Sunday dinner– Roast and Pecan pie

During my childhood, mom had a routine on Sunday’s that included making easy yet impressive all-in-one meals that provided a great lunch but also lots of left-overs. Prepping for the afternoon meal meant she put a roast in the oven before we left for church, allowing it to cook to perfection as we sang to the heaven’s above. When we arrived home, the roast was ready, along with the vegies. All she had to do was make the buttermilk biscuits and gravy as we set the table (as we aged, she allowed us to take over the biscuits). Fifteen minutes later, we were sitting down to dine like we were at King Arthur’s Court.

Meal in one: The Perfect Roast

Mix of fingerling potatoes (my fav), carrots and onions

My favorite is my clay pot meat roaster. It’s divine for keeping the juices in the meat, capturing the gravy and circulating the air for the vegies. That said, I’ve made 2-sponge breads in it as well, because it turns out a perfectly formed loaf that is brown on the sides and spongy in the middle. The food is restaurant quality (serious).

Ingredients

  • Roast
  • Vegetables: sweet onion(s), carrots, potatoes (your preference) and any other vegies you’d like
  • Broth-your choice
  • Salt and pepper

Prior to the onions and additional vegies

Process
1. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Brown all four sides of the roast, on all four sides. Salt and pepper to your hearts desire.
3. Cut one onion, lining the bottom of the roaster.
4. Place the meat in the roaster, covering with the onions.
5. Cut and place carrots and potatoes around the meat.
6. Add about 3/4-1 cp of vegetable, meat or chicken broth.

Once you have loaded up the claypot, place it in the oven and cook away.

Now I completely spaced to get the ‘after’ photos, so I’ll have to do it when I made the next one. Trust me, it comes out perfect. The serve..

6. Remove the vegies, place in a serving dish and keep warm (covered is best, in the warming oven).
7. Make the buttermilk biscuits (will add link).
8. Top off with pecan pie or chocolate mousse.

I recommend a lid with a handle that fits tightly.
This is enough to feed a family of four or 6, depending
on the ages of the kids.

7. Place in the oven at the appropriate temperature and timeframe based on the size of the meat. (6 min/pound at 500 degrees).

Perfect Pecan Pie

It’s a fallacy to think that pecan pie is only suitable for the holidays. Many restaurants in the states serve it year around, warmed, with a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream. It’s no wonder. It’s very inexpensive, requires only a handful of ingredients and is practically idiot proof.

The essentials. Use good ingredients. Don’t skimp on the butter. Use a quality brand, and make sure its salted and sweetened. Using unsweetened, unsalted butter results in a bland pie.

Pre-cooking

Another essential is the corn syrup. I’ll admit, I avoid corn syrup like the plague. The impact on my health is just not worth the stuff. My lone exception to this (and of course, my justification) is that it’s worth it for the pie. Why corn syrup? It is a good thickener, and recipes without it have a different texture (and tend to be runnier). The tip? If you want a slightly thicker pie, use more corn syrup–not much though. A little goes a long way (e.g. if you increase the amount from a 1/2 cup to a 1 cup, it will almost turn to candy. You’d have to cut it with a bit of butter).

Make my tried and true perfect pie crust ahead of time

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 to 1 1/5 cup pecans

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. On the stove top and low heat, melt the butter, add the sugar and the corn syrup. Heat until melted, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from the stove. Let cool (this means you can insert your finger w/out getting burned).
4. Mix the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.
5. Add egg mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. (hint: if your mixture is too warm, the eggs will cook, ruining it, and you will have to discard and start over).
6. Add pecans
7. Pour in to uncooked pie crust. Cook for 50-55 minutes.

The make or break aspect of pecan pie is not to overcook. The top should “bounce-back” to the touch (place your index finger on the top, in the center). If it’s hard, it’s overcooked and will be unedible. If it’s mushy, you need to cook it a bit longer.

When you remove the pie, place it on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes. This will ensure it sets and doesn’t run. Serve warm with ice cream.

This is the butter, corn syrup and sugar.. ..nicely melted

As it’s melting (and in between stirring, chop the nuts)

Test the mixture for “done-ness” (my Don-kingism). The mixture should drop easily from the spoon

Take off the stove and cool slightly. Add the nuts
Now, you might exclaim “why nuts! those belong at the end”. I’ll tell you why.
you must wait for the mixture to cool, or else you will curdle and cook your eggs
(in other words, they will scramble). Since you have nothing better to do,
you might as well get busy and add the nuts, stirring it around.

When the mixture is sufficiently cooled, add the eggs

This is the final mixture–slightly brownish. NOW you may add to the empty sheel

Photos…

No-Fail Pie Crust

With nearly 70 cookbooks, you’d think I’d reuse the same pie recipe over and over. Until recently, the problem was I was making pies so infrequently that I’d forget the one I liked most. Then I’d buy a new cookbook, feel compelled to try a new recipe and start all over again.

Starting with the dry ingredients

Fortunately, Southern Living is a mainstay in my cookbook library, and it was what I reached for over the holidays. I made five pie crusts, each one turning out perfectly. The sixth one–not so much– I didn’t put in the exact amount of shortening. The entire batch had to be discarded. The lesson learned? Do not mess with a perfect pie crust recipe.

Perfect, no fail pie crust recipe

Ingredients
For a 9 inch pie crust
1 1/4 cup flour (unsifted)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (this is my add. I like sweeter crusts)

Mix by hand

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening (also my add. 2 tbs vs 1 makes the dough just perfect to hold together and roll)
3-4 tablespoons chilled water (put water in a glass of ice)

Process
1. Place flour, sugar, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl
2. Cut in the shortening
3. Hand-mix (I prefer this. It’s much better than a Cuisinart mixer as the dough is softer/flakier)
4. Add in the water. The dough will slightly moist and should hold together well.
5. Roll in to a flat ball, wrap with Saran wrap and chill for 1-3 hours or overnight. It will hold for several days.
6. Roll out when ready to use (follow directions for the pie you are making)

The dough should resemble peas in size

I doubled the batch, enough for a pie and a few mini-pies

Roll and fold in preparation for placing in the pie
Place crust in the pie dish

This is the mini-pies

Mold the edges of the crust
Add the filling–pecan


Pie filling-pumpkin

Traditional Swedish Sausage

Traditional Swedish potato sausage

My last note on potato sausage was a bit cryptic and apparently seriously irritating to my readers in Poland and Russia, who in a fit of internationalism, were going to try and replicate this recipe. Keep in mind that I’ve already written a post on this once-but I guess I had great pics on that but not-so-good direcions. This is round two. I’d recommend you read this first, then go to the other blog on 20 min sausages for the pics.

Warning to readers–it’s a nice, bland (non-spicy) recipe that is a perfect addition to any meal. It’s also incredibly easy. To show this, I’ve gone back and dug up a few older photos that show the process (I only took some of the ‘after’ during this last go around in November).

Ingredients
1.5 pounds nice meat (I used filet mignon this last time, only because it was in my freezer)
1.5 pounds port (use a thick cut of pork chop)
7-8 pounds pealed potatoes (about 10)
3 medium size onions
Casings (also called skeins) from the local butcher

For those non-Americans who can’t take the time to figure out the switch to metrics etc., just use equal parts of both meats and use double the amount of potatoes. Easy!

Process

  1. Using a grinder (I use a Kitchenaid attachment with the large holes), slice the meats in strips then run through the grinder. Alternatively, you can chop the meet extremely fine in little bits, though this will take an eternity. Better to use a blender or something, but it can’t be mush. You need to see the bits.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes and onions using the same process.
  3. Put all the chopped ingredients in a big bowl and set aside (near the mixer).
  4. Place a clean bowl beneath the mixture. This is where the stuffed sausage will rest.
  5. Place a clean, water-filled pot with a bit of salt nearby. This is where the finished sausage will be placed  and then cooked when ready.
  6. Change the attachment on the Kitchenaid. For this, you must remove the blade/round hole (that chops the meat/vegies) and return the internal driver that rotates the food. You will then attach the nozzle.
  7. Place the casing end on the nozzle.
  8. Stuff the top of the Kitchenaide with food, turn on the speed to medium and the sausage will start spouting out.

Tip–you need to ‘squeeze the air’ out of the sausage about every four inches (about one finger length). Not all the way through-but mid-way through the stuff sausage. This also helps push the sausage down the length of the casing. If you stuff the sausage too full, it will break and tear, causing a mess and ruining the sausage. It’s better to have a bit of air than none at all.

Tip #2. Use strips of sausage about 18 inches. Anything shorter is hard to manage and any longer gets cumbersome. Think of the old gangster movies where sausages are dangling in a cold freezer next to the dead guy. That’s about the length you want. (I’m so ghetto).

Healthy Party Appetizer-Scallops & Prosciutto skewers

Halloween in Cartegena, sans alligator

In my world, fall means I get to have fun for three solid months, commencing with the first leaf that hits to the ground to the moment the New Year’s Eve celebration ends. Halloween is the first milestone, and I’ve been off-line in pre-spooky, spooky and now post-spooky take down efforts. I did notice a spike in traffic from, of all places, Columbia, and I wondered…do our Columbian friends celebrate Halloween? Indeed. The first pic that came up was one from Cartegena, a city that will forever be embedded in my mind from Romancing the Stone…where the bad guys purrss….Carte..heeeeeennnnnaaaahhhh, before feeding a piece of meat to a pet alligator. (According to my  mother, this is going to be stuck in my brain long after I can’t remember my own name).

With that preamble, let me get to the gist of this blog, and the second major theme during the fall to NYE celebratory experience. Parties. Yes, all things that are good and delish are from, or at, parties. Not all food must be bad for the bod. This is one.

What I love….about this app is that it’s very fast, very easy, & has limited ingredients. (Furthermore, I think a certain mysticism surrounds crab and scallops when served at home–as in, people rave. I suspect it’s because both are generally overpriced at restaurants, so guests feel as though they are getting something very special when served at a dinner party).

Ingredients
Coconut oil*
1 pound scallops (or 2 pounds at Costco for $20-frozen/large).
1 box prosciutto
1 lemon
Toothpicks (or fun app stick)
Salt, Mrs. Dash seasoning or Hungarian paprika (or all of the above)

Preparation
Unthaw scallops, pat dry
Spread a bit of oil on the cookie sheet, sprinkle your favorite seasoning on top of the oil & lemon
Wrap a thin bit of prosciutto around the scallop
Slide on the metal skewer
Roll the finished skewers in the oil and seasoning mix (you can also shake on to the skewer–personal preference)
Place in convection oven for 2-5 minutes depending on the size of the scallop (you may want to turn once if you can)
Remove from the oven, cool slightly
Slide to serving tray, add toothpicks and serve

*Great served warm or even cold. I serve with a dash of wasabi sauce which is awesome.

*By now, you should have this as a part of your pantry. Pick up the stuff in a spray can and also the unrefined coconut oil at your local health food supermarket. It truly adds to the flavor of most dishes.

Preparing the cookie sheet
Thin slices of prosciutto
Wrapping the scallop


placing the scallop on the skewer–flat edge is easiest to prevent tearing

After I’ve rolled the scallops in the sauce on the sheet

On a standard dishware–my guests were already here-so I skipped the toothpick part since
they started grabbing them straight from this plate!! (Sheesh–the nerve!)

My favorite sauce for cooked seafood apps- Wasabi Finishing Sauce from Waterfront

NW Salmon Dinner

You may not live in the Northwest or even ever travel here but no matter. You can get a salmon, fix it up in 5 minutes (are you noticing a trend in my life w/this 5 min thing), and serve an impressive feast. The side dishes take @40 min to prepare, but the result is an authentic Northwest meal.

Side note: do you ever have dinner parties? Even when times are good and pockets flush, dining in has the benefit of no interuptions, getting to know another couple or two and being in a relaxed atmosphere. This presumes no kids of course, if it’s an adult thing, but now, more than ever, consider staying rather than going out. There is something really personal about opening our home to another couple–our way of saying…’we like you enough and are trusting you to come in to our home.’ Just consider it.

I took this in a hurry so sorry it’s not perfect.
The salmon is on top of the cilantro-rice (left) and asparagus/muschroom
risotto on right. Not that it’s not evenly placed. This is on purpose. Some women
were vegan, and don’t want the salmon part. By doing this, you can feed both
meat eaters but others can just take the risotto or the rice.

Last mo (on a Friday), I made 1 quarter of this for a veteran TV personality and her executive husband (a salmon afficionado) and the next day, made another quarter salmon for 12 women who came to the home for a spa day. This is the step by step….

  

The meal
King Salmon (a quarter will do)
Mushroom and asparagus risotto (both optional)
Fresh corn and cilantro rice
Asparagus
*I’ll post these other items separately so it will show on blog subject listings

This family recipe has passed down from forefathers long dead. It works on any salmon.

Ingredients
2 lemons (more to garnish)
Dash (or mixed herbs)
1 large sweet onion
Dash seasoning
Raw coconut oil (not liquid. It’s solid, usually found in the speciality aisle. I use this alot so get it)

Process

  • Debone first then set aside.
  • Line a lipped cookie sheet with tinfoil (lipped= it has sides, not flat, in case the juices seep out)
  • Take 1 lemon, cut in half. Squeeze the juice from a half on the tinfoil
  • Thinly slice the onion, arrange half on the tinfoil as well
  • Take your Dash seasoning (a fast version of salt, lemon peel and other spices) and sprinkle on on the tinfoil
  • Scoop about 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil and spread on the backside of the salmon. Add a scattering of Dash on it.
  • Flip over (this is the side without the skin!) repeat (spread @3 tbls of coconut oil on the fish. Note-the oil is rather hard since its pressed. you may have to use the flat side of a knife. that’s ok. won’t hurt the fish). Add the Mrs. Dash
  • Thinly slice the remaining onion and spread on the salmon.
  • Slice the lemon and place on top of the onions (randomly. the goal is to have the natural juices from both onion and lemon seap in to the fish).
  • Give the entire thing a smattering of kosher salt. While you won’t eat the lemons once done, the onions have a lovely flavor.
  • Take a sheet of tinfoil and match to the edge of the existing tinfoil.
  • Wrap and fold all four sides allowing no air
  • Place in convection bake for @10-15 minutes. This totally depends on the size of the salmon. Don’t overcook. If that means you have to take it out after 10 min, do so, gently unwrapping the tinfoil (I can usually do this with my fingers. Tinfoil is nice that way).
    • A helpful hint…when the salmon “cracks” then it’s overdone. You want it to ‘lift’ or slightly spread but when it cracks, it’s like an overbaked brownie and is dry and hard.
Straight from the boat and Rog’s wet fishing outfit to home

This is a half of the 22.5 lb salmon. I cut in in quarters. For this recipe, I used a quarter salmon and it fed 12 women (with some leftover)

Preparing the sheet for the salmon

The white is a coconut oil. Looks gross but makes all the difference in the world. In fact, I repeated this meal a second
night for friends from out of town–the husband is a salmon freak. He said it was the best salmon he’d had in years–and wanted to know “the secret.” It’s the coconut oil. Trust me. It makes for a juicy, flavorful fish.
Adding the onions, lemons and seasoning

Fold down the tinfoil edges

All folded up and ready to go.
Again–I use 400 convection bake. You can use whatever you want–I just like the speed and even
cooking capabilities of my convection bake

For the finished product….

Let the salmon cool a bit–about 5 minutes


Forgot to note–I made the rice (on left) and mushroom asparagus risotton (right)
I placed it in front to transfer the salmon

Admittedly, my presentation was lame– (people were already eating when i snapped this)….

Easy, impressive red-pepper & artichoke bruschetta appetizers

These little ditties are less than ten dollars (US) to make and take about 15 minutes total time. When I have the inspiration, I’ll make the bread, which takes longer. The fast version-(mix of store bought/homemade) still impresses and is unbelievably tasty.
Roasted red pepper and artichoke bruschetta
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: 10 min
Makes 25 pieces
Bread
  • Zoe Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 25.5-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2)Purchase quality baguettes. Sourdough is best, although a crostini version work well. The kind with sea salt on the top is perfect as well, as it plays off the sweetness of the rep pepper.
  • Turn on convection broil to 400 degrees
  • Slice the bread about 1/4-1/5 inch thick (if it’s too thick, a woman can’t bite it with ease)
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil across the tops of the Description: http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=bookb00-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B001E5DZU2bread
  • Garlic sliced and ready to smear
    Cook for about 2-4 minutes. (Ovens vary. watch carefully so it’s lightly brown but not burnt)
  • While baking, peel and slice a garlic clove.
  • Remove the bread from the oven. Scrape the garlic clove over the bruschetta. This gives the bread a lovely flavor and smells awesome.
  • Add a titch (slang for a bit) of sea salt if desired
Bruschetta
  • I’m going for the fast version here. (Translation, you can roast your own red peppers in oil and spice up if you desire). This calls for the pre-made kind.
  • Go to the deli counter at the local market and purchase the pre-marinated (though natural/organic) red peppers in oil. Only 4-6 ounces is necessary, and in fact, you will have a bunch left over.
  • Purchase pre-marinated artichokes. This will likely be separate than the red pepper.
  • So good, you’ll be happy you have leftovers!
    Blend both for 1 min. The amounts should be equal, though you can modify to suit your own tastes.
  •  Place about 1/2 teaspoon on the bruschetta and serve. I had @1.5 cups left over on the recipe and used it for a vegetable dip.
Tasty, colorful and easy!(sorry I forgot to take pics of the final product, but my readers can make the mental leap!)

Lift the Spirits Oyster Stew

Joy of CookingOne of the easier soups is oyster soup, or stew. Never could figure out why this particular soup is called a stew, for my experience with actual stew with oysters (stew being defined as a nice, thick, rich concoction) is rare. Instead, the soup texture is typically thin, the broth lacking in the richness I associate with a stew.

After playing with a lot of recipes, The Joy of Cooking‘s basic stew recipe as the forerunner, then a myriad afterward, I’ve yet again created my own concoction. I still don’t believe is should be called a stew, but it has the Sarah-come-Swedish approach that rests of sauteing, butter and more cream. If you love the latter two ingredients, this recipe is for you (and btw, this doesn’t mean a layer of yellow, floating fat. It means flavorful. There is a difference).

First, let’s debunk a myth. Most recipes, Joy’s included, says one must have a double boiler. Pashaaa. (pronounced, Pushaaa, an eight grade carry-over from my older brother, the 80’s version of ‘whatever,’). I’m always using one or two of my double broilers on other recipes, and found that simmering it on a low temp directly on my Caphalon pot works just fine. Granted, just fine might work only for Rog, since I hate stewed oysters, and only for the love of my father and Rog do I chug the stuff down, as fast as possible so I don’t have to taste it. Evenso, 12 years of making this soup-posing as a stew has taught me a few things.

Hungarian Hot Paprika, 5-Ounce Tins (Pack of 6)
My favorite Paprika

1-saute the onions more than directed (in the Joy recipe). Oyster soup connoisseurs always comment on the rich flavor of my soup, and I ‘think’ this is one of the reasons. (and I double/triple the onions. Iodine is good.
2-substitute regular paprika for Hungarian paprika, still using a dash of the white pepper
3-rog LOVEs Tabasco. He’d put the stuff on oatmeal if he didn’t think I’d vomit. I throw a dash in. Once again, the comments are very different when put a few drops in–and the comments are positive btw

PS–A set of Tobasco is a really cool stocking stuffer. I got this for Rog one year, and you would have thought I got him a unmentionable.

TABASCO Family of Flavors Gift Box
Great gift set

Ingredients
4 Tbls butter
1 grated (or chopped onion)
1-1 1/2 pint oyster with liquor (the liquid inside)
1 cup whole, organic milk
1 cup whole, organic cream (use the regular stuff if you don’t have organic)
1/2 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp white pepper
1/2-1 Tsp Hungarian Paprika

Directions
Sautee very well, 8-10 minutes or more, depending on heat of the stove.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the milk is hot and the oysters float.
Just before serving, add chopped parsley.

Now that I’ve made this for Rog, I’m going to bake Talapia to go along with my smoked oysters, cheese and dill pickles.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

In an attempt to ween myself from all things chocolate, I can’t quite give up the most wonderful cupcakes in teh world-red velvet. Confetti Cupcakes, a local joint in our micro-town of Issaquah, WA recently opened, reviving my passion for a dessert I traditionally saved for Valentines. Now, with the resident evil among us, Barb, the owner and fellow former San Franciscan, has cursed and blessed me. I go in, nosh on the food, banter about her amazing decorations (she had a retail boutique in the city by the bay), and talk food. It’s awesome. Were it not for the other customers and my kids, I’d be there more frequently, which is a probably a bad thing in the long run.

Five years ago, it was the Curves franchise that was taking up retail space, (an ironic name choice I always thought, since working creates straight, hard lines on the hips where Aphrodite-esque roundth used to exist). Today it’s, Sprinkles and the like, using buttermilk and Valhrona chocolate to hide any evidence of a workout.

Red velvet afficianados know that a true red velvet boils down to good chocolate (Valhrona), buttermilk, nice butter, European if possible, but if not, regular, salted butter (even she uses salted butter, so I’m not alone). We agreed that that chocolate used wasn’t even as important as the butter.

“No lard or shortening,” she said, puckering her nose. “The aftertaste is horrid.”

As fate would have it, a mom’s event earlier this week featured red velvet cookies, using the same topping and were equally as good (just less of it to eat).

With that, I’m on a mission to publish a no-fail recipe. (BTW-most are the same, mine as a bit of vinegar, which makes all the difference in the world, IMHO).

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(Print this Recipe)
Time to completion: @50 min
Servings: 11-18 cupcakes depending on size

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk (organic if possible, the texture/flavor is different)
1 Tbs red food coloring
1 Tsp high quality vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1 Tbs distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tsp salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Prepare the muffin tins. I prefer to use baking cups, tinfoil are fun at this time of year (silver and red can be found in most grocery stores or markets)
Beat the butter and sugar w/an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Stir in the backing soda and vinegar.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; reduce the speed on the batter, or turn it off, and hand stir in the flour mixture until just blended. (Over stirring kills the fluff, and the rise is not as good).
Pour or spoon the batter in to the cups and bakefor 20-25 min, depending on the level of moistness you desire.
Cool on a wire rack.

For the cream cheese frosting, I’ve used a ton, and always go back to Barefoot Contessa (though sometimes this is a bit buttery for some folks), or Martha Stewarts (because it’s on line) recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting. The only change I make is using salted vs unsalted butter.

My only counsel is this: the day you are going to make these curve-producers, go workout in the morning. You’ll feel slightly less guilt. (Emphasis on ‘slightly.’)

20 min home made sausages

We are a nation of hot dog consumers. I’m not talking a few weiners here and there. The average American eats 70 hotdogs a year. More than 730 Million packages of hot dogs were sold in retail stores in 2009, about 20 Billion weiners per year. This doesn’t even include the largest chain in the world, Wal-Mart. Forget the $1.6B in sales. Not quite the national debt in zeros, but close, and a whole lot healthier.

We’ve got kosher. Beef. Pork. Chicken. Vegetarian, and then the cultural layer. Polish. Italian. German. Swedish. Let us not forget the wonders of spices and sauces, herbs and powders, and then regional styles of hotdogs and sausages. There is the Red and White (Rochester, NY, known as “hots” for the petters and slaw), Slaw Dogs (the south), slathered with sweet, finely chopped slaw and can include chili), Sonoran (Arizona) which are bacon-wrapped, grilled and placed in steamed bolillo rolls and topped with beans, tomatoes and other other burrito-like toppings. The list goes on. Of all, the New Yorkers should be proud. The group is the largest single demographic ($108M worth) with Los Angelinos a distant second, at a mere $90M.

The filling–meat, potatoes and spices
Why, I wonder, don’t we make these ourselves? And really, why am I writing about this on Workout Wednesday. Two reasons actually. The first is I’m not in the mood and reserve the right to veere off topic. Part and parcel to this is I figure if I ate healthier hotdogs (a type of sausage), I’d be able to workout less (see my logic? it’s wisted but works for me). Last but not least, my 5 year old daughter removed all doubt in my mind that the average Joe can make a sausage.
The ingredients—
Start with your favorite sausage recipe. This can be anything, and great ones are free, on line. The Olson family favorite, Potato Sausage, is simple. Ground pork and beef, potato and onions, salt and pepper.
That’s it. Walla.
Over the years, I’ve veered from the amount my Swedish forefather’s prescribed, dramatically reducing the potatos. My version has a lot more meat (protein) and less carbs. Thus, it’s healthier and I can eat a lot more of it. I also add more salt a pepper than my relatives, which is nice, but not overwhelming. One last variation includes cooking the potatoes part-way before adding it to the mixture. This shaves off another half-hour from cook-time.
Once you have the recipe, you need to get the ingredients, which is mostly meat. This year, I truly went to the dark side. I purchased ground meat (oh, for shame, my mother will say when she reads this). Seriously folks. Cutting the pork (or buffalo, whatever carnivorous tendency of choice), takes a while, then it must be run through the grinder. With a mixed sausage, like the one I make, that’s 2 different run-throughs with meat, then onion, then potatoes. All in, 4 different grinding processes. 
No thanks.
This year, Rog brought home ground meats, I chopped the onions fine, boiled the potatoes for 15 minutes. It literally saved me 2 hours.Then the fun part began! 

Hold on to the casing outside the funnel

Cue kids. Porsche has never had such a good time cooking, outside making cupcakes (or any dough-subject). First, one gets to mix the batch up. Squishy. Gooey. Awesome. Adding the spices is fun as well.Next is grabbing handfuls of insides to place in the grinder. Most kitchen mixers have an attachment for sausage making. If not, it’s a bit spendy (around $100) but these can be had on Craig’s list or other places used. They are worth the price, believe me. 10 packages of good hotdogs and you’ve paid for the thing.

Using the large attachment (funnel) and placing one of the blades within, the skein, or sausage casing, is placed on the outside. Casings can be found at any butcher or meat market, and if you don’t have one local, the supermarke can order some in. Be sure to identify how many pounds of sausage you intend to make, as the butcher will give the casings accordingly.
Last week, T-day, we ran out because the guy gave Rog enough “to feed a family.” By that definition, we would have been mutant dwarves. Three, 10 inch sausages were all it made. When I explained to Rog the math about casings, Rog realized he’s be weinerless for the evening, and thus, made the special trip for more.

Worried? Don’t be. Whip out that machine in your kitchen a put it to the test. Well, in fact, for thirty years, my family did it my hand, with a modified shoe-horn (yes, I am serious), until I got smart, and realized KitchenAid makes an attachment for sausage-making.
As the meat mixture (or vegetarin for that matter) is put in the top, use the wooden handle (or stomper) to push in down through the opening. This visual is a bit, um, interesting, but that’s was sausages are all about. And at 5, it’s an innocent.

When stuffing the sausage, the most important part is to leave air pockets every few inches. This is done by gently squeezing the mixture down the casing. This must be done repeatedly, or the casing will burst in such a way as to make you wish you were wearing a full-face hockey mask (I’ll loan you one of Rog’s).

Once full, with air-pockets in the casing, stop the blender and tie off the casing. It usually takes me 3 knots to make sure it doesn’t come apart.

Cooking—btw–place the finished casings in cold water until ready to cook. Once ready, the sausages can be cooked a variety of ways. The potato sausage recipe calls for cooking in hot water. Not boiling, but simmering. About a half hour in, the casing will become hard and full. Taking a pin (or needle) prick holes in the sausage and the water/air will be released. This also reduces the risk of the casing bursting.

The cook-time is somewhat of an art form-or trial by error, depending on the meat to vegie ratio. Generally, it’s an hour. Take one out and test it for texture. Like vegetables, come in our family like the sausages over cooked, and some under (yick).

That’s it. About 2 hours start to finish, very fun, and a huge monetary savings. They also freeze well (raw or cooked).