Cooking with Sausage

Fall and winter means that hams and sausage are plentiful and less expensive than beef. This is a great time to stock your freezer with rolls of fresh sausage, sliced and cubed ham, and bacon. There are country cured hams, Honeybaked hams and smoked hams. Other pork products include spareribs, pork chops, pork tenderloin and Boston butt.

Tonight i will be cooking a big batch of spaghetti sauce, made from scratch and using sausage instead of my normal ground beef. I like the extra flavor that sausage brings to the sauce, and it goes well with a thicker, denser noodle like ziti or lasagna.

One of the local farmers opens a store just in November and December to sell the pork products from his own hogs. He has wonderful whole smoked hams that are 3 years old, 4 years old and even 5 years old. Of course, the 5 year old hams are the most expensive but they are so worth it! Just a few thin slices of any of his hams are enough to properly season a big pot of white beans or a kettle of greens.

Today I drove by his store to see what hours he will be open. There used to be a time when he was only open on weekends through the fall, but this year it seems he is open 7 days a week, from 9 in the morning until 6 at night. That will make it really convenient for me to go back next week and buy my ham!


Can You Trust a Skinny Cook?

A free meal is always nice, but if the invitation to dinner is from someone like Rachel Greenlief, I wonder if she is a good cook or not. My dad used to say to never trust a skinny cook, and Rachel is a gorgeous woman. She is so thin that I wonder if she eats anything at all? But she tells me she is a good cook, so I think I will take my chances on the one dinner and test out my dad’s theory. Let’s all hope he is wrong in this case.

The last time I dated a girl who bragged about her cooking, she told me that she grew up in the South and that she learned how to cook Southern Style. I had visions of crispy fried chicken, barbecue ribs, creamy macaroni and cheese, and coconut frosted layer cakes or pecan pie. I had visions of all the good things that Paula Deen cooks on her cable TV show. Maybe a little of the Neely’s – Memphis couple who have their own show on the Food Network cable TV show.

Well, she kept inviting me to dinner because she said that getting a babysitter was hard for her, and she promised the baby would be in bed before dinner so it would be just the two of us. I have to admit that I thought it a little strange for a baby to be in bed for the night at only 6:00 pm, but I took her word on it. Having a baby around wasn’t that big of an issue to me, unless it meant dealing with an angry and jealous baby daddy, but I decided to take my chances.

I showed up at six, sharp, and was greeted by her holding a crying baby who refused to go to sleep or play quietly the entire time I was there. Dinner was not until 7:30 because of the distraction of the crying baby plus she had to work that day. No good traditional southern food, either. We dined on Hamburger helper, canned peas and refrigerator biscuits. Now, I can cook all of that myself and it didn’t taste bad. But that is what I call great Southern cooking and I could not wait to make my escape after politely eating her dinner and getting home by eight thirty.

Let’s hope this dinner invitation is NOTHING like that other experience. And I will let you know if skinny cooks can be trusted.