Tag Archives: food prep


by Woodsbum

For those of you who are not sure what hardtack is, think of it like a horribly thick and hard cracker. What is nice is that it will literally last forever. It doesn’t go bad. What I like it for is tossing some hard cheese and meat on it, honey, or use it to dip into a soup. People also eat it as is, but it is a bit bland.

Here is the recipe:


  • 3 cups of white flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of water

Mix it all together and roll it out into a big square. Cut the dough into about 9 equal portions or just make them about as equal as you can get. Once you get these portioned and cut, use a nail to poke about 14 holes to make it resemble the holes on a saltine cracker.

Bake the pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove them from the sheet and let them cool. They should look like slightly browned, puffy crackers.

Each piece of hardtack is about 150 calories.


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Dehydrating Vegetables

by Woodsbum

The time has come again where I bust out my dehydrator. This week I found a great deal on frozen peas, carrots, and green beans. Somehow I wandered into an almost 40% off deal on store brand bags, so I picked up something like 20 bags of my “soup 3” as I call them. I also ran into a deal on carne asada so I grabbed a package to test it out. In a few weeks our plums should be ready to pick, dehydrate and store.

The reason that I like frozen vegetables for dehydrating is that they are already blanched. It completely skips a tedious step in the process of food preparation. Before you dehydrate fresh vegetables, they need to be blanched first. This involves dipping them in boiling water and then putting them in ice water. Some people say that this is unnecessary, but I have found that they rehydrate better when blanched without turning into veggie flour.

When I dehydrate vegetables, I use my Excalibur unit on 125 degrees for about 12-14 hours. For some reason it seems to take longer to get food dehydrated or jerked here due to humidity. My jerky for example takes about 18-22 hours with all 5 trays full. The carne asada that I use for soups is kind of greasy, but doesn’t have to be cut or prepared before turning into jerky. You can just put it on the trays right after marinating for 24 hours. No cutting, no carving, no fuss involved in the process.

Once I get done dehydrating, I use my Foodsaver vacuum sealer for long term storage. The fruits seem to last a couple years if I completely dehydrate them and seal them in this manner. I end up using my vegetables and jerky before the year is out so I don’t have a good handle on how long they will keep. My sealed packages are kept in a food safe bucket and lid. You can also put them in Mylar bags to keep them longer, but the buckets seem to work well.

I also keep barley and bouillon on hand to make my soups. I start by boiling up some water and then add barley, bouillon, and jerky. After cooking about 30 minutes, I add my vegetables and finish cooking. It should take another 30-45 minutes to finish cooking, depending on altitude.

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Tips for Cooking Wild Meat

by Woodsbum

Cooking wild meat seems to be one of the many questions that I get on a regular basis. For some reason people don’t know that much about cooking game animals. It might be due to a drastic decrease in the amount of hunters. Maybe it is due to the decrease in the amount of people that can actually cook something that didn’t come in cellophane. No matter what the underlying cause, I hope these tips might help any of you out that are fuzzy on how to prepare and cook game.

Before I start I want to toss out this disclaimer: I am not a chef. I am also not a food preparation or cooking expert. I am just a slightly overweight guy that loves food and has been cooking for himself since he was a teenager. Since I grew up very rural and lived off a lot of wild game, I had to learn how to prepare it where nonhunters would eat it. This is not an easy task, but I have now gotten to the point where some of my preparations have wild game that is almost 100% undetectable to the common city dweller..

This list is not all inclusive, but will give you a little bit of a foundation from which to work from. As times goes on I will include some recipes and meal preparation ideas to assist you in creating some great meals.

The first item I will address is the common response when talking about wild game: “It just tastes too gamy.” This “gamy” taste is usually connected with meat that was not properly cleaned and drained of blood. Although old timers tend to like the flavor that wild meat tends to have, the average grocery grazer has no interest in anything that tastes out of what they consider normal. To keep this taste from overwhelming your dishes you need to follow the following steps.

Several of these tips are associated with grilling or hot smoking. Others are in reference to stewing.

  • Squeeze out all the blood from the meat. Start by soaking the meat for a period of time and then squeeze out all the blood while running the meat under running water. This removes much of the gamy flavor that people complain about. Some people claim that soaking for at least 2 hours in buttermilk, milk, boiling water, apple cider, or even salt water help. I address the apple cider boiling further down the list.
  • Ensure all the “slime” is off the meat. Wild game tends to have an odd slime on the outside of the meat. Before you cook the meat it is important to either brush off or scrape off this “slime.” Inner cuts of meat will not have this slimy layer so many of you who do not process your own game may not know what I am talking about. The think to remember is that you want the meat as clean as possible. Any impurities will cook off or burn off depending on how you cook (for the most part), but it leaves odd flavors in the process.
  • Use liberal amounts of seasoning. Although frying meat does produce its own flavor, grilling meat tends to do two things: adds smoke flavor to the meat and allows added spices or rubs to drip off. The meat will absorb flavor best (in my opinion and experience) when you first start to see the juices coming to the surface. This happens in two stages. Light juice is visible as the cooking side starts to seal up and the moisture is pushed to the top side of the meat. The second time is when the meat is cooked about 1/2 way through. This is when you see standing pools of juice on the meat. I will cover more on this later on.

    Use liberal amounts of seasoning

    Use liberal amounts of seasoning

  • Don’t use too high of temperature when cooking wild game. If you sear the bottom and don’t allow all the seasoning to be fully absorbed throughout the entire cut a lot of the gamy flavor will come out. You will also get an odd texture that many dislike about wild game. Cook the game slowly and over heat ranges (for light smoke/grill/campfire) around 225 degress Fahrenheit.
  • Only flip it once. Keep your eye on the meat and the way that the juices are accumulating on the top side. If you flip the meat too many times it tends to dry out and toughen up. This also changes the texture and changes it to one that people dislike.
  • If you are cooking an animal that tends to be greasy you can boil it for a short time before grilling, smoking or frying. I like to use apple of some sort for what are commonly considered “trash” or “greasy” animals. Such species include raccoon, squirrel, certain types of duck/geese, and bear when it has been living in and around human settlement. These animals all pick up odd flavors from the food that they eat and raccoons are a great example. I like to boil mine in apple for several minutes before I perform my finishing cooking method. Strong flavored meats such as types of goat or pig can be boiled in beer for a few minutes to remove odd game flavors. Both of these methods help with the slime that tends to form on greasy types of meat.

    Be careful when cooking after boiling meat. It will dry out quickly. I caught this squirrel just before it got too dry.

    Be careful when cooking after boiling meat. It will dry out quickly. I caught this squirrel just before it got too dry.

Watching the juice accumulation on the meat is very important. This tells you where in the thickness of meat that the cooking process has reached. As more and more juice accumulates on the top side of the cut, the closer to the center of the cut is cooked. For example:

  • Small droplets begin to form on the top of the cut on the grill. This means that the bottom side has seared shut and juices are beginning to be pushed to the top side. When this happens it is at the tail edge of when seasoning is pulled into the core of the meat. If you have not already seasoned the meat, you should do so quickly. This is also the point where you will end up with a rare cut if you flip it now.
  • Medium sized droplets of juice appearing on the top of the cut mean that you are getting to the medium rare to medium stage of the cooking process. There will be no real standing “puddles” of juice, but the droplets are starting to be big enough to run and join together.

    Shiny top of meat when it gets to the medium rare stage

    Shiny top of meat when it gets to the medium rare stage

  • Standing puddles of juice appearing on the top of the cut mean that the meat has reached the medium well to well stage. Flipping the cut now will leave no pick and an almost grey color throughout the entire cut. This is also the point where the meat starts to dry out and changes texture. Be vary careful at this point. When it looks like “blood” has started to accumulate on top of the cut you have cooked it too long. If you start to see the juices turning color and becoming less clear in nature it is very important to flip the meat quickly and season the other side before the cut dries too much.

These guidelines work great for cooking over open flame or frying, but things change a bit when you are going to stew out a critter. When you are making a stew or doing a “critter” with noodles type dinner it is important to keep an eye on the cooking process. You really need to make sure that the meat is really coming off the bone and the striations are separating with ease. Image that point with chili steak that allows you use a potato masher, but the meat doesn’t turn to mush. It is the perfect “pulled pork” spot. That is what you are looking for. Each section of meat coming off the bone stays together, but can easily be pulled apart. For whatever reason wild game tends to become more like a clam when over cooked in a stew and less like beef or chicken. There is a “perfect” spot, but if you leave it too long it doesn’t make it more tender. It shrivels and the texture becomes odd.

Lastly, a lot of the “drippins” that are used for gravy contain much of the gamy flavor that turns people off. If you can drain some of the juices and dilute it with some beef broth people will like it more.

Those are my main wild critter cooking tips. I will keep referring to them as I add recipes. Hope this helped!!!!

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