Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beef Summer Sausage

Many months ago, I got a great recipe for homemade summer sausage.  But it did contain nitrates in the form of a meat tenderizer.  *Blech*

So, I said to myself, "Self, what did they use many moons ago before some evil scientist concocted nitrates?"

And you know what?  The answer is...salt.  Use a good quality sea salt, good quality grass-fed ground beef and you'll have a great summer sausage.

And if you like pepperoni, I've got a recipe for you!

Beef Summer Sausage
  • 5 lbs. grass-fed beef, ground
  • 5 heaping t sea salt
  • 2-1/2 heaping t mustard seed
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  1. DAY 1:  Mix ingredients together well.  Knead and place in a sealed container.  Refrigerate.
  2. DAY 2:  Knead meat mixture.  Place back in covered container and refrigerate.
  3. DAY 3:  Form meat into 5-1 lb. rolls.  You'll want to make sure that the rolls are firmly packed so the finished product holds its shape and doesn't crumble.  I personally haven't had that problem, but I have heard from others that that has been an issue.  (I made these into 1/2 lb. rolls and baked them with my homemade beef pepperoni, too. )  
  4. Place rolls on a wire rack on a jelly roll pan.  Bake @ 200 degrees for 8 hours, turning rolls 1/4 turn every 2 hours.
  5. Allow to cool.  Wrap and store in refrigerator.  Keeps well in freezer, too.
Note:  For food safety reasons, you will want to make sure your summer sausage has reached an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

Another note:  If you think 5 pounds is a lot of summer sausage, as I did, you might want to think again.  My family loves this sausage with apples and cheese for lunch, diced in scrambled eggs, etc., etc.  I can't keep this in the fridge/freezer long at all.

Thanks, Kristie, for urging me to post this recipe.  You are the best!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Some things are just so easy.  Take for instance making vanilla extract.  Vanilla beans, vodka, and a little time.  It's the best vanilla extract you'll ever have and knowing you did it yourself?  It doesn't get any better than that.  By the way, make up extra, bottle it up and give it as gifts.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

  • 1 C Vodka, rum or Bourbon (cheap stuff works just fine)
  • 3 vanilla beans 
  1. Slit the vanilla beans lengthwise. Cut them in half or in quarters (I did this so they’d fit in the jar). Add them to the mason jar.
  2. Add the vodka or rum to the jar.  Cover with a lid and shake.
  3. Stick the jar in a cupboard for at least 8 weeks.
  4. Strain off vanilla beans and bottle.  Or, you can leave them in the bottle and just add top off your extract with a little more vodka as you use the extract.
How simple is that?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Money Smart Family System

Being a parent, we get to teach our children about things we value.  We hope and pray that we are giving them tools to be successful and productive members of society.  We teach them about faith, how to be a good friend, to be a person of their word, to eat a healthful diet and to value people above things.

But many times, we fail to teach them about things that we might be struggling with ourselves or may not have a real grasp of how to teach.

Like, for instance, money management.

The MoneySmart Family System by Steve and Annette Economides covers this subject with tons of examples of their own family's experience.  They give ideas how to teach children at any age how to earn money, have a good work ethic and positive attitude, how to budget and save for normal and large purchases, and how to make charitable giving part of the whole equation.

For a long time, we have struggled with the idea of giving our children an allowance.  We did not feel that it gave our children a "real world" experience.  With The MoneySmart Family System, we saw a way that we could give our children money, but money that they earned vs. received just for breathing.

Love, love, love the concepts in this book and can't wait to hold our family meeting on Sunday to get the ball rolling with our two children!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Free Shipping at Tropical Traditions!

I absolutely love, love, love Tropical Traditions' expeller-pressed coconut oil...and so much more!  As a matter of fact, I have not gotten one thing that I wasn't absolutely tickled about.

So I wanted to let you know that through midnight EDT, Monday, August 6th, all Tropical Traditions Ground shipments within the lower 48 United States will be FREE with the use of their FREE Shipping coupon!  A minimum order of a measly $16 bucks is all it takes.

 Not so small print: 
To take advantage of this special, you MUST enter coupon code 682212 in your cart before checking out, and choose either Ground or SmartPost from the drop down list of shipping options! FREE shipping is NOT applied automatically. Orders placed before today cannot be refunded for shipping charges.

(This special offer does not apply to refrigerated or frozen items, products shipped directly from our farms in WI (Eggs, Produce, Lady Finger Popcorn, Heirloom Dry Shell Bean Mix, Heirloom Cornmeal, and Heirloom Whole Kernel Corn), or to rebounders, which are shipped by the manufacturer. It also does not apply to 3 day, 2nd day air and overnight shipments. Coupon does not apply to Healthy Buyer's Club discounted items.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

Photo credit
Luscious.  This simple recipe is quite simply that.  Paired with a Caesar salad and fresh, warm whole wheat sourdough bread to sop up the extra buttery goodness and you've got a dinner that is a little piece of heaven on earth.  And by the way, Shrimp Scampi ain't just for the grown-ups, folks.  My kiddos absolutely love this dish.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lynette's Bacon Blue Cheese Potato Salad

A couple years ago, we were invited to an impromptu picnic with a group of friends.  Tom took the phone call and when the host asked if we could bring a potato salad, Tom said "Sure!".  Although I thought it would be fun to get together with our friends, making a potato salad was kinda...freaky....for me.

You see, I'm not crazy about potato salad at all.  My mother makes her's with Miracle Whip (not a fan of Miracle Whip...) and I guess I've never had a mayo-based potato salad that has left a positive impression on me.

Book Review: Grieving God's Way

Grieving God's Way by Margaret Brownley is a 90-day devotional whose goal is to help you through the difficult process of losing a loved one.  The short daily devotions are written from a Christian perspective and include a reminder or practical suggestion to help the reader toward a life not isolated or embittered by grief.

Obviously, people don't grieve just for 90 days.  I feel, however, that this book could be a helpful start for the heart-sick to process their emotions and remember that God is in control of everything and that He still loves us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided with a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.