep this warm? I did see a coil for a glass top stoves, but mine has coils. I’m tired of buying electric coffee makers that last about a year or so. Thanks for the very thought provoking post today ~

    Reply to Eliza J's comment

  9. Megan on January 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Love the podcast! My husband and I have been trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The joke around our house is that we are on “the crazy train”. I have been making my own bread and have been reading some of the books you have suggested. I am interested in grinding my own grain and have been researching grinders. What kind do you use and is there any brand you suggest? Then hopefully I can find someone local to get grain from!

    Reply to Megan's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      I have the Komo Fibidus, which is essentially the same as the Wolfgang grain mill. I chose it because it had ceramic millstones and the wooden machine. I debated on buying a cheaper mill that was plastic with metal grinding plates but finally decided to spend more on this better quality machine. I’m really glad I did. I know this will last me for the rest of my life!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Gillian on January 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Would you please share what espresso machine you have? My husband and I have been planning on making the investment but it’s difficult to know what will be sturdy and worth the money.

    Reply to Gillian's comment

  11. Candace on January 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I’m a little behind on the podcasts. I just listened to last weeks one. I’ve been married 18 years. In the last few years I’ve developed a sense of pride in myself for buying better cookware as a new bride. Its by no means top of the line, but it was pricy for us at the time and is still in very good condition. On the other side of the coin, the dishes we bought at the same time have become a source of annoyance. The dishes that 23 year old me picked out are not the same ones 42 year old me wants. Tonight I saw them in a different light. The dishes are fine. I don’t need new ones. Thank you for the wake up call.

    Reply to Candace's comment

  12. Nebraska Dave on January 9, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Brian and Susy, wastefulness has excelled in the last 50 years. My youth was funded by finding pop bottles found along the roads. Then they were worth 2 cents a piece. The gallon glass milk jars were returnable to be reused. One trash can was used and it wasn’t really filled every week. Evey house had a burn barrel in the backyard. Even the city houses had one and everything paper could be burned. However, even back then papers could be sold to paper and cardboard companies to be recycled. Slick magazines were worth more and brought me more income. Somewhere along the way the throw away society was born.

    Eating used to be a daily experience that was enjoyed as a family. Now it seems to have become a necessary thing that happens through the window of the car but really isn’t all that enjoyable but just something to hurry up and do to get to the next thing to be done. For me eating the main meal of the day is a two hour experience. I cook the meal, eat the meal, and clean up after the meal. The smaller meals for breakfast and lunch are not as long but still made at eaten at home.

    Another great podcast. Some have mentioned in the comments about the long length of the podcast. I don’t listen to the podcast in one sitting. A little Brian and Susy every day makes for a great day. So it takes me until about Wednesday to listen to the entire podcast.

    Have a great day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  13. Glenda on January 9, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I’m a classic HSP. Life has not been easy for me. Last fall I quit my job. I was fairly close to retirement. I’m doing a major declutter, haven’t owned a toaster in years, have two outfits and am feeling very contented. There is an amazing amount of pressure in my world to buy more more of everything. I love listening to you guys as I putter around my kitchen. I made toast as you talked and OMG was it good done in the cast iron skillet. I don’t think you’ll ever run out of topics to discuss. I hope you talk more about fermentation of foods. I was told by the delivery guy when he brought my last fridge that they are pretty much disposable so I decided that would be the last fridge I would purchase but after listening to you I’ll certainly research the commercial products. I have to listen again to find out if you told us what brand you plan to buy. And finally I do have to say that I can’t help being saddened by and disappointed in the human race. I wish we weren’t trashing the planet. And finally I do love when Suzie says one of my favorite words……CRAP!!!

    Reply to Glenda's comment

  14. Wendy on January 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Stopping by to mention a couple of topics I would like to hear more about: 1.) baking bread and 2.) natural treatment of allergies. I have never even come close to mastering baking my own bread, but it’s something I’d like to learn. Also. I thought you did a post on things you’ve done for alleviating Brian’s allergies, but couldn’t find it in a brief search of posts. Have a great weekend!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  15. daisy on January 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Thanks for addressing my questions in this wonderful podcast. It’s great to experience the wave of kindred spirits who share the ideas you are discussing. So many of your readers are in the same mindful space that I am creating in my life. Thank you for helping me in the very worthwhile process of improving the quality of our family’s life.
    Happy curling!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  16. Lisa on January 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Just got around to listening to this podcast and I loved it. Some of the ways we buy quality items are:

    We bought most of our kitchen utensils at yard sales. We search out really old, solid pieces made in the USA. They are so much stronger than serving pieces and utensils made today.

    We also try to find old furniture at yard sales then take the piece home and sand and refinish it. Again, nothing compared to the “junk” furniture you can buy at the megastores.

    My husband is really handy, so we also make a lot of our own furnishings and decorative items. He has invested in some really good tools that did cost a lot, but they’ll last his lifetime.

    Another little way we try to conserve… might sound funny but, we don’t use plastic utensil when we throw a party. I bought lots of mis-matched forks, knives and spoons and we use those for parties, plus our guests like using real silverware instead of flimsy plastic stuff that will end up in the landfill.

    There’s so many other things that I can’t think of right now, lol. Oh and Susy, I wanted to let you know I received my hair clip that I won today. I love it. It’s already in my hair. Quality item that I’ll have forever! Thanks again!

    Reply to Lisa's comment

  17. MountainMisty on July 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Brian and Susy!

    Our Keurig recently broke after only having it 1 year. I remembered listening to this podcast where you talked about the Chemex…so I broke down and bought a Chemex, a KONE filter and a kettle. It cost me as much as my Keurig did a year ago ($140). Once the Chemex was purchased I thought, ugh what did I get myself into? This system is going to take me a hour in my already busy morning. It was a one week learning curve and now I have it down to a science. I heat the water, while packing my lunch for work, I do the pouring thing while I’m feeding the cat etc and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to my cup of coffee! I will never go back! In fact, we went on vacation a couple of weeks ago and I had Keurig coffee at my relatives house and I thought, I should have brought my Chemex stuff with me, lol. Oh btw, we broke the Keuring apart and savaged all the parts out of it for later projects, pumps, tubing, reservoir etc…so it won’t be sitting in a landfill. Thanks for the recommendation! and suggestion to think more longterm about buying things with less moving parts etc. My Chemex should last me forever, no more buying new coffeemakers every 3 years.

    Reply to MountainMisty's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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