cooking, cooking venison, cooking wild game, homemade, homesteading, recipes

Venison Chili The First Kiss of Wild Game

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The most popular dish at any hunting camp is always Venison Chili.  In fact, I would bet that this is the way most people have tried venison for the first time.  I suppose venison chili is like the ultimate first impression, get it right and you have a venison lover, get it wrong and a half bowl of chili goes to waste.  I guess this is what has caused us to refine our recipe over the years.  A great venison chili starts when you are butchering the deer.  We have learned the more deer fat in our ground venison, the more gamey it would be.  We make sure not to put any of the silver skin in our ground venison either, and we vacuum seal  it to keep it nice and fresh.  We also use fresh, frozen, dried, or canned  vegetables from our garden.  The result is a homestead meal that anyone would be proud to serve for dinner or at camp.

Venison Chili

2 Lbs. Ground Venison

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Small Onion (chopped)

1 Large Bell Pepper (chopped)

1 Qt. Canned Crushed Tomatoes, drained of any liquid

1 cup dry back beans, soaked overnight in 3 cups cold water

1 cup of frozen corn (optional, but very yummy!)

1 Tsp. Paprika

1/2 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 Tsp. Cumin

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper (more or less to taste)

1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Salt

2 Cloves of Crushed Garlic

In a large pot or cast iron dutch oven (our preference), heat olive oil on med/high heat and add garlic and saute until softened and lightly browned. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Add venison, stirring frequently  to brown, and cook all the way through.

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Unlike beef, venison is so lean,  so no need to drain as there will be very little fat, if any.

Add green pepper, tomatoes, seasonings and beans. Stir to thoroughly combine. Bring the chili to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes or until beans are tender and cooked through.

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Finally, add the corn and stir. Enjoy with a hearty corn bread and top with whatever you like, although we find that we like to eat ours as is!

A big cast iron pot of fresh chili looks almost as good as it tastes.  There is nothing better to bring ice fishing and share with your friends, and every time we do it is gone quickly.  The next time you make venison chili, don’t forget It may be someones first taste of venison, so make it your best.

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cooking, homemade, homesteading, Jambalaya, recipes, Uncategorized

How To Make Jambalaya in Celebration of Mardi Gras (or any other night of the week )

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We love to create traditions on the homestead.  Some of our traditions come from our families, but we really enjoy starting new ones,  especially when they involve food or drink.  We have tried mint juleps for the Kentucky derby and the seven fishes for Christmas Eve, we even made a trout out of lights and drop it from a pole every New Years Eve.  One of our favorite traditions is celebrating fat Tuesday (AKA: Mardi Gras) , by making jambalaya.  We may or may not celebrate other Mardi Gras traditions, use your imagination!  Like so many other dishes, jambalaya recipes vary greatly, but we have come up with one the whole family enjoys.  We always use our cast iron pot, which has never produced a bad meal.  Jambalaya is one of those dishes that when being cooked fills the whole house with a mouth-watering aroma.  Our jambalaya is kicked up a notch by our own homemade hot Italian sausage.  Traditional recipes use andouille  but this is the homestead version that uses ingredients we have in the pantry and freezer.  We also use green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper, and canned tomatoes from last years garden.

Jambalaya

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 lb sausage links, we use hot Italian, but can substitute andouille, cut into 3 pieces each

1/2 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tbsp olive oil

salt

pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp oregano

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 small onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, finely minced or crushed

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a cast iron dutch oven on med/high heat,         heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Brown the chicken in 2 batches. No need to cook through, just browning at this time. Remove each batch to a plate and set aside. In the same pot, brown the sausage pieces (if using andouille, skip this browning step) and set aside with the chicken.

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. On med/high heat, saute the pepper, onion and garlic until slightly softened. Add the cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika and oregano to the pot with the vegetables. Stir to combine and warm seasonings. (I find that doing this is a trick to “wake up” dried spices)

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and rice. Stir to combine. Add the chicken and sausage back to the pot, and don’t forget to include all those yummy juices that have accumulated on the plate. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and set a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn off heat, uncover, add shrimp and stir to combine. Re-cover and leave covered for 5 minutes with the heat off. (trust me, your shrimp will cook!) After those 5 long minutes have passed, give the jambalaya one more stir and serve!

There are so many wonderful traditions out there, and not all of them require beads.  It is always exciting to try something new, so why not start a new tradition, we are always glad we did.

 

 

cooking, cooking venison, cooking wild game, homemade, homesteading, venison

Sausage and Kale Stuffed Venison

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At any given time, if you ask us what is in our freezer right now, we can give you a pretty accurate inventory. For those of you who live a similar lifestyle to us, you understand that it is essential to know what you have, what you are running out of, what needs to be used ASAP, and what you might need.

That being said, we have to figure out daily, the answer to “what’s for dinner?”, in a different way. Today while thinking of what was in the freezer, we decided it would be a venison night (we eat venison at least once a week, if not more). Then comes the inventory….what else do we have to make a simple venison roast spectacular and how are we going to prepare it?

The answer came in the form of a Sausage and Kale Stuffed Venison with an Onion Dijon Mustard Sauce. Who ever said homestead eating was boring???

The Recipe

Venison Roast (2-3 lb.)

1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage, sweet or hot

1/4 cup frozen cooked kale

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/3 cup Vermouth or white wine for de-glazing pan

1 cup chicken stock

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Butcher’s twine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a cast iron pan lightly coated in olive oil, over med/high heat, brown the sausage. Once browned, toss in the kale and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, butterfly the roast. Slice the roast in half as if you were going to filet it, but do not go all the way through. Open the roast like a book. Then on the left side, working from the middle crease, filet the roast again, also not going all the way through, open the flap you just created, then repeat on the right side. (I will confess here, I learned this technique years ago from a youtube video, so feel free to look that up) You will end up with a relatively flat quadruple sized roast. Lay a gallon sized freezer bag over the meat and pound out to about 1/2 inch uniform thickness.

Using about an 18″ piece of butchers twine, make a loop in one end and slide under the roast as shown. Spoon the sausage/kale mixture over the meat and spread out leaving about 1/2 around the edge. Set your cast iron pan aside as you will use it for the sauce.

Now the fun part. Start to roll up the roast as tight as you can, rolling away from you and keeping the twine underneath. Once rolled, place the seam side down. Grab the loose end of the twine and feed it through the loop. Wrap the twine around the roast and when you come back around, feed your loose end under the twine and repeat until you get to the end of the roast. Tie off in a knot and cut off any excess.

Season the outside with salt and pepper and roast on an olive oil coated rack on a baking sheet. 60 minutes for med rare, adding additional time for more well done meat.

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While the venison is roasting, add a drizzle of olive oil to the cast iron pan you cooked the sausage in, and heat to medium. Once heated, add the onion and cook until the onion is caramelized and yummy. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vermouth or wine. Return the pan to the heat and stir with a whisk, picking up all of the leftover sausage bits. Once all of the bits are off the pan and combined, and the vermouth is reduced by about 1/2, add the mustard and chicken stock. Stir to combine and heat through. Turn the heat off.

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After the roast is cooked to your liking, remove it to a cutting board. Let the roast rest for 10 minutes. Carefully cut and remove the twine and slice your stuffed roast. I like to cut it on a bit of an angle, it just looks so pretty! Arrange the slices on a plate, quickly heat the sauce and pour over the sliced roast. Enjoy!!!

NOTE: This recipe also works great for pork loin, or beef roast. Feel free to substitute spinach for the kale. Also, if you are not a fan of cooking with alcohol, simply go straight to the chicken stock. Which, by the way is  another item always in the freezer since all of our roast chicken (homestead raised, of course!) meals end in a beautiful stock for future for soups, sauces and gravy.

 

 

 

 

firewood, homemade, homesteading, wood working

A Lesson in Wood Shavings

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On a cold February day,  my son Luke and I set out to make an ax handle. In the process, we received an unexpected lesson.  In a world with Home Depot and Amazon, we give little thought to buying the things we need.  The things we need are always at our fingertips, or at most a short drive or two days shipping away.  However, there are still a few things out there that you can’t get by just clicking a button and a handle for an old ax is one of them.  So we took a page out of our ancestors book, and when we needed something we made it from what was available.  The ax was special to us, as it had belonged to an older gentleman that had lived near us.  When he would walk by our house he would sometimes stop and talk and we always listened.  One time while we were splitting wood he stopped and told us all about how he used to split wood just like we were doing. As sad as we were about his passing, we happily purchased the ax at his estate sale along with a few other of his prized items.  The ax was small with a short handle. It split well, and was easy to carry along in the woods.  The day it broke, we were crushed,  so on this cold February day, we set out to make something truly homemade.  In the garage, we found a scrap piece of black walnut that was the right size.  We began by tracing the shape of the old handle onto the walnut.  We also added a center line for reference.  We clamped the wood in the vise, and went to work with our old draw knife,  also acquired at an estate sale.  It became apparent that this was not going to be a quick job, and as the work went on, I began to think of how much more careful our ancestors must have been with their tools.  When an errant swing could cost you a half a day of work, I bet you focus a whole lot harder on your task.  We also knew that the next time we used this ax we would have the same type of focus.

As the wood peeled off with each stroke of the draw knife, and the shavings piled up on the floor, the handle slowly took shape.  We often paused to hold the handle, because how it felt in our hands was important, and how it felt became just as important as how it looked.  We could imagine our ancestors doing the same, since this was a custom piece made to fit only our hands.  It was now our tool, not some generic thing from Lowe’s.

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The more we worked, the slower we went. We put so much time and effort into getting the handle to take shape that we wanted it to come out perfect.  This was another lesson in craftsmanship that has been lost today.  As we painstakingly carved the handle to fit the ax head,  my son Luke came up with a great idea to put a spent casing from our rifle in the handle, now the ax would most certainly be one of a kind.

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In the end, we hand-crafted a beautiful ax handle, that we will never forget making.  We also found that we had a greater appreciation for our forefathers, and how hard they worked for simple things.  It was nice to take a break from today’s world, escape the “screens” for a few hours, and do something that felt worthy of our effort.

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cooking, gardening, homemade, homesteading, Uncategorized

My New Found Relationship with Beets

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As the winter begins to wear on,  I often think about warmer weather and the past summer.  Sometimes I scroll through our pictures on cold days, usually looking at pictures of our homestead, and I am always drawn to pictures of food.  Today I stumbled upon this picture and it drew my attention immediately.  It looked like comfort food, like something I’d love to eat on a cold day.  I remembered the story of how this meal came to be.  Sometimes a meal is an old favorite, and sometimes it is a conscious decision to try something new, but this meal was a little different.  One day I posted a picture on Instagram of some beautiful beets that we had grown.

I always boiled beets and loved them prepared that way.  But one of my IG friends suggested that I roast them.  So I decided to try some roasted beets.  Immediately I realized that those beautiful beets were going to be awfully lonely.  So I began searching for other root veggies that might want to join the party.  We have a big garden and it was late in the year so I had no problem finding guests.  We had potatoes of all colors and beautiful ox-heart carrots. After a little more searching We found some turnips and some very sticky, sweet garlic.

We now had the makings of a wonderful dish.  We peeled all of the veggies with the exception of the potatoes.  Next we cubed all the veggies so the were roughly the same size to make them cook evenly.  We took all of the veggies and tossed them in bowl with olive oil and a little salt and pepper to coat them.  Another Instagram friend suggested we toss the beets separate so their color didn’t bleed into the rest of the veggies.  We then placed them in a glass baking pan and added some rosemary we grew.

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We placed them in a 350 degree oven and baked until the veggies were tender.  I was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the roasted beets that I may never eat them boiled again.  Another big surprise was the roasted carrots, which were tender and sweeter than boiled carrots.  The whole dish had undertones of roasted garlic and rosemary.  We served it as a side dish, but it could have easily been a main course.  If there had been any leftovers, I am sure they would been a great replacement for hash browns.  A meal that had started as a picture of a beet ended as a roasted medley of deliciousness.  It’s always good to have friends, no matter where you find them.