Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cleveland National Forest

When we think of San Diego, we usually think of beach and sand. Driving through its mountains and hills, San Diego showed us what we've been missing out on all these years. Cleveland National Forest is beautiful, featuring rolling meadows, ancient forests and abundant wildlife. There is hunting here, but it's mostly on private land. Still, it was nice to be outside. We enjoy watching and photographing wildlife as much as we like to hunt them.

When visiting a national forest in California, remember to have an Adventure Pass. For $35, you can visit Angeles, Los Padres, Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests for an entire year. The money goes towards maintaining the area. Or, you can buy a $5 day pass at the nearest ranger station. 
Earlier in the day, we saw wild turkey...
And herons. 

Then we saw this doe eating by the side of the road. She stared at us for a moment, then decided that we were too close for her liking. She bailed and jump over the bushes behind her.  

She had freakishly large ears. She was a mule deer.
Here's another deer we saw, terrorizing a trash can by the restroom. :-)

We backed up the car to watch her from above.
She darted, too. 
Much of Cleveland National Forest is leased out to ranchers. We saw lots of cattle grazing in the distance. We almost felt like we weren't in California. 
It's a great place to go for a drive.
Then we stopped by a graveyard of bare trees, obviously burnt by wildfires. 
It was a little ghostly, listening to the breeze blow through bare limbs. 
Then we drove up to a top of a mountain to see the gigantic Palomar Observatory.
Beware of snakes! A sign just to freak out Rick's mom. (She gives us a lecture about the dangers of snakes whenever we go out.)
And here's a sign for Asians, who apparently like to steal the ferns?

Us, by the observatory. 
It was huge! Unfortunately, it was closed by the time we got there. 

Look! It's a Keelber Tree! 
The Keebler Elf had no cookies. But at least he was handsome. :-)
Mistletoe... ;-)
Then we made our way down the mountain again to find a place to rest and have lunch. 

We ended up in a campsite that was well hidden by tall conifers. Looking at our map, Cleveland National Forest has many campsites to choose from. 
Then it was time to go home. First, an ice cold Coca-Cola! 
See the traffic in the distance? Yep. It's Friday evening on a California freeway.
Fortunately, traffic cleared up. We had a fantastic day in Cleveland National Forest. Go visit if you get the chance!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kale Chips

Kale Chips... Now, I know what you're thinking. "What business does kale have to do with wild game blog?! It's green!" Well, I guess I let my curiosity get the better of me. After all, kale is getting to be the next big thing, and we wouldn't want to miss out on any fad, would we? Yeah, I know. Californians eat weird things. I blame Food Network.

Anything with the word "chips" in it gets me excited-- except buffalo chips.  That's the only reason why I decided to make this, and because I was bored. The verdict: interesting. Kale crisps up surprisingly well in the oven without turning into wilted spinach. It's slightly bitter and is reminiscent of seaweed Nori chips Rick and I love so much. It won't replace potato chips in taste, but it's definitely a healthier alternative and something different to make. Kale seems to be one of those things that you either like or don't like. So give it a try and find out for yourself! Oh, and try feeding it to your kids. Tell 'em that they're green potato chips.  ;-)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 1 head of kale
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- olive oil

Kale is so pretty. :-)

Try to pick out younger, smaller heads of kale. Supposedly, the bigger and older the kale, the more bitter it tastes. 
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Rinse and wash kale in cold water.

Remove leaves from the stem. Cut/rip leaves into pieces that are slightly bigger than bite-size. They will shrink. Allow leaves to thoroughly dry. 
2. Lay leaves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Try not to over-salt because the chips will shrink. You can always add more salt later. 
3. Place in a 275 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until crisp. Turn leaves halfway through baking.

The baking sheet was completely covered. See how much they shrunk?
Sprinkle more salt, if desired. Enjoy! 


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Singapore Venison Satay

I was watching BBQ master Steven Reichlen on TV one day, and he gave me this great idea! Why not make venison satay? According to the wisdom of Wikipedia, satay (or sate) originated in Java, Indonesia, but is popular in other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand. It's basically skewered meat that's grilled and served with a sauce. This is an excellent dish for an appetizer or a main course. Dipped in a savory peanut sauce and topped with crunchy cucumber relish, the flavors will explode in your mouth. This was an awesome meal! We hope you will all give it a try. 

*We'd like to announce that we added a "Print" button at the bottom of every post, close to the footer -- courtesy of Print Friendly. This will allow you to easily print our recipes with or without photos. You can also save our recipes in PDF.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 3 1/2 hours
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- 1 lb. venison loin
- 2 tbs. light brown sugar
- 1 tbs. ground coriander
- 1 tbs. ground turmeric 
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tbs. fish sauce
- 2 tbs. vegetable oil
Singapore Cucumber Relish
- 2 Persian cucumbers (or 1 regular cucumber)
- 1 small shallot
- 1 small birds eye chili pepper, seeded and minced (or red pepper flakes), or to taste
- 2 tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 tbs. sugar, plus more if needed
- kosher/sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Singapore Peanut Sauce
- 3 tbs. vegetable oil, divided
- 3 cloves of garlic, 1 minced and 2 thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 strip of lemon zest, minced (or if you can get it, 1 stalk of lemongrass)
- 1/2 tablespoon of minced dried shrimp
- 1 to 2 small hot chiles, seeded and minced (or red pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup of peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tbs. sugar
- 1 tbs. soy sauce
- juice of half a lime, or to taste
- 1 tbs. of cilantro, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

- bamboo skewers, soaked in water
- serve with white rice

I. Marinade

1. Remove all fat and silver skin from venison loin. This is the money cut.
Cut across into 1/2 inch thick pieces.

2. In a medium bowl, combine venison with all marinade ingredients. Mix well. Marinate for at least 3 hours. Store in the fridge. During the last hour, take out of the fridge so the meat can come to room temperature. 
II. Peanut Sauce

1. In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 tbs. sugar, 2 tbs. soy sauce, lime juice and 3/4 cup of water. Set aside. 
We've only seen coconut milk sold in cans, so don't go looking in the dairy section. You will most likely find it in the international section of your grocery store.

2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tbs. minced garlic, 1 minced shallot, minced lemon zest (or lemongrass), minced chiles and minced dried shrimp. 
This is what dried shrimp looks like. It comes in those little Mexican spice packets found at most American grocery stores. 
3. Over medium high heat, heat 2 tbs. vegetable oil in a wok or saucepan. Fry the dry ingredients (shallot, garlic, etc.) until fragrant and lightly browned, about 30 seconds. 
4. Then add the wet ingredients (peanut butter, coconut milk, etc.). Lower heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until thickened. It should be like the consistency of a thick gravy. Do not turn it into paste. 
Once thickened, stir in freshly chopped cilantro. Remove from heat.  
5. In a small saucepan, heat remaining 3 tbs. of vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry sliced garlic until just beginning to turn brown. As you can see, we went a little too far. Be careful not to burn because it will make your sauce bitter. Drain on paper towels.
Mix fried garlic into peanut sauce just before serving.
III. Cucumber Relish

We decided to use Persian cucumbers, because they are extra crunchy and perfect for salads. If you can't find them, regular cucumbers will do. 
1. Cut cucumbers lengthwise. Remove seeds by scraping with a spoon. 
Then cut into small cubes. 
2. Move to a bowl and toss in 1 minced shallot, minced hot red chile (or red pepper flakes), 2 tbs. of rice vinegar, 1 tbs. sugar, and salt and pepper, to taste. 

If it's too tart, add more sugar. Allow the relish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Grill Time!

1.  Prepare grill to high heat for direct grilling.

Once marinated venison comes to room temperature, thread pieces on wooden skewers. 
2. Grill about 1 minute each side for medium-rare. A little longer for medium.
Warm up peanut sauce before serving. 

You can eat these alone as appetizers or  serve with white rice for a full meal. 
Mmmm... make it now! 

To print this recipe, see "Print" button below in the post's footer. 

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