Thursday, October 28, 2010

Aunt Mary's Rifle

Mary Estelle Murray was my mother's mother's sister, my great aunt, but I just knew her as Aunt Mary. She was an enormously influential force of my childhood. She was a retired school teacher, never married, who even into her late '70's grew an incredible vegetable garden while finding time for us two kids and still giving a lot of hours to her church and community.  She taught me to garden, and that really stuck.  We had to literally steal her ladder to prevent her, at 78, from going up onto her steep roof and raking leaves off.  With the hindsight of near middle age I recognize her as one of the best people I've ever known, and as a child her status with me was somewhere between Jesus and Buddha. I'm no longer religious, but if more of the self-righteous zealots that clog the airwaves and tubes were like her, I'd consider relapsing.

Now, if you are expecting a story of how she used the above-mentioned rifle ardently and provided us with game galore, you will be disappointed. She did provide, in spades, but the most violent thing I've ever seen her do was disjoint a chicken from the Piggly Wiggly or maybe dispatch a snake with her hoe.  Not saying she wasn't capable, as a child of a depression-era farm I'm sure she did everything there was to do on it. 

Anyhow, not long after I killed my deer on Catalina my daddy told me I could have the loan (on a more or less permanent basis) of a .270 rifle.  I was happy to hear this, since I planned to buy one anyhow and they ain't super cheap.  It was a little bit roundabout getting it (nothing serious, just typical family relations) but when I retrieved it from my brother's safe and took it back to show it to daddy, he told me a simple story.

When Aunt Mary was dying in 1992, daddy did a lot to help take care of her, essentially voluntarily taking over the duties power-of-attorney and other such legal issues while he made sure she got the best care possible.  She did, unfortunately, have to stay in a nursing home for a couple of months (she was incapacitated by a series of strokes) but thankfully that situation didn't last very long.  I couldn't bring myself to be in the room when she died, but Daddy was, and one of the few times I saw him cry was when it was over.

According to Daddy, by SC law the executor of an estate can charge a fee to that estate for the services.  Since we didn't have a deer rifle (we hunted with shotguns and dogs) daddy decided us kids might want one and that it was fair to charge the exact purchase price of a Savage 110 .270 with scope at the local Ace hardware (a modest purchase, actually).  I remember him bringing home the gun, and shooting at targets in the field behind the house.  To my teenage self it kicked like a mule and was loud as all Hell. 

Unfortunately, I guess the timing was bad, since I was losing interest in hunting and my brother was following in my dad's interest in dog hunting.  My dad also admitted that it just didn't fit him right so he never used it himself.  It had sat in a closet or a safe all these years, with probably less than a box of rounds going through it.  It has not yet killed a deer.

So now that rifle is effectively mine.  And I'm taking it to Catalina.  Hopefully, with Aunt Mary's blessing, to make its first kill.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Venisonoeuf Bourguignon

So, classic recipe, different ruminant.  As we say in our business this recipe "was performed in general accordance with" the version Julia Child put forth in my dog-chewed (Pasco was a puppy, he couldn't help it) edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (yes, I saw the movie, yes I loved it, but yes I was drunk at the time).  Like a scrotum here it is in a nutshell:

I used the petite ham, silverskin separated out (there wasn't that much) and roughly cubed into inch-ish square portions.  This was truly beautiful meat in texture, color, smell, I wanted to have some deer sashimi.
Half done

I tossed the cubes in a black peppered flour then browned them on each side in olive oil.  I took those out the pan and slightly browned some carrots and sliced onions.

When that was done I reintroduced the meat, then put in a can of beef consomme, a lot of red wine, a small can of tomato paste, sliced mushrooms, garlic, and thyme.

On a whim, I added some peas (they just seemed to belong) then we at it on a bed of mashed 'taters (gold variety). 
Old beagle approves, jealously.
This was the most tender and tasty cut so far, even better than the backstrap to us (haven't had the tenderloin yet though).  I'm thinking that I'm going to maybe make steaks out of the other one and grill them, see how that goes.

So, tickets are officially purchased for my next trip to Catalina in Dec., quite looking forward to it.  Also, two of my good friends from there are coming back to Gville soon, very looking forward to that.  Hope its good weather all around.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Venison Stroganoff (heh heh heh, you said stroganoff)

Sorry for the long hiatus, we got a little venisoned out and took a detour with other meatstuffs for a couple weeks.  I actually had a beef steak the other night, the first one that I've cooked since I shot this doe back in August.

The dish for the day is Venison Stroganoff (The pervy 14 yr old in me really wants to slip a masturbation joke in somewhere but the 39 yr old adult is threatening to pop him one if he does.  Oops, too late, look at the title!).  Since don't think I've ever had Stroganoff except for out of a box with an anthropomorphized cooking mitt on it, I was looking forward to it.  I chose the two eye of round sections that FC had deftly slipped from the doe's haunches weeks ago.  The recipe is very easy.  I sliced the eyes of round into about half-inch thick sections and sprinkled them with salt and black pepper.  I sauteed them in olive oil until golden.

About half done
I removed the meat to a bowl while I sauteed some mushrooms and onions in the remaining oil and some butter.  I also put the egg noodles on to cook as well.

Dirty stove is dirty.
After the mushrooms and onions had gotten to a nice point I stirred in a small can of beef consume, about 5-6 ounces of sour cream, and a good squirt of spicy mustard.  I let that all come to a simmer while I took the egg noodles off and drained them.  Mix everything all together in the pan, and call 'em to dinner.  As Paula would say "Yummy, Y'all!"

I was about a third through with my plate when the hubby reminded me I needed a pic of the blog.  So here is my less-than-artfully rearranged plate in front of part of my trophy wall of refrigerator magnets.  I've gotten one from every significant place I've gone for the last few years now.

Catalina is along the top row, second from right.
In other news, plans are finalizing for a second hunting trip to Catalina this year, my cousin George is very keen on going, and I have one more deer tag to fill (I saved it on purpose, because I was fairly sure George and I would return).  I'm bringing my own rifle out this time, which is a story for a near-future update.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just Some Ramblings...

(Note from the end of 2013:  I'm pretty sure I wrote this after several beers, back when I was trying to get my thoughts all in a row about hunting.  It's a little bit cringe-worthy to re-read, but I'm leaving it up here because it really is a trail marker in my evolution on the subject.   And besides, I still basically agree with most of it)

I've been reading a lot of writings about deer hunting lately.  Things that have surfaced:

1.  I could give a shit less about bagging a giant buck in rut and/or the antler obsession that seems to permeate the subject.  It is like that saying about beauty magazines, don't read those articles cause it will just make you feel ugly.

2.  I'm ashamed that I've never paid more attention to deer behavior.  For all the times I've walked in on them, I should have noticed more.  I'm a lot more informed now, and hope to actually take the time to carefully walk in on them and observe more behaviors through the year.

3.  I am incredibly aware that it is a thinking animal that I'm aiming for, but I also want to have some fun hunting, mostly seeing great places.

4.  There is a lot of stuff I'm not sure about hunting public land yet, including the etiquette of scouting a stand, but I'd like to learn. 

On the other hand, I have much less charitable feelings about pigs.  I'm looking forward to the "small game season" when you can walk though several of the state forests with a shotgun full of 00 shot looking for hogs.  I hope to go down to Goethe or Myakka and kill one of the damn things.