Schmaltz and soy

While on a recent whirlwind trip that included a stop in Seattle, I purchased a copy of Meatpaper at my favorite newsstand hard by the Pike Place market.  I always grab a copy of this magazine whenever I’m in Seattle because I can never find it anywhere else. Today I finally broke down and subscribed.

The quarterly Meatpaper was founded by a couple of vegetarians who made the conversion to meat eating a few years back.  (The founders say that when vegetarians cross over to the meat-eating dark side, bacon is the most common conversion food.)  It’s a difficult magazine to pigeonhole.  One would think it would revel in meat eating, and, in a way, it does.  But it does it in a daredevil sort of way, much in the way a magazine on skydiving might portray the thrill of that sport while still noting that certain death is only a chute failure away.  My take is that the writers and editors believe that meat-eating is a perilous undertaking, but one that many people choose for the taste despite the risks involved.  As anyone who had read this blog for anytime knows, my beliefs don’t quite fall that way.

The most recent issue contains a couple of articles I want to tantalize you with.  One that describes an almost unbelievably scrumptious food that I’ve yet to eat, at least knowingly, and another article I find deeply disturbing.

First, to the scrumptious.

In “Schmaltz Redux,” Daniella Cheslow briefly describes the history, disappearance and resurgence of a staple of Jewish cooking: schmaltz.  For those of you who don’t know what it is (and I was in that category until I read this article), schmaltz is basically chicken lard. Small pieces of chicken fat are cooked slowly until they resolve into an oil.  Throw in a few pieces of onion during the process, and you’ve got schmaltz, which can be used much as lard or duck confit.

To give you an example of what I mean about daredevil writing focusing not on just the delicious and nourishing virtues of schmaltz, but on the risks (non-existent, in my opinion) of consuming it.

“I love schmaltz.  But it’s very unhealthy, it’s all saturated animal fats.  I stopped eating schmaltz when my grandmother died in 1972,” said Susan Rosenthal, 59, a physician from East Brunswick, New Jersey. “I have a master’s degree in nutrition [a dead give away that the woman knows almost nothing about nutrition], so if I would have given my children schmaltz, that would have been shameful.”

Shameful indeed.

I’m sure this enlightened woman would have no qualms about giving her children all the olive oil they wanted.  But according to the USDA nutrient database of foods, olive oil contains 14 grams of saturated fat per 100 g whereas chicken fat contains 20 grams in the same amount. But 100 g is 3.5 ounces, and since schmaltz is used as a cooking oil, I suspect most people don’t eat much more than an ounce at a time, which would mean the schmaltz would give the children a little over 5 g of saturated fat while the olive oil would contain 4 g.  A difference of under two grams.  Not a huge difference in my opinion.  And since the schmaltz also contains a lot of both monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, it can’t really be characterized as “all animal saturated fats.”  But such misinformation is what comes from a master’s degree in nutrition.

The article goes on to detail a little more of the history of schmaltz and its resurgence but, at the end of the piece, once again the specter of early death from eating schmaltz rears its head.

To bring her article to a close, Cheslow offers a quote from David Sax, author of Save the Deli:

There’s something these days that’s sexy about it [making food from scratch].  I think [schmaltz] is coming back for that reason, and also people appreciate the taste, and they realize that it’s going to provide a richer experience.  Literally, figuratively, tastefully, and spiritually, it’s a heart stopper. [my italics]

Jesus wept.

I have elicited a promise from MD that when our brutal travel schedule over the next month and a half comes to a close, she will make us some schmaltz, an event I will dutifully record photographically.  Until then, however, you’ll have to make do with photos and instructions I found online.  The schmaltz in the photos in this blog post look great, but the uses the blogger makes of the schmaltz are not my cup of tea.

Now to the disturbing.

When you think Argentina, you think beef.  The Pampas, gauchos and endless herds of cattle.  For years Argentina has been one of the great beef reservoirs of the world.  But unless things change, that all may be coming to an end because the cattle are being displaced by a more profitable commodity: soy.

“Plowing the Pampas,” an article written by Nicholas Kusnetz, describes how many Argentinian ranchers are hanging up their bolas and picking up a plow.  Why?  Because soybeans are a vastly more profitable use for the land than raising cattle.

Kusnetz spoke about the switchover with scientists at a government research station in the Pampas.

Five years ago, one of the researchers told me, I would have been surrounded by pasture.  Now, nearly all the cows were crowded into feedlots.  The land was a tricolored patchwork as far as the eye could see: thousands of acres of deep green corn leaves, lighter green soybeans, and the straw-colored stubble of cornstalks that had been sprayed with Roundup to ready the field for soy.

At the station, two soil specialists showed me where they experiment with different crop rotations.  They have found that their most productive “rotation” is just the opposite: all Roundup Ready soy, all the time.  They don’t know why, they tell me, but it grows well.  They don’t see any reason to grow anything else.

“If I were a farmer,” I ask, “and I came to you for advice, what would you tell me?”

“Pure soy,” they say. “The more soy you have, the better your profits will be.”

The article goes on to describe how the economic realities are driving the ranchers to become soy farmers.  I don’t have a problem with this; you’ve got to expect that people will follow the money.  What does trouble me is that a crop with such a disastrous effect on health could be more valuable than cattle, which have been providing humans food for millennia.  But the herds are shrinking, and soon, if things don’t change, in a few years Argentina could become an importer of cattle.  An almost unthinkable proposition.

Should this disastrous end come to pass, I wonder if the grand ranches of the Pampas will still raise a few cattle along with thousands of acres of soybeans.  And will these few beef grazing in a small lot allow the farmers to continue to refer to themselves as ranchers despite the vast majority of their income coming from soy?  Probably.  I’ve seen it happen in Arkansas.

The delta lands east of Little Rock are made up for the most part of vast soybean growing operations.  The farmers who own and farm the land were descended from cotton farmers.  Cotton farming was the tradition, but economics won out, and most of the cotton fields were replanted in soy.  But old traditions die hard, and most of these farmers still keep a small patch of cotton on their land, and if asked what they do, they reply that basically they’re cotton farmers but they grow some beans on the side.

I suspect that if things continue in Argentina, many self-proclaimed ranchers will be growing a few beans on the side as well.

Sad. Very sad.

I would encourage you to subscribe to Meatpaper to keep up with what’s new and edgy in the world of meat.  I have no affiliation with the magazine nor do I get any click-through income if you subscribe.  I just like the idea of former vegetarians writing a magazine on meat and making a go of it.  And I want to help.

I’m going to start a new tradition with this post.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I read a lot.  People often ask me what I’m reading, so I’m going to start putting my current reading list at the bottom of the posts so those of you who are interested can keep up.

Survival of the Fattest by Stephen Cunnane

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  (This isn’t a reread.  I’ve never read the thing, so I figured it was about time.)

The Plague by Albert Camus  (I’ve never read this one either, and it’s taking me forever to get through it.  But I’m almost finished.)

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

The Genius in all of Us by David Shenk

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieig Larsson (This one won’t be available in the U.S. until May 25.  A friend who visited me from the UK, where it has been available for months now, brought me a copy.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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159 thoughts on “Schmaltz and soy

  1. I recently discovered the joy of schmaltz. I’ve begun making schmaltz and keeping it for all sorts of cooking uses. It is luscious in the deeply satisfying way that bacon is luscious, with its own special velvety quality.

    When I make chicken dishes that call for the skin to be removed (as with many curries), I peel it off the parts and lay it on a cookie cooling rack set in a cookie sheet. I bake them in a slow oven, about 300, until plenty of fat has rendered out, so much that it looks like that’s all there’ll be. (Haven’t timed it, sorry.) I cool it enough to pour into my schmaltz container, and refrigerate for later.

    Meantime, when the chicken dishes call for sauteeing an onion in something or another at the start, I use schmaltz from before!

    The crispy chicken skins, by the way, are delicious snacks. Salt them while they’re still hot. But not over the rendered fat; I want to keep that unadulterated!

    I never have seen this method described anywhere else. It works a treat, but I wonder how it was done traditionally. How sad to read of the nutritionist who allowed her family tradition of who knows how many hundreds or even thousands of years die with her grandmother because of fad, bad science.

    • Great idea on the chicken skins. MD has thought about doing that but never tried it. As soon as we get settled again, we’ll give it a whirl. Thanks.

      • One of the varieties of yakitori in Japan is chicken skin. It is commonly available without the sauce. It’s quite tasty.

      • The crispy chicken skins have a name, just like schmaltz. They are called gribenzes (spelling might be off – it is from Yiddish, after all). They are the pork rinds of Jewish cuisine and to my mind a lot better.

        Vesna, thank you for the method. I have been trying to make schmaltz/gribenzes, but they don’t seem to turn out right. My sister in Israel cooks them on the stove for a long period of time to render out the fat, but when I’ve tried it, the skins are not crispy. I will have to try your method.

        Dr. Eades, thank you for an interesting site. I just stumbled on it when searching for information about schmaltz. I have been following a low carb way of life for several years now and feel so much better. I will be visiting your site often.

        • I began your diet way of eating last year. I combined it with Atkins. I have lost weight, but I seem to be losing bone and energy. I need your blog to address this or a reply from your staff as to what is wrong.

    • Vesna,

      Do you know how long your schmaltz will stay good in the fridge? Also, what type of container do you store it in.

      Thanks,

      Sue :>)

      • @Susan in Spokane,

        It seems to stay good indefinitely. I’ve had it for a couple of months and it’s been fine. I try to always take a whiff of any ingredient before I add it to anything else, and in this case I would discard it if I detected a stale smell, or any smell that I wouldn’t want to taste in whatever dish I’m making. I’ve always used it up before that occurred, though.

        I store mine in a Tupperware-type container. Specifically, it’s a container that came as a promotion for Spam — it’s just the right size and shape to fit a can of Spam (it came free with a can of Spam on the grocery shelf, you see). It’s bright yellow with the word “SPAM” formed into the plastic. I just think it’s the perfect color, easy to find because it doesn’t look like and isn’t shaped like anything else in my fridge, and a great sight gag to boot!

        @lark, Did your corned beef have a strong celery flavor? I’ve made it with sodium nitrate and the chemical flavor ruined the whole thing for us. Maybe I just used too much

        @Dr. Mike, Do you listen to audiobooks at all? I’m a junkie, myself! :) I love reading books, but I would hardly get any book reading done at all were it not for my Audible subscription, and the audiobooks at the public library.

        • I’m not much of an audiobook listener. I’m a very fast reader, and I could probably read three or four books in the time it would take me to listen to one.

          • Me too, but not when I’m driving, walking, cooking or doing housework. That’s the glory of the audiobook. I only wish I could take ’em into the shower!

    • Vesna,

      This is a very common method of preparing a ‘treat’ in France. My Mumma (French) always reserved chicken skins and baked them as ‘chicken cookies’. Crisp, salty and never enough of them! I am making them now, as my husband has become somewhat addicted. The best ones come from the thigh meat, and since I cook up the thighs for my dogs (my dogs eat MEAT and only meat, no carbs. Ever.) I first strip off the skins, then gently boil the whole thigh (only one central bone, thus easily removed), then and bake the skins for our treat!

      Your method is very good, and well described. Bake slow (this keeps the fat from oxidizing/burning), which will keep the fat clear, and give it only a very mild taste. Which lends it to all manner of stove top cooking.

      I separate it (The oxo-good grips separator is the best, although the liquid must be cooled to avoid cracking it), then pour the fat into ice cube trays. I freeze 20 or so in a zip-lock, and use it for all sauteing/frying/skillet dishes – including morning eggs.

      I find it to be the most pleasant of all fats, and has the least identifiable flavor, thus it is perfect for almost any dish.

      • Thank you so much for your feedback and info, Wallflower! How very cool to learn that somehow I hacked my way to a method that is similar to a traditional one.

        I can’t wait until morning — I will be cooking my morning eggs in chicken schmaltz. Never thought of it! (I’ve been using butter and coconut oil.) I’m sure it will be delicious.

        What I’m wondering about is, you mention separating the fat, but after I bake the thigh skins (that is usually the piece I use, too), it’s all fat, nothing to separate.

        • True enough, baking the skins provides you with fat, but if you simmer the rest of the bird (I use thighs, as I said, as they are quite fatty), you can skim the fat. You will get some of the stock as well, so you need to allow it to sit to separate – but you know that. I may not have explained myself well.

          I give my dogs SOME of the stock, but reserve some for us as well. I use it for everything, including a lovely treat for my husband when he returns from work and is particularly vexed by some office idiocy! Soothes the savage beast like nothing else, save Scotch.

      • But… but… the skin and bone are integral parts of the chicken nutrition for the dogs!

        We feed BARF — Bones And Raw Food; our dogs usually get raw chicken backs, skin, bones, marrow and all, for supper. (Raw eggs and cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast.) I know, I know, you’ve heard chicken bones are dangerous. According to Dr. Billinghurst, the Aussie vet who started the BARF movement, it’s *cooked* chicken bones that are splintery, raw ones are easily chewed up and digested. Our dogs have had no problems, though we do chop them up with a big scary cleaver for the pug, who tries to inhale his food whole.

    • I should also add that I skim about 1/2 the fat off the simmering thighs. I want my dogs to have the fat too, but too much is not so great (I don’t much like being gotten up at 2:00 a.m. for ’emergency’ outs).

      ‘Commercially’ grown chickens are way too fat. The ones that I raised (alas, we now have neighbors who object to chickens, so we comply with their wishes, although there is no law) were far leaner, tastier and produced much better eggs. Unless someone was a gastronomic moron, they could easily tell the difference in a side by side taste test.

      I am fairly certain (please back me, if you agree, Dr. Mike) that the chicken livers that you buy in grocery stores are from chickens with fatty liver disease. They are pale yellowish, with very little structure, not the maroon more solid livers from MY chickens! Also, my chickens were ‘free range’, and were given their own garden patch to snack from – they like comfrey, radish and all small plants. Chickens, given a choice of foods, prefer insects to grains. I think the grains are the problem… Of course that could be my own confirmation bias.

      Oh how I regret my chickens! We are close to retirement and will move further into the country. There we can raise chickens/steer in peace!

      • You are probably correct about the chickens in stores. I suspect they are fed on grain throughout their lives and do develop fatty liver. Free range chickens do eat insects, which would prevent the problem.

        • So it has been my experience – I am so glad you are weighing in on the comments, as I like reading them and seeing your response!

          Free range IS what it is cracked up to be, and if you can, you should try to get a few prepared chickens (and certainly the eggs) and do your own comparison. The ‘vegetarian’ diet is most definitely at fault (no science here, just observation, but, humbly, astute observation).

    • The crispy chicken skins, by the way, are delicious snacks. Salt them while they’re still hot. But not over the rendered fat; I want to keep that unadulterated!

      Just tried them the other night and then again last night. Excellent! Thanks for the suggestion. I might start accumulating a lot of skinless chicken thighs in my freezer, LOL!

  2. “Predictably Irrational”?

    Someone’s done a bio on Colpo?

    That IS disturbing to hear about Argentina beef. I’ve never had strong feelings against soy-don’t eat it myself much, but otherwise don’t care about it. This story alarms me and quite franky, pisses me off! Those soy-f*ckers!

    I used to live in Brazil, I wonder if the same thing is happening there?

    • Predictably Irrational…a bio on Colpo. Hilarious.

      No, not a bio on Colpo, but a very good book. Good enough, in fact, that of the books listed, it’s the one I turn to first. But it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

  3. I recently read a book called The Shameless Carnivore that fell into the same trap. I would argue that the author didn’t succeed in being a shameless carnivore since he kept saying things like “if only bacon were a health food.”

  4. Interesting post, as usual, Doctor; and an interesting smorgasboard of books at the end, there. But Ayn Rand AND Camus?! That’s like eating a fat, juicy Porterhouse steak–and a big sloppy bowl of pasta…. But I’d be interested in knowing how you manage a reading list that seems to me rather “unwieldy” (for lack of a better word coming to mind); I mean, just the quantity alone seems daunting: how do you manage to focus on and digest seven works at a time? For myself, FWIW, I generally have no more than three books going at once (generally, one fiction, and two non-fiction). Do you focus on different books at different times of the day? Or different books on different days? Or do you proceed through all seven, one after another, within a single block of time, and on a regular basis?–or an irregular basis, for that matter?…. Just curious; I think “reading habits” are a fascinating subject, which hasn’t received much “research” attention (at least, not to my knowledge; but perhaps I’ve just not “read that one” yet!). Thanks again for your latest post!

    • The way I’m wired up, I wake up at about the same time every morning irrespective of what time I went to sleep the night before. Consequently, I do most of my reading at night. I start with the most ponderous and technical of the books I’m reading and read until I’m tired. Then I go to the next most difficult and repeat. I end up with the fun read at the last, which, in the case of the books I’m reading now, is Predictably Irrational.

      I have several of these books on my Kindle, which I take with me wherever I go. If I have to wait anywhere, I read from the Kindle. By grabbing bits and pieces of time here and there, I can get a lot of reading done.

      I almost never watch television – I would much prefer to read. Even though I spend most of my working day reading the medical literature, pleasure reading relaxes me like nothing else.

  5. An acquaintance of mine often says that the times he is most jealous of another person is when he meets someone who is reading “Atlas Shrugged” for the first time. I have to agree. Enjoy!

    • Well, I keep waiting to get to the gripping, can’t-put-it-down stage, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I read The Fountainhead in college and was really taken with it. But, so far, Atlas Shrugged hasn’t had the same effect.

      • Hi Dr. Mike,
        It’s true – Atlas Shrugged begins to grab you later on – you must survive the beginning, which is a ‘slower’ grabber, to get there. I thought there is a great irony that you’re reading an ode to reason and rational man at the same time as reading Ariely’s claims that people are irrational. I’m with Rand. And it makes me SO happy that you’re reading Atlas!

          • I read Atlas Shrugged well after my awakening as a libertarian and found I was one step ahead of the ‘plot’ the entire time. The gripping part for me was watching how Rand got the economics so right. I do not, at all, agree with her and Galt about what the solution should be.

            It’s a book that casts such a long shadow over that part of the political spectrum that it’s nearly required reading.

            Ta,

      • I’m about 1/3 of the way through my first read of Atlas Shrugged, too. Also haven’t gotten to the gripping part, either, but I am enjoying the read quite a bit, nevertheless. My other current readings include Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, Tukey’s Exploratory Data Analysis, The Untold Story of Milk (forgot the author’s name), Jeff Hawkins On Intelligence, and The Protein Power Lifeplan by you know who.

        • For some one who was almost completely unfamiliar with philosophy and the libertarian idea of government, this book has totally changed the way I think about the world and the characters are a major source of inspiration for me. I took it with me on a solo trip to europe and couldnt put it down, a memory I will never forget. So I gotta say I was glad to see you are reading this, I also found it funny because reading about the soy crops reminded me of Ma Chalmers :) (That will sound obscure until you finish atlas)

  6. Oh good Lord! This is terrifying! These “doctors” are starving people, and calling it wonderful!

    ================

    At True North Health Education and Fasting Center in Santa Rosa, California, Klaper and his fellow doctors supervise patients undergoing water-only fasts that can last up to 40 days. “Like other organs, the gut could use a rest. We’re talking about 22 feet of small intestine. Its lining is a very active membrane and it needs a holiday sometimes, too.

    “The body is perfectly capable of going for weeks without food as you burn off your fat stores. Of course, it’s no picnic. In the first few days, people are very energetic, as all the energy that would have been used to digest food is put to other purposes. At the end of the second week, they get very quiet, meditative. They’re in a different space,” said Klaper.

    When it’s over, “they’re very light and clean, and we very gently re-feed them on highly diluted fruit juices and steamed vegetables.” However long the fast lasted, refeeding takes half that long. “There’s an art to it, of course,” Klaper says
    ==============.

    There’s an art to starving people?!?! I guess there is!

    (from:
    Poop Is the Most Important Indicator of Your Health
    http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/146163
    By Anneli Rufus, AlterNet
    Posted on March 27, 2010)

  7. What I love is that statement from the nutritionist – if you do the math, assuming that her grandmother was approximately 50 when she was born, that the woman lived into her 70s. Not terribly old, but respectable for someone born at the turn of the centry. And I seriously doubt that the schmaltz killed her (even though that is implied). The article made it seem like she stopped eating it in response to the death, where the quote really sounded to me like she stopped eating it when she no longer had a grandmother to feed it to her.

  8. Do you know whether those Arkansas “cotton farmers” growing mostly soy has anything to do with governmental cotton subsidies, i.e. they get paid to not grow cotton while they are making money growing soybeans?

    • If that’s the case, then that’s an added benefit. But I think most of these farmers prefer to think of themselves as cotton farmers than bean farmers, and so keep a little patch of cotton along with their many acres of beans.

  9. The soy crop is so disastrous to health, yet just this morning I read that Weil recommends eating soy twice a day to help prevent breast cancer.

    It’s apparent that soy is on its way to becoming the new corn syrup, yet corn syrup was never touted as a fountain of youth or cure for cancer; imagine the momentum this movement will take on. Ever wonder why some bad ideas take on a life of their own with a mind-blowing vengeance? I can just see the massive advertising and marketing strategy. And they don’t even have to change the stupid white mustached grin … “Got soy?” Sad, indeed.

    The schmaltz story reminded me of when I was a little girl and my grandmother put rolled up pig skin (very much like a very big slice of beef fat that maintained its shape) in her tomato sauce. Some of my family viewed it as quite the treat. Others, like myself thought it was totally gross. I too, like the schmaltz eaters attributed the animal fat to my grandparents death in their early 70’s, one had cancer and multiple heart attacks, the other from a massive heart attack. It never occurred to me that the pasta and bread could have contributed.

    • What’s your beef against soy?
      Let’s separate the real problem of over-use of a single food (soy, often monogenous GM soy, is in everything these days, so no wonder it is creeping up the common allergen lists – but beef is near the top in the US) from the effects of that food used wisely.
      Soy is deficient in vitamin A and D compared to milk or cheese, and the oil is high in PUFAs. The mineral profile is different from meat. This makes it a bad meat-dairy substitute for kids.
      But, I give my kids soy milk when they have a cold or flu, because dairy milk causes a cytokine reaction that worsens and prolongs their sickness. There is also evidence (from pigs, OK) that soy protein enhances antiviral immunity.
      Also, the phytoestrogens in soy are very strongly preventive of liver fibrosis at dietary concentrations. This requires probiotic conversion, so miso is even better. Soy consumption also doubles output of one of the major bile salts. Women with viral Hepatitis (and probably other risk factors for fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver) get protection from estrogen, which is lost at menopause, but phytoestrogens (especially genistein) can replace the effect of estrogen on ERB receptors in hepatic stellate cells. Protection against breast and prostate cancers seems proven. Most of this relates to isoflavones which can be sourced from clover instead.
      I won’t rely on tofu as a main protein source again, because a few months of that, though good for my liver health, seemed to be starting gynecomastia, which was a worry and stopped immediately when I stopped the soy. There is also a study of an older population in Indonesia showing those who consumed tofu were noticably mentally less acute than those who consumed miso.
      On the other hand, had beef been my main source of protein for months, I don’t think the problems that would have caused would have reversed so easily, and I wouldn’t have expected any benefits.

  10. For more on schmaltz, I strongly recommend the book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

    As for Argentinian beef, it would be a shame if ranchers were to turn to soy, but there are two factors that might impede the process: PRIDE and TASTE.

    Having been to Argentina, I can tell you that their meat is like nothing else on the face of the earth. And Argentinians take great pride in that. You can even buy full roasts at the duty free shop in Buenos Aires airport.

    Moving cattle into feedlots to make way for soy (something nobody eats down there) is bound to create yet another revolution.

      • Actually, the reason for the low price of beef and the resulting conversion to soy is that the Argentine government prohibits the export of beef, to keep the price artificially low. With the growing world-wide appreciation of the benefits, in both taste and health, of grass-pastured beef, a restoration of a free market in Argentine beef would drive the price up way beyond soybeans. Unfortunately, Argentine politicians (and, more and more, our own) are real-life incarnations of their fictional kin in Atlas Shrugged. Good that you are reading it.

        • *sigh*… oh well, at least there’s a chance politicians on at least one side of the political spectrum will pick up on this as a political issue if people get pissed off enough. (It’ll either be the anti-colonialism/anti-capitalism Left wanting to get rid of 1st worlder export soy or the anti-government stupidity/pro-globalization Right wanting to lift the export bans and help farmers make more $)

  11. Bacon can be just fine as a health food. Main problem is nitrite. Basic trick is to soak it overnight in the refrigerator in water. The nitrites are very water-soluble, and will mostly leach out. Unfortunately, nitrite accounts for a large part of the yummy taste, so you can repeat the soaking in a saturated salt (or Lo-Salt or No-Salt, which I use mostly for the potassium) solution the next night, and return some of the flavor. Only downside is it takes two days’ worth of planning for your breakfast bacon.

    • Actually nitrites are a health food so you needn’t spend the time trying to get rid of it. 80 percent of the nitrates and nitrites in the diet come from vegetables sources – processed meats account for little.

      Take a look at this review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from last year. I meant to blog on it (and I still may) but I never got around to it.

      Now you don’t have to spend the two days – just eat the bacon.

      • Vitamin C converts nitrites to harmless metabolites in the stomach, at relatively low doses. So having orange juice with your bacon and eggs (or a sensible antioxidant supplement protocol) might be all the protection needed (of course, nitrates in veges come pre-packaged with the antidote). Most meat nitrate levels are very low but the occasional heavy-handed butcher can still add toxic levels.
        And I would point out that the study you cite lists nitrates and nitrites from fruit and veges, especially nitrites produced endogenously in the gut, which may be a different kettle of fish from preservatives in meat hitting the stomach. After all, those vegetables high in nitrates still decompose in the kitchen and do not seem especially preservative-packed.

  12. We lived in Germany for thirteen years, and I have to say I really miss the easy access to Schmalz. You can buy tubs of it in the grocery stores and it’s made from goose fat.

    My first experience with eating Schmalz was in January while hiking around the town borders with the with the people of the town I lived in. At regular intervals, we would stop for bread thickly smeared with Schmalz and salted. Served with cups of hot tea with rum.

    YUM!

    • Oh yes! My Dad was fond of beef (large bone) marrow spread on bread as well. It is so very good! Most people would be repulsed by it, but give it a try sometime. (Minus the bread, of course.) It is a wonderful ‘fat’.

      My parents were rural people, Mumma from the French Countryside (Provance), Dad is a Hebradean Scot and will eat nearly anything set before him, with relish! A long, long marriage made in heaven in many ways (may you, Dr. Mike and M.D. have such a marriage!). We ate a wide variety of dishes that would cause the heart association’s hair to stand straight up!

      Mumma is still alive and just turned 95, my Dad died at 95 a few years ago. They ate ‘country food’ all of their lives. Fat back, marrow, ‘head cheese’, cream (we sold the milk to a dairy, but kept back the cream for our use), all manner of pork, beef, chicken and MUTTON! That unctuous favorite of Scotland.

      Alas we also had lots of breads, although limited grains.

  13. When you make schmaltz, your house smells so delicious. Always use onion when making it. I wonder where you could find organic schmaltz? We use schmaltz when making fried matzoh for Passover . It is so nice to be free from the bugaboo over schmaltz after so many years.

    • Julie,
      You can make your own schmaltz from skins from pastured chickens. If you have a Weston A. Price co-op near you, you may be able to get the skins that way. That is what I am doing. I spoke with the Amish farmer from whom I get my eggs and chickens and asked if he could get chicken skins. It took several months, but now he sells them. Pastured is better than organic. It means that the animals have been eating as they naturally would. In the case of chickens, they eat grass, bugs, flowers, seeds and some grains (NOT soy). Their eggs are fabulous and the meat is terrific.

  14. Predictably Irrational is great! I wish more people would read it. Helps us remember that we don’t think like computers and we have monkey brains. 😉

  15. Dr. Eades,

    As someone who watches my potassium:sodium ratio (I try for at least 4:1, since paleo ratios were closer to 16:1) like a hawk, how do I enjoy bacon, since it’s extremely high in sodium?

  16. We watched “Food Inc.” this past weekend. I’m saddened but not surprised that the gospel of soy, commercial version, has spread beyond the Midwestern US. Thank you, Monsanto.

  17. @Kelly, I see nothing in the quote to indicate the grandmother’s age at death. She could have been as old as 100, given that Rosenthal was born in 1951, and using max ages of around 40 for Rosenthal’s mother and Rosenthal’s mother’s mother. If the grandmother is Rosenthal’s paternal grandmother, the potential for her to have reached an advanced age is even greater. (Childbearing ages in the 40s in the past were more common than people might think — it’s the age of a woman at the birth of her *first* child that has advanced.)

    RE nitrate/nitrite: Thanks for coming to the defense of this much-maligned, little-understood ingredient. Harold McGee wrote a terrific article in the NY Times about this a few years ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/dining/04curi.html

    My favorite part is where he describes how meatless hot dogs that advertise themselves as “nitrate-free” get their authentically pink coloring from celery juice — due to the nitrate that occurs in celery. !!

    RE Atlas Shrugged: Dr. Mike, I doubt you will become swept under by it if you haven’t been by now. That Rand magic, somehow both blunt and insidious, works best on the still-inchoate worldview of a bright youth. I was in that thrall for more than a decade, and I wish I hadn’t been, what a waste. The didacticism, the unambiguous virtue and evil of the heroes and villains, the scorn for any characters that aren’t smart enough to deserve redemption, despite innocence otherwise — it’s embarrassing.

    It’s certainly worth reading, though, because of its influence. Here’s an interesting 2007 article about that: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/15/business/15atlas.html?pagewanted=all

    • I am 67 years old and have been a fan of Atlas Shrugged for 42 years. Fortunately I have not outlived the conviction that the reasoning mind is the motor of mankind’s progress. You will, of course, make up your own mind as to its value, but to heap disdain on it because it is clear and unambiguous and to falsely claim that its measure of value is being smart rather than thoughtful, or even worse that it is only for the allow innocence of youth, is to praise with faint damnation. Certainly its influence among those of us “old enough to know better” warrants some attention, Indeed, it is scientific reason that, I hope, has brought us all here.

  18. Actually, in my opinion schmaltz is more than a Jewish dish. It is
    prevalent in the German cuisine and ranges into eastern Europe as well. The Germans prefer the venerable goose to the chicken as a source of fat and the pig is at least as popular as source. Here you will hear people waxing ecstatic over “ein gute Schweineschmalz” more than just about anything else.

  19. The schmaltz in the photos in this blog post look great, but the uses the blogger makes of the schmaltz are not my cup of tea.

    Come on Doc, you mean you don’t have a hankering for homemade kishka (stuffed cow’s intestines) or p’tcha (jellied calves’ feet)? :-) I actually grew up eating pig intestines and pickled pig feet. Not bad actually once you get over the cleaning and smell of the intestines before cooking.

    Since I live in Seattle I will have to pick up a copy of the Meatpaper the next time I am downtown.

    Never had schmaltz. Sounds delicious. Something new to add to the menu. Thanks for the post!

    • To me the kishka and the p’tcha are vastly more appealing than the kugel. Give me cow’s intestines and pigs feet over noodles any day.

      Love your blog, BTW.

      • To me the kishka and the p’tcha are vastly more appealing than the kugel. Give me cow’s intestines and pigs feet over noodles any day.

        Yeah can’t remember the last time I had any extruded type of grain.

        Love your blog, BTW.

        Thanks!

  20. Atlas Shrugged really picks up after the first 500 pages. Loved it.

    Some punk uploaded Fat Had to YouTube, and when I told him to take it down, he quoted from Predictably Irrational to explain why he was actually doing me a favor. I had to explain in turn that I’d also read the book and actually understood it.

    • Geez, and I’m just about at page 250. Or so I think; I’m reading on my Kindle, so it’s hard to tell.

      I must not have yet gotten to the part in Predictably Irrational where you’re doing someone a favor to put his movie up on YouTube.

      • Hilarious. Getting comments by email, wasn’t sure if Mike was talking about AS or Predictable Irrational (which I don’t know anything of).

        Mike: read AS in 1991. It completely changed the course of my life, and I’m still on the same course.

        I judge you’re already there, so this ought to be an enjoyable reaffirmation, wouldn’t you say, Tom?

        • Yes, in rereading I can see where the confusion comes from. I’m in the first third of AS, which I’m reading on my Kindle.

          I’m about halfway through Predictably Irrational, which I’m also reading on my Kindle.

      • “I’m reading on my Kindle, so it’s hard to tell.”

        (I told you that’s what I hate about mine: )

        Apple says my ipad has shipped. Anxious to see if, despite burning my retinas with the backlit screen, the experience is any better with ebooks on that device. Should be great for reading articles as pdfs while writing blog posts, hence saving on trees.

        As far as Atlas, I couldn’t finish it. And that’s coming from someone who finished Gravity’s Rainbow. I loved Fountainhead as literature, though, and I watch the weird movie adaptation anytime it’s on the tube (My TV is only for movies).

        As far as a “philosophy”, don’t get me started. I am firmly in the Rothbardian/ Von Mises camp on political economy, but I’m way too influenced by both Darwin and Richard Rorty to believe in grand metaphysical systems of any kind. Philosophy with a capital “p” just reminds me too much of religion.

        And dang you for this new book list thing. Now my unread and half-read stack will never shrink…

        • The biggest problem with Kindle as far as I’m concerned. I hate not knowing what page I’m on.

          Reviews of the iPad have been pretty spectacular so far. I’m eager to see what you think of yours when you’ve had a chance to fiddle with it.

          I, too, like Rothbard and von Mises with a bit of Hayek, Bastiat and Hazlett thrown in for good measure. You are ahead of me if you made it through Gravity’s Rainbow.

  21. Nitrites: Right on about the nitrites coming from veggies. I recently did an experiment with home-made corned beef. Usually I just soak it in a salt/spice brine for a week or so and it comes out grey. The last time I made it, I added four stalks of pureed celery to the brine. The result was as pink as any store-bought corned beef.

    Schmaltz: sounds good but I have tried rendering fat from various beasts and no matter how careful I am with heat, the result always tastes oxidized. Maybe I’m just really sensitive. Maybe due to eating very little unsaturated fat?

    Sous-vide: We finally caved and bought an SVS. It was more than we wanted to spend but we’ll probably make it up from reduced eating dinner out in a few months because so far the food is so darn amazing. I wish the bags were easier to clean though, I hate throwing plastic in the landfill. Also, a question – would there be a problem with just throwing frozen food in without warming up the water bath first? You didn’t really address this in the video or book. I don’t often have enough time to bring everything up to temp in the AM before going to work.

    • Thanks for taking the SVS plunge. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

      You can absolutely put your stuff in frozen before the SVS comes to temp. Also, I hope you’re not using the times and temps in the little book as they are way too high and long. Those are the USDA recommended temps for standard cooking, and since we were under the gun to get the booklet printed, we went ahead and used them. In newer versions we’ll have different temps with a disclaimer.

      We cook fish at about 115F for 30-40 minutes
      Beef at 134F for 40 mins (for good quality steaks; longer (up to 8 hours for tougher cuts, i.e., flank steak)
      Pork at 134F for 40 mins for nice pink juicy chops

      The nice thing about sous vide cooking is that you can start with these temps and times (which make things the way we like them) and fiddle with the temps and times to get it exactly like you like it. Once you know what your temps and times are, you can get perfect results every time.

  22. I was born in Germany – right at the end of the war and I remember eating delicious wholegrain sourdough rye bread topped with a layer of Schmalz and salt. But I have NEVER heard of schmalz made of chicken, it was always made from pig fat. One of my girlfriend’s parents owned a Metzgerei (butcher shop) and it smelled wonderful all the time as the tasty sausages were made each day.

    On a separate note, we watched Modern Marvels on the history channel the other day and watched the making of different deli meats. One of those was ‘head cheese’ (made of large pieces of pig snout and pork) and I remembered something similar when I grew up. I immediately went out to look for it and found the best one (so far) by Eckrich. It tastes heavenly! Hope it’s alright because I’m on a binge right now – making up for lost time. I only joined low-carb about 6 months ago!

    Dr. Eades, I look forward to all your posts – love your unique style and take on things – with that lovely sarcasm (when it is warranted!)

    • Not only was it pig fat but my grandmother, then my mother, and now I added finely chopped apple during the rendering. It further refines the flavor.

    • Lovely sarcasm, eh? Yes indeed. I never use sarcasm – lovely or otherwise – unless it’s absolutely warranted. :-)

      I’m glad you enjoy the posts.

  23. I just finished The Genius in all of Us by David Shenk. Maybe you’ve mentioned it before, I suspect one of the blogs I go to turned me on to it. I find brain plasticity to be an interesting subject.

  24. Interesting bit on soy farming. Would you happen to know for *what* economic reasons the farmers are switching? Is the government subsidizing the crop and therefore providing a perverse incentive, or is there *actual* consumer demand for it?

    And good to hear you’re reading Atlas Shrugged! Though I admit I wasn’t much enticed by it either even though I consider myself a student of Rand’s philosophy. A word of warning however: It’s not about economic theory, as is popularly stated, it’s about the role of man’s mind in his existence.

    • As I understand it from the article, the ranchers net more money per acre from soy than they do from cattle. It didn’t say if there were government subsidies for soy or not, but I doubt it because it does point out that the government has “demonized” soy and charges a stiff 35 percent export tax on it.

  25. Dr. Eades and others —

    Regarding Atlas Shrugged, you might be interested in the series of podcasts that I’m doing on the novel. I’ve done 13 of 20. (I took a break from them to launch Modern Paleo, but now I’m getting back to them.)

    Each podcast runs about an hour, and they cover about 65 pages each. (That results in some strange break points, but they follow the schedule of the Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups I run.)

    I try to limit the spoilers, but there are some. So they’re definitely better for a second-time reader. Anyway, the whole lot is here, with discussion questions:

    http://blog.exploreaynrand.com/

    You can download them in iTunes here:

    itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/explorear-mp3

    • I was aware of these podcasts as I read about them when you post them on Twitter. I figured I would wait until I had read the thing before indulging.

  26. The next time you’re in NYC, I would recommend Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House, on the Lower East Side, maybe the last bastion of traditional Jewish cuisine, in that part of town anyway. The Roumanian Tenderloin is particularly good, and every table has a bowl of schmaltz on it. All the best.

  27. Hi Doc,
    My Jewish grandmother used heaps of schmaltz. Also my Grandfather loved his bacon, but that’s another story. Anyway, bacon aside, he founded a synagogue in Sydney and imported the former chief rabbi of Dublin to do the necessary.
    Then came along “healthful” margarine. By then, grandma had died of cancer, and grandfather had a series of strokes. At this distance, who can say if these were related, but I have my suspicions, warranted or not.
    Her schmaltz was quite yellowish. It’s such a comfort food that in Yiddish it’s also a by-word for sentimentality. (For example, the “schmaltzy” or “schmaltzig” bits of Mahler’s symphonies.)
    Another encounter with fat: while I lived in India with the Tibetans, I learned the delights of “zhag”, liquid schmaltz or the beef or pork equivalents. Honoured guests’ tea would have a layer on top (a couple of fingers’ worth!) of zhag. After initial qualms, I must admit to being fond of it. Not the case, though, with another delicacy: melted ghee poured over strips of barley flour dough with heaps of white sugar poured on top. No thanks!
    And the traditional Tibetan greeting for “you’re looking well” is “Gyag par chag song”, literally “You’ve gotten fatter!”

    • The founder of a synagogue “loved his bacon”? Very strange indeed. You’re grandfather must have caused more than a few raised eyebrows in his time. Zhag on tea sounds dreadful, but, I suppose, as with anything, one could get used to it.

  28. Oh, and I had to do both “The Plague” in English and “La Peste”, the French original at school. Quite a different philosophy to Rand!

    • I wish my French were good enough so that I could read it as La Peste. I think maybe part of my problem in dragging through it is that I’ve got a lousy translation. I downloaded it for free on my Kindle, and it’s probably not the best translation available.

  29. If I were a rancher in Brazil I’d hold out as long as I could with the cattle. You think grass fed beef is a commodity now just wait until our wonderful genetically enginereed food techniques we’ve been scammed on in this country hit South America…and trust me it will, it’s all a matter of MONEY.

  30. When I was an early teen in the early seventies I would visit my father in NYC. He wasn’t Jewish, but always had a jar of schmaltz in the fridge, and I would eat as much of it as I could get away with. I’ll have to try making it. Nowadays I would eat it with a spoon, or on chicharrones or something, instead of Westphalian pumpernickel. We already make the crispy chicken skin, and the kids fight over it.

    Too bad about Argentina, esp. from the point of view of environmental degradation. But they can always go back to beef when demand goes up, which it seems like it must, eventually. The truth will out! Especially with people like you beating the drum. Here in Northern Vermont, we’re doing our part. We’ve raised beef, chicken, turkey, duck, and lamb on our little eight-acre pasture, and are researching more permaculture systems for sustaining those with even less reliance on trucked-in grain. I want to try Highland cattle with their whopping ten-percent-fat milk, and all-A2 beta-casein.

  31. Love, love Kate Atkinson. Want to hear how you fare with her. Read Atlas Shrugged when I was much younger (about fifty years ago — and I read it no less than nine times) and thought she was a genius. Don’t think so now. There are shades of grey, and I do think, in many respects, we are our brothers’ keepers or we’re all doomed. But we may be anyway (keepers or not). I’m still reading Lierre Keith (on my Kindle — how did we get along without them?) and that is one powerful and discouraging and exhilirating read. Thanks for all your great suggestions. (And Amazon.com thanks you too . . . )

    Marcia

  32. It’s our passover celebration tonight. THE BEST part of this are my grandmother’s matzah balls. She makes them with shmaltz. There’s truely nothing better. She was 96 on Sunday and she made a batch of over 5 dozen balls. My in-laws make them with (god-knows what) oil, and they simply don’t cut it. My mouth is watering in anticipation!

    • David, has she shared her recipe and method? Get it while you can! (Best would be to be there when she makes them with her and take lots of notes — memory is notoriously incomplete when a person is writing these things down, and great home cooks can assume too much on the part of the listener.) Then post it here, or at least send it to me! Don’t let the tradition disappear!

  33. A state supported soybean-growing project is featured in Atlas Shrugged as one of the many irrationalities that take place as those with political pull take over the economy.

  34. Nutrition science: You write that someone with a masters in nutrition is beholden to conventional wisdom – essentially. I agree after working with a nutritionist to come up with a gluten free casien free diet for one of my sons.

    My question is this: How can someone educate themselves and actually understand the biochemistry? I have read Good Calories Bad Calories by Taubes, Protein Power of course, The Primal Blueprint by Sisson and every post by Dr. Kurt Harris. I am a living example of a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle, lost weight, have sky high HDL and virtually undetectable LDL/Tri. The problem becomes trying to educate others (wife). I can regurgitate everthing I have read, but at the end of the day, I am still just an engineer, not a doctor or nutritionist.

    I am ready to stop taking all of this on faith, and instead start learning the biochemistry. I don’t have time to take any courses, but I can consume textbooks. Does anybody have any thoughts about what materials I can use to self-educate. The best I have found is the text “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism”.

    Thanks!

  35. Well, all of this talk about schmaltz makes me want to try it. I have heard the name before in connection with music, but this must be the source of that use. I have a good tolerance for it in music (depending on my mood) and will let you know about the ediible variety.

  36. Dr. Eades-I am newly diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I have been following a ZC diet for about 9 days and the symptoms are abating. My Dr. informs me I have to be on medication for life to maintain remission.. Can you please please please devote a blog on IBD and low-carb diet? I have searched your older blogs and read what you have said but it would be very helpful if you could discuss this. Thanks in advance.

    • Though I am not Dr. Eades (I agree, please, please, spend some time on this issue…) I thought you might be interested in my experience.

      When I began being a serious devotee to low-carb, I felt it was important to have a ‘high fiber’ diet, ergo I made low-carb bran muffins and ate one or two a day. I will add that I have always had ‘issues’ when my.. digestion. Either constipation or diarrhea, almost all of my adult life (oddly, not when I was living with my parents, eating their ‘high fat, high protein’ diet, with bread, of course, so go figure).

      So I give up carbs, but eat bran muffins. Still the issues… When a girlfriend developed an inability to eat wheat flour and she gave it up entirely, her problems straightened out within a few weeks. After doing a little web cruising, and reading some of the comments on this site, I thought I might try ‘free fall’, and just give up all forms of grains, sticking with low carb vegetables and of course, fat/protein.

      Voila! I am better now than I have been in years. I eat not of the bearded grains and I remain just fine. I have experimented and found that even one muffin will push me into digestive distress. I guess I am also a sufferer of IBD, although I have never gone to a doc to get diagnosed.

      Your mileage, of course, may vary.

  37. Interesting post Dr Mike! I had never heard of the ‘Meatpaper’.

    Last week Bill Handel had a guest on his radio show that was an entrepreneur of a gourmet food company called “The Sticky Pig”.

    http://www.thestickypig.com/

    It’s candied bacon, unfortunately not low carb. What was funny about the interview is that both the entrepreneur and Bill Handel are Jewish, and they agreed that bacon is the world’s best food so they eat it even though it’s not kosher.

    I loved Atlas Shrugged but I agree there are slow parts. Once you finish you’ll have an appreciation for the phrase ‘Going Galt’. The book is amazing in its prediction of our current economy and government.

  38. The Gauchos have claimed that they can turn vegetarian tourists into carnivores in as little as 13 days.

    Monsanto can sue the pants off of you if they catch you with a single one of their patented soybean seeds.

    So say goodbye to the Gauchos.

    I preferred Roarke to Galt.

  39. @Dr. Mike: thanks for the SVS tips! Fish at 115F, seriously? I prefer my sashimi cold (just kidding, I’ll give it a try).

    @Vesna: No, no noticeable celery flavor. It tasted just like the non-celery version to me, in other words delicious. I use the pickling spice mix from Penzey’s spices.

    @John in Seattle: I bought “Biochemistry for Dummies”, it was actually a pretty good overview I thought. Plus it looks amusing on the bookshelf (though “Organic Chemistry for Dummies” would be even funnier, but I resisted because it is a little too low level IMO for my purposes).

    • Yes, seriously on the fish. Heston Blumenthal likes his at 113F. The nice thing about sous vide is that you can experiment with times and temps to get it just as you want. Give it a try at 115F, you’ll be surprised at the texture.

  40. “The Fountainhead” was a great novel. Atlas Shrugged isn’t a novel, it’s a polemic. Very interesting, perhaps, but sacrificing real characterization to preach. That was Ms Rand’s right, of course, but it makes for a much weaker book. There isn’t a nuanced character to be found anywhere between its covers–just cardboard cutouts being pushed around on the page to make predetermined points.

    I think the quality of her fiction is inversely related to its length, and that her best work–from an artistic point of view–is her short novel (really a novella) “Anthem.” If you haven’t read “Anthem,” you should check it out. It’s a minor masterpiece.

  41. My favorite application of schmaltz used to be on rye bread in a big roast beef sandwich. This satisfies the separation of meat and dairy in kosher cuisine. (no butter with roast beef) Unfortuately, I now can’t eat the rye bread. Sigh.

    • Dorothy, put caraway seeds in your oopsie rolls. (Google if you don’t know what they are.) As close to the experience of rye bread as you’ll get without grain!

  42. @ Richard — Read A.S. two years ago. Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, Walter Williams, REASON magazine and the Cato Institute put me on the path. A.S. was more of a reminder. Or a warning.

  43. With regard to Schmaltz and for your edification. Schmaltz is the German word for rendered animal fat. It is used in Austria and German for animal fat, be it goose, duck, chicken, pork, and the like. In Yiddish, the language of the Jews in the middle ages and the germanic language descended from Middle High German and, therefore, a sister language to High German and Dialects of southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and heavily influenced by the Slavic languages and Hebrew is came to mean the rendered fat of duck, goose, or chicken. When the Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern Europe immigrated to this country, duck and goose was not common fare, but chicken was. Indeed, I can remember in the `940s and 1950s poultry shops in Los Angeles, Hartford, and New York, where you could select the chicken you wanted from the cages of live chicken and the poulterer would,should you wish and for and additional fee, slaughter, pluck, and eviscerate it for you. Schmaltz became to mean rendered chicken fat. So it did, when adopted into English. Yiddish by the way merely means Jewish.

  44. Well, color me embarrassed. I’ve done the roasting-chicken-skin-till-crisp thing forever, even included it in my first cookbook under the name “Chicken Chips.” Did I bother to keep the schmaltz? No. D’oh! I keep my bacon grease to cook with, of course, but will start keeping my schmaltz from now on.

    My mother said my grandmother used schmaltz as the shortening in her brownies, and it was terrific. Of course, I’m not going to eat sugar or flour. Still, it shows that these things were taken for granted just a couple of generations back.

  45. Schmaltz sounds wonderful, it is now on my must try list.
    As for the soy thing it is in just about every single processed food you can think of even in sausages -Yuk! in fact they can make soy look and taste like just about anything now a true frankenfood. Iit is very dangerous to health product and as a legume highly allergenic, for more info on soy this is a very good web site http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz
    as for it being a cure for cancer try the probable cause of it especially breast cancer. I avoid this stuff more than I avoid sugar when you find out about it’s other health causing problems such as thyroid conditions and fertility problems for both men and women you wonder why this product that was only ever approved as an ingredient in cardboard ever made it to the table as a food – ye gods!!

    • Ah, shmaltz. The staple of the Jewish people! My father still tells me how he enjoyed “gribbenes” on toast when he was a kid. He hasn’t had it since, and especially not since he converted our family to a Pritikin-style diet in the 80’s :-( Unfortunately both my folks are still living that lifestyle. Thanks for the link Judith 😉

      Dr Eades, my post called “What I’ve learned..” is largely attributed to you. You are an inspiration and an incredible source of knowledge for all of us. Thank you for your ongoing dedication and effort on this valuable resource.

  46. If you look around the world rendering fat (actually extracting maximum amounts) for consumption is ubiquitous.

    Certainly our hominid ancestors (as far back as habilis at least) had developed tools to extract marrow from bones.

    Palaeolithic survival foods like pemmican, and post Palaeolithic foods like sausages and salami all rely on fat.

    Anyone for rilettes? Yum

    Beef dripping/ pork lard on bread? Yum

    Ghee and rice? Yum

    My favourite book title…………… “Goose Fat and Garlic”. A great celebration of southern French peasant cooking.

    GO ANIMAL FAT!

  47. We make schmaltz all the time. My husband’s stepmother used to have it growing up, and it’s a traditional passover food for her still – they mix the schmaltz with hardboiled eggs – they also used to add potatoes though.

    I’ve been low carb for years but schmaltz wasn’t part of my family’s cooking ever (and I’ve only been married for 2.5 years).

    My husband and I started making schmaltz about a year ago. We collect extra chicken skin in the freezer and then when we have enough we make the schmaltz. It’s incredible.

    You cut the skin into smallish pieces – about an inch square, I’d say – that’s the most time consuming part. Then you just put them in a big frying pan/shallow pan on a lowish light and just let them cook. The fat will start rendering, and gradually the skin itself will start going brown. When it is already quite brown and there’s a lot of schmaltz, you add a sliced up onion, and keep mixing – the trick is to add the onion at the right point – before the gribenes (the crispy crackling skin bits) get too done, but not too early either, or the onions will get too dark when the gribenes aren’t yet ready. That’s what took us practice to get right.

    When you do it that way, the schmaltz you get is a lovely golden colour and has an amazing taste from the onions. It is delicious used instead of mayonnaise in egg salad, or just used for whatever cooking you want to do. And the gribenes – the chicken skin bits + onions left over – are fantastic just eaten as a snack, or added to salads.

    Recently my husband and I went away for a night, leaving our 1.5 year old with his grandparents. We checked into a luxury spa – and we took a tupperware of gribenes with as a snack! :-) Most people would take chocolates… we low carbers took gribenes!

    I imagine they must be of similar ilk to pork scratchings – we are kosher so we’ve never tasted them.

    Schmaltz is WELL worth the effort involved – and the worst part of that is cutting up the skin into small enough parts to get good gribenes. After that, it’s easy.

  48. My grandparents (my mother’s parents) were from Russia/Poland: They both grew up using shmaltz instead of margarine or even butter…spread out on dense rye bread (I know, not exactly low carb, but at least not the horrendous chemical bread of today), both smoked, had terribly stressful lives but enjoyed themselves…and both lived into their late 80’s. My grandfather died of kidney disease probably from phenacetin (related to acetominophen) abuse in painkillers, and my grandmother did have a stroke or heart attack a year after he passed.

    I’m convinced it was the shmaltz as well as a bit of whiskey every day or two (one shot glassful) and their joie de vivre that kept them going in spite of a lot of other bad habits and unhealthy living. And maybe the smell, each week, of the entire house, of the fried onions and gribenes.

    Also, agree about Atlas Shrugged comments that it’s hard to get into, has serious flaws in it, and has passages later in it that could drive a saint insane (Galt’s monologue). But it’s worth the flaws and sometimes tedium; it’s the best dystopian novel I know of in terms of being closest to where we are now or are headed. Her take on how government passes bills with…excuse the mixing of other dystopian references…Orwellian titles that mean almost the exact opposite of their actual content (does that ring a bell?)…is dead-on precise. I also didn’t read it until I was older (53), and it was an eyestrain (paperback edition) and time consuming. But all problems and flaws aside, it is still a great book and worth the effort. Or so I hope you will find.

    • In my teens I read Orwell’s 1984 and Farm and a bunch of Aldous Huxleys, including Brave New World.

      I came across Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in my thirties, read some, but found the writing long winded and, frankly, pedestrian by comparison with Orwell and Huxley.

      I do not believe I got as far as Galt’s monologue, but, as I only have a sinner’s patience for boring and tedious writing, coupled with a lame story.

      To my hedonistic sinner’s mind, had the original publisher commissioned a re-write co-authored with Arthur Hailey, it could have been a block-buster!

      The first duty of an author, is to communicate, to write well, and thus induce your readers to turn to the next page.

      Reading should not be a Lenten Duty which may do one good, but a joyous and satisfying experience. This was the message of the rockin’ sixties, in contrast to the previous decade. The Age of Aquarius yet lives.

  49. My mouth waters thinking about the fried chicken livers made with chicken schmaltz that my friends make so I have emailed them just now asking them to post their recipe here. It is to die for (well, I hope not!)

    I never make it myself with schmaltz thinking that it is awful for my health, so I enjoy eating it at their place wishing that, through sheer denial, the negative health impact would stay away :)

  50. OMG, “Survival of the Fattest”
    I have to calm down because I read this stuff, about an hypothesis of a mechanism of the evolution of the human brain, and it confirms a few more things for me about my brand new appreciation of how brain-destroying the conventional ‘wisdom’- the eat low-fat vegetarian mantra is!.
    “Survival of the Fattest” by Stephen Cunnane is driving me NUTS. I just finished “Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You” by Ravenskov. I had to take frequent breaks because I got so ticked off every other page. I’m frequently ticked off yet again.
    On a completely minor aside, I read ‘The Descent of Woman’ by Elaine Morgan in high school. It was a rebuttal to Desmond Morris’ ‘The Descent of Man’, which I also read. “Survival of the Fattest” isn’t really about the controversy of whether we evolved on the savannah vs the seashore, but it sure is confirmatory of the seashore (and ‘The Descent of Woman’) without it attempting to be or that being it’s main thesis.
    I also feel that there is no way we ate cereal grains hundreds of thousands and certainly not millions of years ago (although if you talk to bread’s legions of defenders, this is something they don’t seem to consider). I created my own hypothesis that the advent of agriculture 10K ago was a double-edged sword in that it ramped up our reproduction (although certainly not immediately), created many more people and the culture and technology we see to this day. But I had thought that we are now on the cusp of the risk of having adapted to agriculture and that’s our beginning de-evolution. Cunnane brings this up. I am fascinated that I’m not the only person thinking along these lines.
    Phew, I have to take a break. Cunnane has some interesting hypotheses for the mechanism of how this may have worked. The book was $55 but I was compelled to order it from your recommendation Good Doc Eades.

  51. There’s a wonderful book by Jennifer McLagan, titled simply “Fat” (2008). She devotes a page to schmaltz (followed by a page on comfit). Unfortunately, “low fat” reigns in our supermarkets and meat markets.

  52. Forgive me but posting this here to get some feedback.

    I’m starting a primal/protein power based lifestyle change and I’m wondering if I’m running the #s correctly.

    I’m a short 5’4″ male at 215 lbs (interestingly enough people are shocked I way that much. I’m in and out of the gym so I have a good amount of muscle mass).

    My lean body weight is 140 (should be less but like I’ve said, I’ve been in and out of the gym).

    I want to get to 150-160 range. This is where I’ve been the most comfortable (not looking too thin or stocky).

    Using the BMR calculator and Harris Benedict equation (http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/) my daily calorie needs is slightly over 3000 (3069). I want to drop it down to 2000 with diet and exercise.

    The way I’ve broken the #’s it seems as if I’d need to consume 140g of protein, 50g of carbs and 138g of fat (the fat seems high to me).

    140g of protein = 560 calories
    50g of carbs = 200 calories
    138g of fat = 1242 calories

    560 + 200 + 1242 = 2002 calories

    1242 is 62% of my calories! Is this correct? I honestly have no problem consuming 138g of fat, I just don’t want it to impede any weight loss.

    So, Dr. Eades, am I working the #’s correctly?

    Thanks for your time.

    • You are indeed working the numbers properly. I got exactly the same numbers when I ran the calculations. Don’t worry about percent fat – it’s a nonsense number anyway.

  53. I also have a subscription to meatpaper. For anyone who’s wondering where to find it, if you don’t want to subscribe, I bought single editions at Barnes and Noble for months before subscribing. I must say I agree that it is hard to pigeon hole. Don’t we all just love to put things into categories! I think the magazine is written from the viewpoints of conscious eaters. The contributors are always thinking about the significance of what it means to be an herbivore, and the symbolic nature of eating. It’s an endless metaphor to be explored via research in the world, or for a means of artistic visualization/writing.
    As someone who has vegetarian tendencies, but has decided to eat meat, I find the magazine to be intriguing and informative. I highly recommend it!
    ~r.

  54. My mom is Korean and ever since I can remember, she’s made a very spicy full-skin chicken wing stew that is so delicious that it’s well nigh impossible to quit eating.
    Toward the end of the eighties, as the saturated fat hypothesis of heart disease started to kick in, I remember looking at the hardened state of this dish at room temperature with dismay, thinking that I was harming myself by eating it. Some of this information gives me delicious pause….
    I’ve been a big fan of low carb fan for a while, but not because I have a weight problem. I have adhd and I’ve found that if I excise grain carbohydrate and excessive glycemic loads from my diet that I need far less medication and can sometimes do without any. I learned this from my father; he has adhd and deals with it by eating very low carb (fish, meat, berries, nut butters, veggies, and dairy) and by hitting the gym military-style every morning at 5:00am. But low carb is the key: if we eat too much carb the “mental fog” and imparied attentional abilities ensue. Also, when we eat high-carb we both become emaciated and lose musculature. (I say “we” because the similarities in our metabolisms are strikingly similar, and this seems to grant credence to some kind of phenomenon going on here.) We have pictures of my dad during the eighties when his diet was very bread-centric and he weighed about 160 lbs at 6’2″. Now, on a low carb diet, he’s about 220 lbs of solid muscle . I’m the same way: at 6’2″ if I carb up I’ll lose musculature and weight to about 165, and if I carb-down I’ll get up to about 190 lbs of muscle. Got an explanation for this? In your book Protien Power you cite an example of a runner who was emaciated on a high-carb long-distance running regimen, ballooned after he quit running (from hyperinsulinemia), and then looked far better and fuller on a low carb diet with and without body building. What I’ve seen from my father, though, is an example of someone who will never become insulin resistant and “ballooon” regardless of carb intake (he’s 65 and strong and healthy as an ox; I’m 37). The effect of carb on him–and myself–is simply emaciation and impaired mental and emotional stability. This may sound extreme but it’s true: If I eat a bunch of rice or sweets or God forbid, bread, on a given night, I’m laid waste the next day and feel like I’ve been poisoned. It’s the absolute difference between a good and bad day. Because of this, I’ve been EXTREMELY interested in your books. I’ve seen strong personal anecdotal evidence of the superiority of a low carb diet not just for the subset of the population that has ‘syndrome X’ but for–seemingly–others as well (I did find out that I”m celiac, but even accounting for this, the high-carb effect is extremely detrimental to me on numerous fronts.)
    I’m a chemist and so I love the biochem reasoning in your books…would love to hear your take on this.

    • You and your father are interesting cases. It’s difficult to know what’s going on for sure, but if I had to guess, I would say that the carbs you eat – maybe not the pure carbohydrate, but the form they come in, i.e., wheat – cause a low-grade (maybe in your case a little more than low-grade) inflammation. As the body mounts a defense against inflammation, it uses protein (amino acids, particularly glutamine), which come from muscle, the protein reservoir. Over time this gradual depletion leads to a loss of muscle mass. If you were a patient of mine with this complaint, that’s the first line of inquiry I would start down.

  55. I was surprised that no one thought that the soy might be for biofuels (biodiesel) http://green.autoblog.com/2008/02/19/study-finds-argentinian-soy-biodiesel-an-artificial-business/.

    In addition, planting all GMO soy, soy after soy, is a recipe for disaster as pests become resistant (both insects and weeds). http://webs.chasque.net/~rapaluy1/transgenicos/Prensa/Roundupready.html –after reading this, my earlier thought that the cattle could come back (as someone pointed out above), is likely to be more complex a task than leaving them there to begin with.

  56. I just spent 6 days in Poland, where their version of schmaltz is excellent. Our hosts spread it very thick (much thicker than I’ve ever seen butter spread) on rustic brown bread, but since I don’t eat bread anymore, I ate mine with a spoon…

  57. AS is good, not great; glad I read it once. Fountainhead far superior IMO (for her advocacy of love of greatness), and also her non-fiction work “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” – it’s short but dense and well worth your time. If more people read that there’d be a whole lot less crazy in the world today.

  58. Just thought Id let you know that the whole Larson Millenium trilogy has been made into a group of really awesome Swedish movies. Best movies Ive seen in a long time.

    • Just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with MD. Had to wait ’til she finished the book before I would take her, though. Great movie. Highly recommended. I would read the book first, however.

  59. Schmaltz is good stuff! My favorite thing to do with it is fry the chicken skins out of the stockpot on stock-making day. Put a glop in the frying pan, heat it up at medium heat, put the chicken skins in, fry till crispy, and eat by themselves or over vegetables. Wonderful!

  60. I’m slowly coming to adopt this life plan, kicking and screaming both at myself and those who have led me down a treacherous dietary path for too many years.

    Having said that, I read ALL the comments here. I didn’t realize how much I have missed insightful conversation since moving to the sticks, Thanks Everyone, You are All My Teachers.

  61. People say lard’s high in saturated fat too. Clearly none of them have read the label. Butter is higher in saturated fat than lard is, gram for gram (waayyyy higher), yet lard is perceived as being less healthful (people will at least use butter for holiday baking, but there is NO popularly-perceived seasonal use for lard), even though well over half a serving of lard is mono-unsaturated fat.

    Jesus wept.

    The story of the Argentine ranchers only points up the necessity of food production being as democratized as possible. No, I don’t mean a top-down socialist imposition, telling us all what to grow or raise, but it’d be nice if we at least had an allotment system here in the U.S. like they have in the UK. And we have more land so there’d be more room for things like critter-raising. Plus we could change laws in the cities to make it easier there too. Some locales already allow chicken coops and bee hives. Pygmy goats don’t need much more space than a half-acre lot, I don’t think (I could be wrong). Stuff like that.

    Waiting for some Big Rancher to get his head out of his posterior region and switch back away from soy is rather like waiting for the government to quit recommending six servings of grain a day. I don’t understand why some people trust big business, or even any business other than their own, more than they trust the government–in either case it’s you outsourcing your personal power to someone else.

    K, enough of the soapbox, gotta fix lunch for my kiddo.

  62. I have to add my 2 cents worth! I had a mother of German descent and what I called “bacon grease” went into everything! She always had a big pot of it and used it every day. She fried with it, sauteed onions and celery in it, and even used it in her version of spaghetti with pieces of bacon. Her hot German potato salad was to die for and of course, it included bacon grease in the dressing! For years during the low fat craze I thought she meant to kill us all (9 kids) but now I know I’m healthy because of the fat! LOL!

  63. What? You are a physician and you hadn’t read “The Plague” yet?! (Sorry, I just had to make that joke)

  64. My favorite way to make ‘cracklings’ which is how you get ‘schmaltz’ (not a Jewish invention) is to put diced chicken skin in a skillet and cover with water. Cook down so that the water evaporates and then the fat starts to leak out. Cook in that fat until crispy. Save the fat, eat the ‘cracklings’.

    I’d love to see an article about the ‘Israeli paradox’ – that is, an article about how the Mediterranean countries have pretty much a similar diet in many ways, resulting in better health. That is, until you get to Israel. Then you just throw away the book on the Mediterranean diet because they have every problem we have, with our ‘atrocious’ diets!

    • Could have something to do with their religious views that prohibit the consumption of meat and dairy within hours of one another. The Israelis use a huge amount of margarine and other fake dairy products that are loaded with trans fats so they can pursue a meat and dairy diet without actually eating real dairy. Just a thought.

  65. I read your books. began your diet/food and added to my Atkins diet. I lost weight, but I seem to be losing bone and energy. I need your reply to me so I can see what I may need to change.

  66. go down to delancey street in manhattan. beeline to russ and daughters and order up some of their chopped liver. shmaltz, eggs and chicken liver.