A Few Convience Items

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So we’ve fell in love with our smoothie bags!  I wrote about them in the Freezer Meals post.  (Which by the way…I have a huge cook day coming up in a few weeks and can’t wait to share it with you!)

After that success, I decided to make instant oatmeal packs.  For the same price as a box of instant oatmeal packets, I was able to buy a bag of quick oats.  Keeping in mind that I only made 6 bags and barely made a dent in the oats, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s cheaper!  Took me maybe 10 minutes to throw them together, and it only took that long because the 3 year old was helping. 

Now, if you’re kids like the candy filled ones, don’t dispair!  The website suggests sprinkles (not in the bags)!  Now what kids wouldn’t like that!

I did add raisons to our bags, but probably won’t the next time.  Or at least not in all the bags.  That way the kids can have a sprinkly option, and my 1 year old isn’t eating raisons so much.

Make your life easier!  And cheaper!

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Lard!

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We use lard for baking and such, and while it’s only about $2.50 for a block of lard, it really adds up during baking season.  So, I asked the farmer that delivers our meat CSA if he could throw in some fat for me to render.  He said sure, and away I went!So for this experiment I didn’t spend much.  I had to run out last night and buy cheese cloth.  The fat was free, I had the jars already, and I used my slow cooker to render out the fat.

What you do is cut your fat up really small.  Add some water to the bottom of your slow cooker.  Not a lot, just enough to cover the bottom by a quarter of an inch so it doesn’t burn.  Turn it on low (I have a warm setting that we used after the fat really started sizzeling) and let it go.  It will take a couple hours, so don’t do as I did and start it after supper.  It was 11 pm before I could go to bed!

If you need more info, like what type of fat to ask for or proper directions, there’s lot of sites to help you out.  Just do a search for rendering pork fat in a slow cooker.  Just don’t believe any that say you can do it in a couple hours!  It’s more like 4!

Seriously the grossest part of making lard is having to cut up this bad boy! Ugh...kinda makes me gag just looking at it!

After I cut up the fat and threw it in the slow cooker. Like I said, this is a bit big. Next time (and yes, there will be a next time!) I will dice it up. Or get my husband to do it! Seriously so gross.

This is after a couple hours. As you can see, the fat is starting to render out! I did it! At this point you really need to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. I started picking out the really dark pieces at this point too.

So at 11pm this is what I had. I could have gotten more off the fat, but I gave up for the night. I strained it off with a fine mesh strainer lined with 1 layer of cheese cloth. Then I covered the jar with a couple pieces of cheese cloth and left it to cool overnight.

And this is what I woke up to in the morning! It looks nice and white in this picture, but I think mine is actually a bit more yellowish. Not enough for my to be concerned about using it in baking, but enough to be unsatisfied with what I did. Next time I will use my smaller slow cooker and cut it up smaller. And start it in the morning!

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