Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to Make Cumberland Sausage

This week-end was a real treat. My inlaws, wife and I spent Saturday making Cumberland Sausage.

Cumberland Sausage is a delicious spiced sausage from the North of England. Here is a small portion of the sausage cooked and presented on a plate.
A Portion of Cooked Cumberland Sausage

What is Cumberland Sausage?

Cumberland Sausage is a British Sausage. When you think of Sausages from Britain you probably think of "Bangers" or the "Traditional" meal of 'Bangers and Mash'. Cumberland sausage is not a banger. The true banger was a short lived sausage from the World War Two era of rationing where meat was scarse and bread more plentiful to use as a packing agent.

The Cumberland Sausage is much older by comparrison. Possibly several centuries old.

The sausage is famous for two reasons.

  1.  It is not a link sausage but is made in one long length and spiraled around.
  2. It has a very spicy / pepper flavor. 

Where is Cumberland?

 Cumberland is a region of England. The ancient area of Cumberland covered the far North-West of England, including the Lake District and South -West Scotland. Today Cumberland is much smaller and is shown on maps as the County of Cumbria.


68% Pork Shoulder

12% Pork Fat/Belly

 7% Rusk or dry breadcrumbs

7% cold water

6% spice mixture

 Spice mixture:

40% salt

12% White pepper

8% Black pepper

10% nutmeg

10% mace

10% thyme

10% sage

(Spice proportions can be varied to account for personal taste but Cumberland sausage is characterized by its strong flavor of pepper.)

Hog Gut Sausage casings if you want to make cased sausage. If you want to make sausage patties you will not need casings.

We usedEastman Outdoors 100% Natural Hog Casing for Italian, Bratwurst & BBQ Size Sausages (Makes Approximately 25 Pounds of Sausage)


1. Placecoarsely minced pork shoulder and coarsely minced pork fat in a bowl and mix.

Coarsely minced pork shoulder and fat in a large mixing bowl.

2. Measure and mix spice mixture in a seperate bowl or measuring jug.

3. Add rusk or breadcrumbs and spice mixture to meat.

Meat and Dry Mix added together.

4. Mix ingredients thoroughly. I used my hands but you may use a food processor or mixer. You don't want to use cutting or chopping blades though, Cumberland Sausage is a course sausage.

Hand mixing Cumberland Sausage Filling

5. Add water to mixture and stir in .

6. Leave to stand covered in the fridge or cool place for one to two hours.

7. While mixture is curing in a cool place it is time to wash the casings.

cumberland sausage casings

Handwashing the Casings.

To wash casings thoroughly, insert a funnel into one end of the casing, rinse through with cold running water for a few minutes. Keep the casings moist in a bowl of iced water  until you need them to be placed on the sausage stuffing machine.

8. Take a small amount of the sausage  filling and make a small pattie. cook this to see how the filling tastes and make final adjustments to spicing and salt.

9.  Run casings onto your sausage stuffing nozzle on your stuffing machine.  If you are looking for a sausage making machine the LEM Products 5 Pound Stainless Steel Vertical Sausage Stuffer has a good reputation on

10. Begin stuffing the sausage by loading your sausage machine and wetting your fingers with ice cold water let the filled sausage casing slide through your fingers. Your fingers add some slight resistance. Don't squeeze too hard or the casing will split and tear.

                                    As the sausage casing fills we begin to coil our Cumberland Sausage.

finished roll of Cumberland sausage

A Completed Cumberland Sausage. All we need to do now is to cut off portions and grill or fry the sausage until cooked.

Great with a nice cold beer, or a thick hunk of bread.

From 15pounds of meat we made five large Cumberland sausage, a string of seven link sausage about 6inches long each and one dozen palm sized sausage patties enough for all the family to share, and lots of good family memories of a fun day sausage making.

British sausages

Please feel free to use this recipe and adapt it to your own tastes.

Cumberland Sausage is one of thousands of traditional sausages from around the world. Search for all your sausage making books, recipes and supplies of materials and sausage stuffing machines.

If you like the result please share this page with your friends.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Guide Dog Care

One of the basic needs of a guide dog is grooming.

Though it is true that working Guide Dogs have a right of entry to public places such as buildings, taxis and other public transport, a guide dog that is not clean and properly groomed can legitimately be refused entry.

I personally choose to groom Leif daily, he gets a light grooming with a Kong Zoom Groom.

The  Kong Zoom Groom is ideal. It is made of rubber and fits nicely in my hand.

Kong Zoom Groom
I use long sweeping movements down Leif's back from his neck to the top of his tail, and repeat these movements down either flank.

The soft bristles of the Zoom Groom collect lots of dead fur and also add a shine to his coat as they disperse the natural oils he produces across his body.

Thanks to the great handling he received as a puppy in his training days he loves to be groomed and he will often move about so I can get to both sides easily.

Sometimes he will seem to enter an almost trance like state.

After just a few sweeps of the Zoom Groom, it looks like this:

See how effective the Kong Zoom Groom is?

This was remember just one days fur, both his soft under coat and course top coat fur has been lifted.

All that is left to do is to give him a quick finishing brush with a soft bristle hand brush to finish.

The Kong Zoom Groom is quickly cleaned as the fur pulls straight off the teeth to be disposed of easily.

For day to day dog care the Zoom Groom is probably the most useful item in my dog care kit. I love it and so does Leif.

There is a Skunk Out there!

Tonight is going to be a sleepless night I think.

The night is humid, unusual for this part of California. I live on the brink of a  desert you see. Nights are often cool if not cold and the air is normally very dry. But tonight I can hear an owl hooting outside my open but screened window and there is a soft rustling from beneath my zuccini plants. The air is also filled with the thick scent of skunk.

Leif, my black labrador retriever and guide dog, is blissfully snoring in his sleep. But I am here, wide awake and waiting for a chance to sleep.

Skunks are pretty common in my yard. I live at the edge of town, just yards from open fields and a dry creek bed. It seems that the skunks come in from the fields to pickover my neighbors cat's food. A couple of my neighbors have cats, some of which use my house to sleep in during the heat of the day. Leif  doesn't pay much attention to them, and they mostly ignore him too.

But the presence of cat food is of course very attractive to the local skunks who would possibly even die without the added suplement to a meagre diet of frogs and maybe the occasional snail. Humans water their lawns, build garden ponds  and such, turning this part of the desert green and feeding the cute but smelly little critters in the process.

If you have never smelled skunk it is not an unpleasant odour in moderation.

As they go about their business, they smell of sulphur. Strike a match just enough to make it sputter and spark, it will produce a thick sulpherous smelling smoke, this is pretty close to the calm smell of a skunk.

When panicked or feeling threatened  though the skunk squirts a thick oily liquid from glands under its tail. This is a million times more pungent than their normal scent. It will make you vomit in seconds and doesn't even have to land on you to make your eyes water and nose run and you will stink for days.

So where normally I might consider going outside to sit on my porch in the dark to wait for sleep to come, tonight I am here typing away

With a skunk out there. I am staying safe inside. Tonight the night can belong to the owls and skunks.

Goodnight friends.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Almost One Year Ago ...

It is hard to believe that it is almost one year ago, Memorial Day 2013, that I had my home visit from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

I was so nervous then. It was an important step and my aim was to impress on them that I was a good candidate  for their training program.

The day came hot and although we started early, my visitor arrived at 9 am on the dot, and we were out and about by 10 am, it was exhausting mentally.

I had to show her a regular route that I walked and along the way she made reccommendations as to the suitability of the route for a guide dog. The  walk to my workplace took about forty minutes with regular stops for me to give explanations for my route choice and for her to give me feedback.

The route home was all  Juno work. "Juno" is the name given to the training harness used by students. The instructor pretends to be a dog in harness and asks the student to follow, and consider corrections and encouragement of a real guide, so you get to feed the invisible dog and talk to it too.

That portion of the morning took aboutt an hour as the instructor assessed my direction finding abillities, even leading me around the local Taco Bell parking lot in circles to see whether I could maintain a sense of direction.

This may seem silly but you soon find when working with a dog, a sense of direction is a must have quality. If your dog leads you around an obstacle you may have done several ninety degree turns in no time and if you can't tell your original direction of travel you can quickly become very lost.

Well after all that. The visitor told me she  was reccomending me for training. A month later I received my invitation for a start date in October.

All those weeks were blogged in my "... Days to Dog Day" series. Now over six months have passed since graduation and I have a great guide in Leif my two year old black Labrador Retriever.

Leif, a male Black Labrador Retriever
Sits in his Guide Dogs for the Blind Harness.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Eurovision Song Contest.

One of the great things about modern technology is that I can hear radio from half way around the world live.

I have just spent the afternoon listening to the Eurovision Song Contest on Radio Two from the B.B.C.

I used to love listening to Radio 2 back at home in England. So I was glad that the dear old "Auntie Beeb" adopted internet technology very early on.

Today or tonight if you are in Europe was one of the highlights of the year, the often controversial, sometimes camp, always over politicized Eurovision Song Contest.

The Contest is now over sixty years old. Created in the early days after World War Two and the "Cold War", it was meant officially to tie European national bbroadcasting systems together for joint ventures. The contest is a Song contest where each nation competes for the title of Song for Europe winner.

It has thrown up a lot of silly songs in its history, too many to count really. But ocassionally there is a jewel.

Forty years ago I well remember seeing a new group from Sweden get up to sing some little ditty called "Waterloo".  The group was of course ABBA and they went on to become pretty famous.

Tonight we heard Austria win. A very good song, well sung, but whether Conchita Wurst will become an international sensation with the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" is to be seen.

But Conchita does get one other claim to fame, the first bearded drag queen to win the competition. Now that picture comes over much better on radio I guess?

You can listen to BBC Radio 2 online here

The Youtube video above is the winning song. Not a bad song really. As one announcer described it, "like a Bond movie  theme." and Conchita does have a Shirley Bassey quality to his voice.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shoe Time for Doggies

This last week has been pretty warm here in Central California. Temperatures have hit the high 80's on several days and even approached the 90's.

That is of course togh on us humans. But for Guide Dogs it can mean disaster.

I am not talking of the obvious danger of overheating, from being out in the sun.

The heat we feel is mostly air temperature, hot in the air five or six feet above the ground can be blisteringly  hot on the surface. Burning hot on tough but delicate paws.

So last week-end I dug out the doggie boots, that Guide Dogs provided us with last November.

While it is about the time doggies who have had a freezing winter to endure are casting off their boots for a season or two, dogs like Leif must now endure the indignity of wearing boots.

Leif hates his boots, he walks like a trotting horse. High lifting gate with each paw thumping hard into the ground. Looks funny but better than a dog with blistered paws.

He will get used to them in a few weeks I am certain of that. But in the meantime we raise a smile from some passers by.

A blind man and his doggie in red boots is a pretty remarkable sight I am sure.