Adventures in Pork Belly

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Grilled, pastured pork belly with garden greens

Sunday dinner brought a first at-home pork belly effort by our resident grill meister, (not me), and, dern, that was good!… I had had visions of pork belly on my mind since my novice exposure to it a few years ago at a lovely restaurant, FIG, in Asheville, NC, where I celebrated completing yoga teacher training. When the pork belly was placed before me that first time, I remember being so taken aback by the thick layer of visible fat that I texted a photo query to my brother, the charcuterie and pig anatomy expert in the family. He educated me on the flavor offerings of that layer of fat, and my tastebuds educated me further. Hello pork belly!

The past few days have brought our pig-centricity into the spotlight for sure: rendering lard, preparing & enjoying pork chops, pork sausage, bacon and pork belly. Additionally my hypothyroidism is treated with a porcine-derived medication, and someone I know and love has a pig heart valve.

I want to reflect on a way to honor the pig and express my deep appreciation for contributing to my wellness. I believe one way to honor the pig is to support farmers who optimize their animals’ living conditions.

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Lard is the New Black

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So, all those vegetable oils we’ve been sold for the last 30 years are now out, and saturated fats — butter, lard and coconut oil, to name a few — are in.

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Chopping up 5 lbs of pastured leaf pork fat from a local farmers market

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into the slow cooker for a few hours on low

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to render into pork lard

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straining the rendered lard into jars

I’ve been reading and listening to the science from the experts and incorporating their wisdom into the nutritional side of healing from my autoimmune condition via the autoimmune protocol (AIP) of the paleo approach. I haven’t used corn, canola or vegetable oils for eight months.

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5 lbs of pork fat rendered into 2 1/2 qts of lard

When we cook with fat, we reach for lard, beef tallow or coconut oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are healthy but not always suggested for cooking. Read more on healthy fats here.

Wildharvesting Thistle

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Thanks to a sequence of Serendipitous Events, we now wildharvest and eat yellow thistle from the fields around our home. We learned the how-tos from a local woman who came to our home last weekend to buy our honey extractor and in the process shared some of her wildharvesting know-how with us. Somehow we had not come across her SurvivalHT youtube channel yet, like multitudes of others had.

I snapped these pictures of our thistle harvest this morning.

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I’m not sure why this is called yellow thistle, but we are pretty sure that’s the name of this variety that is prolific near us. Fortunately, they are all edible, so mis-identifying is not a concern.

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After lopping off the flower, we slice along the stalk to remove the thorny leaves

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A few harvested thistle stalks to add to the lunch menu

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Thistle chopped, looks like celery, loaded with nutrients

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Thistle mixed with chopped beets and fennel and mixed with lard

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Roasted in the oven with asparagus…

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…and served with grilled pastured pork chop

Feeling Blessed to Connect with Ancestors…

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… and extended family via the ancestral method of cooking and feeding a crowd with one animal.

Merry Christmas to all!!

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Cajun family Christmas and paleo overlap here by the fire to feed more than 50 people.

Finally!!

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At last! Seven weeks in to adhering to the Autoimmune Protocol I finally got to taste my blog’s namesake. This was some Pederson’s Uncured, No Sugar, Buckin’ Bacon from Whole Foods.

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After I got home from my Whole Foods’ outing yesterday afternoon, which is a 3+ hour round-trip drive, I realized that in my zeal to find some bacon I could eat, I had focused on all of these selling points:

  • Minimally processed
  • no artificial ingredients
  • no preservatives
  • no added nitrates or nitrites
  • no gluten
  • no lactose
  • no MSG, and
  • NO sweeteners

yet overlooked a few missing bullet points: grass-finished, non GMO. So hmmm… I see now from Pederson’s website that they make an organic, non-GMO bacon… It must’ve been out of stock when I was perusing the bacon case at Whole Foods. And, without stating it is pastured, it is most likely corn-fed anyway. So, I did eat this bacon this a.m. (and enjoyed it!), but for future bacon purchases I am going to rely on my pastured-pork supplier and jump through the necessary hoops to order it timely before my next drive down to stock up on pastured meats.

Meanwhile I have several more pounds of this close-but-not-quite AIP-friendly bacon in the freezer.

bacon and lime intolerance?

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Bacon+Lime

Wait, what?… The blog?… The foods?…

Uh, yeah. It is looking like I might have an intolerance to bacon and lime and baconandlime.

First things first. I named my blog baconandlime because those are two of my favorite flavors in the world, and I was excited about Paleo and AIP support for eating bacon with near abandon. And lime too, I presumed.

One astute blog reader recently asked me if bacon was allowed on the Paleo Approach. Yes! It most certainly is. Why then, a reader might wonder, had I not yet, six weeks into my autoimmune-healing experiment, extolled bacon’s health-enhancing and tastebud-delighting virtues and posted a pic of even one, let alone numerous, baconified meal? Great question!… The answer is that my pastured pork supplier, which is located a 4 hour roundtrip drive from my home, requires pre-order of about 10 days on bacon, and the first time we picked up pastured beef, pork and lamb we did not know that. The second time we made the drive to stock up on pastured meats came up too quickly after the first time to get an order in timely. And since we loaded up so much on non-bacon meats in order to increase the time between return trips, we haven’t been back to the supplier and it will be awhile before we return. So, yeah, that has left me in that sad, sad, dreadful position of having a green light on bacon consumption with a red light on bacon in hand… What is even worse: The bacon consumption light now appears to have turned yellow. Maybe red. Simply dreadful.

Stay tuned… more details to follow in my next post.