Monday, November 29, 2010
It's that special time of year.
The day after Thanksgiving, while others were rushing around at 4 am to grab $2 DVDs, $4 toasters, and other vaguely useful things, we were contemplating how best to thaw out the deer carcass hanging in our garage, frozen solid after a week of single digit temperatures. A big meaty ice block, hanging from the rafters of our single stall.
After considering waiting to butcher until the spring (just kidding, just kidding...), we borrowed a propane heater, set it up in the garage, and cranked that baby up. It worked like a charm, thawing the meat out enough so Kent could actually cut off a quarter. He set up the butchering block on our tiny kitchen table, sharpened up the knifes, and hauled the first front shoulder into our kitchen, cutting off steaks and separating some pieces to be ground into burger. Ben toddled around, curious as to what was happening in the place he usually eats his morning oatmeal. A pile of bones, hooves, and other remnants collected in our snowy backyard, much to the dog's delight.
While he was butchering, I dropped off Ben at grandma and grandpa's house and got a massage (or a mass-ahhhhhge). By the time I got home, the butchering was done and the kitchen was almost cleaned up too. Impressive.
With an extra hindquarter from my folks, here's the year's venison tally:
- 35 lbs. of ground venison, which will be mixed with 35 lbs. of pork to make 70 lbs of sausage (country sausage, Italian sausage, summer sausage, Polish sausage, and bratwurst - we'd usually save some ground venison to use plain without seasoning, but we have lots of ground moose thanks to bro-in-law's lucky tag this year)
- 20 lbs. of venison steak
- 1 deer heart
- Two happy dogs that got to gnaw on some big 'ol deer bones
That a lot 'o meat. After the carnage, I found myself reclaiming my kitchen, retreating back into the warmth and domesticity of baking. This weekend, I went on a baking spree, turning my oven to 350 and baking cookies, meatloaf, potatoes, and this lovely pumpkin bread. It's called Indian Pumpkin Bread because of the cornmeal in it. Not very PC, but I do love me some cornmeal. Give me a toasted corn tortilla over a bland flour one any day of the week. Cornbread? Yes please. Cornmeal porridge? Why not, serve it up. It gives this bread a little bit of texture.
I've actually made this bread twice in the past couple weeks simply because it uses up a lot of pumpkin. And I have A LOT of pumpkin to use up. I finally said "to hell with it" and threw some perfectly good spaghetti squash in the compost (I just couldn't stand to eat another one), but the pumpkins I diligently roasted, scraped, pureed and froze, even though a can of Libby's costs about 59 cents. There are still a couple pumpkins sitting under the snow on my front step. I'll just consider those emergency rations.
Indian Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, you'll need to go to the liquor store (at least in ND) to find cream sherry. Also, the toothpick test is necessary here - it'll look done on top, but still be undercooked inside. This will probably end up looking darker than you are accustomed to when it's finally ready to be pulled from the oven. This recipe makes three loaves (or two loaves and a dozen muffins - of course, the muffins cook quickly, so check them after 15 minutes. Toothpick test still applies).
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 and 2/3 cups pureed fresh pumpkin (or two 15 oz cans pumpkin puree)
4 large eggs
1 cup walnut oil (can cut this with some applesauce and/or canola oil)
1 cup fine cornmeal
3 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup cream sherry
Grease three 8 and 1/2" x 4 and 1/2" loaf pans (or two pans and a 12-muffin tin). In a large bowl, combine sugars, pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Beat until smooth. In a separate large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Combine wet and dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Stir in cream sherry. Beat vigorously until thoroughly blended, about 1-2 minutes. The batter will be thick and fluffy.
Pour batter into prepared pans, filling each no more than 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until tops are crusty with a long center crack and toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean. Let loaves stand a few minutes in the pans, then remove from pans to a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting.
Posted by Rhubarb and Venison at 7:24 AM