My office - den - has been described as a cross between a library, a museum and a landfill, filled with reference books, manuscripts, correspondence and various notes. Widgets and gidgets that see to accrue daily.
With the demands of this column and all my outdoor and indoor hobbies and interests, the balance appears to be tipping more towards the landfill side. But the shelf beside my typewriter is jammed, yet never cluttered. That's my opinion, of course. It retains the notes and references I use most often, and No. 1, the stuff I use to write this column. And did I mention the vast quantities of White-Out and correction fluid?
One of those notes was a past reminder that I was going to jot down a couple of venison (deer) recipes for you. This particular one is an old family favorite and it serves eight to 10 people. It's called Crock-pot Venison Stew.
Crock-pot Venison Stew
2 pounds venison, cut in inch cubes
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 stalks of celery, stew-cut into pieces
1 medium onion, stew-cut
2 carrots, scraped and stew-cut
2 medium potatoes, scraped and stew-cut
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup red wine (I personally use Holland House Red Cooking wine)
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
That's it, that's all you need. Now, here's the deal - In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and brown the venison. Place the stew-cut vegetables, garlic and parsley in the bottom of a slow cooker. Mix in the red wine and tomato sauce. Place the browned venison on top of the vegetable mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover slow-cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours. It's easy to fix. It's a great weekend meal. Got company coming and don't know what to cook for them? This is the one. And for cold winter days or rainy weekends, this is a go-to-meal. And you don't have a lot of dirty pots, pans and dishes to clean up afterward. Besides that, I like it.
The first snow of autumn - only it isn't autumn; winter is almost over; and spring is just around the corner. Well finally, it's here after waiting three months for winter and snow it's here. Finally, a decent tracking snow. I can't ever remember a tracking snow arriving so late in the season. Rabbit and squirrel seasons are almost over and at the very last minute, here comes a good tracking snow.
I admit it ... I'm old-fashioned when it comes to hunting. Without snow, it just doesn't seem like hunting. Those who know me ... know that I like to hunt pheasants, quail, squirrels and rabbits. With snow on the ground, there's nothing like it. And without snow, there's nothing worse. To me a good hunt requires snow on the ground at least an inch or so; the thermometer hovering around 25 degrees; and the feel and heft of a sweet-handling 20 gauge shotgun. I love to course the grasslands and fields; I like to plow through the thickets and brambles; I like to walk the fence-line and it wouldn't be a rabbit hunt without a few brush piles to stomp on. But it takes snow. Ah snow the "spice" of the hunt.
Outdoor tip of the week
If you're down by the river looking for the bald eagles, look for open water - that's the key. Bald eagles are where you find them because there is a spot of open water beneath them. Their food generally consists of fish, small birds and rodents, and they get their fish from that open water beneath their perch in a stream side tree. If the pond, river or lake is completely frozen over you're probably wasting your time in that location. Move on to a new area. Remember, too, bald eagles in the winter time are "groupies." They like to congregate around feeding areas. If you see one, the chances are good that there are others nearby.
Driven out by the airport lately? Wade Johnson's been at it again. Friday, I drove by his folks (Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Johnson) and saw a fox hanging from a tree limb. Saturday, I drove by there again, and coyote was hanging beside the fox. That was a darned good looking fox colorful and healthy. I think the red fox here in central Iowa is making a strong comeback. They are becoming more plentiful in recent years. The coyote is nearly twice as large as the fox.
And now have a good weekend.