I would prefer not to eat meat. I do not like the slaughter of animals to feed my desire or need for food. Frankly, I would prefer to be a vegetarian, but after many attempts to forgo flesh in my diet I have to acknowledge that my body needs it to remain balanced; if I go beyond two weeks, then I get edgy and aggressive in a way that benefits no one. Perhaps it is because I was raised on a mostly meat and potato diet from childhood, perhaps it relates to my AB blood type and the concept of the blood type diet, all I know is that I have not been successful making a full transition to vegetarianism. My solution to that is that I must focus on eating more fresh greens, fewer wheat products, and that all of the meat I do consume must be local and naturally raised. I want to know that the animal I take into my body has had the least trauma within its blood memory. I want to support farmers who see their livestock as animals in lieu of consumer products. I will pay more money for this peace, but I will also eat less meat, learn to use less popular cuts to my advantage, and educate myself about what flavours are gained by such efforts.
The sausage workshop that I attended as part of The Healthy Butcher Workshop series is one step towards working towards my goal of being able to buy whole/half animals and use it to its full extent with as little waste as possible. The snout to tail movement has become a little hipster lately, as hipsters order offal in droves to demonstrate their cool factor, but that is not where I aim my efforts. Instead, I want to be able to cut the muscles into portions and styles that will benefit my fictional family over an entire season. I want the bones for stock, the flesh for roasts, sausages, burgers and steaks. I do not need Maple Leaf to package my meat, and I sure as hell do not need McDonalds to process my burger.
Within the workshop, our host, Mario Fiorucci , took us through the process of how to make great sausages from local meat. We were informed how to grind, mix, case, and prep our masterpieces for service. The entire evening was a fun experience that moved us into groupings of four and provided us with a few snacks along the way. A highlight was the ingredient auction, wherein I was able to assert my alpha male teacher persona to ensure that my group secured the exact ingredients we wanted within the confines of the rules: white wine, sweet yellow pepper, fresh parsley and squeezed lemon juice. Our spice mixture included mustard seed, fennel seed, green peppercorns and salt; we had both colour and flavour on our side.
What I enjoyed most about the workshop, and indeed the entire series, has been to meet the eclectic groups of people who attend. Some are hunters who want to better process their kill, some are couples on dates, a few are CBC-types who want a cool experience to share at the next dinner party, but all of them are there to learn, which is rare in Toronto these days. In the past few months I have pushed hard to find a sense of community in this big, vacant city, and have done quite well by choosing a few activities around the topics that interest me most: food and photography. I take along my Canon EOS 1DmkIII with the 50mm 1.2. lens so that I can capture a few moments, and it helps me feel comfortable in a way that allows me not to be either the annoying ADHD student or the omniscient teacher. I need that, and I enjoy being allowed to express myself in this way by others. If I were using flash and posing people, then the goodwill would undoubtedly disappear.
The tough part was finding a balance between forcing the meat through the press at a constant pressure while filling the casing by matching a pressure to the output of the stuffing nozzle. My group, SuperWet, had a few accidents and spillage, but with practice I am certain the equilibrium would be found. Frankly, making sausages should probably be done in larger batches so as to ensure consistency. Personally, I would like to do it twice yearly and freeze the cased meat in the freezer for when I felt like what I knew would be great ingredients in pasta sauce, for breakfast or a late night barbecue.
I certainly took away what I wanted to gain from the workshop: a fun night, a valuable skill should the zombie apocalypse come upon us, and a few pounds of quality sausage. I also made a contact with a supplier of sausage casings for when I next take the time to work on preparing sausages for my pantry.
In other areas, I just got my film back from a portrait session I did with a Toronto comic, Simon McCamus. What will be most interesting is comparing how digital compares to both the 6x6cm and 4×5 inch film. One of my professional goals this year is to shoot ten 4×5 film portraits of artistic people I meet. The fact that each shot costs me a few minutes to set-up and costs $10 means that my focus has to be spot on or all is lost. I hope to scan the film tonight, so I should have samples and reflections up later in the weekend. I also need to consider where to take the photography business next. My tax invoices reflect a total of $27, 690 worth of business this year. My main camera is now four years old. One photograph I took had a circulation of 3 million while another should hit 30,000 notes on Tumblr today. I have an assistant. I am shooting my first wedding this summer. The question I have to ask is: where do I want my photography to go and how can I continue my artistic journey while remaining fiscally afloat?