Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Coincidence? I think not!
Believe it or not, every single time I've seen a picture of him making this gesture, it's tugged at a distant memory... but I could never put my finger on it.
Then last night it came to me (sorry about the crude photo skilz):
I am soooo relieved to have finally figured that out!
Morbid Curiosity or Self Preservation?
I'm probably inviting wry comments given the subject of my previous post. But I'm wondering if I'm alone in feeling a bit resentful and cheated when a news article or obituary about someone's untimely death fails to mention a clear cause or any potentially relevant health history?
Obviously, when someone passes away in old age, such details are perhaps rightly left out (unless the deceased's longevity was considered remarkable specifically because of a history of risky behavior (e.g. heavy smoker, long-time drug and/or alcohol abuse, participation in extreme sports or career involving active participation in military conflicts or documentation of same, etc.).
I think it is more than just morbid curiosity that makes me look for causative information in obituaries and news articles. After all, it seems reasonable to look for (and presumably learn from), cautionary tales. Otherwise, we relegate our lives and eventual deaths to passive, 'There, but for the grace of G-d, go I' acceptance and helplessness.
I feel this is especially true when celebrities die prematurely. After all, if they knowingly, or even unwittingly influence countless fans with their risky behavior and unhealthy life choices, shouldn't those same fans be made aware that the risky behavior may have been a contributing factor in their untimely deaths?
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that such information should precede or overshadow a person's accomplishments. But if we are supposed to learn from a noteworthy person's life... shouldn't we also learn something - at least when there is something to be learned - from their death?
Sunday, April 23, 2017
I've written in the past about how to render schmaltz at home and the wonderful things you can do with it (assuming you keep a supply on hand).
During the years when pretty much everything but celery was accused of raising cholesterol and causing strokes and heart attacks, a special level of scorn was reserved for animal fats (of which schmaltz is pretty much the poster child).
However, most peer-reviewed research has forced scientists and nutritionists to back off their blanket condemnation of things like red meat, eggs and classic sources of animal fats. In fact, it turns out that a lot of those over-engineered foods, exotic oils and fat substitutes turned out to be far worse for you than eggs and animal fats (eaten in moderation, of course).
So with that in mind, I wanted to remind folks who are restocking their larder (yes, that word comes from exactly where you think it does), after turning over their kitchens post-Passover, that this is a good time to lay in a supply of one of the tastiest and most versatile cooking fats out there: Schmaltz (or as I like to call it; 'G-d's gift to roasted potatoes').
And best of all, unlike expensive commercial cooking oils, Schmaltz is (or should be) virtually free! You just need to do a little leg work and preparation.
First of all, you will need to cultivate a relationship with your butcher (or the head of the meat department at your local supermarket). Just being a good customer and asking the occasional question or advice should be enough. You don't have to take the guy/girl out for dinner or anything!
Next, once you are known to the meat department, mention that you plan to render some schmaltz at home. If that word draws a blank stare, take a moment to explain that rendered chicken fat is a delicious cooking aid, and that it is prepared using chicken skin; something the butcher likely throws out by the bag-full every day as he or she cleans and trims poultry for customer orders and the refrigerated display case.
This past Friday morning I picked up enough chicken skin from my butcher to fill a small garbage back, and spent much of the day rendering the golden goodness (see the linked article above for instructions). The key is a combination of relatively low heat and patience.
On top of that, I cooked Roast Goose for the family for Friday night dinner, so I was able to collect a nice supply of goose fat from the drippings pan I placed strategically under the goose in the oven.
Here are the resulting containers at the end of the process, (the first picture is while the schmaltz is still a warm, translucent liquid, and second is after it has become an opaque white solid after spending Shabbat in the freezer. The salt shaker is there for context/size.
The chicken schmaltz is in the big container and the goose schmaltz is in the smaller one. This should last for six months or more in the freezer.
Use in a skillet as you would oil (a few frozen curls shaved off are enough to grease the pan and add incredible flavor. If you are making roasted vegetables / potatoes, a little bit goes a long way.
Don't thank me... I'm a giver!