Category Archives: Let’s Eat!

The lonely pear

I tried to do my part for the overall health of our nation. Really. But I failed.

blogOct290005_mpJust before Thursday’s annual newsroom trick-or-treat party for the kids of co-workers I placed a very nice pear amid my bucket of Reece’s sticks. It was something like one piece of healthy, home-grown fruit and about 50 sticks of chocolate and peanut butter.

When the party was over I had one piece of fruit and five pieces of candy. At least most of the kids recognized it as some kind of fruit and many knew it was a pear.

I ate it on my way home. The kids didn’t know what they were missing.

By that late in the day I was tired of candy, anyway.

15 minute feast

Tonight we’ll have a heck of a meal that’ll include a fork-tender roast, soft red potatoes, cooked onion slices and corn on the cob – all with a nice, flavorful gravy.

And it’ll take me longer to blog about it than it took to actually prepare the meal.

This crock pot holds a complete meal - a moose roast, onions, potatoes and corn on the cob.

This crock pot holds a complete meal - a moose roast, onions, potatoes and corn on the cob.

I started by putting a frozen moose roast in the bottom of our crock pot. Venison will work as well.

So will beef, for those who have to slum it with store-meat. :-)

Next is a can of condensed  French onion soup. Atop of that goes large slices of red potatoes and onion.

On the very top, hoping to keep them out of the liquid to come, are several chunks of corn on the cob. It’s set to cook on low for 8-12 hours.

Because it’s cooking long, low and with plenty of moisture it’ll be perfect when served tonight. As well as the soup, moisture from the veggies and meat will make a wonderful sauce that can be spread over the meat and smashed-up potatoes.

In the past we’ve varied things up a bit by wrapping the venison roast in cabbage leaves. I’ve also added small, whole beets and carrots.

No matter, it’s one of the quickest meals I prepare. It’s also one of our favorites.

Moose burger Mondays! (with recipe)

One of the perks of being an outdoorsman professionally and on my own time is a freezer full of great eats. In our 30 years Kathy and I have seldom bought meat unless it was already cooked and we were in a hurry. We mostly turned down offers of free beef when my dad was raising cattle.

We enjoy the healthy aspects  of game meat and have some danged fine ways to cook everything from doves to moose. The latter is something we have in copious amounts this year.

You may remember my tag-along moose hunt in Maine with Chris Tymeson. As well as a great experience I got to keep half of the meat from the steer-sized bull moose. That means we have more than 100-plus pounds of moose burger.

And that doesn’t suck. Moose meat is very mild-flavored and we like it even better than elk – and that’s saying something.

So, to make sure we work our way through the burger and don’t end up putting a huge amount into jerky we’ve decided to have moose burgers every Monday evening. Weather permitting I’ll grill them outside. If not, I’ll break out the George Foreman which is hardly a let-down.*

As we do with venison burgers we’ll spice the ground moose up a bit before it hits the heat. Very simply done.

1-2 lbs. ground meat (can be venison or if you’re slumming it – beef.) :-)

2-3 tbs. powdered Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing or other seasoning. *

Thaw meat and press on a plate until about one-inch thick. Thoroughly  sprinkle seasoning over the burger. Fold one side of the meat over the other then thoroughly mix with your hands.

If possible, let sit an hour or so. If not, form into patties and cook. Be careful to not over-cook the patties so they don’t dry-out. Serve while hot.

* Other tips -

Frying in a skillet will work, though it doesn’t let the liquid drain from the cooking meat as on a grill. It helps if any fat in the burger drains off since the fat within wild game can have a strong taste.

Any favored meat seasoning will do. We’ve also  had good success with Montreal steak seasonings or from some home-made rubs. Just pick the flavors you like the best.

Enjoy. All we’ve shared the cooking style with have given good reviews.

Gumbo-thon!

A nasty winter system headed this way.

After Wednesday morning in a blind a bunch of us will be gathering for an annual lunch together as duck, pheasant, quail and turkey seasons come to an end.

Sounds like perfect conditions for a gumbothon!

I like many kinds of cooking but none more than throwing together a monster batch of gumbo.

That there are no real rules for a batch of the Cajun classic is a major attraction. It’s also fun to make it into monster-sized batches.

Most times I just walk out to our deep freeze and gather up an arm load of whatever I find.

The batch I made over the weekend includes the breast meat from a wild turkey gobbler we got last spring and the thighs from two young birds I shot this winter.

There’s also a wild pig roast, a dandy elk roast and four pounds of tube sausage.

I had to slum it and buy this year’s sausage. Most years I have a bunch of spicy brats or Polish sausage made from a wild pig. Last year Ed Markel contributed some danged fine homemade elk sausage that worked great.

I base my batches on some gumbo lessons from good friend Margaret Simien. She’s the mother of  former KU All-American basketball player Wayne Simien, Jr.   Every media report I ever read listed gumbo as his favored food.

I can see why.

Margaret learned to make gumbo from Wayne Sr.’s mother, a Louisiana native. Wayne’s family concedes that Kansas –born Margaret makes the finest gumbo in the family.

Here are the basics for a normal-sized batch, one that would feed about six people.

I basically did everything about 4X for Wednesday’s feast. Leftovers freeze well. Jerrod likes to take a small container to work and eat it with a package of microwave rice.

ALL-AMERICAN GUMBO

1 stalk of celery

1 large onion

1 lb. tube sausage (Johnsonville makes a New Orleans-style that’s great.)

2 chicken breasts*

garlic powder

Cajun seasoning

Seasoning salt

4-6 oz. roux *

file *

1-2 cups shrimp

*Most cookbooks have recipes for making homemade roux. I use Savoie’s instant roux that I order from www.cajungrocer.com. You can also order some amazing sausage from them, too.

*File is basically ground sassafras leaves used to thicken gumbo. It’s optional and can be found at some local grocery stores or online.

*Pheasant breasts and thighs work great in gumbo as does wild turkey. Most of my mega-batches have a venison roast or two.

Cut meat and veggies into bite-sized pieces and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the veggies and meat. Heat to a slow boil, stirring often.

Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt, Cajun seasoning and seasoning salt.

While it’s simmering, prepare the roux. If using instant roux boil about one quart of water and mix in the instant roux and stir and whisk until it’s totally disolved. Add to gumbo.

Let simmer another 20-30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Sample the broth. If it needs more “kick” sprinkle on more Cajun seasoning. If it needs more salt, add seasoning salt.

Cook rice, figuring about ¾  cup per serving of gumbo.

Add about 1 tbs. of file and stir into the pot of gumbo while you add the shrimp.

When serving, place rice in the bottom of a bowl and pour over the gumbo.

Other tips –

I like to make my gumbo two or three days in advance so the seasoning can work through all of the ingredients. If possible I’ll let it sit in the cooking pot in the garage or other cool place.

Again, there are no rules so get creative with the ingredients. Some use a lot of okra and others add peanuts. Rod Steven tells of adding shelled whole boiled eggs to the gumbo and putting one in each serving bowl.

Get creative, making each batch unlike any other is much of the fun.

So, while you’re eating your normal lunch Wednesday afternoon think of four good hunting buddies and a smattering of friends/landowners  and spouses coming in from the cold and sitting down to bowls of steaming gumbo.

I promise you, we’ll be having a great time.

Meaty Venison Chili

The combination of the on-going firearms deer season and this severe cold got me thinking about a good batch of venison chili.

That ground venison is so lean and flavorful makes it ideal for making chili. I like to take it a step or two further with this popular family recipe.

1 venison roast of about 3  lbs.

1 bottle mesquite or fajita marinade

1 lime

1/4 cup liquid smoke

1 package Williams Seasonings chili mix

1- 14.5 oz. can Williams diced tomatoes

1-14.5 oz. can of beans (We mix red and black beans)

Thaw roast and slice into inch-thick slabs. Soak for 12 or so hours in marinade, liquid smoke and juice of 1/2 lime.

Place on hot grill or skillet to sear the meat on both sides. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

In a crock pot combine seasoning mix, tomatoes and beans as per mix package directions. Add the meat and the juice of the other 1/2 of the lime.

Cover and cook on low all day.

Pheasant thoughts

Word from around the state is that most hunters found what wildlife experts had forecast for pheasant numbers. Some had their hunts hampered by standing crops they couldn’t access.

Hundreds of thousands of such moments were enjoyed across Kansas on Saturday's opening day of pheasant season. Most hunters were pleased with their success.

Hundreds of thousands of such moments were enjoyed across Kansas on Saturday's opening day of pheasant season. Most hunters were pleased with their success.

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Moose – it’s what’s for dinner

A trip to Topeka just saved the lives of a few Kansas deer this season.

We now have about 150 pounds of moose meat. It’s from the bull that buddy Chris Tymeson shot on our trip to Maine. He graciously offered me half of the animal.

The first steaks came off the grill last night.

As well as a great trophy for Chris Tymeson the bull moose he shot in Maine will supply hundreds of meals for the Tymeson and Pearce families. Moose tastes somewhat like elk but is even more mild-flavored. It's also ultra-healthy.

As well as a great trophy for Chris Tymeson the bull moose he shot in Maine will supply hundreds of meals for the Tymeson and Pearce families. Moose tastes somewhat like elk but is even more mild-flavored. It's also ultra-healthy.

The flavor was great, very mild and kind of like elk. Moose are notoriously great on the table.

Rather laid-back creatures their meat’s not usually tough. They eat green, succulent plants all spring and summer.

Like elk and venison it’s also very healthy with less fat and cholesterol than chicken.

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Great language, but what with dinner?

As a man with a very simple mind I greatly appreciate people who can simplify things as much as possible.

Native Hawaiians certainly knew what they were doing when developing their delightfully easy  language.

But some of their words don’t seem to correspond well with English – like pu-pu with dinner.

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