For most of Dad’s career he was a meat-cutter/sausage maker. He began working for his father in the family meat market. One day Grandpa told Dad that he had taught Dad all he could. He encouraged Dad to find a new mentor.
Until he retired, the only break Dad took from meat-cutting was when he and Mom moved with Judy and me to Indian Hills. For several years, he drove a Blue Star potato chip delivery truck. He delivered potato chips, pretzels, and other snacks to taverns and small grocery stores. Occasionally we got a treat from the truck – my favorites were the big pretzel sticks and the sardines! (Mom remembered and many years later when I went off to Northern Illinois University, my first care package was big pretzel sticks!)
During the summer, Dad would take Judy or me along for a day. I loved riding in the truck with Dad. There was a hole in the floor. I remember being both fascinated and a little scared seeing the road go by beneath us. What I didn’t like was the way taverns smelled!
Dad eventually returned to cutting meat, making sausage and flirting over the counter. He was a natural at all three, but sausage-making was his favorite. He tweaked his recipes, adjusted spices until he felt that he had perfected Polish sausage, Italian sausage, and Bratwurst! (Dad loved creating and one of his other passions was wood-burning, but that is a story for another day!)
After we moved to the lake, family picnics became a regular summer occurrence with “brats” headlining the menu! I don’t know Dad’s recipe for making bratwurst, but I have included his recipe for cooking “brats” below. As he grew older and spent time reminiscing, he would often remind us, “Now this is how you cook brats…”
Place fresh brats in a pan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Turn off the heat and let brats sit in water until the grill is ready.
In a separate pan heat beer and add butter and sliced onion. Heat until the butter melts and then keep warm.
Brown the brats evenly on the grill. Remove and place in the beer mixture until you are ready to serve. When he reminisced, Dad would always say, “brown them until they are pretty all over.”
You don’t choose your family.
They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
– Desmond Tutu