Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Honest Kitchen: Crockpot venison

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

As a mom, it is great to be able to pull some venison out of the freezer, stick it in the crockpot all day and know that when we get home from work, there is a healthy, organic, free-range pile of meat waiting to be eaten. And that even my two year old can eat it without me worrying about what hormones are pumped into it.

Here is what I used:
* Quart bag of frozen stew meat (deer)
* 2 cups of beef bouillon (I used water and cubes)
* Wild Cheff Roasted Garlic
* Wild Cheff Wild Onion

I threw the whole thing in the crockpot with the water going in first to make sure that nothing stuck to the bottom or sides.

And I set it on low and went to work. 

When you come home, there is nothing better than smelling dinner before you have taken your shoes off.  Knowing that a hot meal that is healthy for you and your family, is ready to go is fantastic and a great time saver.

I made some potatoes and roasted broccoli to go with it.  You know something is good when your two year old will willingly eat it and ask for more.

When you are busy with work and a kiddo, the crockpot becomes your best friend and being able to pull out some meat that you know is healthy... you can't meat it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

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With the weather getting nicer, you will want to make sure that you are not missing out on any of the fun adventures that I have planned this summer!  Now, you can subscribe to Coffee and get the posts and notifications right in your Inbox. 

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Thanks and happy hunting!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A little spring walk

Dad, Hubby and I headed into the woods last weekend to look for some turkey sign as well as see if we could find some sheds.  It was a beautiful afternoon and we took our time enjoying the run and the start of some green grass.

As soon as we got out of the car, we saw deer tracks - and some pretty nice looking ones. We headed up to the Sky Condo and down through the woods to T3.  We were maybe 10 steps into the woods when Dad stopped and pointed - four, maybe five flags bounced through the trees and away from us.  We were glad to see that they were starting to spread out again and break away from their yarding areas and they looked healthy.

We spread out to cover more ground and kept looking for a shed or two.  A few years before, Dad and I had found one in this area so we were hopeful but we came up empty handed.  So, we headed to T3.

Tracks and poop were plentiful.  We walked through the woods and down to where T3 is standing. The frost is leaving the ground and the stand is much more wobbly then it was the last time I climbed up it but it was great to get up there and look around.  Dad had started cutting some shooting lanes and with a new more snips of some low hanging branches, my coverage area has probably tripled from what it was last year.

T3 through the woods

There is a well traveled deer trail that Dad wanted to make sure that I could see.  In my treeseat, this highway was out of view and I can only guess how many deer walked right around me without me having any idea.  Not any more.  I should be able to take two or three shot at a deer if it is on this trail.  We walked from T3 further into the woods, still looking for a shed.

The amount of deer poop on this trail was incredible.  I was glad that I was wearing boots because there was really no way not to step in it.  It was the deer super highway that we could find in the winter that we never could access during the hunting season.  But now, it was all ours.  We made sure that we didn't break any branches or disturb the path any more than our walking on it would.  The last thing we want is to make the deer change their trail.

As we followed the deer trail back out of the woods, I snuck down to the stream for a couple of photos and to see if there were sheds near the water.  At this point, even a small spike from a young deer would have made me happy but there no bone around.

We continued on and walked past an old tree stand that someone else put up, knowing how great and successful this spot must be.  I probably would have climbed up in it, but Dad advised against it because it was starting to show its age.  Maybe with a new ladder, we could remodel it a bit and use it again.

I continued to trail behind the guys, almost desperate to find something to take out of the woods with me.  There has to be a shed somewhere, right?

As we came out of the woods and headed back to the Sky Condo, we found the one thing a deer hunter hates to see; coyote poop.

Dad had come across a beautiful 8 pointer that the coyotes had taken down, maybe five years ago now.  We had heard them that season but had not really seen or heard any in the past couple of years.  Apparently that is no longer the case.  Before, I was not ready for them but now I am a professional.
We can hope that this was just a passing coyote but if there is one, the odds are good that there are more.

We walked slowly back to the car and spread out again to cover another patch of land.  I found this pile of poop too but I have no idea what it belongs to.  It looks like it would be turkey but there was a lot of it in a pile and not spread out.  Any ideas?

Empty handed, I got in the car and we headed home.  Next year, I will hopefully have a shed hunting dog who can find these sheds for me.  Until then, I think I am destined to shoot the antlers that I want to see because I can clearly not find them laying on the ground.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Name that scat

We spent a few hours in the woods last weekend and I came across this pile of scat on the side of an old log.  It almost looked like the mystery critter could sit on the log and use it as a toilet seat.

Who left this behind?

It looks like turkey poop but there is a pile of it and usually when  have seen signs of turkey, they are more scattered and a little bit larger. These were the size of Cheetos puffs.

So - what does it belong to?

Friday, April 17, 2015

In search of chaga

If you were out in the woods and saw this, would you be able to know it was chaga right away?  I was lucky that I had Robin with me and she was able to point it out with 100% certainty of what it was. She was also on top of things and brought a saw to get it off the tree.

It was a beautiful, somewhat windy day and we got out in snowshoes before it got too sloppy and slushy.  It was almost hot when the wind died down. 


We took two pieces off of the tree and went in search of more, which we did not find.  I am hoping to keep working on my ability to identify this in the woods when I am out now but it may take a time or two before I am totally confident in my finds.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Honest Kitchen: seared duck breasts

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

We were in the mood for something a little different and headed to Pat's Meat Market to see what they had that would not be totally foreign to cook.  The result was duck breast.

I put the meat in the warm pan with no added butter or oil.  Duck is fatty as is and I like the natural flavors better.  I kept the pan on medium heat and let the smells start permeating the kitchen and dinning room.  I flipped them once to sear it but let them cook while I prepared some roasted chickpeas and broccoli.

Duck is one of those meats that you cook like something else (bear, you treat like beef but cook like pork).  Duck, you can season like chicken (maybe) but can cook it like beef - you can have some pink. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Grand Lake Stream on Opening Day 2015

When some blogs just talked about opening day of fishing season, Robin Follette and I LIVED it!

I drove four hours north the day before to hang out with Robin and go on a few adventures (those posts are coming, but here is a sneak peek).  The biggest was to stand in the Stream in Grand Lake Stream on opening day and try our hand at fly fishing.  We didn't really care about catching a fish but we were excited to see the groups of people that would be there and the excitement surrounding the beginning of fishing season. 

We met up with Brian Donaghy of Epic Adventures to help us with gear and guidance. When we pulled into the parkinglot, we saw Brian and only 4 or 5 other vehicles.  This was not the crowded fishing adventure that people said that it would be. Robin and I were the only women there with about 6 or 8 other guys who were there to hang out and talk to people or fish.

Grand Lake Stream
Fishing the stream
Fishing the stream

Robin and I got into our waders and got ready to head into the water with Brian.  We had to get up and over the snowbanks and deal with a few icy spots but we made it.  I was borrowing waders from Brian and had to come to terms with the idea that my boots would fill with water but the waders and neoprene would keep me warm.  What I did not think about was that my boots fit my feet with one pair of socks on.  Add a couple pair and the waders and my feet were almost numb from the lack of circulation well before we walked into the icy water.  If I am going to keep fishing more, I may need to buy a pair of proper wader that fit.

Brian and Robin
The only two women fishing.  We don't look too bad!
Wind, layers and a fly rod

The sun felt wonderful and it was warmer standing in the water than when we got out.  Almost instantly there was ice forming on our waders, the eye of the rods and even the lines.  We were more excited about the act of being in the water and fishing on opening day than anything else.  As Robin said, it was 'a great morning of friendship, fishing and conversation.' I could not have agreed more.

Here is to more days on the water, fish that will be caught and great conversations with friends while enjoying the incredible Maine outdoors!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A True Maine Outdoors Woman!

The following is a copy of my article from the Northwoods Sporting Journal 

Who is on your short list when you think of outdoors women?  I would like to think that if you are reading my articles, that my name would be there.  I also hope that Robin Follette is on your list.  If it isn’t, you need to quickly head over to her website and be prepared to spend hours reading her stories and reviews.  She is one of the top outdoors women in Maine that you may not know about.

Last year, Robin declared that it was her year and she was going to attack that to do list with gusto.  She had a long list of goals having to do with her vegetable garden, flower gardens, fruit trees and bushes as well as trying to raise two pigs, six turkeys, meat chickens and ducks to provide meat all winter long. She also wanted to:

* Bow hunt turkey and deer

* Bear hunt

* Rifle hunt deer if bow hunt fails

* Moose hunt

* Partridge and woodcock hunt

And these are just a small sampling of her list from last year.  The best part about it was reading her stories as she checked each goal off the list.

On opening day of the season, Robin shot a 17 pound, 12 ounce Tom with a 9.5″ beard.  Her second turkey ever!  In September, after seeing a big bear on her trail camera, Robin made up her mind to dedicate the time needed to harvest that bear.  She told herself that she would make time (her daughter was getting married, she had teaching courses on the calendar etc) and put in a good effort in order to shoot her first bear.  Then, as she sat in her ground blind, she made the decision to take a wounded bear when it had a hard time opening the bait barrel. Knowing that it might not make it through the winter, Robin took her shot and got her bear.  Her trophy bear. 

Then, in November as I waited for my husband and Dad to come in from the woods, my phone started ringing.  It was Robin. I got so excited that I almost didn’t answer the call in time.  Seven years of deer hunting and she had just shot her first deer - a bruiser of a buck that weighed in at 188lb and had 8 points on his head.  In one year and lots of determination, she had three incredible hunts under her belt.  All of these experiences plus a whole host of others were documented on her blog for us to read and experience with her.

From battling snapping turtles and hunting turkey and bear to learning how to pickle deer heart, skinning ducks and raising/hunting a year's worth of free-range meat, Robin tackles any challenge head on and full of excitement to learn more.  When you read her blog, you can not help but get sucked in and become just as excited as she is.

I met Robin when we were both on the board of Friends of Becoming an Outdoors-Woman in Maine. Since then, Robin has continued to teach classes at each of the Introductory Skills weekends for BOW.  She is a community leader for the Woman and Our Woods program, run through the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and is actively promotes and encourage any woman who wants to learn more about hunting, fishing, homesteading etc. to do so and be comfortable asking questions.  She is there to help with questions about fishing, writing, cooking, gardening, hunting and is open to any thoughtful conversation.  Robin opens herself up to "anti-hunters" and encourages them to ask questions and have a dialogue, believing that we are not that different in our love of animals. 

We don’t celebrate the outdoor women around us enough and Robin Follette is one to be celebrated.  She is honest in the challenges and successes of outdoors women and celebrates them.  We are lucky to have her as a resource and advocate for hunters.  She is a true Maine outdoors woman!  


Honest Kitchen: Bear Stew

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless - come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.


I was worried when I got my bear that I would not like the taste of the meat.  My bear was 457lbs so there was a lot of meat to be had.  I gave some to friends to try and then had to figure out how I was going to try it myself.  I figured burger was the way to go, but in order to cook it thoroughly to kill any parasites, we had to pretty much dry it out.  I was not a fan.

Then, I attempted my stew recipe on some of the stewmeat.  I did my thing, added some spices and let it cook in the crockpot overnight.  When I was woken up at 2am by the smell, I knew things were looking up.  Little did I know that bear meat would become one of my favorites!

Bear Stew
Here is my very simple recipe:

3 large carrots
3 celery stalks
2 can of condensed tomato soup
1 (or 2) packages of meat.
2 cups bouillon (I use beef)
4 potatoes

1. Shoot a bear.
2. Butcher the bear but don't let this happen.
3. Get out the crockpot.
4. Chop and add three large carrots and three large stalks of celery.
5. Add a package (or two) of the bear meat onto of the carrots and celery.
6. Add 2 cups of bouillon.
7. Add one can of soup.
8. Chop and add potatoes.
9. Add last can of soup.
10. Set crockpot on Low for 8-10 hours.

J.M. Hirsch, the Food Editor at The Associated Press actually tried it, liked it and tweeted about it! Feel free to tweak parts and add whatever you want for spices.