Rendering Lard

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Finished product~now to get solid

This past week my husband called me to a task I had been putting off for a bit…..rendering lard. It isn’t that I don’t like to render lard. I just really don’t like all the clean up needed after that very greasy job.

We had two bags of trimmings from a hog that was processed. My husband loves the cracklings for Balken Brie and I love to use the lard for pie crusts and frying things. Because of those two facts I asked the butcher to keep the fat for me.

The first part of the process involved grinding the fat so it would melt better. I always kind of wonder what would happen if we didn’t grind it? Would we just have fried blobs of fat? Or would it all melt? If anyone has the answer to that, please let me know!

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Finishing up the process

After that process, we moved things to the garage. We set up our two fry pans and the cloth lined colander and began. The process never really takes that long to accomplish. It takes about as long to clean up.

As I was packing up the nicely fried up cracklings into freezer bags, putting the cooled lard into containers and washing dishes I had some time to reflect on the entire process.

The fat gets incredibly hot as it melts and you have to be very careful not to burn yourself. I wondered if sometimes our lives are like that. In order for us to be made into a “useful product” must we be put over the fire?

Must we be refined, just as the fat is? The only way to refine the fat and make useable lard and edible cracklings; is to put it on high heat for the necessary time. Without doing that, it is just a blob of fat with bits of meat in it.

I really don’t like being uncomfortable, but I guess if it take high heat to turn my life into more than a blob of fat; I will have to go through that! I am trying to remember that particular truth….Refining is hard, but necessary to be useful.

If you find yourself being “refined” lately; take heart…..it gets better and soon you will find a life of joy again.

Discipline is the refining fire
by which talent becomes ability.
Roy L. Smith

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/roy_l_smith_155560?src=t_refining

White Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Kate’s Awesome Cookies

Years ago my niece shared some amazing cookies with our family. When asked; she willingly gave the recipe. They quickly became a family favorite and I decided I should probably make them again as it had been a long time since I had.

The beginning of this week saw us in the middle of a snowstorm and it seemed a perfect day to bake….so I did!  I usually don’t bake much anymore unless the kids are coming home or company is coming. I have found; when it is just my husband and me, we don’t need that much sweet stuff around.

I was feeling kind of “bakey” (I know it isn’t a word but it should be). I think that feeling was due to the cold weather and the snow. I pulled out the recipe from my niece and found I had all the ingredients on hand. That was a good thing as we were not going to be driving anywhere with the snow flying like it was.

I am going to share the recipe with all of you because it is just to good not too.

Kate’s Awesome Cookies

1 Cup butter flavored Crisco
3/4 Cup white sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Bag white chocolate chips (2 cups)

Cream Crisco and sugars
Add the eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt.
Fold in white chocolate chips
Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.

Do Not Overbake!
Note: I usually take them out and let them sit just a bit
on the hot cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These freeze beautifully (If you have any leftover to freeze!)

I had to kind of grin when I typed the line “Do Not Overbake”. I should probably heed that with more things in my life…only translate to Do Not Overthink…..Do Not Second Guess and so on and so on.

I have a great habit of second guessing myself on decisions made. My husband does not understand this….is this perhaps a woman thing or just a me thing? For some reason it can be hard to let past choices go. I am working on that and hopefully making progress!

I have a friend named Brenda H. who made a great observation. She asked a group of us women if we trusted in God or if we trusted God. What a difference one word makes in a sentence! Perhaps trusting Him would make a world of difference in the second guessing category?

May the weekend find you confident in your choices. May you realize that no matter what, God still loves you and there will always be people who will stand behind you…..and may we all learn to trust.

And the next time you find yourself second guessing yourself just say, “Do Not Overbake”! I am going to do the same.

Feed your faith and starve your doubts.
– Kenneth E. Hagin Sr

Faith talks in the language of God.
Doubt talks in the language of man.
– E.W. Kenyon

 

 

 

Cold Days and Warm Food

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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
Water
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

 

“Lo” is Good

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My husband always finds it funny that we spend hours baking and preparing treats for the holidays. We spend time eating all those sweet treats…usually to excess. Then suddenly it is January and we are all worried about the holiday pounds that have appeared out of nowhere….(well maybe out of our fridge and into our mouth).

Today I figured I would check out the scale so that I might either be impressed to keep it off or depressed to take some weight off. (Like that is going to happen these next few weeks!!)

When I stepped on the scale I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing it told me was “Lo”. I have decided this scale is a wonderful scale. I did go purchase new batteries for it, but part of me really wants to just leave the old ones in till after the holidays have come and gone.

You have no idea how good it is for your esteem to find your scale telling you your weight is “Lo”. At least I thought it was great.

This past weekend we attended grandparents’ day at my grandson’s school. As we were standing in line with my grandson I overheard the best conversation ever. Two fellow first graders were looking at a drawing one of them had done. The drawing resembled and apple with a head; and a couple sticks coming out of it. The conversation kind of went as follows:

1st boy: “What is that?”
2nd boy: “My grandma.”
1st boy: “hahahahaha…..your grandma?”
2nd boy: “Yea….she’s fat.”  (this was said very matter of factly)

I love that little boy. It did not seem to matter to him if his grandma resembled an apple. It was a great reminder that children see with eyes of love and that is a great lesson for us all.

That child looked deeper than his grandma’s shape. He looked at the love they shared for each other and the beauty of that love.

That being said……I really don’t want my grandson drawing me as an apple shape!  I think it is time to go put those batteries in that scale…..

I’m in shape….
round is a shape.
Unknown

My favorite exercise
is a cross between a lunge and a crunch….
I call it lunch.

Anonymous

 

 

Memories and Recipe Cards

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Have you ever spent time going through old recipe cards and books? Part of my day was spent doing just that. I have a book at my house that is filled with old recipe cards from my husband’s grandma.

The book will be sent to my sister-in-law as she is the only girl in the family and it just seems like it should be hers to have and cherish. I did decide that I would also like copies of those recipes to keep; so I spent some of this snowy day, making copies of them.

It was interesting to see what kind of recipes our grandmothers thought were good enough to keep and to make for their families. I found cards for cookies, cakes, desserts etc. I grinned when I noticed the overwhelming majority of the recipes were for sweet things. Obviously, sweets have been popular for a very long time.

The recipes were from women named Tillie, Marietta, Alice, Darlene, Gerdena, Zelma and more. Even the names seemed to fit those faded cards that were filled with wonderful cursive writing. Some of the recipes were not even written on cards. I loved the one that was on the back of a bank deposit form.

I can just imagine those women, sitting together discussing what they should make for the next gathering. One of them remembers a recipe but cannot find anything to write it down on. After rummaging through her purse….she pulls out a bank deposit form and proceeds to write it on the back. I am so glad grandma did not transfer it to a fancy card but left it as it was.

Those women were prolific when it came to keeping recipes to use for future meals and treats for their families. They seemed to take great joy in providing food for their families, neighbors and fellow church members. I know my grandma did and I know my husband’s grandmas did as well.

Those grandmas loved to share their good recipes. I remember the big smiles they gave, when I would ask for a recipe from them. There was a joy in that sharing, there was a joy in the passing on of knowledge accumulated through the years.

There is something so valuable about grandmas passing on their knowledge….not only for making food, but of life. There is much wisdom to be learned from the generations that have gone before.

There is a wealth of information on raising children, serving others, being a person of compassion and just generally living life; that can be gained from those who have lived many more years than we have.

It is my prayer that you are all blessed with someone who has that type of wisdom. It is a wonderful thing when someone like that has a place in your life.

I am reminded of those who have gone before, every time I look through the cookbooks that my grandma used to own. Her handwritten notes, next to certain recipes have never steered me wrong. I have a feeling the heirloom recipes I gained today will also find a place among those cherished cookbooks.

 

My grandma’s old cookbook is aged and forlorn.
The pages are grease stained, each faded and worn.
The spine is collapsed and the cover’s askew,
revealing, in no way, what this book could do.
A barrel of cookies, sweet, fresh lemonade,
roasts, casseroles, salads this ancient book made.
It brought love and caring to both young and old,
delivering happiness not bought or sold.
Its owner and user breathed life to this book,
by sharing herself with each recipe cooked.
True gifts from her heart were delivered with love,
presented on earth for her Father above.
Her gentle, sweet kindness was blended with care.
A silent reminder that she had been there
to welcome your newborn…
to ease every ill…
true unselfish gestures of love and goodwill.
So don’t be deceived by the physical book,
but rather… rejoice in the wonderful cook.
Just cherish and honor each frayed, weathered page,
for pure, loving kindness has brought forth its age.

by Jane-Ann Heitmeuller

Really Good Pudding Dessert

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The other day I got a call asking if I would trade turns for bringing lunch to our Coffee Break Bible Study. I had no reason to refuse so I went ahead and started looking through my pantry items to figure out what I could make without making a trip to the grocery store.

After checking the fridge and finding that I did, indeed, have cream cheese and also realizing I had the necessary White Chocolate pudding mix I decided to go ahead and make a family favorite for Bible study.

If you are looking for an incredibly easy dessert to make and if you like cream cheese…this may just be the dessert for you. It is smooth without being overly sweet and totally delicious. It does not take very much time to put together, which is another big win….at least for me it is a win.

Great Pudding Dessert

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter

2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts-optional

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup powdered sugar

8 ounces Cool Whip
2 packages white chocolate instant pudding mix
2 1/2 cups milk

Directions:
Mix crust- put in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350º  for 15 minutes.
Whip Cream cheese, powdered sugar.
Add 1/2 of the Cool Whip and mix thoroughly.
Spread on cooled crust.

Mix milk with pudding mix.
Add rest of Cool Whip.
Put on top of Cream cheese layer.
Top with nuts if desired.
Let set in refrigerator.
Enjoy!!

Years ago I got this recipe from a friend. It had no name so I just named it what my family always called it! Sometimes keeping things simple is a great way to go. Many times…..keeping it simple is a great way to go. (Yep….I think there is a lesson in there somewhere!)

I am always on the lookout for quick simple recipes of all kinds. I love to explore the possibility of new favorites. If you have a family favorite please feel free to share in the comments……in fact I would be very grateful to have you share, as I could add to my stash of simple favorites.

 

“The discovery of a new dish
does more for the happiness of the human race
than the discovery of a star.” 

― Jean Anthelme Brillat-SavarinThe Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bar

January is typically the month that many resolutions are being made. Resolving to lose weight, to exercise more, read through the Bible in a year, stay in touch with loved ones….and the list goes on.

Heading the list always seems to be the weight thing. For some reason when I decide I should work on the weight issue every amazing tasting food seems to end up in front of me. I am not sure how that happens or why. Is it kind of the Murphy’s law of dieting?

I had planned to bake less this season to help with the getting healthy idea. I really did plan to do that….and then the phone rang. A neighbor gal called to ask if I would take her turn bringing lunch to Coffee Break Bible Study on Wednesday. (She was busy moving cattle with her family). Of course I said sure…..I love to bake. (I love to eat too!)

I figured it was a great time to make those bars that are really addictive. If I am baking bars like these particular bars, it is always a good idea to bake them when you need to bring most of them away. It is never a good idea to have a whole pan of these in the house with just two people.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars
2 cups +4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 Cup butter or oleo, softened
12 Tablespoons sugar
12 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Filling:
2 8-ounce pkg. Cream Cheese

1 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375º
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt….Set aside
Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla
Beat in eggs; add flour mixture, and mix well
Stir in chocolate chips
Blend until creamy
Put half in bottom of 9 x 13″ pan
Then spread filling mixture over this and top with rest of cookie dough
Bake 20-30 minutes
Cool and cut
Store in refrigerator (if there are any left!)

 

These bars are from a recipe book that the employees made when I worked at a lab that produced swine vaccines. I have always told people to look for the recipes in that book that are from a woman named Ethel. If you make any of her recipes you are in for a real treat!

I have a feeling that till the bars are gone those New Year resolutions are just going to have to wait….fortunately or unfortunately it won’t be long and they will be gone. I dallied with the idea of using this post and linking it to the Daily Post photo challenge “Growth”……for the very reason that consuming too many of these bars will definitely promote growth…of the wider, not taller variety! Aaaahhhh well…..tomorrow is another day…..I guess.

If you give these bars a try let me know what you think of them…..also please feel free to share some of your favorite recipes….I am always on the lookout for a new favorite.

“Take a bite of food,
if it tastes good…..spit it out
……you can’t have it!”
An Uncle

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people.
Orson Welles

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/orson_welles_104829?src=t_diet