Archive for February 27, 2012

Bangers and Other Sausages


Continuing with the St Patrick’s Day menu, this year I am adding Bangers to it. And yes, I’ve been told Bangers are English. But in researching this menu item, I found recipes for different types of Bangers from different areas. I am going with Irish Bangers since this is for St Patrick’s Day.  The taste is similar to a breakfast sausage, but with just a tad more flavor oomph.

This gave me a great excuse to use one of my fancy KitchenAid attachments, a grinder and sausage maker. Guess what hubby’s first chore was? To find said attachment. Turns out we haven’t used it in a long time. A really long time. I listened to him mumble and grumble in the hall closet for several minutes. Something about filming a Hoarders show in there. Then some cussing. He was successful, tho, he found the sausage attachment.

See? There it is...wedged WAY up there!

Because of the time and work required in setting up this attachment, breaking it down and cleaning it (making sure everything is disinfected) is quite an event, we decided that in addition to grinding and stuffing the Bangers we would also make a batch of Italian and Mexican sausage.

First, we assembled all the ingredients for the three types of sausages.

Banger Ingredients

Italian Sausage Ingredients

Mexican Sausage Ingredients

At the last minute, hubby thought the Tequila would make a great addition to the Mexican sausage.


Once all of the seasonings were assembled we prepped the pork.  You have to make sure the dice on the pork is small enough that it feeds into the sausage grinder smoothly.

Pork Shoulder

Diced Pork

Then we tossed the diced pork with the seasonings.

Toss the diced pork with seasonings

While it chills, we get the machine ready to go.


And we are off to the races.  Kind of. NASCAR is on TV. (FYI: We still haven’t added the wet ingredient.)

Set Up

Carefully feeding diced pork

The ground and seasoned pork is then mixed with the liquid ingredient.

Almost there. BUT. In order to avoid any taste issues later, we always brown off a small sample to check our seasonings before we start stuffing it into the casing.

This batch was seasoned perfect.

Then we needed to have our mail-order casings ready to go. FYI, we still had some left from this package after stuffing about 15 pounds of sausage.

Mail Order Sausage Casings

Casings (note the salt all over the place..that's what they are stored in)

Soaked for 30 Minutes

Then we change the equipment from grinder blades to the stuffer and began threading the casing onto the horn. This is way harder than threading a needle or peeling a coupon sticker off a bag of cat food.

Start the casing.

No dirty jokes, please.

Leaving a bit at the end for the air to come out.

Turn the machine on and slowly feed the ground meat, keeping a steady pace to avoid air pockets.


Slow and steady wins the race.  Once the you have filled the casings (avoiding any air bubbles) you can twist off into whatever size link your heart desires.

Sausage Links

Make sure you label with type and date before putting into the freezer.  This avoids that “what the heck is this and how old is it” cleaning of the freezer moments.

These three recipes all use the same basic sausage making method.  The pork shoulder should have a good amount of fat (about 20%) or extra fat will need to be added.   These sausages can be used in any recipe that calls for sausage.

Irish Bangers

4 lb pork shoulder diced
1 cup dried bread crumbs (I used panko)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1/2 t dried marjoram
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/4 t powdered ginger
ground black pepper
1/2 t finely grated lemon zest

1/2 cup milk

Combine all ingredients except milk and chill 1 hour. Grind using fine plate. Toss lightly with the milk. Stuff into hog casings in approximately 4″ links. Can be frozen at this point. Brown before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes.


Italian Sausage

5 pounds pork shoulder
1 cup white wine, cold
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon chili powder, ancho
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients except wine and chill 1 hour. Grind using fine plate. Toss lightly with the wine. Stuff into casings in desired size links or leave as bulk. Can be frozen at this point. Brown before serving.


Mexican Seasoned Sausage

5 pounds pork shoulder
1 cup good tequila, cold
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon chili powder, ancho
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried jalapenos
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients except tequila and chill 1 hour. Grind using fine plate. Toss lightly with the tequila. Stuff into hog casings in approximately 4″ links. Can be frozen at this point. Brown before serving.

Corny, But That’s Me

I love St Patrick’s Day. I love the sillyness of it, that everything is green, you drink lots of beer (ok, maybe not this part, I don’t drink beer) and corned beef. OMG, I love corned beef. It’s one of my very favorite foods. If it wasn’t so darn salty that I swell up like a water balloon I would eat it every day. Don’t get me started on the potatoes that cook with it. But alas, I do only eat it once a year. And every year, never fail, I say “next year I shall corn my own corned beef!” I always forget this, tho, before the next St Patrick’s Day rolls around. This year, I have done it.

While I sit here typing, my beef is happily corning away in the refrigerator. After asking a few folks who have corned their own beef I went looking for the perfect recipe. No saltpetre, no nitrates wanted. I went with Julia Child’s very simple rub. It’s recommended that you begin the process at a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the big day.

Yesterday I went shopping for the ingredients. I live in the middle of nowhere, no huge supermarkets here. And since there were no briskets to be found, I went with a TriTip.

Everything is assembled.

After assembling everything together, here’s the rub.

The Rub

In a 2 gallon ziploc type bag I then rubbed the meat with the seasoning.

Meat is rubbed with seasonings.

I pressed out all the air and it now sits quietly in the refrigerator with 12 packs of soda sitting on top of it to keep it weighted. I’m assured that tomorrow a liquid will be present, the beginning of the corning process. Every day I must massage it well.

To be continued…

Santanas for Lunch

It was one of those days where we were going here, there and everywhere. We’d already been to the PX and the Commissary, then home to put groceries away. Now we were headed to Yucca for more errands, but first, a stop at Santana’s for lunch.

The rule of thumb in Southern California is that the worse the place looks, the better the Mexican food. Santana’s doesn’t look as bad as some, but the food is still pretty good. Usually. Thankfully, today it was pretty good. The refries where creamy, the carne asada was moist and tender. And one of my favorites from the salsa bar, the spicy carrots, were top notch. This is the only way I like to eat carrots. Otherwise, they are only good for horse treats.


Me, Myself and Corn Chowder

At least two nights a week hubby works late. That leaves me home alone with the critters. Today, this is probably a good thing. Since I had no desire to clean up after fixing a big meal just for myself, I checked out the fridge for acceptable de javu meals.

Lunch was leftover Antipasto Pasta Salad. I made a big batch for hubby to take to a potluck at work, and thankfully there was a little extra for me.

Antipasto Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is also a “everything but the kitchen sink” toss together. No real recipe, just a ‘little of this, a lot of that’. I start with 1 lb of pasta, such as ziti. Boiled in salted water until almost done. Rinse in cold water immediately to stop the cooking process. Into a big bowl and add marinated mozzarella (reserve oil), Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, chopped roasted red peppers, a hard salami sliced, sliced provolone cheese, marinated artichoke hearts (chopped to bite size), pepperoncini, in whatever quantity suits your fancy. Take the reserved oil from the marinated mozzarella, add about another 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 or 3 tablespoons of white balsamic or seasoned rice vinegar, a little bit of salt (not much, you can add more later), fresh ground pepper, fresh oregano and fresh chopped basil. Whisk the dressing and then pour over pasta mix and toss. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, overnight is better. Taste and then add more seasoning as needed. I toss chopped green onion at this point if I have it, then top with some more fresh Parmesan and chopped fresh basil. Serve.

Later, after a torture session with my Physical Therapist and a couple of hours at the office, I came home and hung out with the animals. Four happy Great Danes were having a blast today kicking up wet, gross sand. After, I heated up a bowl of soup left over from last night’s Sausage Corn Chowder.

Sausage Corn Chowder

12 ounces mild turkey sausage, removed from casing
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 c. coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 c. 1/2 inch cubes baked and peeled red potatoes
1 (17 oz.) can cream style corn
1 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups half n’ half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large pan, saute onion until translucent. Add chopped pepper and garlic, saute for another minute or two. Break up sausage and add to onion mixture, cook until brown.
Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

Weekend Close to Home

Vegetarian Sunday Lunch

My son came over and put new brakes on my car. As a reward, we tried a new recipe he had been asking about, Linguini with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Linguini with Creamy Avocado Sauce

I’ll make this again, but use half the lemon called for in the recipe. I am very sensitive to sour or tart flavors. Can’t even drink wine for that reason, have to stick to the hard stuff!

Attack of the 29 Palms’ Zombie

A favorite past time around here is target practice. So we headed to the local range.

29 Palms Pistol and Rifle Club

Where we met up with our partners in crime, er, friends, Marcus and Sandi.

Partners in Crime

One must always be ready to defend against any enemies, foreign, domestic and Zombie. But it appeared we might be too late.

Zombie Box

There was already a Zombie lurking.

Marcus took Zombie matters into his own hands.

Marcus was on it, tho. He was taking matters into his own hands and attempting to strangle the intruder.

Scott shooting the zombie

Then Scott commenced shooting said Zombie. Until we saw daylight through him and he bled neon pink all over the place.

You could see daylight when we were done.

Look close…you’ll see daylight in the middle of his chest. Meanwhile, I wandered off to shoot with my camera…don’t tell anyone, but that is my preferred medium. I will shoot a gun to defend myself and my family, but I shoot with my camera to entertain myself.

My favorite view. The transfer station for the county dump!

Western View

Finally, the sun was starting to go down behind the mountains and the wind had kicked up something fierce. So it was time to call it a day.

Sun slipping behind the mountains.

Now my brain was moving towards our next stop, but first it was North towards the highway…

Heading towards the highway.

And West towards town…

Go West! Back to town.

And our final stop…the best pizza around.

Rocky's Pizzeria

All in all, it’s been a pretty good weekend!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies
A cinnamon sugar covered bar cookie, very similar to the cookie. Soft, chewy, sweet, perfect.

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Sifted dry

Sifted dry ingredients

What is left behind

What is left behind.

This is why I always lightly sift, even a recipe doesn’t call for it. The large white chunks are baking powder. They will usually break up while mixing, but if one doesn’t and you are the lucky one to bite down on it, eeeeeeeeeeew. It sucks all moisture from your mouth and ruins the dessert experience.

Butter and Sugar

Butter and Sugar

Beat until fluffy

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy

Two Eggs and Good Vanilla

Two eggs and good vanilla

Incorporate dry into butter mixture

Incorporate dry into butter mixture

Pat into pan

Pat into pan

25 to 30 minutes



Now comes the hard part. You have to wait for it to completely cool before cutting into it. Time will slow down, almost coming to a stop, at this point.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

24 Blondies
350° for 25 to 30 minutes

2 2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, lightly spray with cooking spray.

Using a colander, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside. Discard anything left in the colander.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on low to combine, then on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, adding vanilla with the second egg. Beat, scraping the sides, until thoroughly combined. Gradually fold in the flour mixture until combined, making sure all of the flour is incorporated.

Pat the blondie dough evenly into the parchment lined pan. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the blondie dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when lightly pressed. Cool blondies completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Spy Work

Today was one of those busy days that, in the end, doesn’t have much to show for it. I started off at physical therapy where Julio twisted me into a pretzel. His reasoning? “Must stretch it out!” Then he worked it out of me. Tied my feet with bands and told me to walk. I stood on a board with a rounded base and was told to bounce a ball. This is supposed to help my coordination and core muscles. I was also on a shuttle and told to launch myself. Not sure where I was to launch to, but I finally finished. Whew.

Then I headed 20 miles west so that I could run a few errands in Yucca, including picking up a 40 pound bag of dog food from Pets Plus. When you are feeding 4 Great Danes a 40 pound bag does not go far. On a positive note, I can now pick up that 40 pound bag of food myself. When my son saw me coming out of the store with it, he said a few cuss words (at almost 22 he’s too old for me to wash his mouth out and, in truth, he learned the words from me). Then he tried to grab the bag from me and I tried to hold on. (I’m very proud that I can carry it…it’s been a long time depending on others to carry it.) This poor man walking by us thought I was being mugged for the dog food! A couple of other stops and I dropped him off at his place, then decided to try out the new store in town, Save A Lot.

Save A Lot is a big deal in our little city. It has gone into the old Desert Ranch Market (known as “Desert Rat Market” to the locals). That store had gone down hill, with non-working refrigeration equipment and expired food. When the news a new store was opening up it was met with joy. The nearest grocer from there is several miles up the highway, making it hard for those without reliable transportation to shop. Save A Lot opened last week to huge crowds, so I waited a week to let that die down.

As I pulled into the parking lot my friend Paige called. She was raised in Two Nine, but a military spouse moved her away several years ago. She was curious about what the new store looked like and asked me to be her spy. On went my hat and out came my camera!

Heading down the aisles, I tried to be sneaky :)

You do have to bag your own and it’s three cents for every bag you buy from them, but for their grand opening celebration they are giving a free, reusable bag for every $10 spent. I spent $15 on a few things that were cheaper than the local grocery store. Their fruits and vegetables were reasonable and looked good. Better than our local commissary, that’s for sure.

Food Truck Festival

Saturday in the desert was GORGEOUS. So we hopped in the truck and headed out.

The Spa Casino Resort in downtown Palm Springs was hosting a Food Truck Festival.
Up to 70 Roach Coaches were expected to attend, with all kinds of different foods. They included Italian Ice, Vegan, lots of bacon themed foods, countries from 5 of the 7 continents and tons of desserts.

There was no way we could eat at every truck, although most were tempting. So we each picked out a must have and we shared. This sandwich truck had some exotic sandwiches, but it was the Butter Poached Lobster that won over the guys.

The Sushi truck was also on the must try list.

I picked out the Argentinian truck and went for the 2 for $5 pulled pork sliders.

We had to wait for our food, as the Health Department was doing an inspection. We weren’t the only ones waiting. This poor guy was about to dissolve into a puddle of drool while he waited for his share.

He was rewarded for his wait before we were.
Finally, we received ours. And they were well worth the wait.

We had to make a visit to the truck with the spiciest menu.

The Habanero Chocolate Orange Chicken actually turned out to be the only clunker of the day, resonating with burnt chocolate. There was no kick, no after burn, no warmth. Just burnt chocolate.

Korea was our next to last stop.
I’ve never had Korean BBQ before, and was delighted with the Korean Short Rib Tacos. These were awesome and I’m definitely going to try duplicating. The slaw helped keep it from being too heavy.
And, of course, we grabbed Garlic Fries to munch on our way out.

From the looks of this line as we left, arriving as they opened had been a good idea. It hadn’t been too warm and the lines at the trucks weren’t too bad. These folks, I bet, had a completely different experience.

Parked a few blocks away, we enjoyed the warm sunshine and the Palm Springs atmosphere. We were a tad startled to see this, tho. Someone has a sense of humor.

We meandered by a classic car lot. We tried not to leave any drool spots.Can you pick out our car amidst all these beauties?