FEBRUARY 2018

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

 

My Grandpa Joe, who was “quair” (or quare) in the finest mountain sense of delightful eccentricity, had pronounced thoughts on pretty much any subject. All you had to do to obtain them was to take the time to listen to his soft-spoken mutterings which were little above the level of a whisper. The adults in the family didn’t seem to pay him a great deal of attention, but to my way of thinking he was a flowing fountain of thoughts on mountain ways, knowledge garnered from a hard life lived close to the good earth, and offbeat thinking. One of the more intelligent things I’ve done in my life was to soak up his pithy pronouncements and folksy wisdom like a sponge.

Grandpa’s favorite phrase was “they’ll learn” or sometimes when I had done something untoward or maybe even monumentally stupid “you’ll learn.” The older I get the more I realize just how insightful he was in that regard. Every time I have a strong difference of opinion with an individual or an entity, I try to assess my perspective and if I still feel I’m right, there’s considerable solace to be found in Grandpa’s words: “They’ll learn.”

As was true about most anything connected with weather or seasons of the year, he held strong opinions on the month of February. He reckoned that long ago someone figured out that the month was so miserable that a body could only take so much of what it had to offer, hence it was shorter than all the rest of the months. “February,” he would then add, almost as if he regretted demeaning the shortest month, “is for ‘figgering’.” By that he meant that it was a time to stick close to hearth and home; enjoy hearty soups, stews, cornbread, and similar vittles at meal time; pass away the hours in whittling and telling tales; and indulge in plenty of sessions of dreaming and scheming.

He wasn’t wrong. Mind you, I have every intention of doing some squirrel hunting this month, setting some dog-proof traps in an effort to eliminate at least a portion of a plague of ‘possums and ‘coons I’ve got on my hunting property (kudos to two cherished friend and supreme trappers, Jill Easton and Jim Spencer, on that front), and make some efforts to get pruning done and my garden ready for spring’s arrival. Mostly though, I’ll think about the future like he did, enjoy piddling around in the kitchen and trying new recipes, and ruminate on all the wonderful experiences my life has embraced. Grandpa Joe was a significant factor in those experiences, just as he was, through his abilities as a consummate storyteller, a shaping influence in my career as a writer. Speaking of that career, let’s now turn to the next segment of my evolution as a sporting scribe.

 

THE FORMATIVE YEARS—PART 5

In certain senses the years from when I finished undergraduate school in 1964 until completion of my graduate studies in 1971 might be described as a “lost era.” That’s because during the early portion of that period (1964-67), thanks to being busy teaching (math and history) and coaching (soccer and tennis) at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA; attending summer school to better my teaching qualifications one of those years and teaching not only in regular sessions but summer school the other two; I did precious little fishing and almost no hunting. The only hunting I enjoyed in those three years was at Christmas break, when I would go back home to the Smokies and get a few treasured days with beagles, bunnies, family, and my old buddies from high school.

One step I did take during that period was a mistake financially yet, in looking back, I realize it was a portent or what Grandpa Joe would have called “a sign.” I enrolled in the Famous Writers School, which muckraking journalist Jessica Mitford later revealed to be a monumental scam. I must shamefacedly admit that I was among the tens of thousands who got scammed. I spent money I could ill afford (something like $900 spread over three years, which was a minor fortune to me given the fact that my annual salary for my first year of teaching/coaching was a whopping $4500). In return I got absolutely nothing other than a costly lesson along the lines of “don’t be a fool again.”

The initial admissions “test” said I had tremendous promise as a writer and intimated that the pathway to riches would soon lead me straight through a literary golden gate. I suspect every response was somewhat similar and I would virtually guarantee that both those responses and the ones addressing assignments were formulaic. All I learned from the whole misadventure was a needed lesson in avoiding anything and everything that looks too good to be real.

On other fronts things were a lot better. Topping the list was courtship and then marriage to Ann, whom I met while at Hargrave. Her father worked there and she taught summer school at least one of the years of my tenure. We married in June of 1967, almost immediately after her graduation from Longwood College, and within weeks were living in a decidedly “basic” apartment in Blacksburg, VA, where I had started graduate study in the history department. The launching of a marriage and graduate studies obviously changed my life in a lot of ways, although I had carefully explained to Ann well before our wedding day that fishing and hunting were integral parts of my life she needed to accept. She did, although I suspect to this day that she didn’t realize just how large the outdoors loomed in my existence. What she did learn in short order were the dictates of a lifestyle of being dirt poor. For the years I was in graduate school we lived almost literally hand to mouth, with a pizza or a cheap buffet once a month being a major splurge for us as well as a stretch to our meager budget.

At Virginia Tech I learned a great deal which, while in one sense peripheral to communicating the outdoor experience, in others served me wonderfully well when I turned to freelance writing. I took two classes, both of them seminars, under Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. “Bud,” as he is widely known, had just completed work as Executive Director of the Civil War Centennial Commission and was a powerhouse in both the Civil War and Historical Methodology seminars in which I enrolled.

Two particularly memorable things came out of those seminars. Bud was a bear on proper writing style and hammered away at matters such as passive voice, meticulous use of research sources, and solid writing. I still have a copy of a handout he offered in that regard, “The Historian’s Ten Commandments; Considerably Expanded.” The “Thou shall” and “Thou shall not” dictums it contained proved wonderfully serviceable.

Bud also left other memories. Among them were a lengthy term paper so decorated with red marks it could have been shredded and seen good recycling service as decorative material at Christmas. Or the occasion on which he reduced a group of graduate students to stony silence with a 10-minute tirade about our collective ineptitude as writers which ended with “That’s enough of that–let’s go to the local pizza joint and the pies and beer are on me.” Then there was the concluding session of the Civil War seminar, when we all traveled to Appomattox where he relived Lee’s surrender in deeply moving fashion. When he finished I don’t think there was a dry eye amongst the cadre of normally boisterous and somewhat hardened graduate students.

Most memorable of all on a personal level, however, were his unassailable work ethic (he is unquestionably today’s premier Civil War historian) and the fact that my research paper written for his Civil War seminar resulted in my first appearance, outside contributions to the college newspaper when I was at King, in print. My history of the 48th Virginia Infantry Volunteers was published by a local historical society’s journal. It didn’t garner a red cent for the effort but it did wonders for my spirits—I was a published writer!

Next month we’ll continue this chronicle as I move to doctoral studies at Vanderbilt and began to get a real feel for in-depth research even as I enhanced my abilities as a writer.

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JIM’S DOIN’S

For a variety of reasons January was a particularly rough month for me, but as always, there were bright spots as well. On the ragged side of matters there was a single day which was devastating. It included prep for a colonoscopy, and those of you who have had the decidedly dubious privilege of going through one or more of these “scourings” know that there’s not a lot to be said for a situation in which none save a foolhardy daredevil dares venture more than 15 steps from the nearest commode.

During that eminently forgettable day I received a phone call which I had halfway been expecting for some time yet which I also hoped would never come. It involved my column in the local daily newspaper. Almost four decades ago my first “regular” outdoor gig was writing a column for The Herald. It started out on a one-month trial basis with a mutual understanding with the sports editor that if either of us felt it wasn’t working at month’s end it would be terminated. Obviously it worked for several thousand columns. At one point I was offering material three times a week, and over the years I saw at least a dozen sports editors come and go. I’ve never counted but a rough estimate of the total number of columns I had published in the newspaper puts the figure somewhere north of 4,000 contributions. I never once missed a deadline and take quiet pride in that and the fact that over the years several of the pieces won awards. Even more satisfying has been the opportunity to serve as a voice for local sportsmen and non-profit organizations devoted to the world of the outdoors.

The Herald, like many newspapers, has been struggling mightily for some time. You don’t have to be privy to its financial statements to realize as much—dramatically reduced ad space, far less content, and on weekdays two sections running to only six or eight pages tell the tale of financial struggles. Several years ago my contributions were cut back to every other week, and when the publisher (whom I’ve never met) called I knew what was likely coming before he did anything but introduce himself. He was polite, even gracious, and agreed I could write a farewell column. Still, it was a blow to me and it’s a sad commentary on the world of the daily newspaper in general.

My personal feeling is that modern newspapers have in large measure lost their compass. The Herald, like most of today’s dailies, is extremely liberal. Yet it serves a community and readership which is for the most part staunchly conservative, and I might also note that outdoor sports are immensely popular on the local level.

Whatever may be accurate when it comes to the world of daily newspapers, mid-February will mark the first time since I began writing on the outdoors I will not have a voice in a daily. I still have a regular column in The Smoky Mountain Times, a weekly newspaper serving the community where I was born and grew up, but I would be untruthful if I said loss of an opportunity to serve my present home and its sportsmen didn’t hurt.

Then there’s the deeply stressful matter of ongoing dealings with the nursing facility where my wife is currently housed. I’ve learned a great deal about such places in recent years, and two things stand out—the top-drawer management and owners of such places seem fixated on the almighty dollar while there are lots of those in the trenches, so to speak (nurses, nursing assistants, and others), who are compassionate and caring. I won’t bore you with my troubles other than to comment if you ever face a situation where a loved one has to be in a nursing home, steel yourself for some shocks and make every effort to be a staunch and vigilant advocate for that loved one.

On a far more positive note, about the time you receive this newsletter I’ll be in the suburbs of Atlanta for The Fly Fishing Show. In connection with that event I’ll be one of six individuals inducted into the Legends of the Fly Hall of Fame. It’s an humbling career landmark for me and interestingly, three of the other inductees share something in common with me beyond the love of Appalachian trout fishing—they are hillbillies, just like yours truly, born and raised in east Tennessee or western North Carolina.

Then, at month’s end I’ll head to the storied Woodmont Club in Maryland to be the guest speaker at a gathering of avid sons of the sporting South. It should be an enjoyable time although maybe every one of you reading this should say a silent prayer for this simple son of the N. C. mountains venturing out to rub elbows with affluent and influential men of means. I reckon I’ll be in high cotton and just hope I won’t disgrace my Mom’s memory by forgetting my manners or my demeanor. Frankly, I’m seldom if ever nervous is such settings, but there was one time in England when I sat down to a meal with an array of no less than 36 eating utensils spread about my plate. I was clueless but had enough sense to watch my elderly hostess (the granddaughter of a great African explorer). Every time she grabbed something I did the same and then employed it as she did. Mind you, if I am never again confronted by six types of sugar spoons and twice that number of forks, it will suit me just fine.

 

BOOK SPECIALS

SPECIAL #1—REDUCED TURKEY HUNTING BOOKS

This month sees the second segment of the special on a whole batch of turkey books which began with last month’s newsletter. The deal is the same as before. Payment only by check or money order. Remember that any overseas order must contact me first because of the high shipping prices. Postage is $5 for the first book and $2.50 for each subsequent book up to a maximum of $12.50. Many thanks and I hope you find something of interest. If you have questions, feel free to contact me at jimcasada@comporium.net. For orders, my mailing address is Jim Casada, 1250 Yorkdale Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29730. Offer good only for the month of February.

Jay Langston, Turkey Hunter’s Tool Kit: Shooting Savvy. Accokeek, MD: Stoeger Publishing Co., 2002. Hardback. 128 pp. Lavishly illustrated, index. The former editor of Turkey Call who also happens to be a long-time hunting buddy shares his considerable knowledge of the tools of the turkey hunter’s trade, with a special focus on guns, loads, scopes, choke tubes, and related items. There is also plenty of information on hunts and hunting. Great photography and a “must own” book. New.  Signed. $12.

Roger M. Latham, The Complete Book of the Wild Turkey. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1976. Hardback. New, revised edition Illus. by Ned Smith. 228 pp. Illus., bibliog., index. Fine in dust jacket. Important and becoming difficult to find. $20.

John C. Lee, Novice Wild Turkey Hunting in South Carolina. No place or publisher given, 2007.Introduction by Jim Casada. Paperbound. viii, 190 pages. Illustrated. Signed by author (and I’ll gladly sign as well if you wish). $15.

Andrew L. Lewand, The Turkey Chronicles. Charleston, SC: Bucksnort Publishing, 2010. Paperbound. Illustrated. 90 pages. Signed by author. $14.

Brian Lovett (Editor), The Turkey Hunters (With an Introduction by Jim Casada). Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2003. Hardback in dj. 208 pp. Illus. Anthology of the best of Turkey & Turkey Hunting magazine. Signed by the Editor and yours truly. $15.

Brian Lovett (Editor), Turkey Hunters’ Almanac—2005.  Iola, WI:  Krause Publications, 2005.  Paperbound.  208 pages.  Illustrated.  As new.  Signed.  Although the date in the title might suggest that this was to be an annual publication, such was not the case.  This is the only almanac published by the now defunct magazine. $7.50

John McDaniel, The American Wild Turkey: Hunting Tactics and Techniques. NY: The Lyons Press, 2000. Hardback. 248 pp. Arguably the most important book on turkey hunting to appear in a generation, this is a must for every serious turkey hunter’s collection. Now out of print and already becoming difficult to locate. If you don’t have it, get it now. $17.

John McDaniel, Spring Turkey Hunting: The Serious Hunter’s Guide. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1986. Hardback in dust jacket. 219 pp. Illus., index. Signed. Important work which is in considerable demand. $60.

John McDaniel, The Turkey Hunter’s Book. Clinton, NJ: Amwell Press, 1980.Paperbound version. 148 pages. $12.

Edward A. McIlhenny, The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting. Medon, TN: Old Masters, 1984. Hardback. xii, 245 pp. A true cornerstone of any turkey hunting library. The original sells for prices at or near four figures. New (no dj as issued). I regularly see this offered at more than twice my price of $60.

John H. Mettler, Jr., Wild Turkeys: Hunting and Watching. Pownal, VT: Storey Books, 1998. Paperback. Viii, 167 pp. Illus., index. Particularly useful on the habits of turkeys and on dressing and cooking your bird. A straightforward “how to” book. New. $8.

Outdoor Life (Editors), Turkey Season. Minnetonka, MN: Cowles Creative Publishing, 2000. Paperback. 224 pp. Illus. A collection of 28 pieces by various writers covering all aspects of the turkey hunting experience. New. $10.

Michael Pearce, Hunting Wild Turkeys with Ray Eye. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1990. Hardback. 208 pp. Illus. As new in dj. Rare. Signed by the author. $50.

John E. Phillips, The Masters’ Secrets: Turkey Hunting. Lakeland, FL: Larsen’s Publishing, 1991. Paperback. 160 pp. Illus. $10.

John E. Phillips, Outdoor Life Complete Turkey Hunting. NY: Outdoor Life Books, 1988. Hardback. 318 pp. Illustrated. Very fine in vf dj. Signed copy. $20.

John Phillips, PhD Gobblers. Cedar Rapids, IA: Hunter’s Specialties, 2005. Hardback. 160 pages. Illus. Never mind the rather humorous failure to omit full stops in “Ph. D.” in the title, and rather more proofreading shortcomings than one would like, this is a delightful book. It features some of the finest turkey hunters around—members of the H. S. staff such as Eddie Salter, Matt Morrett, Alex Rutledge, and Ray Eye. I’ve hunted with these guys and to a man they know their stuff. You’ll learn a lot from them. $20.

John E. Phillips, Turkey Hunting Tactics. Minneapolis, MN: North American Hunting Club, 1989. Hardback. Pp. 182. Illus., glossary, index. $15.

Bill Privette, Shake a Tailfeather One More Time. Paperback. Signed and numbered copies of a limited, numbered  edition of 500. 208 pages. The subtitle pretty well says it all: “Tale Tales & Folderol, Balderdash & Tomfoolery while Hunting Wild Turkeys.” I have the following numbered copies: 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37.  $15.

Bob Saile, The Sultan of Spring: A Hunter’s Odyssey Through the World of the Wild Turkey. NY: The Lyons Press, 1998. Hardback. 163 pp. Illus. New in dj. $10.

Glenn Sapir, Secrets of the Turkey Pros. Minnetonka, MN: North American Hunting Club, 1999. 176 pp. Illus., index. A lavishly illustrated volume (several of the photos are mine) written by a veteran of the sport who knows his stuff. $10.

Jim Spencer, Bad Birds (with an Introduction by Brian Lovett and a special contribution from Larry Dablemont)Bolivar, MO:  Lightin’ Ridge Books, 2010.  Paperbound.  xii, 224 pages.  Illustrated.  Signed and inscribed.  Great stuff from one of today’s best writers on the sport.  $10.

Jim Spencer, Turkey Hunting Digest: Words of Wisdom on a Grand Spring Sport (with a Foreword by Tom Kelly). Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2003. Large format paperback. 336 pp, lavishly illustrated. Signed by both the author and Tom Kelly! As new copy of a grand book by a guy who really knows his stuff. $15.

Mike Strandlund and Earl Hower, Wild Turkey Hunting. Washington, D. C.: NRA, 1988. Paperback. x, 182 pp. Illus. A volume, quite well done on the whole, in the NRA’s “Hunter Skills” series. About fine. $7.

Same book in hardback. Fine in dj. $11.

Tom Turpin, Hunting the Wild Turkey (with an Introduction by Roger Latham). Delmont, PA: Penn’s Woods, 1966. Paperback. Illus. The first reprint of the extremely scarce Turpin book, this reprint has become very elusive in its own right. Fine copy. $15.

Lovett E. Williams, Jr., Wild Turkey Country. Minocqua, WI: NorthWord Press, 1991. Paperback. 144 pp. A beautiful, lavishly illustrated book by one of the sport’s great authorities. $15.

Wade Wineman, Bird of Courage. Greenville, MS: OK Publishing, 2007. Hardback in dj. xvi, 184 pages. Sequel to East of the Slash. Splendid storytelling. New. Signed. $35.

Larry W. Woods, Skillfully Hunting the Keen-Eyed Wild Turkey: A Practical Guide for Dedicated Hunters. Crossville, TN: Privately published, 2002. Paperback. 122 pp. Large format with slick paper. Illus. The key word for this book is “practical.” The author shares his extensive knowledge in an easygoing, informative fashion. Signed by the author. $16.

Rea Yarnall, Turkey Hunting (and Other Hunting) at Its Best. Nashville, TN: Little Jewel Enterprises, 1989.Hardback in dj. 192 pp. Illus. Signed copy of a book which most serious students of the sport have somehow overlooked. New. $25.

SPECIAL #2—REAL DEALS ON DAMAGED BOOKS

NOTE: ALL ARE ONE-OF-A-KIND

Jim Casada, Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Paperbound version of this 450-page book I consider my work of a lifetime. I have two damaged copies, although in each case the damage is minimal. Some slight bumps to the bottom of each book and a tiny bit of grubbiness in that the bottom edges are dirty (newsprint rubbing off on them). A bookseller would require them as “good to very good.” Two real bargains at $14 each.

Jim Casada, Modern Fly Fishing. Hardback. A general, wide-ranging introduction to the subject in a book which won two awards when published. A copy with some facing on the bottom of the spine and lower left front of the book torn away. Internally clean and tight. $4.50

Another copy, this one with a one-inch flaw on the spine; otherwise clean and nice. $6.

Jim Casada, Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters. This book is like new in every sense but one. Some blithering idiot (yours truly) inscribed the book with a pen that bled over to the blank pages opposite the title page where the inscription is. There are ink spots on the blank page but otherwise there is no damage. Only $20 for a book which retails for $40.

Jim Casada, The Literature of Turkey Hunting: An Annotated Bibliography and Random Scribblings from a Sporting Bibliophile. Copy #39 of a limited, numbered edition of 750. The same idiot who messed up the previous book repeated his mistake in this one. The only difference is that in this case, in addition to the bleed of ink to the page opposite the inscription, the inscription is to a specific individual. That said, here’s a chance to get a book I normally sell for $100 for only $35.

Dave Harbour, Hunting the American Wild Turkey. Hardback without dust jacket. Stained, spine badly worn, and edges bumped. Except for minor foxing and dirty endpapers, it is sound internally. Only $5.

Tim Herald, Gobblers I Have Known. Paperbound. ex lib. with stamping on front endpaper and title page. Otherwise clean except for external labels on spine and front. The book is quite rare and very difficult to find. $50.

Roger Latham, Complete Book of the Wild Turkey. Hardbound. This one isn’t actually damaged; it’s a copy in very good condition, BUT it lacks the dust jacket. Accordingly, only $12.

John McDaniel, Spring Turkey Hunting: The Serious Hunter’s Guide. Hardbound in dust jacket but an ex lib. copy. With stamping on front and back endpapers and a checkout slip in the back. Otherwise in good shape. A chance to own a top turkey book and a bottom end price. $18.

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VENISON COOKERY

Although I enjoy venison throughout the year, it seems tastiest and most appropriate in the depths of winter. I put two nice does in the freezer this year, just exactly the amount of meat I need until another season rolls around, and it will provide the makin’s of many a meal over the coming months. Here’s a sampling of what has been or soon will be on the supper table in these precincts.

EASY-PEASY VENISON CHILI

Easy-peasy chili simmering on the stove

I have no idea of the origin of “easy-peasy,” but I’ve heard it all my life. It means simple or, to use a similar phrase, “as easy as pie.” When it comes to using venison, nothing is more versatile than ground meat, and when it comes to recipes using that ground venison, arguably nothing lends itself to more diverse uses that chili. Here’s how I make mine along with some thoughts on the many ways it can be used.

1 to 2 pounds of ground venison

Chili powder to taste

Tomato sauce

Diced tomatoes

Salt and black pepper to taste

Brown the meat, using a bit of cooking oil if you didn’t have the venison processed with some suet added in. Once it has browned add the other ingredients (if you use store-bought tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, go easy on the salt—I grow, work up, and freeze my own tomatoes) to a large sauce pan or other suitable utensil, cover, and simmer. I like to simmer mine until it is fairly thick. Voila! You have venison chili and it’s time for the good eating to begin. Here’s a few of the many ways you can use the chili, and don’t forget that you can freeze it in suitably sized packets for subsequent use.

*Topping for hot dogs.

*Use atop buns for sloppy joes.

*As a hearty meal, served with crackers or Texas toast, on its own.

*If you like beans with your chili, it is just as easy to add them to individual servings after the fact. My particular favorites are kidney beans, October beans, and chick peas, but most any kind of dried bean, including limas, meets my taste test standards in top-drawer fashion.

Taco salad featuring easy-peasy chili

*As topping for a chili salad. I like to mix lettuce, fresh tomatoes, tortilla chips or Fritos, and either grated sharp cheese or sour cream and smother those with piping hot chili. It makes a filling and healthy meal which can be prepared (with chili that’s already made) in minutes.

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PASTA E FAGOLI SOUP

A bowl of pasta e fagoli topped with grated Parmesan cheese

If there’s anything better than a steaming bowl of chili on a cold winter’s day, it’s one of a hearty soup swimming with vegetables and chock full of venison. Here’s one of my favorites, and don’t let the number of ingredients or the fancy Italian name throw you off. It’s easily prepared, freezes well, and is absolutely delicious.

½ cup chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup grated carrots

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1 pound ground venison, browned

1 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans

1 (16-ounce) can white kidney beans (cannellini)

1 cup cooked ziti

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

½ teaspoon basil

1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning

Salt to taste

Sauteeing the vegetables as a step in preparing the soup

Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in olive oil until tender crisp. Add chicken broth and simmer. Brown the ground venison. Add venison, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Drain and rinse red and white kidney beans and add to soup. Add seasonings. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes

A pot of pasta e fagoli simmering

NOTE: I freeze tommytoes (cherry tomatoes) and paste tomatoes whole and use them in making the soup rather than store-bought canned ones. My garden tomatoes are invariably more flavorful and make a bit richer soup.

VENISON PICCATA

While we are on Italian dishes using venison, here’s another one. Again, it may sound quite fancy but the preparation is moderately easy and the prep time quite reasonable.

1 pound cubed venison steak cutlets, pounded until about a quarter-inch in thickness

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ to 1/3 cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 minced garlic clove

½ cup water

¼ cup white or blush wine

1 teaspoon chicken-flavored bouillon crystals

1 lemon, divided

1 tablespoon parsley

Pound the cutlets to desired thickness. Sprinkle a sheet of waxed paper with salt, pepper, and flour and coat the cutlets. Then brown in the olive oil and remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Into drippings add one tablespoon butter (or add to pan earlier if the olive oil isn’t sufficient for browning the cutlets), water, wine, minced garlic, juice of half a lemon, and the tablespoon of parsley. Return the culets to the skillet, place think slices of lemon on each cutlet, then cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you like capers, sprinkle them atop the cutlets just before removal from the pan.

Serve with garlic buttered spaghetti and crusty bread.

EGGPLANT AND GROUND VENISON CASSEROLE

Sticking to the Italian thrust, here’s a cheese, venison, and eggplant dish that is mighty tasty and which is every bit as good warmed over as it is fresh from the oven.

1 pound ground venison

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium eggplant

1/3 cup flour

¼ cup olive oil

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

Shape venison into thing patties. Season with salt and pepper and then brown in hot canola oil. Slice eggplant (leave skin on) into thick slices. Season with salt and pepper, coat with flour, and brown in olive oil. Place the eggplant slices in a shallow baking dish. Top each slice with a browned venison patty and cover the whole with tomato sauce. Sprinkle oregano and Parmesan cheese over the top and then coat with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for 35 minutes.

VENISON SCALOPPINE

Sticking to the Italian cuisine theme, here’s a final dish with all the spices, tomato taste, and pasta so distinctively connected with this European country famed for its fine food.

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

Dash black pepper

4 venison cubed steaks (about a pound)

3 tablespoons canola oil

½ medium onion, thinly sliced

1 can (16 ounces) cut up tomatoes (or your own frozen ones)

1/3 cup red wine

1 can (3 ounces) sliced mushrooms (2/3 cup)

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped fine

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

¼ teaspoon dried, crushed oregano

Hot buttered noodles

Combine flour, salt, and pepper; coat venison steaks lightly with the flour mixture. In a medium skillet, brown the venison slowly in hot oil and then remove from the skillet. Add onion to skillet and cook until translucent. Then added venison, tomatoes, wine, mushrooms, snipped parsley, garlic salt, and oregano. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until venison is tender, stirring occasionally. Arrange the venison and sauce atop hot buttered noodles and serve immediately.

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SPICED PEACHES

 Peaches rank as one of my favorite fruits, and I enjoy them in a whole bunch of ways—fresh, in a cobbler, sliced atop a bowl of cereal, golden nuggets in a churn of home-made ice cream, baked halves with a bit of brown sugar and honey in the seed cavity, and in other fashions. A recipe I really enjoy is spiced (and sometimes though not always, curried) peaches. In keeping with my general approach to cooking, which is the KISS method (“keep it simple, stupid”), here’s how I prepare spiced peaches.

Peel fresh peaches and cut into slices, thaw sliced frozen peaches, or use canned peach slices. Place in a pan with a bit of water added if you don’t have sufficient juice or syrup. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon (or cinnamon sugar). Heat until just simmering and add two or three tablespoons of honey. If you want curried fruit, add a bit of curry powder at this point as well. Reduce heat and stir gently until well mixed and serve immediately.

Peaches prepared this way are suitable either as a side dish with the main meal or as a light dessert. I particularly like them with fried quail or wild turkey tenders.

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