Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Did I hear you say YUCK or GROSS? A blob of fat smeared on bread is disgusting. You think so?
Grandma Mama used every part of a pig when it was slaughtered. Rendering lard was a part of that slaughtering process. She used lard for all her cooking. It made fantastic biscuits and pie crusts. When I was a child my Grandma Mama also made the best tasting lard sandwiches. Lard sandwiches were slices of homemade bread spread with lard and a sweetener. The sweetener could be honey, molasses, jam, treacle, or syrup. Mention lard sandwiches to people today and you immediately hear a yuck or a gross. But is it?
There are people in my neighborhood who eat fried rice three or four times a week. Not because it tastes so nice but because oil or fat is the only thing they can afford to add to the rice. Fried rice is nothing more than a carbohydrate with a fat added. So how is fried rice better than a lard sandwich? Hmm, aren’t bread and butter sandwiches the same thing? A fat smeared onto a carbohydrate? Actually, the butter most people eat is not real butter. It’s a chemical processed oil product called margarine.
Who killed lard? Who was it that made cooking with or eating lard so fearful to use? Would you believe the Procter and Gamble company? Yup, the same chemical giant we know for making cleaning products. They came up with a chemical substitute for natural lard and called it Crisco then proceeded to convince the public that real lard was bad for you. In 1907, a German chemist, E.C. Kayser, showed up at Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati with a marvelous invention. It was a ball of fat. It looked like lard. It cooked like lard. But there was no pig involved. It was hydrogenated cottonseed oil. For more informative reading on this history check out the NPR site called Planet Money.
A few days ago I found bacon in the discount bin. This was the thick sliced real stuff I remembered from my young days. Not the paper thin stuff that barely resembles slices. Bacon is usually too expensive for my budget to eat by the slice. I need to stretch it. I thought about the lard sandwiches my Grandma Mama made me. That’s was it! I would make bacon butter and bacon bits. I could really stretch the bacon flavor out for quite a while.
Bacon butter is bacon fat used in place of butter. Southern cooks know adding bacon fat to greens, or beans, or cornbread, or other frugal foods will improve the flavor a lot. But it can also be used to thinly spread on bread just like you would yellow butter. Voila! A bacon flavored lard sandwich. Ok, I went a little farther and made the bacon buttered bread into a grilled cheese sandwich. It had a great bacon flavor. I used maybe a half teaspoon of the lard. About 1/4 teaspoon per slice.
An occasional half teaspoon of bacon fat is not that bad. Besides, lard has been used for centuries. It’s all natural. Oils and fats made from chemicals have only been around for about a hundred years. It is only during the last hundred years we’ve been convinced the chemical stuff is better for us. Wake up! The natural stuff is better.
I did add just a bit of regular lard to the bacon lard to make it stretch even farther. I had about a cup of the bacon lard and added about two tablespoons regular lard while it was still hot. The two melded nicely. There is so little of it and it’s so expensive that I’m going to use this very sparingly.