Homemade Polish Sausage

It was sausage making time on the homestead last week. Every six to eight months I take a chunk of a day and make sausage to freeze. Today I want to share one of our favorite sausage recipes.

Polish Sausage is a very flavorful fresh sausage that can be cooked as patties or links. You can use all kinds of meat. Pork is usually the recommended meat, but you can use chicken, beef or wild meats, as long as you add some extra fat, generally recommended at a ratio of four parts meat to one part fat.

Like I did at first, you may be thinking "But that sounds disgusting! Add fat?! Ew!" Unfortunately super lean sausage = very dry sausage. And thankfully, a large amount of the fat melts out during the cooking process, so the meat that actually makes it your mouth is no longer 20% fat.

This time around I was using 50% homegrown chicken and 50% homegrown pork.

Freshly made raw sausage

Polish Sausage

10 lb. meat (100% pork, or other meats plus pork fat at a ratio of 80% meat and 20% fat)
3 Tb salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tb sugar or agave syrup
2 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Cut meat into 1" cubes, trimming all gristle and bone. Put the chunks in the freezer until slightly hardened (to improve grinding). Run through a meat grinder (use a larger-holed grinder plate, I use 7mm) into a large non-plastic bowl.

Mix the dry spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spices over the meat and combine gently by hand.

You can package the sausage at this point in chunks for shaping into patties later (generally I freeze in 2 lb lumps).  Alternately, you can stuff them into casings for links (I put it all in casings this time)

I pan fry most of our sausage, using no additional grease, just a small amount of water.  Links are super yummy grilled too.

(Note: this recipe is based on the Polish Sausage recipe from 3 Men)

Pan fried Polish Sausage links

Grilled Polish Sausage

Chicken with pork makes a very light colored sausage

I have a broken heart

I have a broken heart.

The cardiologist calls it something else. He explains that it is a benign condition that causes the electrical impulses to occasionally misfire, creating a weak beat followed by an overachieving beat.

In my chest it feels like: Thump thump thump thump thump BAM!

Months will pass without it happening and I will forget that it is part of me. Then something will trigger it... sleep deprivation, dehydration, stress... and I remember.

I have a broken heart.

"For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
~ Romans 7:19-24 ~

I used to dread it. The pounding and racing are reminiscent of anxiety and panic, not feelings I crave.

Today? Today I am embracing it. It reminds me of the truth that I can not escape.

I have a broken heart.

"Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!" ~ Romans 7:24-25 ~

My heart is broken, but His body was broken.

Lying with The Princess after whispering goodnight prayers, we ponder life's pains. We search about for how to change the habits that are deeply embedded, the patterns that cause us and those we love to suffer.

Her tender young voice breathes, "But Mama, if you were to fill up all those holes, there would be no room for Jesus."

My heart is broken. My heart of hearts is broken. Filled with holes.

Fill them Lord Jesus. Without You I am hopeless.

photo by mzacha


You may be one of those people who craves the new and unknown. You're seriously awesome.

But me, not so much. I like adventure... as long as I have some say in it. I've always wanted to go on a road trip without an itinerary. But the hidden truth is that I'd want to be the driver. {blush}

I'm not too different from a chicken.

A few weeks ago, we moved our Cornish-Rock chicks, now teenagers, from the brooder porch to a fenced pasture.

Farmer Boy got the big blue wheelbarrow, and one by one, lifted sixty chickens out of the brooder.

I am considering changing his nickname to The Chicken Whisperer. A few nights ago I heard some murmuring outside and looked out the window to see a small light in the layers' pen.  I listened closely and heard him muttering encouraging words, "Your numbers are really up, great job!" "Well, I'm going in now, sleep tight!"

So, naturally he talked the big fat white chicks through their drama.

"I know, but trust me, you're going to love it."

Squawk! Panic! Mad flap of wings!

"Really, we're heading toward chicken paradise!"

Cluck! Scramble! More panic!

"Just relax, we'll be there soon."

And they loved it. I don't remember a flock of Cornish-Rocks that has taken better and faster to the brooder-to-pasture transition. Within an hour, dust baths were being had all around.

An unusually hardy and healthy flock (this breed is known for its propensity for sudden death), when I opened the gate to feed them every morning they would run en masse toward me, making it quite dangerous (for themselves mostly) as I tried to walk forward. The sound of 120 fat and happy chicken feet pounding my way was surprisingly reminiscent of the thunder of horses' hooves!

Am I a chicken? Sometimes.

But I seem to have a Patti Whisperer. Try as I might to stay in my cage, I keep hearing...

"I know, but trust me, you're going to love it."

But Lord, it seems so scary!

"Really, we're heading toward paradise!"

But so many changes... how can I be sure that there is goodness ahead?

"Just relax, we'll be there soon."

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   ~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~

Practicing patience

I am sitting in front of a keyboard arranging names on the screen when it happens...

Open Office has unexpectedly crashed.

My efforts to help manage back-end details of an upcoming event have been fraught with technical difficulties, and this is just another on the pile.  But time is short in this whirlwind life and my sin-nature leaps into my chest, as the pressure of frustration causes my breath to catch.

I stare at the screen for a moment then choose my road-less-traveled.  I will practice patience.

I brew a cup of tea and walk out the back door. Sun shining on brown fields, remnants of unfinished projects everywhere... green peeking through.

New life always springs from the old downtrodden brown.

I call out an invitation and gather my walking companions.

Tea in one hand, vegetable scraps in the other, I walk the path to the little wood where three mommy pigs grow bellies big with babies. Armored and furry companions trot behind and before me.

My eye catches on a gnarl of branches, dry and brown just days past, and now dressed with the bright green of new life.

I linger a moment then turn back to the path to see that my fellow travelers have found a big brother in the field.  He tells me, "I stepped outside and felt the wind on my face."

Little helmeted man in a brown field runs to hold the bright arrow aloft for his brother. Lets go, it falls. Lets go, it falls. Lets go and it soars like a bolt straight up in the air.

Darting and racing the kite shoots through the sky. I am mesmerized by its brightness against the clouds, then the blue on blue as it zips by clear skies.

I turn and look at the kite master... how can it be? How can this tall strong boy-man be the same child who not too long ago peaked timidly from behind my skirts? He smiles when he sees me watching him then quickly looks back to the sky.

The kite plummets with a crash so he gathers it up and joins the parade. Mama, warrior, kite master, pup, and now a cat for good measure, we all make our way toward the squeals.  The pigs have heard us coming.

We lean over the fence and offer bright fresh nibbles. A piece of sweet jicama is a welcome treat for a hungry mama.

I am filled to bursting. It is all so good.

If it is true that to become an expert one must practice for 10,000 hours, then I am far from an expert in patience. But I am choosing to practice.

When I savor the memory of that sunny walk, it seems such an easy choice.

But in a crossroad moment, in an I-can't-believe-I-just-lost-all-that-work flash, or a why-is-there-always-someone-complaining lament, it is not. How can something so simple be so hard?

Another look at those crossroads... the patient road less traveled and the exasperated highway of heavy sighing and grumping-around... and I see why it is not so simple.  There is a fierce gremlin-of-self barring the way to my road less traveled.

I could just turn away from a fight and walk down the broad highway of complaint. And I do. A lot.

I could wrestle with the gremlin. But I have found I am ill-equipped.

My only hope is to ask for help. My Jesus... my sword of the spirit, His Word... sharper than a double-edged sword. Gremlin be gone!

So I find I can't just choose to walk down a path of patience, I must choose to turn to Jesus for help to clear the path before me. And that is simple. 

I step away... breathe a prayer... find new life in the broken-down.

I choose to practice.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost ~
This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
   ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
   and you will find rest for your souls.
~ Jeremiah 6:16 ~

Pi Day!

Did you know that March 14 is National Pi Day?

Neither did I, until yesterday morning.  Why March 14 you ask? 


I know, clever isn't it?

Well, naturally, after I learned about this and dragged my kids to the computer to read Wikipedia Pi articles and watch YouTube Pi videos (Oh internet, how convenient art thou? Let me count the ways...), I resolved silently...

Pie for dinner!

I didn't tell the kids, but the crust-making process cued them in. 

For our main course, Shepherd's Pie:

And for dessert, Blueberry Pie!

This was such a last minute idea (and we live 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store) that my pie plan was driven exclusively by what we had around already.  Luckily for me we had some frozen blueberries!

I have been experimenting with baking with agave syrup.  I used it for the blueberry pie and it worked out pretty well.  I want to make a few tweaks to the recipe, then I'll post it.

Oooo an excuse to make more pie! 

And now for your viewing pleasure, some of my favorite pi videos...

Just the digits of pi... this is kind of glazed-eye inducing:

This take on "American Pie" cracks me up:

The video I most wanted to show you was entitled "The Sound of Pi." Using finger positioning, chord numbers and the circle of fifths, one guy (playing 10 or more instruments) created a lovely musical version of pi.

Apparently this violated a copyright held by Lars Erickson, who wrote the Pi Symphony. Since yesterday the video has been taken down. But you can read more and have a listen to a bit of Erickson's symphony at Pi Symphony. It seems quite different from the one-guy-10-instruments piece to my musically untrained ear.  Nevertheless, in both cases, there is striking lack of dissonance for a piece of music that is based on what seems at first pass to be a jumble of digits.

I wonder what kind of pi, um pie, we'll bake next year...

Learning What is Needful for Now, and Letting All Else Go

I have always wanted to save the world.

When I was a child, I admonished my friends who didn't finish their lunches... there were starving children in Africa!

At age eleven I wrote a petition to save the whales and walked around my neighborhood asking for signatures.

In ninth grade I gave an impassioned speech to my English class on the horrors of abortion.

When I was in college I became a student counselor.  And then spiraled into a deep darkness as I realized that the problems of the world were far greater than one little girl could even comprehend, much less solve.

It wasn't until I began to study Jesus in the bible, in my mid-twenties, that I began to understand.   Jesus had already saved the world, but it looked very different from what anyone expected.  The solution was not temporal... it was eternal.

I still hung on to my desire to rescue, to help.  And as I gave my life more and more to Jesus, my heart swelled with love, and my grief over others' suffering just magnified.
The need is so great.  Overwhelmingly great.  I have worn myself bone-tired trying to meet the need.  The need in my home, the need in my little community, the need pressing pressing pressing from everywhere.  All over our ever-shrinking internet-connected world.

In this season of my life, as I seek to draw into the presence of God and remain, to dwell there as I go about my busy day, I have seen something new as I sit at His feet in the Word.

Jesus did not meet every physical need in his earthly ministry.

There were lepers He did not heal.  There were sick people who died.

Jesus even spoke about this:
"I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian." Luke 4: 25-27
Jesus did only what His father told Him.  Elijah and Elisha healed only those to whom they were called. 

Shouldn't I follow such an example?

This is the rest into which I am called, into which you are called.  Resting in His presence, learning the now thing, the needful thing.  

Working at it with all my heart, my hands His to use.  

Letting all else go.

photo by DuBoix

You Are Building Your Legacy Today ~ Mom Heart Thoughts, Part 3

Years ago, when our oldest was about three years old, my husband told me, "I think I have discovered the secret to becoming a better parent.  It is to become a better person."

As I walk this journey of motherhood, over and over I have seen that the state of my heart and mind has the greatest impact on how I parent, indeed on how I relate to the world at large. Not a parenting book, not wise words from an older woman, not an inspiring blog post... the state of my heart and mind.

And let me just tell you, there has been more than one occasion on which I have cringed reading this verse:

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks
~ Matthew 12:34 ~

So often when we are faced with a challenge, especially with another person, we focus on what they need to change, or what we can do to deal with them. I wonder what would happen if every time we faced a challenge we sought God about our own hearts?

At a recent Mom Heart conference, one of Sally Clarkson's sessions was entitled "Your Optimistic Spirit Matters ~ It's How You Live As a Mother." Join with me in considering these gems from Sally:

"Choose to walk in the light"
"Do not weary in doing good"
"Stay faithful to your ideals"
"No one can be obedient for you"
"You're either living or dying"
"Don't take yourself too seriously"
"You are not defined by the circumstances in your life"
"Strength takes a choice, but God has strength to give you"
"It is to a woman's honor to overlook a sin"
"Bitterness does not look well on a woman"
"Cultivate contentment"
"What do you want your legacy to be?"

Don't you just want to decorate your house with all these wonderfully uplifting and challenging quotes?

But how on earth are we supposed to do all that, be that woman who is content and not-bitter and patient and strong and humor-filled? A woman who lives a joyful legacy?

It all starts with seeking God.

You can't just make yourself joyful. But you can choose to desire joy and to persistently seek God. He alone can transform a worn and weary woman into an in-the-light-walking girl, filled with joy and laughter.

And because, by design, you were made to be His girl, and to be your husband's wife and your children's mother, it is God's good pleasure to strengthen you, in Him, to be patient, to be content, to be obedient... to be joyful.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33 ~

So I seek Him, and pray that He helps me become the woman He has called me to be. And as He molds my heart and mind it changes how I behave, how I parent my children.

Sally Clarkson asked "What do you want your legacy to be?"

I wonder what my children will remember when they look back on these years. What I hope with all my heart that they remember is how much they were loved, and that God was ever-present.

I will never be perfect (oh my cluttered house!), but I want to be intentional about allowing God to grow me.

Sally suggested we ponder the question of our legacy, and choose five words we'd hope would be used to describe us in the years to come. This word girl, of course, chose five sentences. {smile}

How much joy it will bring me if my children can say from their hearts:

"My mother...

... chose love in action"

... found beauty in the mundane"

... sang through life's sorrows"

... spoke life-giving words"

... lived the joy of the Lord"

What is the legacy you wish to leave? How do you want your children to remember you?

To read Parts 1 and 2...
Mom Heart Thoughts Part 1 ~ Discipleship and Family Ministry
Mom Heart Thoughts Part 2 ~ Taking the Time to Choose People Over Things 

Other mothers' Mom Heart thoughts:
God is at Work in Your Child's Life
What I Learned at the Sally Clarkson MomHeart Conference
MOM Heart Conference
Mom's Heart

Linking to Thought-Provoking Thursdays at SomeGirlsWebsite

photo by Scott Liddell

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