Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Take the Alabama Hunter Safety Course Online!

If you live in Alabama and are looking to get into hunting, then you know that a Hunter Safety Course is required for all those born on or after August 1, 1977

Even if you have been hunting for years, you still need to be certified. 

Don't have time to sit in the traditional 10-hour classroom course? Then you're in luck! is an online option that will allow Alabama hunters to study at home, take the test online and go straight to the field day portion. 

The online course is fully narrated. All materials, including quizzes, are illustrated or animated. Hearing, seeing and interacting with the course will help you retain more information-- you don't just read. 

Of course, is completely approved and backed by the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

To get started today, please visit:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Venison Taco in a Bag

There are certain foods that I hesitate to eat in public, and crunchy tacos are one of them. They fall apart in your hands, the filling always finds a way onto your (white) shirt, the grease and salsa dribble all over the place, and let's not forget the mountain of napkins that accumulate before your eyes. It's completely barbaric-- or maybe it's just me. 

For all those reasons, this is why I love this recipe. You get all the flavors of a crunchy taco, but in a disposable, no-mess tortilla chip bag. It's perfect for dinner, lunch, parties, tailgating and yes, even deer camp! For me, it's a nice change from all those hotdogs and hamburgers I normally eat at outdoor gatherings. 

This hunting season, mix up your camp menu and try Venison Taco in a Bag. It's easy and quick, perfect for all your impatient and hungry hunting friends after they come back from sitting at their blinds. They could even take the bags with them to eat while hunting, but I'm not sure how the deer in the area would feel about being able to catch the scent of their late uncle buck again-- gloriously wafting in the autumn breeze like once before, but this time accompanied by an unsettling bouquet of chili powder and paprika. -Jen

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
- 1 lb. of ground venison
- 1 tbs. of vegetable oil
- 1 tbs. of chili powder
- 1/2 tbs. of ground cumin
- 1 tsp. of cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. of Kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 tsp. of paprika
- 1/2 tsp. of ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. of dried oregano
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup of water
- 4 single-serving bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos
- Taco fixings: shredded cabbage, crumbled queso fresco cheese, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced onions, diced avocado, salsa, etc. 

1. In a small container, combine taco spices: chili powder, cumin, cornstarch, salt, paprika, coriander, oregano and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside. 
2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbs. of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add ground venison and cook until browned. The great thing about using venison is that you don't have to worry about the hassle of draining out any fat. Considerable lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, ground venison is a whole lot healthier than ground beef.
3. Next, stir in taco mix seasoning and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until almost all liquids have absorbed and evaporated, stirring often. Then take off heat and adjust seasonings. Keep in mind all the salt that's already in the chips and cheese. 

4. Snip off one side of each Doritos bag.

Then add some venison taco meat and all your favorite taco fixings in the bag. 

Voila! Now you have a Venison Taco in a Bag. Enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Venison Un-Kabobs

Hello to all our summer grilling fans! Yup, that time is here when all you grill masters pull out your barbecue, clean them up and get ready for our favorite outdoor cooking season. Kabobs are always a favorite way to cook meat but we are going to put a little spin on this particular way of cooking. Instead of using skewers, we will use a hinged grilling grate. 
This will help keep those wonderful juices inside the meat and not dripping out of those savory little chunks. This particular marinade gives a deliciously different flavor than the usual tastes we associate with kabobs. Also, I am keeping the potatoes and mushrooms separate in this cooking method so you can control the tenderness of the potatoes. Corn is in season right now, making it the perfect reason to get a pile and cook them per our Perfect Corn on the Cob recipe, found in our recipe index at the top. Please enjoy! 

Servings: 2
Prep Time (including marinating time): 2 hours
Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes
- 1 lb. venison stew meat
- 1 cup of burgundy wine
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1 tbs. of curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
Kabob ingredients
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 package of sliced mushrooms
- 1 15 oz can of sliced potatoes, drained
- 3 tbs. of butter
- garlic salt, to taste
- ground black pepper

1. Clean stew meat of all silver skin and fat. Cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Combine burgundy, soy sauce, curry powder and garlic into a non-reactive bowl and place venison into the marinade.
Marinate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. 
3. While the meat is marinating, slice the zucchini, onion, green pepper and tomatoes. Set aside. 
4. In a medium frying pan, melt butter, an eighth of the sliced onion and mushrooms. Saute for about 10 minutes then add potatoes. Season with garlic salt and ground black pepper. Sauté for another 10 minutes, cover and set aside. You don't want to get the potatoes too soft.
5. Start the barbecue. While the coals are getting hot, open a hinged grilling grate and place the zucchini, the rest of the onion, green pepper, tomatoes and meat in it and secure snugly. 
6. Place the grate on the grill, cooking for about 5 minutes on each side. Make sure you do not overcook the meat. 
7. Serve un-kabob ingredients with potato/mushroom mixture and your favorite beverage! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pheasant Coq au Vin

Translated into English, Coq au Vin means "rooster/cock with wine." Traditionally, it is a long, braising process of an old, tough rooster, but modern recipes today use regular chicken, which doesn't take long to cook at all. The bird in this recipe was a rooster pheasant that was given to me. Although I don't find pheasant breast tough at all, it's legs can certainly be, benefitting from the longer braising time that this recipe was originally intended for. 
If using game that you harvested yourself, it will of course take a little more time to prepare, unlike buying ready-to-cook chicken from the store. I cleaned the pheasant as best as I could once it came off the field, but I still needed to put in some extra work before I could actually cook with it, even if the bird was entirely skinned-- or maybe it's because I'm just slow. Getting every bit of feather off the bird was a pain in the butt, but finding pheasant feathers in your finished dish is even worse. Also, remember to look for shot and to dig out feathers that may have lodged into the wounds. 

I like dishes like these because they utilize the whole bird, or most of it. Out of laziness, I am sometimes guilty of just breasting out birds as well, but it always makes me feel bad afterwards because there is still quite a bit of meat on the legs, as you can see in the photo above. Learn how to braise and you'll feel more likely to save the whole bird. That's how it should always be. 

Servings: 4
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
- 3 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 whole pheasant
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbs. of flour
- 1/2 lb. of carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup of cognac or brandy
- 1/2 bottle of dry red wine, like Burgundy or Syrah(Shiraz)
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 10 fresh springs of thyme
- 2 tbs. of unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1/2 lb. of pearl onions
- 2 tbs. of olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. of sugar
- 1/2 lb. of baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Clean and wash pheasant thoroughly. Remove any yellow fat on meat. Separate into 6 pieces: legs, breasts and back cut into 2 pieces. Slice breasts into smaller pieces. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides. Set aside. 
Yellow onion and carrots should be cut like so. 
2. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy over medium heat. Remove bacon and set aside.
3. Lightly dredge pheasant pieces in flour and brown on both sides in bacon fat. Cook in batches and do not overcrowd the pan. No need to cook through. Just brown the outside. 
Set aside the pheasant with the bacon.
4. Lower heat to medium-low and add carrots and onion to the pan. Add more oil if necessary. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until turning brown-- stir often. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
5. Next, add 1/4 cup of cognac to the pan. DO NOT POUR DIRECTLY FROM BOTTLE. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. 
Put the bacon and pheasant back into the Dutch oven, along with any juices from the plate. Add wine, chicken stock and thyme. Add 1 tsp. of salt. Bring to a simmer. 

Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in a 250 degree F oven for 1.5 hours. 
6. For easy peeling, add pearl onions to a pot of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Cut off root end and squeeze onions out of their skins.
They should pop right out!
7. In a skillet, cook pearl onions, 1/2 tsp. of sugar and 1/2 cup of water over high heat. Cook until onions start to fry then lower heat to medium-low. Cook until onions begin to glaze, stir occasionally. Set aside.
8. Quarter mushrooms. Heat 1 tbs. of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5-10 minutes, or until browned.
9. Remove pheasant from oven and bring it back to the stove. Check to see if pheasant legs are tender. Discard thyme. Add mushrooms and pearl onions to the pot. 

To thicken up the stew, mash together 1 tbs. of flour and 1 tbs. of softened butter, then mix into the stew. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve hot with mashed potatoes and/or French bread. 
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