Germans + Meat + A Birthday + Beer = Awesome

This past weekend was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I had been traveling with work my past two birthdays and when I found out that this past weekend was open, I was pumped. Then, I learned that it was my family’s annual butchering weekend and we would be able to be home for it … my month was made!

If there is one thing you must know, my entire family (mom AND dad’s sides) are all a big bunch of Germans. My grandparents spoke German as their primary language until they reached confirmation-age. I say “puschen” instead of “house slipper” … which I didn’t realize until college that people didn’t call house slippers, “puschens”. Scott and I danced to polka music at our wedding. We love a good chicken dinner with German potato salad. And who can forget all the beer?!

But my absolute favorite tradition that we continue to keep is making our own summer sausage, slim jims, pork sausage and bratwursts. We have family from all over gather together in my uncle’s basement to cut, season and grind meat. We stuff the meat into casings using an 1883 cast-iron meat press thing and then hang the meat in my grandpa’s smoke house where we smoke it and let it cure for a few weeks. We call this weekend, BUTCHERING … and it is awesome.

Prepping all the meat isn’t what gets me excited about this weekend, but rather my crazy, hilarious family. They are seriously nuts, but I wouldn’t trade a single one of them in any day.

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It was also my birthday this past weekend. My culinary-savvy aunt made a German chocolate cake and also a carrot cake with all the February birthdays that we were celebrating. They were sooo good!

Everyone started first thing in the morning prepping the meat by cutting off all the fat, drinking some awesome brews and eating way too many homemade cookies and awesome snacks.

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Once all the meat is cut into chucks we pour on the special seasonings.

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Once all of the seasonings have been massaged into the meat it is time for it to run through the grinder.

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Then, it is time to put the meat into casings. Warning … your hands might get a little …. er …. meaty during this step as Scott demonstrates below.

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Then the meat is squeezed into casings using an 1883 cast-iron meat press … or at least that’s what I call it!

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Next we bring in the children and subject them to child labor by sealing the bratwursts and pork sausage into bags to be frozen (these aren’t hung in the smoke house). Gotta start these little ones young. We may or may not pay them in cookies. And don’t mind their strange hair-dos …. sometimes we get a little bored and have to entertain ourselves!

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This weekend isn’t all work, though. We like to have fun with the kiddos:

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All the birthday kids got to blow out some candles:

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And I also had to squeeze in a selfie with the husband:

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After everything was cleaned up we headed over to my grandpa’s house (complete with a pink door that my grandma loved) to hang the summer sausage and slim jims in the smoke house.

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And this is when it gets crazy. All the “cousins” stay the night at grandpa’s house, he takes out his hearing aids, and we have a meat smoking party. We have to stay up all night and make sure the smoke is still going in the smoke house. So, we play games, drink adult beverages, and eat some more. It’s wonderful. It makes me so incredibly thankful for the hysterical motley crew that we are. Here is the smoke house:

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After a night of no sleep, we all made a huge breakfast and then we headed home for a shower, nap and the next round of my birthday weekend.

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We made a pit-stop by my aunt’s house to pick up a shelving unit (exciting things planned for this baby!)

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Then, we headed over to see Scott’s family. Scott’s grandma made an AMAZING apple pie and our adorable little nephew helped me blow out the candles, gave me tons of kisses, and played with balloons for hours. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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So, that was our whirl-wind of a weekend. It was the best birthday I’ve had in a while!

What about you? Any crazy traditions that you keep with your family? Scott and I are thinking of adding a beer brewing portion to our butchering weekend … maybe even bring Scott’s dad over to play accordion. Now THAT would be fun. 🙂

– Allie

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