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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Render your own LARD!

I know, I know... "Lard" sounds disgusting and HORRIBLE for you.... well I was certainly suprised to learn that is is actually considered FAR better for you than shortening (think Cristco). It has a great deal of Vitamin D in it, (which is especially important for people in often cloudy areas like western Washington) and it is considered to be the closest type of fat to what our own bodies have and therefore our bodies know what to do with it. Also, for anyone curious, here is the USDA's fatty acid breakdown for 1 Tablespoon of lard verses one Tablespoon of butter:

Lard: 1.4g polyunsaturated; 5.8g monounsaturated (think Olive Oil type fat); 5g saturated.
Butter: 0.4g polyunsaturated; 3g monounsaturated; 7.3g saturated.

So for those that are "against" saturated fats...lard has less...

 I love flaky pie crusts and don't want to give those up, but the only flaky pie crusts I have had success with are made with shortening (Crisco). I think Crisco is one of the most unhealthy things out there, so I started researched what else will make a flaky pie crust and found that lard (which of course is what many of our grandmothers, or great grandmothers used when there was no "Crisco") is suppose to produce an even superior crust! So I was excited to say the least that it is also healthier for us. So let's just "get over" the stigma attached. I challenge you to research how they make Crisco and then tell me lard is "bad for you" or gross...


I searched high and low for  "leaf lard" (soft creamy fat from around the pig's kidneys) as it is suppose to be ideal for pastries and pie crusts. I was not able to find it here in Miami.... can't wait to just get it from our own pigs... so I settled with pig back fat, with is still suppose to be remarkable... everything I read agreed it makes excellent Mexican food, green beans, corn bread, etc.. and of course anything you want to fry. Also, I took two separate drainings from the pan. The first was earlier on in the cooking process and is supposedly better for pastries and pie crusts and the later will have a little "porkie" flavor to it and is better for other uses.
Here is the pig fat I got from my new favorite food source. Sea Breeze Farms- It's over 2 hours north of Miami, but they deliver down here every two weeks. I wanted fat from a grass fed, no hormone fed, no antibiotics pig. (more on Sea Breeze Farms in a future post) I think these things are important as often the chemicals/drugs/hormones settles in the fat of  animals and so I wanted something without all that. Lard you can buy at the store is NOT the same.. it is partially hydrogenated to give it uniform texture and longer shelf life...and more than likely it is made from factory raised hogs fed all kinds of nasty stuff.

First cut up the fat. The smaller the peices, the faster it will cook...

Turn the burner to med-low. If anything you want it lower. If you cook it too hot than it will taste "porkie". Put a small ammount of water in the bottom of the pan (I was cooking 2 lbs of fat and put about 1/4 cup of water in the pan). And then put the fat cubes in.

When the peices start to float to the top (after about 20-30 minutes..maybe longer if you are cooking on real low heat). Drain your first "juices" . I put a peice of cheese cloth over the jar to strain out any small peices from dropping in. Then put back on the stove to continue cooking.

Stir every once in a while... and WATCH OUT, once they get going they really pop and splatter. This is why I used this big pot for such a small batch. It really contained it well, but if you are using a smaller pan or doing a large batch wear an apron if you care about your clothes, keep kids back and watch out! =)

This is what it looks like when it is nearly done. The fat peices are floating- this is how they make Pork Rinds. (is that how you spell it!? I have never eaten them, but Michael loves them and I am saving these for him. I guess they are good in other things too and there are many recipes out there for their use). This is after about 45min-an hour  or about 20-30 minutes after the first draining. Also- you don't HAVE to do a first draining, I just did because I wanted some for pie crust making. Which you really could use the end stuff for too, it just might taste a little different.

I couldn't get my pictures arranged in order for some reason, but here is the 2nd draining.

The second draining is on the left, the first on the right. The first is lighter in color.

Here is the first draining up close. Much lighter than the second.
Here they are in the fridge after about 2 1/2 hours. They have cooled and "solidfied" and are ready for use.
Everything I read says it freezes well or you can can it with sealed lid and store it for a LONG LONG time, I didn't mess with that as I plan to use mine this next week and I only did a small amount. PLUS... Get this... I can NOT find canning jars anywhere in Miami!!! No joke... not even Wal Mart has them!! I had brought these from home, but I had no lids for them... Seriously.... NO canning jars or lids that I can find... I will keep looking...people sort of look at me sideways when I ask at the stores if they carry them...

This was a very simple process... some sources said it makes the house smell and to open windows and doors when you do it. Others stated that the smell is only there if you are cooking it too hot or possibly using not very good pig fat... there will be a slight smell... you are cooking animal fat... but it shouldn't be bad at all. Mine did not smell hardley at all.  
If you can't find a farmer to buy pig fat from, you should be able to get some from a butcher, but I would reccomend learning about the living conditions of the pig it is coming from. 
I will let you know how my pie crust turns out! =)  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Elle Prayer Story

We were at a new park yesturday. The kids were playing on the toys. There was a little girl there (probably not even 5 years old... no bigger than Elle) that was a complete terror. Within 30 seconds of us being there she ran up and hit Elle. Her mom looked at Elle and said " If she hits you, you just hit her back." (!!! WHAT?!!!) Then the little girl proceeded to run up to Christian and pull around his neck chocking him while trying to kiss him. Then she went over to Elle and pinched her check. The mom had the kids leave shortly thereafter, but not without the girl throwing a complete fit screaming and kicking as the mom carried her away.
We were in the van, leaving the park and Elle was talking about what "bad choices" the girl was making and "not listening to her mom". The poor girl was just never taught different. I told Elle it was too bad she was allowed to act like that and we should pray for her. So we did. After Elle asked "Does God hear when we pray?" I said "yes, always." She said, "Oh, because He's in your heart?" "Yes." "Oh, and He's in the Uncle's heart, and nana's and papa's and Darsey's?" (Darsey is my parents dog.) I said, "Yes, He's in the uncles, nana's and papa's hearts, but I don't know if God's in animal's hearts."  Elle: "Oh, we'll just have to look it up online." =) HA!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family Friendly Farming, Joel Salatin

Finished Family Friendly Farming by Joel Salatin (Poly Face Farm owner) the other day. An interesting tidbit from it...
Thomas Jefferson, when penning the words "the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", actually didn't write "pursuit of happiness". He wrote "pursuit of property".
"The founders viewed the freedome to own and utilize property as an inalienable right, a right, in fact uniquely American. That was a critical aspect that separated the American experiment from other governments of the day. Land in Europe belonged to the various kings, and was doled out according  to despotic whim. The idea of any commoner actually being able to own land was a new idea, and the fouonders so equated it with being able to persue dreams that they just edited it to "happiness", never dreaming that anyone would interpret that fundamental right as anything except property." (Page 131)


Monday, November 29, 2010

Homemade sweet popcorn

I made this last night (I failed to take any photo's) and it is SO yummy, so I thought I'd share...

1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Yellow Popcorn Kernels
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter melted
Sea salt to taste

Put Oil and 1 (yes 1) kernel into a 6-8 Quart pot. Cover with lid. Set over high  heat. Stay near by so you can hear when that one kernel pops. When it does add the rest of the kernels and sprinkle the sugar on tp. Cover with the lid and shake the pot over the burner to spread the sugar. Shake once or twice more until the popping starts and then shake constantly until the popping slows down considerably...this takes no time at all... a couple minutes or so at most.
Put the popcorn in a bowl and drizzle the butter over it and add salt to taste.


Elle and I made ornaments with baking clay. Can you tell which ones I made and which ones she made?! =)


We went to Michael's college friend's house for Thanksgiving. It was so nice to get out of the city. The drive was amazing along Alligator Alley. We could see alligators basking in the sun on the banks of a river along the highway. There were SO many birds and so much green...the Everglades are incredible. The dinner was incredible and then oddly enough, we went to the beach! It was so weird to have Thanksgiving dinner and then go to the beach. The kids had so much fun playing in their yard. So much room to run and play....they miss our land.

I love these photo's of the kids playing their piano because it reminds me of holiday get togethers at my aunt Mary's. As far as I can remember I have this image of her and my uncle David sitting together at the piano playing songs at holiday get togethers.

They're not quite as sofisticated as my aunt and uncle....

But that's okay... =)