To help meet my resolution, on Friday I brought home two coolers full of pastured pork from a small farm, along with some extra pastured chickens and a bag of fat. More on that later.
To get all this, I had to drive to a small-scale meat packer that Google Maps told me was an hour and twenty minutes away. I was kind of in a hurry and kind of driving on back roads, so let's say I made good time. Seriously good time--it was more like an hour, maybe less, for me to get there.
And that's even accounting for the time it took for local law enforcement to pull me over!
The guy was really nice, though. He informed me that I was going 73, I apologized, he asked if I'd had any tickets, and I said not in several years. He checked license and registration, allowed that the road wasn't very busy, but cautioned me that 73 might be a bit fast. And then sent me on my way. Fair enough.
I told the guy who carried my pork out to the truck about my good fortune and he asked me what the officer looked like. "You mean, other than wearing a uniform and driving a car with lights? No idea." He told me that it could be this guy who, besides law enforcement, is also a priest. Apparently the only class of citizens that he never lets off from a speeding ticket are nuns. In fact, other officers will call him in if there's a sister behind the wheel and he'll go and really throw the book at them. Not necessarily the book, but a book anyway. The point is, Father Burn-Rubber-Don't-Burn-in-Hell ain't letting none of the nuns run.
I don't know whether that's the guy who pulled me over, but I'm glad to know he exists.
Oh, but I was going to tell you about lard. Besides the half-pig that I paid for, they gave me a bag full of fat--the good fat for rendering into lard, not the back fat. Three pigs-worth, for the price of none.
Saturday, I started cutting up the fat into little bits when Lauren stopped me short. "What are you doing?"
"I'm rendering lard. I told you about this."
"In the house?"
"Yes?" No. No, I wasn't. Lauren had no intention of living in a porky-smelling house. We compromised: I borrowed some crock pots and set up an operation in our garage. And just so our garage didn't end up smelling like a pork chop--although that would be a delicious way for the tools and spare lumber to smell--I set up a fan in the window.
I read instructions all over--books, the internet, everywhere--and then barely followed any of them. One said to add water. Another didn't use water, but did add baking soda. I have no idea why either of those things is a good idea, but I failed to do either. Twelve hours later, I had a lot of liquid fat and a lot of cracklins. I brought the first crock pot up to the kitchen to sort the two out from each other, and within roughly 3 seconds Lauren was ready to vomit from the smell pervading our house. Or, as far as I could tell, lightly scenting our kitchen and nowhere else.
It just goes to show, we all see--or smell--the world differently. She's a lot more sensitive to smells than I am. It kind of makes me feel like I'm missing something, though all in all it's probably an advantage. How sensitive does a nose really need to be, anyway?
But I digress.
At the end of the day, I ended up with 6 1/2 pint Mason jars full of lard. Some of you may be saying: why would you want that? Isn't lard the byword for ill health, for clogged arteries and coronary failure? Sure, but I think it's gotten a bad rep. As one article on rendering lard put it: "the paranoia that doomed lard was both uninformed and incorrect. We are now learning that lard has a greater concentration of good HDL, and less bad LDL than does butter, has no harmful trans fats, and in fact, is nature's second most potent source of vitamin D."
So there. Put that in in your fryer and smoke it.