Having resolved the Christmas Gift Mystery (thanks Dale Leibach), I can’t leave Christmas behind without mention another gift.
I have a hard time shopping for other people. It’s rare that I pick a really good gift. I did hit a home run one Christmas. I gave Nancy tickets to see her favorite singer in concert in Paris. That wasn’t the home run. Since Nancy knew then (and knows now) that I’m always looking for an excuse to go to Paris, the gift was a scratch single at best. It was better than the year, now over 40 years ago, that I gave her a vacuum cleaner (no matter what she says or how urgently she says it, never, ever believe that your wife wants you to buy her a vacuum cleaner as a present), but it was just a little better.
That same year, though, I also gave her a big black trash bag full of my “Saturday shirts”, those frayed, ratty, but really comfortable clothes that I wore after a week of suits, starched shirts, and ties. Nancy had been after me to throw them away for years. Now, that was the home run.
This has been a home run year for me.
Nancy’s niece, Lee, and her husband, Peter Zdankiewicz, sent me — I mean Nancy and me — a box full of polish sausages from Piast Meats. Behold:
You see before you wood-smoked Kielbasa, uncooked Kielbasa Biala, and Boczek Gotowany-Hedzony (a cooked and smoked bacon). It came with a 2020 calendar with some good-looking recipes, including a beef roulade wrapped in bacon. Yum.
I’ve been a huge fan of Polish sausages since an Army buddy, John Kalinchok of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, shared delicious, garlicky polish sausages with me. A prince among men. I went home to Hazleton with John once to a big family gathering. There was much good-nature ribbing between Polish and Italian relatives, and someone turned to me and asked, “What are you?” Growing up in Alabama back in the day, there emphatically were just two choices, and I hadn’t given ethnicity a lot of thought. I answered, “part English, part Irish, and part German Shepherd.”
That same weekend, a carload of us went to a big rock concert, but had to leave early. We had parked illegally on the shoulder of I-80, and when we got to the car we found that we had been blocked in by cars parked in the right-hand lane of the interstate. I adapted, improvised, and overcame. Using a coat hanger, I managed to get inside 11 cars and pushed each one forward enough to create a space through which we could exit. Leaving the 11 cars literally bumper to bumper, we left, offering others a solid opportunity to adapt, improvise, and overcome.
I digress. Back to the sausages and bacon. My first effort, promptly on our return from a post-Christmas trip to Key West (stay tuned), was to sauté some of the smoked Kielbasa with some shrimp, onions, and garlic. Very good, if I do say so. In addition to trying the calendar recipes, I’ll be cooking some with white beans, with potatoes, and in soups; and I’ll throw some on a roll with some mustard and horseradish. I’m excited. Really excited. Lee and Peter really hit a home run.
As always, I’m eager to experiment and broaden my horizons, and I welcome your suggestions of ways to prepare the sausage and bacon.
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