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Wild Turkey Thanksgiving and the Zombie Apocalypse

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Among those of us who have embraced the hunting lifestyle, there seem to be two different camps or schools of thought regarding how to bring to the table the meat that has been harvested.  There are those who rely solely on their tried-and-true, time-tested recipes often handed down through generations.  The problem with this way of thinking is that, as great as these dishes are, they lose their appeal when prepared too often.  It’s tragic when a family rolls their eyes and says, “Not again” when presented a beautiful platter of chicken fried venison backstrap, for example.

The other camp, in which I like to consider myself, likes to think outside the box, be more creative when deciding how to prepare wild game for the family. The pioneers (and my heroes) in this field include the likes of Hank Shaw, Steven Rinella, and Conor Bofin. While a willingness to experiment opens up a world of culinary possibilities, it comes with its dangers, too.

And so my cautionary tale begins….

One year the Deerslayer household was gifted with a wild turkey that was going to be the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table.  It was going to be a meal like no other, spectacular.  It would be talked about for years to come.  You see, I had an idea!  I would use the tenderizing qualities of fresh pineapple in a brine that would result in a flavorful, moist and tender bird since wild turkey can be tricky to prepare.  Those of you who know much more than I about the qualities of pineapple are seeing where this is going, but bear with me here.

 

I was soooo sure of my plan that I  photographed each and every step so that I could share this brilliant vision with everyone.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the pineapple would dissolve the skin of the turkey!  What I pulled out of the oven resembled some kind of zombie creature almost too hideous to cast eyes upon.  Yet stare, I did. Thanksgiving would be ruined!  Luckily, we had green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.  Strangely enough, the beast smelled amazing.  It wasn’t yet cooked all the way through when I discovered the catastrophe.

wp-15429138122751091493097.jpgThis is the part in the story where Deerslayer saved the day like a superhero donning a camo cape.  Before I knew what was happening, he had removed the legs, thighs, and wings from the carcass, poured the fat from the roasting pan into a skillet and proceeded to confit those bits, cooking them in their own fat so that the result was delicious meat that we were able to serve  with all the fixings to our small gathering.

 

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Before we sat down, the two breast halves were cut from the bone, placed in two sous vide bags with some of the juices from the roasting pan, and set to cook in a water bath of 150° fahrenheit for about an  hour and a half.  This meat would be ready for sandwiches and pot pie for the next couple of days.

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Later that evening, the carcass was placed in a pot large enough to hold it with frozen veggies saved for stock and enough water to cover it.  We put it on to simmer after we finished the dishes.

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We finished our miraculously delicious meal. What was destined to be a failed Thanksgiving ended up as one of the best ever because the disaster was averted and we looked forward to delectable sandwiches and pot pie during the coming days. In the end, it WAS a meal like no other and we HAVE talked about it in awe since then. And probably will for years to come

What’s the take-away from this narrative?  The willingness to be creative  and to try new things is what makes life fun. But be prepared to have a plan B or at least a sense of humor about the whole thing.  And maybe not for a Thanksgiving dinner.

P.S. I am thankful for my wonderful husband who is quick on the draw in an emergency and for my two amazing daughters who have a sense of humor.

 

 

 

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It’s That Time of Year

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Those of you who have followed me for a while have been subjected through the years to my annual Valentine’s Day rants. I’ve shared my thoughts about the price gouging, the blatant commercialization of an originally sweet idea, and general lurid skankiness that has come to be associated with February 14th.

Everyone in the Deerslayer household loathes the idea of trying to go out to eat in any restaurant on that day. Seriously, if you are a true follower of the Deerslayer’s Wife, you KNOW that you can have an exquisite meal at home for a fraction of the price. An issue that we have experienced is that we’re hard-pressed to find a restaurant that serves game meats cooked to a medium rare perfection like those that we can prepare at home. On the plus side, we really look forward to buying chocolate for half price the next day!

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Deerslayers’ wives, you have the tools to prepare the most amazing meal your husband has ever had. How about a seared tenderloin with a balsamic glaze or venison Parmesan with angel hair pasta or venison and Guinness stew or marinated semi-boneless quail? How about your deerslayer’s favorite dessert? It won’t cost over $100 bucks and he will love it. Done! BTW, I’d love it if you’d share your deerslayer’s favorite dessert recipe or favorite wild game recipe with me and the group. Ladies, we’ve got to stick together here!

Deerslayers, DO THE DISHES! POUR THE WINE! PLAY SOME NICE MUSIC THAT SHE WILL LIKE! DONE! Don’t buy jewelry, stupidly expensive flowers or candy! But if your sweetie has a favorite outfit, dress up, damn it! You can thank me on the 15th…after you snatched up some discounted chocolate!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2019 in Recipes, Uncategorized, Venison

 

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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!

 

 

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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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