RSS

Category Archives: Sweet Things

Christmas Decor for the Discerning Deerslayer

I think it’s safe to say, readers, that being a Deerslayer household means that life is a little bit different from ordinary households.  It permeates every nook and cranny of your existence. This seems most glaring  during the Christmas season.

While other families are wearing matching sweaters and caroling, we’re loading the truck for a weekend of hunting.  Christmas parties give way to camping, sitting by a fire, sharing stories, looking at the stars, and listening to the coyotes.

I have to admit that I cannot blame Deerslayer for the timing. Granted, the coolers and camo and other paraphernalia strewn about the house during this time of year do add a certain  unique ambience that is unmistakable. Christmas DOES fall during hunting season in South Texas, after all.

This tray holds sheds that we’ve collected over the years as well as ornaments that were on my Christmas tree when I was a child and some fresh and festive clementines.

It can be pretty hard to prepare for Christmas while we’re in the midst of hunting season. This is when being a Deerslayer’s wife gets complicated.  There are gifts that need to be bought and wrapped, a tree that needs to be thoughtfully chosen and decorated, cards for teachers and helpers that need to be written out, tamales that need to be made. You get the idea.

Grab the wine.  Take a deep breath. Perhaps block a few phone numbers like the homeroom mom’s or committee member’s.  Do the stuff that you must, delegate out some of the other chores.  Focus on what makes your family happy.  Remember the reason for the season.

Over the years, I’ve not only come to terms with the fact that my house will never be  like one of those on the magazine covers, but I’ve actually begun to embrace the lifestyle of a hunter and his natural habitat. It may be cluttered and stacked to the ceiling with coolers, camo, guns,  and ammo but it’s part of who we are and I’ve grown to love it.

The basket with candles, sheds, and old ornaments is casual and easy to throw together (like our lifestyle).

The house smells like wonderful things to eat (thanks to Junior Deerslayer) during this holiday season and is full of things that remind us of memories that we cherish.   It doesn’t get any better than that.  Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Rubbish Muffins

dsc_0236

Well, friends, that lull that occurs between dove season and deer season down here in South Texas has come and gone.  Before things got too hectic, before my house was once again piled with coolers and camo, while I  still had some control over my household,  I thought it was only appropriate that I should make muffins.

Muffins are soothing. They make the house smell yummy.  And, as some of you who have been following my ramblings for a while are already aware,  muffins allow me to use up my stash of cereal crumbs that I collect. These crumbs are just rubbish to most people, the stuff that is left over and thrown away.  For some reason, there seems to be a pretty high percentage of crumbs in every box of cereal.  In my mind, while I’m not willing to make my family pour up a bowl of crumbs and choke them down with milk,  it seems just plain wasteful to throw away perfectly usable breakfast stuff.  So I came up with a couple of recipes like Cranberry Rubbish Muffins and Apricot Brandy Rubbish Muffins that incorporated the crumbs.

I was in the mood for a really chocolatey version of my dear rubbish muffins.  Since one of the Junior Deerslayers is a real Chocolate connoisseur, I had in my larder some black cocoa from King Arthur Flour’s online store.  It adds a very intense unsweetened dark chocolate flavor and color and can be added sparingly to substitute for a small amount of regular Dutch processed cocoa powder in recipes. Black Cocoa - 12 oz.

I went a step further to send these muffins over the top with deep dark chocolatey notes by adding a tablespoon of espresso powder (also from King Arthur Flour’s website).  It really deepens the intensity of the almost bitter dark chocolate flavor in recipes.

The family was pleased with the results and I used up my cereal crumbs.

Make these muffins, send them with your hunters and express your love in the best possible way… before the house is full of coolers and camo!

Espresso Powder - 3...

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Rubbish Muffins

Makes one dozen

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 1 tbs. dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. espresso powder*
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup cereal crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. each;  ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom)

* or use 1/3 cup cocoa powder instead of combination of  1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tbs. dark cocoa powder, and 1 tbs. espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350°.     Lightly grease 12 cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light in color.  Whisk in brown sugar and oil.  Add the cocoa powders, espresso powder,  and vanilla. Stir in cereal crumbs.

In a second smaller bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spices.

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture a little at a time. Fold in zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, 2/3 full.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove to a wire rack.

For a extra burst of chocolate, drizzle each muffin with prepared chocolate frosting, microwaved for a few seconds until pourable.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Recipes, Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Flan, Heaven on a Plate!

DSC_0243

This is one of my favorite desserts of all time.  It is the perfect ending to a delicious meal of Venison/Nilgai/Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce.  And Pheasant Enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. And Faux Venison Barbacoa.  You get the idea.  Flan is perfect.  Texture, creamy. Simple in preparation and perfectly simple in flavor.

The point I’m trying to make is that Flan is perfect….. and simple.

I got this recipe from a dear family friend, Tony. I wrote it on the back of a Sea World coupon shortly after Sea World opened in San Antonio.  See I was teaching back in those days.  I had stuff like that in my purse all the time; hall passes, detention slips, notes from parents, confiscated rubber bands, water guns, gum.          DSC_0218

DSC_0219

Notice the expiration date; Oct. 1, 1990.

DSC_0217

The best-loved recipes are usually the ones that have been through many years of wear and tear.  Every time I pull out this splattered and worn scrap of paper, I remember the  very evening that Deerslayer and I visited with our new baby in tow. (She’s 27 now and teaching at the university!)   We enjoyed a delicious meal of chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, Mexican rice and the best flan I’d ever eaten.  Tony graciously shared all the recipes and allowed me to watch him prepare them.  Looking back, I think that these were some of the very first GOOD dishes that I ever cooked.  Thank you, Tony!

Ingredients

DSC_0221

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup sugar (I usually use a bit more cuz I love the caramelized sugar)

That’s right!  There are only 5 ingredients.

You will also need a 9″ Pyrex pie plate, a trivet or folded kitchen towel and a larger oven-proof pan that will hold the pie plate and some hot water.

Preheat oven to 350°.   Combine all ingredients (except sugar) in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.DSC_0223DSC_0234

For the next part, set out what you will need.  Time will be of the essence as you prepare the caramelized sugar and pour it into a Pyrex pie plate.  Have it sitting on a trivet, or folded kitchen towel, ready for the molten sugar.

You will need to work quickly once the sugar is ready to

Pour sugar into a small sauce pan.  Over high heat, gently stir until sugar begins to melt. I like to use a wooden spoon.

DSC_0224

Continue stirring as sugar starts to caramelize.

DSC_0226

It will begin to look clumpy.  Don’t worry.  Keep stirring.

DSC_0228

Be sure that the sugar does not boil over or burn.  Simply lift the pan off the heat if begins to boil over.

DSC_0230

After most of the sugar clumps have dissolved, you may pour it into the Pyrex pie plate that has been set on something to protect the surface of the counter.  It also serves to prevent the Pyrex from being too cold  when you pour the hot caramelized sugar.

DSC_0231

Tilt the pan to allow the sugar to coat the bottom.  You must work quickly because the sugar will harden almost instantly. Don’t worry, though.  The caramelized sugar will create a luscious syrup in the oven. (Notice the trivet that I got as a birthday gift during my first year teaching in 1983.)

DSC_0233

One last whisk of the egg mixture before you pour it over the sugar.

Prepare a water bath for the pan.  I set my pie plate in a larger cast iron skillet.  Place the pie plate into a larger pan on the middle rack of the oven. Add some hot water to the outer pan until the water is half way up the side of the pie plate.

DSC_0236

Bake for 50 minutes.  Flan will jiggle joyfully.  Don’t fret.

Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Run a knife around the edge of the pie plate.  Invert onto A SERVING PLATE THAT HAS A LIP AROUND THE EDGE!  The liquified sugar mixture will spill out onto the plate.  You’ll have to restrain yourself from lapping it up.

DSC_0244

Please let me know if you agree that this is the simplest, most elegant, most perfect dessert you have ever prepared and eaten.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Skip the Valentine’s Day Hype! Just Make Cherry Pie!

DSC_0038

Let me say this right up front.  The Deerslayer household DOES NOT subscribe to the Hallmark-induced Valentine’s Day hype.  There is nothing romantic or sweet about flowers, candy, jewelry, cards and restaurant menus that have suddenly, inexplicably doubled in price.  Puzzling, yes.  Romantic and sweet, no! Even grocers raise the price of steaks, seafood, sparkling wines.  What the hell?  I have no doubt that St. Valentine is spinning in his grave over this travesty.

To honor St. Valentine and the spirit of the day, we will sear up some nilgai tenderloin, roast some asparagus, prepare a nice salad, and finish the evening off with some homemade cherry pie….. on February 16th!  In my book, nothing says “I love you” like nilgai tenderloin done right, beautiful seared color on the outside, juicy and oh-so-pink on the inside.

Also, Junior Deerslayer had been wanting to try her hand at baking a cherry pie.  Since my New Year’s Resolutions included both branching out with my cooking AND never passing up a worthy dessert, honoring the request to try the pie was easy. Don’t get the wrong idea.  We didn’t go outside to pick the cherries, nor did we render the fat necessary to produce the lard needed for the perfect crust.  But I did purchase the (canned) cherries from our local grocer, refer to my NEW Lard Cookbook (yes, there is such a thing) for the perfect flaky-crust recipe, use some kettle-rendered leaf lard that I received as a birthday gift (really) and commence with the pie making!

I ordered mine from Amazon but it’s available from a number of booksellers.

I was able to find canned, tart cherries, packed in water. So that was our starting point. One of my intentions for 2016 has been to practice making flaky crusts from scratch for fruit pies, quiches, pot pies, empanadas and pasties (meat pies).  Hands down, people who know pies know that lard makes the flakiest crust.  Leaf lard is the prized fat around the kidney area of an animal. I found some available online.  I was surprised by how light it was and what a beautiful, smooth dough it made.

Cherry Pie with Lard Crust

3 cans tart cherries in water, drained (water set aside)
1 to 1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
zest from one orange

Your favorite prepared pie crust or pie crust recipe for 2 crust pie. This one is from the Lard Cookbook:

2½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting, 2 tsp. salt, 1 cup cold and coursely chopped lard, 6 tablespoons ice cold water

1½ tablespoons butter, to dot

1 egg, beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon granulated or raw sugar, to sprinkle

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together.  Divide the dough in half.  Form into 2 balls.  Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into two discs to fit your pie plate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the filling, pour cherries in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add zest and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little reserved water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Brush with egg. Sprinkle crust with sugar.

Place pie on a cookie sheet in case of bubbling over.  Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Share the love, not the hype!

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Whitewing Season and Chocolate Cake

DSC_0134You may be wondering what whitewing season has to do with chocolate cake.  If you bear with me for a few minutes, not only will the connection become clear, but you’ll end up with a fabulous chocolate cake recipe as well.

Preparations had begun for the first big whitewing dove hunt of the season. Members of the Deerslayer (hopefully whitewing slayer) Clan would soon be converging on the southernmost part of Texas where the hunt would take place. All the accouterments necessary for the big weekend began to pile up in the front hallway; Yeti coolers, folding chairs, shotguns, gun cases, boxes of shells, shooting vests, all varieties of khaki and camo attire, boots and muck boots, plenty of thirst-quenching beverages, shears.  The pile grew and grew.  I could no longer get to the laundry room.

As the pile began to encroach on the surrounding environs, the Deerslayer’s wife developed an ever-so-slight twitch. The twitch was accompanied by a bout of crankiness. Don’t get me wrong, my mantra is “Go with the flow, embrace the moment.”  However, I also like a tidy house.  I’m guessing that the extensive paraphernalia that is part and parcel with the hunting way of life might be one aspect that makes a deerslayer’s wife wince. However, it’s important to remember that the planning and preparation are part of the thrill of it all. It was time for me to step back, take a deep breath, regroup…. and bake a nice chocolate cake for the hunters to take with them. A small, thoughtful gesture like that can bring a tear of gratitude to any hunter’s eye.  And it provided me with a creative outlet on which to refocus my energies.

DSC_0133

I discovered a great recipe on the King Arthur Flour website a few weeks ago when I was scouring the internet for a chocolate birthday cake for one of the Junior Deerslayers. Cake Pan Cake was just what I was looking for.  While I love to cook all sorts of wild game, baking has never been my forte.  This recipe is just what I needed; rich, moist, chocolaty, and EASY!  This fabulous cake was well received  It even has a backstory; hearkening back to WWII and the days of rationing.  The original recipe has no dairy or eggs and is supposed to be mixed together in the baking pan. Check out the website for the original recipe and its history.

I adapted the original recipe a bit and the results were delicious.

DSC_0120

My dry ingredients. Black cocoa powder and espresso powder were ordered from King Arthur website.

DSC_0121

My liquid ingredients. I used half & half in place of water. The bottle on the far right is vanilla and not beer!

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold half & half
DSC_0124

Everything is better with a layer of raspberry jam. The prepared frosting worked perfectly well. And almonds (or pecans or whatever)…..

  • 1 jar of raspberry jam (between the layers)
  • dark chocolate prepared frosting
  • sliced toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used two 9″ round pans and sprayed them with baking spray with flour.

DSC_0125

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir around with a fork until mixed.

DSC_0126

In a two cup measure, combine all liquid ingredients. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

DSC_0129

Divide mixture equally into two round pans. It will barely cover the bottom of the pans.

DSC_0130

Bake for approximately 20 minutes (less than the time listed on the original recipe since I divided the batter into two pans).

DSC_0131

Check for doneness around 20 minutes.  All ovens differ.  Remove pans from oven and cool on a rack.When cool, smear as much raspberry jam as your heart desires atop one of the layers. Place the top layer where it goes (on top). Frost the cake, lick the spatula. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Eat some. Sneak some more frosting. Enjoy.

DSC_0132

This post is dedicated to my favorite chocoholic fiends: Junior Deerslayer and Kelly!

 

Tags: , ,

Chocolate Milk with Blackberry Brandy and Whipped Cream

stock and valentine's day drink 023

Named by my daughter “Single’s Solace”

I’m pretty sure that, over the years, I’ve shared my view of VD (Valentine’s Day).  When I taught elementary school, I had my share of construction paper hearts, cupids, paper doilies, and conversation heart candies (yuck). There were many single years that I bought into the hype of the Hallmark inspired season. Unhappy, unfulfilled times, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Once I found my own true soulmate, and had little angels of my own, the commercialism and annual guilt-buying of over-priced flowers, cards, and candies really had to come to an end. I now had to be a positive role-model for my daughters.  My darling needed to know that he didn’t have to desparately spend money on jewelry, nasty lingerie, or teddy bears to show how much he loves me. Waiting in line for a table at a trendy restaurant for a reduced menu of items that have not-surprisingly doubled in price didn’t appeal to me in the least.

Valentine’s Day, originally Catholic saint’s feast day, has become something sadly different. Does anyone enjoy explaining to young children why the undies departments of any Target, Wal-Mart, or any department store have become a veritable sea of red and black uncomfortable, see-thru lace garments?

Following my lead, my family has made a commitment to honoring St. Valentine by spending time with loved ones, preparing a nice meal to share, and my adult, single daughter has concocted a delicious beverage that seems perfect for what she has renamed the holiday “Singles Awareness Day”.

Single’s Solace

stock and valentine's day drink 019

Chocolate milk mix of choice

milk

blackberry brandy, a splash

whipped cream

fresh blackberries

Seriously, does this really need explanation?  Make some chocolate milk. Use designer shaved dark chocolate or Nestle’s.  Make it in a Waterford glass or a plastic cup. Add a splash of blackberry brandy, the stuff that’s usually on the bottom shelf at the liquor store (so you can find it even if you’re on all fours).

stock and valentine's day drink 025

stock and valentine's day drink 020

Top it off with Coolwhip or homemade whipped cream with vanilla bean (that’s what we did!) and float some blackberries on top. Make one for yourself and give one to somebody you love… or like a lot.  Simple, cheap, sweet.  That’s what Valentine’s Day should be all about! Keep it real!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Recipes, Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Happy Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos! from the Deerslayer Clan

christmas, quail 10-28-14 117

These gingerbread cookies have black pepper in them! Find the recipe here. They were great, and greatly disturbing!

Dia De Los Muertos 002

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

 
AnxiousHunter

"Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." {Anxious Hunter Blog}

qui est in libris

a very particular book blog

My Favourite Pastime

Food, Travel and Eating Out

Carnivore Confidential

Tips, tricks information and insights about MEAT, FISH and POULTRY

My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

Grilling Fanatic

Grilling Makes Me Happy

Hunt/Fish/Play

A blog by avid beginners.

Doing manly things (mostly)

Adventures in Fatherhood, Food and Fun

feedsfromveronica

for the love of family, friends, food & travel.

Patrons of the Pit

Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Girly Camping®

It's Not Just For Boys...

The Books of Lost Knowledge

an ongoing work of fantasy

Texana's Kitchen

Yummy food. Pithy commentary. Pretty pictures.

Always 1895

~And it is always eighteen ninety-five~