In Which I Talk About Food, Ethical Eating, and The Weather

I held another Poly and Power Salon yesterday. I made a jam cake (using part sour cherry jam, and part strawberry-rhubarb-peach-raspberry jam) that we got to eat the chevre (provided by one of the guests – so delicious), and everyone enjoyed it.
This morning, I made marmalade pancakes, which used up the last of the marmalade in my fridge. I served them with cranberry curd, among other things.
This business of subbing out some of the sugar for a sweet, fruit-based preserve, is going quite well. 🙂
Right now, I am Rendering Lard[1]. More accurately, my slow-cooker is rendering lard while I sit here and blog about it.
Now, typically, I don’t worry too much about the rendering. I just pour off the fat from the bacon or the sausage or whatever, keep it in an old soup tin, and not do anything beyond that.
It’s what my mom used to do and, frankly, if what I’m using it for is to sautee bitter greens (remember how I’ve been picking a lot of garlic mustard lately?), meaning that I actually want the bacon/sausage flavour in there[2], thus it’s no big deal if I don’t do anything else with it.
I’ve had a bowl of the stuff sitting in my fridge for an age, and – in the way of lard that’s been rendered but hasn’t been strained – it’s about two inches of solid, fairly white-ish fat on top of another two inches of slightly grainy brown goop.
My goal here is (a) to strain out the grainy brown goop – ideally in a way that will also give me some Crackling that I can throw in with, oh, say, bitter greens, but also (b) to amalgamate all the different jars and bowls and tins of Pork Dripping in my kitchen into one receptical (because it is time to clean out the fridge).
I’ve also got some duck fat in the fridge, some of which is Beautifully Rendered (if I do say so myself) and some of which, quite frankly, is a MESS because I tried to prep the duck in a way that would let me melt a lot of fat out of the bird as it cooked and… I cut all the way through the fat layer and into the actual meat, which means that, under my inch-thick layer of fat, I have about 2/3 of an inch fat and duck blood.
And it’s okay. I’ll chuck it into my next soup stock (I’m finally starting to use up my previous bunch of soup stock, and my freezer will be VERY HAPPY when I clear out all the bones and stalks and what-not that I’ve been saving up for my next batch, let me tell you), and it’ll be fine. 🙂 I’ve put slivers of blood saussage into soup stock before, and it’s worked quite nicely, so I’m going to go with it. 🙂
But, yeah. 🙂 Rendering Lard.
In other news, I’ve been planting tender turnip greens (a bit like collards) pretty much anywhere I can, and have recnetly tucked some radish seeds into one of my window boxes. I’m also keeping an eye out for where I can guerrilla-garden some winter squash and, in spite of our current chilly-snap, I’m excited to get my hands on my friend’s yard where she’s invited me to garden up a storm. 😀
Recently, I’ve been going through the archives of Apron Stringz (the author of-which is on haiatus, fyi), and she’s got a few posts where she talks about fairtrade luxury foods – like coffee and tea and cocoa and sugar – and about how much they cost compared to the not-so-fair-trade stuff.
Now, I have virtually nothing in my kitchen that qualifies as “fair trade”. I have stuff that is grown in Ontario and, thus, is possibly fairer trade than something grown in, like, Mexico or China[3]. And I have stuff that’s wild-harvested, or scrub-harvested, or gleaned from around my neighbourhood. And I have a lot of home-made preserves. But. My sugar, spices, and teas aren’t fairtrade (let alone fairtrade, organic and, in the case of some of the teas, local).
My coffee, on the other hand, is a particular “single origin” coffee from Bridgehead and, thus, is fairtrade and organic, and – while grown in Bolivia and Peru – was roasted four days ago, a few blocks from my house.
I feel ever-so-chuffed about this, in my own food-snobbery way, I don’t mind telling you.
This is a really new development at my place, and I’m not treating it like a permanent change. My goal – one of my many goals[4] – is to get to a point (and I’m talking financially here) where I can save up every year and then drop $600 on a meat CSA half-share and $400 on a veggies CSA half-share and $X00 on tea, coffee, spices, sugar, cocoa, and chocolate in a wholesale order from something like Cocoa Camino. And, essentially, do a lot of our grocery shopping all in one go, in a farm-gate style, rather than visiting the grocery store a couple of times per week. I’ll still be hunting up eggs and dairy from the store (and the eggs may or may not be free-run, the dairy most likely won’t be local-sustainable-compassionate dairy at all), but the majority of our year’s worth of food will be on hand at the house and come from local and ethical[5] sources.
That’s the plan, anyway.
So that’s where I’m at right now.
The lard has been rendered (mostly), and I have an old salsa jar filled up with some fairly dark amber coloured fat (which, hopefully, when it solidifies, will be a creamy off-white), along with a tablespoon or so of not-all-that-crispy crackling and a shallow dish (which would work better as a deep, narrow dish) of fat that I couldn’t quite separate from crackling-esque stuff. My hands smell like bacon. 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Am I hard-core yet? Am I? Am I? 😉
[2] If I were making pie crust, particularly for a dessert… maybe not so much.
[3] Possibly. Not necessarily.
[4] We’ll be getting a little closer to achieving another one, maybe even two, of them when we move our tiny-wee chest freezer into the apartment (under cover of darkness, I’m sure), as it’ll mean I have the extra freezer space to handle things like a quarter of a heritage pig plus a bunch of heritage chickens or something, in addition to our fridge-top freezer, which will be able to hold all the more frozen fruits and veggies once I have a separate freezer on hand for meat.
[5] Er… except for the stuff I nick off the neighbours’ trees…


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