Italian Sausage From Scratch

Adapted from Alton Brown

[ Pictures are from a quadruple batch. Unless you do the same, your amounts will be much smaller! ]

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 pounds pork butt (2 1/2 pounds with bone), sliced into 1x1xWhatever, strips for ease of feeding into the grinder
  • If you’re making sausage links: 5 feet of 36-millimeter collagen casings (do not allow to get wet at any time)
  • Shortening, to lubricate nozzle of stuffer

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: meat grinder with stuffing attachment or manual stuffer

Cut Pork into long strips. Approximately 1x1xY.
  1. Toast fennel seed in medium-sized, heavy saute pan over medium heat, constantly moving seeds around in the pan until they start to turn light brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside to cool. Once cool, grind seeds and combine with salt, pepper, and chopped parsley in medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add pork and blend thoroughly.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Using the fine blade of a grinder, grind the pork.
  6. The sausage can be used immediately or stored for later.
Fennel before toasting.
Fennel – toasted. The color will go from pale green to golden.
Grind fennel in a coffee grinder.
[ Don’t use the grinder you use for coffee! Pick up a used grinder for a few dollars at your local thrift store! ]
Only five spices? Yes! It’s super easy!
Make working with raw meat easier and wear disposable nitrile or vinyl gloves. Mix the meat and spices well.
Run it through the grinder, wrap and store or cook immediately! I find that letting the flavors mingle overnight in the fridge lends more rounded flavor.

OPTIONAL: Making Sausage Links

  1. After lubricating stuffer or stuffing attachment with shortening, load casing onto attachment, clipping end with a clothespin.
  2. Stuff meat into casings, trying to avoid air pockets.
  3. After stuffing is finished layout on the counter and tie off the end. Pinch and twist to form 4-inch sausages.
  4. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Store in refrigerator for use within 2 to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, wrap in aluminum foil.
  5. If using immediately, saute over medium heat in a heavy saute pan with 1/4-inch of water.
  6. Bring water to boil, put on the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking over medium heat, turning every 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Sausage should reach an internal temperature of 150 to 156 degrees F.

STORAGE FOR LATER USE

  • Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Store in refrigerator for use within 2 to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, wrap in aluminum foil.

Good Gods!

Has it really been nearly a year since my last update?

Why has it been so long?  Well… reasons… Just over one year ago, I chose to continue my education.  Twenty-two years after my high school graduation, I decided to go back to school.  Insane, yes?  In brief, yes.  

Full time schooling has taken more out of me than I expected, but I regret not a moment of it.  My chosen field is psychology with a focus on alternative lifestyles and non-standard sexuality.  My own experiences as a member of a few of the fringe communities both locally and online has given me a greater appreciation for how difficult it can be to find a therapist who does not require a Kink-to-English language course.  The decision to pursue an education in psychology and sexuality is based upon my desire to help those who struggle with every day concerns and who happen to be a bit… different… from the average Joe or Jane.

This being said, I am still cooking, though not as often as I would prefer.  But with the holidays coming up, I can feel the itch starting in the back of my mind:  With what should I inject the turkey this year?  Smoked oysters in the stuffing? (Oh hell yes!)  Boubon caramel glazed sweet potatoes?  Pumpkin cheesecake, apple galettes, and Grandma’s orange dinner rolls pluming in the oven?  *sigh*  The possibilities are endless!

So to tide you over, give this recipe a try.  Your house will smell delightful, and your stomach will love you forever.

Caramel Apple Ginger Bread

www.cookingclub.com

Breads - Caramel-Apple-Ginger Bread

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Turkey Day in Autumnhold!

I’m horrible for not updating, I know.  I have almost a gig of food pics and recipes that need to get put up here but I’ve gone back to school full time and it’s kickin’ my ass so here’s another try at attempting regular posting. :-þ~~

Thanksgiving was pretty typical in my family when I was growing up; grandparents, sometimes aunts, uncles, and cousins, my folks, and my sister sitting down to a big turkey dinner with all of the trimmings including a gods-awful Lime Jello Avocado Whipped Cream Salad Monstrosity of which we were forced to have at least two bites.

Now, being persona non grata with my blood family (except for two of my spawn), hubby and I like to make huge holiday potluck meals and invite friends over for food, fun, and games.  Holidays in general, but the fall holidays specifically, are (for me anyway) simply wonderful opportunities to spend time with my family of choice; my dear friends, my amazing husband Paul, and whichever spawn are in town and not doing the holiday with their father. 

Holidays, casual Dinner and Gaming gatherings, even the monthly Stitch ‘N Bitch that we’re looking into planning are time for friends to gather, create memories, and make those bonds of friendship as tight as unconditional love can make them.

This Thanksgiving I met two new people who are simply delightful   Hubby and I always ending up loving all of our dear Lady Sammo’s friends and last night was no different.  We hope to have the opportunity to hang out with these folks many times in the future!  We also reconnected with the now-grown son of another dear friend.  It’s funny how a boy can grow up so much in 8 years, don’t you think?  lol 

So it was a Thanksgiving like many others; a house full of people, piles of aluminum and ceramic dishes covered with foil, and my turkey in the oven.  Long story short, by the time my turkey was finely done, four people had had to leave so our dear Sammo and her crew of Ed, Julie, and Eric saved the night because they had brought over enough food to feed an army even without my turkey!  Thank you, Sammo!  😀

So let us start with the turkey, shall we? *note* None of these photos are mine because chaos visited our home last night and well… all but a couple of us had imbibed a bit and we were more interested in assembling the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle than taking pictures.

Here goes nothin’!

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Tapioca Pudding with Orange Zest

Tapioca Pudding

Ya know how ya get cravings?  Yep.  This has been my craving; Tapioca Pudding.  A simple bowl of comfort food.  I haven’t had it homemade since I was a kid and even then, it was “Minute Tapioca”.  I’ve been on an, “I can make that from scratch!” kick of late and the tapioca was no different.

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Asian Chicken Marinade

I had a thawed chicken in the fridge last night and got a craving for Asia flavors so I gathered an armfull of ingredients and started mixing.  This is what I came up with.  I served the chicken with a wild rice blend that I’ve fallen in love with, and steamed broccoli.  Throw a little of the extra sauce over the rice and you’re golden!

The part that tickled me was when I woke Paul up from his nap telling him that dinner was ready and when he pulled off his CPAP he exclaimed, “God!  Something smells good!”  Mary, my caregiver, had smelled the sauce before I cooked it yesterday right before she left for the day and said it smelled great.  Today, she tried a piece of the chicken and asked if she could have the recipe.  That’s what prompted me to write this up as it was all improvised last night.  Enjoy!

Asian Chicken Marinade

Asian Chicken

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I am HORRIBLE!

The entire major winter holiday season has passed and I haven’t posted a THING!  I do have a valid reason… The timing of it all sucks toads, but there it is.  The following is kind of a narrative post and because I’m fighting my 3rd day of a migraine I just don’t feel like censoring my language.  If you’re easily offended by the f-bomb, stop reading here.  And if you’d rather wait for the recipes to start again without the explanation of why they stopped, stop here and go visit LilDevil’s Kitchen where the food is delightful and there is no drama. 🙂

If you’re interested, feel free to keep reading.

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Gyoza

In this house, we love Gyoza!  We’ve always purchased them from the freezer department of our local little Asian market because frankly, the idea of making them has always intimidated me.  Pretty little pockets of perfectly seasoned meaty delight!  Me, make them in the quantity that my boys can go through them?  Nuh uh!  I’d be chained to the kitchen counter with mounds of wrappers, filling, and trays of finished pouches of potential deliciousness surrounding me while my gloves fill with blood from the endless filling and folding.  Ugh… Ok, that doesn’t sound too appetizing.  Which is part of the whole intimidation thing!

How am I tying in paganism?  Well, they’d be ideal as appetizers for any of the coming feasts.  They’re wrapped up bits of deliciousness.  Like an edible gift.   Premake them, freeze them, and give a bag to a friend wishing them a merry Yule/Solstice.  A gift within a gift!

ingredients

Why is there no pretty picture of the finished product here?  Because they looked so good when they were done and we were hungry.  So.  Picture to come when we cook up the rest of the batch.

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“Mom’s” Zucchini Bread

So it’s been an eventful week or so.  We got a lot of grocery shopping done and I stocked up on items I was out of , but not brown sugar.  Paul was digging through the cupboards the other day and found no less than four one pound bags of brown sugar.  It’s something that I buy even if I’m not sure that I really need it, along with powdered sugar, various broths, and a variety of canned tomato products for the different pastas we make.  Looks like I need to make a whole bunch of caramel corn to use some of it up.  I’m sure that Paul would agree.  😀

I think that everyone has a recipe in a box somewhere titled, “Mom’s Zucchini Bread”.  If you google (when did “google” become a verb?!) the words Zucchini Bread, it’s likely that 1/2 of the recipes you find have “Mom” in the title or in the description of it.

Zucchini Bread Slices

My own mother made this old standby every fall throughout my childhood and young adult years and it’s a fond memory of warmth, family, innocence and love.

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Fruit Galette

Hello world!

I know there are a million and one food blogs out there and what’s one more, right?  Well, I did find a little niche that hasn’t been filled and that is pagan cooking.  Not that the techniques are any different but pagans of various flavors tend to have celebrations of various sizes for the many different holidays and the eight sabbats throughout the year.

My husband is Wiccan while I identify as simply “pagan”.  My belief system is based on the idea that nearly every religion and belief system has at least one small part of it that that rings true in my soul and the earth religions, the old ways some call them, resonate with me the most.

My goal here is to hit as many holidays and celebration days as possible.  I know I won’t hit them all and if you celebrate a specific holiday, please feel free to share what it is that you celebrate and what kind of foods you typically serve!

This first post isn’t aimed at any specific pagan day of celebration (because I kept putting this off and got lazy) though it would be perfectly acceptable for any of the holidays in the fall from Fall Equinox (which was on September 22nd this year and will be on September 21st in 2012, to Samhain (Thank you Wikipedia!)).  I know I just missed Samhain (pronounced sah-win) which I was really excited about posting but I was out of a lot of my staple foods and didn’t get enough cooking done in time.  *sigh*  Next year, I promise!

Fall is the harvest time.  We live in an age in which we can get just about any food at whatever time of year that we crave it.  Oranges in April?  Sure!  Apples in January that are crisp and sweet?  Just run down to the store!  I read a lot.  Yeah, most of it’s fantasy or sci-fi, heck, even horror, but much of the fantasy that I read mentions meal preparation from time to time, including ingredients.  Heck, I love The Belgariad and have read it multiple times wondering exactly how Polgara‘s cooking would taste.  The authors describe using apples that are wrinkled and wizened, meat that is salt cured or dried, bags of beans or grains.

How many of us look at an apple that is a bit shriveled and toss it in the garbage disposal or compost pile thinking that it’s just too far gone to use?  Do we take for granted the fresh meat available in the supermarkets?  What about the canned beans that we toss into a pot to make chili?

Even with all of the baking I do, I still sometimes over buy and end up with fruit that shrivels, or greens that go limp.  We even jokingly call our vegetable crisper drawers in the fridge the “automatic vegetable rotters” because it seems that once something goes into one of those drawers, it’s forgotten.

I came up with this recipe when I looked around my kitchen and saw a couple of pears that had seen better days next to a bowl of somewhat wrinkled plums that my caregiver had brought to me when they were fresh off of the tree.  I couldn’t bear to let perfectly good fruit go to waste so I pulled out my favorite pie crust recipe and made a variation of my old standby, the Fruit Galette.

A galette is a rustic style pie that can be sweet or savory.  It’s simple to make and I promise, the crust is a breeze!

Fruit Galette

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