Saturday, June 18, 2016


Allowance when I was in grade school was 10 cents a week, given every Friday morning. It was mine and I could spend it as I chose. Freedom!!

I had a choice of the five and dime on the way home from school. Ten cents would buy a handful of a variety of candy. Or, I could stop at the candied apple shop nestled next to Safeway and spend the whole dime on a red candied apple. And that is what I always opted for - a red candied apple on a stick. I could see them as I entered the store, there on the shelf nestled next to the caramel apples. Both apples set on a melted flat layer of caramel or melted red candied apple flavoring. But the red candied apple held no equal. That treat would last me most of the way home. Chewy red outer layer with the flavors of the apple added in each bite. No sharing with friends I walked home with. And it was good. Very good.

Mom worked across the street at a small grocery store/butcher shop. I would walk in and she would treat me to a fresh slice of baloney every day on the way home from school. And one day, I innocently told my friend to come in with me because we can get a slice of baloney. Wrong!! Mom explained to me that night that she had to pay for the slice of baloney. The treat would continue without issue, but just for me. She could not afford to treat my friends. Finances. Two working parents. Challenging times and so forth. So I walked in alone, had my treat and then trekked the rest of the way home through town, over the bridge. Scary stuff these days.

Quite often, mom would bring home scraps of meat trimmed at the butcher shop. Again, she noted that she had to pay for the trimmed scraps. Nothing free or gifted, even for the employee. She would set up the grinder and my job was to hold the cutting board still and turn the grinding handle. The scraps of meat and fat were fed into the grinder and out came hamburger or sausage, depending. Maybe a second grinding for a finer textured meal. That night, we would have hamburger steaks and to this day, nothing from any local store or proclaimed “special” butcher shop compares. Not even close. I remember that those hamburger steaks were better in flavor than a steak. Hands down. Mom had skills. The scrap meat she brought home was from the better cuts of meat and suet pushed aside. All we added was a little work. And the flavor. My goodness. Suffice it to say, I find nothing in any store here in middle New England that even comes close.

The sausage counters here are laden with and labeled Italian Sweet/Maple Sausage. We have even tried butcher shops who also cannot get beyond similar seasoning. And it is not real sausage, not even close. Look around the sausage counter and you can get every offshoot of a chicken, turkey, tofu, and cheese mix. There has to be an old man sausage-maker hiding in some back alley making the real stuff. Just has to be. But we have not found him yet. And please do not tell me you have found a “wicked good” butcher. Just do not go there.

So, we set out to make our own. We know off the bat we cannot do any worse from the get go. And good sausage-making is an art form. Just
because you have “the recipe” does not mean you have the touch.

We like Alton Brown. Miss his early cooking shows. Found his breakfast sausage recipe. Simple, straight forward with spices that sounded like they belong in days of old breakfast sausage. We purchased a pound of plain ground pork from the meat counter. A finer, leaner grind.

Last night, I brought in fresh thyme and rosemary. Finely chopped, just enough to make half the recipe. The bride pulled the rest of the spices off the shelves. We opted not to put in the cayenne pepper. We also did not have the side pork to add. Just lean, ground pork.

As we started, we knew we were on the right track. The smell of fresh herbs finely chopped and the other herbs added to the bowl brought back the old time smell of breakfast sausage in the air. Like the dog first checking the cool morning air, our heads turned to get whiffs of the mixed spices. You know what I am talking about. When you walk into a home for Thanksgiving dinner, the smell of the cooking turkey and sage is in the air. All the smells say holiday, gathering, dressing, gravy and turkey. Most likely has been a year since all those smells turned your head.

She added the ground pork, mixed well and while talking, moments of smelling it all coming together. Keep in mind that what we were making was a test and w/o all the exact ingredients as called for in Alton's recipe. We rolled the final mix in saran wrap and approximated a log roll of sausage. The sausage was set in the fridge. No real mess to clean up either. Mom would be proud, but I am sure would add insight on little things we did not do or spices we could also add.

Sausage, eggs and toast this morning. Yep, we have the start of real sausage. The patties were dryer than normal but that was to be expected. The pork we used was leaner and we did not have on hand the side pork called for in Alton's recipe. But the flavor was there. That old time flavor with just a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes. And there was the aftertaste and lingering flavors that called for toast and eggs. Top off the cup of coffee, Honey!!

We will either use mom's grinder and grind boneless pork butt and side pork according to the recipe or, find the cuts of meat in the counter and ask the butcher to grind. The spices are perfect for now. Maybe something missing but too early to tell. The fat from both of those cuts of meat will enhance the next final product. And if we can do it, so can you. This is a treat that comes together with very little mess or fuss.

If you like leaner meats, the above first try I explained here is very good.

Any first product is a prototype. Be it a small wooden cabinet or pork sausage. The next try incorporates changes from what is learned prototyping. But finally, real pork sausage again. All from a little homework fresh spices from the garden and spices off the shelves. All spices next time will be fresh.

Starting our second batch of making bacon later today. Ten days of letting the seasonings set and then into the smoker. We'll see and keep you in the loop.


Garden garlic just pushing up fresh Scapes in the center of plant growth. A sign of the growing season. Once they make the full circle turn, they are harvested. Garlic bleeds from the harvest cut and the scapes are gathered into a tupperware bowl. They are to be eaten now. Chop the whole scape into a large chunk of butter and melt it. Stir and set aside and then in the fridge. Add to any pasta or smear over fresh french bread and set briefly under the broiler. Add to freshly cooked vegetables. Fresh garlic, like gravy and whipping cream is to be wallowed in. Use them now, do not let them go to waste and be careful who you give them to as they will be waiting in line next season. Now the garlic plant can put its energy into growing large garlic bulbs and not the scape.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Being self-sufficient is not a dirty word anymore. More and more folks are talking about it, acting on it and even the elite and great leaders are saying that everyone should have a few days of water and food. Emergency, you know, where folks may have to take care of themselves; maybe help out neighbors. No initial need for “Help Me” signs from the roof tops during the first days of challenge.

Our first preps were a hundred gallons of fresh water in two 55-gallon food- grade barrels and a 25-pound bag pound of rice. We accomplished this in just one day. Add to this, odds and ends in the cupboards, the bride and I were good for a week or two. The major push for me was not to have to panic when the after hit. Most likely, it would be just for a few days and all would return to normal. In the interim, we would not have to worry about basics, but could attend to the new challenges presented to us. No deep thinking nor worry beyond this. All of this started back in 2007 after a year in South Africa. We learned a lot that year. A story of in itself. Beautiful country and lands.

Now, nine years later we have not yet had to resort to that rice and stored water. There are a few more cans of chili w/o beans on the shelves, a few dried beans (need to really learn how to cook those) and odds and ends. And yes, that rice and water have been rotated. I knew you would be worried about that.

I think the important order for all of this is water, food, shelter and a good bottle of gin. There will still be life in the After, although it may be more work just for basics. No one knows for sure and if they do, they are keeping the particulars to themselves. I should add that a few bottles of tonic water and fresh lime would also be welcome but, just the gin in and of itself will help provide some order in our new world. I agree it is short term. I could put in a case and take care of the town, but once someone starts down that road, everything soon becomes a case of this and a case of that. At some point, it will become hoarding and all is lost of the initial concept of being self-sufficient and prepared. Everything in moderation.

Going to cut fresh lettuce from the garden this morning for lunch salad. The lettuce is coming on and appears to be at its peak. Squeaky clean and snaps at the touch. No preservatives. The bride just made her special homemade house dressing. We could feed ourselves just on salads had I planted more lettuce. That applies to any and all we planted this season. We will can any excess for use this winter. Oops, is canning considered a good thing to do now or is it outside basic sufficiency? Just hot water baths for veggies. Pickling string beans next month. Now, there is a treat to add to the gin. A shot washed down with dilly beans. This is excellent, even in good times. But I digress!! The growing season will tell over the next several months.

Now, you will think me crazy. And that is OK. I think all of this extra-curricular thinking of things of tomorrow is more an exercise of keeping my mind active and solving problems that do not exist. But more and more stories are being floated now about our next big worry. Once I start to see more and more of these, I think we may just be few weeks away from the big disclosure. Aliens. Yep, there are aliens. Apparently, quite a few species that have been watching us for centuries. They are grouped and named. Some walk amongst us and the US Government is in contact with them as I write. “Negotiating”, if memory serves me right.

Reports say that most are friendly with just a few species that may want to hurt us. They are watching us to see how we continue to take care of our species and the planet. I get the impression the aliens are seriously worried about us. “Klaatu barada nikto”, or something.

I will not panic the morning the news is announced or dropped on us. The media will not believe it. Most will likely make fun of it and the folks making the official announcement. But government officials have already announced this before. Documented reports and accounts. But they are all crazy as have been every one of the millions of sightings over the course of history. Even the stuff floating and visiting near the space station these days. All just imagination and nothing to see here. But what are those blobs and triangular shapes? If there is nothing to see here then why report it. I wonder if aliens ships have bathroom issues or are worried about their fleets salt intake? And what is their tour of duty? One year circling Earth and the Moon, then back home to Korg for 17 Mili Lunes? These are things worth worrying about.

I do not note my sources as a multitude of stories are on the net and one can pick and choose depending on one's take. Plenty for believers and skeptics.

A good bottle bottle of gin makes more and more sense huh?