Cooking with Lard...Buying Pure Lard

I bake with lard almost exclusively, it makes flaky pie crust, perfect biscuits that are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, makes nice bread dough and can be used for frying (it has a high smoke point).  It is less saturated than butter; and gives better baking results.  If you want the butter flavor, half lard and half butter is a good choice.
We don't eat any fat in excess, but we think natural fats are better than highly-processed shortenings.  The percentage of saturated fat in non-hydrogenated natural fats are butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent), according to the American Heart Association.
I always buy non-hydrogenated lard; if it’s hydrogenated you’d be better off buying shortening.  The hydrogenated lard is available on the shelf with the shortenings and oils; Don’t buy it!
Non-hydrogenated lard used to be available from our local meat processing locker plant, but their equipment caused problems and they decided not to replace it.  (Perhaps they couldn’t find it?)
My brother-in-law has made his own undertaking I'm not ready for!  But if you are, locker plants often sell the fat you need to render it  yourself.
Now I buy it at the nearest Amish grocery store, the Dutchman’s in Cantril, Iowa.  It’s located in the refrigerated section by the butter.  Two brands I have purchased there are Western’s Smokehouse in a 4 pound carton and John F. Martin and Sons in 2 pound cartons.  Western Smokehouse is a producer of jerky and meat snacks in Greentop, Missouri and John F. Martin is from Lancaster County, Pa, and produces bacon, ham, deli meats and the like.  Both appear to produce lard as a side product of their manufacturing operations; I couldn't find it on their website store. 
There are on-line non-hydrogenated lard products available; they are quite a bit more expensive than what I purchase at the Amish stores.
You may want to search for their stores in your area.
I paid $2.59 a pound for the Western Smokehouse lard a year ago, and $5.99 for 2 pounds of the John F. Martin lard last month.
Non-hydrogenated lard must be refrigerated; and for keeping it long term, it should be frozen.  I always keep 10 or 15# of it in the freezer  as we are 70 miles away from Cantril and only go a couple times a year.  I keep what I’m using in the refrigerator.  I keep some in a covered measuring cup in the refrigerator for daily use as it’s easier to handle than a big container.
I always substitute lard for shortening; I don't even have any shortening in my cupboard any more.

Angel Food Pineapple Cake

Angel Food Pineapple Cake from the Betty Crocker web site. I used to make this several years ago for my daughter who was in Weight Watchers at the time. It has no fat and all angel foods are good for dieters. Using pineapple packed in juice lowers the sugar content also.
 This is so easy that anyone can make it, great for children who like to help in the kitchen and are just learning. 
 The recipe calls for an angel food pan but I won’t use spray in my pan. It never cleans out again and that will ruin your pan for a regular angel food. I baked mine in a 9x13 pan, you could use two 9 inch bread pans or make it into cupcakes. I do think the cupcakes would be messy as you need to work fast after it is mixed. The cake starts to rise when the pineapple is added so you need to get it into the oven.
 It is even better the next day. A good dessert to end an Easter meal. Dress it up with whipped cream and cherries if you want it to look special.
Angel Food Pineapple Cake
1 box Betty Crocker white angel food cake mix
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
   Heat oven to 350°F.  
Spray 10 inch tube pan, or 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
 In a large bowl, mix dry angel food cake mix and crushed undrained pineapple until combined. Pour into pan. (It will start to rise in the bowl).
Bake 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown for tube pan or 30 to 35 minutes for a 13x9 pan. Cool tube pan upside down as directed on cake mix box about one hour or 13x9 pan on a wire rack for one hour. Turnout cooled tube pan cake, do not take the cake out of the 13x9 pan. Cut with a serrated knife or break apart with two forks. Garnish with whipped cream and Maraschino Cherries if desired.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 1 Serving Calories160 ( Calories from Fat0), Total Fat0g (Saturated Fat0g, Trans Fat0g ), Cholesterol0mg Sodium320mg Total Carbohydrate36g (Dietary Fiber0g   Sugars4g ), Protein3g 

Sunday in Iowa...

Sun through the rain clouds...
North of Melcher-Dallas, Iowa on Highway 5
The sky reminds me of the wonderful illustrations in a Bible story book Myrna and I had as children...can you see angels descending down the beams of light?

Cookbook Review: “Lard The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient”

Grit Magazine has a cookbook in it’s online store:  “Lard   The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient”; I bought a copy hoping it would give me some new ways to use the lard I usually buy.  It included a subscription coupon to the magazine which I used.  It's also on Amazon.
Grit magazine has been published since 1882, and is full of things homesteaders can use, including more on livestock than other magazines of the type. 
I enjoyed the many comments from readers who cook with lard and their experiences included throughout the book.  The chapters include Breads and Biscuits; Vegetables; Main Dishes; Cookies and Brownies; Pies; Cakes and Desserts.
 I have mixed feelings about the book; I LOVE the recipe for homemade noodles; it’s now my regular. The Homemade Lard Noodles recipe is here.  
But most of the other recipes are similar to what I already cook; and I already use lard for much of my cooking and baking.  I probably wouldn’t buy it again for that reason.  But for someone new to cooking with lard and to scratch cooking, for that matter, would enjoy the book, I’m sure.

Spam Macaroni Casserole

When Myrna made a Spam recipe last week,  I remembered this recipe which I used to make regularly when we had a kid at home. 
We enjoyed it again  Saturday, it has just the right flavors!
It came with a set of the cards from the 1971 Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library. You bought the box and a few sets of the recipe cards and then additional cards were sent every month or so. Of course, most of the recipes used a variety of convenience foods, really beginning to be popular in the early ‘70’s. I picked them up cheaply at a yard sale a year or two after they came out and this was one of the few recipes I kept and used.  
I also make it with ham instead.  I also like the Brookdale canned luncheon meat brand from Aldi's.   Serve it with a green vegetable or salad and fruit for dessert.
I made it in my favorite 1970's casserole dish, a covered French Arcopal (the European "Pyrex") casserole I bought from my German landlady's kitchenware shop and brought back with us to the states.  I use it often and would hate to have anything happen to it.
Spam Macaroni Casserole
4 Ounces Macaroni -- uncooked
1/2 Cup Onion -- chopped
1/3 Cup Green Pepper -- chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Can Spam -- cubed
1/2 Cup Catsup
1/3 Cup Cheddar Cheese -- shredded
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cook macaroni; drain. Cook onion and green pepper in butter until tender. (This can be done in the same pan).  Stir in remaining ingredients; pour into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole, bake, COVERED, 30 minutes at 400°.
6 Main Dish Servings

Orange Custard Cups

We like custard, and we also like orange.  This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Old Fashioned Home Baking 1990 gives us a delicious way to enjoy both.  It makes a quick, simple dessert that was very creamy and tasty.  We like it best with almost all heavy cream!  Very luxurious.

                          Orange Custard Cups
  4          Large  Eggs
  2          Cups  Half and Half -- or whole milk or heavy cream and milk
     1/2    Cup  Sugar
     1/2    Teaspoon  Orange Extract -- or 2 tbsp. orange liqueur (divided)
     1/8    Teaspoon  Salt
    1/2    Cup  Heavy Cream
  2          Teaspoons  Powdered Sugar -- or white sugar

Preheat oven to 325°.  Combine eggs, half and half, sugar, salt and 1/4 TEASPOON of the orange extract (or 1 tbsp. of orange liqueur), just until mixed.
Place 6 ungreased 6 ounce custard cups in a 13 x 9" pan, pour egg mixture evenly into the custard cups.  Pour boiling water into the pan around the cups to a depth of 1".  You can line the pan with a cloth (I used a clean cotton dish cloth) to keep the custards from moving around and to keep them from cooking too quickly on the bottom.
Bake at 325° for 40-45 minutes until done.  Cool on wire rack, cover and chill for at least 1 hour. 
Beat 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1/4 TEASPOON of the orange extract (or 1 tbsp. orange liqueur) and 2 teaspoons powdered sugar.  Top custards and serve.
Cost:  $1.10 or 19¢ per serving about 2/3 cup each.
Yield:  "3 3/4 Cups"         6 custard cups

Grilled Cheese with Spam

This recipe is on the side of the can and also on the Spam web site. It makes a change from plain grilled cheese sandwiches, and is easy to do. I think that pan frying the Spam slices before grilling the sandwiches helps the cheese melt and the crispier meat makes a better sandwich. Again, be aware that Spam is a high sodium product and should not be over used in your daily diet. That said, enjoy.
Sue and my daughter, Amy say that Aldi's has this version of Spam and both of them like it better than Spam itself. Sue has and does freeze Spam. Slice and just cook what you want and lay the other slices out and freeze. That way when you are cooking for only one or two you don't have to keep eating it until it is gone.
Grilled Cheese with SPAM

Before cheese slice and other slice of  bread
1 can SPAM® Classic
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
8 slices white bread
8 slices American cheese
1. Cut SPAM® Classic into 8 slices.
2. On griddle or in large skillet, lightly fry SPAM® slices on both sides.
3. Spread butter on 1 side of each slice bread. On unbuttered side of 4 slices bread, layer 1 slice cheese, 2 slices fried SPAM® and 1 slice cheese; top with remaining slices bread, buttered-side-out. 
4. On griddle or in large skillet, brown each sandwich on both sides or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.