Monday, February 28, 2011

Precious Moment

Friday night I received the most delightful phone call from my son-in-law, Jered.  He said, "Listen to this, Mom." Faintly I could hear a baby's laugh, hysterical and joyful.  Gabriela has learned to laugh out loud.  So cute.  But what was funnier was the voice directly in my ear of my eldest, Lauren, as she made all kinds of crazy and loud noises, trying to get Gabriela to laugh for me.  And of course once Ela realized she was expected to perform she wouldn't.  But Lauren wouldn't give up and I could hear Jered saying in the background that Ela had been laughing so hard just a few minutes ago. Fortunately I did hear her gleeful laughs at the beginning of the call, but what made me smile was thinking of the joy that this little girl was bringing to her parents and the fact that they wanted to share the moment with me.  Indeed a precious moment.

The happy little girl.

 Gabriela with her daddy.




Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sausage Making 101

Bright and early this morning, Hart and I began the process of making our own sausage, something we've never done before.  I've had the desire to try this lost art for a while and for Christmas I received the Kitchen Aid Meat Grinder attachment (I picked it out).  But life got busy and I set it aside for when we'd have the right moment to give it a try.  January went and February was almost gone as well, when I looked at my calendar and decided we might have this weekend free.
  Hart researched techniques and recipes.  I ordered the casings.  We bought the necessary ingredients and we were ready to give it a try.  Now we only needed a large block of time.  I voted for early Saturday morning, when we would both be fresh and energetic and our teenagers would still be asleep, so no need for any urgent carpooling.
Hart actually got up much earlier than I did and he began the process by getting all of our tools--bowls, grinder and attachments, and meat very cold.  He had read that it would go through the meat grinder easier if all things were very cold to start with. He also soaked the casings in cold water for about two hours.
I arose around 7 am and came down to a cup of coffee and a slab of very cold pork that needed to be cubed.  Not exactly my dream way to wake-up but by the time I had cubed 6 lbs of ice cold pork I was indeed awake!  Our first recipe was called American Farm Sausage.  Our next recipe was Italian Sausage.  Considering that this is the first time we have attempted to make sausage everything went really well.  We learned a few things and by noon we had about 10 lbs of sausage drying, waiting to be wrapped for future cooking.

We cut up a 5-6  lb pork shoulder into cubes.  

Hart is getting every last bit off of the bone.

The cubed pork and 2 lbs of cut up bacon.
We also used a 3 lb pork tenderloin.
My trusty Kitchen Aid mixer with new meat grinder attachment.
It worked great!
The cubed meat was put onto the tray and pushed through the opening with a special tool.

Next we added spices and seasonings. Plus a cup of red wine for the Italian and a
 cup of beer for the Farm sausage.

Mixing it all together by hand, boy was it cold!

Hart is threading the pork casing onto the sausage stuffer on the mixer.

The sausage mixture is placed onto the tray once more and pushed through.
It comes out of this tube and on to which the casings are threaded.

                                         My job was to guide the sausage as it was being filled

Lovely coils of sausage.

Hart then gently twisted the sausage, careful to let air bubbles escape.

A mornings work produced about 10 lbs of sausage.
Italian is on the left and American Farm is on the right.
The sausage must air dry for two hours before it can be packaged.

Packaged and ready to be refrigerated overnight so that it can "bloom".
Then it can be eaten or frozen for later use.
But we are cheating and having some for dinner tonight.  Shhh...

Monday, February 7, 2011

USA Made Goods

Hart and I went to Harris Teeter yesterday and I began my search for food grown  in the USA.  The strawberries were advertised as grown in CA but they were from Mexico.  Most of the frozen seafood was from  a foreign country as well.  There ended my search for we ran out of time.  I will do better next time.

I have been researching USA companies and surprise! there are many.

Here are a few I was familiar with:
Watkins Spices and Extracts
James Avery Jewelry
Little Tike Toys
Fuller Brush (remember the guy who used to come door to door with his briefcase--I do)
Crayola Crayons
Kitchenaid mixers
Woolrich blankets
Nalgene bottles
Ivory soap
Benjamin Moore Paint

A couple of good websites to do more in depth searching are:

There are a lot more you can google as well.  One more thing, here is an interesting article about manufacturing in the USA.  Why We Still Make It in the USA .

Let me know what you think and any products that you find that are USA made.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

50 today

It happened.  I turned fifty today.  My mind cannot comprehend my age.  This has been a difficult milestone for me.  Tears have crowded my eyes today and a heaviness has surrounded me at times. I've talked to God about it, making an effort to praise him for my life and all that is ahead.
And I have been encouraged by all the phone calls and  messages on  Facebook.  At work today my friend Jennifer made me a plate full of gluten free cookies. My loving husband and daughters took me out for Mexican and gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking.   As I looked over my pictures on Facebook I saw  that  my life has been filled with wonderful family, friends and adventures.  It has been a life of joy.  My latest adventure was just this pass weekend when my sisters and I took a road trip to Clearwater, Florida where we walked on the beach, talked non-stop, ate great food and wine, went sailing and kayaking!  What a fantastic way to celebrate becoming fifty.
 So, (I am taking a deep breath) I am excited about tomorrow and being 50 plus one day.  Life is good.  I think I will love being any age as long as I can celebrate living. Oh,  I talked to my middle daughter tonight and she said a person isn't old until they are seventy.  That's good to know.  I have 20 years to prepare for that one!