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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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Cornbread Dressing with Apricots and Pecans

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It’s now the day after Thanksgiving and I’ve failed to post my recipe for cornbread dressing with apricots and pecans.  You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that it was a success.  At this point I need to decide whether to ditch a perfectly awesome post with a perfectly amazing recipe and some pretty decent photos or try to salvage it with the knowledge that Christmas is still coming up and the recipe might still be of use to my readers, friends, and family.  I’ll go with the latter!

I have so many things to be thankful for.  There will always be other people who have more THINGS than I do.  But our branch of the Deerslayer clan has been abundantly blessed with the things that matter; health, values, faith, love, a strong work ethic.  Our junior deerslayers are beyond compare; beautiful, brilliant, kind, respectful, strong in their faith, extremely talented.  And my Deerslayer…ahhh,  I couldn’t ask for better; gorgeous, thoughtful, patient, a wonderful father, and looks amazing in jeans!

We’re taking a leap this year.  We’re giving thanks at the hunting camp.  It will be just our immediate family, with all of our favorite dishes, sunrises, sunsets, campfires, and, of course, hunting.   I’m preparing everything at our house and transporting it.  The turkey, however, is brining at home and will be smoked  out at the camp with the help of Patrons of the Pit.  Deerslayer and I hated the idea of going to all the trouble of getting that smoke going without taking full advantage of it.  Thus, we brought a few wild pork shanks and a couple of wild pork roasts we had in the freezer, which would be fabulous with that wonderful smoky flavor.  The smoked shanks can’t be beat for seasoning a steaming pot of beans!

A favorite recipe that I prepare every year (for Christmas, too) has evolved over time to incorporate sage pork sausage, apricots, and, of course, pecans.  I love the fact that it can be prepared a day or two in advance, refrigerated, and baked when ready.

For my family of four, I prepared a cornbread recipe and a pot of beans.  We ate beans and half the cornbread, just cuz. I used the other half of the cornbread for the dressing.  I cut it into cubes and left it out to dry slightly.

Cornbread Dressing with Apricots and Pecans

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1/2 prepared recipe for cornbread

1 stick salted butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 lb. sage breakfast sausage

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

16 oz. chicken stock (1/2 box)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Prepare a recipe for skillet cornbread.  I always prepare a big pot of beans at the same time since my dressing recipe only requires half of the cornbread.  Why waste half a fabulous hot cornbread?  Beans are the only real option here!

2. After you’ve eaten your beans and cornbread, cut the remaining cornbread into cubes and allow to dry several hours or overnight.

3. Sauté chopped onion in a cast iron skillet with half a stick of butter and set aside.

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4. Brown and crumble half a pound of sage breakfast sausage.  Add onion to sausage.

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5. In a bowl large enough to hold everything, gingerly toss the chopped dried apricots and pecans with cornbread, so as not to mush up the cornbread cubes.

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6. Add onion and sausage mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and enough chicken stock to moisten (about 16 oz. depending on how moist you like your dressing.

7. Pour dressing into a buttered baking dish.

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8. Melt remaining butter and drizzle over the top.

9. At this point, you can either cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or

10. Place in a preheated 350° oven and bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned and crispy.  Feeds about 6 people

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Side Dishes, Uncategorized

 

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