Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rendering Lard and why it might now be one of my most favorite things to make...

Lard.  A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of eating/using lard.  Lard?! FAT?! 

I am so glad God has led us to change our eating ways.  Isn't it beautiful?  (this is the lard after rendering and straining - it is solid and white/creamy colored once it cools)
Run down on lard: great for you, great vitamins, healing to your gut, tasty...all that good stuff.

Oh, and it's a great source of Vitamin D.  Get it from foraging pastured pork from a farm like this.  

Rendering lard is incredibly easy peasy.  You can do it in the oven, on the stove, or in a crock pot.  I highly recommend doing it in the crock pot.  I doubt I will do any other way ever again!  

This is one of the EASIEST things you could do to change your eating and help nourish your body.  Do this and use as one of your fats in cooking.  This is one of the things you need to do when beginning and staying on the GAPS diet or if you are eating Paleo/Primal. 

We use it for scrambling eggs, greasing pans for egg casseroles, sauteing vegetables, roasting vegetables, frying eggs or meat patties, and we add extra in when we fry bacon. 

Here's where I first read about rendering lard and how to do it.  I followed these steps to render beef tallow my first time.  When I decided to render some lard, I decided to give it a try in the good old crock pot.  Less heat, less work, no need to check on it...yay.

Below the method instructions you'll find why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things to do...

Steps to render lard (or tallow) - {Method}
  • You need the fat to be chopped into tiny tiny pieces to render best.  Mine comes pre-chopped (thank you, amazing farm!) If your fat is not cut up, you will want to thaw it enough to cut and cut into smaller pieces.  I have read that others will cut into chunks and then pulse in the food processor in batches to cut it into small pieces.  
  • If your pork fat is already all cut up, just thaw it!
  • In your crock pot, you can put about 1/4 cup of water (this is optional and cooks away during rendering - I have read it helps prevent burning of the fat.  It is not necessary).  Then place your thawed fat in the crock pot and turn it on low.  
  • Try and mash it around to be an even thickness rather than a pile in the middle. 
  • Let it cook on low all day!  I usually stir a couple of times during the day.  You will see it begin to melt and then eventually, it will be almost all liquid with 'cracklings' left.  Little brown bits of fat.  
  • Strain the lard with a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  (I highly recommend straining it into a bowl or large measuring cup with a pour spout.)
  • Pour into jars.  Let cool on counter.  Then store in fridge.  It keeps for months.  
  • BUT WAIT!!!  All those bits of fat left in the cheesecloth from straining?  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT throw them away.  SAVE THEM.  
This is why rendering lard is one of my most favorite things ever.  The cracklings.  Is that what you call them? I am so new to this.  We saved them and divided them up into a few portions.  Then I would bring them out, fry them up in a pan and mix with eggs or green beans (or any other green like collards or mustard greens would be great).  Actually, I have even eaten them plain. Just add some good salt.  Oh.my.Goodness.  I love eating this way...

Now go get some pork fat and render some lard and EAT THE CRACKLINGS.  Someone correct me if I am not calling them the right thing...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2 - Even Easier!

Mmmmm....look at all that custard...I love making custard like I shared about here.  I make it WAY too often now that I have discovered it is a great use for coconut milk and a great way to get more of the wonderful coconut into our diet.

However, I have a couple little problems.  One is that I always look for the easiest way to cook something because, really, I spend so much time in the kitchen that anything that makes something easier (less time, less clean up, less effort) makes me cheer.  The other problem is that we eat SO many eggs that I have issues using as many eggs as I do to make custard.  I save the egg whites, but most of the time they just get thrown out.  I know, I should use them, but it's one of the things that gets forgotten about.

So the other day, I experimented with the custard...and it worked!  (Cheering in my kitchen)

Naturally, I had to share...the simple change makes the custard faster and easier to make and also a little more frugal because you use less eggs.  I do think it is a tiny bit less rich than when you use 5 egg yolks like in the first recipe, but it is still deeeeelicious.

Note: for some reason, the top of the custard did not brown as much as when I make it with 5 egg yolks.  I don't know if this is because of the ingredient change, but just simply do the knife in the center test to see when it is done.

Enjoy!  I'm about to go make some...

Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo} Take 2
Ingredients: (I often double this to have more!)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (you can also use milk or a mixture of milk and cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey (I often just use 2-3 Tbsp and love it)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Optional: ground nutmeg or cinnamon
Process: (check out the original recipe if you want pictures and more detailed 'how to' instructions)
  • Preheat oven to 350* and fill a kettle with water and get it hot while you are preparing the custard.  If you don't have a kettle, heat some in a pot or use the hottest water from your faucet.
  • Warm the coconut milk up on the stove.  You can add up to 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of water to make the coconut milk be a full 2 cups.  I usually do this just to have a little bit more of the finished custard. 
  • Meanwhile, mix eggs, honey, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl (preferably with a pour spout) or large glass measuring cup (4 cups) until smooth and mixed well.  Also place custard dishes into a large baking dish that can hold them all. 
  • Once the coconut milk is warm, slowly pour into egg mixture while whisking.  Mix well.  
  • Pour into custard dishes.  Fill baking dish with hot water, about 1 inch deep or so.  
  • Bake at 350* for 50 min - 1 hour (length of time will depend on size of custard dishes and how deep the custard is.  I have made it in cups before that were much deeper than a ramekin, and it took much longer than 1 hour for it to cook through all the way).  A knife inserted in the middle will come out clean when it is finished. 
  • Optional: sprinkle ground nutmeg or cinnamon on top either before or after baking.  
  • We like it best cold.  We place the custard dishes in the fridge to cool before eating.  But we often eat it warm because we just can't wait!  

This is part of Monday Mania.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}

This is so very easy and simple! I love easy meals, especially when they turn out as yummy and crowd pleasing as this did. My husband loved this (as did I) and our two little boys ate it up so quickly we couldn't keep enough meat on their plates.

I made this on Valentine's day. We are in the middle of doing a huge cleaning out of our house, so I didn't do much to celebrate the day, but I made a good meal with brisket, green beans with bacon and smothered in bacon grease, and some homemade pink jello. It made everyone happy and full. :-)

So back to how easy this meal is. It's almost as easy as a roasted chicken, but there is a little measuring and mixing for the sauce. However, you don't have to de-bone the meat at the end, so that makes up for it.

This sauce is super yummy...and you can vary the amount of honey in it if you want it less or more sweet. Also, you can opt to leave the honey out for the cooking portion and then just drizzle it over the meat on plates. That way your raw honey can retain it's wonderful raw properties instead of being cooked away. I put a little in the sauce and then drizzled more over our portions at the table.

This is great to use on brisket or short ribs, and I think it would be great with a pork roast or ribs as well, but I haven't tried that yet. I do think the sauce would be fantastic with a little blackstrap molasses in it, but as that is not GAPS friendly, I decided to make a sauce without it.  Let me know how it is if you add some!

Enjoy! I can't wait to make this again...

Brisket or Ribs with GAPS/Paleo Barbeque Sauce {Recipe}
  • 1 jar (7oz) tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I buy a brand made with ACV)
  • 1/2 cup ACV (Bragg's Raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp - 1/2 cup raw honey (can be put in sauce to your sweetness liking or drizzled over meat after cooking to retain raw properties. I put 2 tbsp in the sauce then drizzled some on plates at the table.)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves and allspice
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder (or more if you like spice - remember, I can't handle spice :-) )
  • 1 brisket OR some short ribs, grass fed
  • Place brisket (fat side up) or ribs in dutch oven (or crock pot!).  
  •  Mix all ingredients for sauce together, spread over brisket or ribs.
  •  Cover and cook: 
    • In oven, if pressed for time (I put this in the oven around 2 pm), cook at 350* until sauce/liquid begins bubbling (I began to smell it in the house and checked on it and it was bubbling).  Then reduce oven temperature to 225* or 250* and cook for about 3-4 hours. 
    • In oven, if you begin it before lunchtime, simply cook at 225*-250* for 6-7 hours. 
    • In crock pot, just put on low and cook 6-8 hours. 
  • This is what it looks like after cooking...
  •  Then, I flipped the brisket over to get all the sauce on top off the brisket into the juices in the pot.  Remove the entire brisket (but not the sauce/juices) to a plate or platter and slice against the grain.  Stir the sauce to combine it with the meat juices, and then add the sliced brisket back into the yummy sauce in the dutch oven or crock pot.  Get the meat all surrounded and covered with the sauce.  Mmmm...
  •   Pin It
  •  At this point, you can serve OR you can do what I did - place it back in the oven with the lid OFF at about 350* for 10-20 minutes before serving.  It is a step you can totally skip.  
  • Now, go eat it!  Wasn't that so easy? 
We ate this with some green beans cooked in lard and bacon grease with broken up pastured bacon.  Drool.  I love my Le Creuset casserole dish for this kind of dish. 
 Finished dinner off with homemade jello.  Mmm....made with fresh juice and grass fed beef gelatin.  Served on nice paper plates.  :-)   I might have not wanted to do any more dishes at this point...

Hope you enjoy this!  Nothing says love like brisket and green beans with lard and bacon grease, right? :-)

This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recipe Updates

Here are some updates I needed to post to certain recipes.  I have updated the original pages with the changes and notes as well.  These are all some of our favorite things to eat around here!

Homemade Larabars 
I love these chocolate larabars.  The first time I made them, I used only walnuts (and they were soaked and dehydrated).  I recently made them again, trying them only with almonds.  Almonds are much more dry than walnuts, so I had to use significantly more dates to make the mixture stick together.  I ended up using probably 2 1/2 cups of dates, and they were still a little crumbly.  So here's what I think you would start with when making them only with almonds.
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups almonds (raw, soaked, dehydrated)
  • 2 1/2 cups dates (might need to add more)
  • 2 oz 100% chocolate (you can adjust this amount if you want less or more chocolate taste)
  • Process chocolate in food processor until finely chopped, add almonds and dates.  Process until desired consistency, adding more dates if necessary.  Press into glass dish and refrigerate. Enjoy! 

Baked Salmon
The original recipe for this only provided enough topping for maybe 2 servings of fish.  Recently I made it with enough sauce for an entire huge fillet. 

  • 1 large purple onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 - 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp butter, pastured
  • Salt, to taste
  • In a skillet, melt butter (or ghee or coconut oil) and saute onion until soft. 
  • Add lemon juice, zest, and cilantro.  Saute until cilantro is wilted and onions are to your desired consistency.  Let sauce simmer until it is as thick as you would like.  Add more butter if you would like, and salt to taste.  
  • Spoon over baked salmon. 
Baked Custard
  • You can also sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon on top after you have baked it.  I actually now prefer it this way.
  • We have made it twice using less honey - one time using about 2 Tbsp, one time using about 3 Tbsp.  We loved it both times (although I do love it most with all of the honey...).  So if you want to lessen the honey for less sugar in it, don't be scared to!  Of course, we are used to things not being super sweet around here, so if you are used to really sweet things, use the full 1/4 cup.

    Chicken Cilantro Soup
    • I finally took a picture last time I made the soup! The picture is of the soup made with some chopped tomatoes in it (I rinsed the chopped tomatoes to get all the juice off because I didn't want tomato juice in my broth.  However, I also made it recently just straining the tomatoes, so there was some of the juice in the broth, and it was still really great!) and some yogurt stirred in, which is why it looks creamy colored.

    Breakfast Casseroles
    • Coconut milk works surprisingly well in place of yogurt or kefir.  I wanted to try it for those who can't use even cultured milk, and it worked very well!  You do not taste coconut at all - just use the same amounts as you would in the recipes for yogurt/kefir.
    • Also, I tried using a calculated proportion of eggs for the 9x13 pan to get the same thickness as when using 10-12 eggs in a square dish.  I calculated out that I needed to use 22 eggs (wow, I know).  I tried it, and it was fantastic!  Nice and thick and amazing!  So really, you could probably just use 24 if you like using an even 2 dozen.  This will help those with more mouths to feed as well.  It still works well with the 18 eggs, but it is much thicker with 22-24.  Use between 3/4-1 cup of yogurt/kefir/coconut milk with this amount of eggs. 
    • If you use a different size dish than normal (like I did a few times with a round stone dish) and you fill it too full with egg mixture, be careful because if it is too full, you might end up with bacon grease spilling into your oven, burning, and setting your smoke alarm off and making your house hazy and smelly.  Ask me how I know.  ;-)  So if you use a ton of bacon or a less deep dish, just be careful!  :-) 

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    My go-to Roasted Chicken Recipe

    I make a roasted chicken 2-3 times a month.  There is not much easier or tastier than a great roasted chicken.  Especially if you add in some extra hindquarters for extra dark meat. mmmm.... I am so glad we know dark meat is good for us now!  I always get whole chickens for roasting from the amazing farm we use, but I also get lots of hindquarters - kids eat them better, and really, adults eat them better, too. 

    I am drooling thinking of that dark meat dripping in roasting juices...

    Okay, back to the point of this.  

    I pretty much always use the same approach to making a roasted chicken.  Why?  Because it's easy, I'm busy around the house, and I just about jump up and down and yell out of excitement when making the main part of a meal is this easy and fool proof.  I know there are countless ways to roast a chicken, but this is what I do, and my boys and my love always eat this really well.  In fact, I pretty much am always stealing meat before dinner...

    I also highly recommend doing this to provide food for a weekend, or on a Sunday so you don't have to do as much food prep work as normal.  Cook as much as you can at once - if you have a crock pot or roasting dish with lid large enough for more than just 1 chicken, do as much as will fit!  Save it for another meal - leftovers or freeze the meat swimming in all the amazing juices.  You'll be so excited to simply pull it out for a meal.

    Okay, back to the point of this...again...

    This is not an exact recipe, because really, if I don't have to measure anything out, I'm not going to.  I've never measured, and I've always had it turn out so super yummy.  Isn't that the best?  Oh, and the instructions on this might seem long, but it is just because I am sharing how I do things.  I appreciate when others share the process so I can learn from them, so I am just doing that. :-)

    This really is simple and easy, and it is a GREAT and easy step to take towards eating more whole foods if you are working on that transition.  I know making the transition from boneless, skinless chicken breasts was a little unnerving for me - making a whole roasted chicken is easy and you don't have to handle the chicken much :-).  

    Roasted Chicken {Recipe - GAPS, Paleo}
    • Whole Chicken and/or cut up parts/hindquarters
    • Montreal Steak Seasoning (make your own! Recipe below)
    • Poultry Seasoning
    • Good Salt - Celtic, Himalayan - and Pepper
    • Butter or Ghee, or an alternative fat if you can't use ghee or butter yet - like lard
    • Any Vegetables you want to add - onions, carrots, etc - roughly chopped
    • Prepare your chicken as needed (rinse, clean out insides).  (ours is just the chicken - nothing inside to clean out, so I simply thaw mine - often in a clean sink with warm water because I don't think ahead enough to thaw a whole chicken ahead of time and our fridge is usually so full I don't have room to thaw it in the fridge)
    • Put your chicken/cut up chicken/hindquarters in a crock pot or dutch oven or larger roasting pan. (I have a cast iron turkey roaster - like a dutch oven but giant and oval shaped, so I can fit 2 chickens in or a chicken and about 4 hindquarters.  But I often just do 1 chicken in my crock pot or dutch oven.)  I always do mine breast up, but I know many people like to do chickens breast down to let the white meat cook in all the liquid.  See, you can do whatever you want.  
    • Put some slices of butter (or other fat/oil) all over your chicken.  I don't even bother to melt the butter.  I just kind of evenly space out butter on each piece of chicken and a few pieces on the top of the whole chicken.  I use about 2-3 tbsp of butter on a whole chicken on average, and I probably put about 1/2 tbsp on each hindquarter.  In the picture below, you can see the pieces of butter just randomly placed :-).  You can totally use less - butter can be expensive, so I often vary my amounts based on how much I have in my fridge at the time.  
    • Now go to town sprinkling the montreal seasoning, poultry seasoning, pepper, and much salt all over the chicken.  Don't be shy.   Seriously.  Go for it.  I would estimate that I use about 1-2 Tbsp of montreal seasoning and 1/2-1 Tbsp poultry seasoning, depending on the amount of chicken I am making.  And then lots of salt.  Probably 1-2 Tbsp.  But again, I've never measured.  I just sprinkle it heavily all over.  A lot of help I am if you like to follow exact instructions, huh?  :-)
    • Cook in your crock pot all day on low or covered in oven at 225*-250* until the meat is falling off the leg bones.  You will know it's amazingly wonderful if you try and pick up the leg or thigh piece with tongs or a couple forks and it falls apart or pulls off the rest of the chicken incredibly easy.  I usually cook it for about 6-7 hours in the crock pot on low or 4-5 hours in the oven.  Really, it ends up just being whenever I can get it going at some point in the morning before lunchtime, and I just check on it late in the afternoon to see when it's done.  I never use a meat thermometer - when the meat is separating from the leg bones at the end, it should be nice and done.  
    • Every couple of hours (or at least once about halfway through cooking), baste the chicken with the juices at the bottom.  I usually only remember/take the time to do this once to try and cover all the chicken with the juices and run much of the spices/herbs down into the juices since pouring the juices over the chicken on our plates is our favorite part.  Wow, that was a long run-on sentence.
    • If using vegetables: if you will be gone and are doing it in the crock pot, just add veggies at the beginning around or under the chicken.  If you will be home, you can add veggies a couple hours before it is done if you want.  I prefer to add the veggies at the beginning so I don't have to do anything else :-). 
    • Optional: If you are cooking it in the oven, take the lid off and turn your oven up to 350* or 375*, keeping a close eye on it.  Keep it cooking in there until the skin gets golden and crispy to your liking.  This will also cook the juices down some.  
    • Serve either right off the chicken or, if you have time before dinner, take all the meat off the bones, put in a dish, then pour the juices from the crock pot or dutch oven/roaster over all the meat (strain as you pour).  If I don't have time to take all the meat off before dinner, we just eat it off the bone at the table and use a small ladle or spoon to ladle juices from the pot over our meat on our plates.  Or, if it would make it fun for your kids, put juices in a small bowl or cup and let them dip their meat in it.  
    • Salt is the key to great taste - so don't be afraid to add more salt if you feel it needs more when tasting the juices!   
    Montreal Steak Seasoning {Recipe} (um...that I always use on roasted chicken...)

    • 4 Tbsp Celtic or Himalayan or Real Salt
    • 1 Tbsp black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp onion powder
    • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
    • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
    • 2 tsp fennel seed (1/2 Tbsp if you like less fennel)
    • Optional: 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (um, we never use because we can't handle spice and neither can our 3 year old)
    Combine all ingredients in a jar (I use a leftover glass tomato paste jar) and shake (you can also blend them together in a blender if you have one that will grind it up to a finer consistency). 

    Enjoy! This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Traditional Tuesday at cooking traditional foods and whole new mom and Fight Back Friday.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}

    Update: Find a slightly more simple recipe here in my Baked Custard - Take 2 Post.  I still prefer the custard recipe below as it is richer in taste, but I also love the 'take 2' version! 

    We like custard.  I grew up getting a mug of baked custard at Luby's every time we went.  There is a great recipe in Nourishing Traditions for custard that we love.  I don't make it very often because it is rare to get raw cream and I refuse to use UHT cream from the store. 

    So yesterday my sweet 3 1/2 year old received a box 'from the man in the big truck' that he had REALLY wanted to give to his daddy for his birthday (it was a yoyo :-) ).  So I decided to make custard for an extra little celebration treat.  But I decided to embrace my fears and use....coconut milk. 

    The fantastic thing about custard is that it is a dessert that is full of great things.  Good fats, good egg yolks, and good taste.  I would seriously let us all eat this for breakfast (after eating some other protein and fat) it is so nourishing.  It has honey in it, yes, but it's not much by dessert standard.  And we think it would be great with less honey than the recipe calls for (but we haven't tried it yet).

    So back to coconut milk.  I want to get more coconut in our diet, and we are not using raw milk for a while right now.  I am very sensitive to coconut taste, so I was extremely excited when I tasted the finished product and couldn't taste coconut!  Yay :-)


    Baked Custard {Recipe - GAPS/Paleo}
    • 1 can full fat coconut milk (Native Forest is organic and does not have BPA in the lining of their cans)
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 and loved it, but you can also just use 1 and it's still great)
    • Optional: Nutmeg or cinnamon or whatever spice you like
    • Preheat oven to 350* and fill a kettle with water and get it hot while you are preparing the custard.  If you don't have a kettle, heat some in a pot or use the hottest water from your faucet.
    • Warm the coconut milk up on the stove.  You can add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of water to make the coconut milk be a full 2 cups.  Or you don't.  Whatever you're in the mood for.  :-)
    • While the coconut milk is heating, whisk the 5 egg yolks with the honey and vanilla until smooth.  Prepare your custard dishes by placing them in a baking dish large enough to hold them.  (I don't have custard ramekins so I just use what I can find...you can also make this in one larger dish like a loaf pan or small baking dish...it will just impact baking time.)
    •  When the coconut milk is warm/hot but definitely not close to boiling (I could still put my finger in it and it didn't hurt...so scientific, I know) slowly pour it into the egg/honey mixture while whisking.  Mix well. 
    •  Pour into your custard dishes, and fill the baking dish with hot water (I usually do about halfway).
    •  At this point, I sprinkle mine pretty heavily with ground nutmeg because that's what I love.  Alternatively, you can wait until after it bakes and sprinkle a spice on top.  It's just what you prefer - try it different ways and see which way you like best.  You could use nutmeg, cinnamon, or some other spice, or you could leave it plain - it's great that way, too!  
    • Bake at 350* for about 50min - 1 hr until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The custard will still jiggle a little when moved.  This will take longer if you use dishes that make the custard much thicker. 
    • Remove and let cool - We prefer to put ours in the fridge and eat it cold. 

    Again, I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn't taste coconut.  If you drink milk, just substitute the coconut milk for 2 cups of whole raw milk or 1 cup raw cream and 1 cup raw milk.  Or all cream. :-)

    Enjoy!  This is part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday and Superfood Sunday Food Carnival.

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