Sunday, February 28, 2010

P.S. Making Lard

I forgot to add the picture showing the comparison between the  two lards.

From Making Lard

Making Lard

We recently bought a hog from a neighbor and got both our hog and her hog's fat.  She wasn't interested!  The butcher grinds it.

So what I start out with is packages of pinkish ground hog fat sealed in vacuum packs.    I decided to render two packages yesterday and the day before. I am posting this picture even though the quality is awful, but at least it will show you what I started with.

From Making Lard
Step l.   Start with thawed fat, ground.  Break into chunks for the pot. Some render from chopped up chunks of lard but I get the ground and so that is what I will be talking about here.

Step 2.  Add 1 inch of water to heavy pot.  Add chunks of ground fat.  I start on high and gradually turn down once it starts bubbling.  I stir often to keep the bits from sticking to bottom of the pan.

From Making Lard
It looks like this when first cooking,

From Making Lard
When it gets to this stage, I strain for the first lard for baking.  You will see the fat is beginning to settle to the bottom and the clear fat will be on top.

From Making Lard
From Making Lard
.  I definitely need to buy some cheese cloth, my old pillow case was too tightly woven and the straining took too long.
This is what the fat looks like at this point and will be put back into the pan for second rendering of savory lard and cracklins.  I suspect I should be typing cracklings.....but that is not what we call them.

From Making Lard
and you are left with this beautiful clear fat with no hint of tan,
From Making Lard
Then into the jars for storage.  In got about 2.5 quarts with my two packages of ground fat.

From Making Lard
The first batch from the day before I poured into a tin.  I really prefer them because they are so much easier to scoop out of.
From Making Lard

Note: the lard in the tin had 1 or so teaspoons of baking soda added for whitening.  I can't see a measurable difference between the one with and the one without.

The second day (I got lazy the first day) I took the reserved fat from the first rendering and combined with the second rendering fat.  I decided to use my electric cooking pot (my favorite kitchen appliance) to cook these down so I wouldn't have to be so concerned about scorching.  I added water again to get it started.
From Making Lard

I stirred now and then..  They got very foamy toward the last.  I was looking for the cracklins to be a nice brown color and when they got to this stage, I thought they were done,

From Making Lard

Strained again and bottled the savory lard.

Here is a picture showing the subtle difference in color.  I made DH tasted (you would have thought I was offering him poison!) to see if he could pick which was which.  He could. 
The total time for the first rendering was about one hour and the same for the second.

I ended up with about 2.5 quarts of first lard and 1.5 pints of the savory lard and a pint or more of cracklins which I froze.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Found a use for the 12 egg yolks

I found lots of uses, but this one interested me because it would use all of the yolks at one time. The additional fact that it sounded delicious didn't hurt either.

I want to give credit to Supermom. This recipe was posted on her Blog at .

She called for baking in two 9-inch round pans, but I chose my 9x13 and it fit perfectly.  I had visions of cutting it into thirds and making either a jam cake or using lemon pie filling between the layers with powdered sugar dusted over the top. In stead I will be freezing it today (after a sample or two) to finish later when we have company.

PhotobucketPhotobucketLemony Butter Sponge Cake

Note the tiny flecks of flour in the cut piece......I cheated and just fluffed the flour and baking powder mixture, I think I should have sifted it over the thick yolk mixture.  I folded until I was sure it had all disappeared  but not long enough evidently.  I think another technique that would work would be take some of the sugar from the egg mixture and mix with the flour like you do for the angel food cake. 
The cake was very moist and tender, not what I expected from a sponge cake at all. 

Next project:  Rendering lard, making brats from our ground pork. all winter-time adventures.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Angel Food Cake

I had tried one many years ago and it fell flat when I took it out of the oven and I have hesitated to ever try it again. But we had accumulated about 4 dozen eggs and I got brave yesterday morning. An internet friend had given me her Betty Crocker recipe that she had been using for many years so I pulled it out from the files and began.

Tip: I have always separated eggs by pouring them back and forth in the shells draining out the whites. That is what Mom always did. I just saw a chef on TV putting them into a bowl and gently scooping up the yolks in his hand. What an improvement over my old method! I did break one at a time in the bowl just in case a yolk broke.

This how it filled the pan.

And this is the first slice

DH thought it was the best one he had ever tasted but he always says that! I did agree that it was delicious and very, very tender.

Here is her recipe:

Angel Food Supreme BC style

1 cup cake flour (always sift before measuring)
12 egg whites
3/4 cup plus 2 T sugar (I sifted this too to remove any larger grains)
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (I may cut back this a little next time)

Heat over to 375°.

Stir together flour and first amount of sugar, set aside.

In large very clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until foamy. Add second amount of sugar, 2 Tbls at a time, beating on very high speed until meringue holds stiff peaks.

Gently fold in flavorings. Sprinkle flour/sugar mixture over egg whites, 1/4 cup at a time, folding in gently (by hand)until flour disappears.

Push batter into ungreased tube pan. Cut through batter gently to remove air bubbles.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back and looks dry between brown patches. Mine took 35 minutes. Invert pan over tall funnel shaped bottle (I used a soy sauce bottle)leave until completely cool. Cut around sides and hole with long knife. Invert over cake plate, remove pan. I then slice between bottom of pan and cake and the cake falls directly onto the plate.

Note: Can also add chopped maraschino cherries or flaked coconut to batter before baking.

From 1972 Better Crocker cookbook.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Errand Day

We needed to make a library run so decided to go on into the 'big city' and check out the Aldi grocery store. We didn't know you had to unlock the carts for shopping and you should take your own boxes or bags! We are trying a few things to see if we like them. I was disappointed that I didn't find the cream of mushroom soup, but I did stock up on diced tomatoes and sauce and paste. I haven't opened any yet. We have tried their crackers and they are fine. DH got his bananas for 39 cents and will be trying their raisin bran cereal. I compared the labels and they are almost identical. All in all, some is just quite a distance for us and on the wrong side of town but close to a new Wal-Mart. We might make a monthly run on those two. I am not really much of a shopper.

Next was the library. I loaded up with 6 books and have two on hold that should be here shortly. I am set for reading for a while. Some are selected just for me and some we will both read.

We stopped by Hobby Lobby on the way out of town. I wanted to pick up some fleece to line various "cat" cushions with so I could just remove them when company is coming rather than using an entire roll of tape to remove the hairs!
I am coming to this animal-inside-the-house thing late in life and it is taking some getting used to. We just have the one cat (that has house privileges) but she won't confine herself to just one cushion....oh no! She has slept in every single one of the 13 various ones in the house. I think this looks better than the papers we had spread. We didn't get much choice in color, and this red isn't as dark as I wanted but it will have to do
From Drop Box
From House
From House

Here are a few bird pictures. We saw these on the neighbor's pond when we did our errands yesterday and I couldn't resist taking a picture or two.

From Birds
and as they made their way into the pond,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Old Cookbooks and Memories

Ilene at A Visit with Grandma and Suzanne at Chickens in the Road blogged about old cookbooks and old recipes. I am not the collector Ilene is or my sis in Iowa, but over the years I have acquired quite a collection. I also got all of Mother's cookbooks and her handwritten recipes and newspaper clipped ones. They all bring back wonderful memories and bring tears to my eyes. Mother would write recipes down on any blank spot in her cookbooks, so to find a particular one isn't easy!

I had recently searched for old recipes for mincemeat and home rendering of lard and breakfast sausage. Between the old recipes, and kind people online sharing, I came up with what I think is delicious. I made meatless. I think it was the meat fibrous texture that I didn't like when Mom and Grandma made it. I made a half gallon and have used it all. I digress, sorry; one thing always sends my mind off on a tangent in another direction.

The point is that I had recently gone through a lot of these old cookbooks and recipes so they were fresh in my mind and when the other two blogged about theirs, I decided I would add mine too.
My aunt even gave me an old home curing recipe book from Morton Salt. It is such fun to read through them all. I have rendered lard twice now and have lots to do in the freezer. Yes, don't faint.....I cook with it; use it for home-made soap and suet cakes for the birds. The dangerous part of fats is the hydrogenation process they use for all vegetable oil shortenings.

The Symphony Cookbooks probably have more repeat recipes than some of the others. I have several from the Women's Missionary Union one too.

Mother was a great cook and really didn't follow recipes much. Dad always reminded me when they ate at our house that "it was good, but the real cook was Mom". Sort of a back-handed compliment.

I miss them both.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tour of the Yard in midst of winter

Yesterday was the first day I was able to walk over the yard and check things....not much to see. The mole runs are horrific and it makes walking with a bad foot very difficult. It had to pick my way through the war zone.

I found this fungi growing on a dead stump. I think I will call it a winter flower, it makes me think of those decorative cabbages.
The new herb bed is still under its blanket of leaves but several little new garlic plants  are popping through.  I planted these from my saved cloves last fall.  I have no idea which it is but it is a hard neck variety.  At first I thought I would use this as a holding bed, but may just leave it as it.  There are chives, sweet williams, and something else planted under there.

Of course, when warm weather hits, I suspect rudbeckias will pop up there too.

The biennial curly -leaved parsley looks alive; frosted, but alive.

This is viburnum Brandywine.  I am pleased  with how tall it has gotten.
I had a few blooms last year and am hoping for more.   I need some height at the corner of the foundation here.

I could lie and tell you this is frosted is the bane of my gardening existence, henbit (it and Bermuda grass).  I think I will just start mowing and trimming it and quit trying to eliminate it.  It doesn't work anyway.

I saw lots of perennials greening up some and iris and daffs.

We have had two very warm days and I always start worrying about that bringing things on too quickly and then a hard freeze hitting them, especially the fruit trees. I see no signs of budding on them yet and I am keeping my fingers crossed. The strawberries are still buried under heavy mulch so they are safe.

This is the month I need to spray dormant oil on the fruit trees. I will wait until this predicted rain is gone and do my best to get that done, cold or not.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A shopping Mistake

I hadn't changed our bedroom coverlet for a very long time and thought I was really tired of a coverlet....wanted a bedspread. Bad mistake. I bought one online. The spread is exactly what was represented and the colors were good so that I wouldn't have to repaint. We tried sleeping under it for two weeks. We both hated it and had to pile on additional covers to stay warm. It was extremely heavy, like sleeping under a cold lead blanket. Then, it was much harder to make the bed...the thing traveled to the foot and rested on the floor.

Then I got this bright idea to try to use it as a throw on the hundred year old sofa (really not quite that old) and that will be its new home. It may have saved me the cost of a new least for now. The wall isn't blue; it is an off-white color.

From House

Do you ever do that? I move bed covers around pretty often. I moved our old blue print coverlet back home. I did have to change out a picture with a blue border but I had one. We slept under our warm, light fluffy coverlet last night. It felt good.
From House
From House
That's it for decorating and interiors....I don't do it well and really don't have a lot of interest in that area. I just want a change now and then.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Visitor and the broccoli is up

I had a visit from a dear friend of maybe 50 years yesterday. She retired to Panama and it is so interesting to hear about that. Guess what they are considered a third world country and they have a marvelous health-care system that costs about half what ours does! Think about it..............

Yesterday was also bread-making day. I did the oatmeal, honey wheat bread. We love that oatmeal flavor in the bread.

Plant wise
: finally the broccoli is coming up. I think I should have been leaving it in a warmer place at night. Our back porch gets pretty chilly. I have them sitting on top of the plant light today so hopefully the rest will germinate.

The snaps are up nicely. It looks like I actually got them planted thin enough. I mixed the seeds with sand before sprinkling. I have never done that before.
Because of having company, the house is nice and tidy so I can do whatever I please today (I usually do anyway). We will drive to the library and pick up a couple of books I had ordered. We have a drive-up window so no walking is involved.
I will also have DH return the udder balm he picked up for me (the cow!). I ordered "Udder Balm" in the green tin, but he got something cheaper thinking he was doing a good thing. It is yellow and water based...not good in the winter.

Chickens are still laying well for the cold and being shut up most of the time. I saw an egg custard pie on another Blog Chickens in the Road
that I think I will try today. I love her blog. I think I got it from Ilene's blog A Visit with Grandma

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life in Country isn't always a bed of roses.

It is a very cold, windy and snowy day here this morning. We have about l inch on so far. The "flurries" are looking serious.

I know we like to think of living in the country as heaven on earth . For me it truly is, but it does have its moments that I could do without. I guess this is for the true novices to country life. We need to talk about the good and the ugly.

Last week I had some of the ugly when my sweet milk cow Annabelle decided to step into my lap and when I protested, she then stepped down onto my left foot! I let her know in no uncertain terms that I was not a happy milker at that point.
I did make myself sit back down and milk. I have no real idea what caused the ruckus. Maybe the stray cat jumped up into the manger and scared her, maybe I did something wrong......she never told me her reason.

I do think milking her daily would be a very good thing so I wouldn't have to re-invent the wheel every time I milk. But, we don't need the milk and I don't want to milk daily so we will follow my routine of milking every three or four days.

Today was my day to need to milk. DH said he would go into the barn with me (a very generous offer on his part!) and stay through the milking. So far so good. I start to clip the rope to her halter. I went back to the milk parlor, brought all three spare halters back. None fit her. Hers is a horse halter and fits loosely....obviously too loosely. New approach was required. I untied her rope and fit it around her neck and tied it to the stanchion. I eased up to her and got settled and was able to finish without mishap. She was a bit restless and lifted her rear leg several times....a thing that I do not like. She also was down in her production. Lots of things cause this: new hay (which we have), change in routine (which we had) and bad weather (which we have). I hope that by the time I need to milk again, I will be much improved in the limping area. In the meantime,we will have to find or buy another halter for her.

Such is real life on the farm. My aunt said "I guess you have had your fill of a milk cow now." I told her not at all. I will keep on keeping on.

I have a batch of hamburger buns going. I plan on having leftover chili on hot dogs for lunch...not heart healthy, but I crave them once in a while.

This is the view outside the dining room today.

From Winter 2010

We are white again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Nest

Our weather hasn't improved. We are having unseasonably cold temperatures and lots of wind. So far, the heavy snows have missed us and I hope they continue to miss.

I had a bit of a mishap in the barn during milking yesterday and the cow stepped heavily on my bad foot. Yesterday was very bad. I kept it elevated and used a cane and a walker to get around. It is much better this morning. I took mega doses of Vitamin C which DH insists on...I think it works.

I will be spending most of today in my corner in the kitchen, either knitting, crocheting or reading. My Dad called this area "my nest".
From House

The cabbages and onions I planted are beginning to come up. The broccoli hasn't yet nor the snaps. I have lowered the light to just above the plants.
From Gardening 2010
Inside, the amaryllis has sent up a second bloom stalk. I ended up with 5 beautiful blooms from the first stalk.
From Gardening 2010

I hear DH making another pot of coffee so off to my corner.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Foggy Day in the Ozarks

From 7 inch snow of january 2010

This was taken this morning and it is after 11 AM now and not much better outside.
DH has gone to town this morning so I have spent the morning doing little household things. I dusted (hate that), put on a pot of pinto beans, made a print pillow slip cover for the wing back chair. DH has been putting a bed pillow behind his back. I had some print that I thought would look better than a white pillow case.

I just looked out and the dog is laying out front waiting until DH gets home. As least he is not laying in the road like he often does.

From 7 inch snow of january 2010

February 6

We are still very wet here and have lots of snow still on the ground. It hasn't frozen for the last few nights so it is very soggy underfoot. They are promising us another 6 inch snow on Monday. I hope it never shows up.


At last some gardening to report on.
After milking I stayed at the barn where I keep my potting supplies and seeds and planted the following:

2 six-packs Premium Crop Broccoli
1/2 flat onion seed, Candy
1/2 flat Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage and Late Flat Dutch Cabbabe
Red Snaps
Meconopsis ( a gift so I am holding my breath they germinate)it is that elusive blue Himalayan Poppy
Rudbeckia triloba - Seeds from 2008 that I should have sowed before. I left it in the milk parlor since it needs cold temps to germinate

That catches me up until next month.

Farm: We are waiting for a load of hay to be delivered. The constant ground cover of snow is using up our hay supply faster than we planned.

DH made us a fresh pot of coffee. I needed it to warm up. There is no heat in the barn where I was working and my feet are cold!