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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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Never Enough Cookies*

 Oatmeal Cookies With Dark Chocolate, Pecans

and Dried Cranberries

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Since the school year is beginning for my younger deerslayer, I find myself thinking of packed lunches, things to pack into an awesome lunch box (which is important), and of course, cookies.  Nothing says love like the smell of warm cookies after a hard day of school (or work) They’re just what the doctor ordered for a school lunch. Or an after-school snack. Or an after-work snack.  Or a hunting snack. They’re pretty much just what the doctor ordered for any time of day or night.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever happened upon anyone who doesn’t love cookies. There are people who can never get enough! Although I question the logic, there are those who think that they could live on cookies.   All things in moderation, I say, as I find myself looking for new recipes

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While I love to be inventive with wild game recipes, I prefer to stick to the tried-and-true favorites for my deerslayers.  Of course, even the best tired-and-true recipes need to reflect the preferences of those for which they are prepared.  My deerslayers love dried cranberries, but raisins, not so much.  We prefer pecans to walnuts in just about everything.  Must be a Southern Thang!  And of course any cookie recipe is made better by adding DARK chocolate chips.  Just a personal preference.  That’s the great thing about cookies; They become your own family recipe with just a few additions. Enjoy the love that you will share and the gratitude you will receive!

*This post is dedicated to the Deerslayer’s brother who loves cookies more than anyone I’ve ever known!  He has been able to elevate his love of cookies to an art form, absolutely poetic.  I have to say that I have been inspired.

Oatmeal Cookies

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1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup salted butter

11/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp.  baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup dark chocolate morsels

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Preheat oven to 400°.  Cream shortening, softened butter,  brown sugar, and eggs together till light and fluffy.  Stir in milk.  Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture.  Stir in oats, dried cranberries, nuts, and dark chocolate morsels. Chill dough for about 30 minutes.

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I love my new scoopie thing. I got three of them in different sizes. They make even distribution effortless.

 Drop from tablespoon or scoop 2 inches apart on lightly greased or Silpat lined cookie sheet.

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 Bake in hot oven (400°) for 8-10 minutes.  Cool slightly, remove from pan.

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Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

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Camping and Pico de Gallo (and skinning fajitas!)

fajitas, pico, burgers, corn & poblano soup 021This is the time of year that I enjoy the most.  My younger junior deerslayer and I have finished up her homeschool year.  My older junior deerslayer turned 24 today.  With these milestones under our belts, the entire family has switched into camping mode.  We are pulling out camping lists, preparing menus, and beginning to cook and freeze the meals that we will prepare for the annual Deerslayer Clan camping trip to Wyoming.  This year we will be staying for two weeks.

With plenty of planning, the trip should be twice as much fun as in previous years.  The first thing that we did was to have our camper thoroughly checked out by a local RV place.  They did yearly maintenance that included checking seals all around to insure that everything is water-tight in case of heavy rain.  (It’s been an issue in the past.)  They also checked the batteries and electrical system. (It’s been an issue in the past) They checked the bearings and tire pressure.  (Also been an issue!)

We’ll be filling propane tanks and cleaning out coolers this weekend.

I’ve prepared and frozen 9 dozen wild pork enchiladas.  They were frozen in 9 x 13 casserole pans and transferred to gallon freezer bags. I’ll prepare the gallon of creamy poblano sauce a couple of days before we leave.  I’ve also prepared 1 ½ gallons of bean soup and transferred it to gallon bags which I lay flat on a cookie sheet.  I’ll be making Mexican Rice for 50 people this weekend.  I discovered that parboiled rice doesn’t get sticky and can be reheated in batches with a little broth in a large cast iron skillet and transferred to aluminum trays for serving.

Every year, my Deerslayer prepares fajitas for the entire crew.  This is no small feat!  Fajita meat, also called skirt steaks, requires removing skin (usually even the skinless ones).  For this reason, until the last 20 years or so, fajita meat was some of the cheapest you could buy in the South, because of the work involved in preparation.  With the increased popularity of fajitas nationwide, the cost has continued to rise.  Same amount of work, just quadruple the price.  Go figure!

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Fajitas, like I mentioned before, require skinning.  This process is very similar to removing the silver skin or fascia from venison or elk.  The skin can rather easily be lifted and removed using a sharp filleting knife.  I have my favorite that I bought in the fishing area at Academy Sporting Goods.

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  I keep 2 sizes in the camper and also at home.  I really, really like this knife. Its thin blade makes short work of what could become very tedious with a substandard, dull knife.  My deerslayer has instilled in me a real appreciation for good cutlery.

Last year, I skinned all the fajitas (25 lbs.) at home, packaged them up pretty flat in gallon sized bags so they would thaw easily, and froze them, in the bags on cookie sheets in the freezer.  That way they stacked easily with the other food I prepared.

Before the frozen foods are packed into the coolers on the day we leave, I place several flat gallon bags into a 2 gallon zip bag.  One year, the carne guisada began to thaw once we got up there.  The zip bag had split and we had a big mess in the cooler and no carne guisada!

It’s at this time of the summer in South Texas that fajitas begin to go on sale, usually around Memorial Day and again near the 4th of July.  Some are more flavorful than others.  Some require less skinning than others.  The Deerslayer family becomes guinea pigs right about now.  We purchase fajitas from various grocers and grill them up to see which are the best. Once we’ve come to a consensus on the best flavor for the money, we buy up lots, skin them, package them, and freeze them.  The process isn’t really that painful!  There are several weeks of great grilled fajitas in preparation for the trip.

I give my Deerslayer credit for being “grill-gifted”.  He prepares some amazing feasts.  Usually, he uses McCormick’s meat marinade, but just for a very short time, since it has papaine, a meat tenderizer in it that will turn good meat to paste if you’re not careful.

Even the best fajitas need good tortillas.  The packages that are available in the bread section at the local grocer SHOULD NOT be an option.  I DO realize that not everyone has access to fresh, hot corn tortillas.   There’s nothing to compare to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth fresh corn flavor that can only be attained from fresh hand-made corn tortillas.  In Texas, we are lucky enough to have cook-yourself flour tortillas available in local grocers in the refrigerated section, near biscuits and pie crusts.  They’re worth their weight in gold.  Once you’ve had them, you’ll never go back.  They even freeze!!!  My dear Deerslayer surprised me with a professional-sized griddle to take on our Wyoming trip.  It’ll fit on the Camp Chef propane cooktops.  I can cook about 10 tortillas at a time, or toast as many buns, or heat up thick-cut bacon that I cooked at home, or make about 15 pancakes at once.  That man knows what I like!   He also gave me a beautiful string of pearls for those times that I feel like Julia Child!  Guys, learn!  Girls, weep!  He’s mine!

I’ve gotta say that, without sounding irreverent, fajitas are only as good as the tortillas and toppings that you put on them.  When I say toppings, you need to know that there’s really only one acceptable topping for this meat of kings in the Deerslayer domain; and that topping is Pico de Gallo (the beak of the rooster). My deerslayer uses the recipe that he learned from his father.  The bright, fresh veggies, accented with garlic, vinegar, and oil compliment the meat perfectly.  Here it is, but only with permission!  I’m not sure how “authentic” it is, but it is truly from the Deerslayer Clan.

Pico De Gallo

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1 Large Onion, coursely chopped

2 Jalepenos, chopped, seeds and pithy membranes removed

Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped

Apple cider vinegar, enough to cover

6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped

Cilantro, 1 bunch, chopped, stems removed

Salad oil, a splash 

Kosher salt and pepper taste

Avocado, scooped and chopped

1.  Add chopped onion, jalapenos, garlic in a one-gallon zip bag.   Add enough apple-cider vinegar to cover.  Allow to macerate for at least a couple of hours.

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2.  Transfer to a glass serving dish.

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 Add tomatoes, salt & pepper, cilantro, and avocado.

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Toss with a splash of oil and serve with tortilla chips, homemade if at all possible.  There’s nothing like homemade corn tortilla chips!  Soooo worth the effort!

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3.  Start with corn tortillas from the store.  They don’t need to be fresh.  As a matter of fact, I always toss leftover tortillas into the freezer and save for a batch of tortilla chips.

4.  Add about an inch of cooking oil to a deep-sided cast iron dutch oven.  Heat to medium high heat.  

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5.  Be sure that tortillas are dry.  Prepare one tortilla at a time.  Using tongs, add tortilla to hot oil.  Allow to fry for a couple of minutes until crispy.

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6. Set on a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet.  Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt.

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7.  Enjoy!

 

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Cornbread (and Beans?)

Cornbread (and Beans?)

Cornbread is a wonderful thing. Beans just wouldn’t be the same without it. The smell of warm cornbread harkens most Southerners back to their youth. Many refer to the beans/cornbread combination as a single entity. “Beans & Cornbread” are practically one word. So when I take bean soup (frozen, usually) out to the hunting camp, I usually plan on cornbread, also. If I’m particularly organized (not always) when planning a camping trip, I can bake up a batch of cornbread before we leave the house. Cornbread, however, is very easy to prepare out at the camp, smells great, and can’t be beat when served hot with butter. I mix all my dry ingredients at home and transport them in a large yogurt container, zip-lock bag (as in the photo), or the like. When I get to the camp, I add the liquid ingredients, toss into a heated, cast iron skillet (with bacon grease) and bake.

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As an added note, I’ve discovered that bacon drippings can be cooled and saved in small containers like an ice tray and frozen for individual uses (like cornbread). Life is good!

Preheated 425 degree oven
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted bacon drippings plus more for the skillet

DSC_0050I found this great Texas cornmeal available at a local grocer.  It worked great for my recipe, made a wonderful batch of cornbread, and it’s local!

Combine flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt; stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and bacon drippings. Mix with a whisk just til smooth. Pour into hot cast Iron skillet or dutch oven that has been coated with bacon drippings. It should sizzle a little when you pour the batter in. This ensures a nice crispy crust. I place my cast iron into the oven with just more than 1/4 cup of bacon drippings when I turn on the oven. Then the drippings are ready to be incorporated into the recipe by the time I get to that point. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in camping, Recipes, Side Dishes

 

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