I hope you all had a great holiday. I have a tip for anyone that may have overloaded their sink and clogged a drain with all that holiday cooking. Vinegar and baking soda is a great way to unclog a drain. Just pour in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup baking soda and about 1 cup white vinegar. It will even go through standing water. It will make a volcano and unclog your sink! I even added it to my bathroom sinks. It seems to have dissolved the hair and soap gunk. And best of all it is safe for my septic system.
Speaking of the New year; I’ve never been one to make resolutions. I do like to set goals however and the New Year is a wonderful time to look at your life and set goals. Here is a list of mine:
1 Get out of debt and buy silver
2 Expand my goat herd with a Kiko female and dwarf Nigerian male
3 Perfect charcuterie and build a cooling room
4 Get or build a greenhouse
5 Finally start aquaponics
6 Grow most of my animal food
7 DECLUTTER my life
8 Make my podcast and website rock
9 Learn gimp and power director (photo and video editing software-GIMP is FREE)
10 Get closer to family and help them
not necessarily in this order
Over the last few days. I have been thinking about how corporatism affects our lives. I have actually been thinking about this a long time. Just consider how music has changed over the years. In the sixties and seventies (and long before that) singer/songwriters could get signed with a small recording company, travel all over promoting their music on the local radio stations. A lot of these very talented people wouldn’t make it today because they didn’t fit the picture perfect look that the big business recording industry is wanting. I just love going on YouTube and watching all those old videos of singers that climbed the ladder and became famous with songs from their hearts. Now it seems they are all packaged up pretty boys and girls pressed into a mold created by big recording industries. I hate it. Fortunately, with the internet, people can be seen and heard without big business!
The same goes with our food. It just seems to me big business and the government control our food. We are told different stories every year about what is healthy; and what is not. Remember when we were told not to eat eggs? Now we are told just to limit the yolks (the healthiest part). But all those prepackaged, fat free, chemical laden foods are “heart healthy”. HUH! I’m not falling for their lies anymore!
My goal this year is to step up my own food production. I want the full fat, homegrown eggs, pork, goat, sheep, chicken and hopefully rabbits. I want to grow most if not all my own veggies without chemicals or store bought fertilizers.
You see, I spent years listening to those and eating all that “heart healthy” food. I ballooned up to over 210#. I hardly ate anything, as compared to now. I was sick and tired and on multiple medicines. I tried every diet I could; including: low fat, low carb, weight watchers, vegetarian, raw food vegetarian, and just screw it I’m gonna eat what I want. Thanks for all the lies Uncle Sam and Big Business; your are really good at killing millions!
But I guess Granny was right all along: eat real food, fresh vegetable and real meats. Stay away from junk food and don’t be afraid of fat. “It sticks to your ribs”. And get off your behind and get outside and work. Thank God for grannies. So simple and so profound. I have lost over 40# and it’s going away continuously. While I am eating wonderful meals and not counting the first calorie or point. Here are some links to my way of eating if you are interested. www.robbwolf.com www.latestinpaleo.com
I found a cool website for planning your garden. This might be fun to play around with and get you in the gardening spirit: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/plan-your-garden-for-the-new-year-with-these-great-websites-and-apps/ I found this site looking for videos for beginners in GIMP. They have some great beginner how to videos over there. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-10-beginner-level-video-tutorials-learn-gimp-fast/
We have been making sausage around here from the heritage hog we harvested.
Fresh sausage: If you don’t have a hog you can make sausage from store bought pork, chicken, turkey or any meat of your choosing. We also make venison sausage. My favorite though is the pig! Patty sausage are so simple to make. If you buy a fresh pork butt or shoulder and grind it. Often the butcher will do it for free just for the asking. It is just a matter of mixing in the spices and frying it up. You can also make link sausage, smoked sausage, emulsified sausage and fermented sausage. There are tons of recipes available on the Internet and in cookbooks. Just like cooking it is good to look at several recipes and adjust according to your own taste buds. My husband just made a wonderful Portuguese link sausage. He dried it in the refrigerator. It was a link sausage and we have a stuffer. But, other than that no special equipment needed. This one did have insta cure in it.
A word about insta cure #1 – sodium nitrite or cure #2 sodium nitrate. This is used for curing ham, bacon and some sausage. It adds that rosy color and some flavor. I had such a hard time with this. I didn’t want to use it until further investigation. It inhibits botulism, which will kill you really fast. (or get rid of your wrinkles) You can buy nitrite free products like bacon, hot dogs, etc. The thing is they use celery to produce this. Celery and other green vegetables have a natural sodium nitrite. So after much investigation and reading I decided sodium nitrate is much less likely to kill me than botulism. Nitrites are controversial because they can, under certain circumstances, produce cancer causing nitrosamines. Like all things moderation is they key. If properly refrigerated this is not needed. I wouldn’t eat all processed meats in my daily diet. But as a treat they are safe. You will have to decide for yourself. I have a link to a very interesting article regarding this from Chef Michael Ruhlman: http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/. Please take the time to read this and visit his awesome site if you are at all interested. He has lots of great recipes there too.
A wonderful quote that sums it all up is actually in the table of contents in the book Chacuterie: “4. SAUSAGES The Power and the Glory: Animal Fat, Salt, and the Pig Come Together in One of the Oldest, Divine-Yet-Humble Culinary creation Known to Humankind” WOW, that says it all!!
Fresh sausage is the easiest to make. If you are buying meat the best is pork butts. Catch it on sale and stock up. You will need a meat grinder. A kitchen aid attachment works. Or you can buy a stand alone grinder mechanical or electric. They are not really expensive. A stuffer and casings are needed if you want links. A stuffer is sometimes included with the grinder. Our first electric grinder was less than 60 bucks and included a stuffer. We still use it. Although I have invested in a much more powerful grinder for all the venison we process. A instant read thermometer is also helpful. You will want to cut your meat in cubes small enough to fit through the feed tube of your grinder. If you have to push them through they are too big. You need fat to make sausage. You need 25- 30% fat to make good sausage. That is why boston butt is a good cut for sausage. If you need to add fat you can use fatback – from the pigs back or the jowls. Jowls are actually preferred. Season and salt your meat prior to grinding. You will get more flavor and it will mix in better. Kosher salt, about 1/3 oz/10 gms per pound/450gms of meat is an excellent guideline. 3 #TBL for 5 # meat for us Americans. Add 1 ice cold cup of wine or water and your seasonings for the style of sausage you want. And of course adjust to your own taste. You can add any spices, even cooked diced veggies onions, peppers, etc. Let your imagination run wild. But use common sense about things that pair well. Make sure you keep the meat cold during processing to prevent the fat from breaking down and for sanitation. If the fat and protein separate it will be dry and crumbly instead of juicy. Knead it like bread dough to get it to stick together. It’s called “the primary bind”. Do it by hand, with a paddle attachment on a mixer or with a wooden spoon. A couple of minutes are good. Keep it cold. The best way is by hand. Now the fun part comes. Fry up a small sample and taste test. Adjust your seasonings if needed and taste again until you are happy with the results. You can leave it as patty or…..
Stuffing sausage with casings: You can buy sheep, beef or pork casing at the grocery store and even order them online. Or process your own – which is more work than I care to do. It’s pretty simple soak the casings for at least 1/2 an hour and up to 2 days. Overnight sounds good to me. Then open and rinse them with the faucet. Put your meat in the stuffer until it reaches the opening, attach the casing and fire away. Easy easy easy… You CAN make sausage. Tie off each link with a string or just twist one link clock wise, next link counter clockwise. Easy peasy!
Now the best part. Please, please, please do NOT overcook your perfectly crafted sausage you have made. The best way in my humble opinion is sauté in oil 10 to 12 min on medium low heat. Temp 150 degrees with instant read thermometer. Or if you must, roast in oven 300 F/ 150C in oil about 10 minutes. Or just throw them on the grill….
Emulsified sausage: This is your bologna, wieners, bratwurst, etc. It is a very finely textured meat made with emulsified meat. This emulsification is best achieved with a food processor. For home food processors you would need one with a direct drive shaft to turn the cutting knife. The belt drive would wear out quickly. You would add ground meat thoroughly mixed with the spices a little at a time while adding a little water as you go. Then it’s stuffed into casings and smoked or cooked.
More on Casings: Natural casings come from animals (cattle, hogs and sheep) intestines submucosa (The collagen layer). The inner mucosa lining and fat are removed. Natural casings have the advantage of traditional appearance, texture and cooking performance expected in sausage.
Beef Casings: Include bung caps for large diameter sausage such as bologna and salami, beef rounds for ring bologna and polish sausage; beef middles can be sewn to shape,beef bladders used for specialty sausage such as souse or head cheese.
Hog Casings: Used for fresh sausage and fully cooked smoked sausage. They are transparent and smaller than beef. Bungs are used manly for liver sausage.
Sheep Casings: These are the smallest of the commercially available casings. They are used for fresh sausage, especially pork and high quality frankfurters. They range in color from white to gray.
Regenerated Collagen Casings: These are physically similar to animal casings. They are chemically made from the hide of beef animals. They are produced by extracting the corium with an alkaline solution. They are easily available and very uniform in size. Good for machine processed sausage.
Cellulose Casings: Made from cotton bags and cotton linters (fuzzy material from cottonseed). Chemically processed to be smoke permeable and impermeable to meat emulsion. Some bologna and large sausage use this.
There are also fibrous casing, plastic casing and COFFI film which I don’t imagine I would use.
Hope you have fun and know You CAN make your own sausage, Better than anything you ever buy in the store!