Gee, Ghee

Since the subject has come up, and even though I don’t have good photos of making it, and even though I can’t get any right now because I don’t need to make any, we’ll do ghee anyway.

Ghee is clarified butter.

Butter is a type of fat.  Pork fat is another.  Beef fat is another.  So is chicken fat.

But if you take a slab of pork fat and leave it sitting out on your counter for a few days, it will be horrible. It goes bad.  It stinks to high heaven.

It isn’t the fat that goes bad.

It’s the muscle protein that is in the piece of fat. As it comes from the pig, you simply can’t cut it clean.

So, long ago, people figured out that if they “rendered” it, or “clarified” it, they could get rid of that protein that goes bad and the result would be a product that is pretty much shelf stable. It’s pure fat.

Another issue is that if you take a spoonful of butter and put it in a pan and heat it, it will brown.  Keep doing that and it will burn. What if you don’t want that?

What is browning and burning is that same protein (in butter, it’s milk) that is in the butter and there is no way to remove it completely without rendering the butter.

So here’s how I make ghee.

Morningmilking

We store milk in gallon-sized glass jars.  This is the milk from the morning’s milking, what is left after the calves are fed.  That’s quite a bit, and means that at the time that photo was taken, we needed to get a couple of new calves.

That goes in a frig in the basement.  I can put nine gallon jars in there. After a couple of days, the cream rises to the surface.  It’s easy to see the cream line, so I dip out the cream and store it in separate jars.

jarsofcreamSee the cream line near the bottom of those jars?

When I want to churn butter, I take out the jars of cream and let them come to room temperature, or slightly cooler.  Cream right out of the frig won’t churn well, and it also won’t churn well if it’s too warm.  It’s fiddly if you’re using a manual churn; much less so if you’re using a food processor.

And you can do this two different ways, with shades of gray all in between. You can let the cream sit overnight or even 24 hours and sour a bit, which produces a tangier butter. We like it.  Some people do not.  Or you can churn it as soon as the temp is right, and the butter will be sweeter.  Or anything in between.  Most of the time, our butter is whatever I got around to doing.

creaminprocessorThis is cream, in the food processor.  I also have a manual butter churn (glass with a handle), but life is too short if the electricity works.  With the manual churn, it takes ten to fifteen minutes of cranking that handle. With the food processor, it takes about three minutes with no effort on my part.

butterinprocessor

When the cream is churning in the processor, you can hear the change when the butter precipitates out.  Open the food processor and you’ll see the clumps of yellow butter floating about in the skim milk.

butterinstrainerHere’s the butter in the strainer. You can see the skim milk in the jar below. We feed that to the pig and/or chickens.  After letting it strain for a few minutes, I then put it under the cold water tap and wash it well, right in the strainer.

Mark this point.  Here’s where I diverge from making butter to making ghee.

But first let’s finish the butter.  That butter still has a good bit of milk in it. Even washing it won’t get it all out.

washingbutterSo then I dump the butter onto any available flat thing, in this case, an upside down casserole lid.  If you look closely, you can see the skim milk around the edges of the blob of butter.  You’ve gotta get as much of that out as possible.

So I wash it.  I knead it, run it under the cold water tap (gently), and then knead some more.

kneadingbutterSee the milky water?  That gets clearer and clearer as you go.

You never get it all out, but I try to get as much as possible. And then I salt it.

I have a very scientific method of salting butter. I get the salt shaker and shake it. And then I knead it some more to mix it and then I taste it.

butterformedHere is the butter being wrapped for freezing. I shape it that way because that’s what fits in my butter dish.

packagesAnd there we are, all done. That represents around two gallons of cream.

But let’s go back to ghee. That butter, above, cannot be used to make ghee, or rather, cannot be made into ghee that I like.  The divergent point is the salt.

I don’t like ghee made from salted butter. I want to salt food myself. I don’t want the salt in the ghee.

If I’m making ghee, after I wash as much milk off the butter as possible, I dump the butter in a crock pot.  Then I churn some more and repeat until I’ve done all I want/have, or the crock pot is full.

I set the crock pot on low, adding just a little bit of water to keep it from scorching while the butter melts, and put the lid on temporarily.  Once the butter has melted, I tilt the lid so that moisture can escape. You don’t want any water in ghee. Just the fat.

The idea here is to heat the butter, melt it and then cook the hell out of all the protein in the milk.  It will brown and separate from the fat.  And foam will form on the top. You will think that it’s ruined, but all that foam and the browned particles will strain out.

You can do this in a pot on the stove, but the crock pot is so much easier it’s not even funny.  I typically make ghee in the evening, set the crock pot and go to bed. In the morning, it’s done.  It won’t burn. I cannot mess it up.  I don’t have to watch it.  I’ve tried this both ways and the crock pot wins, hands down.

In the morning, I strain the fat out of the pot into mason jars and immediately put lids on them. The heat will cause them to seal.  This is an extra step I take which might not really be necessary, but it’s easy so I do it.

ghee So, how do you use ghee?

It’s fat.  It’s just like oil, only it’s a solid at room temperature.  I make lard the exact same way.  I cut up the pork fat, put it in the crock pot, let it heat. Identical.  There are more solids to strain out of lard.  Lard is white, not yellow.

lardonshelf

Beef fat?  Identical. The result is called tallow. It is very hard, even at room temperature.  I use it in French fries. (So did McDonald’s until the vegetarians threw a fit and they quit.  That’s why McDonald’s fries used to taste so good.)

tallowonshelf

Chicken fat? You guessed it. Identical. It’s called schmaltz.  I use it to fry chicken.

But ghee is hands down our favorite.  We use it every day.  Dave had no idea what in the world I was making and no idea how to use it, but is a convert now.  He fries eggs with it.  He pops popcorn with it.

Ghee has a slightly buttery taste. It’s not pronounced, like butter. But it’s there.  It does not brown.  It’s fat.  You can get it to a much higher temperature than butter, which means you can fry with it.

You can also bake with both ghee and lard. I have made cakes with both. I use either in biscuits, or pie crusts. Schmaltz is good in baking too, but I typically don’t have a lot of it and I’m sort of stingy with it.

In fact, the only use I have for oil is in mayonnaise and salad dressings.

We typically store these fats in mason jars, just like the jar in the photo. They are on the shelf in the basement.  Our basement stays at about 55 degrees year round. And they are sealed with mason jar lids (although I’m not certain that’s necessary.)

This drove me a little crazy in the beginning. I worried about the lard/ghee/tallow/schmaltz spoiling.  I still generally store schmaltz in the frig just because, well, it’s chicken.  None of it has ever gone rancid or spoiled, and I have stored it for more than two years.

Once the jar is open, we generally keep it in the frig for no reason at all except that is where Dave inevitably hunts for it.

So, now, what do you do if you don’t have a cow?

You wait for butter to go on sale and buy some. Unsalted.  Render it.  That’s certainly what I would do.  I’m sure that’s way cheaper than hunting for and buying commercially made ghee.

Health issues

Inevitably, somebody asks me if this is not a terrible, awful thing to do. You know to use, gasp, animal fats instead of lovely extra-virgin olive oil.

The answer is pretty much no.

Dave is soon going to be 78.  He just recently went off his blood pressure medicine. We’re monitoring his blood pressure now pretty closely so he can report back to his doctor, but we all think (doc included) that he can come off it safely.  He takes cholesterol medication, but even the necessity of that is debatable. At his last checkup, his doctor told him that he’s in a cohort of a very tiny percentage of men his age who take almost no medications.

I am on no medications of any kind and never have been.

Neither of those things means that our very good fortune at having good health up to this point is a result of our lifestyle. It’s much more likely a result of our genes. We both have parents who lived into their nineties.  But my point is that we don’t just drown in these fats. We use them reasonably.

Harvard weighed in on this debate, and takes a sort of middle position.

Remember, we eat very small portions of meat. We eat lots of vegetables and whole grains and beans.  We also raise the pork and the beef and the chicken and we milk the cow.  The sheer work of doing all that makes a difference, I suspect.

It makes no sense at all to me to toss away all these lovely fats that are by-products of animal husbandry and go buy olive oil that is not in any way sustainable.

This is one of my favorite cookbooks in the whole world.  It’s not just that the recipes are good. It’s that it is so beautiful.

So get some butter and try it. If you already have a crock pot, you’re in business.

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing Lines

From Bizarro Land, we have this.

Wa Po headline
from the Washington Post

Here’s the synopsis.

Nathan Larson is a young man who, as young men often do, has embraced libertarianism in an extreme form. He calls himself an “anarcho-capitalist.”  It’s sort of like being a “voluntaryist.”

He appears to have had a checkered childhood and young adulthood, culminating in a weird idea that he would threaten to kill the US president, go to prison, do a hunger strike and die so that everyone would know the government is evil.  Or something.

He got his wish only he just didn’t quite make it with the hunger thing and didn’t die, but served some time (not many years, as one source has it,  but 16 months).

And now he’s trying to run for office.  He looks terribly normal and nicely clean-cut, doesn’t he?

Nathan Larson

But it gets way weirder than that.

Nathan Larson is married, to his second wife.  She’s Filipino, and assumed to be properly subservient, because Nathan believes that women are inferior to men, should not have voting rights,  should remain poorly educated because hell, all they are good for is sex and babies and keeping house and what do you need with an education to do any of that.  For the record, reading Nathan’s statements about his ideas is  scary.  On that link, scroll down to “Issues” and follow the links.  But don’t do it while eating.

It’s his first wife, though,  who makes this story even more bizarre than you can imagine.

She married him. She was also very troubled.  She said that he raped her during the marriage (and yes, rape in marriage is absolutely possible and happens pretty often) and impregnated her against her will, or at least she thought he did, but wasn’t sure because of multiple sexual partners.  They appear to have separated during the pregnancy (which he didn’t know about) and she was admitted to a mental hospital.  Due to her very severe mental health issues, the child, a little girl,  was taken at birth and placed with her parents.

Four months later, this very troubled person committed suicide. This remains the real tragedy of this story.

To properly understand all this (as far as it’s possible to understand this bat shit crazy story), you have to understand that the mother was transgendered.  Just because a person is trans does not mean they are “out.”  If he was trans, then he was always trans.  You don’t just wake up one morning and find you’ve become transgendered. And trans people in our society are treated horribly, and that’s putting it mildly.

So imagine the situation.  A transgendered man marries a straight (well, sort of straight – we’ll get to that) man.  The straight guy rapes the trans guy producing an undesired pregnancy, or maybe somebody else did.  Who knows? The trans guy has to carry this pregnancy, that he did not want, to term.  The child is given to his parents who are apparently religiously very conservative and hell, no, do not accept the trans thing at all.

I suspect I’d have been in a mental hospital too if I’d had to deal with all that.  I might also have checked into the mental hospital had I been one of the parents.

But of course there is more. You knew there was more.

The supposed straight guy isn’t totally straight.  He’s sort of a wanna-be pedophile. He’s written about it.  He’s said that if he had access to a child, he’d engage in sexual activity with her, and that includes his daughter.

So he sought custody.

This went over really well with the Child Protective Services folks and the court system, as you can imagine.

Thankfully, everyone said, “Gee, this is absolutely beyond nuts,” and told him to fuck off.

So he went home to Virginia where the governor and the legislature opened up the law regarding felons to allow them to run for office.

Are you totally weirded out yet?

beat wife
click image to link to source

Obviously, he’s never going to be elected to anything.  Nobody who supports the idea that men have a right to beat their wives could possibly be elected in the United States to anything.  Right?

I mean, it’s okay to do that in Russia.

And about 25% of the American electorate lost their fucking minds and elected a man to the presidency who very likely got into office by colluding with the Russian government, but that’s got nothing to do with this, since Russia also hates the gays. The same guy thinks it’s perfectly okay to “grab” women “by the pussy.”

But it’s all okay.

Right?

Sometimes I just want to quit reading the news altogether and go visit with Frances. She thinks  humans are just plain crazy.

francesinstanchion

What in the Hell?

Several years ago, I got involved with a group of folks who were either graduates of or former students from Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina.  It’s a fairly small segment of the population but BJU has a way of injecting itself and its religion into its students and the scars last a very long time.

Discord developed, as discord often does in groups, and there were a couple of women who were particularly successful and cruel in their attempts to manipulate the dialog.

They had a Facebook page, which one of them still runs, although it’s a shadow now of its former self.

Somebody started another Facebook page in opposition to them, and the result was a Facebook war. Multiple pages were started. People began slinging mud everywhere.  Most of the claims were simply “she said/she said” kind of things. Everyone tried to get everyone else taken down, or put in Facebook timeout.

I watched all this unfold and figured that there was only one avenue to success.

First, it had to get off Facebook.  If you play on Facebook, you’re subject to Facebook’s rules.

Second, it had stop being about “she said/she said.”  Facts were all that mattered.  Nothing else. And mostly, it needed to consist of the words of the other side.

So, I started a website, called Romancing the Victims. In the beginning, it was simply a static website, and it stayed that way for about a year. I finally added a blog section and began writing relatively frequently, allowing comments.

It reached a good many people, considering the extremely limited audience.  And it was successful in doing what I wanted to do, which was to counteract the malicious crap being spewed by these two particular women (and a third who was added later).  My goal was to have a place where, if somebody said “Who is Cathy Harris?” or “Who is Camille Lewis?” one could say, “Go here.”

When this Naugler thing caught my eye, and after Joe dragged me into it by reacting to a comment that I made by coming over to my Facebook page and threatening me with a lawsuit, I realized that I was seeing the same sort of situation develop, only on steroids because the story reaches a much wider audience.

There were a zillion pages, pro and con, most of them beyond silly.  Sharing photos of the Naugler kids and discussing their bug bites or fantasizing over their imagined illnesses is just ridiculous.  They made accusations that were clearly not grounded in any sort of fact, and many of them (on both sides) were either libelous or very, very close to being libel. I only made a few (less than five) comments on any of those pages, and was banned from the one run by Teresa Frogue for pointing out that her accusations against Nicole were not founded in fact.

So, I did what I’d done before. I started a website.  Only this time, I made it a blog right from the start.

I thought it would serve as a way to get all the shit off Facebook, to eliminate most of the bogus, ridiculous claims (on both sides) and to publish nothing that wasn’t based in fact.  I grant you that I offer up my opinions here, but it’s quite clear when I’m writing factual stuff and when I’m stating an opinion.  Nobody has trouble telling the difference.

And I made all sorts of relatively strict rules about not only my commentary but also the comments.

Nothing about the children.  No names, no faces, no inspection of bug bites, no speculation about the likelihood of jail time for any of them. Nothing.

Nothing about Nicole’s business.  Not the name of the business, no speculation about its perceived success or failure. Nothing.

I think for the most part, I have managed to keep this blog focused on factual data combined with my personal snarky opinion.  I’ve also managed to make nearly everyone mad at me at one time or another.

But the pages – those godawful, stupid, idiotic Facebook pages – remain. Not only do they remain, they are just as bad as they ever were.

Nicole asserts over and over again that people are stalking her online, that they are monitoring her every move and criticizing her every word. And she’s right.  Yes, she fans the fire. I understand that.  But the pages contribute to this by giving her firewood and often kerosene.

As an example, and perhaps the most egregious one, Nancy Furman is the person who very conveniently let Viv Smith know that Nicole had posted a video of her shop with the dog tied out front. Viv wouldn’t have known this, folks, if that person hadn’t taken it upon herself to make sure Viv knew about it.

The result of that has been that both Viv and Eric and Lisa, whose services were volunteered to Viv and Eric by Nancy, are in court over and over again.  Nancy isn’t paying any of their legal fees. She’s not dealing with her business being placed in jeopardy. She doesn’t have the aggravation of one court appearance after another. She’s just sitting back enjoying the whole scene.

I feel very much like I am fighting a war on two fronts.  One side is the enemy. The other front is the allies.  When I attempt to move forward and gain ground, I have people grabbing my ankles and pulling me back, over and over again.

I know that legally I am on solid ground. I know that Nicole cannot file a civil suit against me and win. I am totally aware of that.  I know that I have nothing to do with any of those stupid pages, that I have never participated on any of them (except for a few comments a very long time ago) and that my sole participation in any of this has been restricted to this blog and a very brief time on Free Jinger. There is no co-author here.

But Nicole and Joe lump me together with all of it. They insist that we’re all one monolithic thing.

I’m tired of dealing with it, frankly.

I have shit to do. Real life stuff. And I am going to do some of it.

You guys who run all those pages – have at it.  You insist that you have a right to free speech just like I do, and you are right.  You do.

Enjoy it.