Monday, October 31, 2011

Rendering Lard

My family has been on a (very slow) journey of cleaning up the food that we eat.  We have systematically been eliminating processed food and adding more local and organic food - whole foods.  One of the reasons our process has been slow is that it can be difficult to source the kinds of foods we want to eat.  We put out a garden every year, which takes care of most of our vegetable needs.  But, we were really wanting to switch to pastured/grass fed meat.  Unfortunately, our small town doesn't even allow us to have chickens within the city limits.  Then, several months ago I found Local  Through this website we were able to find Victory Acres, a wonderful farm nearby that offered what we were looking for.  We ordered a whole pig and half of a cow, both of which are raised the way God intended them to be - out in the sunshine, eating what they were designed to.

We received our pastured pig last week.  I was so pleased that I was able to tell the processing plant exactly which cuts we wanted and that it was processed naturally without nitrites or nitrates.  I was even able to get the fat from our pig.  After doing a lot of reading and research, I realized that lard is not the villain it has been made out to be in recent times.  So, I set out to render our pig fat into lard for cooking and teach you as I learned as well.  You're welcome. :0)

First of all, I was surprised that this was all the fat that came off of a 265 pound porker.

After opening the vacuum sealed bag of pork fat, I started slicing it.  Kind of reminds you of a fish filet, no?

Cut the fat into small squares, about half and inch or so, and put it in a stock pot on med low heat.

Actually, this is where it gets very flexible.  You can do this in a stock pot, a crock pot on low, or in the oven at about 325 degrees.  They all work.  It just really depends on what you're most comfortable with. Any way you go about it, the fat will start to turn colors as it begins to heat up and melt.

This needs to be stirred periodically to keep it from burning.  It will get very hot and bubbly as the fat melts down, even on low heat.  This takes a really long time.  I put mine in the stock pot about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, which was too late.  So, before bed I switched to the crock pot method.  It was done about 2 in the morning.  Granted, I had an awful lot of lard to render.  It probably wouldn't take 12 hours if you weren't doing the fat from an entire pig.

I knew it was done when the bits of fat and meat were golden brown and sitting on the bottom of the pot.  Those little golden bits that are left are called cracklins.  And, boy are they yummy!  They can be eaten as a snack or used on salad.  Anyway, I lined a platter with paper towels, pulled out the cracklins with a slotted spoon and laid them on the platter to soak up any excess oil.

The next step was to line a funnel with cheese cloth (or paper towels or coffee filters) and begin ladling the hot lard into mason jars.

Doing this filter system catches more bits-n-pieces.

The resulting liquid is a beautiful golden color...

that cools to nearly white.

Voila!  Rendered lard.  The rule of thumb is that 1 pound of fat renders 1 pint of lard.  I didn't weigh my fat before I started, but would guess that I started with about little over 7 pounds of fat by the 3 3/4 quarts of lard that I ended up with.  

I love the fact that something that would have most likely ended up in the trash gave me a healthy fat full of Vitamin D and monounsaturated oleic acid, which lowers LDL*.  

So, there you have it!  You now know how to render lard.  Don't you feel like your life is a little more complete? :0)

I get to do this again in about a month when our cow goes to the processing plant.  The only difference is that rendered cow fat is called tallow and it has a bit of a different make-up than lard, which includes a higher smoke point making it excellent for cooking French fries.  But, that's for a later post. :0)

Y'all have a great day!

*Taken from "Real Food" by Nina Planck.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Indianapolis Zoo

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently made a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  It's hard to imagine that mid October in Indiana could actually be considered warm.  But it was.  We couldn't have asked for a more lovely day.

Here are a few of my favorite memories...

Rhinos amaze me.  They're built like tanks.  I was surprised at how well they blend in with the dirt and rocks.

So darling!  This baby was just born in July, weighing in at over 200 pounds.  It was so sweet watching mama and baby together.

Who doesn't love a grizzly bear dining at the salad bar?

Did God create a creature any more beautiful?

These are the only sharks I'm not afraid of.  Evidently, Isaac wasn't either. :0) Nope, we ain't skeered.

Happy Feet, anyone?

But this... this was the best part of the day...

...time spent with people you love.

While we were there we had the unusual opportunity to witness another young couple's very private moment.  Chris noticed the man on one knee and before I could pull the camera from my purse and snap a picture for them, she had already said, "Yes!" with tears flowing and they were in a tender embrace.  It was all very sweet.  Can you feel the warm fuzzies?

People you love... that's what makes a day wonderful!

Peace, Love and Warm Fuzzies,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dyson's Latest Invention.

Have y'all seen one of these yet?

It's a dryer.  For your hands.

We went to the zoo last weekend and after returning from the restroom, my husband says, "You HAVE to go the bathroom just to see the new Dyson dryers."  Yes, we're easily entertained. :0)

This thing is wild!  It dries your hand in mere seconds.  What will the creator of the Dyson line come up with next?  I wish I had half the ingenuity of that guy!

Happy hand-towels!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Love

My last post was paying tribute to the beauty of Indiana in the summer months.  Here's a follow up for fall.

We went for a drive recently to take in the beautiful colors we're experiencing this year, so I thought I'd share the love.

along a gravel road

a pond

a Burning Bush

a farm

Love the orange!

a barn

Mississinewa Reservoir

Hope your enjoying this beautiful season.

Happy fall y'all!