July 7, 2009

Frustration into Fennel

Posted in *cringe*, 8-ball - pool not narcotics, Project: Fail, The Gnomes, The Happy, The Just a Little Sad, The Process at 8:54 am by Dagny Taggart

So, my pool game has been sucking beyond belief, as of late.  I can’t seem to get it done, no matter how much extra work and practice I put in, no matter how many people try to help me.

It’s really disheartening.  Worse, it’s costing my teams points – points that determine their standings in the league, that determine whether they go to the regional tournaments or not.  And Thursday?  Thursday was the last straw.  I played twice, losing my first match to a lower-ranked player, and losing the second because I followed the 8 in.  When I knew better, when I knew how to hit it so that wouldn’t happen, and it happened anyway.

In short, I’m tired of losing.  And every time I thought about picking up my cue to practice, I started to get upset, thinking that it wouldn’t help, anyway.  Clearly, I needed to reset.

So I decided to do something with a higher likelihood of success, something to get me into a more positive frame of mind.  And making some Italian sausage was exactly what the doctor ordered.

It’s hard to find the good stuff around here – at least, when one’s palate has become accustomed to the kind made by one’s neighbor, a native of Italy who turned his culinary knowledge into a thriving business in a part of the country where Italian grandmothers abound.  Finding that flavor again, and recreating it, was going to take some doing.

Especially when all the recipes seem to produce 10 pounds or more of the stuff, and my modest goal of 3-4 pounds was going to involve math.  I hate math.

Basically, I took roughly three pounds of ground pork (with my current KitchenAid setup, grinding it myself does not produce optimal texture),   and threw in some salt, a half cup of ice water, a tiny bit of brown sugar, some crushed fennel and caraway (done with my mortar and pestle), a little coriander, ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper.  I’m not including amounts, though I’ve listed them in order from most to least.

Mix that all up, cooking up a tablespoon or so at a time so that you can get a sense for the flavor, until you’ve got it to taste.  Then, let it sit in the fridge for an hour while you take a couple of the casings you bought at Wegmans, and rinse them thoroughly to get rid of the packing salt. 

The stuffing process will vary depending on your equipment.  Mine involves a persnickety KitchenAid attachment, and a lot of cursing, and the occasional Wail of Frustration.

But when it is done, and you have a lovely platter of freshly made sausage just waiting to meet your favorite cooking device, and it tastes exactly the way you want it?

You’ll feel like you can do something right.



  1. There have been too many times when I wanted to sell my pool cues for use as kindling wood for all of the good they were doing me. I never considered making sausage as a means to recover my groove, but it is an interesting thought. Switching to a different game (darts, shuffle board, tennis, golf, anything) for a couple of weeks helps me.

  2. vvk said,

    mmm… that sounds yummy. 🙂

  3. Lisa said,

    Turning your attention to making sausage (and realizing it’s not a euphemism) was probably a really good idea, and I hope you have time to back out into other stuff for a bit. Also? The way you run yourself around? I bet you’re just plain tired, which can’t help.

  4. restaurant refugee: Well, it’s sort of the same idea – I’m just worse at all of those other games than I am at pool, so I thought I’d switch it up to something i’m actually good at.

    vvk: It was! I’m pretty excited about it.

    Lisa: It was a good idea. And, you know, I always feel like i have so much more to do, but never get anything done. Next, I’ll go do more laundry. Nice, concrete results that I can SEE.

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