Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson


Each season brings its own cooking frenzy, a chance to find a special ingredient in abundance. About now the families of hunters realize it is time to tap into the nolkaiwios (nolkaiya), which is stored in the freezer. This venison may not be the only game you have stored. For some reason elk (wobozak) runs a close second as stored game meat in northern areas, especially Canada, moose (mozak) and buffalo (bezikoagen) as well. Buffalo is more in a class by itself these days but can be interchanged in many of the recipes that call for beef or game meat. The words I have used are Abenaki to define the game, but I would like to hear the names of these great animals from other nations.

Roast Elk

1 5-7 pound rump or saddle cut of elk rinsed with vinegar and brought to room temperature
1 large clove garlic
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the roast well with pieces of garlic, brush with the oil and dust lightly with flour. Brown the roast in a heavy frying pan or Dutch oven using any leftover oil from brushing the meat. Now, you can either remove the roast from the heavy pan and place it on a rack or, if your Dutch oven or pan is oven worthy, roast the meat, uncovered, for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Use a meat thermometer or cook for 15 minutes per pound. Check for doneness and remove from the oven. Let the roast rest on a platter or cutting board for about 10 minutes before carving. Elk is great with any type of potato, sweet roasted, white roasted, mashed, glazed, any way you like them.

Any type of venison (or member of the venison family like moose, caribou, and elk) needs to be brought to room temperature before cooking if frozen. Because they dry out quickly due to lack of fat, they should be cooked slowly, with moisture. Marinating helps here and also reduces any gamy taste.

Venison Stew

3 pounds venison, cut in chunks
3 tablespoons oil for browning meat
4 cups of water
3 cups of beef or chicken stock
3 onions, quartered
2 fresh cloves of garlic, sliced
1-1/2 cups wild rice*
3 carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths

Brown the meat in a large skillet, then put in into a crock pot or large stew pot. Add the water, stock, onions, garlic, wild rice and carrots. In a crock pot, cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. In a heavy stew pot, simmer gently for 2 or 3 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

*Note: You can use brown rice (3/4 cup) & wild rice (3/4 cup).

Squash, Etc ...
1 medium butternut squash
1 small yellow turnip
1 small parsnip
2 carrots

Peel all the vegetables and cut in cubes. Cover all with water in one pot and add a little salt. Cook on medium until they are soft, approximately a half hour. Drain, return to pot and mash with a little butter, sage or rosemary.

Baked Apples
6 firm apples (Cortland, Winesap, Baldwin, Rome)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins
1 tablespoon chopped pecans or walnuts

Core the apples, leaving the bottom end intact to form a cavity. Fill the cavities with syrup, fruit and nuts. Place the apples in a baking pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Drizzle the apples with a little vegetable oil and bake in a 375-degree oven for about a half hour or until the apples are tender, but not mushy. Remove from oven and let stand about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Apples & Bacon

Over the years, I have made this dish over an open fire at various events. It is a great treat when it is very cold out. A little bit goes a long way and it can be either a dessert, side dish or a condiment. It dates from the l600s when people needed the fat to keep warm and the apples for the vitamins.

Fry 1 pound of bacon slowly. Remove the bacon and set aside. Pour off half of the bacon fat. Saut? 4 to 6 pounds of mixed varieties of apples cut up into bite-size hunks, leaving skins on, in the remaining bacon fat. While the apples saut?, sprinkle them with 1 cup of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Stir well and serve hot.

Notes & Tips

*During the year, collect dried peas, lentils and all varieties of beans (kidney, lima, pinto, white northern, navy pea, etc ?) I keep mine in old glass Mason jars. Sometimes I mix them all together and make a soup using game bones or other left-over small amounts of meat. They are great to have in the pantry.

*Speaking of pantries, there are some items that are recommended to keep you well stocked: Flavorings, such as vanilla extract, cloves, cinnamon, dried vegetable flakes, lemon peel and carob powder. Leavening products like baking powder, baking soda, yeast, cream of tartar and eggs. A can or two of evaporated milk and condensed milk. Even dried milk if you bake a lot and live far from the market.

*This is the time of year to conserve heat and energy. If everyone is out during the day, lower the thermostat 5 or 10 degrees. If you have a dishwasher, shut it off before the dry cycle and let the dishes air-dry. If you have just cooked something in the oven like a roast or baked bread, leave the door open a bit after you turn off the heat and let that heat the room as the oven cools off.

*Some e-wisdom from George Carlin on how to stay young.

Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to town, to the mall, to the next county or state, but NOT to where the guilt is.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.