nourishing food

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A few weeks ago it just so happened that we had a lot of traditional fat goodness happening in the kitchen, and all at once no less. It was right around the same time that we were enjoying all of that liver. We were, most definitely, swimming in the best parts of the animal.

I had a pot of lard rendering on the wood stove from a bag of fat given to us by a neighbor. The boys – 6 & 8 – had cut it all up, pleading to be put in charge of the kitchen shears and the fat bags.

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There was a jar of virgin coconut oil that had some debris in it (as do most things around here) so we were melting that down and straining it through a coffee filter. This is truly the best coconut oil we’ve had and I didn’t want a drop of it to go to waste.

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The Bunkers generously gave us several pots worth of beef bones for stock-making and on those bones was plenty of good yellow-tinged fat and beef, oh the beef. I shredded it from the bones in the bubbling pots and then fried it in its tallow with onions, garlic, and cumin. Over rice it went and Papa and the boys declared it “The best beef we’ve ever eaten.” Truly, it may have been.

We had fatty beef broth for a couple of weeks before I accidentally left the remaining two jars out when the warmup hit and it turned. The chickens, however, went after the gelatinous stock and fatty tallow atop like they’d been without feed for weeks.

I should say that was enough, that the many lard jars lined up near the wood stove and that quart of coconut oil would keep us in good stead for quite sometime . And it would have, and it will continue to. But we had some grass-fed butter on hand as well and so though lard was ready for frying and we’d had our fill of delicious, fatty broth, and the coconut oil was ready for a spoon, we decided to spread this 100% rye sourdough bread with that golden grass-fed goodness.

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The boys, forever declaring their love for potatoes in lard and fatty coconut-oat bars, were enjoying the sights, sounds, and flavors. Elijah said “It’s like a fat factory!” and I thought that had a nice ring to it and would make a great name for a traditional foods cafe.

I can see it now, little man at the gate, guiding guests to their picnic tables in the open breeze, a kettle of lard rendering over the cook stove.

“Welcome to the Fat Factory.”

For more on the Health Benefits of Traditional, Saturated Fats:

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I’d like to interrupt the building and construction discussion for some important, some might say vital, organ talk.

It’s been a long time since I mentioned liver in this space. But we’ve eaten liver three times over the past week-and-a-half and everyone but the toddler is over the moon about it. I know it’s difficult to believe, for many reasons, but that wasn’t sarcasm. We have all loved our liver lunches.

It all started when the Bunkers brought us over a warm liver, fresh from the steer. I’ve eaten frozen chicken liver, frozen grass-fed beef liver, and even store-bought conventional liver, but never liver delivered still warm from the cow. And I’m pretty sure that made all the difference.

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Holding that liver was like holding a newborn baby so we’re only about halfway through the thing. We’ve eaten it fried with bacon, on top of rice, and over potatoes. I just hack off a hunk, throw it back into the solar freezer (or, currently, outside), and go at it with the kitchen shears. (If you don’t have kitchen shears, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve used these guys nearly every day for the past 9.5 years, since our wedding, and they are still kicking.)

Anyways, fried bacon and plenty of bacon grease. Not enough bacon grease? I’ve got a pot of lard rendering so throw in a scoop. Not enough lard? A blob of coconut oil will do. No coconut oil? You can’t go wrong with a knob of butter. What I’m trying to say here is DON’T SKIMP ON THE FAT.

Also, flavor. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, chilies, cumin. Yes! We’re now into liver taco territory and good golly I can’t imagine a better way to eat anything than stuffed in a tortilla and topped with hot sauce.

You think I’m kidding? Salsa – the spice and tang – are a game-changer when it comes to liver. Again, don’t be shy.

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And, if all else fails, throw some taters in the mix. Annabelle didn’t really dig the texture of liver (toddlers grow out of it, in my experience) but she tucked into those taters like they were going out of style.

That, friends, is how you tank ‘em up on iron, B vitamins, vitamin A, and all sorts of other goodness that can’t really be quantified by people with calculators.

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Stop drooling.

For more, check out my past (alarmingly large amount of) liver drivel: