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Category Archives: camping in South Texas

Trash Can Turkey

trashcan turkey, pheasant phantazmagoria 021Preface:  My enthusiasm was greatly deflated when, on a whim, I checked the internet on the off -chance that someone in the blogosphere had also had the mind-blowing experience of preparing a turkey without the use of electricity or a bbq pit.

I discovered, much to my dismay, that apparently every other person in the civilized world not only prepares trash can turkeys on a fairly regular basis, but writes up their experiences and findings on their blogs.

However,I refuse to be daunted by this newly discovered revelation.  Keep in mind my innocent enthusiasm as you read my thoughts… and know that I’ll try to get out more.

I’ve just gotta say that this is the coolest idea I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s the perfect solution for preparing a holiday feast without the use of a conventional oven.  Imagine a power outage, Thanksgiving at the hunting camp (as in this case), or perhaps having the family over during a zombie apocalypse. This brilliant idea allows a deerslayer’s wife to come through in the face of disaster or just impress the pants off everyone, gaining the admiration and awe of all.

Trash Can Turkey

a 10-12 pound turkey

brining and/or injecting ingredients of your choice

extra wide, heavy-duty foil

a pointed, wooden stake about 24 inches in length and at least 1″x1″

enough rocks or bricks to hold the foil down

a small, galvanized steel trash can or ash bin

10 pounds of charcoal

a shovel

1. Prepare your turkey.  You can brine it, inject it, or just season it the way you prefer.

This turkey was brined and injected with Cajun Injector Hickory Grill Seasoning (from Academy Sporting Goods).  While the turkey rests, set up your outdoor cooking area.

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Either in a pit or on a grass-free area of dirt near where you will set up your cooking area, start 10 pounds of charcoal.

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Lay and overlap foil in about a three foot square on a relatively flat area that has enough soft soil to pound the wooden stake into the center.

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Place rocks or bricks around the perimeter.

Pound wooden stake into the center of the square.  It needs to go about 4 or 5 inches deep.

Wrap stake with foil. “Insert” turkey onto the stake thusly.

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Make sure the turkey is comfortable!

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Place inverted trash can over the turkey.

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 Shovel white coals around the outside edge of the trash can and on top.

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After about an hour and a half, the turkey should be ready to eat. Carefully use the shovel to pull the coals from around the trash can and from the top.

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Using heavy gloves, lift the trash can and check the turkey. The meat should be starting to fall from the bones.

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The meat literally was falling off the bone!  Once again, excuse my excitement.   Not to be outdone by everyone in the civilized world, I want to try this method on a wild turkey and maybe a goose, adjusting the times based on the size and leanness of the meat.  Wish me luck.

 

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Apricot Brandy Rubbish Muffins (or for the Hunters; Booze Muffins)

 DSC_0016This is the time of year when I’m just in between bird hunting season and deer season. The house has just been cleared of boots, feathers and coolers and is not yet stacked with the second round of coolers, rifles, and hunting boots.  We haven’t taken the camper out to the hunting camp nor have we stocked it with all the hunting necessities like wine, pantry staples,  fresh linens, and wine. Oh, did I already say, “Wine”?  Well, it bears repeating,

Soon, we’ll be checking the propane tanks, cutting the tall grass around the campsite and poisoning the stuff that’s in the spot where we’ll place the camper, and cleaning out the camper by wiping down all the surfaces.  Having a campsite that’s free from grass greatly reduces the problems of snakes (not a fan), mice in the camper (really not a fan), and mosquitoes.

We’re starting to have temperatures dip below the 90s during the day and low 70s at night.  These autumnal temperatures really put everyone in a hunting mood and are putting me  in the mood to prepare “cook-all-day venison, pork and nilgai” and get some baking done as well.

 I love taking a tried-and-true recipe and adapting/adjusting it so that it becomes something new that adds variety to the Deerslayer household.  This muffin recipe that I’m sharing today is a knock-off of my Cranberry-Rubbish Muffins that got their name from an ingredient that many people consider rubbish. My family eats a lot of cereal. Not Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops but Shredded Wheat and Fiber One.  Inevitably, there are crumbs left at the bottom of the container after the cereal is finished.  In my mind, these crumbly bits are every bit as nutritious as the stuff that was left intact.  Soooo, I came up with the Rubbish muffins.  Made from the wholesome goodness of whole grain cereals these muffins make me feel like I’m not throwing away good food….

…and I love muffins!

Everyone in the Deerslayer household will eat Cranberry-Rubbish Muffins with abandon.  Apricot Brandy Muffins may sound a little too  “bridal shower brunch” for my hunting crowd, though.  So, for the sake of the ongoing theme, and my hunting buddies, These muffins will be referred to as “Booze Muffins”.

BOOZE MUFFINS

(Apricot Brandy Rubbish Muffins)

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1 cup chopped dried apricots

Enough apricot brandy to cover apricots

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You’ll notice I’m using the “good stuff” from the bottom shelf at the liquor store. That’s fine!

1 ¼ cups of flour

¾ cup cereal crumbs (from the bottom of the box) Check out Cranberry-Rubbish Muffins

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Macerate (soak) chopped apricots in brandy for one hour.apricot muffins 009

Heat oven to 350°. Combine all dry ingredients.  Stir lightly with a fork.

Combine milk, beaten egg, vegetable oil, and brown sugar.  Add all at once to dry ingredients.

Gently stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Pour brandy into another container and set aside.

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Reserving the brandy for glaze, add apricots to batter.  Fold in chopped pecans or walnuts.

Grease muffin pan.  Use cooking spray if desired.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  (Good luck with this one.)

Glaze

3 tbsp. apricot brandy (from above)

1 cup powdered sugar

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Gently add about three tablespoons of brandy into powdered sugar. Stir with a fork or whisk until desired consistency is achieved.

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Drizzle prepared glaze on muffins.   Makes 1 dozen.

 

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What’s Not to Love?

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When we’re in the throes of hunting season, all eyes seem to be on the more carnivorous endeavors.  With what will we fill our freezers?  That’s pretty much what’s on our minds and on the minds of my readers. Once the freezers are full of venison, wild pork (and this year, nilgai), how will God’s bounty be prepared and presented to the hunters’ families?  All valid concerns, for sure.

DSC_0027aMore than once, since the season ended, Deerslayer and I have been out and about and spotted a beautiful full moon or brilliant, colorful sun rising in the eastern sky.  “Sure wish we were at the hunting camp.”   Without actually saying it, we understood the full meaning to include, “sitting around a campfire, with a refreshing beverage, listening only to the sounds of the birds and coyotes, and no concerns of everyday life.”  Even now we dream of living on a few hundred acres, with beautiful views, the sounds of nature instead of the drone of the TV that never really seems to have anything on worth watching, and a fire pit to sit around while we tell stories or just sit and watch the flames until well into the night.  Will we ever retire to our acreage?  Who knows? But dreams like these have kept our marriage strong for almost 30 years.DSC_0024

 

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, when we’re out at the hunting camp, the beauty of the wilderness is not overlooked.  Early every morning, while Deerslayer is sitting in a blind, I’ll get a text from him telling me to look at the sunrise.  Of course, I’ll already have my perked coffee in hand (and my camera) to witness the glorious colors that only God can create.  (Now, granted, the whole idea of receiving a text message takes away from the rugged back-to-nature feel of being in the country.  If the same effect could be accomplished with a string and two cans, I’d be all over it.  However, that’s not the point.)  Deerslayer, sitting quietly in his blind, and I, in my camp chair with my steaming cup of coffee and camera are marveling at  the same amazing sunrise.

DSC_0077The reality is that “hunting” is just a word that has come to encompass so much more for the Deerslayer’s Wife, and hopefully countless more deerslayers’ wives, girlfriends, and significant others who may not have considered themselves to be “outdoor types”.  There is such a rush that has come from allowing myself to step outside my comfort zone for the ones I love.  It has allowed me to see beauty and peace that I otherwise would never have known.

It’s been a journey worth taking, a process that required many lists, experimentation, self-analysis, and wine to come to terms with the fact that even I can find a niche in the great outdoors.

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More Snakes! Grab Those Fabulous Snake Boots!

jerky, rattlesnake, roasting pumpkin 012In the two years that we’ve been hunting at the ranch in South Texas, Deerslayer has killed 4 sizable rattlesnakes, the one pictured being the smallest. Living with snakes is just part of life down here.  It was after finding the first and largest rattler that the fine line between fashion and function became blurred to include Cabela’s jaunty and ever-so-chic snake boots.  I’ve come to appreciate the rich earth tones, the fashion-forward suede and zippered accents, the fact that I can walk through the grass and not be killed by a snake bite..

IMG_1974The largest rattlesnake that we’ve seen on the ranch was as long as Deerslayer is tall, about 6’5″.  The shortest was about my height, 5’4″.  Spotting a venomous snake really brings to mind  thoughts of instinct, self-preservation, and survival of the fittest. The heart starts to pound.  Breathing becomes fast and shallow.  I found myself sputtering things like, “Run over it with the truck!  Run over it again!  It’s still moving.  Shoot it. Squash it with a rock.  No, use a stick.  Don’t get close.  It’s still moving!  Run over it again.  Shoot it again!  It’s still moving!”

 I suspect that in earlier times, I wouldn’t have been considered one of the “fittest”.  

Back to our most recent encounter, before Snakeslayer placed the slithering monster in the back of the truck, the head was removed. While I’m sure everyone knows this already, it bears repeating:  A dead snake is just as dangerous as a live one as long as the fangs are intact.  People have suffered serious injury and, I’m sure, even death as a result of snake bites from snakes that were already dead.  Don’t mess with the head of a venomous snake even after it’s dead.  The mouth can still open of its own accord.  Nasty business, just don’t!  That said, let me continue.

 The rattler continued to writhe and thrash about, headless, for at least an hour and a half. With the tailgate down, it slithered off the back of the truck.  When Snakeslayer decided to save the skin, there was quite an episode.  The decapitated snake thrashed, and wrapped itself around my beloved’s arms as it was being “dispatched”.  My job in the proceedings was to gesticulate wildly and suggest poking it with a stick or perhaps run over it with the truck, or shoot it again.  

It made for interesting stories to share at the hunting camp that night. I was asked by several of the other hunters whether I was going to cook up the snake.  I guess I better start looking for recipes.  Everyone had their own stories to tell.  Eyes got big, smart phones were brought out and pictures passed around.  Arms stretched in all directions to indicate size and length.  When referring to snakes, I guess size really does matter.  There’s just something about big snakes that reminds us of our place in the grand scheme of things.  Thank God for snake boots!

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