It's about time I finally wrote a blog post about my sweet sweet lard. It is no secret that I have a serious love for lard and how magical it is. A healthy animal fat that has been villainized due to the shift away from pastured pork to commercial factory farming has resulted in a general opinion that lard is an evil fat. Now, let me be clear. When I am speaking about all of the benefits of pork fat/lard, I am referring to pastured pork. Pigs raised outside, in the sun, rooting around in the soil and eating greens as nature intended. This does not apply to feedlot raised, barn stall raised, confined pork...because yes that is the villain.
Lard rendered from pastured pork is a healthy and stable animal fat. There is a perceived idea that lard is an artery clogging, heart attack causing, unhealthy fat. Yes, this is the case when you are talking about pigs raised in confined factory operations (CFO) or similar housing. But, we aren't about those pigs here! Pigs store the vitamin D they get from spending all day in the sun and foraging on greens in their fat. Once rendered into lard, only a couple tablespoons a day can provide you with your daily requirement of liquid sun. Lard is also high in fatty acids such as oleic acid, and when you raise pastured pigs finished on acorns, the high level of omega-3's they get from the acorns are stored in the fat as well! Lard also has a well balanced ratio of saturated: monounsaturated fats, and next to olive oil, it contains the highest quantity of monounsaturated fats of any cooking oil. I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist of it. Lard truly is a nutrient dense super fat in the kitchen.
Milk. Glorious fresh, raw, creamy goats milk. It is quite possibly one of the things I am most proud of to be producing right here on our small farm. Our girls are fed an organic, non-gmo, soy free feed, with more browsing than they can eat. Their milk truly is as good as it gets and I get it fresh twice a day, everyday! With Karen and Audrey both in milk, I currently have way too much to drink. I can't keep up just drinking it alone! FYI, this is a very good problem to have. I love any and all dairy products, so my goal is to produce as many as I can with the milk that I have on hand.
Ricotta is one of the easiest and quickest cheeses that you can make with the simplest ingredients. It doesn't have to age and is ready to use within a half hour or so, nor is it as temperamental as mozzarella. Bonus! Basically, it's a great cheese to get your feet wet and isn't everything better with a little ricotta? Some make ricotta with leftover whey from other cheeses, which makes a skim/low fat ricotta. I however am a full fat/whole milk kind of girl, so I make my ricotta with milk not whey. Here's how to make it:
I have a newfound love for chimichurri. It's good on anything and everything, and the best part is that the longer it sits the tastier it is. It's good on burgers (or any sandwich for that matter), roasted chicken, or my personal favorite paired with flank steak. I had some leftover flank I made for dinner on night, and the next day I was hankering for some leftovers. I'm currently up to my eyeballs in eggs, and everything is better with a dippy egg on top so I thought why not this too? Oh my Lord, talk about a deadly combination! This is one of those meals made with extremely simple ingredients that yield complex flavors you don't want to miss out on!
I recently took a beehive oven bread baking class at a nearby historical society which opened my eyes up to a whole new world of possibilites. I learned how to properly bake in my own beehive at home as well as various types of leaveners. The highlight of the class however, was when the instructor gave every participant a sample of barm yeast starter to take home!
Barm is the foamy yeasty by-product of beer that is skimmed off the top in the brewing process. When combined with a slurry of flour and water, it feeds and strengthens the yeast allowing it to flourish and grow into a living culture. So, what do you do with it? Bake bread of course! Throw away your dry yeast packets. Any recipe that calls for it, barm starter can be used instead. Although using a starter does require a little more work than ripping open a packet of dry yeast, the little effort required is well worth it!
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