Category Archives: Sausage

Pepperoni Fail – a Bedtime Story

Once upon a time there was a mama bear whose baby bears loved pepperoni. The littlest one in particular would not eat meat or legumes or vegetables and that mama bear had a hard time keeping enough iron in him. One thing he would eat, though, was pepperoni so the mama bear figured she would make her own pepperoni from grass fed beef for her lethargic little baby bear.

That mama bear went out in the forest to search high and low until she found some humanely raised, grass fed beef from Cascade Beef that would do nicely. Then she traveled all the way up to Arlington and bought some sausage casing. She came home and ground 5 pounds of that grass fed meat up in her meat grinder and lovingly mixed in seasonings. Then she fried off a little taster so that all the bears could try.

Mama bear tried the pepperoni and thought “that should do.” Papa bear took one bite and said “MMM tastes like pepperoni, but it needs more kick.” The oldest baby bear tried it and cried “Yum! I want some more!” but the littlest baby bear said “That’s not pepperoni. I don’t want that.”

The mama bear forged ahead anyway and stuffed those pepperoni. Then she took them down to the utility room and hung them up on the washline next to the pork jowels to cure. All night she dreamed about her littlest baby bear eating the pepperoni she had made for him so that he could get big and strong.

But while the bears slept, a mean wolf came around. He peeked in all the beds and saw that the bears were fast asleep so he crept down the stairs, sniffing for pepperoni all the while. He pushed the grain bins over the to dryer and climbed up on them first, then the dryer next and he ate almost all the pepperoni that Mama bear had worked so hard until 2 in the morning to stuff. He also made sure that any pepperoni links he couldn’t finish had his teeth marks in them so that the bears wouldn’t have to share them with him.

And now, dear readers, it’s time for the moral of the story.


But here is the cool part I realized as a result of all this: you don’t need to stuff and cure pepperoni to make it. In fact if you have a wiley dog I recommend NOT doing that. This pepperoni tasted like pepperoni without the obligatory curing time (which by the way is what requires you use nitrates which are beyond creepy.)

You can simply mix ground beef or pork with seasonings then fry it loose like Italian sausage. It works great on pizza or with pasta that way and requires no special equipment or ingredients. In fact I think you should rush out and try this pronto because if you eat pepperoni you are going to love this. You can adjust the spiciness up (if you have a papa bear) or down (for baby bears.)

Pepperoni Sausage- Adapted from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

5 pounds lean, grass fed beef, ground
3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (Mama Bear left this out completely)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons paprika

Combine all ingredients well then freeze as is or fry and freeze until needed for spaghetti, pizza or pasta salads. Another thing you could do is adapt these ingredients and make pepperoni beef jerky with it by slicing the meat as thinly as possible, marinating in this spice mix overnight and then drying on low in an oven or dehydrator until the meat is no longer moist.

Dark Days Week 8

Week 8 and here is the lineup this week:


Homemade beef jerky. I’ve been planning this one since I got the cow but finally managed to make it happen. I used a package labeled “bottom round” which I *think* is a pretty tough cut and it came out awesome! I partially thawed it then sliced it as thinly as possible against the grain and marinated it overnight in 1/2 cup soy sauce (US but non-local), a good shake of onion powder and a good shake of garlic powder. The next day I put it in the dehydrator for about 4 hours until it was done. It’s so nice not having to monitor the kid’s consumption, even though I won’t keep this on hand all the time since it is a pretty salty snack. But perfect for Pancake Man who I suspect is low in iron and won’t eat anything but guess what?


More beet whip for Chicken Little who doesn’t like beets but somehow is addicted to this juice of the week. Freshly juiced Nash’s Detroit Red beets with heavy cream poured off the top of the Dungeness Valley milk jug.


Sausage experiment #1 today. I used 1 pound of ground pork from Thundering Hooves that I’ve had in the freezer, mixed it with a small amount of chopped gala apples from Rockridge Orchard that I dried last summer, a pinch of ginger, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of sage. It was so yummy Chicken Little threw his arms around me and told me I was the best sausage maker ever. Wow!


I find it ironic in the scrambled egg pan the eggs are dark yellow and cheese is white. That is as it should be – dark eggs from pastured chickens and cheese without coloring agents. We rounded out the breakfast with toast from homemade bread and home canned apricot jam made from Rama apricots last summer. Ah apricots, so magical.


We have a fair bit of liver from our Cascade Range Beef cow in the freezer so I thought I would make chicken fried liver. It looked good. But before putting it on the table I did a taste test and oh my hooves and ass! Too barnyard. I love liverwurst and chicken livers but wow I could not do that to my family. So they got this instead which was supposed to be the side dishes:


Sorry family.  I’m just glad I had bought some Willipa Hills Little Boy Blue to add to Nash’s beets and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon.  The carmelized onions were supposed to go into cream sauce over the liver.   And Pancake Man ate a pancake which he would have done anyway. I love having a big stash of those in the freezer for pancake emergencies!


My husband was fighting something all week after running himself into the ground on New Year’s Eve so I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup before heading out to the school board meeting to communicate to them my ardent desire that my two children attend the same elementary school.  I used a jar of home-canned chicken broth made from carcasses of previous roast chicken meals, carrots from the garden and Nash’s chinese cabbage and kale.


Rose Brand Chinese noodles are made in the International District in Seattle. They are the perfect noodle for soups or those yummy Chinese peanut noodle dishes I stopped making since I can’t get local peanuts.


Freshly ground corn pancakes, Swedish pancakes and coconut pancakes. Because Pancake Man says so.


My desem start from Bluebird Grain hard red winter wheat.


You see how it is? Now that my year is up I’ve been to the store twice! And I was talked into these tortilla chips which I agreed to because they are made in Richmond, BC (less than 150 miles from me) from organic corn which is nixtamalized to unlock more of the nutrients. To celebrate a highly competitive checkers game I opened up a fresh jar of peach salsa made last summer from Rama peaches and our own jalapenos and onions. I whipped up my kitchen version of the little black dress – basic white sauce and added some grated Tillamook cheddar (outside the 150 mile range I know but it was 2 for 1 at the store – see how I’m becoming!) and some home canned green tomato chile sauce made last fall with the last green tomatoes as the bushes were succombing to blight.


From the depths of the freezer – smoky turkey, white bean and green chile glop. It’s amazing the number of meals we got out our Pastured Sensation turkey. This was made entirely from the bone broth and meat that would have been otherwise discarded. So frugal! So yummy! So fast from the freezer!


Our Sunday ritual – pizza made from 100% white whole wheat flour grown in Dufur, OR, home canned tomato sauce, still the contraband pepperoni bag from last week and mozzarella from Golden Glen creamery. I had to try their mozzarella since it’s local and Julie of River Ranch is no longer selling mozzarella at the market. I was surprised at the price tag ($10 for the blob) but embarassed to hand it back over so I swallowed my wallet and put the cheese in the bag.

After getting used to Julie’s mozzarella (where I learned to make it by taking her class which she IS still teaching) I was really disappointed to cut into the cheese and find out it was tough and rubbery, just like Tillamook’s. I guess I need to set aside some time to make another huge batch of fresh mozzarella to freeze again!

But here is my favorite part of the week:


I finally managed to locate the Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment that I had gotten for my husband for Christmas and ground up an Akyla Farms picnic ham from the freezer along with some pork back fat that I had purchased from Skagit River Ranch.  I just paid money for fat, yes I did.  When that was ground up (can I say how cool that was to watch little worms of sausage come wriggling out of the plates?) I added some seasonings and some Chateau Ste. Michelle cab then mixed it all up and bagged it into roughly 1 pound bags. Some went on our pizza along with home canned cherry bomb peppers from Tonnamaker Farms.

I cannot believe how inexplicably cool that meat grinder is. Especially with all the hamburger recalls and knowing that the USDA’s response to the outbreaks has been to spray meat with ammonia. Did you know that? Oh yeah, they never really told you. All that meat is either irradiated or sprayed with ammonia. It’s sickening. Literally.

So if you eat meat please be sure you buy it from a local farmer and a local butcher, not one of those huge meat packing outfits somewhere behind a curtain, completely cut off from the people who buy their meat.

For those in the Seattle Area you can buy great quality ground pork or beef from Thundering Hooves.  Their sausage is $7.99 per pound but the plain ground pork is $3.99 per pound.  All you have to do for that $4 per pound is add some seasonings that you probably already have in your cupboard. 

To my roughly 4 pounds of meat I added 1/2 cup wine, 4 minced garlic cloves (mine were roasted from the freezer), 1 T black pepper, 4 teaspoons sea salt, 1 T oregano and 1 T basil.  If I had any fennel seed I would have added 1 T of that but what I thought was fennel turned out to be caraway.  I wanted to add some chopped dried tomato to it as well but my husband nixed the idea so I’ll have to sneak some in next time when he’s not right there.  There, doesn’t that sound like $4 per pound’s worth of seasonings to you?  Pshaw!

Happy Dark Days!