Thursday, November 15, 2018

How to Cook Elk (and Other Game)

I got my first elk ever. 
Image result for elk
(This is just a Pinterest pix from our area.)
He was a spike so should be good eatin’.
Honestly, it was weird. 
I never like seeing a critter die. 
Something I just realized I do is apologize to the animal then
follow it with a prayer of thanks. 
This fella was about 3 miles (mostly vertical!) from the rig. 
It took us two days to pack out all the meat. 
We lucked out in that we made it back to the rig with the last load
just before the rain started. 
We were just below the snow line so it wasn’t one of those nice warm rains either. 
We were pretty sore by that third morning. 
We looked like acrobats just trying to get out of bed that morning. 
I told MrLB “I wonder if this is what it will be like when we’re 80.”
Since we boned it out on the mountain,
we didn’t get to wait for hang time in order to process it
so went straight to work at cleaning and cutting and wrapping. 
We got the bulk of it done in one day but did have a couple hours the following morning in order to finish up. 
We are keeping it in the refrigerator for a couple days to cure
before transferring it to the freezer. 
MrLB is picking up beef fat today so we can get the burger and sausage ground. 
We ended up with right about 200 lbs. of meat. 
I can’t tell you how many people have asked if I’m making jerky.  
To me, that’s like going out and spending $1000 on dress shoes to wear through the mud or making creme brûlée and feeding it to the hogs!
Then it dawned on me,
most people don’t know how to cook game. 
Me being the curious person I am have researched various tidbits 
about not just wild game, but grass fed livestock in general. 
There is a ton of scientific information behind it,
but I will paraphrase ~
Grain (plus mystery substance) fed animals grow abnormally fast. 
Yes abnormally- as in not natural. 
Of course that’s the whole reason they are fed what they are fed. 
Grass fed (or leaves and other wild vegetation) animals
grow at a natural rate which is much slower than industry acceptance. 
The tissues/fibers of a grain fed animal grow so rapidly that they aren’t very strong. 
Those that eat a natural diet grow strong healthy tissues and fibers. 
That grain fed tissue is so weak, it can be cooked up in no time. 
Throw those steaks on the barbie and you’re eating 15 minutes later. 
That’s not the case with game meat or meat from a naturally raised animal. 
These fibers take longer to break down so
if you try to cook it like store bought meat,
it will be tough and you’ll be disappointed. 
The other thing to be aware of is salting the meat. Game should be salted in the final stages of cooking rather than right when it’s subjected to heat. 
Go ahead and add any other herbs or spices at the beginning of cooking,
but save the salt until last.
If you do those two things, you should enjoy your seeing that game meat
on the table and not just in the snack bin as jerky.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Elk Season 2018

Yesterday was opening day.
Isn't it peculiar how we can be surrounded by people
and feel all alone?
Or be here and feel complete.

(No elk yet.)

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Well Howdy folks~

I do hope you’ve had a fantastic summer.
We have recently built our first fire and received our first real rain since June.
They should be opening the forests, if they haven’t already, 
so we can go get firewood.
That’s something we usually like to do in spring, and we do have some 
but not enough to make it through the winter.
You are probably wondering what we’ve been up to these past few months
- or even if you aren’t wondering, I’m still gonna tell 'cause I'm ornery that way.
The garden did reasonably well this year in the way of green beans and tomatoes so canning those to help carry us through winter was a priority.
In addition to canning, the dehydrators have been busily humming along
with apricots, plums, strawberries, blackberries, and apples.
We’ve processed one bear so far (wouldn’t mind another.)
In addition to the meat, we rendered 1 gallon of incredibly delicious lard 
and for the first time bone broth.

Mr LB surprised me with this amazing cauldron.
I had been wanting one for some time. He’s such a sweetie!
We were able to process all of the bones in one go 
and ended up with several gallons (in quart and pint jars) of broth.
Aside from our jobs, that’s what has consumed most of our time.
About the plans and projects I alluded to in my last post,
well they are still in progress.
Believe it or not, I have been trying to work on them, 
but as often happens life gets in the way.
I’ve been blogging for ten years now and over that span, 
there have been many changes -
Both in myself and in the land of blogs.
Is it just me or did they used to be more personable?
Once I was about a month into the break,
(probably while chopping tomatoes- great thinks get thunk while chopping)
I realized I was no longer thinking of my life in the form of blog posts.
It was a refreshing realization.
We went out of town for a wedding and a visit to friends this past weekend, and
I think it was the first time I took pictures in two months.
Somewhere between boiling bear bones and slicing apples,
I decided to just take it easy in the way of blogging.
I will post occasionally but not on a regular basis.
As I do finalize some of the things I’m working on
(though turtle pace it may be)
I will be sharing them with you
It always makes me wonder when a blog just stops 
or doesn’t post for several months, if everything is okay at the other end.  
(Am I the only one who wonders such things?)
So I just wanted to let you know
that even if I don’t post regularly, I’m here.
Here working, here living, and here moving through the seasons.
I'm here.

As always, I love to hear from you 
so feel free to drop me a line and harass me a bit.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Finding Home

I've been thinking of Christmas lately.  
I know, weird.  
But do you remember the feeling of Christmas, being home, 
and that feeling that was just as present as another being.  
A comfort of sorts - in the smell of the cookies baking, or the sugary frosting, or the lights playing peek-a-boo from behind the boughs of the tree, 
or the simple prospect of a hug from a loved one.  
That feeling void of global turmoil, political correctness, or weight of expectations. 
 I've been craving that feeling like one craves a specific flavor.  
It's a certain kind of peace - not naivety or ignorance, but a knowledge that "it is well."  Whatever "it" is, there is peace in its wellness.  
So I've been trying to figure out how to satisfy that craving, and it's proving a challenging feat, but that's my quest at the moment.
Each of us has our own level of comfort and what we can handle before we go crazy.  
One of the things for me is having some form of order in our home.  
I'm not sure how, but paper clutter has been breeding like crazy.  
I have stacks to sort through.  
It's also canning season.  
I canned the first batch of green beans last week and just picked our first ripe tomato.  
I have set up a makeshift "summer kitchen" out in our shop so we don't heat up the house.  We've had a few weeks of triple-digit weather 
and aren't expecting a break until the middle of next week.  
That has created more shuffling of items and more 'stuff' to go through.  
I thought I'd gone through it all, but alas I was wrong.  
I've found two  more years of taxes that can be burned (when it cools down,) 
even more papers to go through - sort, file, pitch, 
and various things that are just the result of living in one place for nearly 20 years. 
My goal is functionality. 
 I think I've always been a function over fashion sort of person.  
How our home needs to function in order to meet our lifestyle changes over time 
so it needs to be altered or adapted to how we live.  
I used to can some jellies here and there but baked quite a bit.  
Now, I can a significant portion of our veggies and we eat very few grains/sweets.  
The equipment and supplies used for each is different.  
The kitchen still seems geared towards baking but there is a shift so in reality, 
it's not really convenient for baking or canning - go figure. 
 It's getting a going-through.  
Soap making supplies can go out to the summer kitchen 
as well as fiber dying materials and supplies.  
It's really a big rearranging of stuff.  
Buuuuuutt.... all of this rearranging kinda creates a chaotic scene 
which makes me walk with a bit of a twitch.
Our fruit trees, berry bushes and garden are loaded, 
and that produce needs tending or soon will.
With a full time job, a 'spare' job, and tending to our winter's food supply,
I feel like I'm running in mud.
With that, I've decided to take a couple months off from the blog and Etsy shoppe.  
I will still be 'here,' but it's such a busy time,  
I need to focus on home and family and try to make our home function 
for us rather than against us.  
I hope you will understand. 
 I will return the beginning of October as the leaves begin to fall ~ a beautiful time. 
I'm hoping to take this opportunity to update and clean up a few things
on the blog and in the shoppe as well as our home. 
I want to thank each of you reading this.  
I appreciate your time and your comments, and hope you have a superb summer.
I also hope you are able to find a relaxing spot to enjoy a cup of something cold
and appreciate the season we are in.

PS~ These pictures are just some of the produce growing in our yard/garden as of this morning.