My grandmother used to say, “the shoemaker's children go barefoot” to express some unfathomable truth. As a child I thought the saying meant, “Daddy might make shoes, but that doesn't mean I have to wear them.”
The saying expressed independence in my mind, the need to make your own mark in the world. Although that old quote really means, “Daddy has to serve the public before he can serve his own family,” I did not understand that until I was grown up and “going barefoot” along my own path.
Mom liked to experiment just enough to discover something new; I like to experiment and to persist until I perfect something new. Mom liked to have a dozen projects going all at once; I can only handle a couple at a time. Dad prefers to take life as it comes; I plan ahead and make a back-up plan as well. Although they were my “teachers” in life, we are different in many ways.
In spite of this, I was completely taken aback when my second child was born. JudyLucy was nothing like I expected her to be.
“Mom, would you read this book to me?”
“Sure. That book? Why do you want to read that book?” I looked down at the cookbook in my hands and at my five-year-old looking at me hopefully.
“Because! It's a cookbook!”
JudyLucy loves to read directions. I prefer to figure it out by looking at the pictures, or to experiment until I understand all the reasons why. JudyLucy not only prefers directions, she gets some thrill out of following them “to a T.” Amazingly, with directions, JudyLucy can master almost anything the first time around.
Recently she (now 8 years old) asked me how to make the sausage in the morning. I had never measured anything except in the palm of my hand and by sniffing the mixture until it smelled just right.
“Uh… it's about this much chile powder… and this much sage… and a couple big shakes of salt… ”
I looked up to see JudyLucy looking at me hopelessly and realized she was about to “check out.”
“Okay,” I said. “Get a spoon. I'll get a piece of paper and a pencil. Ready?”
I put the right amount of each spice in the palm of my hand, and then carefully scraped it into her spoon. Then we dumped each spice into the bowl and she wrote down the ingredients and the amounts.
As the last spice went into the bowl I looked up to see her carefully re-writing her new recipe with a glowing look on her face. She held it in her hand like a warrior holds a newly sharpened sword, eyeing it with utter satisfaction.
At that moment I recalled a dozen times when she had asked me worriedly how I made such-and-such and if there was a recipe she could have. I realized that JudyLucy needed me to record the way I do things so that she could attain them.
For me, knowledge has always been like a tree, ever changing and growing in my hands. In my mind a recipe is never perfect, a pattern is never final… everything needs more work, more refining. But for JudyLucy, you have to start somewhere!
I asked my husband to start an offline blog for me, so that I could write down all the things that the kids wanted to “keep.” This project was a relief to both JudyLucy and David (he also loves directions), who frequently reminded me to “write it down” for them. Tortillas, beans, pancakes, biscuits, wine, tea, poultices and tinctures, pickles and apple butter… as fast as I recorded them, my daughter learned to make them. I realized then that I had an invaluable partner in the kitchen and that in time she will know everything I ever knew and later forgot!
Beef Sausage Recipe
1 lb. of range-fed ground beef.
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed.
1 large dried chile pepper, crushed or
1 tablespoon of chile powder and 1/2 tsp. of cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon of powdered dry sage
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Mix all ingredients together with hands. Form patties and fry in skillet. No extra grease needed. Make milk gravy in the leftover drippings for an extra treat!
I really like this sausage because it is so spicy and a little hot. However, you can add a bit of sugar and less cayenne if you like the milder, sweeter kind of sausage. Making it a day early enhances the flavor even more.