Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Traditions

This blog might have started as a 'Sewing Shoppe' blog for updates, events, happenings, designs and such.  But with the actual shop closed and life taking many u-turns along the way, I am expanding my vision to include many other life things.  SO--Sew--on we go to a tale of one of my Holiday Traditions----Sausage making.

It all starts with the baby bathtub, my baby bathtub from 59 years ago! Pink enamel heavy tub. My parents only had the best in 1953.  Young families today have it soooo much easier with their babies bath time.  I did use this for my oldest daughter 30 years ago...pink enamel is very slippery with a baby in water, the phrase ' don't throw the baby out with the bathwater' comes to mind.

Why a bathtub? because it works when you have many pounds of ground meat ==we have done 20 --this year I am doing 10 pounds of ground fresh pork [a full fresh ham-or shoulder as many call it]. I had the butcher grind it for me and give me the bones and skin back which is what is used to make the soup for mixing the sausage.  Not a very impressive soup...but tasty in the sausage.  When cooking the bones and such, I do add an onion and a pinch of salt.  Just a pinch.

Back to the bathtub...in goes the ground pork, to that then is added some flour, salt, pepper, ground up onions, and probably the hardest thing these days to find...extra fat. Yes, fat.  Lucky for me, my store understands Fat...but they have to take a day to get it together since most meats today are pre trimmed to very lean, which is good in one way, but we have lost the flavors of old with such lean meat.  So now what does the tub look like---see for yourself--- a bit blurry I am sorry...onions can make you cry.

Now the part that many people don't like to know, this all must be mixed together well...and the only piece of equipment that works the best is the Hand.  And this year, only my right hand could mix this since my left shoulder/hand is not being very helpful. A story for another time. So I mix this all together making sure to blend all the components together well.  Then a cupful at a time of soup until it is the right consistency. Something learned from my mom Maren, who learned from her mom Olga, and so on back in time. Here I have to say, I do not know how my grandmom Olga, did this for so many years for feeding the school kids - 200 of them, 5 days a week.  She made sausage at least every other week that I know of.  No...she had big big meat vats in her cellar...and a big grinder...thankful for 'modern' technology. She fed the kids hot lunches until she retired at I believe, 70 plus. I hope I can do similar into my 70s.

Okay, so it gets mixed together...rests for a bit while you prep the containers for the mixture.  Casings...hog casings...not the most appealing vision, but such a biology lesson or anatomy lesson for all. Taking the stringy, rubbery ribbons and rinsing them, opening them with water is actually fun in a way.  Makes you appreciate how those tummy pains and 'wind' can happen. ;-)  As a medically oriented person, I find anatomy fascinating.  We tend to forget how parts of the body can be so small yet so mighty!

Okay...so take a spoonful of meat mix, cook it up in a frypan -like a burger- and taste test.  Official tester is my hubby...this year we are really good to go.  Of course he groans now, because now he has to get involved in the filling of the casings...a manual task requiring four hands...two to work the grinder/stuffer, one to support and judge size and weight of the links.  But once a year, we do this so we have for our Christmas Feast and the rest is frozen for meals in the New Year.  My mom, sister and I have done this for over 30 years, it's been 10 years since mom helped for the last time.  Every year since, I have gone on the hunt for the perfect meat, casings, fat and onions.  Once purchased, it has to get done right away...and that always means going into the night hours after dinner.
                               So we set up the manual grinder and stuff away our tub full of mix.
In the interest of 'sewing' under that lovely plastic table cover is my cutting table...turns out to be the perfect thing to use.
So we filled the casings and have our Christmas sausage...two pieces weighing over 4 pounds total. Plus another 15 pounds of sausage pieces for meals in the New Year.
Freezer bags filled, weighed and labelled in the end we have 17 pounds of Danish style, simple plain pork sausage. No spare fillers, no extra spices, just a simple meat that when prepared and served with mashed potatoes, apple-sauce, pan gravy if you like, and vegetables is just delicious. 'Bangers and Mash' my dear friend Beverley calls it. One of her favourite meals that she requested every time she visited our home. I think of her every time and I remember my family traditions that make the holidays so special.

Merry Christmas everyone...hope you have your traditions to enjoy this Blessed season.  

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