Monthly Archives: December 2013

Packaging and Labeling Venison Meat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, we’ve made a dent in filling the freezer for the next year.  We were almost down to just plain empty, except for the whitewing the Doveslayer  (a.k.a. Deerslayer, depending on the time of year) brought home during the season in September.  I actually enjoy getting to a point where we’ve eaten what’s there.  Nothing is left to hide in the dark recesses of the freezer to morph into a bag of something unrecognizable which is ultimately thrown away. 

While many hunters choose to take their animals to a professional meat processor, I’ve discovered, over the years, that home processing allows much more of the meat to be used in many ways I’d never thought possible.  So many friends and hunting buddies are only interested in backstrap and tenderloins, not realizing that there is a muscle in the hind quarter that can be seared to perfection or thrown on the grill just like those other prized cuts.  Additionally, another muscle found in a hind-quarter works beautifully for any fried or breaded steaks like Venison Marsala, Venison Parmesan, Pecan-Crusted Venison Steaks with Mustard Sauce, and of course,  Chicken Fried Venison Steaks.  Don’t forget the small football-shaped muscle that becomes a bacon-wrapped, garlic roast!   Without the “cook-all-day” neck meat, shanks, and other scraps, there wouldn’t be meat for tamales, Guinness and venison stew, carne guisada, or venison barley soup.

smoked pork shank, rum cake, tamales, dance, christmas 093Carefully vacuum-packaging and labeling your meat is probably the most important thing a conscientious hunter (or hunter’s helper) can do to ensure that no part of the harvested meat is wasted.  Vacuum-packaging removes air that causes freezer burn.

There are many excellent vacuum-packaging systems.  We own one of them.  However, that said, over the past few years, we’ve chosen to use the Ziploc vacuum bags and the manually-operated vacuum pump, which comes apart so that all pieces can be sterilized.

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The manual pump vacuum rests on the circle which seals after all air has been removed.

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The bags are available in gallon- and quart-size and are available at the grocer.  I like the uniform sizes that fit easily into my freezer baskets (which I purchased to keep the meat organized).

At the end of a venison-processing day, I end up with the following labeled packages:

Backstrap (2 or more meal-sized packages)

Tenderloins (usually one package)

Hind quarter to sear

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Meat to grind (one or two gallon-sized bags) This meat can also be used as cook-all-day venison and includes neck meat, shanks, meat from around the ribs, and scraps.  We use at least sixty pounds of ground meat in a year.  It is usually divided into three categories: venison, ½ venison- 1/2 pork, and plain pork for pan sausage

Cook-All-Day (see above)

Venison Roast

Football Roast

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Football roast, located on the hind quarter


Football roast separated from hind quarter

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muscle for steaks on the hind quarter
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muscle for steaks separated from hind quarter

Heart (Usually, this is eaten, sliced and fried, out at the hunting camp.)

The muscles of the hind quarter can be carefully separated by gently tearing the membrane with the fingers and following up with a sharp knife.

There is an artery that runs the length of the femur that can be seen at the ball joint.

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  Bucks will have a gland next to this artery, just above the knee, that will need to be removed so as not to affect the taste of the meat.

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Careful planning, packaging, and creative cooking will allow anyone to fill their freezer(s) with fresh, lean, antibiotic-free and artificial hormone-free meat for themselves and their families.


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Fabulous Rum Cake

smoked pork shank, rum cake, tamales, dance, christmas 047 This recipe has become a family favorite.  I first found it in a magazine ad for Bacardi rum.  It became REALLY popular the year I ran out of regular rum and made it with 151 proof.  The clan loved it.  Recently, I’ve been using Appleton’s Reserve from Jamaica.  The taste is so smooth and candy-like.  It lends itself nicely to the recipe.


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  • Cooking spray with flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1  package yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix*
  • eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup rum



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  1. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of greased 10 inch tube pan or 12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Stir together cake mix, eggs, water, oil, and rum.
  3. Pour batter over nuts.
  4. Bake at 325 in oven for 1 hour.
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pan.
  6. Invert onto serving plate and prick top and sides.
  1.  Melt butter in a saucepan
  2.  Stir in water and sugar.
  3.  Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add rum.
  5.  Brush glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. (It’s pretty tasty!  You might want a sip or two!
  6.  Continue to spoon glaze over cake until all is absorbed.
Cake is even better the second day.  Good luck keeping any that long!
*The original recipe lists the option of using yellow cake mix, a package of vanilla pudding mix, 4 eggs instead of 3, and 1/2 cup of oil instead of 1/3.

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A Merry and Blessed Christmas

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From the balmy environs of South Texas, even the jumping cactus heralds the joy of the season.  Merry Christmas from the Deerslayer, the deerslayer’s wife, and the whole clan.


Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Ain’t It a Shame?

san antonio bucks, food baskets, dressing 11-13 013Deerslayer and I have been to two different hunting camps since the season began.  I’m eager to fill the empty spaces in the freezers and Deerslayer is eager to hunt.  Thanksgiving was spent at a hunting camp in South Texas and, previously, we headed up to our camp north of the Hill Country.

We’d like the junior deerslayers to have a chance at a trophy buck. That’s big in our family.  “A” honor roll doesn’t solicit nearly the praise that a “first buck” does.  Phone calls, cards, and e-mails of recognition and congratulations followed the big event.  Since we eat everything that we harvest, I’m okay with it.  We can get does later in the season.  Up til now, however, the perfect trophy has eluded the hunters…

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Which makes it all the more unfair when deer scamper freely around my mom’s yard, knowing full well that we can’t touch a hair on their amply antler-laden heads.  They mock me as I practically have to push them out of the way to get to my car in the driveway.  They dance and prance around the does with chocolates and flowers, reeking of Axe cologne.  It’s infuriating!

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My mom has deer adorning her yard the way other people have lawn gnomes and pink flamingos.  For those of you who are new to the Sisterhood of Deerslayers’ Wives, it’s important to note that bucks during the rut are dangerous critters.  They are very territorial and pretty much have just one thing on their minds.  Steer clear!  There have been occasions where “lawn deer” have become aggressive and attacked people.  This almost always occurs during the rut (mating season).

Have I been tempted to bring a couple of Yeti coolers to Mom’s house?  Leave a trail of corn into a U-Haul trailer or the garage?  I have to admit that we’ve joked about it and, yes, I’ve fantasized a little bit. But I’ll have to be satisfied to snap photos, and admire the beauty and majesty of God’s creatures.

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And head out to the hunting camp again!


Cornbread Dressing with Apricots and Pecans

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It’s now the day after Thanksgiving and I’ve failed to post my recipe for cornbread dressing with apricots and pecans.  You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that it was a success.  At this point I need to decide whether to ditch a perfectly awesome post with a perfectly amazing recipe and some pretty decent photos or try to salvage it with the knowledge that Christmas is still coming up and the recipe might still be of use to my readers, friends, and family.  I’ll go with the latter!

I have so many things to be thankful for.  There will always be other people who have more THINGS than I do.  But our branch of the Deerslayer clan has been abundantly blessed with the things that matter; health, values, faith, love, a strong work ethic.  Our junior deerslayers are beyond compare; beautiful, brilliant, kind, respectful, strong in their faith, extremely talented.  And my Deerslayer…ahhh,  I couldn’t ask for better; gorgeous, thoughtful, patient, a wonderful father, and looks amazing in jeans!

We’re taking a leap this year.  We’re giving thanks at the hunting camp.  It will be just our immediate family, with all of our favorite dishes, sunrises, sunsets, campfires, and, of course, hunting.   I’m preparing everything at our house and transporting it.  The turkey, however, is brining at home and will be smoked  out at the camp with the help of Patrons of the Pit.  Deerslayer and I hated the idea of going to all the trouble of getting that smoke going without taking full advantage of it.  Thus, we brought a few wild pork shanks and a couple of wild pork roasts we had in the freezer, which would be fabulous with that wonderful smoky flavor.  The smoked shanks can’t be beat for seasoning a steaming pot of beans!

A favorite recipe that I prepare every year (for Christmas, too) has evolved over time to incorporate sage pork sausage, apricots, and, of course, pecans.  I love the fact that it can be prepared a day or two in advance, refrigerated, and baked when ready.

For my family of four, I prepared a cornbread recipe and a pot of beans.  We ate beans and half the cornbread, just cuz. I used the other half of the cornbread for the dressing.  I cut it into cubes and left it out to dry slightly.

Cornbread Dressing with Apricots and Pecans

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1/2 prepared recipe for cornbread

1 stick salted butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 lb. sage breakfast sausage

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

16 oz. chicken stock (1/2 box)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Prepare a recipe for skillet cornbread.  I always prepare a big pot of beans at the same time since my dressing recipe only requires half of the cornbread.  Why waste half a fabulous hot cornbread?  Beans are the only real option here!

2. After you’ve eaten your beans and cornbread, cut the remaining cornbread into cubes and allow to dry several hours or overnight.

3. Sauté chopped onion in a cast iron skillet with half a stick of butter and set aside.

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4. Brown and crumble half a pound of sage breakfast sausage.  Add onion to sausage.

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5. In a bowl large enough to hold everything, gingerly toss the chopped dried apricots and pecans with cornbread, so as not to mush up the cornbread cubes.

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6. Add onion and sausage mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and enough chicken stock to moisten (about 16 oz. depending on how moist you like your dressing.

7. Pour dressing into a buttered baking dish.

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8. Melt remaining butter and drizzle over the top.

9. At this point, you can either cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or

10. Place in a preheated 350° oven and bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned and crispy.  Feeds about 6 people

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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Side Dishes, Uncategorized


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