Cold Days and Warm Food


This past weekend our weather has changed.  I am not totally sure it was for the better! There were winter storm advisories but that kind of bombed out for us and I was good with only getting a small amount of snow.

The weather guys were right on their prediction of  cold temperatures. Sunday saw us in the sub zero range with a wicked wind chill to go with it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look to change any time soon. (This always makes my husband wonder why our ancestors settled here!)20190121_112554.jpg

Today just seemed to be the kind of day where a good pot of chili soup needed to be simmering on the stove. The only problem with that is my husband is not in favor of chili soup.

Chili soup was kind of out of the question for him for a meal; so I also went with one of his favorite cold weather foods…..Balken Brei. I made him a loaf pan of it last week when I heard the weather was going to nose-dive temperature wise.

I am NOT a fan of Balken Brei but I do like how it smells. For those of you who have no idea what this “delicacy” is I will try explain. When you render the lard from a pig you end up with these crunchy little bits called cracklings.

You take those cracklings and fry them out till they are a crisp golden brown and kind of dry.  At this stage you can go ahead and make Balken Brei or you can freeze your cracklings till ready to use.

For the brave among you I am going to give you the recipe so you can try this Dutch treat for yourself.

Balken Brei
1 Pound Cracklings
Salt and Pepper to taste
White Flour
Allspice to taste

Put the cracklings in a sauce pan.
Cover, till just covered, with water.
Add about 1 tsp. sald and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Bring to a boil then let simmer till most of the water has been absorbed by the cracklings.
Remove from heat and add flour. You will keep adding flour
till the mixture is very stiff and hard to stir.
Add Allspice to taste…start with about 5 teaspoons.
You may have to use your hands to mix at this point.
Put mixture in loaf pan lined with wax paper and press in firmly.
Cover and put in fridge to cool.
Once it is cool and firm you can slice into thin slices.

To prepare:
Cut into thing slices and fry in pan in melted butter.
Fry till golden crisp.
Serve with syrup.
My husbands favorite is Dark Karo syrup.

Some people use buckwheat flour. Some people add other meat to this recipe. My husband prefers the basic one so that is what I go with. It think he likes it this way because that is what he grew up with.

I am pretty sure this is NOT a heart healthy recipe. For years my sons have called this “fried fat”. I am also not sure what cracklings really are! If they were fat they would have melted? If anyone knows please let me know.

Being of Dutch background, I often wonder if our Dutch ancestors were just so tight thrifty that they did not let anything go to waste…not even cracklings! I also wonder if there is any other use for them….other than feeding the girls…..

And now…..I really want to know….what is your favorite cold weather food? When those temps dip close to zero and the snow flies (assuming you live where this happens) What is your go to food for comfort? If you have a favorite recipe please feel free to leave it in the comments or link to it if you have already posted it on your blog.

Have a great week doing things for those you love…..and if you live where it is cold….stay warm and make a family favorite!

Cooking is like love
It should be entered into with abandon
or not at all
Harriet Van Horne


44 thoughts on “Cold Days and Warm Food

  1. Anne Mehrling says:

    I saw a recipe on line and jotted down the ingredients. Today, cold as could be, was the day I made the chicken corn chowder. Even grandson David went back for seconds!

    I’ve read about cracklings all my life and have never seen any. I’m glad to know someone eats them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. susieshy45 says:

    We don’t have snowy weather so I will just say I like to hug someone or an animal and huddle up under a blanket.
    We do have rains and for rains, we eat a food called pakodas which is fried chick peas batter covered vegetables like onions, cauliflower, potato etc.., This is like our rainy weather comfort food. The best thing about the cold weather is the fresher air and the ability to wrap up. Makes one feel very comforted.
    I wish you could have a little chili soup too. I am not sure what cracklings are but I have heard about them as they are used in some keto diets.( ( think)
    Warm hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      I love to huddle under a warm blanket Susie!! And yes it is even better to huddle with a cat or dog.
      I think your comfort food sounds delicious and yes the cold weather does smell so crisp and clean. Last night we had freezing rain so it is a bit slick outside this morning. I walked very cautiously to let the girls out this morning!
      Hugs back to you Susie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hayley Boden says:

    Sending you ‘warmest’ hugs. 🤗
    It’s cold here too in the UK and my favourite cold weather food has to be a nice bowl of beef stew with crusty bread. I haven’t actually made any for a while but I may just cook some up tonight! 😊
    Thanks for sharing that recipe and backstory. I found it really interesting! Not sure if I’ll have a go at making it though. Haha! 😂
    Stay safe and warm!
    Hayley 😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      Warmest hugs back to you Hayley!
      Your beef stew sounds great and with crusty bread….how could it not be great?
      I make Balken Brei but I never eat it LOL. I make my husband taste test if there is enough seasoning in it because I just can’t quite put it in my mouth.
      You stay safe and warm too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ruthsoaper says:

    I have never had the opportunity to render lard but we have talked a few times about buying half a pig from a local farmer instead of getting pork from the grocery store. Maybe this year. During the weekend snow storm I decided to make spaghetti ( my husbands favorite) The sauce cooked all day since I started with juice. I also recently began making sourdough bread so I had a loaf of that rising. The bread was not yet ready to bake come dinner time so it was sour dough toast for breakfast on Sunday.
    Like you we didn’t get as much snow as was originally forecast but it ushered in the bitter cold. We are supposed to have about three days of higher temps and rain tomorrow before dropping back down to sub-freezing. That should make things a real mess.
    Stay warm Faye! and Think Spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      Around here you have to make sure you ask for the lard or they keep it. If you do not have a meat grinder it is also good to have them grind the fat so it is easier to render. I use my electric fry pan for rendering and do this out in the garage as a greasy film seems to coat the stuff around it. I love the lard for cooking. I gave a tub of it to a friend of mine who used it for making soap. I really need to give that a try!
      We woke up to freezing rain this morning with more to come….I think we are in the boat as you!
      Stay warm and enjoy that spaghetti!


      • ruthsoaper says:

        I always have to ask for the suet when we buy 1/2 a cow or they will keep it so I’m sure it would be the same. I make soap with lard as the only ingredient for a lady who has very sensitive skin. She orders it by the batch and it is the only soap she will use. I like to use lard for cooking too but so just the store bought stuff – it’s even hard to find some times is the grocery store though.
        Yes our temperatures are supposed to gradually warm through the day and into the night and the rain should get here overnight as well. At least we are in good company. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. lindasschaub says:

    We got about six inches of snow here but it was and still is bitter cold, third day of this. Winter has settled in and probably here to stay. I do love chili too Faye and is it is the time for comfort foods with the cold weather and Winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. says:

    Soup has always been a comfort food in our house. It can be any kind of soup. I prefer chili and beef barley, but Paul is a chicken noodle guy. No offense to your girls. It’s nice to just stay inside with a bowl of soup when it gets so cold.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Margy says:

    At first I thought the top photo looked like well fried SPAM!
    Believe it or not, it was cool here in AZ today. 6C (43F) degrees for my morning walk. I came home and baked a dozen muffins. Warm muffins – yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Timelesslady says:

    It reminds me of something in our area called scrapple. I don’t really eat it, but others in our area love it. I think they put syrup on it, not sure if it is Karo or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. says:

    I always thought cracklings were little pieces of skin? We can buy them here and put them in cornbread or just eat them. This is a new recipe for me-I bet it is good. I am as behind as ever, but really was glad to see this post. I love chili, but a pot of dried beans may be our favorite in cold weather. love Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amanda says:

    This comment is a bit late maybe, but I have never run the fat trimmings through a meat grinder before rendering the lard. I usually get it a big frozen chunk, which I then pry off pieces with a knife. Some pieces are small, some are bigger, and then I full up my Crock-Pot with it and set the temp on low/8 hrs. This way it melts slowly over a couple of hours and it’s perfectly white as snow. Using a high heat will discolor the lard and also give it a “pig” taste. Not a pork taste, but a pig taste lol. When it’s snow-white, it has a very light-to-no taste and no odor.

    The cracklings themselves are pieces of fat. The lard is essentially the grease. Balkenbrij is one of my favorite winter breakfasts!

    Liked by 1 person

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