Can I Have Some Fat? Please.

I grew up in a family where hunting wasn’t a normal part of life.  My dad never just took off into the woods to try to rustle up some dinner.  So imagine my surprise when I married a hunter, and there’s occasionally a large chunk of very fresh deer meat that turns up in our freezer.  Oh my!

One such deer found its way to our fridge on Saturday.  I named him Jimmy.  So this week, we’re spending a good chunk of time processing Jimmy.

You might think it’s weird or heartless or weird (double weird) to name your meat.  But I saw Jimmy all together in one piece, and it somehow feels kinder to give him a name.  I happen to think that it’s okay to eat meat, and even though I don’t have any desire to hunt, I am glad my husband can bring us venison sometimes.  So I try not to be too squeemish about “processing.”  I know that all of my other favorite meat-based meals started out in more or less the same way.  I just didn’t see them at the beginning.

Something I’ve learned over the past few hunting seasons is that you often need to add fat to venison to make a decent ground meat.  You do need some fat, after all, for cooking.  Venison tends to be lean, and Jimmy was in good shape.  He needs some fat.  It turns out that it’s tougher than we thought it would be to buy fat at the grocery store.  We’ve now asked at three major grocery stores, “Excuse me, can I buy some fat?”  I don’t think I’ve ever asked for something stranger at the grocery store.  I really hope the fourth person I ask doesn’t give me a weird look and a strong, “No.”

Once we’ve gotten past all of those things, it will be recipe time.  That’s the part I like.  This is our favorite recipe from the last time there was a deer in our fridge/freezer:

photo by Ditte Isager (via Cooking Light)

photo by Ditte Isager (via Cooking Light)

It’s called Beef and Butternut Chili, but it tastes just right with venison.  There’s a ton of flavor in that recipe, and the cooking time allows the venison to get tender.  It will definitely be used again this year.

Instead of thinking about venison recipes, I should really be prepping meals for the next few weekends and freezing them.  Or better yet, calling some insurance folks to ask questions I’ve been putting off for a week now.  Who wants to call insurance people when you could be daydreaming about warm stews though?  Not this girl.

Fall Flavor Week

A great friend got married near Ithaca, New York last weekend, and Scott and I had the pleasure of celebrating with her and her now-husband.  It was gorgeous, with fall leaves everywhere and the general awesomeness of small towns and new places.

As per usual, I forgot to take pictures of the trip.  I’m sorry!  I did get to bring a piece of the wedding home, however.  Maggie’s flowers were (and still are) stunning.  They are a lot like her–artistic and unique, bright and full of life.  See for yourself:

All of that beauty and the chill in the air made me want to bring some fall home to our warmer neck of the woods, so I went online recipe-hunting.  These are the recipes that won:

  • Monday: Savory Baked Apples (om nom nom!).  I did use ground turkey instead of sausage, just because we already had some ground turkey in the freezer.  When all was said and done, Scott and I decided that while this recipe was freaking awesome, we would simplify it a bit next time.  Instead of the stuffed apples thing, we would chop up a few apples, include them in the stuffing when it says to add apples, and there you go.  No time-consuming apple-coring and emptying.  No pre-baking.  No “Is this the right apple to stuffing ratio?” questions.  It was genuinely delicious though.

photo from Cooking Light (by John Autry)

  • Tuesday: Beef and Butternut Chili (om again).  This one was delicious exactly according to recipe.  I mean, truly delicious.  There was a ton of flavor, the beef was tender, and little birds sang into the window as rays of evening light shone into the kitchen.  I even had time to clean up most of the dishes while the chili/stew/awesome simmered on the stove.

photo from Cooking Light (by Ditte Isager)

  • Wednesday: Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce.  This one was a tiny bit heavier on the veggies than the other recipes, which was good.  And I used boneless chicken thighs, which made the dish less expensive (bonus).  It was really good, but after the incredible flavors from the first two recipes, this one wasn’t quite as perfect.  Good.  Really, really good, but not amazing.  Oh, I also added some oven-roasted rosemary potatoes.

photo from Cooking Light (by Johnny Autry)

My stomach feels great about this week.  Thanks, Cooking Light!