It's really winter, the farm feels like it's sleeping. I feel like I haven't even really gotten to know the farm yet because I haven't lived with daily chores here. I'm both happy to have this time to plan and kind of miss having animals.
I poked around the barn today just to start thinking about how I want things set up. My lambs and pigs will both get quarantined in the barn for two weeks. This is for biosecurity reasons so they're not pooping out on pasture right away in case they're sick. I'm pretty sure they used to milk cows in this barn.
As you might've guessed, pigs have a lot of fat. That is kind of the point. When my pork comes back from the slaughterhouse, I'm going to have to figure out what to do with a whole bunch of fat. I'm doing a little experimenting.
This is chunks of fatback (AKA back fat) after I cut the skin off of them.
This is whipped lardo. You run raw fatback through a food processor with a little salt, vineagar and herbs until it gets creamy. You're supposed to use a little garlic too, but I had run out. It came out like super fancy butter, but piggier.
I rendered the rest of the fatback into lard. The yellower stuff is the cleaner lard. The brownish liquid is the lard I strained from the cracklin's all the way on the left. Cracklin's are the crispy bits left over when all the fat has melted.
You can use lard pretty much anywhere you'd use butter or oil normally. Except salad dressing, that'd be gross.
While I'm waiting for my animals to arrive in April, I've decided to fill up my kitchen with food. It’s perfect in the winter because it makes the whole house feel cozy.
Stock is definitely one of my favorite things. Any stock - beef, pork, chicken. The best are made from chicken feet and pig trotters because they have all of that fabulous connective tissue that makes the final product velvety. But all you really need are bones.
I don’t really believe in recipes as anything other than serving suggestions, but these folks do a great job on stock recipes.
I love using stock to get rid of any of the less-than prime vegetables hanging out in my fridge. You can really put whatever you have in the pot - here I had half a box of baby kale that was getting elderly. As you can imagine beets turn the whole thing pink in a not-always-pleasant way. Cabbage can be a little bitter. I made one batch of stock with a bunch of parsnips and the whole thing turned out so sweet, it was lovely.
If I’m cooking a big meal I’ll set aside some of the scraps for the stock pot - kale stems, turnip greens or carrot shavings. Leave onion skins on and quarter them. I’ve made the mistake of shoving more things in the stock pot than I needed to and it really just doesn’t do your surface area to ingredient ratio any justice. I like to let it boil for three hours make sure all of the vegetables are entirely spent.
Stock is great for making rice, lentils, anything savory that requires liquid really. I love just drinking it straight.
Leanna at Four Legs Farm