|August 18, 2013||Filled under Freezer Tips, Recipes: Beef, Recipes: Misc||
I’m sure that many WLSers might be wondering what in the world would I be doing posting about rendering (cleaning) your own beef fat. Aren’t we suppose to be cutting out all possible sources of fat in our diets because it’s bad? Isn’t beef fat really bad for you because it’s saturated fat? What the heck is saturated fat anyways? Which fats are saturated? Is your head going to explode yet from all these questions?
A nice discussion of fats will make a great blog post. For now however, I’m simply posting about rendering or cleaning your own beef fat. Why in the world would you do that? Well there are several reasons. The best darn french fries in the world (this is my opinion) are fried in beef fat. I would highly suggest that you don’t eat french fries on a regular basis but, if you do eat them once in a while, then they taste incredible cooked in beef fat. Just saying.
Tallow or even lard (pork fat) also makes the best darn pie or pastry crust in the world! Again, eating pies or pastry is not suggested as a daily thing. But, if your having a treat, I can’t think of anything better than my grandmother’s homemade French meat pies with homemade crusts that were made with either beef or pork fat. Her apple pies rocked as well.
Beef fat, or tallow, also makes great homemade soap. Which is exactly what a friend of mine wanted to make with a rather large amount of beef fat that she had received when she purchased a side of organic beef. If your shelling out that kind of cash I say use every bit of the animal. So, with many pounds of beef fat on hand, she asked if it could be made into soap. Why yes it can! I’ve made many batches of soap myself in the past and, call me crazy, I’ve actually rendered my own tallow as well. I actually saved the pictures from making a batch and wondered how in the world I would make it into a blog post. Now I know. So here’s the oddball of all blog posts on a WLS nutrition blog……How to render your own beef fat or tallow.
At the local farmers market I decided to ask the pasture feed beef vendor if he happened to sell the beef fat along with the cuts of meat he had to offer. I didn’t expect him to actually have any on hand. He surprised me however by pulling out an 8 lb chunk from the freezer:
Yes I know it’s not pretty but what can you do about it.
To render your own fat start by taking your piece of beef fat and cutting it up into pieces about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size. If I had a meat grinder or a food processor I would have ground it up even smaller. But I don’t so I had to cut it with a knife. Once your done toss the chunks into a large pot.
I think it took about 2 hours for it to get to this point. From this translucent point it didn’t take much longer for the fat to completely melt. I ended up with a pot full of golden liquid. There was a small amount of debris at the bottom of the pot. This material seems to be the fine membrane that was holding the fat together. I know you don’t really want to know that but that’s basically what it is. I used a slotted spoon and scooped out most of it. In the end there was still smaller pieces that the spoon could not get out so I strained the liquid through a brand new nylon. You could also use cheesecloth if you had some available. Using a nylon was easy. I simply stretched it over another pan and poured the liquid through it. Here’s what was removed:
All that was left behind was a beautiful, golden oil:
I covered the pot and allowed it to sit at room temperature over night so it would cool down. The liquid oil solidified and turned creamy white. All that was left was to gently ( so I didn’t scratch the pot) run a butter knife through the pot to break the fat into smaller pieces. I lifted each piece out and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I packaged the pieces up so they were small enough to use within a reasonable amount of time. From 8 lbs of fat I got 5.5 lbs of rendered fat. Several sites I consulted said you may have liquid beneath the solid fat. If so, simply remove the solid fat and discard whatever is left. I did not have anything beneath the solid fat. I cut that amount up into 8 equal pieces.
Each piece was wrapped in plastic wrap, labeled and put in the freezer until I needed them for french fry or crust making. For my friend, who plans on making soap, she will weigh out the fat and the weight will be used to determine how much lye is needed. But full discussion on soapmaking will have to be saved for another time.
How about you? Have you ever rendered tallow or used it for some type of cooking or craftmaking purpose? Why not leave a comment below and tell us about it.
|August 15, 2013||Filled under Recipes: Beans and Grains, Recipes: Salads||
When I was first going to try this recipe I wasn’t sure if I should actually use two cans of chickpeas. I’m the only one in the house who will eat them so I didn’t want to end up with a big batch of something I didn’t like. I’m so glad that I used both because I’ve been eating this almost daily. The combination of the cilantro and lime dressing tastes great with the chickpeas. This is easily converted into a higher protein meal for us WLS folks by simply adding shredded chicken. Shrimp would probably also taste great!
Cilantro and Lime Chickpea Salad
- 2 cans (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ a package of fresh spinach (about 4 to 6 ounces), finely chopped
- ½ small red onion, finely diced
- juice of 4 limes
- 1 bunch of cilantro, strip leaves from stem and finely chop
- 1 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- ⅓ to ½ cup of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the spinach finely with knife and place in a bowl.
- Add the onion and chickpeas to the spinach.
- In another bowl combine the lime juice, chopped cilantro, sugar/Splenda, mustard, garlic and chili powder. Blend well. Slowly whisk in olive oil for about 45 seconds. Whisk long enough for the mixture to combine into a dressing.
- Pour dressing over chickpea mixture and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
You can place this salad in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to combine or eat it right away.
|August 8, 2013||Filled under Recipes: Vegetables||
I had previously posted a link to a recipe on pinterest for Grilled Sweet Potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. Grilling them would probably make them even better because they would have that delicious smokey flavor. With two sweet potatoes sitting around I really wanted to make this recipe except I didn’t want to fire up the grill. While I could have simply baked them I decided to use a secret ingredient to make cheaters grilled sweet potatoes – Liquid Smoke!
Wright’s is one of my favorite brands of liquid smoke. You can usually find liquid smoke in the same grocery store section that has spices, gravy mixes or Kitchen Bouquet Browning Liquid. The great thing about liquid smoke is it adds that great grilled taste to food without actually grilling it. Next time your using your crockpot to make chicken add a teaspoon or two and you’ll end up with delicious “grilled” chicken.
CHEATERS GRILLED SWEET POTATOES
Sadly I whipped this recipe together without measuring the spices. I did however measure the liquid smoke and ultimately used two teaspoons for two large sweet potatoes. For spices try adding salt, pepper and cumin. The combination is delicious with the smokey flavor.
Start by peeling and then dicing up the sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add spices and liquid smoke. Stir well and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes and then stir/flip the potatoes. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until soft.
Have you tried using liquid smoke before? What’s your favorite way to use it?
|August 5, 2013||Filled under Recipes: Soups and Stews|
Thankfully it seems we have passed the multiple heat waves that had been making it so miserable for cooking. And making soup? Forget it. I think I’m the only one in my family that could eat soup no matter what the weather was like. Today I made this quick version of my grandmother’s Portuguese Kale Soup. My grandmother would say that this is not “real” kale soup because I didn’t spend the day slowly cooking down a beef shank to make the broth for the soup. That method does produce a much richer tasting soup. But, when your short on time and still want something good to eat, this quick version works quite well.
For those who are watching their carb count this soup can be made with or without potatoes. It does contain a can of premade baked beans so the carb count per bowlful is 16.3 and that’s without potatoes. I’ll give a nutritional breakdown both with and without potatoes after the recipe. I don’t often do nutritional breakdowns….it’s rather a pain….but was curious as to how much of a difference adding the traditionally used potatoes would make when it came to total carbs.
In order to make kale soup a type of Portuguese sausage called Linguica is needed. You can substitute a spicer version called Chourico if desired. I’ve been told that another type of sausage called Chorizo can be used in it’s place. I’ve never tasted the stuff but it’s always worth trying if that’s what is available in your area.
Quick Portuguese Kale Soup
- 1 bunch of fresh kale or a 16 ounce bag of frozen, chopped kale
- 1 lb of linguica or turkey linguica (chourico can also be substituted), sliced into rolls about ½ inch thick
- 16 ounce can of Bush’s Baked Beans with Onion
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: 1 large potato, peeled, quartered and cut into small pieces
- If using fresh kale wash it and then remove the thick stem. Cut the kale into strips about ½ to 1 inch wide. Set kale aside.
- In a large pot add the onion, garlic and the sliced linguica.
- Saute until the onions have softened a bit. Add in the water, beef broth and the can of baked beans.
- Add the kale to the pot and stir to moisten the kale. Cook over a medium heat until the kale has softened – about 20 to 30 minutes. If using frozen kale cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
- If your adding a potato then add it to the pot with the kale. Continue to cook until the kale has softened.
Here’s the nutritional stats on approximately 1 1/2 cups of soup
Calories: 208 / 244.3 with potato
Fat: 9.8 grams even with potato
Total Carbs: 16.3 grams / 24.4 grams with potato
Fiber: 3.3 grams / 4.3 grams with potato
Protein: 14.6 grams / 15.3 grams with potato