When we first started raising our own beef and pork for our family, I was completely clueless as to how I wanted the meat cut and packaged. As I learned more about preparing food for my family, I quickly learned my family’s likes and dislikes based on how much of the meal ended up being fed to the dogs.
I thought I had it down pat, until we got a call from a woman in her 80’s who wanted to buy some bottle calves.
This wasn’t just any ol’ woman.
This was a woman with strength and confidence. And at times a surprisingly vulgar vocabulary.
When I told her we had plenty of bull calves, she told me she’d be making the trip from Kansas the following day.
And true to her word, she did.
When she stepped out of the truck, I was impressed by her remarkably sturdy frame. She was so sturdy that she could have been a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
I think she was stouter than Dick Butkus.
She was a woman with some character who still knew what she wanted and how to get it. I think if there was a woman who was my complete opposite, this might be her.
She arrived with a truckload of 5 gallon buckets and a few choice rocks. She found them on the side of the road.
A farm can never have too many 5 gallon buckets.
Yet in all my life, I’ve never noticed a single bucket on the side of the road. It had never occurred to me to look for things on the side of the road.
Then she opened her truck and pulled out a large cooler.
Guess I should start looking for things on the side of the road… she found a nice new cooler! I thought.
It was full of white packages of meat, obviously from a farm. Turns out, this was her cooler from her prized dog farm. I soon learned that they processed and packaged all of their own food, right there on the farm. At first, I was a bit concerned as to the actual contents of the packages. The first package was taped with a piece of duct tape and labeled with a marker, “Fresh Side”.
I sure hope this isn’t dog meat, I thought.
“What’s fresh side?” I asked as she handed me the package.
“You’ve never heard of fresh side?” she asked in disbelief.
“Nope” I replied.
It came to no surprise that she would be able to teach me a thing or two, being that we were so different. But I never imagined that she would be teaching me about food…
…maybe a wrestling hold like the Dragon Sleeper, but never food.
Fresh side, she informed me, is pork. It’s like bacon, only it’s uncured and unsmoked. Kinda like a pork chop. She told me to salt and pepper both sides of the side, throw it in a hot pan, and fry until golden brown.
So that’s exactly what I did.
And it was wonderful.
This time when we took our pork to the butcher for processing, I asked for half bacon and half fresh side. Our side turned out to be really lean. So I added some oil and butter to my scratched up, nonstick skillet.
I wonder if this would be good battered in flour. Then maybe make a gravy to pour over some homemade biscuits….