Saturday, October 24, 2015

Foraged Apple-Prune Cinnamin Rolls

About a month ago I located a deserted plum tree in the back corner of an old lot. The plums were the variety that are traditionally dried as prunes.
While up in the tree harvesting and using my empty water bottle to carry my loot, an old woman walked up to the base of the tree and gathered the fruit that had fallen in the last windstorm. When I greeted her from the branches above and offered to shake free some more fruit she was ecstatic! Though she didn't speak a word of English we had  the type of friendly interaction that only two foragers sharing a secret harvest really get to experience. The harvest brought big grins to both of our faces as we carefully selected the finest fruit.

When I retuned home I dried the prunes for later use.

Last week I returned home to my family orchard and gathered up some prime Golden Delicious apples. These have long been one of my favorite late Summer/early Fall fruits. The flavor brings me back to childhood!

Tonight, I rehydrated some of the prunes and chopped them up with some of the fresh apples to add to one of my favorite sweets. Cinnamon rolls always remind me of Autumn. My aunt Cathy always made them at our Thanksgiving gatherings and it is another taste that instantly brings me back to when I was just a boy.

Well, I am only a recently aspiring baker, but these came out beautifully!

I will certainly make these again.
The flavors, textures and aromas were divine!
Keep the old ways alive!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cornish Style Rabbit Pasties

I have been wanting to try making Cornish pasties for some time. The other day when I got that rabbit I thought it would be a good time to make a batch.

After rabbit tacos and pulled pork style rabbit sandwiches I had plenty of meat left over for some rabbit pasties. So after school today I set to the task and I am glad I did!

First I took Abalone to the creek so I could continue working one of the osage orange staves we cut a while back into a nice longbow blank while she swam.

Then it was to the kitchen to try my hand at meat pies! I modified the traditional Cornish style to fit my tastes using rabbit, bacon, herbs and potatoes.

After a quick egg wash it was into the oven and all I had to do was wait.

This just made my list of top meals of the year! I think I will have to cook up some more of these for the next hunting, fishing, or foraging trip.

Keep the old ways alive!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rabbit Tacos Revisited

As much as I hate to repeat ideas on this blog, sometimes I get a craving for a dish I have made and talked about in the past. Well, quail season opened yesterday and though I saw about fifty the day before, there was not one bird around to greet me on opening day.
I am an opportunistic forager though, and so in the final minutes of legal hunting light I got a nice fat jackrabbit!

I butchered him out with stone tools and after a quick braze in a cast iron skillet it was into the crockpot with him.
It never ceases to amaze me how much meat a single Jack will yield!

After the meat started falling off of the bones I sautéed it up with spices in style similar to carnitas!

My carnitas-style rabbit tacos with homemade pico de gallo (fresh salsa) were exquisite!

Well, dinner last night only used up about 1/4 of the meat from that rabbit so I will be making all kinds of wild rabbit goodies this week. I am even thinking Cornish pasties. But we'll see if I have time. It turns out grad school is pretty demanding...who would have thought?
Keep the old ways alive!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jelly Doughnuts with Wild Elderberry and Wild Grape Jelly

"Dude! After four days in the woods, there is nothing like a fresh homemade doughnut!"- Eric relating experiences making doughnuts in the woods as a kid when he was in the Boyscouts

I headed out with my trusty Remington 870 in search of small game the other morning. I was blessed with three rabbits right off. I missed one shot, got a Jack on the run and two cottontails with one shot! I look forward to some nice brazed rabbit over polenta or rabbit stew in the coming weeks.

While out stalking the river plain I came across the distinctive prints of a wild cat. Based on the sheer size of the tracks it was clearly the work of a mountain lion (aka cougar, puma). Though this is not the best habitat for a lion, I have always felt the presence of the big cat around here. It was nice to find his or her path and confirm my instincts on the matter.

Mountain Lion Print: 12 ga. Shell for Scale
As I continued on, I noted a small group of black walnut trees in a thicket. This was prime tree squirrel habitat. I drew a bead on two of the biggest gray squirrels I have seen in years, but both got away...they didn't get that big by being careless!
Ripe Black Walnuts Attract Human and Squirrel Foragers Alike in Early Fall
A bit later I came across a bounty of plump ripe elderberries. Remembering the conversations I had shared with our buddy Eric on our recent backpacking trip, I decided to harvest the fruit to make jelly which I would then use to fill homemade doughnuts!

Next I found a carpet of wild grape vines. After inspecting some of the low hanging fruit I came across some very large plump grapes which I gathered to add to the wild harvested jelly!


When I got home I cooked down the crushed berries and grapes and strained off the skins and seeds.

The pure juice was then cooked down with sugar to make a syrup.

I put some of the syrup aside in a jar for pancakes and as a base for making sodas. The rest was cooked down further with pectin as jelly.
Next, I made a quick and easy doughnut dough from scratch and after the yeast had a chance to rise a couple of times, I got to frying doughnuts to golden-brown perfection!
The doughnuts were then rolled in sugar and using a piece of river cane (trimmed from arrow making), an old plastic bag and some duct tape I was ready to fill these little beauties!
With my makeshift "frosting bag" jelly dispenser I filled each of the doughnuts and took my first bite!

These are hands down the tastiest jelly doughnuts I have ever had!
Get out there gathering, head out hunting, find some fish, and /or just cook up a nice dish!
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And always strive to keep the old ways alive!