Little House in the Suburbs

17 Jun

Most girls of my generation probably grew up with some Laura Ingalls Wilder in their lives. Whether it was watching Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert on the television or reading the entire Little House series multiple times, I loved the stories of the Ingalls’ family and how Laura ended up with her Almanzo. I even wanted to name my daughter Laura (I had actually picked out names for all seven of the children I intended to have, but that’s another story).
Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the series, and is touched with more than a little nostalgia for Laura’s early years in Wisconsin. There they had food and shelter and no issues of debt or famine. She describes in great detail all the good things they ate, and how Pa would smoke meat in his hollowed-out tree while Ma cooked up headcheese. Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about headcheese. But it is a post about something else that Ma cooked up from the annual pig butchering: lard.
Another hallmark of my generation is probably the fact that we have grown up with a million diets and the official food pyramid, and lard was always spoken of with a pejorative tone. The saturated fat! The cholesterol! The heart disease you will die from! Of course, now doing research into traditional foods and the real food movement, I find that actually saturated fat isn’t all that bad, and lard is better than hydrogenated vegetable shortening with its trans fats and high level of inflammatory omega-6s. So I put lard on my list of things to try as I experiment with new and different foods and preparation techniques in my kitchen.
But lo and behold, if you look at the store, there will be one lone can of lard on the shelf. You have no idea the conditions of the pig that produced this lard, and pastured pork is much healthier than those grown in conventional feedlots. Furthermore, that lard has been partially hydrogenated to make it last longer. Which means it is just as bad as any other trans fat out there! Apparently the only option is to buy it from a traditional food website or make my own. And since I just found a good source of grass-fed meat that sells leaf lard from pastured animals, I figured it was time.
Last night I chopped up a couple of pounds of smooth, slightly pink pork fat. I took my tips from The Nourished Kitchen (an excellent source for tips and recipes) and cooked it on the stove. It was so simple-cut up fat, place in large pot with a little water, simmer over medium-low heat 3 hours, strain fat and cool. A few hours later I had clear liquid fat with small crunchy bits of cracklins, ready to be strained.  This morning I looked in my fridge and found a jar of creamy lard just begging to be used in my quiche crust.
I think the Ingalls would be proud of me.

This post is part of Two for Tuesday, Tuesday Twister, and Fight Back Friday

1 Comment

Posted by on June 17, 2010 in Things Edible



One response to “Little House in the Suburbs

  1. Jenny

    August 3, 2010 at 01:41

    Isn’t that recipe shamefully simple? I love how traditional foods aren’t fussy, they’re just simple and basic. And it’s their simplicity that makes them so very lovely.


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