Remembering cooking with lard

By Lynn Moncus

Not long ago, a group of us began talking about one of our favorite subjects, food, and began to comment about how much we missed both the taste and the foods from the earlier days. Even though we can buy many of the items we grew up eating, they just don’t have the flavor they had when they were free of tons of preservatives or hadn’t been shipped around the world several times before arriving.

Meats and dairy products receibed a lot of attention as we began to savor our memories of the past and to compare what was available then. Those of us who were privileged to live on the land some of the time were recalling both the odor and taste of fresh meat. We could smell the delicious aroma before we reached the house and could hardly wait to get to the table.

Now , we don’t notice much odor unless we are burning something or have added some kind of condiments in order to give it both flavor and odor. We decided that much of the problem comes from the preservatives and from the feed cattle are often forced to eat. Natural flavors and odors become disguised, and we are faced with less tasty treats than we knew once.

We know we are drinking a lot of things besides milk when we see expiration dates on the containers. Fresh milk just didn’t last indefinitely, but it could still be used as it clabbered because we could then make cottage cheese or just enjoy a glass of clabber. Now, when the milk spoils, it just plain rots and shouldn’t even be used to feed the hogs.

All the processing and additives remove that rich, natural taste we once enjoyed. We also commented that we are in trouble when some brands of margarine taste better than butter because home-churned butter was far superior even to the expensive irem today. Besides, we would then have real buttermilk with real bits of butrter to enjoy for a day or two.

As we talked, we also recalled the work involved in order to have such delightful meals. In our case, Dad would go the spring to saw off some steaks from the frozen quarters hanging out there in the winter. No one thought anything was wrong with tossing those wonderful steaks into a hot skillet half filled with real lard and letting them fry until they were well done.

Now, we can’t even find the real lard and would probably be taken to court were we to fry everthing we could find in it. Just think of those wonderful fried potatoes and the taste the fakes we eat today. We migh have been eating real poison, but we saw very few people in the area who were over weight or who were puny much of the time.

In those days, we skimmed some of the cream off the milk and then stirred the rest into the milk to be drunk during the day. That cream wasn’t everlasting either, but we’d use it in desserts as ibegan to sour if we weren’t saving it to be churned. It even had color and looked rich and golden when whipped instead of pale and almost tasteless.

Times have changed, but some of us can still remember savoring the flavors of the foods we had before all the changes occured. Wouldn’t a breakfast of fried steak, fried portatoes, real eggs, hot biscuits, and gravy taste good in the morning, especially if real lard could be found?