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How to Keep it Cool When It’s Sooo Damned Hot!

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Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

It’s already been established in my last post that it’s hot as hell in the Texas Hill Country (as usual)! It doesn’t change the fact that there’s plenty of work that’s got to be done to get ready for the upcoming hunting seasons. Staying cool when there’s so much to do is a top priority. I don’t need to tell any of you that you need to stay hydrated, wear light colors, and use plenty of sunscreen. We take our Yeti Roadster cooler in the truck to carry cold drinks and some chilled fruit when we’re working on feeder pens and hunting blinds.

Of course, everyone will also need to eat and they will want to eat well after all the hard work they’ve done. Nobody, however, wants the stove or oven to heat up the camper, cabin, or ranch house no matter how delectable the meal. That’s why the meals should be carefully planned so that the indoors stay as cool as possible.  Using the stove heats up the quarters less than using the oven.  If you must use the stove, be sure to take hot skillets or pots outside after they’ve been used so they don’t continue to radiate heat.  An even better alternative is to set up an outdoor propane stove, like the Camp Chef, Browning, or Coleman, so that all the heat stays outside.

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This camp stove is from Browning.  It’s almost identical to the Camp Chef and costs much less.  This one came from Bass Pro Shop several years ago.  I purchased the griddle, separately, from Camp Chef. It fit perfectly! I absolutely love it.  In addition, I bought the zippered carrying bags for the griddle and the stove making it easier to keep the components together and haul around.

When planning for breakfast, always make arrangements to have the accoutrements for coffee! There are several ways to prepare coffee for the hunting camp.  See them here.  Milk or cream, raw or white sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Recently, since it’s just Deerslayer and myself heading out to work,  we’ve been going pretty light for the morning meal; cereal, fruit, breakfast muffins, and of course milk, juice, and coffee. A heavy meal in the morning before working in the hot sun can lower one’s productivity.

Everyone is usually ready to come in for lunch early because of the heat and I’ve been serving sandwiches (BLTs, ruebens, sliced turkey or venison), cold watermelon, and some chips or soup.  I will usually cook up bacon ahead of time and bring it with me.  Reheating it for sandwiches requires much less time at the stove than cooking it as needed.  Don’t forget to take the skillet or griddle outside as soon as you’re finished with it if your aren’t cooking outside!

For dinner, I’ve come to rely on my sous vide cooker pretty heavily. Check here for more info about how it works.   I can actually set it up before we head out to work in the afternoon. I use it for chicken and venison, preparing more than we need for our meal.  The leftovers can be used the next day for tacos, tostadas (sometimes called chalupas), or hearty sandwiches. My next post will include instructions for using the sous vide to get several meals with leftovers.

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The key is in the planning.  I plan my menus out before we get to the ranch.  That enables me to have what I need for my recipes (which are pretty simple) and make a grocery list.

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This is an app that my daughter put on my phone called “Keep Notes”.  I love it for all kinds of lists including dates that we fill feeders and how many bags of feed we used and/or need.

Like most hunting ranches, ours is out in the middle of nowhere.  A trip to the grocer would be more than an hour.  Nothing is worse than planning and looking forward to wonderful Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches (BLTs) only to discover that there’s NO “L”!

As all the deer slayers and their wives know, this time of year can be brutal.  But the reward will be great.  Stay tuned for some recipes and prep tips.

Please share any tips of your own and your thoughts.

 

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My Favorite Yeti (the 105)

It’s still the hottest part of the summer in the Texas Hill Country.  However, there’s plenty for hunters to do in the sweltering heat.  The feeders have to be filled. The overgrown roads need to be cleared.  In many cases, hunting camp trailers, cabins and ranch houses need to be cleaned up and prepared for the upcoming season.  This particular season, we have the additional work  of righting three of our blinds and removing dozens of downed trees after a big storm that blew through a few weeks ago.

It’s my job to bring enough food and cold beverages to keep my deerslayer up and running to get the job done.  I like to start with food from our fridge at home, using produce and perishables that would, um, perish if we left them at home.  My favorite cooler for packing food is the Yeti 105.  It’s large capacity (21.8 gallons) and tall interior (14 usable inches when closed) make it perfect for most of the chilled food that I need to take. It is tall enough to hold a gallon of milk (or juice) with room above it for the wire rack that comes with it.

I discovered that a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot or Lowe’s fits perfectly in one side of the cooler.  When fitted with a kitchen trash bag, I can fill the bucket with produce,  cheese, lunch meat, etc., anything that needs to be chilled but that I don’t want to become waterlogged as the ice melts.  Heaviest or less delicate items like cabbage or blocks of cheese can go on the bottom. Easily bruised produce and other delicate things can rest up top.

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Once the cooler is full, pack ice around milk, other beverages, and between the bucket and the walls of the cooler but not into it. The items in the cooler should stay chilled for a number of hours.  Extra ice can be added as needed.

As much as I LOVE our Yeti coolers, one of the only issues that I have with them is that they are HEAVY.  Even empty, they weigh quite a bit.  A solution that I found for moving them around the house easily for packing is to set them on small moving dollies that we purchased from Harbor Freight.  The dollies allow me to roll the coolers freely around the kitchen and out to the truck for loading.  I purchased two extra ones to keep in our hunting cabin.  I can use the coolers when I need them and push them conveniently out of the way when I don’t.

Fix good meals, work efficiently, get stuff done!  Hunting season will be here before we know it! Embrace the Hunters’ Lifestyle!

 

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Are You Ready for Hunting Season?

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During this time of year when the temperatures have been hovering over the 100 degree mark in South Texas for as many days as I can remember, we do whatever we can to stay cool.  Sometimes, it means that we just stay inside.  It’s difficult to imagine that we will ever have an opportunity to wear the fall clothes that are now on the racks at all the stores.  Buying school clothes is difficult to say the least.  How can we justify buying sweaters and jackets.  Sadly, if we wait until the two or three days that we’ll need these items in South Texas, they’ll be sold out.

I love to have “Cook All Day” venison and pork in the freezer so that I have on hand just what I need for family favorites like carne guisada, venison and Guinness stew, pot pies and the like.  However, the thought of having the oven on all day during the summer months is hellish.deer in velvet, chicken enchiladas, picadillo, sorghum 070
Mental Note:  Prepare large quantities of “Cook All Day” venison and pork during the cooler days of winter, spring, and autumn.  Package it up in one-pound packages and freeze for future use (during the hellishly hot days of July and August).

However, as hot as it is,  I relish the opportunity to start gearing up for Hunting Season and the cooler temperatures that accompany it.

The signs are everywhere!  Hunting season is just around the corner.  It’s time to get ready.  It’s time to service the ATVs.  Buy ammo (Good luck!).  Fill feeders.  Start planning!  I love to plan!

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It was on a recent visit to San Antonio that we got our first indication that hunting season is right around the corner. My mom lives on a couple of acres in a wooded neighborhood.There have been deer in the area since the family moved there 40 years ago. The deer of many generations are like members of the family.  They sleep in the yard and no longer run away when we cross paths.

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It’s understood that these are not “eating” deer, not for harvesting.  These are decorative deer.  They are here for us to enjoy in their majesty, beauty, and sometimes playfulness.  The bucks are in velvet now.  The speckled fawns are running and jumping.  My junior deerslayers understood early on the difference between Gran and Grandpa’s deer and those with which we fill the freezers.

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 This time last year, for the first time since my married life to the Deerslayer, I had a bare freezer!  I actually purchased meat from a grocer a couple of times.  I was lost; completely out of my element.  This year, the freezers are comfortably stocked. Not full, but not empty, either.  Each year,  I set aside several large muscle cuts of venison or elk until the end of the season.  If our provisions get too low, I can use them for meals, usually Venison or Elk Parmesan or  Marsala, Pecan-Crusted Steaks, or, of course Chicken Fried Steaks.

If the meat holds out until the first harvest of the season, I use the large muscles for a Deerslayer favorite; jerky!  The large muscles lend themselves nicely to long, flavorful strips of jerky.  I haven’t found anyone yet who doesn’t think that the venison or elk jerky is some of the best they’ve ever eaten.  The instructions and recipe will be available in about a month if the meat lasts!

So, for those of you who are part of the Deerslayer brotherhood, enjoy the planning and the anticipation! The journey is part of the fun.  I’ll be back soon to share some great jerky instructions.

Don’t forget, whitewing season is also coming up!

 
 

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