Search This Blog

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grilled Antelope Burgers? (Blog Twenty-two)

Recently, I went rabbit hunting with Delbert Dudding of Botetourt County and several of his friends.  When Delbert picked me up for the outing, he brought Elaine and me a package each of antelope burger and mule deer steak.  Over the course of the next week, Elaine and I dined on these exotic for us meats as of course neither creature lives anywhere near our Southwest Virginia home.I enjoyed both the burgers and the steak, especially the former as I found antelope meat very mild and similar in taste to venison.  The experience caused me to think about other unusual wild foods I have dined on.  My dad, for example, told me that as a boy growing up in the Great Depression his mom fixed "fried possum" - a repast that dad does not remember fondly.But I have enjoyed a number of atypical game meals.  Once in Summersville, West Virginia my host served grilled alligator - an extremely tasty dish.  Another time a friend brought Elaine and me a stingray which Elaine baked - again another delicious treat.  A number of times I have consumed grilled frog legs and yes they do taste like chicken.I admit that I have not yet tried fried opossum, and really have no desire to do so - based on dad's accounts of the meat's greasy nature.  But I am game for just about anything else. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chickens, Part II (Blog Twenty-one)

Saturday, Elaine and I finished building some 80 percent of our chicken run.  The weekend before we had dug holes then set the posts in concrete.  Our primary activity yesterday was to position the aptly named "chicken wire" around those posts and to attach the wire.

Our next goal will be to make a door that will obviously serve as the coop's entrance, attach that door to a post, and finish positioning the chicken wire.  The next project will be more difficult - building the coop.

Elaine has long made fun of me for not being handy with tools, and the truth is that I am not.  Both of our fathers were very handy around their respective houses, and it has always been apparent to her that tool handiness is not something that genetically can be passed down - at least in my family.

Our daughter Sarah's husband, David, is an engineer, and he not only can read and make plans (both of which I seem incapable of) but carry them out as well. One of the reasons that I wanted to undertake the "chicken project" as we are now calling it, is so that I could develop some handyman skills.

Meanwhile, we are scheduled to receive 10 Rhode Island Red chicks the first week of May.  I had better become adept at coop building in a hurry.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Venison Chowder (Blog Twenty)

If you are looking to fix venison dishes in different ways, here is a recipe that I recently tried and that Bruce and I both enjoyed.  For dessert, we had wild blackberry pie.  Ice cream is optional!

Venison Chowder

1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 pound ground venison
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups liquid (chicken broth, vegetable broth, or game stock are other possibilities)
Salt and pepper to taste (ground pepper and sea salt are really good)
8 oz. whole wheat pasta

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add the carrot, celery, and onion, cooking until slightly tender.  Add the ground venison and cook until browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce and 2 cups liquid.  Cook 10 minutes or so, adding salt and pepper to taste.  At this time cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Add the drained pasta to the venison mixture and heat together for 4-5 minutes more. 

You can garnish with chopped parsley, cheese, or sliced green onions.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chickens (Blog Nineteen)

Recently, Elaine and I have been discussing whether or not to raise chickens on our 38-acre parcel.  We have been reading books and magazines on the topic and talking with other folks who have reared these animals.  The desire to raise chickens is part of our goal to be as self-sufficient as we can in regards to what we eat.

This past year I killed 10 deer in Virginia and West Virginia and tagged a total of five turkeys in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee, fulfilling much of our meat needs for 2011.  Elaine buys organic, free range chickens from a local Botetourt farmer (who has already processed them, of course), and we are thinking maybe we could raise our own chickens for meat and eggs, thus basically not having to buy any meat from anyone, except for fish for an occasional dinner.

Of course, one of the things we already know about chickens is that they have a lot of wild predators: raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, bobcats, bears, hawks, and owls - all of which we have in abundance in Botetourt County.  And domestic animals such as dogs and cats will kill a chicken if they have a chance.  So raising chickens would require, first of all, that we create a safe run and a predator proof hen house for them.  Last year, a bear crumpled our seven-foot-tall garden fence and climbed into our vegetable patch, so I am not sure any structure we make or buy will be totally predator proof.

Still, the two of us are intrigued by the thought of raising chickens.  In a couple of months, I will let you know what progress we are making on this issue.  Meanwhile, if you have insight on this topic, please feel free to e-mail us or comment here.