How to Can Venison

November 22, 2011

Most people have things they associate with Thanksgiving, be it football, a trip to see the in-laws, or black Friday sales. Around here Thanksgiving coincides with hunting season. Our holiday is planned for it and around it. My in-laws have a  ranch in the mountains so luckily I don’t have to lose my husband to a hunting camp. He goes stalking up the mountain and I hang out with his mom. If he gets lucky, we have the whole family there to help make light(er) work of the processing!

The manly part (as in, leave me out, thanks) of the event involves hanging the deer and field dressing it. The meat is then soaked in brine, rinsed and soaked again for at least one night. This gets the gamey taste out and helps tenderize the meat. The next day everyone gets involved in the work. At this point the meat looks like something you would buy in an open air market (leg of lamb, anyone?).  We butcher as much as we possibly can. We cut off most of the sinew and fat, and portion the meat up for freezing, canning, grinding, or jerky. We prefer the frozen cuts and canned meat for it’s simplicity.

The awesome thing about canning the meat is that it comes out so tender, you don’t have to worry about the “silver” or gristle. This greatly cuts down on butchering time and uses up all the scraps. It’s also a homemaker’s dream when it comes time to prepare a meal in a hurry. Throw a jar into any recipe that traditionally calls for chunks of beef or lamb and dinner is done, no stewing required!

Canned Venison

Cook Time: 1 Hr 30 Min

Ingredients:

  • Lean Venison
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Soak game in brine overnight, refrigerated. Rinse and cut up venison into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes. Be sure to remove as much fat as possible for safety. Any gristle will tenderize in the canning process.
  2. Pack each quart sized jar 3/4 full with raw meat (approx. 2lbs of meat per quart). Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with hot water leaving 1-inch of headspace. Wipe rims.
  3. Lid jars and process in a pressure canner for 90 minutes (according to manual). Be sure to vent pressure cooker at steam for required minutes (see manual, all pressure canners are different) before closing petcock or putting on weight.
  4. Place jars in an area to cool where they will not be disturbed for at least 8 hours. Check seals after 8 hours. Refrigerate any jars that did not seal.

View recipe at plantoeat.com

Prayer for Processing Game Meat:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this life that was shed for me.
Help me to show it respect.
Please forgive my discomfort.
Give me the wisdom to be a good steward of this blessing.
Amen.

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About a month ago I signed up with Plan to Eat, just to give it a try. I was hoping it would help cut down on my trips to the grocery store and our ever increasing grocery bill (I blame the pregnancy cravings!). Now that it has surpassed my expectations and greatly improved our meals, I want to share it with everyone I know! My favorite part? It allows me to collect recipes from all over the internet and my home and keep them in one location!

Why do I need a meal plan?

I was never really into meal planning before this. The past seasons of our lives have allowed for more flexibility in the kitchen. Then we bought a house and things got a little stressful, too stressful to keep track of what was in the crisper. We also joined a CSA this year. We’ve always been huge veggies lovers, so we signed up for the family share of produce. Needless to say, it was more than the two of us could handle. Meal planning has helped me use more of our crop, but it has also helped me foresee what we will not use up so I can share it with friends and family, or preserve it.

The Shopping List:

My trips to the grocery store have become more efficient and economical too! I love how Plan to Eat divides up my grocery list into sections like: produce, meat, diary, canned goods, and baking supplies. I can add staples to the list as well, and there is a handy list to remind me of anything I may have forgotten. Everything I need for the meal plan is on the list so there are no evening runs to the store for that one forgotten item. I can also see the list and realize if I have gone over budget with my meal plan. Sometimes I get carried away with all the recipes I want to try and this reminds me to spread them out more and use more budget friendly recipes. Which reminds me of another awesome feature! You can make a list of what pantry items you would like to use up and Plan to Eat will help you find recipes using what you already have!

How much is it worth?

It costs about $3.25 a month but I feel the price is justified with use. There are recipe sites that can help with meal planning and grocery shopping for free, but I like Plan to Eat because it isn’t a recipe site, it’s a meal planning site. It’s main goal is to make it easy to add recipes from anywhere to aid in meal planning. I realized half way through the free trial that I had already gotten more use out of the site than I usually get out of a cookbook, because it made all those internet recipes more readily available for planning. Now I get more use out of my cookbooks too because I have added recipe ingredients from them and referenced the page numbers. I have always loved collecting recipes, now I can actually get some mileage out of them!

Sharing Recipes:

Plan to Eat also makes it easy to share recipes with friends and family. Sometimes with a recipe website you don’t really know what you will end up with. A recipe could be highly rated only to have extreme variations in the comments section that made the meal palatable. With Plan to Eat you choose who you want to share recipes with, and what recipes are not for sharing. You can also join the discussion forums to seek out like-minded people to share recipes with. This is especially helpful for those with dietary concerns, or families that are trying a new health-kick and are short on ideas.

Would this work for you?

Plan to Eat is not for everyone. I spend a lot of time on the computer so this website works for me. It’s my evening entertainment and I find great joy in adding to my recipe collection. If you prefer pen and paper, no worries. I will keep sharing my favorite recipes and more meal planning ideas in other posts.

Want a recipe now? This was a new one I tried this week. A great alternative to beans and rice!

Quinoa and Black Beans

Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Total Time: 35 Min
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 34 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 12 cups vegetable broth = one can
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 14 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans or 3 1/2 cups rinsed and drained
  • 12 cup fresh cilantro optional
  • 12 cup salsa optional

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans, salsa and cilantro. Cook until beans are hot.

Have you tried meal planning before? Do you think this site would be helpful? 

P.S. I am not affiliated with Plan to Eat and can not be bribed into giving good reviews! I will always let you know if I will be reimbursed for your interest in something I’ve shared.

Basic Corn Bread

February 28, 2011

Corn bread is an excellent way to turn a paltry meal into a feast. With a little butter and honey it even becomes a great dessert. The following recipe was a total success and hails from the More-with-Less cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. I should warn you: this is real corn bread. It comes complete with a wholesome flavor and texture that is unmatched by any cake mix sold in stores.

Basic Corn Bread:

1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour (whole wheat)
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. dry milk powder (optional; didn’t use)

2 eggs
1 c. milk (or milk substitute)
1/4 c. oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then combine. Pour into greased 9 X 9 pan and bake 25 minutes. Serve hot with meal; or butter, honey, milk or syrup.

What do you like with your corn bread?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

December 16, 2010

This is another recipe from the Simply in Season Cookbook. It sounded delicious and since our little produce store had acorn squash on sale, I just had to try it. You see, neither of us had ever tried acorn squash before! I don’t even think they sell this seasonal vegetable at our supermarkets! Want to see what they look like?

This recipe is special in that there are actually five different stuffings to choose from. All five recipes were featured last week on Simply in Season: Recipe of the Week (Psst: Click here for last week’s recipe, cached by Google). They all sound wonderful but I had to make a choice. I decided to make the Apple-sausage stuffing because I had all of the ingredients and it sounded like the most creative blend of flavors. We were not disappointed!

Here is what you will need:

  • 2-3 acorn squash, cut in half with strings and seeds removed
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (we did not use these)
  • 3/4 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts)
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (regular raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil and oregano
  • All measurements are flexible

To begin with stab the squash and nuke it for a few minutes to make cutting it in half easier. After cleaning out the insides, this goes in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until almost tender (at 350F). In the mean time, prepare the stuffing. Brown the meat and then saute with the onion and apple. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stuff squash and bake for 20 minutes at 375F.

This was amazing! The stuffing alone would make a glorious meal! I can’t wait to try it with more winter squash! Enjoy!

Ethiopian Lentil Bowl

November 22, 2010

This recipe hails from the Simply in Season cookbook, a collection of recipes that rely on fresh local ingredients in the spirit of More-with-Less. Along with recipes you will find many passages in this book relating local food to social justice around the world, environmental impact, and a Christian’s responsibility to be a mindful consumer.

I will admit, we are often swayed by low prices and convenient supermarkets, but I have found my experiences at local farmer’s markets to be more cost effective and spiritually rewarding than any trip to the mega-chain. I would encourage you to see for yourself that buying local can be an answer to poverty. I would also encourage you to check out this cookbook for an abundance of thrifty seasonal and year-long recipes.

Ethiopian Lentil Bowl

  • 2 cups / 500 ml dried red lentils (sorted and rinsed) I used 3 cups
  • 2 large onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 head garlic (peeled and mashed) I used 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste (I added the whole 6oz can)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (double)
  • 1 tsp salt (double, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or puree 2 inches fresh ginger root)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (double, to taste)
  • 3 cups / 750 ml water (double)
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml lemon or lime juice (I used half a lime)

Soak lentils for 30 minutes in hot water. While these are soaking, saute the onion and garlic in a large soup pot until golden. Puree ginger root with tomato paste and 1 cup of water. Add to soup pot along with the salt, pepper, paprika, and water. After this reaches a boil add your lentils, lower the heat and simmer (covered) for 45 minutes. Juice lemon/lime and add to soup. Garnish with wedges for presentation.

This made such a hearty and frugal soup! The paprika, tomato, and lime add a delightful twist to traditional flavors!

“My head bent over a bowl of steaming soup, my prayer seems to be incense floating up to heaven. I think God likes soup.” -Mary Beth Lind, Coauthor of Simply in Season.

For more seasonal recipes check out the Recipe of the Week, from Simply in Season!

I’m still on a soup kick! This one was inspired by the season. It’s a lot like the Curried Carrot Soup I wrote about, so I wanted to share with you how to make your own curry recipes.

The basic ingredients for a curry:

  • chopped onion
  • minced garlic or garlic paste
  • ginger root (fresh or paste)
  • olive oil (or ghee, or butter)

To start a curry, I saute the onion and garlic in oil until they are lightly browned. I cut off about a thumb size portion of the ginger root and pulse it in my food processor with a liquid ingredient from my recipe (usually oil or water). I add this after my onion has browned. Now I have a curry going!

To this you may wish to add any of the following spices:

  • salt
  • curry powder
  • red pepper
  • black pepper
  • cinnamon
  • coriander
  • cloves
  • cardamon
  • garam masala
  • turmeric
  • nutmeg
  • allspice
  • sweetener
  • …and more.

If you don’t know which spices to add I would start by imagining what you want your dish to taste like when it’s done. Then smell your spices, even taste them if you have to. Go ahead and add whatever vegetables or meat you want in your curry. Then experiment and taste as you go. Go easy on the ones you don’t know, and be more generous with the ones you do. Besides salt, red pepper, and sweetener, if I’m making an American or Indian flavored curry I usually start out with a lot of curry powder, a bit of cinnamon, and a touch of garam masala. I also keep garlic powder and more ginger handy in case these flavors need to be stronger.

Tip: Curry powder varies by brand so always use your own judgment when following a recipe. That being said, if using too much ruins your recipe, I would get a better curry powder.

Curried Pumpkin Soup:

  1. Make a curry, then puree it
  2. Add a large can of pure pumpkin (29oz)
  3. Add 2 cans of chicken broth and water until you reach your desired consistency
  4. Add 2 cups of heavy cream or half and half.  A can of coconut milk will work if you have milk allergies. A can of evaporated milk will work if you don’t keep fresh diary on hand.
  5. Add spices according to preference to make this your own recipe. Mine included salt, pepper, red pepper, sweetener, curry, coriander, cinnamon, garam masala, cloves, and nutmeg.
  6. Garnish with something green for presentation (parsley, basil, cilantro, spinach leaf, etc…). I used dill weed.

Now you know how to make a curried soup! You can use this to make a Creamy Curried Chicken Soup, Curried Sweet Potato Soup, Curried Tomato Soup, Curried Peanut Soup, Curried Lentils, Curried Butternut Squash, Curried Onion Soup, Curried Potatoes…I’m going to trail off here and let your imagination do the rest!

Happy Cooking!

For the purposes of this post, a curry had to be defined in a rather “English” sense of the word. There are many interpretations of a curry though. In India, for example, the word “Curry” refers to consistency, rather than flavor. I would love to hear your own interpretations in the comments!

Kielbasa Cabbage Soup

November 1, 2010

This soup wasn’t like anything I’ve ever had before. It was such a sweet discovery! Shamefully, this was also my first time manipulating a cabbage head. Now I know I’ve been deprived! I must warn you about this soup: it will make your family drool long before it’s finished cooking!

Kielbasa Cabbage Soup from the Taste of Home: Casseroles, Slow Cooker, and Soups cookbook:

Image from Taste of Home

Ingredients with modifications:

  • 1 small medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced (plus garlic powder)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I needed a little more for sauteing)
  • 4 6 cups water
  • 3 5 tablespoons cider vinegar (plus 3 spoons of balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used 4 spoons sweetener)
  • 1 pound smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, halved, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I substituted with 1lb of cauliflower)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
  • I added a can of chicken broth
  • liquid hickory smoke
  • salt to taste

For recipe directions from Taste of Home please click here. This soup takes a little longer to cook but it doesn’t require a lot of effort. I would recommend using a 6qt pot or larger because it makes a ton of soup! Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!