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5 Tips For Enjoying Your Hot Tub During Winter

For many, the selection between a hot tub and a pool comes down to one deciding factor - the weather.

If you live where the snow doesn't fall and the sun shines year-round, this factor may not be as prominent. However, for most of us, having a pool means closing it down, letting it sit for a few months and then bringing it back to life once May flowers bloom.

Having a hot tub in cold weather is a great relaxation space for friends and family - year round. Getting outside during the chilly season can be difficult, so turning your backyard into a warm winter oasis may be the perfect solution.

 

1. PREPARE

Often, you have to take a couple steps to get to and from the hot tub and the house. Make sure you have a path shoveled and salted to avoid slipping. Grab a robe or a towel to block your skin from the cold wind as you travel. A pair of sandals or slippers also will keep your skin separated from the cold and the snow. If you have ever sat in an outdoor hot tub during the winter, you know the feeling of submerging into the warm water while your skin is still cold - it takes some time before your body adjusts. Minimize that adjustment period by staying warm on the walk.

 2. KEEP IT COVERED

A properly insulated cover can reduce the energy requirements of your hot tub during the cold winter months. Remove excess snow from the top of the cover to keep the water underneath warmer.

3. A TOWEL WARMER

Similar to getting out of the shower and realizing you have forgotten a towel, getting out of a hot tub to a cold towel is not pleasant.  A warm towel is not only comfortable, but more importantly keeps your body temperature from dropping. A towel warmer, placed right next to your hot tub, will heat your towels up for you while you relax. Alternatively, throw your towels in the dryer for a short while before you head out.

4. WEAR A HAT

Wet hair + cold temperatures = not enjoyable. Wearing a hat will keep your hair dry and hold in the heat that is lost through the top of your head.

5. CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOT TUB

If you live in a colder environment, we recommend adding a foam board insulation, which is an option for all Viking Spas. This will not only help sound proof your spa, but will also provided added insulation, keeping your oasis warm and relaxing.

At Viking Spas, we love to get outside, no matter the weather. The optional insulation is great for cold weather and can help bring the monthly cost of operation down as well. Find the perfect spa for your family to enjoy this winter season.

 

 

Brought to you from our friends at Viking Spas: http://vikingspas.com/blog/2015/12/01/5-tips-for-enjoying-your-hot-tub-during-winter/

 


Cooking In Cast Iron On A Grill

Cast iron, first utilized two thousand years ago in the Han Dynasty in China, continues today to be the ultimate multi-purpose cookware tool. It can be used on the stove, in the oven or directly on a grill to make almost any type of food—from sweet cornbread to juicy steak. If you’re unfamiliar with cooking in cast iron on a grill, here’s what you need to know:

First things first. Remember when we seasoned our grill grates? Cast iron cookware also needs to be seasoned regularly to prevent food from sticking. Before you start grilling, evenly spread canola, coconut or flaxseed oil on the cast iron. The fattier the oil, the better. Bake the cast iron on the grill at 350 degrees for about an hour, then remove and let cool completely. Repeat if you want stronger seasoning.

Cast iron diversity. Cast iron skillets aren’t the only type of cast iron you can use on a grill. Pans are the most commonly used, but cast iron griddles and Dutch ovens open up a world of possibility. Making breakfast? Break out the griddle and grill eggs, pancakes and meats all at the same time. Use a cast iron Dutch oven to make different types of bread, pulled pork or homemade baked beans on the grill.

Meat lovers rejoice. Using cast iron on a grill is a boon for meat lovers. Cooking a steak in a cast iron skillet allows the meat to cook flawlessly in its own juices. Black edges on your burgers are a worry of the past. Maybe you’d rather make sausage and kale-stuffed acorn squash? Cook the stuffing in your cast iron pan while the squash browns on the grill.

Mushrooms Bacon & Peppers cooked in cast iron on a grill

To cook or not to cook. Cast iron offers endless options. Bake a pizza or a loaf of bread inside your cast iron pan and close the grill lid to imitate an oven. Grill up spicy mushrooms and bacon or tasty paella valenciana. There are tons of different things you can cook in cast iron, but also, a few you should avoid:

  • Thin fish. Thin fish, like flounder, will stick to cast iron and flake when pried off. If you must use cast iron, try meatier pieces of fish like salmon and cook it with the skin side down. If your pan is well-seasoned, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Sweet and savory. Cast iron holds the taste of whatever food is cooked in it. If you make tilapia and then, immediately make s’mores, don’t be surprised if the s’mores taste kind of… fishy. Give your pan a good wash if you’re going to use it when going from savory to sweet food. Having two pans will easily solve this problem.
  • Acidic food. Unless your pan has a thick film of fat from heavy seasoning, don’t take chances cooking acidic food in cast iron. Acidic food damages cast iron, strips the seasoning and can cause food to taste metallic. Keep your cast iron away from anything tomato- or citrus-based and avoid deglazing cast iron with vinegar or wine.

 

A Clean Gleam. There are tons of ways to clean cast iron, but a dishwasher is not one of them. You can use a little soap and warm water or just warm water, but coarse Kosher salt and a paper towel will also do the trick. Remember: keeping it clean now makes it easier to clean later.

What are you waiting for? Now that you know how to use cast iron, do something different for dinner and grill in cast iron to your heart’s content.

 

Article from Saber Grills: http://betterbarbecueblog.com/cooking-cast-iron-grill/


An Easy Guide To Smoking Food

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How we prepare our foods prior to smoking has changed significantly. The original process of salting or salt-water brining before smoking pre-cures foods and readies them for storage once smoked. This technique combined with exposing the foods to long periods of hot-smoking, up to several days in fact, ensures proper curing. Although this approach is still widely used, there are three methods that are more commonly used at home:

  • Cold smoking involves cooking the foods first and then exposing them to smoke for flavouring in a relatively cool environment, 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F). This results in foods that are rich in smokey flavour yet retain their moisture. Foods that are cold-smoked must be cooked first as cold smoking does not cook or cure meats, fish or poultry however, it is the technique that should be used for smoking cheese for an obvious reason; its low melting point. (We will examine cold smoking more closely in a future post.)
  • Hot smoking requires the foods to be subjected to moderate heat, 52 to 80 °C (126 to 176 °F) as well as hot smoke which cooks the food at the same time as it’s being smoked. Hot smoking fully cooks the foods ready for consumption directly from the smoker. The moderate temperature not only cooks the food but prevents it from loosing moisture and rendering its fat. This is important for foods that require a certain fat content to remain palatable, such as smoked salmon or bacon.
  • Smoke roasting / baking is any technique where foods are cooked and smoked at temperatures exceeding those of hot smoking. Examples of these are barbecuing over charcoal or wood, tandoor cooking or pit roasting. Since the temperature used for this technique is quite high and cooks very quickly, this method of smoking creates foods with the least amount of smokey flavour.

When smoking cured or raw meat, fish or poultry remember to always allow it to form a pellicle, a slightly tacky (not viscous, unless they’ve been brined) layer of protein on the surface of the food you’re smoking. Times will vary based on if the foods are raw, have been cured or depending on if it’s meat, fish or poultry. A good rule of thumb is to do so uncovered, on a rack in the fridge overnight. Fish, for example, creates a pellicle quite quickly whereas meats and poultry take longer. A proper pellicle on the food that’s about to be smoked is what will ensure adhesion of the smoke and will determine the amount of smoky flavour and colour it absorbs. It equally acts as a protective barrier that will ensure your food doesn’t dry out during the smoking process.


Article from Fornetto Grills: http://fornetto.com/blog/an-easy-guide-to-smoking-food/