Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lard Rendering Day

Quite often as I walk do the aisle in the grocery store, my mind will go back many years ago, Momma did not buy vegetable or corn oil, nor did she purchase shortening.  I remember where our baking grease came from and it was a timely process.  First the hogs were slaughtered, all of the meat processed and the final task was making the lard.  Of course, when the lard is made you get a reward, the cracklings.  It did not matter how many hogs we processed all of fat was made into lard.  This was a woman's chore and even as a very small child I remember cutting the fat into cubes to be cooked for a very long time.  You would find me snacking on the cracklings as soon as some were strained from the liquid.  Momma would store the lard in tins and placing them in a room which was cool, but you must remember most of our home was cool or just cold during the winter because there was not any central heat.  The lard would keep  for a long time and Momma made everything with her homemade lard, fried chicken, biscuits, pies and cakes.  Those of you who were lucky enough to have a meal at Momma's table will remember her rolls, yes, they were made with her lard.   I can see her putting a spoonful of lard into the pot of green beans aka snaps as she felt she did not have enough meat in them to flavor the beans the way she wanted them to taste.  

I have often thought how I would like to make/render lard.  Having accepted the fact that this would be almost impossible I just do not talk about making lard.  Well, when you get out of bed in the mornings, here on Triple Creek Farm, you may think you know how your day is going to end.  Quite often, things change so quickly, I really can't seem to grasp what is happening so I just go with flow.  Mr. Bootsie and I were down in the pasture lot and we heard voices,  the Farmer and her girls.  We headed back to the kitchen and made some tea and coffee  while everyone is catching up, I saw on Facebook, animals were processed the previous day.  We talked about the processing, knowing the farmer is quite a good butcher, it makes me so happy to see her teaching her daughter the proper way to process meat.  As they were leaving I asked if they processed a hog with a bit of fat, I would really like to make lard.  Well, come on out to the truck, too much fat on this hog and I was not sure what I was going to do with it.  In just a few minutes, I was back in the kitchen with of bowl of pork fat.  I was pass excited to have this treasure and could not wait to start the process.

I cut the fat into cubes, and as I was setting on my stool, my mind drifted to days gone by.  I was a child setting in Momma's kitchen. " You be careful with the knife, cut into even sized cubes, stay away from the stove and do not grab any of the pots on the stove".  How many times I had heard these things said as the lard was processed.  But there was a flash in my mind, standing in front of the wood cook stove was Momma, wearing her apron and opening the stove to add more wood.  "We need to keep the fire going all day to cook down this fat."  "I need someone to go the wood shed and bring in more wood."  This was the one day when I knew there was work to be done and we must work together to get this chore complete.  My sister was off for more wood and I happily continued to cube the fat.  

Time for me to realize, this is today, the kitchen is my kitchen and I am rendering lard.  Things are just so much better today, I have a crock pot filled with pork fat and it is rendering, I can see the clear lard coming up in the pot.  I will strain the lard and store in jars, to keep it cool I shall store in the fridge.  I will be making pies, bread and using my lard in many ways, just hope somewhere in this journey I get a hint of the wonderful memories  which were cooked in Momma's kitchen.

 Bootsie, can you bring me the lard can?  There are some cracklings over by the bread box, bring them because if you do eat all of the cracklings there is going to be crackling corn bread for supper tonight.  

Sorry, I went down memory lane again, the bowl of pork fat which was shared with me, was memories, it was a gift which I will cherish.  So many wonderful things happened in Momma's kitchen and I have forgotten so much, but a bowl of pork fat bought back something so special and wonderful to me.  It is not how much a gift costs or how shiny the gift is...It is a gift that warms the heart, my friends, The Farmer and her daughter just had no idea how special and how many wonderful childhood memories were inside the bowl of pork fat, now lard and soon to be home made biscuits.

How can I ever say "Thank You" for giving me a look back into Momma's kitchen on lard rendering day?