Whitewing Season and Chocolate Cake

DSC_0134You may be wondering what whitewing season has to do with chocolate cake.  If you bear with me for a few minutes, not only will the connection become clear, but you’ll end up with a fabulous chocolate cake recipe as well.

Preparations had begun for the first big whitewing dove hunt of the season. Members of the Deerslayer (hopefully whitewing slayer) Clan would soon be converging on the southernmost part of Texas where the hunt would take place. All the accouterments necessary for the big weekend began to pile up in the front hallway; Yeti coolers, folding chairs, shotguns, gun cases, boxes of shells, shooting vests, all varieties of khaki and camo attire, boots and muck boots, plenty of thirst-quenching beverages, shears.  The pile grew and grew.  I could no longer get to the laundry room.

As the pile began to encroach on the surrounding environs, the Deerslayer’s wife developed an ever-so-slight twitch. The twitch was accompanied by a bout of crankiness. Don’t get me wrong, my mantra is “Go with the flow, embrace the moment.”  However, I also like a tidy house.  I’m guessing that the extensive paraphernalia that is part and parcel with the hunting way of life might be one aspect that makes a deerslayer’s wife wince. However, it’s important to remember that the planning and preparation are part of the thrill of it all. It was time for me to step back, take a deep breath, regroup…. and bake a nice chocolate cake for the hunters to take with them. A small, thoughtful gesture like that can bring a tear of gratitude to any hunter’s eye.  And it provided me with a creative outlet on which to refocus my energies.


I discovered a great recipe on the King Arthur Flour website a few weeks ago when I was scouring the internet for a chocolate birthday cake for one of the Junior Deerslayers. Cake Pan Cake was just what I was looking for.  While I love to cook all sorts of wild game, baking has never been my forte.  This recipe is just what I needed; rich, moist, chocolaty, and EASY!  This fabulous cake was well received  It even has a backstory; hearkening back to WWII and the days of rationing.  The original recipe has no dairy or eggs and is supposed to be mixed together in the baking pan. Check out the website for the original recipe and its history.

I adapted the original recipe a bit and the results were delicious.


My dry ingredients. Black cocoa powder and espresso powder were ordered from King Arthur website.


My liquid ingredients. I used half & half in place of water. The bottle on the far right is vanilla and not beer!

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold half & half

Everything is better with a layer of raspberry jam. The prepared frosting worked perfectly well. And almonds (or pecans or whatever)…..

  • 1 jar of raspberry jam (between the layers)
  • dark chocolate prepared frosting
  • sliced toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used two 9″ round pans and sprayed them with baking spray with flour.


Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir around with a fork until mixed.


In a two cup measure, combine all liquid ingredients. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.


Divide mixture equally into two round pans. It will barely cover the bottom of the pans.


Bake for approximately 20 minutes (less than the time listed on the original recipe since I divided the batter into two pans).


Check for doneness around 20 minutes.  All ovens differ.  Remove pans from oven and cool on a rack.When cool, smear as much raspberry jam as your heart desires atop one of the layers. Place the top layer where it goes (on top). Frost the cake, lick the spatula. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Eat some. Sneak some more frosting. Enjoy.


This post is dedicated to my favorite chocoholic fiends: Junior Deerslayer and Kelly!


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Chilaquiles with Whitewing Breast

DSC_0118Deerslayer and I had the opportunity to travel to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in June.The son of our dear friends was getting married and we headed down to attend the wedding   The small town was beautiful. Cobblestone streets, breathtaking cathedrals, wonderful traditions, fabulous food, great shopping.  We spent five days and would like to go back again.

There were many terrific restaurants, some with traditional foods, some with cutting edge cuisine.  While I loved both, one of the traditional breakfast dishes really stood out in my mind…so much so that we went to the same restaurant twice and ordered it both times.  Deerslayer and I had chilaquiles, originally a breakfast for the working classes, a way to use day-old corn tortillas, softened with salsa, flavored with leftovers, usually chicken, some cheese, some crema fresca.  A poached egg was added atop the recipe we had.

The great thing about this recipe is that, to the basic corn tortillas and red or green salsa, the extra additions are as limitless as your imagination.  Cheeses, onions, cilantro, varieties of meats, eggs (fried, poached, scrambled) and avocado are just a few examples. To bring a wild game aspect to the recipe, I substituted some leftover whitewing breasts,for the chicken, to create a special occasion breakfast.




Don’t freak out! You do, in fact, see venison tenderloIn rather than whitewing breast, in this photo. I actually prepared the whole thing twice, once with venison (recipe soon) and once with whitewing, since it’s almost whitewing season in this neck o’the woods.The second time I whipped up the recipe, I used leftover whitewing breast, already cooked up from a meal the previous evening.


2 corn tortillas per person

corn oil, enough to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet by about ½ an inch

a little olive oil

1 ½ jars (24 oz.) of green salsa of choice, from a jar (We like tomatillo but hatch chile or other variety would work fine.)

Leftover, cooked whitewing breasts, three or four per person


1 egg per person, poached with a little white vinegar for flavor and to set the egg whites

crumblled, white Mexican panela cheese to sprinkle


crema fresca to drizzle

cilantro and avocado for garnish

In a cast iron skillet, add about a half inch of corn oil and bring to medium high heat. Add quartered corn tortillas, one at a time, and fry until just brown around the edges and slightly crispy.


Nicely browned and crispy.


Drain chips.

The chilaquiles that we had in San Miguel were made with a green salsa, tomatillo, to be exact. The dish can also be made with salsa roja (red sauce).

The chilaquiles that we had in San Miguel were made with a green salsa, tomatillo, to be exact. The dish can also be made with salsa roja (red sauce).

Hatch chiles also would work beautifully.

Hatch chiles also would work beautifully.

Heat enough salsa to cover your tortillas. For four servings, I used about a jar and a half or 24 oz

Poach your eggs.  Set aside on a plate once they are cooked the way you like them.  You don’t want them overcooked.

Arrange a pile of chips on each plate.

Pour salsa over the chips.

Crumble cheese and drizzle crema over chips and salsa.


Arrange whitewing breasts and poached egg atop the pile.

Add cilantro and avocado for fun.


The assembly of the dish was rather complicated since I was making four servings.  The second time I prepared it, after frying the chips and poaching the eggs, I set out the chips, heated salsa, crumbled panela cheese, whitewing breasts, poached eggs, crema fresca, avocado, and cilantro. Everyone built their his/her own plate, adding as much or as little of the ingredients as they desired. This method was much easier for serving several people.

If you are serving this fabulous dish to first-timers (people who have never had chilaquiles before) just take the bull by the horns and show everyone how it’s done.  They’ll get the hang of it.

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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Game Birds, Hunting, Recipes, whitewing doves


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Baked Slammin’ Salmon

    DSC_0066Whew!  What a summer I’ve had.  Fabulously wonderful, traveling hither and yon, all the while collecting recipes to try and to share.  And yet, it kept me awfully busy.  So busy, in fact, that I neglected my duties posting those recipes.  I’ll briefly let you in on what was going on, but I’ll share my exploits in more depth in later posts.

There was a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I had the best chilaquiles I’ve ever eaten. Then off to Glendo, Wyoming for the annual camping trip.  When the Deerslayer clan gets together, there are so many wonderful dishes to be shared.  I was lucky enough to bring back two particularly delicious and unique recipes, one for plantain and brown sugar eggroll-type things from the Philippines, and the other for a zesty coleslaw sauce that incorporates all the creamy goodness of coleslaw with the fire of jalapenos.

Rounding out the summer, the junior deerslayers and I headed across the pond to the land of fish n chips and pasties (meat pies) and ale, proper biscuits, strawberries & clotted cream.  We also headed to the home of Monet and his gardens, and, oh, what a garden it was. Heaven! Then there was the Eiffel Tower, unbelievably great wine, fabulous cheese, authentic baguettes. Now I can die a happy gal!

So, what’s with the picture of salmon? During a break from the unpacking and laundry, I read a post by the Country Huntress about a recent salmon fishing expedition.  She’s awesome and brings a much-needed perspective to the hunting/fishing world.   I’d recently prepared salmon for my family, using a recipe that was given to me years ago by one of Deerslayer’s younger sisters. My family loves the recipe. It’s super easy and elegant, and Jen (the Country Huntress)  motivated me to go ahead and get the recipe out there to share.  Enjoy!



½ cup mayo

½ cup grated parmesan

juice from 1 lemon

2-3 tbsp. finely minced onion

2 tbsp. chopped fresh or dried dill

salt and pepper, to taste

a nice salmon filet, skin on the bottom

*This recipe can easily be halved or doubled depending on the size of your filet.  Often, I prepare extra topping that can be served alongside the fish.  Toss in some chopped dill pickles for a unique tartar sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine mayo and parmesan in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine mayo and parmesan in a bowl.


Add lemon juice to the mix.

Add finely minced onion and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well.

Add finely minced onion and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.

Place salmon, skin side down, on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Place salmon, skin side down, on a foil-lined cookie sheet.


This one fit nicely on the cookie sheet. Try to find a filet that doesn’t vary too much in thickness. That results in even cooking. With salmon, the worst thing you can do is OVERCOOK IT!

Spread the topping on the salmon.  It needn't go to the edge of the filet.

Spread the topping on the salmon. It needn’t go to the edge of the filet. Bake for 10-15 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest part. Each oven is different.  Be careful! That’s why it’s helpful to have a somewhat uniform thickness throughout.

Let the fish to rest for a few minutes to allow the topping to set.  While you're waiting, toss some asparagus on a cookie sheet with some olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Pop it under the broiler for about 8 minutes.  Then the fish is ready to go and a nice side dish as well.

Once the salmon is done, reomove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes to allow the topping to set. While you’re waiting, toss some asparagus on a cookie sheet with some olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Pop it under the broiler for about 8 minutes. Then the fish is ready to go and a nice side dish as well.


Snazzy and tasty. Slammin’!


Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Recipes



Goat Cheese-Filled Venison Meatballs

borsht and meatballs 075  One day, after a couple glasses of wine, I decided that I wanted to come up with a recipe that combined my favorite flavors into a single Deerslayer-worthy dish.  Pasta with a delicious sauce full of bright, fresh flavor, and venison meatballs.  Not just plain ol’ venison meatballs, though. Something spectacular, with a surprising burst of flavor!   Sounds almost scary, don’t it?  I was drinking, don’t forget!  In a sudden brainstorm, it occured to me that goat cheese would make a perfect filling.  Yup.  I pulled ingredients from all over the kitchen, raced to the freezer for ground venison, and snipped herbs from the garden.

The results were pleasing, worth sharing.  Worth preparing again… and again.  Just typing it up makes my mouth water. I hope you like it, too.

Easy-Peasy Sauce

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a splash of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

28 oz. of crushed tomatoes

some fresh or dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

a few sprigs of fresh basil

Because the meatballs are the star of this show, I wanted the sauce to be simple with a clean taste.

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In a cast iron skillet, saute garlic in some olive oil. Add tomatoes and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add basil at the end as a garnish.

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Simmer while you work on the meatballs.


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1 lb. ground venison (or venison and pork, or nilgai,…you get it.)

1 cup of bread crumbs, divided

1 egg

½ onion, super-finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely diced

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. black pepper

about 8 oz. plain or herbed goat cheese (not crumbly)

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In a large bowl, thoroughly mix venison, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, and remaining ingredients except goat cheese.

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Use a teaspoon or cute scoopy thing to make small spherical shapes from the goat cheese. Or balls, if you must.

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A small amount of olive oil rubbed on your hands will allow you to rather easily roll the goat cheese into cute little balls.

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Go ahead and make up several so that you don’t have to mess with it later.

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Now you’re ready to begin making the meatballs.

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Take a small amount of the meatball mixture, about the size of a lemon, and flatten it into the palm of your hand. Place a ball of goat cheese into the center so that the meat can be brought around to completely cover the cheese.

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Continue until all the meat mixture has been used up. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs into a small dish.

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Roll each meatball around in the breadcrumb mixture to cover.

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Place enough olive oil into a deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven to cover the bottom of the skillet. Heat to medium high heat. Add meatballs, a few at a time, to the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove to another plate until all meatballs have been browned.

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Very carefully, so as not to break them open, roll the meatballs around until all sides are browned.

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To the original deep-sided skillet or dutch oven full of sauce, add as many meatballs as will fit. Leftover meatballs can be frozen for later use. Using a spoon, cover meatballs with sauce. Water, tomato sauce or broth can be added to produce extra volume.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

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Serve over the pasta of your choice with some fresh basil. Hope you love it. Let me know.


Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Borsht, It’s Not Just For Russians Anymore!

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Borsht, a light, yet hearty soup originating in the Ukraine, seems strange and exotic to many of us. The color, a vibrant – almost electric – fuscia is the result of the beets in the recipe. It’s the beets and other simple veggies that have made it accessible to the working masses for ages.  Meat can be added but isn’t necessary. The simplicity of it is beautiful. The brightness of the flavors do not keep it from being a warm, satisfying meal or side.  I had to add it to my go-to recipes of family favorites.

The simple flavors are enhanced by the venison stock I had on hand.  Some chopped, cooked-all-day venison create a one-bowl meal fit for a Deerslayer!

One of the things I love about borsht is that I always have almost all of the ingredients on hand.  I usually don’t have beets but they keep forever in the fridge.  The only down-side is that beets really stain.  My girls used to use the peeled bits to stain their lips. I didn’t think it looked quite as Disney-esque as the girls thought it did!  You might want to wear old clothes while you’re peeling  and chopping the beets.  I have a special red denim beet-peeling shirt that I like to use for just such occasions.

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2-3 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 cups stock (I used venison), or water

2 large carrots, sliced thinly

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/3 medium head of cabbage, shredded

1 lb. beets, peeled and chopped into small cubes (A beet slightly larger than my fist is about a pound.)

1 cup of tomato juice (I used spicy V8.  It was nice)

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. dried dill weed

1-2 tsp. white sugar (to taste)

1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 ½ tsp. white pepper

Cooked-All-Day venison (optional)

In a large soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil.  Stir in garlic and continue stirring for a couple  of minutes.  Add stock (or water) and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a slow boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes until veggies are very tender.  If you have any “cooked-all-day venison”, toss it in and allow it to warm through.

Serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

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FYI Greek yogurt does NOT float, cloudlike, atop borsht! Yummy, though!

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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Recipes, Venison


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Venison Pierogi

pierogi 034Delicious little pasta pillows filled with spiced meaty goodness.  It’s the best description I can think of for the Polish dish called pierogi.  Little Polish ravioli!  There are several traditional recipes that include fillings like saurkraut or potato/garlic.  Both are out of this world.  However, the magic comes from the pasta that is made perfect with the addition of sour cream, rolled incredibly thin, enveloping a flavorful filling.  For the sake of my readers, I’ve used some traditional Polish spices with some ground venison to create my own version of this traditional favorite.

Venison Filling

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I neglected to include the ground venison in the photo. You’ll have to use your imagination.

  • 2 tsp. toasted caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 lb. ground venison/nilgai
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour

Toast caraway seeds in a cast iron skillet.

Melt butter in the skillet.  Saute onion. Add caraway seeds and remaining seasonings and spices, except venison and flour.

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Stir until onions are transluscent. Add meat and cook until meat is browned and flavors are incorporated. Because venison (or nilgai) is being used, there will be no rendered fat to pour off, just lots of water.

Turn down heat and allow most of the liquid to evaporate.  (Pouring off the extra liquid will waste a lot of the flavor.)

Sprinkle flour over the meat and mix in.

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  • 3 egg
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 3 cups flour (plus more to add if too sticky)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

Combine all ingredients in bowl of mixer.

Mix until dough forms.

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Flatten dough into a large disk. Cut into strips that can be rolled by hand or run through the pasta maker. To roll the dough out thin enough, I used my pasta maker.  It produced a uniform thickness that worked really well with the round cutter.

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The sour cream makes the dough very sticky. Keep it well floured as you work.

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There are lovely, expensive cutters available on the market. This canning lid works really well, though.

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Use a scant tbsp. of filling in each circle.

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Brush water around the edges of the circle so that the pasta will adhere to itself. You may notice that the filling in this photo is potato rather than meat. Ooops.

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Fold the edges over and press together.

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Use a fork to seal the edges (and make the pierogi pretty)!

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Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Be sure to add at least 2 tbsp. of salt.

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Add pierogi, a few at a time, to the boiling water with a spider or slotted spoon. Once they begin to float for a couple of minutes, they are ready to take out and enjoy.

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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Nilgai, Recipes, Side Dishes, Venison


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Making Stock

stock 003I love to cook.  I’m guessing that anyone who reads these posts does, too.  It’s important to me to use the wild game that my Deerslayer fills our freezer with… and to use as much of the animal as possible.

I’m not sure why it took so long for me to start making my own stock.  There’s no denying that it enhances the flavor of many dishes and can’t be beat in soups and stews. I’ve made chicken and turkey stock for years but I simply never made the leap of faith to use the meaty bones of venison and nilgai to create my own integral basis for so many recipes.  It’s actually right up my alley.  No waste! Use all usable parts! Feed my family with the healthiest possible foods! Be cheap! Boxed stocks cost $2 a box or more and I go through quite a bit in my cooking.

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The yellow onion skins impart a rich golden color to the stock.

Once I embraced the “be cheap, do good” mindset (and had some awesome bones in the freezer), I took it one step further.  Every time I chopped veggies (carrots, celery, garlic, onions), I saved the scrappy ends and skins in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag in the freezer until it was full.

Now, when I’m ready to make a batch of stock, I grab the large venison or nilgai bones (cut into a length that will fit into my stockpot and can be covered with water) and my bag of veggies from the freezer, some spices, and some good, filtered water.  In addition, I set out a few items that make the job easier.  The stuff that I use includes: 2 stock pots (one for simmering and one to pour filtered stock into), a large slotted spoon, tongs, a collandar, some cheesecloth, a measuring cup, and canning jars (or zip-lock bags or other freezer containers)

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I neglected to photograph the other stockpot, slotted spoon, or tongs. Oops. Or jar lids.

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I put sawed, meaty bones into a stockpot. The extra meat adds more flavor. Hank Shaw, an expert in the area of wild game cookery, roasts the bones first for additional depth of flavor.  


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Add veggie bits (onion ends and skin, carrot ends, celery ends, garlic and skins) collected over time, in the freezer, to the mix.


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Add filtered water to cover. Toss in about 4 bay leaves and about a tbsp. of peppercorns.

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Bring to a boil and reduce heat to just more than a simmer. Cover. Let it work its magic for about 4-5 hours. Keep an eye on the water level. Add more as needed to keep things covered.

Once the stock is ready, use tongs and/or a slotted spoon to remove all bones and vegital matter.  At this point, line the collander with several layers of cheese cloth and strain the stock into the second stockpot.

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Depending on how clear you want your stock (I’m not a real stickler on this point), it can be strained a couple of times.

Decide how quickly you think you will be using your stock.  I pour some up into canning jars that will placed in the fridge be used within a couple of weeks.  The remainder is poured (in 2 cup measures) into freezer-safe containers or freezer bags that are then laid out on cookie sheets in freezer for easy stacking later.


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