Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mincemeat and Philosophy

I'm back to my usual goat-milking, after three-plus weeks of recovery.  It's so nice to be with my girls again! And the kids have grown so!  Here's a shot of a few of them coming in from the field.
Cute Kids!
While I was away, I did a lot of canning...and dishes...and canning...and dishes.  Perfect PT for an ailing hand.  I'm almost 100% now, thanks to my lack of a dishwasher!  AND...I have a pantry full of summer goodness. 

Tomato Sauce...and A Great Book

Yesterday's addition was a batch of green-tomato mincemeat.  Now, I've always enjoyed mincemeat pie, but was a bit reticent to truly examine the ingredients.  I followed the recipe provided by the authors of "Putting Food By", which has become my constant kitchen companion these days, and I can tell you that the main ingredients in mincemeat (at least this recipe) are NOT minced meat.  Green tomatoes and apples.  That's right folks...mincemeat pie (green tomato mincemeat pie) contains primarily fruits and seasonings.  The recipe also calls for a cup of suet, but provides substitutions (butter!) for the vegetarians among us.  I went whole-hog (so to speak), and decided to include the suet.

Having read a few things about foods and nutrition lately, I was aware of how powerful fats are in our diets.  In previous cultures, fats were prized and coveted due to the energy they provided; unfortunately, we also know that they store all sorts of things; hormones, antibiotics, etc.  So, in order to include any sort of natural fat in my mincemeat, I needed to purchase it from a reputable source.

I found my good, clean suet at the Emmaus Farmers' Market. My meat vendor took my order for a pound of beef fat, and promised it for the following weekend.  When 10 AM on the following Sunday morning arrived, I was there waiting for him.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it turns out), he hadn't butchered during the week, but had brought me a pound of pork fat instead.  It was clean, white, pork suet, harvested from a happy, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free pig. 

Clean Pork Suet

Regardless of our vegetarian or non-vegetarian status, and all of the personal philosophy involved, I do believe that above all, we need to respect and give thanks to the sources of our food.  Respecting the sources of our animal-based food includes treating the living animal with love and compassion.  Our foods carry the energy we need to survive, whether they're beefsteak tomatoes or  just plain beef steaks.  That energy is more than simple calories we use to fuel our engines.

Reading "Full Moon Feast" this summer has made me increasingly aware of the interconnectedness of our various energies in the cycles of life.  My decision to include a cup of suet in my mincemeat pie canning didn't come lightly; it came with much contemplation and out of respect to wholesome traditions of harvest and agrarian culture. 

It's delicious.  Perfectly seasoned, spicy and nicely textured.  I can't wait to make a pie to share with whoever is at my table.

I hope each of us can enjoy the fruits of our harvest, whatever we have planted or grown; that each of us gives back more to the earth than we have taken (a monumental task, if you consider the waste we each produce), and that we bless and give thanks for her gifts in ways that follow our own cultural and spiritual traditions.  Despite our desperate economic climate, we are living in an abundant world, and need to live mindfully. I'll think of that every time I open a can of food I have put aside for the winter, while I wait for those first tender shoots of spring. In the mean time, I'll keep canning...and giving thanks to the earth for her bounty.
Mincemeat Pie Filling

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