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Maple Wild Pork Sausage

Maple Wild Pork Sausage

We were blessed this season to end up with a freezer full of wild pork. We have roasts, ribs, shanks, pork belly, and lots of ground meat.

 

 

 

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I was particularly excited to have the ground pork. Last year, for the first time, I bought several of the pan sausage mixes. With some tweaking, I was pleased with the results. My pigslayers love breakfast sausage and I got thumbs-up all around.

One of the things I discovered from using the mixes is that my family prefers more intense flavor in the sausage than the recommended amounts suggested in the directions. Luckily, I learned a trick from a friend of mine that allows for the doctoring of the recipe before an entire batch of ground meat is wasted. Prepare one pound according to the directions, let it rest for about an hour in the fridge for the flavors to mix and absorb, then make a small patty and fry it up. Give it a taste test. If the intensity of flavor is to your liking, then you’re good to go. Prepare as large a batch as you need. If the flavor is lacking, tweak it up, make a patty, fry it up, taste again.
Usually, I prepare a only a couple of pounds of sausage at a time. Even though we have more than 20 pounds of ground wild pork packaged in one-pound bags, I like the versatility of having the plain ground meat in the freezer. I can pull out, thaw, and season up just what I want for the next week or so.

Maple Wild Pork Sausage

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1 pound coarse ground pork
1/4 cup maple syrup
5 tsp. LEM Backwoods Maple Sausage Seasoning
1 tsp. Tommy’s Salt & Pepper Mix*

1. First of all, double, triple, or quadruple this recipe as desired. Second, don’t be afraid to adjust the recipe. Pork is very forgiving. You know what I mean! Combine maple syrup, seasoning mix, and salt & pepper mix in a measuring cup. In a bowl, add to ground pork using a fork or your very clean hands. Because of the maple syrup, the mixture will remain very sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap.
2. Let flavors combine in the fridge for at least an hour. Make a small patty, fry it up about 4-5 minutes per side in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until beautifully browned and fully cooked inside since it’s pork. Do a taste test. If the flavors are too intense, add more ground pork. If too mild, add extra stuff.
3. Once you have achieved the desired flavors, fry up as in step 2. Or you can divide up into one pound rolls, roll up in plastic wrap and freeze.

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This is the perfect thing to prepare for Valentine’s Day.  Who needs chocolate when you can have pork?

* See recipe in “A Thing or Two about Game Birds”

 

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Jalapeno/Wild Pork/Bacon Snacks

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It’s time to gear up for the annual Deerslayer Camping Trip.  Every year the entire clan (three generations) converges upon southern Wyoming for two weeks. We’ve been doing it for years. In its heyday, there would be sixty-plus people coming and going during the two-week stretch.  Now, all the kids are growing up. Many are going away to college.   I have a feeling that the group will continue to gather, with the younger ones bringing their own families.  My generation will become the one that all the kids roll their eyes at, the group that everybody brings drinks and food to.  Sounds like fun! Can’t wait!

I have to admit that, for me, the preparation is part of the fun. I love the list-making, the planning, the menu-planning, and the cooking for the whole group. This year we’ve decided to prepare:

  • Steak tacos with fresh flour tortillas, pico de gallo, beans with smoked wild pork shank, and Mexican rice
  • A whole roasted pig, roasted corn, and coleslaw
  • Venison and nilgai enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce, beans, and  Mexican rice.
  • Pulled pork on toasted buns, potato salad, coleslaw.

In addition, we decided to try our own version of jalapeno poppers that would include some of our ground wild pork. Sadly, due to my busy camping  prep days, my post is coming out after my dear friends, Patrons of the Pit, who beat me to the punch with their own version of a stuffed jalapeno recipe. Theirs is absolute perfection with a glorious glaze of maple syrup.  You go, guys!

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I used about 18 jalapenos to make 36 delicious, bacon wrapped portions.

18 jalapenos

1 lb. ground wild pork

4 tsp. LEM sausage seasoning

1/8 cup water

36 strips of cheese (I used a strong cheddar)

18 strips of very thin, inexpensive bacon, cut in half

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Mix 4 tsp. of seasoning mix with water and blend with ground pork.

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Cut the ends off the jalapenos.

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Call me a wimp, but I’ve learned over the years that wearing rubber gloves results in a lot less pain and discomfort.

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Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and white membrane.

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Slice cheese into strips the length of the peppers.

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Add a slice of cheese and some pork sausage to each pepper.

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Wrap each pepper with a half slice of bacon.  This is why the bacon should be the cheapest you can get.  The thinner, the better.

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Once the peppers are ready to go on the grill, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for every possible scenario!  I filled two 9 x 13 pans with the jalapenos.  One batch went on the grill, the other went into the freezer for the camping trip.  I wanted to make a test batch first, in addition to seeing how they would freeze for later use.  The frozen ones will be transported in a Yeti cooler with dry ice.  They will stay frozen for up to a week if we’re careful not to open the cooler too much and store it in the shade once we’ve arrived at our destination.

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The peppers were cooked for about 45 minutes on a sheet of foil on the grill over indirect heat.

A nine, tasty morsel for a camping trip!

 

 

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Lovely and Delicate Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

DSC_0116When it comes to food and the important role that it plays in our lives,  it is not surprising that some foods seem to form connections in our minds with events and special times.  Bar-b-que and beer make most people think of outdoor get-togethers with family and friends, laughing and telling stories.  Mexican food and beer… same. Football and hot wings. Hotdogs and baseball. And for many,  quiche conjures up images of brunch… with mimosas… and ladies in hats.

No deer slayer in his right mind would be a part such a scenario. But throw some wild pork sausage into the mix, and his interest will be piqued. Suddenly quiche is transformed into a hearty and savory manly meat and egg pie. Perfect for a Father’s Day breakfast. It’s all in how you present it.

This recipe allowed me to use some of the 55 pounds of ground wild pork in my freezer.  My experimentation with wild pork pan sausage began with maple pan sausage.  Because I use my one-pound packages of ground pork for a number of recipes, I never know if I’ll want it for pan sausage, or to mix with venison for burgersmeatloaf, or lasagna, or some other new recipe.  With that in mind, I season up my wild pork sausage one pound at a time as needed depending on whether I’m in the mood for maple, traditional with sage, or Italian sausage.  That way, I’m never left with a freezer full of the wrong sausage for my recipe or mood.

I’ve had a great deal of luck with LEM brand:

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I photographed the Sweet Italian variety (which is great) but for this recipe, I actually used the “regular” flavor, with some added rubbed sage.

 

Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

(Manly Meat and Egg Pie)

This recipe has 3 steps; preparing the sausage, preparing the crust (or use a prepared crust), and preparing the filling.

The Sausage:

1 lb. coarsely ground wild pork (The quiche will only use about ½ of the cooked pork)

3 tsp. LEM brand sausage seasoning

1 tsp. dried sage

1 oz. water (about an 1/8 of a cup)

To start this recipe, I mixed up a batch of LEM brand traditional sausage seasoning with my ground wild pork. Although the instructions suggest 2 teaspoons from the seasoning packet, I found that 3 produced the intensity of flavor that I was looking for.

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In a small glass bowl, I mixed the seasoning, 1 tsp. of dried, rubbed sage, and about an eighth of a cup of water.

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I poured the mixture into the ground pork and worked it in with my hands until the seasonings were fully incorporated into the meat.

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Then I cooked up the newly prepared sausage in a skillet and set aside.

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Next, I prepared the crust using a recipe I got from The Lard Cookbook:

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Preparing the crust:

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1¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting

 1 tsp. salt

½ cup cold and coursely chopped lard

3 tablespoons ice cold water

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble, about the size of peas. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together..Form the dough into a ball and press into a disc.  Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes*.

*While the dough is chilling, prepare your filling

Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into a disc that will fit your pie plate. I always lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough as I roll it out. It gives me more control and allows me to lift the dough more easily into the dish and press it into place without tearing the crust.

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Trim excess from around the edges and place in the fridge until you are ready to add filling.

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Preparing the filling:

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  • a glug of olive oil ( about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • seasoned salt, a scant amount to taste (I use Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix)
  • about ½ lb. prepared, crumbled, and cooked wild pork sausage
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 1 cup grated cheese    (Any good gratable cheese will do, according to your preference)

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet.  Add chopped onion and mushrooms and a sprinkling of seasoned salt.  Use sparingly since the sausage is quite flavorful. Stir ingredients around until onions are almost caramelized.

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Spread onion and mushroom mixture over the  bottom of the prepared crust.

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This photo is actually from a previous cooking session.  The sausage is under the mushroom/onion mixture which is why the quiche is soooo full.

Sprinkle cooked sausage over that.  There will be sausage left over.  That’s okay!  Use any extra in breakfast burritos!

 

Combine eggs, half & half, and grated cheese. Beat with a fork.

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Pour over other ingredients until full.

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Place quiche on a cookie sheet and put in a 350° oven for 25-35 minutes or until set and browned on top.

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Happy Father’s Day, Deerslayers!

 

 

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Venison and Wild Pork Lasagna

I must say that I, like countless others, cannot imagine life without pasta.  It simply wouldn’t be worth living.  Bread, too.  And anything with gluten.  That said, I questioned whether or not I should even bother providing this recipe.  Surely, everyone has a recipe for lasagna!  Perhaps you do.  Not the frozen kind in a box!  Not even the kind with cottage cheese!  The real deal.  With real ingredients.  Why not include meat that you have harvested yourself!

I have discovered in talking to other deerslayers and their wives that they simply haven’t broadened their scope of wild game recipes to include pasta dishes… yet!  Everyone chicken-fries backstrap and a few grill some tenderloin.  Many send their meat to a processor and bring home some summer sausage and some packaged steaks.

I’ve said from the start that it’s been my goal to broaden the culinary horizons of  deerslayers and their families.  Venison and wild pork are wonderful in so many recipes.  I mentioned before that this year we mixed all of our ground venison with pork, 50/50, mainly because we ended up with less venison than pork.  The wild pork is still pretty lean but adds a nice complexity of flavor that I really like.  In addition we ground plenty of 100% pork because I love breakfast pan sausage. Packaged in one-pound zip bags, labeled, pressed flat for easy storage, and frozen, these become an easy go-to for countless meals. Meatloaf, hamburgers, spaghetti, lasagna, meatballs, or anything that you would use ground meat for.

Venison and Wild Pork Lasagna

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1 lb. ground venison/wild pork mix (or beef)

Tommy’s salt & pepper mix

9 lasagna noodles

olive oil, a few glugs

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. dried thyme approx.

28 oz. crushed tomatoes (2 cans)

red wine, a splash

red pepper flakes

32 oz. ricotta cheese

2 eggs

salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp. Italian herb mix

16 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn

fresh basil

1. In a hot cast iron skillet, saute garlic and dried thyme in olive oil.  Add crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, red wine, salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat.

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2. In another skillet, brown ground meat, seasoned with salt and pepper mix.  Ground venison does not need to be drained. There is no fat to render out.  It will, however, release some water.  I always leave it in since it is like a delicious stock. Add  tomato mixture to browned meat.  Continue simmering.

3.  In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese, two eggs, salt, and thyme until smooth.

4.  Prepare 9 lasagna noodles according to package directions

.*PLEASE NOTE THAT MY JUNIOR DEERSLAYER, BLESS HER HEART, ACCIDENTALLY PICKED UP LASAGNA NOODLES THAT DON’T NEED TO BE BOILED AHEAD.  FYI…. DON’T USE THESE. We found them lacking in texture and “toothiness” that pasta lovers know and recognize.

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Set up a work station with noddles, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella

5.  In a 9 x 13 baking dish, layer 3 lasagna noodles across the bottom. Spread half the ricotta mixture atop the noodles.  I use a rubber spatula for this.

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Cover the ricotta with  approx. 1/3 of the meat sauce, followed by a layer of torn mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella should be dried on a paper towel.

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Continue the layering process until the 3rd layer of lasagna noodles has been spread. This is the top layer and should be spread with remaining sauce to cover noodles completely.  It is important that the noodles be covered completely so that they do not dry out.  Mozzarella should top the lasagna to your liking.

6.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or bubbly and cheese is melted.

7.  Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving to allow lasagna to set so moisture can be reabsorbed and cutting will be easier.

8. Enjoy!

 

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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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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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Camping with Knives

It’s time for the annual camping trip to Wyoming and we in the Deerslayer household are busily preparing.  There’s much to be done; checking out the camper (greasing the bearings, checking all the seals, topping off the propane, and such), planning the meals, packing bedding, towels, paper plates, cutlery.  We’re driving from the southern-most tip of Texas to Wyoming and there will be no running home for stuff we forgot.

Part of a successful camping trip is being prepared.  Having fabulous food is the most important thing.  And appropriate beverages.  But nothing can throw a damper on the occasion like starting to slice some beautiful tomatoes, a mouth-watering steak or sausage, only to discover that your knives are dull and won’t stand up to the job. There are three things to consider when packing knives for a camping trip:

  1. Choose the knives you will want to have with you.
  2. Be sure that they are sharpened to perfection.
  3. Transport them in a way that no one gets hurt.

Before you leave for a camping/hunting trip, you should have, to a certain degree, your meals planned out.  Are you planning to grill steaks, prepare some cuts of venison, chop any veggies for salad or pico de gallo?  Slice some bolillos, baguettes, or banana bread?  Keep these things in mind as you choose your knives for the trip.

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Because we spend a good deal of time camping (not as much as we’d like!) I keep duplicates of all my most used knives in our camper.  Starting on the left, I chose a medium all-purpose knife, a small chopping knife for onions, jalapeños, garlic, and such, a larger butcher knife for meats, a huge heavy butcher knife for ribs and the like (Deerslayer is roasting a couple of small wild pigs on this trip), two sizes of fish fileting knives which are my favorites for removing fascia (silver skin) and sinew from cuts of venison and wild pork.  I particularly like these two knives because they have very thin blades, a long, sharp tip, and their own leather sheaths. I also keep 4 steak knives to use with our meals. There’s nothing more aggravating  than trying to cut into a delicious steak with a plastic knife!

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Sometimes, the Crock Sticks come with a plastic, protective shield to help prevent cuts.  If you are sharpening many knives with gusto and exuberance, as Deerslayer often does, it doesn’t hurt to provide a little added protection, thus the oven mitt. (Trust us on this!)

Once you’ve decided which knives to bring, be sure that they are perfectly sharpened.  It’s not that hard to do at home and, ohhhh, so worth it.  Deerslayer always sharpens my knives to perfection. He uses Crock Sticks which are available from various sources on the internet. He’s used the same sharpening apparatus for years.  The ceramic rods, while very breakable, can be cleaned with abrasive cleanser to remove the metal dust that accumulates during the sharpening, allowing the Crock Sticks to be used for many years.   YouTube provides several tutorials on using the Crock Sticks sharpening system. DSC_0204 Deerslayer learned the importance of keeping all our knives razor-sharp from his dad, who knew a knife was sharp enough when he was able to shave the hair from his arm with it.  I’ve really been spoiled when it comes to having perfectly sharpened knives at the ready.  It’s important to note that it isn’t necessary to pay a fortune for “designer knives” to have professional quality tools. A sharp edge can be achieved at home.

Once you’ve decided which knives you’ll be needing, choosing a safe way to transport and store the knives can be tricky.  There are fabric and leather pouches available that have pockets for each knife.  The pouch rolls up and ties closed. In my book, that’s money that doesn’t need to be spent plus the pouch doesn’t allow me to grab what I’m looking for.  I stumbled upon this method that keeps my knives at the ready while not taking up space in my camper drawers.

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The cardboard cylinders from paper towels and gift wrap make safe transport sheaths for my knives.  Rubber bands keep everything in place.

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Knives can even be stored in the concocted sheath in a shoebox or drawer of a camper. No cuts while rummaging through the knives! 

Trip to Wyoming:

  • menus – check
  • food and beverages – check
  • camper – check
  • towels and bedding – check
  • knives – check

It’s gonna be a great trip!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in camping, Uncategorized

 

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Thanksgiving and Tradition

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The week of Thanksgiving in the Deerslayer household brings forth favorite recipes, some on yellowed splattered paper from years of use. Another is scrawled on the back of a discount coupon from the year that SeaWorld opened in San Antonio.  A couple are from old newspapers.  I enjoy seeing the articles and headlines from way back when.

Of course, we’re having a turkey.   I plan to use Ree Drummond’s recipe for whiskey maple brine for the first time. I’ll take a vote before I commit, however. I’m almost as excited about the stock that I will make after the holidays, though!

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We’ll also have Cornbread Dressing with Pecans and Apricots.  It will allow me to use some of my Maple Wild Pork Breakfast Sausage.

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Cauliflower with cheese sauce and Junior Deerslayer’s broccoli/rice casserole will also be on the menu.  She will add some garlic mashed potatoes, too.

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The Garlic Mashed Potatoes will be made using my great-grandmother’s potato masher.  A little more tradition.

The whole family agreed that there will be chicken hearts thrown into the turkey pan.  Some will be chopped and added to the turkey gravy.  The rest will be nibbled while the turkey cools.

The meal will conclude with Deerslayer’s favorite Cranberry Dessert and  I’m hoping to try Ree Drummond’s  Gingersnap and Pumpkin Cheesecake with caramel sauce. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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It will be a wonderful day of foods that remind us of our many blessings:

Family, freedoms, full freezers, friends

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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year, I didn’t get my Thanksgiving post finished in time for the holiday…which was a shame ‘cuz it was a real corker.  As I reread it, I still agree that I am blessed beyond measure, and my writing was inspired!  My apricot, pecan, and cornbread dressing is still pretty darn good, too.  This year, I’ll be adding fresh wild pork maple sausage with a touch of sage.

I’m reminded of a Thanksgiving many years ago, my first spent at a hunting camp.  I didn’t cook much of anything back in those days, nor did I enjoy “nature” in any way, shape, or form. However, I was in a position where it was necessary for me to establish myself as having some worth in the Deerslayer hierarchy. I hang my head in shame as I remember those days.

It was only by the grace of God that I was not responsible for preparing the turkey.  It’s funny that, now, I can’t remember what my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast was.  I’m guessing that no one else remembers either because I’m pretty sure that it was rather lackluster at best.

We had an old Airstream camper, back in those days.  It wasn’t the cool, retro kind.  It was really old and it leaked, when it rained,  right over the spot in front of the stove.  Did I mention that it rained cats and dogs that Thanksgiving?  And it was really cold?  And it dripped on my head and down my back as I prepared the lackluster side dishes that were all I had to offer in those days?  They were seasoned liberally, though, with angst, pouting, and misery.  Kinda bitter.

I believe the feast was good.  The turkey and the family were wonderful.  The desserts were delicious, as were the stories around the fire that evening.

I think it might’ve been that Thanksgiving many years ago that inspired me to become a Deerslayer’s wife, happier, rolling with the punches, able to see the humor in situations that can cause crankiness or a chuckle.  Remember those moments.  Use them to become what you want to be.  Use them for a chuckle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Successful Hunt? You decide!

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Okay, it was the first day of deer season in South Texas.  For the first time in quite a few years, Deerslayer headed out alone since the girls and I were had a previous commitment.  At daybreak, he scored this very nice ten-point, which weighed in at 185 pounds.

Within the next  24 hours, he added (you better sit down for this!) 6 wild pigs.  There were two pigzillas and 4 succulent, tender, I mean cute, little wild porkers.  What is it they say about too much of a good thing?

It’s important to remember that ranchers in these parts are always grateful to have the feral hogs eradicated from their property.  Wild pigs do lots of damage to crops and land, rooting for grubs and such.20141102_103016

Over the years, as all of you know,  I’ve become a huge fan of wild pork.  The more I use it, the more I appreciate the mild, lean, sweet meat.  The roasts, cook-all-day spicy pork butt and the resulting pulled pork sandwiches, tenderloin, steaks, bbq forequarter, and pan sausage. And don’t forget the fabulous smoked pork shanks!  Nowadays, I couldn’t live without them in beans, split pea soup, etc.   I will always make room in the freezer for some wild pork.  But SIX?

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Look at the tusks on that middle pig.

As fate would have it, Deerslayer’s brother was visiting from Dallas that weekend and was lamenting the fact that he had completely depleted his wild game stores.  His freezers were bare!  And with three big, strapping boys, it was a real issue.  Problem solved.  Brother went home with two of the pigs, leaving us with four pigs to process and package up.  Yay!  I say this a little sarcastically.  While I love wild game and thoroughly enjoy experimenting with new recipes, a project such as this monumental task left me a little less than enthusiastic.

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While the pig looks like it’s backlit and in the shadows, it’s pretty well blackened from the flame thrower.

Deerslayer (a.k.a. pigslayer)  had a few monumental tasks of his own before he even had a chance to “bring home the bacon”, as it were.  Hee hee

Down in this neck of the woods, these wild pigs have a tendency to have their fair share of ticks and fleas, which makes skinning them pretty unpleasant… unless you enjoy that whole primal ritual of checking each others’ nooks and crannies for the little critters.  I do not.  Neither does Deerslayer or the juniors.  “Necessity is the mother of invention”, ya know.  So Deerslayer created a device that seared the hair off the pigs while providing a pyrotechnics show of sorts.  Using a flamethrower and propane tank,(yeah, baby!) he was able to burn the hair (and any offending fleas and ticks) off the carcasses.  In the picture, you can see the propane tank and the hose that attached to the flamethrower.

Granted, the smell, I’m told, was less than pleasant but the pigs were hair- and critter-free.  A quick squirt with a hose and brush made the process much less worrisome.  The junior pigslayers and I were greatly disappointed that we missed the “show”.  Apparently, it was a sight to behold.  A display of genius!

We excitedly await the next opportunity to head out to the ranch so that I can do a video tutorial on the “flaming pig” process.  Perhaps it will go viral!

 

 
 

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