Trim the Fat

Any vegetarians out there may want to find something else to read.

I had a lot of cravings during my pregnancy with Maggie. Overall, they seemed to have more to do with things that I couldn’t get or wasn’t allowed to eat than with any sort of nutritional deficit, even though many of the cravings (root beer floats, Oreos) were not particularly healthy. Now that I’ve done a little more research into nutrition, whole foods, superfoods, and the like…well, I still want chocolate milkshakes. Gross ones from fast food restaurants. I’ve (mostly) been able to deny myself those, but I’m helpless in the face of other, undeniably stranger cravings: animal fat and garlic.

As I type, I’m sipping on a giant mug filled with undiluted homemade chicken stock. There’s a slick oil sheen on the top and I had to wash my hands twice after filling the storage containers–they still have a slight oily luster. Turns out drinking bone broth during pregnancy is one of the most healthy foods you can consume and it’s easily digested, which is awesome. It is full of all sorts of happy baby-helping minerals and nutrients. We use a grocery delivery service that specializes in organic, local, and free-range products so getting a whole free-range happy chicken to toss in the stockpot with a bunch of veggies and a spoonful of herbs de provence is no big deal. (Making stock is also a killer way to use up all the mushrooms we’re getting in our farmer box from the same service because DEAR GOD, I CAN ONLY PUT AWAY SO MUCH FUNGI IN A WEEK.)

Drinking homemade broth is no big deal, relatively speaking. But last week, Tom ordered sirloin steaks for our Sunday dinner. One of the steaks had an incredibly fatty rind, about an inch high and a half-inch thick. Tom left it on to cook and since the less-fatty steak was also larger, I took that one and cut off a third to serve to Maggie while he took the smaller steak for himself. We sat down for a nice meal and I watched as he oh-so-carefully cut the fat away from the meat, leaving a six-inch long slab of fat on his plate. I barely noticed I was salivating. “Dear,” I said. “Would you judge me if I ate that?”

“What? The FAT?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I guess probably not–”

I didn’t hear the rest because I was busy scraping his plate and cubing the fat so I could have a tasty little morsel with each bite of my steak. Never in my life have I felt quite that depraved, but oh man. It was soooooo delicious. I want it again, right now.

The ravenous indignity of devouring animal fat like party mix aside, I have no explanation for the garlic. It’s an immune booster and infection-fighter so I guess that’s…good? This baby doesn’t want me to get infected? It’s a considerate fetus? I don’t know. What I DO know is that Tom got a bunch of red chili peppers in the farm box and had to use them. He decided to roast garlic and mash the peppers into a paste to be used in things like hummus spread or mashed potatoes (which, for the record, is SO tasty, and even the non-pregnant members of my family agree).

What did I do with the paste?

I spread it thickly on garlic dill pickle halves, sprinkled the whole mess with sea salt, and ate it.

And then I did it again. Twice.

I had to put my feet up immediately afterward to prevent the inevitable swelling, but it was utterly, ridiculously delicious. It’s too bad no one believes me. Tom finds pickles repellent on general principle and a friend of mine (who is also pregnant and should have pity, if not understanding, for me and my cravings) said “I’m going to need a photo of you eating them to make sure you’re being forced to eat them under duress or torture.” I should have told her that at least there was no animal fat on them anywhere.

Now that I can finally eat again, I’m enjoying powering down these otherwise questionable foods. But good grief, I’d like to get through a steak dinner without being more interested in the fat than the meat itself.

…Say, what do you think about crushing raw garlic into my broth? Good? Too overpowering? I should go find out.

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