Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rendering Lard

Rendering lard is the easiest thing I've ever done. Literally. It's one of those things where you spend five minutes doing something, then you leave it for a few years, (not literally), and then come back to do more things to it. In total I think you'll spend ten minutes with this project over the course of a 5-7 hour block of time.

These steps will work for rendering any kind of renderable fat: lard, tallow (beef, goat, sheep, and wild game), and any kind of fowl: geese, turkey, chicken, and duck.

1. Get skin of animal whose fat you want to render.

2. Get a large pot, one with a lid is best. If you don't have a lid, pretend you're from Idaho and use an inverted plate in its place.

3. Put the skin in the pot, and put the lid, or plate on.

4. Turn your burner on medium low.

5. In 1 - 1 1/2 hour(s) turn the heat to low. (Optional)

6. Let the skins cook on this low heat for a few hours, stirring every one or two hours. (The smaller the amount of skins you are cooking, the less amount of time you will need to cook them for.) You'll know it's done when the skin becomes brownish and crisp.

7. Strain.

8. Sprinkle salt on the skin bits and eat them.

9. The end.

Seriously. So easy. Ok, just a few things. You can turn the heat up on this to speed up the process. I choose the lowest heat possible because, even though these are the best fats to cook with at higher temperatures, the lower the heat for extraction the healthier the fat molecules will be after all is said and done. Also, I am lazy and the lower cooking heat allows me to pay the least amount of attention possible. That's my favorite thing.

One tip: the larger the pieces of skin, the longer it will take to extract the fat. Some farms sell only slabs of skin. I have purchased skins this way, and I used to cut them up into 1/2 inch squares. Totally not necessary. One day I didn't have time to cut the skins into pieces, but I needed the lard so I threw it in anyway... and it still rendered. It just took longer. So totally up to you.

One more tip: I keep a pint jar of lard next to my stove, and keep the larger quantity of lard in my fridge. It will keep for months and months in cool storage.

The last tip: There have been a few times where I've started this a few hours before bed, and realized it wasn't going to be done before I nodded off. No worrying here, though. The great thing is, you can turn your stove off, and leave it there over night. I know, I hear you. It totally sounds questionable... Until you remember that in bygone days people use to cook sausage, and then keep it fresh for months by submerging it in containers of fat. The fat keeps microbes from making anything rot! Genius. 

P.S. Someday I'll add pictures to this post... sorry, I'm lame right now.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sprouted Spelt (or other wheat type grain) Tortillas

Alright guys, it's a Friday night. I'm making this quick. (I heard you cheering that. Offended...)

I haven't been making tortillas for very long. It is so easy, though, I'm actually really bummed I didn't start making them a long time ago. They are a serious breeze, and as with all things in life, the more you make them, the easier it becomes. We eat these at least three times a week -- sometimes daily.


2 cups (approximately) sprouted wheat/spelt/kamut flour
1 tsp salt
Dash baking soda (optional)
2/3 cup (approximately) fat, lard/butter/tallow/coconut oil
Enough water


Mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Cut in fat of choice. I just use my hands and mix the butter/lard/tallow/coconut oil into the flour until I have pea sized bits of fat milling around in there... sort of like making pie crust. Be careful about this part: mix water in little by little until you have a malleable dough. You want it to be firm-ish, like bread dough. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and cover somehow (to keep them from drying out). Let these sit for half an hour before rolling and cooking.

To cook, heat a skillet or frying pan on medium heat. I prefer my pan to be already hot when I start cooking these babies. Roll these flat with your rolling pin, and cook them as you go. Cook for a few seconds on one side, flip the tortilla and repeat. Remove from pan. Eat with beans and rice, meat and beans, liver, fish, lettuce and cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, or love.

Cook tips:
  • Greasing pan well between each tortilla makes for a more foldable tortilla in the end.
  • Once you get a feel for the dough, you can actually skip the half hour sitting time before rolling. I prefer to let my dough sit, but it is possible to make it work skipping that step.
  • After you cook these (if you aren't eating the that very second), cover the plate with another plate, inverted. This will keep the tortillas from drying out, and inadvertently becoming tostadas.
  • These keep in the fridge for excellent left overs.
  • The dough can also be saved in the fridge for a few days.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cheesy Sausage Cabbage Bake

My husband dubbed this a variation on Musaka. It isn't really that much like Musaka in reality, but the fact that he called it that means he likes it. I'll take the compliment.

Cheesy Sausage Cabbage Bake 

Ingredients for sausage:
2 lbs ground pork/lamb/beef (I use pork)
dash ground chipotle (optional) 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground fennel (the seed, not the bulbous vegetable)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

1 head cabbage, any color will do
1-1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Pre-heat oven to 300. Cut the cabbage in 3/4 inch slices, lightly butter and place butter side up on a cookie dish. Cabbage rounds should be touching. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place pan in oven.

While the cabbage begins cooking, mix your choice of meat with all of the spices. Partially brown over medium heat. Take partially cooked cabbage out of the oven, and raise the temperature of the oven to 350. Dish meat evenly over each of the cabbage slices, and then pour the cooking juices from the meat evenly over all of that. Top with the cheese, and return to the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown.

We eat this topped with sour cream. I meant to serve this over a bed of arugula this last time, but forgot. Someone try that, and tell me how it goes. 

Tastes great reheated.