Cooking is my passion. I cook and I eat, and I’m happy with some dishes and not so happy with others. Italian food is my favorite. When I eat Italian food it takes me back to when I was a little girl, visiting my grandparents and my great grandparents in upstate New York. Their homes were filled with laughter and animated people–always joking and hugging and kissing. People I hardly knew were hugging me and kissing me hello. The affection my family showed pulled me in and made me feel wanted, welcome, and part of the group. It was a very different experience from the travels I’d made back and forth across the United States. I found people to be more cliquish when I entered a new school in the western or southern regions of the country. Back home in New York, I would be more welcomed by both family and kids at school who were mostly of Italian or Irish descent. Of course, it was a small town, and many people knew the families.
When spending time with my Italian family, one thing remained consistent–great food! As I write this I can smell the foods cooking as I entered my great grandmother’s home. Pulling into the driveway and running past all the kittens gathered at the front porch, opening the door into the dining area, seeing the table with the handmade crocheted cloth, her hen cookie jar filled with cookies, the sweet peppers setting on the window sill, and oh, that smell–the transcendent smell of the spaghetti sauce filling the entire house.
It was during my visits to my great grandmother’s home that something connected food and love in my brain.
Last week, I made my own Italian sausage. After all of the chopping of the pork, pouring on of the spices, adding my own secret ingredients, allowing the meat to marinate for two days, grinding, and stuffing it into the casings–it was finally time to cook up a little taste. I dropped a heaping spoonful onto the skillet with a little olive oil and red wine in the pan. The aroma was familiar. I cut a chunk of meat off with the side of my fork. I blew on the meat to cool it off. Mark was staring at me waiting for my response.
“Oh my God”, I whispered, “Oh Mark, it’s perfect.”
Two days earlier, I was alone in my kitchen all afternoon, chopping the pork shoulder into one inch cubes. The sun shone through the windows and I swear I could hear my deceased great grandmother whispering in my ear–something about cooking with love. I followed a recipe from the book “Cooking with Grace”, but with the help of my great grandmother’s message, I decided to add a few of my own secret ingredients.
I will continue to make my own sausages, making sure to add a little love each and every time!
I wish you could all taste these!
I used natural pork from Central Market on sale for $1.99 lb. The cost of 6 lbs of natural sausage cost the same as 4 links from the market!
All I need now are cooked onions, red peppers, and a loaf of Italian bread !
NOTE: This is re-posted from my LJ blog in 2007.