Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21 thru 24, 1886

As always, click on the picture to enlarge for easier reading of original. Feel free to contact me with corrections, additional information, or comments. Additional information can be checked out with the links to the right.

Tuesday, December 22, 1886 --- (Note - Henry reversed entries for Monday and Tuesday, so go back to the previous entry to see Tuesdays original copy.) Henry does the chores, and Henry Tenney comes to get some buttermilk, and to invite Henry and Sarah over to visit with them and with Amasa Warren and his wife. They go, and stay until around 9PM.

Wednesday, December 23, 1886 --- Henry does some writing - not sure what - maybe more work on transcribing the church records? He make some arrangements for killing hogs tomorrow. Henry draws some firewood towards evening. Sarah is working on a dress, and Jen goes to see Mrs. George C. Lewis about cutting and making a couple of dresses for her. Bart comes home to stay until after the holidays. (Note: I guess he is staying with Aunt Harriet in Naples, but I'm still not sure who she is, or why Bart is staying in Naples..... maybe going to school there?) (Another note - Henry does not seem to make any mention of Easter or Christmas, but here he does mention "the holidays"?)

Thursday, December 24, 1886 --- Henry and the boys butcher the hogs - starting around 9AM, and finishing around noon. Henry notes that they are good, but not as large as last year. They boys cut up the meat, including sausage meat. Mills grinds the meat, and they get 49 pounds of sausage made. They also get the lard rendered. See note on rendering lard below:

Rendering Lard

"A 225-pound hog will yield about 30 pounds of fat that can be rendered into fine shortening for pastries, biscuits, and frying. The sheet of fat just inside the ribs makes the best quality, snowy-white lard. This “leaf” fat renders most easily, too -- and is ninety percent fat. The “back” fat, a thick layer just under the skin, is almost as good, giving about eighty percent of its weight in lard.

A slow fire and a heavy pot that conducts heat evenly are most important in making lard. Put ¼” of water in the pot to keep the fat from scortching at first. Remove any fibers, lean meat, and bloody spots from the fat, and cut into very small pieces. It’s not necessary to remove pieces of skin, but many people prefer to. Put a shallow layer of fat in the pot. When the first layer of fat has started to melt, add more. Do not fill the kettle to the top -- it can boil over too easily. Stir frequently and keep fire low.

The temperature of the lard will be 212F at first, but as the water evaporates, the temperature will rise. Be forwarned that this will take a long time at low heat and that you must stir the lard frequently to prevent scortching. As the lard renders, the cracklings will float to the surface. When the lard is almost done and the cracklings have lost the rest of their moisture, they will sink to the bottom. At this point turn off the heat and allow the lard to settle and cool slightly. Then carefully dip the liquid off the top into clean containers. Strain the cracklings and residual liquid through cheese cloth. Fill containers to the top -- the lard will contract quite a bit while cooling. Chill as quickly as possible for a fine-grained shortening.

Air, light, and moisture can make lard rancid and sour. So after it has been thoroughly cooled, cover the containers tightly and store them in a dark, cool area.

The residual of cracklings are a favorite country treat. Drain them, add salt, and eat the crispy bits as they are. Or make a spread by chopping them finely with onion, pepper, and other seasonings and simmering them in a ½ cup broth until they are thick and bubbly.

Cracklings can be used like bacon bits to season eggs and vegetables. You can also add ½ cup to your favorite recipes to make “cracklings” biscuits, cornbread, or other quick breads."

Henry Tenney comes to visit in the evening.

Friday, December 24, 1886 --- They had an ice storm overnight - very slippery! Bart takes John to the blacksmith in Ingleside for new shoes on all 4 feet. Henry works on the butchering the meat from the hogs. He cuts up the side meat and salts it. He then prepares the hams and shoulders. Sarah makes head cheese. (Head cheese is basically made by boiling the hog's head until the meat comes loose. Cut up or grind the meat, and mix with the gelatin from the boiled head bones and spices, and allow to set up.) Omar and Henry go to Naples in the afternoon.

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