Saturday, 25 July 2015

A Duet of Sausages

Now that I am working part time, frugality and thriftiness are a necessity, whilst embracing the need to be careful I don't necessarily like "cheap" especially when it comes to sausages. Do you remember that several years ago there was a huge furore over one of the big supermarkets selling value sausages at 16p for 8? Yes really 2p each! The downside was the actual meat content was only 34%. That is a sausage composed largely of rusk and water - not for me - sorry!

Both me and the hubby love a great British banger! 
At farmer's markets around the country artisan sausage makers ply their wares - delicious, juicy meaty bangers, just as they should be, but at a price!

Homemade sausages for breakfast!

I'm not entirely new to sausage making myself having bought a "Sausage King" sausage making kit way back in the early 1980's. The set consisted of a hand held sausage stuffer, some collagen skins, a couple of packets of flavouring mix and some rusk. Despite trying repeatedly to make passable sausages, I had limited success. The sausages were too dry (100% lean meat does not make a good sausage!) or  poorly flavoured and the collagen skins seemed tough - that is they did when they didn't burst leaving an unholy mess in the pan! Needless to say the sausage stuffer was relegated to the back of a box and largely forgotten.

Recently my thoughts have returned to sausage making - I'm older and (questionably) wiser, so I felt in the mood to resurrect the sausage stuffer and try again.  I  bought some natural hog sausage skins from good old EBay - not a large quantity, but enough for a few experiments.

I began with a google search for recipes - mainly to get an idea for proportions of ingredients. My first revelation was that water needed to be added to the sausage mix to keep it moist. I hadn't added water to any of my experiments in the 80's. I wanted to use ready minced meat, and knew though that it needed a proportion of fat, so I made sure that I didn't choose the extra lean stuff.

I had a pack of organic saddleback pork from a local farm supplier which weighed 435g so armed with a calculator I deemed that I needed 87g of some sort of filler, 7g of herbs, 4g pepper, 2g salt and 87ml water.

I decided to use homemade wholemeal bread as a filler and I have copious amounts of sage growing in pots so I popped the bread and the sage together in the food processor and whizzed them into sage flecked breadcrumbs. The recipes I had found on t'interweb tended to specify white pepper, but I only had black pepper so that is what I used. Everything was thoroughly mixed together just using my hands. A little bit of the mixture was then fried off and tasted to check for seasoning - I deemed it perfect. It was slightly spicy from the quantity of black pepper so I named this batch "Spicy Pork Sausages". The mixture was stuffed into the soaked hog casings and twisted into links.

Homemade Spicy Pork sausages.

Flushed with my apparent success and having quite a bit of hog casings left over I wanted to try more. Not having any more fresh minced meat in the house however I raced off to the local butcher. At this point I was thinking  - beef with Stilton and Moroccan lamb.

Unfortunately there was no lamb mince to be had so I satisfied myself with the purchase of 500g minced beef. Once back home I once again consulted the all wise google to see what the recommended proportion of Stilton cheese is in a sausage. The consensus seemed to be about 40g to 500g meat. Now my dear hubby loves Stilton sausages but his usual complaint is that there is insufficient Stilton in them. With this in mind I decided to up the quantity of Stilton to 60g. I also added a chopped onion fried sweated down in a little butter.

Once I'd fried a little taste I deemed there was still not enough Stilton so upped it by another 10g. After another taste, I upped it by 10g again so I used 80g of Stilton in total. 

Homemade Beef & Stilton sausages.

Were they both a success? You bet they were. We both had two of each flavour for tea served on a mound of colcannon (mashed potato and cabbage) with onion gravy. Hubby did ask however, that I include a little more Stilton next time!

What about the costs?

Spicy Pork Sausage
435g Organic Pork Mince  (£2.90)
87g Breadcrumbs  (10p)
7g Sage  (Homegrown so free)
5g Pepper & 2g Salt (Costed at 5p - though doubt it would be that much)
87ml Water
Hog casings (66p)
So £3.76, and the weight of the finished sausages was 600g so £6.26 per kg

Beef & Stilton Sausages
500g Beef  (£3.85)
100g breadcrumbs (10p)
7g Sage (free) 
1 Small Onion (10p)
5g Pepper & 1tsp Salt (5p)
80g Stilton (94p)
100ml water
Hog casings (66p) 
So £5.70, and the weight of the finished sausages was 800g so £7.12 per kg

Comparable sausages tend to be around about the £7.50 per kg mark - so whilst there is a saving in monetary terms it is not a massive saving. However, you do know exactly what has gone into the making of these sausages and that is as important to me as the price.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Home Made Stuffing

Sage and onion stuffing. So quintessentially British and generally loved by all...
...well not quite all, as personally I've never been a fan.

Now, I'm not sure what I disliked - the texture? The flavour?

I like onions and I like sage, but somehow sage and onion stuffing has never had an appeal...
till now!

What's changed?

Quite simply I had never made it from scratch before having always used the dried packet mix. Every time I've been offered it by anyone else too, it has been made from a packet. I think that because I rarely ate it myself it had never occurred to me to make it from scratch until that is, last Sunday.

Being only the two of us for Sunday dinner (and coming from the North East where a Sunday roast is seen as obligatory) I didn't feel the need to do a full roast chicken. Having some chicken thighs in the fridge I decided they would do fine as the "roast". Having decided on the thighs I chose to skin and bone them and wrap them in bacon for cooking.

Problem number one came when I went to get the bacon out of the fridge to wrap around the thighs. Uh oh!!! No real rashers left, just a few straggly end bits. So I thought - oh well, I'll pop a bit of stuffing in the centre - sage and onion for hubby and perhaps defrost a sausage from the freezer for myself?

Problem number two: No sage and onion stuffing mix and no sausages. (I've been a terrible housewife lately!).  

Then a light bulb moment - how hard can it be to make stuffing? A quick google gave the answer - not very. Once I had the basis of a recipe it also made me think that there was nothing in there not to like - I rather liked the sound of the home made stuff. I also had all the ingredients - a rather forlorn lone wholemeal pitta bread - to make into crumbs, onions, an egg, and plenty of sage in a pot outside.

I began by whizzing up the pitta bread and a dozen sage leaves in the food processor until I had herb flecked breadcrumbs.

.I chopped two small onions and allowed them to gently sweat in a teaspoon of butter for about 15 minutes.

Added the onions and egg to the breadcrumbs and sage.

Seasoned well with salt and pepper and gave it all a thorough mix.

Then stuffed chicken thighs and popped the scraggy bits of bacon on the top just to keep them moist.

I must say they were lovely and made a very frugal alternative to a roast chicken. I used five thighs and there was plenty left to use in sandwiches the next day.

And have I changed my mind about sage and onion stuffing - you bet I have!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

In my blogging absence, life itself has continued along it's merry way. Some ups, some downs and a little meandering along the way. Though by far the best thing that has happened is the birth of a second granddaughter!

Meet Catherine...

...born on 2nd June which was incidentally the day of my son's 40th birthday!
Flic is over the moon to finally be a BIG sister.


Whilst waiting for Catherine's arrival I did manage a few little makes for her including a patchwork blanket backed with fleece. I felt honoured when my daughter chose to take it into hospital with her as baby's first blanket. You can just see a little peek of it at the bottom of the top photograph.
I was so thrilled to see comments in my last post welcoming me back, it's been so long that I thought I'd be blogging to myself for a while. Thank you so much for remembering me. If I needed any encouragement to get back into blogging it is knowing that the blogging community is filled with such wonderful caring souls.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The number of times I've wanted to come back... wouldn't believe it!

There has never been:
  • The right time - (whatever or whenever that may be!)
  • Anything to say
  • Enough time - (though you'd think wouldn't you that if I had nothing to say I'd maybe have time to say it in, or conversely that if I had no time there's something going on that I could say!)
  • The energy!!! 
  • The confidence that what I have to say might in any way interest anyone.
And in that last sentence perhaps lies more than a grain of truth. 

Upon reflection however, I have on several occasions, perused my older blog postings and they have provided me with some lovely reminders of times that I might otherwise have forgotten. An online photo diary of the often trivial but nonetheless happy interludes in my life. Re-reading them made me smile and reminded me of happy times. Though sometimes posts were less positive and these reminders were sad, the supportive comments I received on these posts were uplifting. 

I think what I'm trying to say is that even if  no one else ever read my blog other than myself there would be an intrinsic value in it's continuation.
I think the time has come...
to resume at last!

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