Thursday, April 17, 2008

Better Living through Lard?

When this ad came in today in an e-mail from my friend Edie I thought that it couldn't possibly be true. Well, of course not--but a great laugh all the same. The pseudo-ad originally appeared in a British satire magazine called Viz.

I found the image of the healthy woman running through a field on the FatBlokeThin website. She has no doubt just eaten a "Lard Bar". Written by a British man who has been chronicling his battle of the bulge for the past several years, the site seems worth returning for another look. [And how refreshing to have a man's viewpoint on these concerns for a change.]

But I digress. The point of all of this is that when I received Edie's e-mail I realized that I had been wanting to blog about fried chicken for some time. I've made it three times now in the past two months. I soak it in buttermilk, dredge each piece by hand in a flour-paprika-salt and seasoning combo that I mix together, and fry it in a deep lidded skillet in Crisco oil. The second time was the best, the first time so-so, and the other night a bit rushed. The trick is to get the oil hot and sustain that heat without burning it. This is no easy thing to accomplish without screaming at your kids and husband to stay away from the dangerous stove environment while juggling the rest of dinner, too. And another side effect is that the house stinks of fat for a day or so afterwards.

The other night I made four meatloaves, from The Amish Cookbook--Recollections and Recipes from an Old Order Amish Family (this was one of the best meatloaf recipes I've made and I've tried a lot of meatloaf recipes over the years), my third attempt at fried chicken, buttered noodles, green beans, and cornbread. I also served applesauce on hand (made two falls ago) and tried a new cornbread recipe. Rhubarb cobbler for dessert (sort of make shift and I've done better).

We had three Mennonite men to dinner who have been putting our 45-acre field back into hay (after many years in soybeans with the former owner). They have it limed, tilled and planted now, just in time for more spring rains on Saturday. Our neighbors Larry and Josh also joined us. The food was a hit but I don't think I'll be deep frying for a while! Just too messy (and I'm fairly mess-tolerant). But we had a jolly time around the table and I was the only woman among six men and our two boys. Farm livin' is the life for me, gals.

I was pleased with the cornbread, an easy recipe from The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, compiled by the people at Foxfire. [I have the Gramercy Books edition published in 2001, but this cover with the pig on it is much more appealing.] This recipe--one of seven in the cookbook for cornbread and one of many using cornmeal--requires lard. It is the first time I've used it, apart from years ago when I made my great-grandmother's German Christmas Cookie recipe as a treat for my father (I'll post that at the holidays).

Corn Bread
by Annie Long [for Foxfire]

• 2 cups cornmeal
• 1 teaspoon soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 cups sour milk (I used fresh buttermilk)
• 2 tablespoons melted lard

Sift cornmeal (or stir) to get bran out (I didn't do this). Measure the cornmeal, soda, and salt and sift together (I just stirred it--I also added about a tablespoon of sugar). Mix in beaten egg, milk and melted lard. Pour into a hot greased iron skillet and bake in a 425 degree oven (until done--about 20-25 minutes). Serves 6-8.

Catherine's NOTE: Melt lard in your skillet on the stove top, then pour and stir quickly into the cornmeal mixture and pour back in again to the same skillet to bake in the oven. Bread is moist and flavorful, but not too moist, not too dry.

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