Friday, May 13, 2011

Beasts, Mythical and Edible

Not a mythical beast, but Mr. Chippy checking out the pig head
 (By the way, Blogger was down for quite a while yesterday, and at about the same time, my computer cord decided to stop charging my computer. So I went to bed without writing--my apologies, again! This morning, after talking with an Apple Genius, I got it working. Gonna be getting myself to an Apple store in Seattle next week....)

I could do a whole post on this, but I just want to mention that die-off can be beastly. A vicious beast, at that.

I have had odd moments of it, making me less than fun to live with--as grouchy, tired, unfocused are all symptoms that I have been experiencing. They are such vague effects that it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. So die-off it is. My friend who is just five days into Intro is having the triple whammy dance with the Beast. She is doing Intro with her 5 year old daughter, and the nursling came along for the ride. And it's not been fun so far (is it ever?) I can offer lots of platitudes ("it's only temporary" "these are signs of healing" "many people have the same experience") but while it's all true, that doesn't quell the nausea. Check out her blog and offer whatever advice you've got, because a community makes this all more bearable, don't you think?

I promised you a post on headcheese, so let's get to it!

First of all, I do know that people often hesitate--or even blanch--at the thought of something like headcheese. I am not sure why that is, because some of the same people will happily eat bologna or Spam or hot-dogs. What do you think goes into lunch meats? A bunch of bits and pieces; if you are lucky they are from the same animal. We have forgotten to value offal or "the nasty bits", but we still eat them--often employing the "look the other way" approach (also known as "what I don't know won't bother me" method). If reminded, we do our best "grossed-out" teen imitation. But we still eat hot-dogs (what does "all-beef" mean, anyway? Does that say which parts are in the mix? Nope, didn't think so.)

My biggest pot is still not big enough. Luckily the lid fit over the snout
Headcheese--which is not cheese at all--is one of the best examples of culinary thrift around. It uses parts that are either thrown away, incorporated into pet food or luncheon meats. The whole head is cooked until the meat is falling-apart tender, then cooled. All of the edible bits are chopped and mixed with the gelatinous broth, then set in a large pan in the refrigerator. Pretty much everything except for the bone is edible: the meat, fat, glands, skin, and so on.

Not much to dispose of!
I was literally given a number of pig heads in the Autumn, when a local farmer butchered her pigs. We bought a half pig for our freezer, but none of her customers wanted the heads, trotters or livers. I now have all of that in a freezer locker at the local custom butcher. This is the third batch of food I have made from that amazing storehouse of fresh local food, most of which was a gift (I paid for the livers, which will become pate and liverwurst). Every time I make headcheese (also called brawn or souse) I glean about 15 pounds of food for my family. Did you grasp that? Fifteen pounds of food that costs only my labor.

Setting in the fridge. I pressure-canned the rest...
 The Captain eats his fried crisp, with eggs, for breakfast. I think I will serve some cold tonight on a salad dressed with a lemony. mustard-y vinaigrette. Such fare reminds me of French bistro food--homey, not fancy, but with the elegance of cuisine bonne femme, food made by thrifty French homemakers who would never waste a bit of their resources. This is how many of the world's revered dishes evolved, from the practical need to use what we have, with a bit of ingenuity thrown in. In my opinion, some of the most delicious food starts with inexpensive, even "waste" ingredients (which is what most people think of offal) with time and love invested in the process.

What do you do to use all of your resources? Have you found ways to have high-quality food at a lower cost?


karen said...

yikes, I must admit that was VERY hard for me to look at! I'm so stuck in my ways. Was wondering about juicing. Do you find it too much sugars for your body? I have a billion carrots and was thinking of juicing them for my family or maybe my mom, but she seems to be suffering from irritable bowel.

Justine Raphael said...

It's pretty easy to eat, though! Just remember that the more connection we have with our food the more compassionate and caring we become. Being divorced from our food, as in eating products (whether meat based or vegetarian) is a sure way to be blase, ungrateful, oblivious. I know a lot of vegetarians who don't want to know how many animals are killed for their salad (in January, no less).

Juicing--I have had carrot juice twice and it makes me spacy and tired. I am going to try it today with egg yolk in it...

I don't think I'd give juice to someone having active IBS symptoms. Broth is perfect for that.


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