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IzTUdKHgTwe%GhBf%w%o4wrZ54chYuQRKsKJQLfEOCYwTried my hand at making homemade hot Italian sausage without the casings. It was a surprisingly easy project. Took my 3 1/2 pound pork butt and cut it up into smaller chunks that could fit through my grinder. Put them in a ziploc bag and froze them for about an hour which amazingly makes the grinding all that easier. Ground the pork on a course grind and then laid it out on cookie sheets and added the spices and seasonings. Kneaded it all together and put it in the fridge for a day to meld all the flavors together. Tonight we tried it, cooking up a couple tablespoons to test for flavor. Delicious. This will be bagged into individual portions that I can use in sauce, stir fries or on pizza.

 

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Local is awesome. It’s so neat to be able to have your neighbor plow your driveway, get your eggs and produce from someone down the road and know your firewood came from local trees. It’s such a good feeling to know that your decisions are helping local folks and supporting local businesses. It is also amazing when you see local businesses supporting local people.

Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington is an amazing outdoor store, locally owned and operated (if you have never been, get yourself there!) and I just read that they have combined efforts with the Vermont State Parks to offer brand new camping equipment for rental at designated Vermont state parks this season for free (yes, I said free – F.R.E.E.) The program is part of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative‘s work. The hope is that by offering essential camping equipment for rental for free at the designated five state parks, it will foster more folks and particularly families to get outside and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer in the great outdoors. The program will make stoves, lanterns, tents and sleeping pads available for loan to folks camping in the parks. Since the only missing item would be sleeping bags, which don’t really lend themselves well to being loaned out repeatedly – Outdoor Gear Exchange is working on getting low cost sleeping bags manufactured so they can be made available for purchase for campers to buy at a very reasonable price.  The idea is that your only “equipment” expense might be sleeping bags allowing you to borrow all the other necessary equipment from the park.

Mark Sherman, the owner of Outdoor Gear Exchange was the person responsible for this amazing brainstorm idea and has already gotten the support of several well known manufacturers, OGE deals with, like Kelty, Black Diamond, Mountainsmith and Jetboil to volunteer their goods to the cause. How amazing is that?

I totally understand that putting together all the necessary equipment to even get away for a weekend of camping can be financially daunting to a lot of families especially if it’s your first time out or your first experience bringing along the little ones. This is the best of both worlds, getting the family outside and getting to borrow new working equipment without having to beg and borrow from family and friends, who may not even be in the same state.

This is just another reason that if you are in need of some outdoor equipment, perhaps you should just bypass the big box outdoor folks and support local businesses like Outdoor Gear Exchange. They are trying to give back to the community with programs such as this, helping to make the outdoors more accessible for everyone.

Kudos to you, Mr. Sherman and your business, you will continue to have my support! You can read more about the program here.

Not having an oven makes you become a bit more creative, or at the very least, try things that you keep saying you wanted to do, but just haven’t had time to get around to actually doing. I’ve been wanted to do my own english muffins — even having gone so far about a couple years ago to buy english muffin rings from King Arthur (which still remain in the original package – you don’t actually need them for this recipe).  You see, without an oven, my poor sourdough starter has stayed in the fridge longer than would normally happen over the winter months. I had a bit of a panic attack recently that the only jar of starter in my fridge might not be as patient as I have been waiting on the oven, so out came the 18-year-old starter and it was fed, fed and fed again until it was nice and happy again. Can’t lose that baby, we have a history together.

Now, what to do with my nice fat, bubbly, happy starter? Sourdough english muffins seemed to be calling my name. I found the recipe I used on Genius Kitchen and substituted Lactaid milk for real or powdered milk to deal with lactose intolerance issues in the family and of course the honey added was our own Heffernan honey. The dough mixed up easily enough, sat overnight as directed and with about 1/2 hours’ worth of work total and an hour additional rise time Saturday morning, we had these babies ready to go into the cast iron frying pan to be cooked.

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Into the cast iron pan that was already heated and given a tiny bit of butter and oil to keep things from sticking, they went in about three batches. 4 minutes on each side covered to help them bake properly all the way through and here’s how they looked…t3k7Cj8hRVyI+Frnk0lbRgSQTduk++QfGXDbVCnL%9ywnA6G8zfXRoaaMTgPxmV5%w

After they came out of the pan, I took a fork and fork split each one, simply poking the fork into it around the muffin. Easy enough. Of course, Tom and I had to do a QC testing with the warm muffins while I was finishing up the last of them. So, into the toaster they went….

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Out of the toaster, topped with some butter and here’s the final result….a nice sour tang and lots of nooks and crannies.

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Vermont’s school funding is in the state and local news of late and we will all be asked to vote on school budgets soon. The Vermont School Boards Association produced a video to help explain how the process works. It does a good job of explaining a fairly complex process, making it a little easier to understand.

Evilwife on the move

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