NewBook, Sausage Balls, and the Real World

NewBook has lost 10K words as I’ve read my way carefully through it, distracted far too often by phone-spam, weather, and of course politics. Most of the 10K were inline with recommendations from early readers, and leave room for tightening the plot.   However, one of the other annoying aftermaths of the concussion is that when I look at the gaps, I do not quickly think what should go there in what order, even if (in two other files, Timeline and Ideas) there’s stuff that can, or will, go in.  My ability to mentally squint and see/imagine how it will read if R goes before or after K…is much weaker.

We are having a whop-dolloping winter storm, for this part of Texas in February.  Two days ago we had sunshine, wildflowers popping out, several bushes popping their buds and showing flowers (including two of my faves, elbowbush and rusty blackhaw viburnum. )   I was running out to the barn in shirtsleeves.  Both these bushes can stand hard freezes up until the buds pop.  The inner bud scales give some protection from overnight frosts.  But this…hours and hours of below freezing w/o a day’s warmth for recovery, and the last night of this mess is supposed to take us down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  WAY below our usual “frost-low” of maybe 28 for an hour or so before dawn.  Bluebonnets, the state flower, can handle hard freezes in the rosette stage, but once the rosettes lift up (bulge on top) they’re also susceptible to low temperatures.   Last night it went below freezing in a cold fog, then we got thunderstorms as the temps dropped, with rain (first) then freezing rain, then sleet.  An ice storm effect with every limb and twig covered in ice for hours.  Icicles…and this is the warmest day of the bunch.  We won’t see above freezing and subshine again until Tuesday, right after the lowest low.  Max stress on the spring growth.   Also on the line electricity, which has glitched repeatedly this afternoon.  Our heat is propane, but won’t come on without the electricity because modern systems work that way.  My stove is electric.

The horses are not making it easy, either.  I’m about to layer myself into not-quite-warm-layers to give them early night hay, and then go out again around midnight to be sure they have some unfrozen water.  Tigger, whose mane is longer, had icicles in his mane and tail earlier.  He’d stood out in the sleet, staring into the distance, got back in the barn and the sleet melted, making him wetter and colder.  He was shivering a lot at one point.  But let me catch him and blanket him?  No.   (Addendum–R did my 8-8-30 pm check for me.  I’ll go between 11:30 and midnight.)

To add to the fun, we were due a propane delivery today, but the propane company called in the morning and said they couldn’t get to us because of the road conditions (since this is an unusual storm, this area’s never prepared for icy or snowy roads.)   The wintry stuff wasn’t supposed to be here until Friday.

But one spot of warm joy this evening was an indulgent supper of sausage balls.

We ate 22 of the  24 we made, dipping them in either or both ranch dressing &  a cranberry/pepper relish  from New Canaan Farms, Dripping Springs, TX, near Austin.  Both were excellent with the sausage balls.  Hot out of the oven…great.  Unlike the South Your Mouth recipe, we used the “hot” version of Owen’s Country Sausage, which I like better than Jimmy Dean’s.


21 thoughts on “NewBook, Sausage Balls, and the Real World

  1. We too have cold, some snow and bitter winds, it hasn’t been this cold here since 1995, so I sympathise! At least the vegetation round here is used to being cold at this time of year, and we haven’t had enough snow to damage anything locally, although its been far worse elsewhere in the UK. I hope you don’t either run out of propane or have too many electricity glitches to keep reasonably warm. Sausage balls sound like perfect comfort food for the weather.

    I hope the matching of ideas and time lines with gaps goes better in the coming days. I find that being cold really doesn’t help with thinking, even not being cold, but having the wind howling round the house will affect my brain, so I’m being frustratingly slow at the moment.

    1. Jazzlet, I made a discovery today about sausage balls. We had a small amount of the mixed sausage, cheese, and Bisquick mix left, and I had a “young” soup on…and it occurred to me that maybe the sausage balls could behave like dumplings if put in boiling soup broth. I took some broth from the main soup, put it in a small saucepan, got it bubbling, and dropped in two sausage balls. In short: amazeballs. The biscuit mix rose, so did the sausage balls, and soon were delicious little “dumplings” in the broth. We each had three in some broth and it made a wonderful, very spicy, lunch on a cold grey day. This will happen again!!

  2. It’s bitterly cold here in London, too – has been for nearly a week, and no sign of a thaw until Saturday. Unusual. Fortunately we didn’t get much snow, just enough that one could see animal and bird prints in it, and it’s been so cold it’s melted directly without making a slushy mess everywhere. London doesn’t do snow very well, but I suppose it’s easier in lockdown as there is less traffic on the roads. Allegedly.

    1. We’d rather have snow than ice, but…nobody gets to pick. I’ve been in London in January and it wasn’t bitter, though quite cold enough for someone from much farther south. Glad I had wool on!!

  3. Hi – glad to see you are still going. Don’t worry about book – we can wait. Would you have a collaborator to help with book? And what about the two remaining meatballs? Inquiring minds want to know. I had my first covid shot yesterday, Thursday, and my arm has not fallen off yet.

    Be safe and be sane

    Jonathan up here in frozen New Hampshire

    1. Glad you got your first shot! My arm’s over the first shot; the second will be March 1, God willin’ and the crick don’t rise (or the ice storm blow…it’s farther away than Killeen was.)

      The two remaining…the horses? Yes. Fine so far. Being pampered in this more serious cold spell with extra hay, warm water lugged out from the house (R can haul 5 gallons in a plastic water container from house to barn…I can haul a 1 gallon bucket) and a visit (that they don’t appreciate unless they get treats) every couple of hours or so from morning until midnight. I lost a horse to colic on a cold, rainy night when I was sick and R- didn’t know that “not finishing his feed” was a serious warning sign. In the morning, the horse was dead. Still have guilt problems about that. This time I will personally put eyes on the guys multiple times/24 hr.

  4. When we lived in the mountains (Sierra Nevada, 5200′), our backup for utilities was a Coleman two burner camp stove, lanterns (battery and kerosene), and a wood stove. In our fifteen winters there we only had to melt snow for water once. Be careful, stay warm. Shame about the plants, though.

    Are you open to title suggestions for New Book?

    1. Title suggestions? You betcha!

      Last spring, before COVID (or before those of us here knew about it) I knew I needed to replace some old stuff, and get new lamp oil for the two (large, small) oil lamps we had. Unfortunately, I caught my usual post-Christmas winter cold in January, and it went to my chest, and I didn’t get out and about until a week before I realized it was stupid to be in crowded stores even in Austin (“even in” as if Austin isn’t a high-destination travel point and South X Southwest was within a week or so of arriving. We thought.) That left me without many things that would be useful now, including things I need to try on because size changes. However…the power is still on, the horses are amazingly cheerful so far (not that cold yet, only got down to 20F) and eating like the hayburners they are. We’re getting warm water to them every couple of hours, poured in with the cold water so that doesn’t freeze. Their poops are the right consistency; their pee is ample (they’re peeing in the barn now…and I guess if I had to let down gelding “junk” on a cold day I’d prefer to be out of the worst of the wind and standing on something that would minimize splash-back.) No sign of colic in either.

      We used to have a propane heater we could pull in and hook up to the remaining open gas spigot in the house, in the kitchen, but decided that wasn’t really safe, so I don’t even know where it is. If we do run out of propane, we’ll turn off the water, drain the pipes, and huddle.

  5. I was in Waxahachie in the winter of ’78-79 when it did freezing rain and sleet over Christmas vacation and again on President’s Day weekend. I well remember that Texas doesn’t have the equipment to handle that kind of weather. Moved back to Arizona at the end of the semester in May and didn’t go back. It wasn’t only because of the weather but this Arizona desert girl doesn’t handle cold very well. Thinking of you and the power stays on. My maternal grandmother’s family lived around Burnet from 1880 – 1910 or so, I wonder if they often had freezes.

  6. Glad to hear of progress on NewBook, and gladder that I’m in Georgia, one of the few places in the country escaping this winter storm.
    And that’s my sausage ball recipe, too (3 cups of Bisquick, yes….). I’ve got a tattered 3×5 index card with it carefully typed out from sometime in the 1970’s, I think, though once I got a food processor that took over the tough mixing step. I’ll have to try them as dumplings–usually I make them into balls and freeze most of them to be doled out in semi-reasonable servings.

    1. Found out in the recent freeze-up that baking or boiling is better than trying to fry them in an iron skillet over an open fire when the open fire’s what you’ve got. We dropped the rest into the soup on the BBQ grill and they were delicious.

  7. Here up north we’re getting our (longer than usual) January (later than usual) deep freeze. Coming this late in the winter we know it’s not going to last and, indeed it’s supposed to warm up quickly now–think the difference from between just at freezing and a pleasant early summer afternoon over the next 48-72 hours.

    I have been reminding people that this has been a good cold snap as it’s the one natural predator we have to help kill off the emerald ash larvae and slow the spread of that scourge to our trees.

  8. Just got to the end of (for us) long cold snap near london UK. Was negative (centrigade) for a few days – could walk on the ice on the pond in the garden, but expecting to get to double figures Centigarde (50’s F) most of this week. Hope you get a warm up soon.

  9. Glad to hear that you are doing well. I hadn’t seen anything from you on Facebook since late October and was concerned; Jonathan Schor let me know about this blog. I am fine, though it is quite cold here in north Alabama; we had an inch of snow and the low this morning was 14! Most of the snow is gone now, and the high today was 33. Looking forward to spring. Good luck to you!

    1. It’s now over a week since this storm started here, and we just got power back today, no water yet, and other little problems like 4+ inches of snow with a frozen crust on top. Our low was 1 degree…inside the house this morning was 39F.We had below freezing, day and night, from last Saturday through this morning at 15F. Expected to get above freezing this afternoon. 10:18 am, 2/19.2021

  10. Glad to have found you again. I miss your posts on Facebook, but technology really sucks sometimes. I’ll have to try those sausage balls. They sound amazing.

  11. I hope you’re staying well despite the terrible weather down there, and it’s good to hear more about your book, and of course your food adventures. Be well!

  12. Hope you are doing ok – do you have power, and do you have water enough for the boys? Your local news showed Florence as needing to boil water.

  13. I would recommend getting a single burner propane gas camping stove, they run on gas canisters and are absolutely brilliant when the power goes off, as happens here from time to time, funny how I always crave a cup of tea as soon as it does. Actually, that’s all I have to cook on on the boat, as my husband hasn’t gotten around to installing the marine stove yet, he suffers from Chronic Fatigue syndrome and we spend rather less time on the boat than we had expected. It is also a two hour drive to the lake which doesn’t help, but we hope to buy a house near the lake this year.

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