The Daily Grind
These days, more often than not, we eat a lot of foods that aren’t all that different from that which our predecessors ate; bread, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cereals. The difference today, however, is that most of the food we eat is grown or raised, processed, shipped and prepared by someone else. Many or most of our ancestors as recently as three or four generations ago (for us gen-Y’ers) did not have that luxury.
You may not eat meat, but you have to appreciate the value of everyday food prepared entirely at home. Since I (J.) have neither a formal nor hand-me-down education in the epicurean arts, I have had to learn as we go. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a class on homemade sausage making as presented by a local chef. N. got this class for me for my birthday, and it was a lot of fun.
Learning is, for me, typically a good thing. However, normally, I don’t like classes. I did graduated with honors in college, but I managed to not go to a lot of classes. How time changes people, huh? It probably didn’t hurt that the class informal, about sausage, and wine was served.
The Chef went through several of his recipes for popular types sausage, none of which was so difficult that a novice cook couldn’t put it together. Really all you need for sausage making is a grinder to mix and grind the meat, fats, and flavoring. From there, you can form the ground filler into patties and cook. Where sausage making gets tougher, or rather where more patience is required, is stuffing your fresh-ground goodness into a casing, where you get your classic links from.
If you eat sausage and you don’t know from where one gets a casing, then skip this next part. A casing is part of a cow, hog, or sheep intestine called the submucosa. This part of the intestine consists mainly of collagen, and gets very dry when cooked. That’s where you get a nice, crisp snap in your sausage. Yes, there are synthetic casings, but they just aren’t that great, and some must be removed before the sausage is eaten.
I actually liked stuffing the ground stuffing in the casing. Its not hard to do, and sometimes you overstuff the casings, and you get blow-outs before the sausage is cooked. Sometimes the casing is just a little overstuffed, and can blow-out when cooked. I don’t pretend to know much more than that right now, but if you want to learn more get with a local culinary school and see if you can take a class. Or, you can just get the necessary ingredients and equipment and give it a go.
N. and I also recently procured (conveniently enough) a food grinder, with a sausage stuffer attachment. If I have my way, we’ll be eating some tasty homemade sausage soon enough. Someday, hopefully, we’ll be able to make sausage (and most of the rest of our food) with ingredients grown and raised entirely by us. That day may be a long way off, but hopefully we can take some smaller steps until then to eating that is at least prepared by our own hands.