Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not by Bread Alone

A one-track mind?


Well of course, there are lots of things besides bread that are fun to make.  Last summer, a neighbor and I cooked a pig in a pit.

OK, this one was his idea, but it was my back yard!  

Maybe the pig feed stories should wait for a separate posting, or, even better, wait until this summer's party.  Who knows what crazy ideas we can come up with this year?  Maybe combine the bread making and the pig roasting and have a giant 'pig-in-a-blanket'.

Maybe not.  :)

We also enjoy making various types of sausages.  Below is my 1947 WWII Army field oven, made by Reynolds Aluminum.  I was just a kid, and my dear old friend Ed and I were on a fishing trip.  He was driving his pickup truck, pulling his flat-bottom boat on a trailer we had made from a rear trans-axle and some spare parts, when I spotted this stainless steel beauty in a yard sale.  I pointed, mouth agape, and he knew by the look on my teenage face that I really wanted it.  And at three dollars, I could afford it!

Being Ed, he had some first-hand some experience with crazy ideas.  I think he even he had a pretty good idea what I was thinking, because he offered to drive by "the dump" on the way home that night to get some old stove racks.  Of course, the dump was closed, so we jumped the fence and helped ourselves.

Wow, that sounds really horrible.  

Let me re-phrase that in today's lexicon.

We saved some endangered stove shelves from a sanitary landfill and conscientiously recycled them.

Anyway, through the years it has been used to smoke carp, salmon, venison, turkey, duck, beef, eggs, just about anything you can think to smoke.  There are many nicer and more easily controlled smokers available today, and My Darling Bride routinely encourages me to buy something newer, and perhaps a little smaller.  But, because of the large size, and also the sentimental value, I keep this old veteran around.  

My Darling Bride has banished it to the back yard, behind the fencing.

That's probably a good thing.  Some days she would like to send me there as well, so I built a level platform for the smoker, and count myself as lucky.

There are times where, even if I have to shovel it out, it is put into service.  Last winter, we needed to smoke the fall's supply of venison sausage, beer sticks, and some andouille sausage.  For an experiment, some of the andouille was made from pork and some from turkey.  It did not even taste 'healthy'; in fact, it was pretty darned good!

Nowadays, my nephew and brother in law are always ready to lend a hand with these projects, and I really appreciate them both.  Especially since my nephew worked as a butcher, and my brother in law runs a food store.  I could not ask for better partners in this kind of project, as we all have unique skills.  For some reason, though, neither one wants the smoker as a gift.  I've tried!

The large smoke box lets me smoke whole picnic hams, or even five pound summer sausages.  It will hold several large carp, hung from the top.

This one is a clear casing, before smoking.

Maybe it is like bread making, in the sense that you get your hands dirty.  Maybe, it is just the bragging rights you get from doing something out of the ordinary.  Maybe it is that generations before us preserved part of the winter's larder in almost the same way.  But most likely, it's just the good fun of getting together with family and friends for a cooperative project. 

It is always satisfying, after the work is done, knowing that there are freshly smoked goodies in our houses.  Yes, we could drive to the store or the butcher, but much like with the home made bread, it truly tastes better when it is hand crafted.

In the picture above, one clear casing was used to make a 'special' sausage for a buddy.  He had been fishing, and he was unfortunate enough to have witnesses in the boat when he accidentally hooked a seagull... 

Of course, we gave him a hard time for the rest of the year.

He got this light colored summer sausage for Christmas, and it was called a 'Seagull Sausage'.  Sadly, I have never heard from him again.  

His wife went mad.  True story.

What are you gonna do? 

Time to scrape together some pizza ingredients for this afternoon!


  1. I have serious smoker envy right now! Mine is a puny small thing that goes only as low as 200°F.

    I also make my own sausages as I find the store-bought variety too salty. In fact I am making a Chicago style all beef hot dogs today but will smoke them AFTER poaching.

    Smoked eggs sound fantastic. I'll have to try that.

  2. I particularly like the background here.. does it change from post to post..? I'm so unobservant but this is really striking. Is it what I think it is? Sausage making and smoking - I too am envious and have never tried either so it's great to read your post Steve! Once a month there is a 'slow' food market here and a good sausage/charcuterie maker turns up and I stock up on fennel sausages and black pudding.. I have just got my true love a piece of kit called a Cobb, and it's rumoured you can smoke in it and even bake bread. So far it hasn't come out of the box...we've been overrun with flowers as you know!

  3. Hmm, I think I might have smoker envy as well. I love the idea of smoking a whole batch of stuff, with friends and family to come over and help. Not sure I could fit one in flat, but think I could put it on my list for 'one day'.

  4. made some interesting burnt bottom flatbread yesterday on the new bbq cobb thing. But it did make some very succulent chicken to compensate. Now about to stretch some pizza dough.... it got hot here all of a sudden... hope you're having a good weekend Joanna