country life · Family · Food · History · Hunting · Vacation

Hunting We Will Go

 

20181002_103614
Howling Game

It’s hunting season here. That means my wonderful husband will be off for a 3-week elk hunting trip with his friends. Once upon a time I was more into the hunting but not anymore. I thoroughly enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement hunting brings to Jimmy. He is the best!
Many, many years ago (warning, memory lane and ex-husband Dale story happening) we were on a lease at Travis Marks ranch in Fannin/Goliad Texas. He was an incredible man and the most fun to hunt with. Hunting on a working ranch is always fascinating to me. I love watching the ranch being worked and this family, including his wife was out working the cattle. I remember the 1st time I saw her in full face makeup and beautiful clothes on her horse working the cows. She sparkled and shined as she made it look like child’s play wrangling the cattle to be worked. The sight of her big convertible Cadillac with horns on the grill coming at you down the dark country road would bring a smile to my face, after it scared the daylights out of me. That woman could drive!

EPSON MFP image
Doe for Deer 1993 Travis Marks Ranch. Three layers of clothes in the morning!

On the ranch was a little museum that memorialized his family’s history. His father was one of the founding members of the Salt Grass Trail Ride. What an honor to have been able to see this memorial he had. He raised long horn that were used in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the beginning of each rodeo performance. I learned a great deal about Texas history from Travis and his wife Linda. Dinner at the Empresario with them was exciting. Listening to the stories of not just Travis but his friends and neighbors made for an entertaining experience.

 
When Travis got a chance to hunt with us it was always entertaining. We once stalked geese on a pond, crawling on our bellies with our guns in hand as we came over the little hill trying not to spook them. He made sure my hunting partners always put me in the blind of the front pasture (Linda’s pasture). It backs up to the river behind the trees. Guaranteed to get a deer and since I hunted only for meat, I went for the does when it was the season. I would sit in the blind, wearing vanilla perfume, reading a book by a little light waiting for the sun to come up. Some days I just sat and watch the deer as they came out to eat in the early light. The smell of musk was incredibly strong on the ranch as the bucks marked their territory. And nothing made me crazier than being able to track deer for the guys, so they knew where the deer were crossing. Many memories were made on his ranches in the area. I shot my first turkey on his ranch. Dove season and quail was always incredible. Rabbits were not my thing, but the guys killed a lot. Those things can take over a field so quickly and eat the young sprouts. Once a little rabbit was just stunned and not shot. I took it and set it free while the guys were cleaning the dead ones.

EPSON MFP image
First turkey and pregnant in 1994.

And nothing like driving the jeep into town and forgetting about the rack on top as we drove through Dairy Queen for lunch one day. I don’t the think guys liked when the wives got together and headed to town. Always mischief to be had. I learned that rattle snaked jump straight up! First time I ever heard Dale yell. We chased turkey all over the Fannin property in the jeep. They are fast! Every year we had to take back the blinds from the owls who nested in them. Nothing like 6 inches of dead mice, rabbits and owl manure having to be cleaned out. Yuck! If you hunted you worked to maintain it just like the guys so we helped clear the blinds, fill feeders and mow the trails.

 

I hunted on Travis’s properties until I was too big and pregnant to get up and down the blinds. Then the vertigo set in and there is nothing worse than trying to get a big pregnant hot angry woman with vertigo out of a blind. I was so fortunate that we had a lot of game and fresh fish. We ate what we caught and killed. Dale would make venison sausage that was to die for. My family always wanted some when he had a chance to make it. I love fresh turkey cooked on the grill and loved waterfowl until I got pregnant. Made him cook duck gumbo outside that year. He is still a great cook. I learned a lot from him.

 

The first time I went duck hunting was not a great day. We were to hunt down in the Anahuac area there in east Texas. Dale of course had the proper gear and knew what he was doing. I did not! After an air boat ride we hopped out with the dog (named Trouble)and I was to follow him to where we were going to hunt. Yeah, well I stepped into a coypu (nutria rat) hole and sank clean up to hips. As I struggled to get myself out of the hole (he was putting out the decoys and Trouble ran around) the light was coming up and I heard him yell ‘duck’. So I ducked my head down thinking he was shooting. No, the ducks were coming in to the decoys around me and as I looked up all I could see was duck feet in my face. Scared the living daylights out of me. And Dale laughed. Yeah, I haven’t hunted ducks since except with Travis.

EPSON MFP image
Unhappy 1st duck hunt

And a little side note here, I was always told you shouldn’t wear make-up or hair products to hunt let alone scented anything. Honey, I wore make-up when I wanted. Vanilla perfume attracts the deer. I would hunt in high heel wedge boots too! Oh yes, when I wasn’t roughing it with the guys I dressed to the top for my deer. And I always got a deer when I wanted to shoot one. So, take that y’all!!

 
After my little walk down memory lane, I watch as my husband Jimmy packs his gear and prepares the trailer for his trip. This year they are heading to Colorado. I will miss the dickens out of him. But he deserves this trip and the break from work. Jimmy checks on me regularly and shares his adventures when he has cell service, so I get to enjoy in his escapades.

20181002_103733
Dead and gone

Jimmy brings home the bacon, the venison, the fish and anything else he kills or catches. Yep, still a lucky lady here. Jimmy and my step-son Nick fill our freezer with fresh fish and lobster each year.

 

And it is that time of year where I am down to just barely any meat left so Jimmy better get to work on filling it. Hopefully it will be some elk but if not, he always gets the deer and venison is our main meat around here. Jimmy is better at the hunting than I am as you can see and enjoys his time with the Texas boys, Jeff, Robert and Josh. Once he is back, I get to share his latest adventure with you. Then we will be off to Texas for the wedding and bow season. I love hearing Jimmy’s stories and the mounts on the wall of the Mancave. But for now, my heart aches that he is going to be gone.

 

 

Good luck to you, Donny and Mike! Love you, be safe and have a great time!

West Tx Buck Jimmy
West Texas Buck Baby
Cooking · Food

Sous Vide Me

Cookbook Collection

I thought I would talk a little about cooking with you today. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. It is how I show my feelings and how I like to take care of people. I had written a cook book for my daughter, at her request, and then my computer crashed. I didn’t back it up! Rookie mistake to say the least. When I went to rewrite her another one, by this time she was now severely lactose intolerant. So, I had to set about changing recipes and making new ones to accommodate her needs. I will send her recipes at her request from time to time and started saving them along the way. So, one day, I will have a new cook book ready to go. Until then, I try to make sure I write it down and take pictures of the recipe to have additional backup of my creations.

Growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food are my favorites. Grandma made great biscuits, but the refried beans and tortillas were my favorites for breakfast. Our mother made great German style foods. Italian was my go to as a teenager. Mother had a great marinara sauce, but I like mine even better. I loved taking Home Economics in school. It helped expose me to different types of food and how to make a kitchen function well. Trust me, if the kitchen set up doesn’t flow well, neither will your cooking.

As we grow up and get exposed to more cultures, our food sphere expands. I love food. I love figuring out the spices and learning different ways of cooking. From drinks to desserts, I am always excited to taste new things and how it is made. Learning what wines to pair with food, and how to make those cute little bubbles of spirits makes cooking so much more exciting. There is a wine or liquor for every course, I just love it!

I also love setting the table properly. I don’t get many occasions to do that anymore with the kids all grow up. So anytime Marie wants to have a party, I am right there with her. I miss setting the full array of dishes for a table. Berry bowls are one of favorites. Few know what they are, and I love explaining the history of it. My husband and I have yet to really buy a nice set of dishes since we married (both previously divorced). So, you will see a lot of pictures with my deer dishes from good old Bass Pro. But Marie, Marie is the collector of dishes. Part of that is my fault for giving my old china to her. It makes for great occasions when you have an array of different dishes to use and expands your décor options for the parties. To me a good set of dishes/China just makes the food taste better. It can be dishes from the dollar store but if you put in the effort to set a nice table, the food just stands out.

Recipe Collection 1

Both Marie and I are collectors of cookbooks. Some we both have, and some are unique to the other. I have been known to take all my cookbooks and stack them up beside my chair for a day of inspiration as I thumb through them. I love to feel the pages in my hands and sometimes the little stores that go along with them are written with the recipe. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest is great for a quick idea and go to source. But nothing beats a good old cookbook in your hand.

Marie and I are both collectors of kitchen gadgets. Whether it is new or an antique, we both love our kitchen gadgets. KitchenAid has made it even easier with their mixers and all the wonderful attachments. Things as simple as a rolling-pin to a garlic press are so much fun. Pastry cutters and a simple mandolin can take a pie from good to great. One of my favorite ‘gadget’ you could say is my sous vide machine. I love it! My husband’s friend made his own sous vide from a YouTube video. Yeah, that didn’t work out too well. Then another friend who happens to be an incredible chef in his own right, showed me his set up. Again, the set up was homemade but far superior to the other. I opted to buy the actual whole machine for myself. They make an incredible countertop version. You would be amazed all the things you can make in it and how much it will help when it comes to throwing parties.

SV1
Sous Vide supreme

One of my husband’s favorite meals, venison with a Bordelaise sauce, I use my sous vide to cook. I decided to cook it and share with you how easy it is to make. Since my husband’s hunting and fishing supplies roughly 90% of our meat, I always have something wonderful on hand. With the meat defrosted, I prepared the sous vide machine by filling it with water and setting the temperature. I like my meat medium rare, so I set it for 134 degrees. As the water heats up I season the meat with my go to seasoning of granulated garlic (fresh garlic seems to go rancid when sous vide too long) and Tony Chachere’s Spicy Blend. Then I vacuum seal the venison loins in two separate bags making sure to double seal the ends. Once the water reaches the 134 degrees I place the sealed meat in the rack and set the timer for 4 hours. The venison would be ready in an hour if need be, but I wanted this for dinner, so I set it for 4 hours. The machine will cook the meat to the 134 degrees but never go beyond that and hold it at the temperature until ready to eat.

 

Bordelaise sauce is a fair easy sauce to make. There are many different versions you can find on the internet. I prepare it the way I was taught by a chef friend of mine. I use half of a large shallot chopped (about 2 tablespoons), 2 cups of beef bone broth (I make my own but you can used canned broth and add a demi-glace to it), one tablespoon of butter, 2 cups of red wine (I used a Cabernet, but I prefer a Merlot), fresh cracked pepper and thyme (I showed a bottle of thyme but remembered I just planted some fresh so used it instead). Sauté the shallots until tender then add the thyme (roughly ½ a tablespoon). Then add the wine, broth and cracked pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper so about a tablespoon). Simmer until reduced by half, strain the sauce before serving.

 

While the meat was cooking I prepared a butternut squash for the oven. Peeled, diced and seasoned with rosemary, garlic and Tony Chachere’s Spice N’ Herbs seasoning. I prepared a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with avocado oil spray. Oven heated to 425 degrees, I cooked the squash for 20 minutes turn them halfway through the process.

 

Once the meat was ready, I removed it from the bags and let it sit for a couple minutes. Normally I would have prepared the grill to sear the outside, but it was raining. Instead I heated my skillet until it was hot and seared the outside of the meat. I like the lines the pan makes but I don’t want to cook the meat. I remove it from the heat and use a torch to make the lines darker on the meat and give it a little crunch on the outside. Perfectly medium rare!

 

Finished off the meal with some English peas and I have a happy husband. Have you tried Sous Vide cooking yet?

sv30