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   Feature Article on sausage making. Topic: PIONEERS
Written by Jean Rogers in November, 1998

SIGHTS, SMELLS EVOKE MEMORIES OF SAUSAGE MAKING


"I write this in mid-July. We are still far away from the first nip of autumn weather, but already the chicory, AKA Blue Tailors, are blooming and that evocative sight sends my thoughts forward to blue autumn skies, crisp breezes, and, still vivid in my memory, the now almost extinct home chore of butchering and attendant sausage making.

My thoughts wing back to the eleventh of November—St. Martin’s Day—usually considered the first acceptable day to butcher in those pre-refrigerator days of the early thirties. It was also a day that I was allowed to stay home from school to help.

What an array of sights and sounds that day provided! As my duties were mainly of the run and fetch order, I was able to see it all and smell it all. I watched Grandmother scrape the intestines for the next day’s sausage stuffing. Cloth sleeves were already sewn for sausage stuffed in this manner.

All this time, over an outdoor fire, Grandmother cooked the hog’s head and other bones in a large black iron kettle with feet. I got the task of scraping off every fleck of meat. Not a shred was to be wasted. When I had approximately two pounds, I added five cups of water, one teaspoon salt, one-half to one teaspoon freshly ground pepper, one quarter teaspoon sage from the herb garden, and two cups of white corn meal. The mixture was simmered, put into a flat pan, and then chilled in the icehouse. While I was doing this, Grandmother would make "puddin," blood pudding and souse.

I was allowed to turn the handle of the sausage stuffer-grinder and it fascinated me to see the intestines plump up. Every five inches, Grandmother would give a twist of her hand and make a link. Father and Grandfather carried great loops of sausage into the smokehouse---Oh the smokehouse. By this time of day it began to grow colder but you could snitch some cracklins and dash into the smokehouse with its hickory smelling fire.

It’s been many a year since the smokehouse was used as it was intended, but whenever I visit the home place, I check out the tool shed, the two and a half hole privy, the barn where I put away fragrant hay. But, my best olfactory treat is furnished by the old smokehouse and it smells just like so many yesterdays ago."

At right is Jean Rogers who is pictured in front of the Civil War Tablets in the Monumental Building. A member of the Shelby County Historical Society since 1996, Jean helped conduct building tours as part of the Gateway Arts Council’s annual festival in August, 1998

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