Tag Archives: recipe

Bacon Lard

I’m nearly out of bacon lard and need to make some more, so I figured it was a opportune time to write a tutorial on just how I do that.

Just a word about using lard: if you are vegetarian or subscribe to the low-fat-everything-is-healthy-for-you way of eating, then this is not a post for you. If you’d like to learn more about the philosophy I believe when it comes to using saturated fats for our family’s diet, read this article,Ā it sums up my beliefs quite well.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that the lard which comes from processed bacon is not the healthiest fat on the planet. But I use it because 1.) saturated fats are not the evil fats they have been made out to be, and 2.) (most importantly) it’s free! As with almost everything in this world, moderation is key. I suppose it would be more healthy if we used healthier bacon (yes, there is such a thing.) But we haven’t made that switch yet. One of these days…

So, what is bacon lard anyway, and how do you make it?

I’m so glad you asked. ‘Cause I’m gonna tell you. šŸ™‚

Whenever you make bacon, there’s all that grease left over, right? I know some people dump that grease into a grease pot and leave it on the counter and use it just like that. But, my modern food handling mind just can’t get past that. And I know people who simply pour their bacon grease in a container and keep it in the fridge and use it as needed. I don’t like that either because then you have all those little burned bits of bacon fond mixed in with the grease and an overpowering bacon flavor. I know, I know, there are those of you asking, “What’s wrong with that???”(My Hubby is included in your ranks, for sure!) But depending on what I’m using it for, I don’t want it to taste so much like bacon. And those little burned bits just make the grease look “dirty”. Turning your bacon grease into bacon “lard” makes it nice and clean and less bacony in flavor. It is a long, but very simple process. Most of the time you’re not doing anything but waiting for the grease to harden.

Ok, you you’ve just made your bacon and you want to clean the pan. What do you do with the grease? Well, you simply pour it into a container and put it in the fridge.

But wait! Didn’t I just say I don’t like doing that? No, I said I don’t likeĀ using that grease as-is. I do something extra with the grease to make it more like lard.

First of all, I like to strain my grease through a paper towel as I put it in the jar.

20151007_105634_resized

This step is not totally necessary, but makes the cleaning process go faster.

Cleaning process? You “clean” your lard?

Yep. Yep I do.

20151007_105726_resized

Anyway, once your container is full (or nearly so – this make take a while depending on how often you eat bacon), simply melt your grease…

20151113_105316_resized

Yes, that’s bacon grease – with all the dirty bits still inside.

…I use the microwave.

Then you add the grease and about the same amount of water into a pot and put it on the stove to boil.

20151113_110332_resized

Once it just starts to boil, turn it off and set it aside. You can put in some cold water to help it cool off faster. As I’m sure you know, oil and water do not mix. The lard (oil) will float to the top of the water, and the impurities which were in the grease (the dirty bits) will sink or be washed out by the water.

The next step is where the length comes in. You have to let this oil and water concoction cool enough that the fat will solidify. If the temps are cold enough outside, I often secure the lid on the pot, and put it outside in the cold. This makes the process go faster. However, if the temps outside are too high, I let it cool to room temperature, then stick it in the fridge, usually overnight.

Once the fat has solidified, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and put it into a bowl.

20151113_214701_resized

scoopable-solid again

20151113_214751_resized

Look how dirty the water is

Once you get all the chunks of fat out (I use a small mesh strainer to get all the little bits), you’ll be left with dirty water which you can pour down the drain.

I usually “wash” the grease a couple more times by following the above steps, until the water is clear underneath the solidified fat.

20151114_181548_resized

Clear water

But you could certainly skip the subsequent washings if you wanted. I find that by filtering the grease through a paper towel first, it takes fewer “washings” to get the lard as clean as I like it.

Once it’s as clean as you want it, you scoop the grease into a bowl with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer (try to let as much water drip from it as possible).

20151114_182121_resized

Clean lard

Melt the lard just until pourable and pour into mason jars*.

20151114_182937_resized

Notice the color change from the first time I microwaved it near the top of the post.

I suppose there’s probably some way to process this so that it is shelf stable. But I have never researched it. I justĀ stick it in the fridge once it’s cooled off a bitĀ (or freezer if I have extra).

Note: once it has solidified, you might find that there is some water in the bottom of the jar.

20151121_121609_resized

If this happens,Ā slide a knife along the glass into the lard in two spots on opposite sides of each other. Then pour the water out one of the holes (the other hole is to allow air into the bottom cavity so the water flows easier.)

20151121_121643_resized

If you prefer, you can heat the grease again so it melts and fills the holes back in.

*I always use wide mouth pint jars because they are the perfect size for our favorite spatula to fit in to scoop out a bit of lard (notĀ an affiliate link – we just really like the style. In fact, we happened to find some at the dollar store!).

So there you have it. Now that your bacon grease has becomeĀ lard, you can use it in much the same way you do regular lard. I do find it still has a bit of a bacon flavor/odor, but it is only objectionable to use it in things that are naturally bland themselves. I have even made soap with it!

I always feel so frugal when I use my bacon lard. I mean,Ā it is basically free since you’re gonna eat the bacon anyway, right? So now you have something useful to do with the left over grease.

Advertisements

Heritage recipes

image

Ok, so technically, only one of the recipes in this post can classify as “heritage” (ie being passed down from generation to generation basically unchanged), but I did get them both from my mom, so maybe that does count.

It’s been a rainy, dreary week here in the Pacific Northwest. Add to that the fact that the girls have been sick and now I am with a chest cold, and it’s been a week of soups for dinner. Chicken stew made by the hubby. Clam chowder requested by the Princess. Split pea because we had a ham bone which needed to be used. It’s been a cozy, comfort food kinda week.

And last night was no exception. As I was dozing on the couch that afternoon (such a luxury – one I ever only get when I’m sick!) I got a hankerin’ for my Mom’s chili.

Now, her chili is nothing special. It’s really easy to make. No special prep. It uses mostly canned ingredients, and it’s only the teeniest bit spicy. But for those of us who are whimps when it comes to spicy foods, it’s just about perfect. In fact, it’s the only chili one of my brothers willingly eats. I grew up eating this chili, paired with a tall glass of milk, and a large slice of cornbread made using my great, great grandmother’s recipe.

Oh, it’s heavenly!

So, without further ado, I give you my mom’s no frills, easy chili recipe, along with my great, great grandma’s cornbread recipe – because what good is chili without cornbread to eat with it?

Mom’s Easy Chili
Ingredients:
1-1.5lbs of ground beef
1large onion diced
Season salt to taste
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans beans
3-4 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1.5 cups water (or more if simmering for a while)

Directions:
Place the meat in a soup pot with the diced onion and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook until meat is brown and onions are translucent. Drain off grease if desired. Drain and rinse the canned beans. Add all of the ingredients to the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer as long as desired, adding more water if too much evaporates.

Notes:
-My mom often used venison in place of the beef since we were a hunting family. You can use whatever meat you have on hand.
-I typically use diced tomatoes rather than stewed since I have a large stock of diced and never remember to buy stewed.
-Traditionally my mom used kidney beans, but I use pinto and/or red beans since canned kidney beans have added sugar. Of course you can use freshly prepared dry beans if desired.

While the chili is simmering, it’s time to put together this yummy cornbread. As I said before, this recipe comes down from my great, great grandmother, which means it is at least 100 years old. A true heritage recipe.

I think this cornbread is the perfect cornbread out there. Corn-mealy without being too crumbly or cakey. Moist but not gooey. And just enough sugar to make it sweet without being dessert.

Grandma’s Cornbread Recipe
Ingredients:
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour milk (see notes)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the sour milk and mix thouroughly. Pour into an 8×8 casserole dish (or a cast iron pan if you want to be really traditional) and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes:
-My grandma (who got this recipe from her grandma) always used buttermilk for this recipe. I never have buttermilk on hand, so I make my own sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of milk and allowing to sit for 5 minutes. Works perfect.
-Since I do not eat wheat, I have been experimenting with gluten free alternatives to the flour. Most recently, in place of the 1 cup flour I have been using 1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup gluten free baking mix (made primarily with rice flour). I use the almond meal primarily to lower the carb count. If you use almond meal, lower the cooking temperature to 375 degrees.
-I have also replaced the processed sugar with honey to great results.
-Before I started tampering with the ingredients, sometimes I would add a can of creamed corn. This made it exceptionally moist, which we all loved. I do not know how it would turn out with the ingredient substitutions I now use. Maybe I’ll have to try one of these days. šŸ™‚

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoy! I certainly did.

In fact, I’m having left over chili for lunch today. Unfortunately, the cornbread was wolfed down so fast last night that not only is there none left for today, but I didn’t even get a picture.

However, writing about my grandma put me in a nostalgic mood, so along with my chili, I’m having diced peaches with “smear case.”
image

Grandma never could tell me why her family called cottage cheese “smear case.” But in her later life, cottage cheese and diced fruit was one of her favorite foods. So, here’s to Grandma!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

Mmmmm….

The smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle.

I don’t know about you, but pancakes on a rainy Saturday morning seem just about the perfect thing.

image

Oat Zucchini Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

It’s been years since I’ve had regular pancakes. I gave up eating wheat after learning that wheat is a major inflammatory food and it affects the arthritis in my knees.

So I went searching for a “gluten free” recipe. But I wanted one that uses normal and whole ingredients rather than processed, refined, high carb flours in place of the wheat.

I stumbled across this oat pancake recipe at www.mountainmamacooks.com. Orginally it called for a banana, but I am fresh out of bananas and I have quite a lot of frozen zucchini from this summer’s bounty. Besides, the Hubby likes zucchini better than banana anyway. (BTW, I think it’s so adorable that Flower Girl says banana like a Minion – BAN-nah-nah :-). The original recipe also called for almond milk, but we use regular milk.

The pancakes have a very moist and chunky texture, even with highly ground oats. I’ve never experimented with using quick/instant oats since old fashioned are all we ever buy. Maybe it wouldn’t be quite so chunky with instant oats?

As an aside, the girls helped make the pancakes this morning. Flower Girl helped add a few ingredients as is fitting for an almost-three-year-old. But Princess Girl helped with all of it. Not only did she help gather the ingredients, add them to the batter, do some of the mixing, and help with the cooking, she also did all the calculations to add a half batch to the recipe. She’s learning more complicated fraction operations in her school work, so this was perfect. She not only had to halve the recipe, she then had to add that half to the original. Natural learning for the win!

image

One thing about these pancakes, they can seem take forever to cook (thus the picture above). So I usually end up cooking them at a higher temp to speed up the process and they tend to get rather dark brown. Compare the two pics below.

image

image

If you’re looking for a gluten free pancake that is as close to traditional pancakes as possible, these aren’t them. But we all like the way these turn out. In fact, I personally like them even better. I always felt guilty eating regular pancakes. I felt that I was eating nothing but fluff and sugar – in essence, nothing more than cake. But these pancakes are filled with good quality, nourishing ingredients. And they taste phenomenal whether you use banana or zucchini!

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

2 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (we use aluminum free)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded zucchini (or 1 large ripe banana)
1-2 Tbl honey
1tsp vanilla
1 egg

Directions:
Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until it is chopped up fine like oat flour (I suppose you could also just use purchased oat flour as well). Add other dry ingredients and pulse to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Ladle 1/4 cup(ish) of the batter onto a medium-low(ish) skillet or griddle. Spread the batter out so it’s not all clumped up, then cook until golden brown on each side, flipping as needed (time will depend on the heat of your cooking surface.)

I usually heat the oven to as low as it will go (170Ā° on ours), place a plate in there, and put the pancakes in there as each one is done. This keeps them warm till they are all finished cooking and we can all eat together.

image

And that makes for a very good Saturday morning.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121