My family has made summer sausage every Christmas for at least 40 years, and every year I ask myself why I only make it around the holidays.  The recipe came from my Sicilian great aunt, Fran.  It is inexpensive, delicious, and versatile.  When I was a kid we ate it with cheese and crackers, but now I use it as a homemade substitute for hard salami on pizza, in sandwiches and omelets.  It also fits into Paleo and low-carb diets.

*Note:  This recipe calls for 1 pound loaves, but I usually shape mine into smaller half pound loaves.  Up-a to you-a.

Fran's Homemade Summer Sausage

5 pounds hamburger (DO NOT get very lean ground beef.  You'll be sorry.)
5 teaspoons Morton's Quick Salt
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. (We've begun making ours in 2 gallon, zip-loc storage bags.)  Cover tightly and refrigerate 24 hours.  Mix.  Refrigerate another 24 hours.  Make 5 one-pound loaves.  Bake at 225 degrees for 6-8 hours, turning after 4 hours.  The outside will be mahogany brown and the inside will be pink throughout, just like store-bough.  Don't worry.  It's done.  There should be no trace of blood or softness. 

(Try a few slices warm from the oven.  Heaven.)

Allow the logs to cool a bit.  You can wrap them in foil at this time and tuck them in your fridge, or toss the whole lot of them into a zip-loc bag.

I've given up making resolutions. I lecture myself daily on how I need to lose weight, exercise more, eat better. Making a resolution to do so probably isn't going to work. Instead I resolve to learn something new every year. One year it was learning to bake bread. Another year I learned how to cable knit. I usually try to pick something that I've been interested in for some time, something that seems overwhelming or difficult to me.

This year I am going to learn how to bake croissants. My friend Mark made some gorgeous croissants, and while the folding and kneeding and folding scares me, it is time for me to give them a try. Plus, I love eating them!

I also plan to master scones and crumpets. I'm living with my sweet Irishman and feel like indulging him.

My non-culinary goal for this year is to read at least one book a month. This will require me to PUT DOWN MY DAMN PHONE. I used to be a ravenous reader, but between fiddling with my phone, going through my divorce, and taking up knitting my reading has been pushed aside. I'm in the middle of "The Casual Vacancy" by JK Rowling. I've been in the middle of "The Casual Vancancy" since October. It's time to fix that.

So. What do you plan to learn this year?