Dick Hilsher saw me wandering around the store carrying this heavier-than-lead meat grinder and asked if I needed help. He is usually there and is very helpful answering questions and finding you the right parts to get most projects underway.
"Hm! Do you know what you have here?" Well, an old meat grinder. He asked me how long I'd had it and I said, "Couple days." Then he pointed to the patent date on it - 1909 - and told me all about the company in that used to make such meat grinders. Landers, Frary and Clark out of New Britain, Connecticut. It's a nice heavy duty Universal Meat Chopper. Cast iron. Still works but needed some attention.
He brought me over to the display case of grinding blades and parts. "It's locked," he said. "The only thing around here that I do lock up." The blades were not cheap but not horribly expensive either. He had me feel a new blade and compare it to the feel of the blade on my meat grinder. There was a noticeable difference in sharpness. I would have bought a new set of blades - cutter which looks like a small propeller and grinding plate - a disk full of holes - but because my meat grinder is so old, the "square" hole of the new ones would not fit on the "rectangular" shaft of my old one.
So we sent both blade and grinding plate off to the shop to be sharpened. He said when they get back they should be sharp enough to last me the rest of my life. (I'm not sure how much longer that will be, but it's good to know.)
On Saturday Greg and I went up to Lewisburg, PA to the Dale Walker Engle House to see a demonstration on how to make sausage. They had a guy up there showing how to make maple syrup as well, but I pretty much know how to do that. The sausage demonstration was worthwhile. I got to ask lots of questions and as well learned how to do it.
Questions: What's that gadget? That's the thing that keeps the auger centered when the blade is taken off and the sausage tubes added. Why do they say on the Internet to soak the casings in water? To make the stuffing go through more easily. Why do they say on the Internet to let the sausages rest for a day? To help set the filling. Should I use soy flour in the mix? Only for bologna. Where did those casings come from? A pig. What about for smaller link sausages, like breakfast sausage? A lamb. How about...? A steer. I didn't ask him if I could recycle gut fiddle strings for casings. That might have been out of his range of knowledge.
They added a mix of salt and pepper - about a 1 to 1 ratio and I'd guess about a 1/2 cup of each to about 10 pounds of meat. He said to only use good grade pork for pork sausage, a decent shoulder.
While at Hilsher's I picked up a pound or so of spring onion sets and a package of Snow Pea seeds. It's that time of year. Yesterday I realized that the little green plants in the cold frame I'd set up in the fall are not lettuce plants, but weeds. I'll be replanting lettuce seeds today and try to get some chicken manure from the coop onto the garden. Tomorrow I'll be planting onions.
They always say around here to get your peas planted by St. Patrick's Day which is this Saturday. Twenty years ago I used to try to do that but March would be so cold and snowy as well as the first half of April that the seeds would just rot. So we'd replant. Then May would get so warm that that the plants would be over before they started. Never any success with planting peas by St. Pat's Day. However, because of the mild weather we've been having I'm going to try it again this year - one more time - and see what happens.
The grinding blades should be back in about two weeks. Just in time for Easter. Just in time for fresh kielbasa - I hope.