Saturday, September 29, 2007

I wish She Was my Representative!

Somehow, I don't think David Price would get it like this. Evidently, there's a group in Michigan called "Save the Doves" that is against dove hunting. They published a response from Susan Tabor to their request to not allow doves to be considered game animals:

Constituent to Rep Tabor: "Michigan has far more important and pressing issues than what animal to add to a hunting list. We have a lack of jobs, lack of good paying jobs, our land is getting all used up by houses, and now we allow the demise of our natural resources. There are already plenty of game animals. Now they allow the killing of innocent doves; want to add sand hill cranes and possibly wolves to the list of game animals, what is next. I am really sickened by it...Please consider the creatures God put here on this earth, just as He put us here on this earth and give them more respect and put an end to this never ending "game list" the committee is talking about in House Bill 6272."

Response from Susan Tabor: "yes I know. Have you ever watched a dove fall from the sky after you've shot it? Have you ever tasted them after wrapping them with bacon and lightly grilling them? let me guess. you don't eat meat right?"
But it gets better. The next response:
Constituent to Rep Tabor: "I thank you for responding to my email. I am 72 and have not missed any election since I was old enough to vote...I will continue my petition drive because I firmly believe that dove hunting is not a challenging sport as you proported. They are lazy, dumb, slow flying bird that are a favorite prey of hawks. I do not appreciate your rather cryptic comment. It is insulting."

Response from Susan Tabor:
"I'm insulted that you think you know more about dove hunting than I do. Have you watched it? Tried it? I can assure you they are not lazy, dumb or slow flying and most of all - THEY ARE DELICIOUS! YUM YUM! There. We are both insulted now. Have a great day!"
Wow, I wish she'd move to North Carolina so I could vote for her!

I'm sorry, but anyone that thinks that doves are a "lazy, dumb, slow flying bird" is totally clueless. They've obviously never seen a dove jink out of the way because they spotted your muzzle blast. Or seen a dove run the gauntlet of 15 hunters and emerge unscathed. They are by far one of the most challenging game birds to hunt. And frankly, they're also one of the tastiest!

It's nice to see a politician that doesn't claim to "understand their position" and stoop down to try to reason with them. Sometimes you just have to make fun of the wackos, because there's no convincing them.

Last of the Venison

I don't do too many "here's what I ate last night" posts, but this meal will be an exception. While rummaging through the freezer, I found a last package of venison burger hiding in the back.

Venison is extremely lean meat, so I always mix it with a bit of seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, and a marinade. This time it was Big Daddy's Marinade, which provides a wonderful taste.

Heat up the grill to maximum. Spray each side of the burger with non-stick spray because there's generally not enough fat in the meat to keep it from sticking. Cook the burgers on a side for 3-5 minutes (depending upon their size), then flip. Only flip a burger once. You'll notice the nice grill marks on the meat -- that's due to the high heat. Now, cut back on the heat to a medium, and add cheese. In this case, it was some very nice crumbled blue cheese. By the time the cheese melts, the burgers will be done. Even though I grind my own meat, I still prefer hamburgers cooked to medium.

We also had some grilled peppers and onions on the side.

Black powder season starts next Saturday. I'm so hungry I can barely wait!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NC Barbeque Trail

Chowhound had a good exchange on barbeque places in NC. Let me comment:

1) The Skylight Inn in Ayden is the best. Hands down. No contest.

2) A barbeque restaurant with more than one location is by definition no longer a barbeque joint. It's a chain.

3) You can't make barbeque without burning wood. If you don't see a big pile of hickory or oak stacked up outside the restaurant, turn around and keep looking. Many places cook their pork butts in an oven. That's roast pork, not barbeque.

4) There's a severe shortage of decent barbeque anywhere near the beach. The only place that I can think of even remotely close to the water is Smithfields in Havelock, but that doesn't count for 2 & 3 above. I'd be interested in hearing any theories explaining this phenomenon.

5) The barbeque you make in your own backyard will be better than most restaurants, at 1/20th the cost.

You'll notice I gave Chowhound a nofollow link. That's because they do the same to all their posts. You've got to give love to deserve it back.

And I'm a bit angry with the moderators at Chowhound, who thought that a post on Operation Sauce Drop was off topic and deleted it, even though for the 10 minutes it was up it got several responses saying "Great Idea!" Sorry, but anyone unwilling to help the troops goes down several notches in my estimation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Grilled Fish

Most people are usually not willing to try to grill fish. Burgers, steaks, and chicken are the extent of their repertoire. That's a shame, because grilled fish can be the best method of delivering tasty delights to your plate. Here's a list of tips for grilling the most daunting pieces of fish:

1) Clean your grates. Really, really, clean them. Make them spotless. Clean grates don't stick.

2) Wipe your grates down with oil, preferably pure olive oil, but anything with a high smoke point. Do this before you apply the heat.

3) Spray your fish on both sides with a non-stick spray.

4) Make sure the grates are at temperature before you put the fish on. You're looking for a quick sear. Putting fish onto grates that are still heating up is an invitation for sticking.

5) Flip the fish exactly once. Multiple flips are an invitation for breakage.

6) Use a wide spatula that can support the entire piece of fish as you flip it.

7) Cut the fish into pieces that are a uniform thickness. A single piece of fish with widely different thicknesses, such as a standard fillet, will be overdone on one end at the least.

8) Marinate your fish in a sauce for a few hours or overnight to remove the "fishy" taste of lesser cuts.

9) Cook the fish at high heat. Fish is a quick hit -- low and slow produces fish jerky.

10) Remove your fish from the grill when it's about 80% done. Carry over will finish it as you plate it.

11) Drizzle a little sauce over the fish with about a minute left on the grill before you plate it. It heats up the sauce and allows it to caramelize. Or just use melted butter and lemon, but keep in mind that the butter will burn quite easily so hold off until the end.

If you're still terrified, try using a fish basket. Just follow the same steps, but flip the entire basket instead of the individual pieces of fish.

If you want to wrap fish with foil, why use a grill? The foil effectively keeps out the grilled taste, so ban it from your grill. Same thing with stuffing whole fish -- the skin/scales effectively insulates the fish from the flavor, so you might as well do it in the broiler.

If you're worried about under cooking fish, remember that 127 million Japanese eat raw fish all the time. Roll it in rice and you've got sushi! Underdone fish is far preferable to overcooked, dried out fish. You can always put a plate of underdone fish in the microwave for 15 seconds if the carryover effect doesn't quite work out the way you planned.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Durham Red and White Closes -- The End of an Era

The Herald Sun had this sad news for Durham meat connoisseurs this week. Free registration is required, but the story is that the Red and White Grocery known to locals as "Billy's" is closing this week.

Billy, who is 78 and has owned the store since the 1950s, is going to retire.

Bill was one of the first store owners to take on Greg's Happy Sauce as a product in our early days. Many local fans of the sauce went to Billy's to get their fix.

Billy had the best spareribs around. He'd do a St. Louis cut for me right there. Or grind up a pork butt to mix with venison for making my own sausage. His frozen vegetables were wonderful.

We wish him well, and we're really going to miss him!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Deer For Breakfast

No, not a venison recipe. Go watch this.

Deer for Breakfast

Really, go watch it. It's worth the time. And it shows just how easy deer hunting is. :}

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bacon Wrapped Dove Breast

Dove season opened in North Carolina on Saturday, so it's time for a tasty treat!

Breast out your doves and soak in buttermilk for at least two hours. Overnight is better. Wash, then apply salt and pepper. Grill over a hot fire until the meat reaches an internal temperature of about 100 degrees. They should now have a nice set of grill marks and a crispy outer layer. Wrap in bacon, securing with toothpicks. Put them back on the fire until the bacon is done and the internal temp is at 180.

Starting them off with bacon wrapping just dries out the bacon. The moisture loss that you're trying to stop with the bacon fat only really occurs when you're inching up into the safety zone of 180, so putting the bacon on for the final stretch is the best way to end up with a juicy bird and perfectly done bacon.

Enjoy. I hate to say it, but you don't need any sauce for this recipe!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Grilling Veggies

The other night I fired up the grill for three of my favorite vegetable dishes.

On the left, we have a recipe that I improvised from a piece I saw on the Food Network by Giada. She sliced sweet potatoes lengthwise, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and baked in the oven until they were crispy. I figured the same thing would work on the grill. Since drizzling olive oil over a hot flame is a recipe for a flare up, I put the strips into a plastic bag, drizzled olive oil, put in a liberal sprinkle of kosher salt, and shook the bag well. This leaves them with a nice even coat of salt and oil. Cooking them over a hot grill produces a wonderful crispy outside as well as the grilled flavor. Much better than in the oven, and given the hot weather, far preferable to running the oven inside.

On the bottom right is grill roasted garlic. Slice several garlic bulbs, place them cut side up in a small aluminum tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and cover with tinfoil. Cook until the garlic becomes soft, then remove the tinfoil and continue until they get a nice light brown color. You can squeeze the garlic out onto bread or crackers -- they make a wonderful paste. They're also great for cooking other dishes when you need roasted garlic.

On the top right is the old standard onions and peppers. Slice up onions and peppers, throw in whatever seasonings strike your fancy, and grill until they're soft. Serve that on a plate next to some sausage and you're in heaven. What? You don't have a grill wok? You'd better fix that right away!