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!

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.

Yum!

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.

Awwww.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

 

Treats

The rain has returned.  After two solid weeks of glorious sun, it feels comforting and familiar to hear the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof as I work, to smell the damp air, and to notice the plants taking in needed moisture.  I won’t lie and say that I’m not ready for summer, because I do adore my Oregon summers.  But somehow this rain feels welcome and fresh.

Our daily rhythm shifted greatly with all of the sun. We moved outdoors.  All day long.  Pausing for food breaks, or work breaks, or shade breaks, but mostly we just played outside all around the property. Brian put the finishing touches on a little playhouse, to which we added some log tables and chairs, and now have a neighborhood ice cream shop and lemonade stand!

I’ve been dishing up my own treats this week.  Last summer we had to use up a gift card and splurged on this. It has rocked my little popsicle-making world!  I usually whip up a fruit and yogurt smoothie, and then pour it into the popsicle forms for some instant fun.

Today, I’m beginning Heather’s 30 Day Vegan course, and in preparation, I made her Raw Vegan Chocolate Torte recipe, here.  Made with soaked cashews, raw cacao, a bit of our own honey, it was like a little slice of frozen heaven. I can just imagine all of the variations on this pie that I will be dreaming up this summer – mint chocolate, blueberry lavender, fresh raspberry.  Yum.