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New Cast-Iron Is Very Sexy

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  Good riddance!  Those of you who know me, know that the Deerslayer household does not acknowledge the day. You can see my thoughts on the matter here.  Valentine’s Day should be called Unnecessary Excessive Spending Day.

If we DID celebrate the Hallmark Greeting Card Day, and if I hadn’t just received one for Christmas,  I’d want this amazing oval cast-iron  roaster.  Deerslayer got this one for me and I love it.

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This extra large, oval roaster is exactly what I needed to prepare venison shanks with white wine and garlic.

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The extra length allows the roaster to fit over two burners on the stovetop so that larger bits like shanks can be browned all at once.

It’s beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Downright sexy!

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Roasting garlic for the Braised Venison Shanks With Garlic and White Wine.

While it’s pretty hefty, weighing in at 26 lbs., my Cabela’s cast-iron roasting pan with lid will also work beautifully for preparing large quantities of “cook-all-day” meat.

I’m so lucky that Deerslayer knows me so well that he knew that some sexy new cast-iron was the perfect gift that will keep on giving for generations.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Cooking, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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Life Sucks When Your Vacuum Sealer Won’t!

I just bought a new vacuum sealer because, after three and a half years, my old one finally bit the dust. When processing lots of meat at home, it’s worth it to have a good, hard-working vacuum sealer.  When we first started packaging up our own meat, I used the Ziplock hand-vacuum system.  It’s nice to use since it doesn’t require electricity and I still use it for small jobs. smoked pork shank, rum cake, tamales, dance, christmas 089

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As our processing jobs grew, so did our need for a more streamlined process in the form of an electric vacuum sealing system.  In addition, an electric vacuum sealer allowed us to cut our bags to order and use heavy duty plastic bags which hold up better in the freezer.

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I purchased a mid-priced Rival vacuum sealer. It certainly got the job done.  Even though it was awkward and frustrating to use, it still made the job easier and protected the meat from freezer burn. The process required the very difficult maneuver of sliding an open corner of the bag over a tiny vacuum mechanism. The bag had to be held in place with one hand while the lid was closed and then hard pressure from both hands was required to snap the lid shut before the vacuuming commenced and the sealing occurred.  Nine times out of ten, the weight of the contents would pull the bag away from the vacuum mechanism.  I usually ended up devising some sort of platform for the bag and its contents to kinda hold things in place. Even with the cursing and grumbling and need for three hands, it still allowed us to prepare our meat in all its forms for the freezer.

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However, after about 3 and a half years (four hunting seasons), it gave up the ghost.  It would no longer vacuum out all the air from the bags (which is the archenemy of frozen meat) or create a good heat seal.

Realizing that I was going to need a replacement, I looked at reviews online, for the model that I was replacing and to get some idea of what I should get to replace it.  If only I’d checked the reviews before I purchased the first one!  They were marginal at best and echoed the same issues I experienced with the same model.   I should’ve paid more from the start for a vacuum sealer that would get the job done over the long haul.

The FoodSaver V4400 is the one we decided on.  It cost about $140 from Amazon.  It does everything we need it to do… with much less effort.  It is fully automatic which means that all I have to do is place the bag into the slot (which is low enough to the counter that the weight of the contents isn’t an issue) and the machine senses the bag and begins the process, freeing up my hands. It also has a retractable hand-held vacuum.  It was designed to work with vacuum zipper bags, FoodSaver containers, canisters, and all other FoodSaver accessories including wine stoppers, jar sealers, and the Quick Marinator. It works great with the vacuum zipper bags.  I use it for cheese!  I haven’t tried the other applications yet.  The pull-out tray drawer that catches extra liquid is extremely easy to remove and is dishwasher-safe.

I’ve got to say I’m impressed so far.

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Let it be known that I’m not trying to sell this product.  What I AM trying to do is let everyone know how important it is to do your homework.  Don’t just run out and buy a product without thoroughly researching it.  Reviews are out there from other people who have had issues or kudos to share.

I’ve been thinking about getting a pressure canner and possibly a sausage stuffer.  I will definitely be checking out the reviews and let you know what I find.

 

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Leftover Venison Shanks! Yay!

Of course it was a wonderful Christmas holiday!  The family was together and there was no shortage of food.  As a special treat for our older daughter, I prepared Hank Shaw’s Venison Shanks in Garlic Wine sauce using meat from the deer that she harvested over Thanksgiving. Since she’s moved out on her own while she works on a doctorate, it was also a training session.  It’s always beneficial to cook for yourself when you have healthy lean meat at your disposal.  But when you can get a second meal, all the better.

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I had already shared with her that she could kill two birds with one stone by doubling up on the sauce. Rather than preparing Hank’s recipe as written, it’s better to double the amount of sauce so there will be some left.  If there’s also meat left over, all the better.

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Chopped Venison Shank with Mushrooms in Garlic and White Wine over Noodles

  • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms
  • a bit of butter
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • leftover sauce
  • chopped, leftover shank meat (or cook-all-day meat, or whatever cooked meat bits you happen to have)
  • a package of egg noodles (prepared as directed)

In a cast iron skillet, melt a bit of butter and sauté mushrooms. Add a touch salt and pepper.

Add leftover sauce (it may be a bit gelatinous) to the skillet and stir in, lowering heat to a simmer until sauce is heated through.

Add any leftover meat and heat through.

Serve over egg noodles with a side of nice veggies.

 

 
 

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Hunters, Read This Before It’s Too Late!

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Okay, this isn’t actually an emergency.  But it IS one of those things that needs to be said early in the hunting season.  Read on.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Hank Shaw, celebrated author of several outstanding wild game cookbooks and my go-to source for anything related to cooking wild game, foraging or fishing.  About a year ago, as I was leafing through my copy of Hank’s cookbook, Buck, Buck, Moose (available at Amazon, walmart.com, and Barnes & Noble) I stumbled upon several recipes that really piqued my interest.  Unfortunately, the recipes required venison shanks.  It never really dawned on me that I wouldn’t have the correct cut of meat needed to prepare the feast.  I’ve always been a huge proponent of using every inch of any animal that my Deerslayer harvests.  And yet I stood in front of an open freezer looking for a key ingredient that I didn’t have.

Thus the warning!  Don’t toss those shanks away.  If you know that a delicious meal can be had, why would you?

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These are the fore and hind shanks from one animal.  They provided 2 meals.

The recipe that I decided to try was Hank’s Braised Venison Shanks with Garlic.

You can find his recipe and directions here.

The recipe calls for the shanks to be browned on all sides (except the shin side) in a container large enough to hold them.  That was tricky.  The only thing I could find large enough to accommodate the shanks was my turkey roaster.  I have to admit that it didn’t work great because it doesn’t conduct heat like cast iron but it got the job done.

Because of the width of my turkey roaster, I doubled the ingredients needed for the braising liquid.  It turned out for the best because the braising liquid is then used to make a sauce that is superb!  There was sauce left over.  You’ll want to use it on leftovers, pasta, anything.

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Everything fits and it’s ready for the lid.

 


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The meat is on a cookie sheet ready to be basted with the sauce I prepared and glazed in the oven for some more time to optimize the roasted garlic flavor.

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The masterful photographs that accompany Mr. Shaw’s recipes are beyond compare.  When I tried to serve my shanks “on the bone”, they rolled off the plate and made a mess.  I cut the meat from the bones, which didn’t make as beautiful a presentation, but saved my tablecloth… and rug and clothing.

An outstanding dish…. loved by all.

Save the leftovers.  I have another recipe for them!

 

 

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Turkeys!

 

When we purchased our hunting property a year ago, we hoped that there would be enough game to meet our needs.  That translates to “fill our freezers”.  The place had been over-hunted for sure.  But it was a decent size for us, was easy to get around on, and was covered with ancient oak trees with enough mesquite to flavor all our smoked meat.  It was a beautiful piece of land and it was ours.

This past spring, we heard some turkeys off in the distance one evening.  We weren’t even certain they were on our property.  Sure enough, while walking around the next morning, we spooked one right in front of our little casita.  Immediately, we discovered that she had been sitting on a nest of eleven eggs!

Apparently, we were gonna have our very own flock of turkeys!  Images of Thanksgiving turkey and dressing, turkey pot pie, trash can turkey, and  turkey stock to make turkey soup (I use my pheasant soup recipe.) filled my head.  I was ready to make room in the freezer for some turkey.

Several months passed before we had another chance to get to the ranch.  Fast forward to September and October. We had feared that the eggs might have fallen prey to a pair of foxes that resided nearby. It was time to start getting ready for hunting season.  We headed up ready to get to work.  While driving around the property,  I spotted a flock meandering around in the shade of the oak trees.  It appeared that most if not all of the eggs had hatched.  I was so excited.

It’s kinda funny.  I don’t really have any helpful hints or recipes for this post.   I just wanted to share something that brought me so much joy and made me so happy.  Not too many years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead driving around a ranch in a pickup truck.  Or spent days cleaning mouse poop out of a very rustic hunting cabin.  I was content to send my husband off hunting while I shopped and, well, didn’t go hunting.  I’m not really sure what changed. Now, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than on that ranch, listening for turkeys.

I have much to be thankful for.

 

 

 

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Sometimes the Simplest Things Make a Big Difference

It’s deer season in South Texas !  So it’s time to head out for the big hunt!  Getting the all the STUFF to the hunting camp can often be one of the biggest problems for hunters, though, bigger than deciding which rifle to take. If you’ve got an SUV, you’re golden. Everything can be shoved in the back, usually up to the ceiling and packed in tight! I always chuckle when I pass these guys going down the highway.  There’s barely room for the hunters, the beer, and all the stuff.  Ya gotta wonder if a hunter got left behind to make room for the beer!

But if you head out in a pick-up truck, you need something a little more sturdy and weather resistant in which to pack the necessities. The sleeping bags (or bedding if you have that luxury), towels, food, various tools, ammo, etc. will need to  be kept safe from the wind, dust, and possibly rain. Everything can be thrown into the back of the truck, maybe in trash bags.  I’m not going to pretend that we haven’t traveled that way in the past. If you’ve had stuff blow out of the bed, then you throw heavy things on top of “fly-away” things.

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We learned the value of plastic storage containers quite a while ago.  While they are a step up from trash bags, be warned.  There are an endless variety of containers on the market.  Many just won’t hold up to the rigors of the trip.

We’ve discovered that there are certain things to consider when choosing containers for hauling supplies in the bed of a truck:

  • Choose boxes that are reinforced with recessed grids.  They seem to be much stronger for repeated use.
  • Be sure that the boxes fit securely one atop the other when stacked with lids on. Boxes like the one pictured above come in several similar but not identical sizes.  On three trips to Home Depot, we purchased three slightly different boxes with lids that weren’t interchangeable and that didn’t stack.
  • When empty, make sure that the boxes nest one inside the other.  It will make it easier for the return trip.
  • If you have a chance, label each box with the contents so you don’t have to constantly be looking in all the boxes for your socks, or ammo, or cereal.
  • If inclement weather is possible, pack your stuff in plastic garbage bags in the boxes.  While the boxes will go a long way toward keeping your belongings dry, they are not entirely waterproof.
  • We discovered that the lids, (even the “locking” kind) can sometimes pop off, which can cause them to blow out of the truck!

wp-image--2034384424These clips can be purchased at any hardware store.  They secure the lid without affecting the ability to stack the boxes.

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I know that this seems like an awful lot of advice for something that seems pretty insignificant, but carefully choosing the storage containers that you use to haul your stuff can not only  save you money and protect your possessions but, more importantly, it can save a hunting trip!

 

 
 

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Grocery List for Three Meals at the Hunting Camp

For me, one of the most difficult things to plan for when heading out for a weekend at the hunting camp is what groceries to take.  I don’t want to take so much food that it will end up back in the cooler and brought home again.  Also, we don’t always want to grill for every meal so I figured out a way to get three meals out of one evening at the BBQ grill.

With the list of groceries that I’m going to share, you can prepare grilled chicken and vegetables, huevos rancheros, and grilled chicken tacos; one evening at the grill, three meals.  Of course some of the veggies can vary according to preference.  The veggies needed for the tacos and huevos rancheros will be indicated.

Grocery list:

  • chicken thighs (about 2 for each person plus one extra per person for the tacos)
  • one red bell pepper per person (bell pepper will also be used in the tacos)
  • 1 small onion per person, thinly sliced (can be served with the chicken, will be used in huevos rancheros and tacos)
  • 1 jalapenño per person, stem end, seeds removed (will be used in the huevos rancheros and tacos)
  • other veggie of choice to grill for dinner the first night, suggestions include, asparagus, yellow or zucchini squash (or calabaza if you can get it),  or whatever you prefer
  • olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
  • seasoned salt
  • 2 eggs per person
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • Flour tortillas, the cook-yourself kind if you can find them in the refrigerated biscuit section of your grocer
  • grated cheddar cheese for tacos

Along with the items on the grocery list, pick up a stack of small aluminum pans.  They make clean up so much easier.

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Cut ends off peppers, remove seeds and inner membrane, remove stem from squash and quarter length-wise, quarter onion, coat with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with seasoned salt

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Set hot charcoal on one side.  Place aluminum pan with seasoned chicken on opposite side.

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After chicken has cooked for a while, add veggies and cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.

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Meal one.

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Meal two:  Take leftover onions, jalapeno pepper, and half can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Heat through. Push off to one side.  Add eggs and cook as desired.  We prefer our eggs over easy.

 

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My favorite canned tomatoes!

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Meal Three:  Chicken Tacos.   Heat up some flour tortillas.

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Chop up leftover chicken.

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Combine and heat chicken, other half of the canned tomatoes, any leftover grilled onion and jalapeno.

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Great chicken tacos

 

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