Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UCLA's Daily Bruin: "A Hunter's Kitchen"

Happy Leap Day, everyone! We're proud and happy to announce that we made it on the front page of UCLA's The Daily Bruin newspaper today. I invited DB staff members over for dinner Monday night to give them a firsthand experience of venison, and to talk to them about what it means to be a hunter. I prepared our very first recipe Venison Steaks with Boysenberry Sauce and they all seemed to love it. Below is a picture of the story in print, distributed all around the UCLA campus and surrounding LA areas. - Jen

To read the article online, click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Egyptian Venison in Rich Onion Sauce

This is our version of Lahma Bil Basal, or Beef In Rich Onion Sauce. It's a favorite in Egyptian households and now we know why! Since this is a wild game blog, we of course used venison for this dish. The end result was a house full of awesome smells, tender, melt-in-your-mouth chunks of venison in an onion sauce that was out of this world. This dish was also very easy. You basically throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it cook for 2-3 hours. Remember that infomercial from years back? "You set it, and forget it!" 
Ok, I lied. Maybe it's not THAT easy. But it's something pretty darn close, almost as easy as cooking an entire chicken in a Ronco Rotisserie and BBQ Oven. Not that we've tried.

Anyway, you gotta have this dish with couscous, pita bread and our Tarragon Tomato Salad. It's a meal fit for Cleopatra. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours
- 1 lb. venison stew meat
- 4 onions, sliced super thin
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed 
- 2 tsp. chicken bouillon 
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Onions: How thin? THIS thin.

Maybe con someone else into doing this for you. Slicing up 4 onions is no joke. Ouch. 
1. Remove as much silver skin and fat from the stew meat or roast as you can.  Cut them into standard stew meat cubes. 
2. Heat butter and vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook stew meat until lightly browned on all sides. Do not cook through. 

Remove meat from dutch oven and set aside in a bowl. 
3. Add sliced onions, bay leaf, chicken bouillon, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt into the same pot.
Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until onions are quite soft. Stirring often. 
4. Add venison back into the pot with the onions. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Remember that you can always add more salt, but you cannot take away. 
5. Add in 1 1/2 cups of water. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours or more. Venison should be melt in your mouth tender.  

Check occasionally, just in case if the mixture gets too dry. If so, add more water, but we doubt this would happen.

Cook uncovered for the last half hour to thicken up the sauce, if needed. The onions should break down into a nice, thick sauce. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Discard bay leaf.
We hope you will enjoy this dish as much as we did. We hear it goes great with pasta as well. You must try the Tarragon Tomato Salad

Remember to share our recipes with all your family and friends. Thanks!


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Tarragon Tomato Salad

We made this salad to have along with our Egyptian Venison in Rich Onion Sauce dish. This Tarragon Tomato Salad was delicious, and served as a refreshing complement to the richness of the night's main fare.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 1-2 hours
- 5 medium sized vine-ripened tomatoes 
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. dried tarragon, or 2 tsp. of freshly chopped tarragon
- 1 lemon

1. In a pot, boil water. Turn off heat and place tomatoes into the pot to blanch. Make sure you have enough water to submerge all the tomatoes. Leave tomatoes in the water for 5 minutes.
2. While the tomatoes sit, prepare the dressing. Combine minced shallot, minced onion, olive oil, tarragon, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside to steep.
3. Drain the tomatoes in a colander. Run them under cold water.

With a small knife, remove the skins from the tomatoes. Slice tomatoes as thickly or thinly as you want. 
4. Lay tomatoes in a dish. Pour dressing over tomatoes and let them sit for 1-2 hours. 

When ready to serve, sprinkle more sea salt over servings and a squeeze of lemon juice (to taste). Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hiking Tips: San Gabriel Mountains

Rick and I are the kind of people who are always on the go. It's not usual for us to sit at home and do nothing. Why stay at home when there is so much to do, to learn and see? Since we had nothing planned this Friday, our day off, we decided to go out for a day hike in the San Gabriel Mountains near the Mount Baldy area. When there's no traffic, the mountains are barely 45 minutes away from where we live. 

The last time we were here was in October of 2010, when we camped out for 2 nights at Manker Flats. There was no snow then. We came out yesterday, hoping to see snow. But we were a little disappointed. It hasn't been a good year for snow in Southern California. There is a ski lodge called "The Notch" near Mount Baldy. We had to hike passed 7,000 ft. at least to see actual snow. But the weather was beautiful. Forecast showed moderate winds, but that never materialized. I was so glad because it would've been sooo cold!

Instead of writing a play-by-play story of what happened yesterday, we will use this opportunity to share some tips on hiking. Personally, I have been hiking on and off for about seven years now. It's something that I really love, and I'm glad I am able to share it with Rick. He teaches me hunting. In turn, I share my experiences in hiking and backpacking with him. You don't have to go hunting to enjoy nature. Hiking in the off season allows you to stay in shape for hunting season, and it's a great opportunity to enjoy the wilderness through a different perspective.

I. Footwear

Like in hunting, having the correct gear is essential when it comes to hiking and backpacking. (Since backpacking gear is much more extensive, we will save that for another post. Rick and I hope to go backpacking sometime this spring.) Let's start with footwear.

Rick used yesterday's hike to break in his new Danner boots. If you decide that you want to become serious about hiking, it is highly recommended that you buy yourself a pair of high quality boots. It's one of the best investments you can make. A good pair of boots will last you years. And let's face it. If you don't take care of your feet, you ain't gonna get too far. Do your research, read reviews and talk to experts when shopping at outfitters.

More than likely, you will get a few hotspots and possibly blisters when breaking in new boots, especially since we hiked about 10 miles round trip. Unfortunately, this usually is unavoidable. But here a few tips to make breaking in your boots as easy as possible. 

To prevent blisters, you must catch them before they start forming. Once you start to feel a hot spot coming on, immediately take off your boots and socks. Cut out a piece of moleskin that is a little bigger than the spot that is bothering you, stick it directly to your skin. To prevent the moleskin from slipping or moving around while you walk, wrap medical tape over it to keep the moleskin in place. Moleskin and medical tape is essential in every outdoorsmen's First Aid Kit. If you have no moleskin, use duct tape. It's true. Duct tape fixes everything. Do whatever you can to minimize friction at the affected area.

II. Layered Clothing 

Always take careful consideration of the weather to bring the appropriate clothing. For some outdoors activities, this doesn't matter as much. But when you're hiking miles into the wilderness, away from your car and all you have is what you carry on your back, choosing your clothing wisely is extremely important. 

Here a few good rules:
1. In cold weather, wear clothing made from materials such as fleece, wool, nylon and polyester. Basically, clothing that easily wicks away moisture and retains warmth, even when wet. There is a saying, "Cotton kills." Cotton becomes a poor insulator when wet and it also takes forever to dry. Avoid hypothermia at all costs.
2. In hot weather, cotton is great. It stays wet longer and keeps your body cool. 

3. Always bring layers just in case. You can always remove or add on layers. For this hike, the weather was fair. Typically, I like to wear a shirt underneath, an insulating layer above that, and then a waterproof and windproof jacket over everything. You should only buy breathable clothing, especially for hiking.

III. Essentials

I can't stress enough how important it is to always bring a First Aid Kit with you. You NEVER know what will happen out there. On top of that, other items such as a flashlight, compass and map are also very important. Here is a basic list of items, essential in every pack. The link leads to an article from REI that expands on more first aid items. Add or subtract items based on your personal needs.

First Aid:
1. Anti-septic wipes
2. Anti-bacterial ointment
3. Assorted adhesive bandages (cloth preferred)
4. Gauze pads (various sizes)
5. Non-stick sterile pads
6. Medical adhesive tape
7. Moleskin/blister treatment
8. Pain reliever 
9. Allergy medication
10. Tweezers (for splinters)
11. Sewing kit (This can come in handy in all kinds of emergencies)
12. Large bandana (to cover wounds, to use as an arm splint, etc.) 

Other Essentials:
1. Map and Compass - Always, always know where you are and where you are going.
2. Headlamp/flashlights - I prefer a headlamp. It allows you to work hands-free. Not to mention ... it makes going to the restroom in the dark a whole lot easier. ;-)
3. Fire starter
4. KNIFE!!

For a more comprehensive list, click here.

IV. Food

There's no need to get fancy when you're out on a day hike. Pack foods that are high in energy. And I don't mean candy bars.

We love going to Target to get Archer Farms snacks. In the picture, Rick is holding up bags of freeze dried peaches, Cocoa Pomegranate Granola Cluster Mix and a Cranberry Raspberry bar. We also brought a bag of trail mix and beef jerky. You get my drift.

Trail mix is so classic because it provides protein, healthy fats, vitamin C, fiber and carbohydrates all in one package. That's all you really need to survive. We also like to make our own trail mix. But the idea is to eat healthy foods that will give you the energy you need to keep on going. So leave those bear claws at home ... :-)

For lunch, here is an easy, but substantial meal to bring: crackers, deer sausage/salami, cheese and pickles. Bring a knife to cut off salami and cheese. Bring zip lock bags to store pickles and any extras. These items are great because they will keep for a few days without refrigeration. Of course, sandwiches are always good for lunch.

We don't recommend drinking while on trail, but we stopped to rest at the Mount Baldy Bar or "The Notch," located at the top of a ridge. We couldn't help but wet our whistles. 

Meet "Romey Boddington," The Roaming Red Fox. We picked him up on our way up here, found him loitering in the visitor's center. He joined us for a pint as well. 

I suppose he had one too much ... what do you think?

V. Hydration 

Remember to always bring extra water, in case of an emergency. We love storing our water in Nalgene bottles, because they are leak proof and extremely durable. 

Our preferred method of packing water is by hydration bladders or reservoirs. Our favorite brand is from Camelbak. These are great because you can fill them up with water, place the bladder into your backpack and drink from a tube that extends from the bladder. No more trying to reach for your bottle in that hard-to-get-to side pocket. It also decreases pack weight and bulkiness.

On long hikes, we both bring a bladder and a bottle. Bottles are also great if you want to add electrolyte supplements such as Gatorade powder. We don't recommend doing that in a bladder because it will be hard to clean.

 VI. Do NOT Litter

It really irks us when we see trash in the outdoors. Be responsible. Allow others to enjoy the outdoors the way it should be enjoyed. The last thing anyone wants to see while hiking or camping are empty beer cans and other filthy souvenirs from the city. Allow others the same escape that you went out to seek. 

VII. Last but not least, have fun! 

Here are a few pictures from the hike that we thought you might enjoy. If you have any questions on hiking, feel free to ask us at 
We hope you found this post useful! Thank you for looking at our blog!

We enjoyed great weather yesterday. It was nice and sunny, but not hot. The weather was perfect for hiking. 

Rick and "Romey." The ski lodge is in the distance. Almost there!!

We reached "The Notch" and saw kids tubing in the snow. Lucky for them, there's a ski lift that can take you from the parking lot below to the lodge. It took us about 3 hours to get there by foot. 

Stunning view of the mountain.


Californians get really excited when they see snow. 

Being silly. Rick says I have horns instead of bunny ears. :-(

"Romey" enjoys the view as well. :-)

Rick is a little sunburned. We are enjoying ourselves at the lodge.

After a little break, we hiked up further. There was more snow the higher we went up.

Rick enjoying his winter wonderland.

Hmm ... I think Big Foot was here. 

Beautiful view of another mountain on the other side.

We saw a crack in the snow.

On our way down, we found a dead squirrel. Poor thing probably got ran over. So we cut its tail off to remember it by. 

We will post up instructions on how to clean and dry the tail soon!

Is it really weird that I got really happy when my boyfriend gave me a dead squirrel's tail?
We got to the Buckhorn Lodge just before dark. More information about the restaurant coming soon! Ya'll should go check it out!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to George Washington

Happy Birthday to George Washington, who was an avid fox hunter and fisherman. Where would our nation be today without his wise and unselfish leadership? Because these are the qualities that all the great Presidents have shared: Washington was humble, he was selfless, and he had the incredible gift of perception and foresight. We wish we could say that about our politicians today.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Buck" Wellington

You know, "Buck" Wellington! -- the un-famous, backwoods American cousin to the British Duke of Wellington! (Rick whispered this clever name to me while he was cutting up some onion.)

We admit that this recipe was a little tricky. It requires time in the oven, which is a method we usually shy away from when it comes to whole pieces of wild game. The end product turned out good, but it wasn't exactly where we wanted it to be. But that's good news for you. We make the mistakes so you don't have to. So below is the revised recipe, with tweaks and adjustments to make sure that your "Buck" Wellington turns out perfect. Give this recipe a try. It was fun to make and will surely impress anyone around the dinner table.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 1 1/2 - 2 hours
- half a venison tenderloin (Size will vary. Go by how much you want to eat.)
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbs. butter 
- cooking twine (optional)
- frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator  
- all purpose flour 
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs. water
Mushroom Mixture or "Duxelles"
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, or 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbs. butter
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ramsay's Red Wine Sauce
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 4 tbs. olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
- 1/2 tsp. ground dried rosemary, or 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 5 tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth, low or no sodium preferred
- 1 tbs. butter
- salt and pepper, to taste 

I. Red Wine Sauce
This should be started ahead of time, or while you prepare the "Buck" Wellington itself. The sauce can always be reheated.

1. Over high heat, saute sliced shallots over high heat in olive oil until lightly browned. Stir often. About 3 minutes. 

Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add in crushed garlic. If using a fresh sprig of rosemary, put the rosemary in with the garlic at this time. Cook for another 1 minute. Stir often so shallots do not burn.
2. Add 5 tbs. balsamic vinegar. If using dried rosemary, add it after the vinegar, like we did. Cook until balsamic vinegar reduces to a syrup.
3. Add wine and reduce by 2/3. Then pour in stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and reduce by 2/3 again. Remove garlic and rosemary (if using a fresh sprig). Whisk in butter. Add salt and pepper, if necessary. Take off heat and set aside. 

II. Mushroom Mixture

1. In a medium pan, heat 1 tbs. butter and 1 tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add minced onion and garlic.
3. Add finely chopped mushrooms. We would even suggest chopping the mushrooms more finely than this. We did it by hand, so we could only chop so finely. If you have a food processor, use it. Ideally, the mushrooms should be almost as fine as breadcrumbs.
4. Add thyme, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook mushroom mixture until all liquid has evaporated. And by "all", we mean that the mixture should be on the dry side. This was a mistake we made. Even though all visible liquid was gone, there was still a lot of moisture left in the mushroom. So it seeped out while cooking in the oven, making our puff pastry a little soggy. Take off heat to let mixture cool. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge. 

The mushroom mixture looks pretty rough here, but if you can chop the mushrooms as finely as you can, the finished product should look like a paste. We suggest putting the onion, mushrooms and garlic all in a food processor before cooking. 

III. The Backstraps

1. Trim chilled backstraps of all fat and silver skin. When we processed our deer, we cut the backstraps into sections. You can cut it however way you want, as long as it can be rolled into your puff pastry sheets.

Dry backstraps with a paper towel. Sprinkle ground black pepper and kosher salt on all sides. We tied one of the pieces with cooking twine to make it more round. Totally optional.
2. Heat 1 tbs. butter over high heat in a cast iron pan. Sear backstraps on all sides for a deep brown color, about 30 seconds - 1 minute on each side. Make sure pan is really hot before placing backstraps. The backstraps should be cold to prevent the meat from cooking through. All you want here is a nice sear on the outside, that's it.

3. Remove backstraps from heat. Allow to cool. Remove cooking twine, if you used any. Then move to refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap so they don't dry out.

IV. Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold puff pastry sheet on a floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out dough to desired size (dough should be able to wrap around the backstrap once with enough room to crimp up the ends).

Beat egg with 1 tbs. water. Brush egg mixture over pastry sheet. Then spread out a thin layer of the mushroom mixture over the egg wash.
2. Remove backstrap(s) from refrigerator. Roll them into the puff pastry, like so. Fold the ends. Place them on a baking sheet, fold side down. Cut off any excess pastry. Places wrapped with 2 layers of pastry will not cook, another mistake we made.

Brush egg wash over the tops of the pastry. Chill unbaked "Buck" Wellington(s) for 5-10 minutes in fridge.
3. Then, bake in a 400 degrees F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown on top and cooked through. For medium rare, internal temperature should read around 125-130 degrees F.

Let the "Buck" Wellington rest for 10 minutes.  ;-)
4. Slice into 1 inch thick slices.
5. Reheat Red Wine Sauce if necessary. Give it another quick whisk. 

Serve "Buck" Wellington slices with Red Wine Sauce.

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