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Category Archives: Hunting

Why Sous Vide is Perfect for the Hunting Camp

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Wanna be the favorite person at the hunting camp? Grab these few items and you’re all set to whip up some amazing meals with little effort!

Imagine….. autumn has arrived and it’s time to head out to the hunting camp. There’s so much to do! There are feeders to fill, game cameras to check, brush to cut. With all the work to be done, often supper gets “put on the back burner”. Get it? The guys will likely just heat a can of Ranch Style Beans. Ick.

This is where The Deer Slayer’s Wife can step up with something amazing and wow everyone at camp. If your hunting camp has a power hook up, you can use a sous vide cooker. It’s truly effortless. It also frees you up to help out with other chores associated with getting ready for deer season.

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Throw these things together:  any stock or soup pot at least 6 inches deep, some vacuum seal bags and a hand pump (you can actually use plain zipper bags in a pinch),  some cooking twine (in case you want to prepare a football roast).  It’s not in the picture but I ALWAYS bring my Salt-Pepper-Garlic Powder mix.  I put it on everything.

You’ll need a pot at least 6 inches deep for this particular sous vide cooker.  When it’s just going to be Deerslayer and me, I take the small 6″ pot.  If I’m going to be preparing a larger cut of meat for more people, I use a larger pot.  Ah, the freedom to choose!20180717_153943-265839914.jpg Then grab some frozen venison from the reserves you have in your freezer, a little olive oil, and maybe some fresh or dried herbs, and head for the hunting camp. You can use backstrap, tenderloin, football roast or other individual muscles from the hind quarter previously thought to be too tough to serve medium rare as a steak.

On the day you want to have the venison, take a break from the hunting chores and get things rolling mid-afternoon. See if the meat’s still frozen.  If it is, no worries!  Fill the pot with clean drinking water or distilled water within about 2-3 inches from the top of the pot.  On my sous vide cooker, there is a water level indicator that lets me know how much water I need. Next, attach the cooker to the side of the pot and plug it in.  Set the temperature at 131 degrees and let the water start heating up.

While the water’s heating, remove the frozen or semi-frozen meat from its bag, very liberally season it with salt, pepper, and garlic mix.  Place the meat in a fresh vacuum seal bag.  Add some fresh or dried herbs (maybe rosemary, thyme, oregano), some fresh garlic if you want, and a drizzle of olive oil.  You may have figured out by this point that there’s no real right or wrong way to do this part.  Then seal the bag and remove as much of the air as possible so the meat stays completely submerged in the water.  I usually attach the plastic bag to the side of the pot with a wooden clothespin.

Now, you’re ready to place the meat in the water bath.  I clip mine to the side of the pot with a clothespin.  You can set the timer for about 3 hours if the meat is frozen or 1 1/2 hours if it is thawed.  Once the water has reached 131 degrees, the timer will begin ticking away.

This is where the magic starts! Because the water is not boiling, you can go about your business until the meat is ready. If you aren’t back from your chores when the meat is done, no problem.  The water will keep it at the perfect temperature for up to a couple of hours.  After that, the texture of the meat will be affected somewhat.

Once the your venison is ready, remove it from the bag and place it on a cutting board. Pat it dry while you heat a skillet pretty hot with some butter or olive oil so you can sear your meat.  20180908_194040-1512771251.jpg

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I served this roast with horseradish sauce, some wilted spinach, onion, and bacon and also some garlic mashed potatoes.  Pretty amazing for the hunting camp.

Do some research about how to use the cooker and the wealth of wild game recipes!  There’s so much information about the Sous Vide method on the internet.  I got my first recipe from my nephew (venison football roast) and then found other recipes for wild game online.  Anova (the brand of my cooker) has LOTS of information.  Conor Bofin’s One Man’s Meat has become my go-to for sous vide information, outstanding game recipes, and witty stories.  His photography is a feast for the eyes, as well.

Hank Shaw’s Hunter-Angler-Gardener-Cook is another great resource.  Hank is an inspiration with his wealth of recipes, foraging tidbits, and hunting stories.  He also uses the sous vide method for many of his recipes.

Hunting season is upon us!  Grab your pot full of cooking magic, do a little research, and put on your hunting camp tiara because you are gonna be the camp queen!  Oh, don’t forget a bottle of wine for your highness!

 

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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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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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