Chasing Away the Seasonal Blues... With Sausage
Striped bass have left Martha’s Vineyard waters, save for a few holdovers trapped in the great ponds. Deer and waterfowl hunting seasons are at an end. These are trying months for those who suffer from fishing-hunting seasonal affective disorder.
Symptoms include the inability to rise from the couch; repeated irritable pressing of the TV remote; weight gain; and an unreasonable amount of time spent watching cable fishing and hunting shows — my wife, Norma, insists that I am watching the same deer get shot over and over again.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. Symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, “sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”
Treatment may include phototherapy, psychotherapy and medications. My preferred home therapy is to make venison sausage. There is no deductible and the end result is a lot more palatable than a medical bill (disclaimer: that is not intended as medical advice).
Sausage making is a fun and creative activity that is perfect for a winter day. The sausages can be enjoyed right away or frozen for later enjoyment.
Because venison is very lean it is necessary to add fat. I use pork belly fat which I purchase from the Island pig farming operation Pork to Fork. Jo Douglas, the enterprising young woman behind the operation, raises her animals solely on locally sourced food scraps. The last time I made sausage she was even happy to deliver a package of snowy white fat on her way to exercise class. That’s winter Island service.
Depending on my mood, I add onion and garlic to my meat mix. I may also throw in some parsley and parmesan cheese. But I am not a sausage purist. I don’t assemble all of the spices from scratch. I let others do it for me.
My mainstays are the LEM brand of Backwoods sweet Italian sausage seasonings and the Hi Mountain brand summer sausage making kit.
The first time I made sausage I enlisted Norma to feed the hopper of our Kitchenaid sausage-stuffer attachment. The process did not go smoothly. My sausages had hernias. I became a reality TV show chef yelling instructions — Stuff faster! No, slow down! Add more!
Norma told me where to stuff it.
The Kitchenaid stuffer was not up to the job. After considerable research, and in the interests of domestic harmony, I purchased a hand crank vertical sausage stuffer that operates like a piston. It made the job a breeze.
Fishermen and non-hunters ought not despair. Many hunters are more than willing to share their lesser cuts of venison in return for a share of sausage.
As winter progresses I know that one day Norma will look at me, refer to me as “that lump on the couch,” and ask the perennial question: When can you go fishing again?
That will be my cue to chase away the seasonal blues and get busy making sausage.