Playfulness, childhood, forgetting oneself in fun and games – remember those days? I do. And I do my best to re-enact them in a more adult way. Life will always bring up ‘situations’ which in the best of cases will enhance our learning and experience, make us wiser in the long run and more capable of embracing all that Life has to offer, the good and the ‘bad’. But in other cases it will or might do the exact opposite and crush us. I refuse to be crushed. After decades of practice, I have anti-crush antennae that are well honed. The minute I am aching to buy something that I (a) really don’t need, (b) don’t know where to put and (c) can’t really afford (meaning that the money could be spent on something much more ‘useful’) I know exactly what’s going on: my anti-crush antennae are giving me sound advice … “Go! Go! Go! Be playful. Have fun. Giggle a little!”
Some people might call it retail therapy, I don’t know. Others invoke Oscar Wilde’s saying: I can resist everything except temptation. And these are the optimists. Those who are apt to judge with pursed lips might, instead, hold forth on the futility of consumerism or go all saintly on us and mention the worthy example of Marie Kondo, the world famous tidying/decluttering guru. On a video I just watched about her, she is said to move houses once a year. Seriously? I call that a tad restless – and whilst I like travelling I think that moving, unless absolutely necessary or advisable, is a lot of work. I don’t like clutter and a messy house either, but a minimalist I am not. Our home is just full of ‘stuff’, including lots of books. But even Marie Kondo might be wowed by how I always find space for ‘things’ in our relatively small flat and yes, these ‘things’ do indeed spark joy, which is what her regime is all about. Going for things that spark joy: I’m all for that.
So there I was, one Monday morning a few weeks ago, taking my mother for a weekly shop at a supermarket. I hate supermarkets and what they represent and I have been boycotting them for about 10 years now. Yes, yes, I know that they are very useful and we do indeed ‘need’ them in our modern world. I just wish the financiers, the owners, would care more about the people who produce the food to be eaten rather than the stake-holders who just care about how much money they are making with their stocks. My mother will turn 93 next month and she stopped driving last year. Ever since then it is I who take her shopping once or twice a week and she, of all people!, insists on going to the supermarket (although recently she has started agreeing with me that vegetables are much much much better at the covered food markets). So I have spent more time in supermarkets during the last year and a half than I have for all the eight or so years previously! Not a happy puppy.
Anyway, that day she asked would I mind if we drove to a mega supermarket which is just below the town of Albano. Sure! No problem I said. And that’s because I was being kind. It was a bit of a drive from where we live and at the end of the day it was still ‘only’ a supermarket, big deal. We went for a cup of coffee before our shop and I was already bored and wanting to go home. And that’s when my anti-crush antennae started kicking in. I scolded myself for my desultory attitude and did my best to cheer up (inwardly). Which is when I espied an electric slicer and a sausage making machine. Cheap and cheerful variety, you understand, supermarket standard and nothing state-of-the-art.
I decided I simply had to, just had to, have the sausage making machine (which doubles up as a tomato crusher for making passata). And told my mother so. “Ma, I am going to make you home-made sausages. You are always complaining how the sausages we buy these days are either tasteless or too salty. What do you say you I start making some, at home?”. So that was a done-deal. And in it went in the supermarket trolley (cart in American English). My mother did indeed make her own sausages when we lived in what was then East Pakistan, and now Bangladesh. Her own bread too.
And then I found I couldn’t take my eyes off the electric slicer … Hmmm. Just think how many things I could slice, ever so thinly, so expertly, so refinedly. As I stared in admiration my mother, bless her, said she’d buy it for me … it could be my Christmas present, no? Double whammy!
And that is how I came home later that day with two boxes. My husband gave me the raised-eyebrow look but refrained from daring to comment, as he would have done in the past, on (a) the buying of yet more ‘things’ we didn’t need and (b) the dearth of space in our home. He actually commented favourably on both new-entries in the magic world of my kitchen even though he tried to back-track when I mentioned I would be relying on his help in setting up the sausage machine (I am absolutely helpless when it comes to manuals and instructions, never understand a thing). Indeed, some magic really did happen – he was there from start to finish and it was he who ‘made’ the sausages! (I had bought the meat and the casing as well as the machine, naturally.)
Our very own sausages – something to be proud of wouldn’t you agree?
When my mother eventually got to eat one, she judged it very good. So, phew.
I even brought one to work the next day for my fellow chefs to taste (above photo). The sausages were a tad ‘bland’ the night we made and ate them, tastier the following day. Apparently that’s ‘normal’, they told me; over time, as they dry out a little at a time, the savoury part will come to the fore.
And we had so much fun making them ! Which proves my point, and MY favourite motto, by Voltaire: “le superflu, chose si nécessaire”. The superfluous is so very necessary.
End of Story.
I happened to have some sausage left over and decided to use it to make a sauce. I had an aubergine/eggplant, some cheese called ‘primosale’ (a kind of bland fetta cheese) and, most important of all, I had an electric slicer, aha!
And so I made aubergine rolls. I sliced the aubergines as thinly as I could. Ditto the mortadella (that didn’t work out too well, I must say). I added some cubes of primosale. Some tomato sauce using up the home-made sausage and whatever herbs I found on my balcony (marjoram I think).
Slice an onion and let it bathe in a bowl with some water for about 10 minutes. This will draw out its excess ‘oniony-ness’. Trust me, this is a good tip. When you go to fry it, it won’t burn and if anything it will cook or turn golden faster.
Turn the oven on.
Put the thin (ha ha) slices of onion in the oven, even if it’s just started. It will heat up along the way.
Reserve some of the aubergine and chop it up into little cubes.
Start by cooking the onion in plenty of olive oil, and then add the cubed aubergine. A sprinkle of salt is always a good idea.
Cook the sausage meat. I added a bit of chilli.
Then bring all the ingredients together and add tomato sauce – plum tomatoes or passata.
In my excitement and haste to savour the recipe, I removed the aubergine slices too early from the oven. They really could have done with at least another 10 minutes.
Here are the slices of mortadella on the left and the chunk of primosale on the right. Please note that this primosale was made from ewe’s milk. I bought it from the Depau cheese makers in Frascati. https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/the-united-nations-of-ricotta-azienda-agricola-depau-grottaferrata/
Time to assemble.Lay a slice of mortadella and a few cubes of primosale and then roll the slices and secure with a toothpick.
Line the bottom of an oven dish with the sausage tomato sauce and place the rolls on top.
Pour the rest of the sauce over the rolls and dot the dish with yet more cubes of primosale. Bake the rolls until done.
I scattered something green over them as they came out of the oven. Marjoram, I think?
Parsely and basil too by the looks of it. It really doesn’t matter – just use whatever you have handy or prefer.
And yes, the slices should have cooked a bit longer as written – but it was still a very tasty dish. One that can be made in advance too, which is always a boon.
Here are some links to what primosale is all about, just in case you might be interested: