Posts Tagged With: Recipes

Bacon Dove Poppers and an Update

As you can tell, I’ve had a hard time keeping the blog updated lately.  I have really been enjoying Texas.  We’ve taken a few trips to the beach and we have a camping trip or two in our future as well.

Homesteading wise things have been going slow.  Very slow.  Thank goodness for the CSA shares.

The garlic I smuggled down here to S.A. with me from Denver did not make it.  I thought I would cry over it, but instead I just bitterly yanked out the plants from their pots.  Our compost bins (a tumbler set-up we bought when we got here) is awesome, though.  Full of black fly larva (!!) and cooks in just days.  It’s truly amazing.

We finally got a plot in the community garden in our neighborhood.  Its a 4’x8′ bed.  So far we have tomatoes, chard and kale planted.  It feels strange to be planting things now, but we are happy to have our hands in the dirt.

I began work on organizing a chicken coop tour here.  There was a lot of excitement generated at the beginning but it has fizzled out a bit.  The interest is really strong, but the city ordinances restrict the number of allowed chickens to three without a permit, and I had quite a few coop owners back out for fear of getting caught with too many birds.  Sound familiar Denver?  We’ll try again soon and hopefully the tour will actually happen.

Otherwise I’ve been busy with schooling the kiddos and trying to meet people, as well as checking in with friends and family to see that they are safe in all the flooding back home in Colorado (so far they all are).

Rick had a work sponsored dove hunt a couple of weeks ago.  He took H with him and they had a grand time.  H got to have is first (and second and third) soda pop.  He had two Sprites and a Coke, plus a Gatorade.  He filled up on chips and beef jerky, came home with a pocket knife (the prize for being the youngest “hunter”), a rubber copperhead snake which he found near a truck tire, a $20 bill for retrieving the birds, and a bag of spent shotgun shells, which Rick promised to pay him a nickel a shell.  He had over 200 shells.  He was the youngest of only a handful of kids there, was newly missing his front teeth, and Rick’s boss and co-workers completely spoiled him.

They brought home 8 doves and a pigeon.  Rick froze the pigeon whole and kept the wings to train our dog with later (I did tell you we got a dog, right?), and breasted out the doves.

We had a nice heap of jalapenos from the CSA, so of course we made poppers.  They are simple to make, and as with all things made with bacon, delicious.  We tried some with and some without cream cheese.  I preferred them with and Rick preferred them without.  But they were good both ways.  Also in our pictures you can see a couple of bell pepper pieces in there which we used to make a mild popper for the wee kids.

Grilled Bacon Dove Jalapeno Poppers

Breasts from 8 doves (16 pieces)
8 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
Cream Cheese (optional)
8 slices of bacon, halved
16 toothpicks

After slicing and scraping out your jalapenos, schmear each pepper with some cream cheese.  Lay one dove breast half on each pepper.  Wrap each pepper half with a half-a-slice of bacon and skewer closed with a tooth pick.  Place poppers into a grill basket, and grill over a hot fire until the bacon is done, turning often.  Keep an eye on them as the bacon fat can easily light up the coals.  Remove toothpicks and enjoy.

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Categories: Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce and Peach-Cranberry Pie

I hope you aren’t tired of all the recipes I’ve been posting lately.  These next two are actually reprints of recipes I posted back in 2009.  They are so good, however, that they’ve become Thanksgiving favorites.  Both recipes serve about 8 people.

I really love this cranberry sauce.  I have a couple of family members who still prefer the can shaped stuff, but this has been a hit with the rest.  It makes a large batch, which means leftovers and that makes me happy.

Orange-Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
Makes 3½ cups sauce

2 packages fresh cranberries (24oz each)
1.5 cups sugar
4 large strips of orange peel
1/2 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Rinse and drain cranberries.  In a large sauce pan, add cranberries, sugar, orange peel and water.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes.  Add rosemary sprigs and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and stir in orange juice.  Reserve 1 cup of sauce for the pie.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a week.  To serve, bring to room temperature and remove rosemary and orange peel, garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

The next recipe is a pie that went from a way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce (a great way), to a planned Thanksgiving day dessert.  Rick looks forward to this pie all year long now.

I typically use frozen peaches that we harvested from the Western slope in the summer time.  Fresh peaches would certainly work as well, but they are not really at their peak around Thanksgiving.  Sometimes the frozen peaches release A LOT of juice.  If they are super juicy, I throw a handful or so of rolled oats into the pie filling to soak it up.  This is totally optional, of course.  If you don’t like oats in your pie, just pour off some of the excess juice before adding the peaches into the filling mixture.

Peach-Cranberry Pie

1 home-made pie crust for a double crust pie
6 cups frozen, sliced, unsweetened peaches, defrosted and undrained
1 cup left-over orange-rosemary cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 3/4 cup rolled oats (optional)
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 375°.  Put bottom pie crust in a deep-dish pie plate.  Stir together peaches, cranberry sauce, sugar, flour and, if needed, oats.  Pour into prepared crust.  Dot with butter and top with second crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Cover edges of pie crust with foil if the top is browning too quickly.  Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

This pie is pretty topped with a lattice crust, like I did last year, but I’ve also just thrown chunks of extra rolled out dough on top, or even used a cast iron skillet and only a top crust with simple slits cut into it.  This year I plan to cut slits into my top crust to look like a rosemary sprig.  Wish me luck with that fanciness.  ;)

Next week I’ll announce the winner of the DVD giveaway.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Here is another recipe from this year’s hunting trip.  It’s a potpie that I made ahead and froze so that up at the cabin, all we had to do was pop it in the oven.

This recipe was originally inspired by a chicken potpie recipe I found in my Everyday Food magazine. I use dusky (blue) grouse in this recipe, but pheasant or other upland birds would be just as tasty. You can certainly also substitute chicken or some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Before making this recipe, I clean and cook the grouse to make a stock. In a large pot, add the grouse, an onion (chopped), celery, garlic, parsley and salt. If you skinned your grouse, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Cover everything with water and simmer for an hour or more until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth is flavorful. Remove the grouse from the pot, shred the meat, and strain the broth. I usually end up with more broth than I need for this recipe. I freeze any extra for later use.

When we make the potpie, we try to use all locally grown ingredients (with the exception of the chili powder). We use green chiles and corn frozen from our summer CSA, onions and garlic from the garden, and tomatoes we canned ourselves. I like to use hot Chimayo chili powder from New Mexico.

Colorado Blue Grouse Potpie

Ingredients:
1 homemade pie crust
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 TBS butter
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 TBS chili powder
½ cup flour
28oz can of diced tomatoes (or a pint-and-a-half of home-canned tomatoes), juice reserved
4 cups grouse broth
2 cups corn kernels
5 ounces roasted, peeled green chiles, diced
Meat from a whole grouse or two, cooked and shredded
Coarse salt

For the filling:
Melt butter in a large pot or deep-sided skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder, and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in flour and cook until all the onion is well coated. Pour in the broth and tomato juice, whisking to make sure there are no lumps of flour. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in corn, chiles and grouse.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured work surface, roll out the pie crust to ⅛-inch thickness. Transfer filling to a 9×13 pan (or other two-quart baking dish). Top the pan with the crust, folding over the edges. With a sharp knife, cut slits in the crust.

Place the pan on a baking sheet (to catch any spills), and bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove pot pie from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

The potpie can be assembled and frozen ahead of time. To bake from frozen, bake for 1-¼ hours at 425°.

Serves 6-8 hungry hunters.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

We just got home from our annual week-long hunting trip.  While hunting is a big deal in our family, the trip itself is a lot of fun for other reasons.  One of them is that my sister-in-law an I love to cook.  Here is one of the recipes we had last week up at the cabin.  It’s one of Rick’s favorites, that I’m happy to share.

This recipe serves about 4 people, but is easily doubled or tripled. I usually cook by feel so don’t be afraid to taste as you go and adjust the ingredients to suit your own tastes.  Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, and the strength of your bourbon, the potatoes can be a little strong.  It’s best to start with a 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon and add more until you like the flavor.  We like the potatoes bourbon-y but not boozy, if you know what I mean.  ;)

Maple-Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup cream or half-and-half
¼ cup good bourbon +/-
¼ cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt

Place sweet potatoes in a medium pot and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Add the cream, syrup and bourbon with a pinch of salt to the potatoes and mix well. Serve hot with a seared back strap and a simple green salad.

 
Make sure to enter the Old Fed Co. “Ax Skills for the Homestead and Wilderness Survival” DVD giveaway before November 21, 2012!
Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Removing Bitterness from Eggplant without Salt

Some years are corn years and some are melon years.  This year is the year of the eggplant.  I keep seeing pictures of beautiful aubergines all over Facebook, from the West coast all the way to New York.  Local Kitchen has called it “Eggplantocalypse 2012,” a term which totally cracks me up.

It seems like eggplant is either a love-it or hate-it fruit.  I think a lot of people want to love it, because lets face it, eggplant is beautiful.

I received this amazing Nubia eggplant in my CSA share last week.

The problem is eggplant tends – heavily – toward the bitter.  Coupled with its weird texture, it just becomes hard to palate.

Eggplant also has a thick, rubbery skin.  Unless I really feel sentimental about its pretty color, I usually peel it completely.  I will at the very least peel half.  In general, the skin is a bit too tough to really enjoy.

I’ve heard all about salting eggplant to help remove the bitterness, but honestly, I don’t like this process.  I’ve never felt it helped all that much, plus it takes too long.

I recently read a novel in which a French man taught a young South American boy to cut and cook an eggplant.  The Frenchman told the boy to remove the seeds.  The boy forgot, but cut the eggplant so beautifully, the man did not care.

This got me thinking, “How would one remove the seeds from an eggplant?  Why would you, since they are totally edible.”  But then I remembered that eggplant is a member of the nightshade family.  It’s the same plant family as tomatoes and peppers.  The pith and seeds of bell peppers are bitter.

I decided to try it.  I sliced my eggplant length-wise and used a spoon to scrape out as many seeds as I could.

Then I chopped it and cooked it up in some ratatouille.

It was sweet and delicious.

Could it have been a fluke!?  Rick suggested I try it again to prove my theory.  So I did, again and again.

All summer long, we’ve been enjoying sweet eggplant… without salting it.

Suddenly I’m hearing my three-year-old say, “I love eggplant.”

I felt like I discovered a whole new way to get kids to eat eggplant!  Wait, no…  I know how to get people to eat eggplant!

It’s magic!!  I know how to remove the bitterness from eggplant!

I searched online to see if anyone else knew about this.  There wasn’t much, although I did discover that eggplant is also related to tobacco and that is why the seeds are so bitter.

There are a few applications when seeding an eggplant is not really desirable, like eggplant parmesan or for a pizza.  For those recipes I use a Japanese eggplant instead, as they tend to be less bitter to start with.

For everything else, seeding is the way to go for me.

Easy Lunch-Time Summer Pasta with Eggplant

1 eggplant
1/2 small zucchini
1 bell pepper, any color
1 large heirloom tomato
olive oil, salt and pepper
pasta, any shape

Slice, peel and seed eggplant.  Seed and chop pepper, halve and slice zucchini and chop tomato.  Combine and toss all with olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow pan.  Roast in a medium-hot oven (375-400°) for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, being careful not to over cook.  If the eggplant roasts too long it will become mushy.

Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  Reserve 1/3- to ½-cup pasta water and drain.  Toss cooked pasta with roasted vegetables and reserved pasta water.  Enjoy.

And, here’s the proof…

Categories: CSA, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Wild Elk and Venison Jerky on Northwest Edible

From the Native Americans to The Hunger Games, people have carried jerky.  You know that if the zombie apocalypse hits, you’ll want some too.

I’m so excited that Erica at Northwest Edible Life has allowed me to do a guest post on her blog about my favorite way to preserve meat.

Rick got this recipe from his mom.  All the men in Rick’s family are big-time hunters, and my mom-in-law is the designated jerky maker for the family.  Her sons, brothers and dad all drop meat off at her house to have her transform it into this good stuff.

I’m sharing the secret recipe over at Northwest Edible.

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Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Venison Stew

When Rick and I got married, though I possessed a decent degree of skill in cooking, my meals were rarely balanced (“chicken breast is dinner… what to you mean what else are we having?”).  It took some time for me to learn that a meal included more than one thing.  But there was an exception to this; soups and stews.

I grew up in a home that made soups and stews regularly.  They were a staple in my parents’ home.  Both of my parents worked outside the home, so my mom is proficient at pressure cooking which made soup an easy weeknight meal.  She is also the master of slow cooking a stew for hours to get it just right.  I used to tell people my favorite foods were easy to remember; sushi, steak and soup!  (Mom makes a mean rare rib-eye too).  It’s tradition for our family to have a big pot of potato soup on Christmas day, which keeps everyone out of the kitchen and allows us to spend time together as a family instead.

I don’t know how Rick felt about stew before we got married.  I don’t get the impression that he had it much growing up.  For me it’s soul food.  There is nothing so good as a hot, delicious soup to warm you up at the end of a long or cold day.  I think our kids feel the same way.  If you were to ask H what is favorite food is he will either tell you potato soup or chicken noodle soup – the homemade stuff – which is my favorite as well.

Naturally, having wild game in the freezer means venison stew shows up on the menu pretty often in our home.  This recipe is one that I’ve developed by marrying my mom’s beef stew with elements of a venison recipe that an ex-coworker of mine shared with me from some now-forgotten cookbook.

Venison Stew

8 slices of bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 lbs venison, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed with a garlic press
12 oz beer – something you like to drink, but not Guinness
4 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp black pepper
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
3-4 potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley, snipped

In a 4 quart dutch oven or other large pot, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and save for later.  Saute the onions over medium heat in the bacon grease until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and quickly brown the venison.  Add the garlic and saute for about 30 second.  Turn the heat back to medium and add beer, water and spices including salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about two hours.

When venison is nearly tender, add the carrots and potatoes.  Simmer, uncovered for another 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Taste for salt.  If you wish, thicken the stew by mixing 1 cup of cold water and 1/3 cup flour in a separate container and slowly add it to the stew while stirring.  Reheat the stew to boiling  for 1 minute.  Serve topped with reserved bacon and snipped parsley.

Categories: Food, Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Gamey Taste of Game Meat, Part I

Every so often I publish a blog post either about hunting or with a picture of an elk steak in it.  Usually after this I get at least one or two questions about how to prepare game meat so that it doesn’t taste so “gamey.”  I hear lots of people saying they would hunt but they don’t like the taste of the meat, or that they just don’t know how to cook it. Likewise, whenever we serve game to friends and family, we get lots of surprised comments about how flavorful and good the meat is, not at all gamey as they expected.

Since hunting season is just around the corner for many parts of the country, and since our family mainly eats game meat, I thought I’d share a bit about how we process and cook the meat, and how we deal with the “gaminess” of venison and other meats. Over the next couple of weeks I plan to publish a series of hunting related posts, including recipes for cooking wild game.

Making wild game into a delicious meal was learned through trial and error over the last nine years of cooking and processing game.  We’ve made some discoveries that have really helped us.  When people refer to venison as gamey they are either speaking of the toughness or dryness that often occurs when cooking the meat, the distinctly wild flavor, or both.  It’s a bit backwards but I’m going to talk about cooking game meat first.  This addresses the toughness and dryness of venison.  In part two, I’ll talk about harvesting and processing game and how that directly affects the taste of your meat.

Eye fillet of grass-fed beef.

Eye fillet of grass-fed beef. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Venison is not beef.

It might seem obvious, but deer, elk and antelope are all very different from cattle.

When you cook beef, the fat and marbling you should look for when buying a steak keeps the meat moist, tender and flavorful.  A delicious juicy steak depends on it’s fat.  Nicely marbled beef can be tender and choice even cooked past medium.  This is because cattle is mainly fed corn to fatten them up (literally, to fatten them).

If you’ve ever cooked grass-fed beef, you know what I’m talking about.  Grass-fed beef is leaner than conventional corn-fed beef.  Often grass-fed beef is “finished” on corn (meaning the last few weeks of it’s life it gets corn to add in some fat).  And even if it is not, grass-fed beef still has more fat than venison.  Cows are bred to stand around and eat.  Cattle ranchers make an effort to keep their cattle from using their muscles.  Even if not confined, they don’t want them running around.  They want lazy, fat, contented cows.  They want tender muscle.  1,400 pounds of well-marbled, tender muscle.

We all know a muscle that is exercised gets harder, tougher, stronger.

Elk fillet, same cut as beef shown above.

Deer (and certainly antelope) don’t just stand around all day filling their stomachs.  They live their lives using their muscles.  They have to keep on the move, running and jumping, staying away from predators.  They have to search out water and food.  Their food is not usually a lush field of grass or corn (unless they are Nebraskan whitetail).  It’s often patches of under-brush, sage and other soft-wooded plants.  Deer eat twigs and bark and shoots.  They are nearly fat-free beings, trim at 150 (or perhaps 400 for an elk) pounds, with the hardened muscles of athletes.

This means you can not cook venison the same way as you cook beef.  While you might like your beef steak medium- to medium-rare, your venison needs to be much closer to rare, else it becomes shoe leather.  It generally should not be cooked well-done or it will be ruined, dry and tough.

Likewise, grouse, pheasant and duck are not chickens.  You must add fat when cooking grouse and pheasant.  Duck is an entirely different bird and it’s breasts can be treated as red meat, cooked to medium-rare or medium.

How to cook wild game:

To start with, use thick cuts of meat.  If you get your game processed by a butcher, ask them to cut your steaks an inch thick or thicker.  Or if you process your meat yourself, use a ruler or make yourself a template when cutting, so your steaks don’t end up too thin.  The idea here is to preserve moisture as much as possible and not over-cook the meat.  Deer and elk steaks are going to be smaller than beef steaks anyway, so if your steaks are thicker, you have more leeway with this.  Remember, you can always cut your meat thinner if you need to later, or for other uses as you get used to cooking your game.

Venison greatly benefits from a marinade.  Most of the time we, at the very least, drizzle our elk, deer or antelope steaks with olive oil and let them sit in it for 20 minutes to half an hour before we cook them.  Olive oil, crushed garlic and thyme is a great, simple combination.

Before cooking we also add fat to the pan (or grill).  Heat your pan and add a bit more olive oil.  Then cook the steak, flipping once, being careful not to over-cook it.  Remember that venison is smaller and less forgiving than beef, so keep a close eye.

Bacon grease and lard are delicious, traditional ways to add fat to your venison.  A lard-seared elk steak, to die for.  Onions sauteed in bacon grease,  the perfect base for a venison stew.  Or keep it simple with olive oil.

After cooking, let your venison steaks rest for up to ten minutes, covered, before serving.

Notice that I didn’t mention salt?  This is because salt draws moisture from meat.  When cooking venison, salt should be added just before serving.

Important to remember here is that you can’t just take a beef recipe and make it into a venison recipe without accounting for the leanness of the meat.  You want to do your utmost to preserve the meat’s juices and moisture.

If you enjoy stir-fry and fajitas, I recommend using a flank-type steak, cooked whole to medium-rare and then thinly slicing.  Only add the sliced steak into the pan for the last few seconds (if at all).

Check out websites like Field and Stream’s The Wild Chef blog or Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook for lots of delicious, trusted game recipes.

If you’ve enjoyed what I’ve posted about cooking wild game so far, please subscribe to have my future posts shown in your RSS feed or emailed directly to your inbox by using the form in the sidebar at the right.  Thanks for reading.

Categories: Food, Hunting, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 25 Comments

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