Down-Home Country Lore: Crackling Sausage, Sweet Potatoes, Brining Vegetables and More

Tips on making sausage, fixing water leaks, making lard, storing sweet potatoes and much more.

| November/December 1976

Cracklings—the crisp chunks of meat and skin left over from a lard rendering—are fun to eat "right out of the pot". But have you ever made them up into crackling sausage? Diane Sleger (of Kewaskum, Wisconsin) does . . . and she uses this recipe handed down to her from her great-grandmother:

Mix one cup of grated potato with each cup of fresh cracklings and season the mixture with grated onion, salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs (thyme and marjoram are good). Bake the mixture in bread pans in a medium oven (about 350° F) for one hour. Then cool and chill. To serve the loaf, cut it into slices and fry them. They're especially good for breakfast!

And set at least a few cracklings aside so you can try the idea sent in by Mrs. Glen Farrell of Middlebourne, West Virginia. She substitutes one cup of cracklings for the shortening in her favorite corn bread recipe . . . and then just bakes the bread as usual.

At some point on many larger construction projects, you may find that you need a "cant strip" . . . one of those long, thin, triangular pieces of wood used to fill in a corner before some material (such as asphalt roofing) is laid down inside the bend. And there's no need to tediously rip such strips from 2 X 2's if you follow the lead of Jan Bevan, who lives up on Hornby Island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. "Hie yourself to the scrap pile of a small sawmill," he says, "and salvage some of the edge trimmings that you'll find there. Even a well picked-over pile should yield a supply of the triangular strips, since most mill heap scavengers are looking for larger stuff."

Jane and Joseph Bewsher of Watervliet, New York have a clever way of skimming mold from their crocks of sauerkraut and other brined vegetables. They fit a piece of cheesecloth right down on the top surface of the fermenting brine. Then, when they want to clean away the scum that has formed on the brew, they remove the cloth, rinse it thoroughly in warm water, and replace it.

It's easier than you might have thought to fix that leak in the side of the stock watering tank. First find a fully threaded stove bolt that will fit snugly through the hole (you may have to enlarge the opening a little so the bolt will go through). Next find two flat washers that just slip over the bolt's shank, and cut two circles of rubber—each slightly larger in diameter than the metal washers—from an old inner tube. Snip holes into the middle of each circle of rubber so they'll snugly grip the threads of the bolt . . . and assemble the bolt, washers, rubber seals, and a nut as shown in the accompanying sketch. Then tighten the whole assembly down until the circles of rubber are firmly pressed against the sides of the tank, and you've just fixed the leak . . . thanks to Lynn Klaiber of Tampa, Kansas. Lynn also writes that a leak from the bottom of a tank can sometimes be repaired by draining and cleaning the container and then spreading a quarter inch of concrete over the entire bottom. Refill the tank with water once the patch has hardened and, if the concrete cracks, just repeat the process and smooth on another coat of the same material.

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