Knowing how to prepare delicious foods gives you a triple benefit — nutrition, good morale, and independence. The influence of morale cannot be underestimated, because even after you cover caloric requirements, diet fatigue is a significant issue in extended survival situations. Variety and rich flavors are your friends.
By tradition, the men in my family have long been self reliant when it comes to cooking. In fact, my wife didn’t know the first thing about cooking until I taught her. After sitting all day at the computer, writing and video-editing, I find it relaxing to get in the kitchen and cook. My three boys all have a specified day of the week in which it is their duty to cook for our family of seven, and they’ve gotten very good at it.
I’m big into self reliance, but it’s not because I believe a man should be an island unto himself. Rather, it’s because I understand that the more productive is every man in community, the better it is for the community as a whole. That’s the basis of civilized society. In that sense, I don’t believe strictly in independence; I believe in interdependence. When I say we should be independent, I mean that we should be independent of individuals and agencies who don’t rightly have any responsibility for the need at issue. It’s not your obligation — or the community’s — to provide my food. It’s mine.
So not to overstate it, but being able to feed yourself in any situation is foundational to self-reliance.
To enhance your basic self reliance skills, you need to know how to prepare rich foods that travel well in your backpack. We have covered canning, dense breads, hardtack, beef jerky, and salt pork, and now it’s time to add to your repertoire of delicious food, so here’s a recipe for sausage balls.
Sausage Ball Recipe
Here follows the basic recipe. I wanted to show how to make it with ingredients that are common and easy to find. You can vary them as needed. We’ll discuss options below.
- 4 lbs mild sausage
- 2 lbs shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk, yoghurt, or milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix everything together except the cheese. Add more buttermilk if needed to keep the flour sticking to the sausage. Add cheese and kneed. Roll sausage balls about the size of golf balls. Bake 20 minutes and check for doneness.
Notes and Tips
- Don’t worry about mixing the cheese uniformly into the meat — it’s actually better if you have some clumps of cheese in the final sausage ball.
- Adding the cheese last helps keep it from tasting dry and “floury.”
- We’re using mild cheddar here, but sharp cheddar would give it a richer flavor and add a pleasant bitterness. Dubliner and Ballyshannon are creamier, sharper alternatives without the bitterness, and Gruyere cheese from Switzerland is my favorite, but it’s expensive. Try Gouda or Monterey Jack for a smoother, less grainy texture.
- Freeze uncooked sausage balls on cookie sheets, then store frozen in a plastic bag. Bake when needed, and add 5 minutes to the cooking time.
- Cooked sausage balls will travel in your backpack several days if you let them breathe. Wrap in a cloth, not plastic. I had mine in a baggie and they molded.
- If they get too dry, boil them.