I have been raised by a family of storytellers. I come from a line of hunters and fishermen. I think storytelling comes with the territory. With every hunt or catch there is always a tale (often an elaborate, embellished tale).
In most situations I would consider myself a very non-traditional, eclectic individual. When it comes to family, however, I am all about tradition, and creating new traditions. Thanksgiving has always been a morning for hunting in our family. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been woken up to drag deer out of the woods (happy holiday to me, and sometimes happy birthday as well). But this year I discovered that if ever you need to be reassured that you are blessed, spend the morning with the men in your life. It all began at my brothers. Part of being the only female hunter is you get a lot of shit and teasing (this could also be part of my being the family baby as well, basically I have no chance). Anyways, my father and Cliff were on me to make sure I was on time. Out of spite (stubbornness) I showed up 15 minutes early. While I waited 25 minutes for my brother to get ready, I decided to sneak in and check on the twins (my brother as 18 month old twin boys). It’s like they knew I was coming. As soon as I stood in Archer’s doorway, he was there lightly arousing. So I sank to the floor, face planted to his crib, just taking in the moment, watching him wake up. It was kind of magical. And I cried. And I’m cool with that, which is probably why they joke so much about taking a woman hunting.
Once we get out to my grandparent’s property that we hunt on, I get a call from my mom explaining how my father is sick, but he was so looking forward to starting this tradition of hunting with us and our kids (his grandkids, as I have no children yet), so we needed to take it easy on him. More heart-melting. Then he shows up with my nephews Gavin (age 7) and Trenton (age 5), more melting. We jump in his old orange truck, a perfect companion for all our orange and camouflage. As we wait for my brother to get in position, we go over our game plan. Naturally Trenton and I are destined to be partners.
Let me tell you, hunting with a 5 year-old is an experience. He was doing summersaults in the grass before we started. He was chopping his way across the field with a fluffy stick. He fell down repeatedly through the reeds. He was not quiet. I warned him to be and he yelled across the field at his pappa. Of course all the exertion wears him out and I have to give him a lift on my back the rest of the way.
It was an experience. An experience that I cherish. That I love. For a time and holiday dedicated to gratitude, I was overwhelmed with the stuff. To add to the blessing of the day, we got a deer. Not just any deer, but a beautiful 10-pointer, that will feed and fuel 3 different families. Besides the family time and connection that hunting brings, there is also the intoxicating feeling of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. It’s probably all in my head, but food tastes so much better when you have a hand in it. I jumped that deer to my brother. I helped drag and hang it. And together my brother and I lovingly butchered it. Plus I know the animal. I know where it came from. I know those woods it traveled. I saw it. I like being connected to my food source.
And so it should be a no-brainer that coming up this week (and possibly this week), I will be featuring some tasty venison recipes. Today we’ll start out with my dinner last night. After taking off on a couple-hour hike, I was struck with the thought that I needed to make a stir-fry, so that I found myself wandering through the local grocery store, seeking inspiration. Here is the end product:
- 2 broccoli heads
- 1 carrot
- water chestnuts
- 3 oz. cubed venison loins
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 pieces chopped bacon
- 1 tbsp lard (or grass-fed butter or coconut oil or ghee)
- salt and pepper
Let’s Make it Happen: Heat lard in a skillet. Now start with the deer. I cut it into strips and further into cubes (as this was an older deer than the others we’ve been eating recently, it was slightly tougher, so cubes I have found to be the best method). Chop up broccoli add this to the mix. Peel carrot and then grate the rest into the skillet. Toss in chestnuts. Cut in bacon pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Once the bacon is cooked and the broccoli is tender, you are ready to dig in! That’s it, a pretty simple one skillet tasty masterpiece.