Sausage Making

I’m going to be honest here and let you know right up front that I am a meat lover.  Maybe it’s because I have been pregnant and/or nursing for the past 5 years and need extra protein. Maybe it’s cause I have a certain blood type.  Who knows?  Eating good quality meat makes me feel much more alive, healthy, and strong.  Our family has worked hard to find sources of meat that we can feel good about – pasture raised, organic feed, locally grown, etc.

For a few years, we raised our own pigs and had them custom butchered for ourselves and a few friends.  This was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to raise pigs again. But circumstances prevented this last summer, so we went in on a hog with some friends and have been happily enjoying delicious pork all year.

A large piece of leg in our freezer beckoned to be turned into sausage, so we spent an evening last week making Sweet Italian Sausage, and Mexican Chorizo (with recipes adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn).

Here are a few photos of the process:

First, the meat and fat are cut into pieces to be ground.  It is easier to grind them if they are still a little bit frozen.

Really sharp grinder. I then added a blend of herbs and spices to the ground meat.  We did 5 lb batches each of the Italian sausages and the chorizo.

The seasoned ground meat goes into the sausage stuffer.  Now, this sausage stuffer is an antique that Brian hunted for on eBay. I think the date on it is 1886.  It is sturdy and HEAVY and can also handle larger batches of sausage – maybe 10 or 15 lbs.

Next, you slip the casings onto the stuffer.  These are purchased casings.

As you slowly turn the stuffer crank, the meat fills the casings and you get a nice long, continuous roll of sausage.

And lastly, we twist the sausages into individual links.  This 5 lb batch of Italian sausage made about 2 dozen links.  The chorizo was left in the ground form, so we can scramble it with eggs or make breakfast patties.

So there you have it!  Sausage making 101.  It is so much fun, and ever so tasty!

Strawberry Days

Strawberry days have begun.  We hit the u-pick on Friday morning, the first day it was open.  We then spent the remainder of the day processing strawberries, and of course, enjoying strawberries!

Everett likes to pick his strawberries out of the bucket.  They’ve been pre-screened for quality, and that suits him just fine!

It’s always so hard to decide what to do with the strawberries.  I decided on freezing whole berries and freezer jam, while Brian went for a honey sweetened “sam” (not quite a jam, not quite a sauce).  We use Pomona’s Universal Pectin, so we can add any amount and kind of sweetener we wish.

Even better this time around.  Old fashioned strawberry shortcake recipe from In the Sweet Kitchen.

And my favorite yet: fresh strawberry ice cream made with goat milk.  I mashed up about 1/2 cup of fresh berries, added 3 1/2 cups of goat milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 3/4 cups of cane sugar.  SO GOOD.

What are you making with strawberries?


In June!

A few years ago I was in a community theater production of the musical Dames at Sea (it’s not a very well known show, but was one of Bernadette Peters’ first starring roles!).  One of the catchier songs has a line that ends “on a beautiful Sunday morning in June.”  Well, that line perfectly describes today.  Such a beautiful morning!

I’ve been trying really hard to be more regular with my blog writing, but it seems like life just gets moving, and I try hard to keep up.  There have been dance recitals, grandparent visits, gardens to tend, weeds to pull, vacations to plan, goats to milk, new recipes to try…

So here is a little catch up from the past few weeks:

Everett gets really excited when his mama chops wood!

Pizza cooks in Brian’s homemade wood-fired bread oven.


Strawberry Shortcake!!  The shortcake recipe from the book In the Sweet Kitchen is divine!

My sassy daughter.

Everett races to the finish line on Eya the horse.


Have a beautiful Sunday!


Manda Ruth

Hello! It’s been a mighty long time since I’ve written here.  We’ve had a visitor, lots of rain, and oodles of homestead work.  I’ve been diligently working in the garden, planting the last of the veggies into the ground.  Thanks to our winter and spring efforts, the sweet reward of harvest begins: Asparagus, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, new potatoes, carrots, beets, and today, our first ripe strawberries!  It feels so good to be able to once again craft our menu around what is ready to eat from the garden.

Noticing that sweet Everett was growing bigger and bigger, and that my sweater-in-progress was not, I decided to make a strong push to the finish.  Thank goodness I did, because this 24 month sized sweater fits my 18 month boy just perfectly.

It’s the Manda Ruth cardigan, minus the hood, and you can find my Ravelry notes here.

Can you believe those cheeks?  I just want to eat them up, they are so chubbilicious!

What are you creating today?

* Yarn Along-ing today with the fine folks at Small Things.  Check it out here.