Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rabbit Pâté

"Dude! I made the best pâté the other day from the liver of a Jack rabbit I got!"- Me
“Bro, my dog doesn’t even eat liver!”- My buddy Nicholas
"Dude, there's no way Copper would have passed this up!" - Me
My dad got out hunting for deer a few weeks back and ended up taking a nice forked horn!
He had a butcher make all the cuts and after enjoying some of the fresh liver the night of the hunt he gave the rest of the liver to a good and appreciative friend. His neighbor asked him over the following night for some venison pâté. After devouring the appetizer my dad called me to inform me that this was a recipe to try for certain!
I had a rabbit liver in the refrigerator from a successful hunt the day before and decided to give it a try (having never tasted pâté before).
Well, let me just say that pâté  is easy to make and incredibly delicious! I think it is certainly worthy of wild game liver! I wish I could say that I got a pretty picture of the pâté as it came out of the mold perfectly shaped...but I took one bite and the next thing I knew I looked back and realized I had eaten half of what I made! Here's a less impressive picture of the pâté on some crostini.
I slow cooked the rest of the rabbit meat and made a gluten free rabbit and dumplings...and a ton more rabbit sausage (Jackrabbits have a lot of meat)!
Then my parents had me and my brother over for supper and my mom made French venison in cream green peppercorn sauce (one of our favorites) with some of the venison chops!
This has already been a great start to Autumn and I am already thankful for all our great California wilds have provided! Can't wait for Thanksgiving! Well, jackrabbit ragout is calling from the kitchen and I must answer!

Keep the old ways alive!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Searching for Stone: Foraging and Flintknapping in Northern CA

“Man your backpack is heavy. What’s in here, rocks?”- My brother

“Well, yeah!”- Me

The anthropology department needed more lithic material for teaching new students how stone tools were manufactured in the past, how to identify discernable use-wear patterning, and how to distinguish between artifacts and pseudo-facts, so I had to take a trip up north into the sticks.

After obtaining the complementary map and obsidian gathering permit from the US Forest Service I headed out into the National Forest for the night. The sunset was exquisite!

It had been nearly ten years since my last trip to this neck of the woods. My first stop as always was the rainbow/banded obsidian quarry. It is legal to acquire commercial permits for gathering stone here to sell to rock shops, at gem and mineral shows, etc. Thankfully the same rules apply to commercial operations as they do to me — if you want to dig, it’s all by hand! This slows the rate by which such economic endeavors can remove prime lithic materials…yet still it is amazing to see just how fast these crews can excavate with little more than picks and buckets!

The ground at the source is literally obsidian gravels, cobbles, and nodules barely separated by clay soils. It is truly a sight to behold.

As I have noted before, it is of the utmost importance that traditional technologies enthusiasts leave artifacts where they are! As an archaeologist I have the ethical obligation to explain to my readers that by removing a single artifact from an archaeological/cultural site one also takes away vital information that can be gained concerning subsistence, trade and exchange, temporal context, and much much more!
If you intend to gather lithic raw material for flintknapping, please only gather from designated quarries with a permit or road cuts where the stone can be found with 100% of its surface covered with its natural weathered rind — cortex. Also, be warned if you are an artifact hunter/looter, it is absolutely illegal to collect artifacts on state or federal land! And yes you can get jail time!

I gathered a decent supply of unmodified obsidian from the designated quarry and when I was ready, I headed up the old dirt road towards the mahogany obsidian source.

This later quarry looks much the same as the former, yet the obsidian that forms here is characterized by splashes of red-brown and black coloration which has led to its nickname…Mahogany.

I knapped out some nice quarry blanks and bifaces for later projects and hit the road.

The woods in this part of the state consist of mixed conifers and hardwoods. The pines and junipers usually have electric yellow-green moss covering many limbs. This lichen is one my brother nicknamed “fire moss” long ago on a deer hunting trip when we found out that it makes excellent fuel for getting a campfire going.

In and among the cliff sides and rock faces I found beautiful colonies of swallows and bees.

I also shot a squirrel with my .22 cal pistol which I promptly fried up with a slab of bacon fat for lunch. It would have been the envy of most any hobo alive…quite delicious!

A stop at a local shop for some supplies led to this picture of a dog who sat in the cab of a truck for 10 minutes wearing sunglasses!

When I finally returned home I sat down and began flintknapping.

More than fresh food, there’s material out there! Get creative, gather responsibly and ethically, and have an adventure while you’re at it!

Keep the old ways alive!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Black Walnut Ice Cream with Pomegranate Caramel

The black walnuts are back in season and as delicious and prevalent as ever! On a recommendation we decided to try making a batch of black walnut ice cream!

On the trail I found another seasonal delicacy...rose hips! We couldn't resist the urge to pick a few for tea as well.

My girl gathered the black walnuts after Abalone chose a suitable tree.

After cracking and shelling the walnuts and enjoying some rose hip tea, I headed out to gather some of the many local ripe pomegranates that abound the public right-of-ways in late summer and early fall.

Crushing the pomegranate fruit and straining the deep crimson juice, I then reduced it with a generous portion of sugar to make a thick sweet and tangy pomegranate caramel sauce.

In the meantime my girl folded the black walnuts into her fresh homemade vanilla ice cream. The results were exquisite!

I have met many who claim that black walnuts are not worth the trouble to pick and process due to their low nut-meat yield and tough to crack shells. Still others complain that they are more bitter than the English walnut. It is true, these walnuts are use a rock! They yield less nut-meat than English walnuts but are 50 times more abundant on the pick a few more! And the slight extra bitter actually makes black walnuts much better and more interesting in flavor when used in sweets. So to all the naysayers, I reply...give it a try!

Get out there and get picking! There's a harvest just waiting for you around every corner. This ice cream Sunday was just one idea, but black walnuts are also great in bread or cookies. My buddy Houston just made a shrub (alcohol mixer) with foraged pomegranate juice as well...there's plenty to do with these seasonal gifts, so get creative, and get cracking!

Keep the old ways alive!