December 7, 2016
I have been busy the last week or so in the design studio. I designed a couple of new tees and my book/binder cover. For now, it is a binder cover but I am hopeful. The cover includes images found on our tees and that hold special interests for my family. The camera represents our love for photography and art. The guitar represents our love for music. The Adirondack chair represents the many happy days spent on the beach. Inside the binder, I placed my recipes inside of page protectors. I am a messy cook and don’t like to be particular in handling my recipes while I am cooking so I protect my recipes by putting them in clear page protectors. The page protectors are great because I can just wipe them off and put them back into the binder for next time.
A few days before family and friends arrived for the Thanksgiving holiday, I was driving along a local highway that I travel along quite a bit that is near a former military base that still has an active airport. The day was cool and crisp and I was thinking about everything I needed to get done so everyone could enjoy the holiday stress free. After all, isn’t that why folks come home—to get away from everyday stresses and relax? Anyway, I noticed that the cargo plane housed at the base was out for a spin. It was touching down, lifting off, and circling the area. As I watched it, I began to think how much we take for granted and how so many military men gave his or her life to protect our shores, borders, and our people. In order to do that, our military has to be ready at a moment’s notice to take action – every day, and every minute of every hour of every day. Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and I began thinking about my Uncle J.D. He was a World War II veteran and my favorite uncle. Here he is with his wife and daughter. He is Cousin Jennifer's dad but we are not certain that is Cousin Jennifer in the photo.
Back in the day of World War II, there was no serve two years and you’re done—when one was called up, one was in for the long haul and Uncle J.D. was gone for six or seven years. He served in the Philippines. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be so young and without any family in a foreign land. He was brave indeed and I am grateful for his service and the service of others then and now who make life here so wonderful. I remember when I was in the 5th grade and was in the hospital recovering from surgery when Uncle J.D. stopped by for a visit. He only stayed a minute or so and he brought me this incredible little bag of spearmint gum. The pieces were short and fat and I had never seen any pieces of gum like them. I was too sick to chew any but I remember the smell quite well. It seemed to make me feel better and I often think of him and that gum whenever I smell spearmint. (I tried to find an image of the gum on the Internet but was unsuccessful.)
Uncle J.D. was a man with many irons in the fire. He had a full-service service station (the kind where people come out to pump your gas and clean your windshield), an auto repair shop that was part of the service station, and he was an avid gardener. Oh, and he sold apples in the autumn. He would travel up north somewhere and come back with a giant truckload that he sold to other vendors and the general public. He could not keep apples on hand and so made regular trips up to the apple-getting place this time of year. Like I said, he was busy! He left this world several years ago but I still have fond memories of him and his happy disposition. I lived down the street from him for a few years and even though I wasn’t quite a city girl, I wasn’t a country girl either--especially in the sense of knowing how to garden but my husband and I were giving it a whirl. Suffice it to say that he had his work cut out for him teaching us gardening basics but he never once lost patience with us and was always happy to share trade secrets. We had a successful little garden thanks to him and his expertise! I never knew what names his initials stood for but know that he is missed, not just by me, but by the whole community.
I am thankful for family and friends and like I said I want them to enjoy the visit and so I like to have snacks on hand that can be frozen days before they arrive, heated in the microwave or oven, and still taste good. Sausage balls fit the bill for holiday entertaining. They are universal pleasers. They are great when first cooked, freeze well, and reheat in both the microwave and oven and still taste great. Everyone has this recipe. Here is my original copy that came out of the local newspaper:
Here’s my take on it. I include a bit of cream cheese to make them a bit fluffier. They can be quite dense without the cream cheese but still quite tasty. I have made them both ways.
Sausage Balls (I really should call them Sausage Cheese Slices since they aren’t exactly balls.)
Preheat oven to 350o F.
1 Lb. Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated (Use a block and grate it. The sacked cheese has something in it to keep it from clumping and that same stuff keeps the mixture from sticking together.) I have made the recipe with Colby and Colby-jack cheeses and it is good with those cheeses but the strong taste of the sharp cheddar pairs well with the hot sausage.
1 Lb. Hot Sausage (The original recipe called for plain sausage but the hot style seems to have more taste.)
4 oz. Cream Cheese
2 Cups Biscuit Baking Mix (I accidentally used pancake mix once and it was okay but biscuit baking mix is better.)
Grate the pound of sharp cheddar cheese and add to the big mixer bowl. Most of you know that I don’t use the big mixer very often but only Hercules could mix this stuff up and still feel like eating it in the end. I used a food processor to grate the cheese—again Hercules was not available to help.
Add in the sausage and lock down the mixer and pulse a few times then let it mix for about 1 minute. If you fail to lock down the mixer, the cheese and sausage will end up on you and your counter.
Add the cream cheese, mix about 30 seconds, and then add the biscuit baking mix. Now, you might be thinking, “Why not add the cream cheese to the sharp cheese and then add the sausage?” I am not a chef so I don’t know the technical answer but I know that you should add the sausage and then the cream cheese. Trust me.
When you add the 2 cups of biscuit baking mix, unlock the mixer, pull up the paddle with all the sausage-cheese mixture stuck to it, and add the baking mix underneath the blob. This will keep the mixture from flying out all over creation. Pulse a few times and then mix until well combined. Here’s what it looks like:
Here’s what it looks like when it’s all mixed together.
Almost everyone I know simply picks up a bit of the mixture and rolls it into little balls. Who has time for that -- other than real chefs? I decided there must be an easier way. After several failed attempts, this one worked. Place half the mixture on a sheet of parchment and half on another parchment sheet. My logs were 16 inches long each. They are not super skinny logs but not too fat either. Here’s what they look like:
Wrap them tightly into a log roll and slip them into the freezer while you clean up. It took me about ten minutes to clean up the mess.
Slice into pieces (I used a pastry cutter) and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350oF about 16 minutes or so, depending on the size of your slices. I got about 46 slices out of this batch. Okay, at this point we are coasting so fix yourself a nice cocktail, relax (we already cleaned up the kitchen—except for the baking sheets and like Rudolph’s lady friend, Clarice, said, “There’s always tomorrow…”) and wait on them to bake. Here’s what they look like on the baking dish:
Here’s what they look like after they are baked. I flipped one over so you can see the bottom. It helps to see the bottom when trying to determine if they are baked through.
**Let us remember our number one safety rule—Always use pot holders when dealing with hot pans and ovens. Never take a chance on getting a burn—especially during the holiday season!**
Here they are all dressed up for their photo:
Here’s to all who have and do serve our country. Thank you~