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!