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.

Holiday in the Woods

I certainly grew up in a family that liked to eat, but my husband’s family is all about the Thanksgiving feast in a way that my family never was.  There are about 10 side dishes and leftovers for every branch of the family to take home.  It’s kind of amazing.

Scott being Si from Duck Dynasty (the tea glass is key)

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few days–eating.  The comical twist in the story is that while rushing out of the house on Wednesday afternoon, Scott and I forgot all of our toiletries for the trip.  No toothbrush, no deodorant, no anything.  Fortunately, Scott’s family is generous, and there are these things called drug stores all over the place.  Even with those good things, I went 4 days using my finger as a toothbrush, not brushing my hair, not wearing a lick of makeup.  It added a tiny bit of rusticity to the holiday.

On top of that, I went hunting for the first time in my life.  Or I went along for a hunt, anyway.  Scott and I sat in the woods for a few hours (almost–it got really cold!), and I looked around and read my book in turns.  Scott is a better hunter than I am, but at least I did my best to not talk.

The main wildlife we saw that morning was a racoon that we treed nearby.  Accidentally treed.  The poor guy looked really cute at first and took a nap far up the tree.  Then he got really agitated that we wouldn’t leave, and he wagged his tail really hard and made weird sounds at us for the next hour.  It was kind of disconcerting.

That one morning of cold adventuring will last me a while.  Scott, however went out again the next day and met with more success.  Something about a wife flipping book pages and a racoon hissing in a tree didn’t work out too well for him.