Friday, November 16, 2012

Sausage and Peppers

Making your own sausage meat is actually really easy. Putting it in a casing may require some special equipment, but who says sausage always has to be in a casing? I checked the ingredients on a package of sausages in the meat department of my local grocery store and guess what was on there, in addition to a host of nitrates? CORN SYRUP! Ick! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!????

Now, there are some organic brands you could buy which don't contain any of those yucky additives, but they're usually more expensive, and unfortunately my grocery store doesn't carry them. Buy why bother when you can make your own with some ground pork and a few spices?!?!

You may remember my recipe test of Melissa Joulwan's Italian Sausage Eggplant Strata last year. I like making her Italian Sausage Seasoning Mix and keeping it on hand for times such as these. It turns plain ground pork into sausage in a snap!

This spice mix is more than you will need for the sausage and peppers recipe so save the extra in a small airtight container or empty spice bottle.

Italian Sausage Seasoning Mix
  • 4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed (optional) - you should use this if you have it, though, it really gives the meat that sausagey taste
In a medium bowl, crush the dried parsley and Italian herbs with your fingers or a fork to release their flavor. Add the black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed. Mix with a fork.

Sausage and Peppers
  • 2 lb ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp Italian Sausage Seasoning Mix
  • 4 bell peppers (mix of sweet red/yellow/orange and green), cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1" pieces
  • Sea Salt
  1. With your hands, mix the Italian Sausage Seasoning into the ground pork, then crumble the pork into a large saute pan and brown the meat on the stove over medium-high heat. Remove the meat to a plate or bowl with a slotted spoon (leave the juices in the pan).
  2. Over medium-high heat, saute the peppers and onions in the same pan using the fats from the ground pork as your "oil". Season generously with salt.
  3. When the onions and peppers are tender, add the meat back to the pan and mix well. Cook another minute or so until well-combined.

mmmm... spices

amazing that a few spoons of this will turn ground pork into sausage

This is the leftover...

Boom. Sausage.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Flooding down my brother's block

Downed trees that tore up my father's back yard and crashed into the neighbor's house
National Guard lending aid on Long Island

Whoa boy. Hurricane Sandy rolled through here and left quite a mess. We were very lucky compared to others. We lost our power since Monday, but had no other damage or flooding. No one we know was injured, thank goodness, though several had flood damage or completely lost their homes. We've been doing what we can to help others and donate whatever we have to collection sites. Somehow, it doesn't seem like enough.

I was bummed to have to chuck everything in my fridge and freezer after the first few days of no power. Such a waste. I know it sounds silly, but for every bit of chicken I threw away, I felt like the poor animal died for nothing. :( Last night was the first night we had power back and I was verrrrry happy to cook a nice healthy meal in our kitchen. (Note: If you are having a bad day, Italian Sausage Eggplant Strata really soothes the soul.) Since our power returned, we also fed and housed my parents who can't currently stay in their home. We feel truly blessed to have literally weathered the storm so well.

While we count our blessings, anything anyone can do to help is greatly appreciated. It's getting cold here in the tri-state area and those with damaged homes or ruined homes will find their situation go from bad to worse. Here are some things we are doing to pay our good luck forward. We thank anyone who has the means and the motivation to contribute as well.

Donate Blood:
Never a pleasant experience for me, but I try to do this at least once a year. Hundreds of scheduled blood drives had to be cancelled due to the storm, so my husband and I are going out to give a pint to help make up some of the loss.
Find a Blood Drive

Give a Monetary Donation to a Legitimate Charitable Organization:
There are several organizations providing food, clothing, and shelter to those in need. Many are not accepting donations of actual goods and request instead monetary aid. NBC has put together a fairly comprehensive list of such organizations which have been checked out and vetted for legitimacy.
Give Money

Donate Food, Clothing, and Toiletries:
We scoured our pantries, closets and bathroom cabinets and gave what we could to a collection started by our CrossFit gym. There are dozens of local organizations (churches, firehouses, etc) willing to accept these items and distribute to those in need so check your local community pages to find such sites.

Help Your Neighbor:
We've spent several hours helping our families move furniture, mop up seawater, rip up carpet, move debris... There are plenty of others who need help, so if you are in the storm area, extend the hand of friendship to those around you. Sometimes, just a friendly face and an extra set of hands can go a really long way.
This Facebook Page is matching up volunteers with Long Beach residents needing help with cleanup - "like" it to get involved! We desperately want to go down there to lend a hand, but the gas situation is pretty dire and we don't have enough to travel back and forth, unfortunately.
Sandy Help LB

Our hearts go out to those devastated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. If you haven't taken a moment to really appreciate all of life's blessings and little conveniences, this storm will certainly help put things into perspective for you. Best of luck to everyone still recovering.