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Getting Ready for Deer Season/ Making a List and Checking It Twice

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Like most avid hunters, we’ve been using this time before deer season begins to set up feeder pens and feeders, figure out game cameras (not as easy as one might think) and basically just start getting things ready to roll before opening day.

For the first time ever, we are working on OUR VERY OWN hunting ranch and there’s sooo much to do. We’ve brought our camper out here so it’s acting as our home base for the time being. There is a small cinder block building on the property that had been a hunting cabin in years gone by. It’s going to require much loving care before I’m ready to call it my home away from home, however. The mice love it, though. They’ve set up shop and have called every flat surface their own personal potty spot. Like I said, much work to do.

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One of the problems we’ve experienced as we make the 7 hour journey back and forth from our home in South Texas to our ranch in the Hill Country is remembering what supplies we need to bring and what’s still at the ranch. What non-perishable foods have we left up there, what tools, what clothing?

For the most part, most hunters, whether on a lease or at their own place, are in a position that allows them to leave some provisions in place between trips during the hunting season and during the weeks preceding. However, the problem that we’ve had is that we can’t remember what’s been left at the ranch and what needs to go. How many cans of Ranch Style Beans does a hungry hunter need? Or saws? Or shovels?

Do we have foil at the ranch? We better pick some up.

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I’ve come up with an idea that certainly helps.

Before we leave from the ranch, I snap pictures of the inside of the pantry, the fridge, the tool shed, the linen box. That helps us to remember whether we need to bring garlic powder, flour, sugar, Ranch Style beans, clean bedding and towels, etc. It provides an instant view of what’s still out at the ranch and what we need to bring.

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I’ve even left a few personal items that would get me through in a pinch; hair brush,  toiletries,  lotion, undies, t-shirts, boot socks (to be worn with snake boots), mirror, tweezers for cactus thorns and ticks, and some work pants and jeans in the closet.

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While on our next trip, I’m going to snap pictures of our emergency (and non-emergency) basket.  It includes band-aids of all shapes and sizes, iodine, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, pain relievers, allergy meds, heat pads, etc.

This tip goes a long way toward helping us make our list and pack for our trip to the ranch.

It’s going to take us a while to finish up the aluminum foil, though!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Hunting property

 

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TexMex Venison and/or Wild Pork Enchiladas

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It’s really hot outside.  And, yet, it’s time to start preparing for deer season.  It’s time to fill feeders and fix feeder pens.  And check on the game cameras.  It’s time to clean out coolers.

For the Deerslayer’s Wife, it’s also time to start thinking about meals that can be packaged up ahead and prepared in a jiffy but still be worthy of the hunter that made them possible.

Enchiladas are great because they can be prepared ahead, frozen, packaged, and served a few at a time depending on how many you need.

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The cookie sheet can be placed directly into the freezer for a few hours until the enchiladas are frozen through.

The trick to having fresh (not soggy) tasting enchiladas is to package up the sauce separately, heat it, and pour over the enchiladas before they are heated in the oven or on a bbq pit and served.

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Sauce can be made and poured up into smaller jars that can be taken, in a cooler, to the hunting camp.  I’ve used canning jars and larger plastic containers with screw-on lids.

I’ve taken several varieties on hunting/camping trips, Venison/Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Cheese Enchiladas with Venison Chili con Carne, and Pheasant (or Duck or Chicken) Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce.

This recipe is kind of a variation of a couple of the others.  It has all the flavor and cheesy appeal of cheese enchiladas with the extra heartiness of a meat filled enchiladas.  Everyone really enjoyed these so I thought I’d share.  I always prepare enough to serve as dinner the night I fix it and freeze the rest for an upcoming hunting/camping trip.

Enchilada Filling 

1 lb. cooked, shredded venison and/or wild pork (see all day cooking method in “Come and Take It”)

1 tsp.chili powder, comino (cumin) and salt  or to taste

enough beef stock and/or drippings from all-day-cooked meat to moisten the mixture

about 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided (the more the better, I always say)

a package of corn tortillas (NOT FLOUR)

Enchilada Sauce

2-3 Tbsp. bacon grease
3 Tbsp. flour
½ green or red bell pepper, diced, seeds removed
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 10 oz. can tomatoes (with or w/o chilies to taste)
2 tsp. garlic salt
½ cup water

to make enchiladas

In a cast iron skillet, season shredded venison and/or wild pork with chili powder, comino, and salt to taste.  Add enough stock or drippings to moisten the meat a little.

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In a separate small skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of cooking oil. When oil is just starting to shimmer, coat one corn tortilla, one side at a time, until tortilla is soft, just a couple of seconds.

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I discovered these great rubber-tipped tongs that do not tear the corn tortillas! Priceless!

Lay corn tortilla on a flat surface.  Spread with a line of seasoned meat and cheddar cheese.

Roll enchilada and place, seam side down, in a 9×13 baking dish or on a cookie sheet,

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Continue this process until you have rolled as many enchiladas as you have meat.

If you want, set aside the number of enchiladas you want to cook for a meal right away.

Then place the rest of the enchiladas in the freezer for several hours until frozen through.

For the sauce

Melt the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet,  saute all veggies until translucent.cheese enchiladas 001

 

Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer, covered, about 1 hour until tender and cooked down to thick gravy.

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Stir periodically to prevent sticking to the pan.  Using an emersion blender or regular blender,  blend sauce until smooth.

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At this point, you can pour what you need over your enchiladas in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake at 350º for about 30 minutes until bubbling and cheese is melted.

Pour extra sauce into jars to take on your hunting trip.

Note:

For a hunting/camping trip, preparing a meal that has as little cleanup as possible is almost always my goal.  Multi-packs of small foil pans are readily available at most grocers these days.   I have discovered that enough frozen enchiladas  (thawed) for a meal can be placed in one of these aluminum baking containers, heated sauce poured over the top, and cheese sprinkled on.  Cover and seal the pan with additional foil  and place on a bbq pit off to the side of some medium hot coals for about 20 minutes or so depending on how hot the coals are.  The pan should be turned a couple of times for even heating. Check the progress.  The enchiladas are ready when the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

 

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The Annual Camping Trip… Gone Awry

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Everybody who camps has experienced the mishaps and horror stories that make us rethink ever heading out again on the open road.  These are the stories that are told for years with chuckles, shudders, rolling of eyes and gentle cursing.

Here’s my story…. for this year.

Each summer, for as long as I can remember, my family has headed up to Glendo, Wyoming for a convergence of the Deerslayer clan and various assorted friends and kids for a two-week long camping trip that includes boating, swimming, eating, napping and more eating.  I always look forward to this trip with much anticipation.

People come from Nevada, Colorado, Texas, and as far away as Alabama. Families take turns feeding the whole group.  I enjoy this part the most.  I usually prepare meals at home, freeze them and transport them in our Yeti coolers with dry ice.

The preparation for the trip takes weeks.  It requires lots of lists.  I love lists because they are a way to document what I’ve accomplished.  There’s a check-list to get the camper ready to make the long journey from South Texas to Wyoming.  It’s a two-day trip.  The truck has to be checked out, dieseled up, and tires and pressures checked.  The camper has to be packed with food and beverages for the duration, clothing, and magazines for reading in the shade of the cottonwood trees.

This trip was planned down to the last detail. We hitched up the camper and headed back in the house for a final cool shower before we headed off. It was over 100 degrees out!  Everyone grabbed their small overnight bags and jumped in the truck for the first leg of our long journey.

Except me.  I was so proud of myself for doing everything on my all my lists.  I was freshly showered and ready to camp like a boss.  About an hour down the road, however, I discovered that I hadn’t grabbed MY overnight bag, the bag that had ALL my toiletries in it, my necessities!  My magazines and laptop! In my haste, I set the bag on the sofa to grab something else and walked out without it.   My eyes welled up.  I stammered, whimpering.  How could I forget my own bag when I spent so much time making sure that everything and everyone else was ready to go?  It threw me for a loop. I knew we couldn’t go back.

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It took a while for me to regain my composure enough to get back in my camping frame of mind.  No sweat, I could swing into a WalMart to pick up whatever I needed to have an enjoyable trip.  And I did.  Bright and early the next morning, I scampered into the store and purchased my bare necessities.  $45 later, I had everything I needed, except for a nice cup of coffee.  I dashed into the conveniently located McDonald’s at the entrance of the WalMart.  Victoriously, I sauntered back to the truck and we headed off… WITHOUT MY CREDIT CARD.  Luckily we weren’t too far down the road when I realized it.  I called the credit card company, put a hold on my card, and called McDonald’s.  Yes, they had my card and would hold it until I got back to retrieve it, which I did.

All was well until we got about 20 miles south of Lubbock, TX.

 

A double blow out!  One rim was shot and the skirting was torn off the side of the camper.  It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the next day was Sunday.  Most tire shops would be closed.  We unhitched the camper and Deerslayer headed for town.  He arrived at the tire shop as they were closing.  They stayed open to honor our warranty and sell him two new tires and rims.  He replaced the tires and we were on our way…

until the axle broke.  Deerslayer had to remove the tire (on the other side of the camper) and leave the axle dangling like a severed limb as we located a campground with a pull-thru opening and creep over at 20 mph.  It was difficult finding an RV park that wasn’t full up since it was the 4th of July weekend.  We spent the night in Lubbock until Monday when we were able to find someone who could replace the axle by 4:30 that afternoon.

Eternally grateful to the owner of the axle repair place for making us his last repair before closing for the holiday, we hitched up and prepared to finish the trip…

until I accidentally extended the legs on the camper instead of retracting them once we’d gotten the camper hitched up to the truck.  It appeared that the legs had frozen in place and there might have been damage to the hitch itself.  It became very quiet… except for the prayer that I uttered in sheer desperation.  Junior Deerslayer suggested we try retracting the legs one more time…. and it worked.  God was surely shaking his head and pitying me at that moment.  Many thanks were given.

We arrived at Glendo two days late and pretty haggard.  At least we made it in time to see the fireworks.  Well, as it turned out, the fireworks display had occurred on Sunday.  We missed it.

After four days visiting with friends and family, getting some much needed R & R, and preparing our designated dinners for the group, it was time to pack up and head back to Texas…

after we removed the screw that had lodged itself in the rear passenger-side tire of the truck.

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We made it back to South Texas without any problems.  It was good to be home.  It’s entirely possible that God had a hand in this odyssey.  Perhaps by encountering one delay after another we narrowly  escaped a much worse fate.

It’s the eventful trips that make the longest-lasting memories!  Nobody ever sits around a campfire and talks about the trips when nothing exciting happened.

Next year, we’ll have something to talk about.

Have you ever had a camping trip from Hell?  Share.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in camping, Uncategorized

 

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Clean Eating and How Hunting Fits In

So, hunters, there is a new movement in the food world. Recently, many marketers are advertising their edibles as “CLEAN”.  Watch for it on commercials for restaurants, boxed make-at-home meals, and gourmet food for dogs. Clean eating and clean cooking are now “the new thing”.  The first time I heard it on a television commercial for a chain restaurant, I had to play it back because I thought I must’ve heard wrong. “Of course it should be clean”, I said to myself.20170605_154358.jpgThe Sanitary Tortilla Mfg. Co. in San Antonio, Texas took pride in its spotless working conditions as early as 1925, however. Was this the same thing?

Old folks like myself are scratching our heads and remembering a time when it was just kind of a given that food sold or prepared for human (or dog) consumption was “clean”, without extraneous hair, bugs, dirt, twigs, leaves, etc.  Surely, “the Clean Eating Movement” can’t be the same thing.  In my mind, “clean eating”  conjured up memories of my kids dropping a wet sucker on the ground… or Jello.  “Don’t put that back in your mouth!  It isn’t clean!” But when a marshmallow hit the pavement, how many parents looked around for witnesses and abided by the 5 second rule? “It builds the immunities”, we would say.

Clearly, I had to do a little research because apparently, “clean eating” has taken on a new meaning.  It now refers to eating healthy, natural, unprocessed foods; those that are as close to their natural form as possible. According to Fitness Magazine‘s description of clean eating, wild meat is preferable to pastured.

As it turns out, it is not really that new of a concept, at all.  My grandparents and great-grandparents lived by it.  It makes perfect sense. If you really think about it, hunters got the ball rolling on the “Clean Eating” movement a long, long time ago.

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Fresh nilgai shanks, locally and sustainably harvested, ready to become Osso Buco.

So, wild game is a perfect fit with the clean eating mindset.  It’s about as close to its natural form as it gets.  The meat has not been contaminated with added antibiotics, hormones, or dyes.  It goes from field to table, not by way of a processing plant that can sometimes be a source of contaminants that can cause serious illness. Many hunters even butcher their own meat, ensuring safe, sanitary packaging.

Without realizing it, hunters, we have been proponents of the “Clean Eating Movement” for years. We practically started it! We’ve been eating minimally processed food that we harvested ourselves, usually locally.  We take satisfaction in knowing that the meat we serve our families is the the best and healthiest meat on the planet which is what our families deserve.

… and nothing wasted!

What’s healthier than that?

 

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Axis Bacon-Wrapped Garlic Roast

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Get a bunch of hunters sittin’ around a fire and ask ’em what they think of axis deer meat.  I’m guessing  that the consensus, after a couple of contemplative sips of beer and a good deal of head-nodding, is that axis meat is top notch.  The flavor and texture are superlative. For several years, I’ve heard hunters say that they’d just as soon eat axis as any other variety of wild game, with the possible exception of elk.  I have to agree.

This is the beginning of my comparison between Axis and whitetail meat.   After a sip of beer, I’ll share my experience.

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This is a football roast from a small axis.  It is from the hindquarter. It’s larger than that of a whitetail.  Also, notice the thick layer of silverskin.  I discovered that it isn’t as tough or chewy as whitetail.  The roast has been placed on a roasting rack and placed over a small oven-proof pan to catch drippings.  I have to admit that this set-up is a little precarious and requires some coordination when it comes to placing the roast in the oven.  What can I say? I ride the ragged edge of disaster.  Use a roasting pan that is larger than the rack if you wish.  Problem solved.

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Notice the rich, mahogany color of the meat.  I cut the roast most of the way through, then filled the cavity with minced garlic and salt and pepper.

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I tied up the roast on the roasting rack.

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I covered the entire top of the roast with more minced garlic.   Yeah, it’s a lot.  A lot of fabulous!

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Take thick-sliced, maple bacon, cut each slice in half and lay across the top of the roast.  Place in a 350 degree oven.  Roast for about one hour.  

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I always throw a pan of root veggies in the oven at the same time as the roast.  I add sliced onions, carrots, potatoes, cubed sweet potatoes,  a drizzle of olive oil, plenty of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, all tossed together with my hands in a 9×13 baking dish.  Add about a cup of water or stock to the pan. This can go into the oven with the roast and will be ready at the same time!

 

 

 

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Transporting Eggs for Camping

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It’s great fun to be the Deerslayer’s Wife when I get out to the hunting camp with everything I need to rustle up some delicious meals.  However, it all hinges on my ability to get the necessities out there intact! For me, a successful and enjoyable trip requires some planning; groceries, menus, and strategies for getting everything to its destination unscathed.

How can I make breakfast tacos or cornbread or huevos rancheros if the huevos don’t make the journey intact? Because we always pack up all of our perishables in our Yeti coolers, I know that our perishables will not perish.  Those coolers work better than anything else we’ve ever used. I know I can count on them to do the job.  Eggs are tricky, though.  Just keeping them cold is not the only issue.

The camping aisles of most sporting goods stores offer a few options for egg armor; rigid, hinged contraptions that, in theory, protect the eggs from breaking.  Mine was yellow.  I was so excited as I closed it over my beautiful blue, green, and brown farm fresh eggs.  They cracked as I secured the clasp!  My beautiful eggs were various sizes as farm fresh eggs often are.  Most of them were too big for the camping egg carrier.  I made an emergency omelette!

Strolling around the grocery store recently, I came across some egg packaging that I thought was pure genius.  The eggs were nestled in a clear plastic carton that was more rigid than the usual styrofoam and mroe water-resistant than cardboard that would dissolve in a cooler.  I was intrigued.

I purchased the eggs just so I could sample the travel-worthiness of the carton.

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Here’s a picture of the 6 eggs that Deerslayer and I needed for the trip, arriving after the journey, unscathed!

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Tah Duh!

The carton was rigid enough to protect the eggs, pliable enough to accommodate various sizes, and could withstand getting wet.  I bought two dozen eggs in those containers so that I could reuse the cartons.  Since it was just Deerslayer and me on our weekend camping trip to the ranch, I staggered the six eggs that I planned on using for balance and additional protection.

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In a pinch, I’ve improvised.  A container such as this also works if you need just a few of eggs, packaged up with paper towels in between.

The next time you stroll through the egg department of the grocer, see if you can find a brand packaged in these clever carrying containers. You can use the eggs and get a free “special camping travel receptacle” for them, as well.

Camp on and have an eggsellent trip!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Uncategorized

 

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Backstrap Scraps with Mushroom and Onion Gravy

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Every hunter knows that the backstrap is one of the most prized cuts of meat from a deer hunting harvest.  Seared or fried up into steaks, it just doesn’t get any better.   However, up near the neck of the deer, there’s some meat that is technically still backstrap but doesn’t lend itself to the traditional applications.  The meat is just as tender and succulent as the delicious lower portion, it’s just ummm… scrappy and shouldn’t be wasted.

Recently, I grabbed some meat from the freezer that had been appropriately labeled “axis backstrap neck meat”. It was indeed pretty scrappy.dsc_0282

I cleaned it up, removing the fascia or silver skin from the meat.  Then I cut it into chunks.

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Notice the pile of tissue that I removed from the meat.  DON’T THROW IT AWAY!  Bag it up, put it in the freezer and save it to use for stock or toss it in with your cook-all-day meat.

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I liberally seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I sprinkled flour over the whole mess and tossed to coat.

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I browned it on all sides in a hot skillet with melted butter just for a couple of minutes so that meat stayed medium rare.

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Then I removed the meat to a plate and set it in warm oven.

I sauted an onion, thinly sliced, in the same skillet with a little more butter until browned and softened, almost caramelized.  I added mushrooms and stirred until the mushrooms were also browned.  I set those aside in a bowl so I could make the gravy.

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I melted a quarter cup of butter in the skillet. I added two tablespoons of flour and stirred until smooth scraping up all the tasty, browned bits to make a roux. I whisked in a cup of stock, a quarter cup of red wine, and about a quarter cup of Worcestershire (more or less to taste), stirring constantly. I heated it on low/medium heat just until slightly thickened. I added the mushrooms and onions back into the sauce and mixed until combined.  DSC_0289

I served the gravy over the backstrap scraps and some lovely garlic mashed potatoes.

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Ingredients:

  • about 2 lbs. of scrappy backstrap neck meat, chunked
  • liberal amount of salt and pepper mix
  • enough flour to coat meat chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp. butter, another 2-3 tbsp. butter, about a quarter cup of butter (Alright, about a stick of butter, divided)
  • a medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • about 2 tbsp. flour for the gravy
  • 1 cup dark stock (beef or venison)
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • about ¼ cup  Worcestershire sauce

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Axis, Recipes, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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