I just came across this excellent article (click to read). It explains how it happened when, after thousands of years of consuming delicious saturated fats such as butter, we in the USA suddenly decided that those fats were unhealthy and should be discarded in favor of hydrogenated trans fats and other solidified oils. Even after heart disease became the #1 killer, and the original researcher discovered a massive flaw in her own work and tried to correct it, we stuck with the margarine myth for decades.
Of course, the article never mentions the one really serious flaw in margarine, the one that's worse than heart disease: It tastes like ass. Sorry, but it does. I don't know anyone who's ever said, "You know what this dish REALLY needs to enrich the flavor? A big glop of hydrogenated vegetable oil!" In fact, one of the first discoveries I made when I first began cooking in my teens came when I realized that you could use less fat and get more flavor with a small knob of butter. The margarine was so blegh that you had to use huge scoops of it just to get a faint hint of artificial butter flavor. Give me just a little pat of real butter any day!
So I enjoyed reading that over my coffee-and-raw-milk this morning, and now I'm off to clean the house and make our Shabbos dinner (game hens, root vegetable mash, and turnip/kohlrabi greens tonight, perhaps with fresh wheat rolls). First, though, I'm actually proceeding with plans I had before this article - whipping up some tasty animal fats for cooking!
The raw milk we buy is obviously not homogenized, so I typically make butter with the cream. However, today I'm going to make clotted cream with it instead! I grew up reading about clotted cream (typically on scones with jam) in British novels as a kid, though I didn't really know what it was. I've still never had it, though it sounds delicious, so I'm making it today. In the morning I think I'll whip up some traditional English scones and serve them with clotted cream and jam, and maybe tea instead of coffee for once, just to keep it authentic.
Today's cooking adventure that most excites me, though, is schmaltz. I've always heard that schmaltz, known to gentiles as "rendered chicken fat," makes a better cooking fat than butter. I've been idly thinking of making my own schmaltz for several months now, but this week our local paper actually did an article on cooking with various animal fats, and they included a recipe for schmaltz! So I take that as a sign, and I'm going to raid the freezer for all the chicken skin and fat trimmings (the ones the dog didn't eat) and see about getting schmaltzy.