Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do yourself a flavor favor

I didn't want to do it. I mean, being broke is one thing, but sacrificing my family's health to save a few cents is really pushing it. I had to buy shortening, but the lard was just cheaper than Crisco and in the end I figured it wouldn't kill us to try it. At least not right away.

Before putting it in my cart I thought I'd make a quick comparison of nutrition labels, just to see how much worse it really was. To my complete shock and amazement I found that the labels were actually identical. WHAT!!

How could this be. Lard is pig fat. Vegetable shortening is made from vegetables. Who are they trying to fool. Then I really started thinking. I've known for a long time that margarine is way worse for you than real butter. Why should lard verses crisco be any different. Now I really had to get to the bottom of this.

After a very brief search online I was able to find some answers.

Here's the skinny on the fat.

Vegetable shortening is made by hydrogenating soybean oil. The hydrogenating chemically changes the oil to a solid. These are also called trans fats. Those are bad. Now before I go any further I have to say that the lard that you buy on the store shelf next to the shortening is hydrogenated as well. So it isn't any better, but it isn't any worse.

The real major difference comes in the end result of your baked goods. As a long time avid baker I had often heard that lard was the way to go to produce the flakiest pie crusts and biscuits. I was delighted to discover for myself that it is absolutely true. We have been enjoying the best biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings, and pot pie. The texture is superb and the flavor is great to.

I don't do much deep frying but have learned that the amount of fat absorbed by your doughnuts, egg rolls, or other deep fried delights is actually based on how long it is in the fat, not what type of fat or oil you use. Since lard can be used at higher temperatures than other oils and fats, your food will cook quicker and therefore absorb less.

As a final note, if you can get ahold of fresh lard this is the best option of all. One more bennefit of raising a family pig or two.

Friday, July 8, 2011

2 A.M. Reflections

I couldn't sleep this morning. As happy as I truly am, there are times when things get really tough. Not having indoor plumbing is a challenge. No Air conditioning in above 100 degree temperatures is rough. Entertaining a 3 year old and 1 year old with very little toys or real play things takes lots of creativity and patience. (I'll write more on how we manage that later). Chiggers and ticks and all kinds of icky, crawly, biting critters are a pain.

I was thinking on all of these challenges, when my darling unborn son began to do a tango in my belly. My attention and thoughts turned to him and we began to have a bit of a conversation.

"Why are you so restless son?" I asked him. "What could possibly be bothering you at this hour?"

And then I imagined that he answered. "It's not comfortable in here mom. It's cramped and noisy and everything is changing so much all the time. I thought that being in a family and getting a body would be great, but I'm not sure I like it so much right now. This isn't how I thought it would be."

And I tried to explain. "I know it's hard right now, but this part won't last much longer. It is going to be great, I promise. There will always be hard parts, but the good will always out weigh the bad. If you only knew how much you were loved..."

I am greatful to have opportunities to learn from my children.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Starting Fresh

It's been a wild ride these past few months. In March we loaded up our two daughters and whatever else we could fit into the mini-van and headed 2000 miles across the country. When we arrived we were greeted by our beautiful 20 acres and a house that was anything but inhabitable. With a lot of help from new friends (and the last of our savings) we were able to build a 16x16 addition and are now finally able to live on our land.

Things have settled enough that it's finally time for me to start blogging again. Everyday seems to hold a new adventure and I am so excited to share what we are learning and loving about our new life in the Ozarks.