Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Crisp and Turkey Bones???

With Thanksgiving wrapped up and a whole heck of a lot of Sweet Potatoes left behind, I decided to share a story and a recipe about the very special "Lady With All The Earrings".

That is what alot of people called her.  We just called her Grama.  This would be my Dad's Mom and she passed away a few years back but she's still making us laugh!

Grama raised TEN kids.  Can you imagine trying to feed ten kids breakfast, lunch and dinner?  It's no wonder Grama was a little goofy!  She must of had a hole in her head to allow that kind of crazy into her life!  As a matter of fact, she did have lots of holes...in her ears!

As a tribute to each of her kids and grand kids, she would add an earring.  She started this much later in life, so luckily only my younger cousins were traumatized by this.  Us older kids, she just spanked us for holding on to the sides of the swimming pool  ;0)  I'm kidding of course, maybe.  Also, us older grand kids would never have dreamed of calling her "Granny".  Only the younger grand kids did that!  Never sounded right to me. 

There were somewhere around 39 holes in her ears, you can count them if you like.

So how DID Grama pull off a Thanksgiving Day Feast?  Well, she would get up super early, force all the kids out the door and then get to work.  She would do the turkey first and then let it rest while she made all the sides.

Under very strict orders, the kids were told "DO NOT touch that bird!"  Did I mention everyone was afraid of Grama? 

As the day wore on, ten kids got hungry!  They would run through the kitchen and snitch a little piece of that bird when Grama wasn't looking.  Can you imagine the devastation nine hungry boys and one little girl can do to a bird?

Suffice it to say, when the dinner bell rang hours later and the family of 12 gathered around the table with all the lovely side dishes piping hot and the kids knowing what they had done...

Well, Grama knew too.

And she served Turkey Bones for dinner.

She lifted the lid off that roasting pan and simply said, "Eat!"

I have been fortunate enough to inherit what is believed to be "The Pan". 

When Grama passed away, the night before her funeral...I roasted a Turkey.  My brother and I picked it clean.  "The Pan" went with us to the funeral.  It followed us to my Aunt's home afterwards. 

With full bellies from all the food that family and friends had brought, I asked my Brother to go and get "The Pan".

We gathered everyone together.  They were grumbling at me that they simply couldn't eat another bite.  I told them all that, "I knew Grama would have wanted them to save room for this."

I lifted the lid and simply said, "EAT!"

Tears, extremely LOUD laughter, hugs, kisses, and memories flooded her wonderful kids.  It was the coolest tribute to a super cool and hip Grama.  My family loved it. 

So here is a great side dish to go along with those Turkey Bones!

Grama's Sweet Potato Crisp

40 oz. Sweet Potatoes (canned or cooked from fresh) -Drain and Mash
1 Egg
2 T. Sugar
1/2 stick Butter
1/2 t. Cinnamon

Mix and Mash together and place in small casserole dish.


1 stick Butter, Melted
1 C crushed Ritz Crackers
1/2 C chopped Walnuts
1/2 C packed brown sugar

Mix and sprinkle over potato mixture.
Bake in 350 oven approximately 30 minutes

Now, if someone would please hand my Dad a Kleenex, he's got snot all over himself!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not So Traditional

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  We alternate years now.  Since my Mom and Brother flew solo on Thanksgiving Day, I went a little out of the ordinary with a Not So Traditional Thanksgiving Breakfast this morning instead.

The menu?  Biscuits and Gravy!  Venison style.
We gobbled it right up!  I had made homemade butter for Thanksgiving Day and saved all the yummy buttermilk just for this.  I've never made real buttermilk biscuits before, so this was a new one.  Usually I pick a winner.  But actually, I wasn't impressed with the recipe.  So that was a little disappointing.

Wednesday night, we were up until 3:30am processing our deer.  Then it was back up at 7ish :) to go to my SIL, Jen's to help prepare the bird and fixings for Eric and my Turkey Throw Down 

He deep fries and I do the traditional.  Jenny has an aversion to raw poultry.  So I get to feel the bird up and dress it out.   And might I add...I always "Call Carcass".  Turkey noodle soup is in short order!  They think I'm off my rocker!  And the Throw Down was a tie by the way.  I'll get him next time!!!

Then it was back home to get the butter and green bean casserole made up so we could get back over.  I had to throw in a quick shower too.  I was one pooped out puppy.  Thanksgiving Night we celebrated our Anniversary with a whole lot a nothing!  I have it on good authority that he must take me out to dinner however.

For our Anniversary I got him an oh so romantic Freezer Paper Dispenser.  He got me a necklace.  Heehehe!

Friday we worked on more deer processing until about 2:30am.  We ended with roughly 4 roasts, 8 lbs of back straps (my favorite), 14 lbs of burger, 15 lbs of Breakfast Sausage, 3 lbs of Breakfast links, 9 lbs of Italian Sausage links, 9 lbs of Maple Sausage links and 3 lbs of Maple ground.

Sausage making was an experience!  It's alot of work but I am very glad we went to the trouble!  The Maple was a kit (Blech!)  Pig Pen insisted on trying it.  I told him I could mimic any ole kit better and pronounce all the ingredients!  I think it is counter-productive to add things you can't pronounce to unadulterated meat.  It's bad enough we had to add the pork fat from who knows where and what.  But it made him happy to try and he said next time we could try it on our own, aka -my way.  :o)

The Breakfast Sausage turned out really good!  I didn't follow a recipe per-say.  I tend to rely on my nose and then simply frying up a bit at a time to taste test.  Here is what I did:

60% Ground Deer
40% Ground Pork Butt
Crushed Red Pepper
White Pepper
Summer Savory

In that order of spices as listed, I used the most to the least.  I can pretty much guarantee, you can't tell the difference.  It's what we used this morning even!  When I make Sausage gravy I always add bacon chopped up in bite size pieces.  If you haven't tried it, ooooh ya need to!  Plus the venison is super lean even with the pork mixed in, so you get the added grease to make the gravy. 

For the Italian Sausage:

60% Ground Deer
40% Ground Pork Butt
Granulated Garlic
Crushed Red Pepper
Onion Powder
Fennel Seed
White Pepper

Another winner!  Like I said, well worth the effort!

Now the actual casing was like a bad Three Stooges episode....geesh!  
Pig Pen and our buddy Greg

To think, my Dad can whip those puppies out like nothing is pretty amazing.  He started his career as a Meat Cutter.  He would have laughed his butt off if he had seen what we were trying to do!  After consulting with him, we pretty well made it work.  We decided that the next time we process, he needs to be here!  That and I am not a good meat wrapper like him.  Again, he would have whipped it out in no time flat!
Dad...plan on being here next time.  If for nothing else, good laugh factor!

After Mom left today, my brother and I took a nap!  And I didn't even do the dishes beforehand!  No guilt, no shame...we were out like lights!  That was so very nice as I am not much of a nap taker.

I still haven't gotten my feet back on the ground from Hunting, Thanksgiving and all the running.  However, tomorrow I am going to my MILs house from some power sewing!  I am waaay far behind for getting Christmas projects done!  Looking forward to a few good days of work.  We can usually crank stuff out pretty fast when we do our own "retreat".

Lastly, since Jane was talking recently about how helpful her dogs were with her solar panel project, I thought I would share what a help my two little girls were last night with the sausage making:
Lazy mutts!  They made a liar out of me!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Anniversary

Today we celebrate our Anniversary!  It's a wonderful time to be thankful for God blessing broken roads and leading the man of my dreams to my door.  He finally found me! 

I tell him often yet not enough, that I am thankful for everything that he is and everything that we are.  To the man who never fails, never leaves and always loves, you are the one for me.

If your ways were an indication of how our lives would be, I certainly never blinked an eye.  How many girls can say they spent an evening getting dirty on a 4-wheeler when they were proposed to? 

Or celebrated their engagement at White Castle?

You can laugh, but that is us.  No pretense, easy, simple.  A full life we have carved out together.

From the time we said "I do", we have been blessed with laughter, love, purpose, and triumph.

How many weddings have you attended when the show was stopped...compliments of the Maid of Honor who forgot the ring?

Or the Bride laughing so hard she smacked the flower right off the Groom?

Small and quaint, that's how we do things.  Right from the beginning and surrounded by those we love most.

I look forward to the rest of my life and all the crazy things we will do together!

I love you, baby!  And before you say it...ME MORE!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wrapping Up - "Rib Rackers"

So what IS a "Rib Racker"?  Over 40 years ago when it all began, a group of guys decided to keep their version of a scrapbook.  To get your picture in the book, you had to have a successful hunt.  They didn't start the book right off, so the first picture is from 1971 and has been going ever since.  I forgot to take a picture of the actual book, my bad.  But this book goes on the trip every year as well!

This years "Rib Rackers" included:
My Brother, Donnie with his 8 Pointer

Close up of the Rack
Pig Pen with his 6 Pointer and a Doe

Donnie's Dad, Larry with his, umm...not sure how many Pointer!

4 Maybe?  Strange Rack, huh?

Brian with his 6 Pointer (I think)
Another tradition throughout the entire campground is "Big Buck/Big Doe".  It's a pool for the largest in each category.  Seeing as how Donnie had shot his largest buck ever this year, he had a pretty good chance to take home the trophy!

On Saturday night, those in the running take their deer to be weighed.  People had been stopping by our camp to look at this big guy!  It was going to be a close call this year!
Well, if they had a trophy for "Best Rack", my brother would have won hands down!  He is for sure mounting this one on the wall!  Unfortunately, he missed the weigh in by six pounds!  I don't think he much minded, he's still a beauty!

Of the eight of us in camp, we were split evenly.  Four "Rib Rackers" and four "losers".  Here are the losers with the token deer that the Rackers were kind enough to let us share for the picture spot:
Me, Andrea, Josh, Joe
Wasn't that sweet of them?  None of us want into the book until it's legit though!  Joe is in from years past, but Andrea, Josh and I are still hoping for next year!

Here is what I learned...that I need more practice, I need to work out (yeah, right!), that sock liners are the bomb, clothing liners that breath are the best, tall fuzzy boots are smart and snappy, not to let Pig Pen load the back pack, not to drink much coffee in the morning, quiet snacks work best and water is heavy but required.

Now the one thing that cracked me up is what I referred to as "The Handicap".   Since Andrea and I were the new kids, I found it funny that her and I were the only one shooting iron sights.  Do you suppose the boys were afraid we might show them up???  I might have, maybe, told the guys what I thought of them for that...

Just sayin'.

And what made me smile on the way home?  Pig Pen's Mama calling to ask...

"How many deer did you catch?"

Well Mom, we 'caught' six total!  5 Buck and 1 Doe!

Pretty sure the only thing that I 'caught' is a cold that isn't sure it wants to manifest or not.  Because I sure didn't 'catch' a deer.  And I sure did put a gun with a scope on my list of "Must Have".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Rib Rackers" - That's My Story!

Saturday morning, 5:30am.  My hind end is firmly parked under a tree with Pig Pen 10 feet behind and 20 feet up in a tree stand. 
He's facing one direction, I am facing another.  I'd tell you N-S-E-W coordinates, but let's face it, in the Forrest...I'm lost.

In daylight hours, this was my spot:
A nice thicket for cover opening into the woods.  Or...The Honey Hole.

This is what Pig Pen faced:
With daylight approaching, my gun propped on my knee and my hand gently holding the stock, I wait.  Praying that maybe today I would at least get to see a deer.  If I could at least see one, then I could sit that fire at night and finally have my own "Deer Stories" to tell back at camp. 

The sun finally makes it's appearance and my eyes are hungry.  It's actually very beautiful.  There is a nice fog cover and it looks like a picture book.  It really looks surreal.  One second, just thicket.  And in less than a blink of an eye...two doe.

Everyone had told me that when you see your deer, albeit your first or five hundredth, your blood pounds in your ears and your heart races.  I apologize if this comes off as cold or unfeeling, I really do.  But I didn't have that sensation.  For me, it was steps.  Motions that I had been schooled in repeatedly by the seasoned hunters.

Move very slowly.  Position your gun.  Gently pull the hammer (in my case).  Exhale.  Aim.  Well you know what comes next. 

By chance, mine was the first shot of the morning!  The doe jumped and took off!  I don't think I hit her, so now I have to slowly reload but do it quickly.  If that makes sense.  Pig Pen later told me I scared the hell out of him.  I suppose that would, considering he wasn't seeing what I was seeing.  As I was reloading I peeked at him.  He too was sighting the doe in as she ran across his lines.  I knew that if I didn't hit her, he would.

Now what I should have been doing, was sighting the second doe in.  He had the first one within range.  So that was a lesson learned.  I don't know what happened to the second doe, she is safe.  Pig Pen shot twice at the first doe that I pushed his way.  So we waited.  Keep in mind, it's the rut, so where there are doe, there are buck.

Twenty minutes later, just like from a movie...Up lifted a buck out of the thicket and fog.  One second they aren't there, and the next second they are!  This buck was probably a 30 pointerHey, it's my story! :0)

This time, my thumb did quiver on the hammer.  I think because it was such a big buck, my thoughts must have been "Whoa!".  So I went thru all my training in my head again, and fired! 

Pft!  This bad boy flipped me the bird, casually turned and walked away!  So I had to giggle a little at that.

Now it's time to go track down "my" doe.  I told Pig Pen on the walk that I truly don't think I hit her and he disagreed.  He said he was sure that I did.  If so, then it was a team take, I at least knew that much.  We see her in the distance and he said as we got up to her, "I bet you wounded her, but I think I finished her.  We'll know by the number of shot in her". 

Bless his little heart!  She did have two!  But try as he might, he couldn't convince this novice that one was mine though.  I even told him, "Babe, I am not that stupid.  It's called entry and exit, and they are yours."  Oh, but he tried.  Ya just gotta love him for that!
He goes about the field dressing and proceeds to drag her out.  Now I am left to sit some more.  Being alone in the woods is shockingly not scary at all.  I enjoyed it.  If you have never done so and you can safely find your way out, I  highly recommend it.  It's a great way to have thoughts all your own and just "be".

My thoughts at this point included ones of "Wahooey!"  I hadn't bagged my first deer yet, but I was learning and experiencing things I had been looking forward to!

A few hours go by and I am content just sitting there by my lonesome.  And again, out of no where, I see a doe.  This time I told myself to aim and aim good!  Remember, I have iron sights!

So I did just that!  This doe, like the last buck, just flipped me the bird!  So I have to reload, gosh darn it!  She didn't run!  I had to extend my leg fully to get to my ammo...she still didn't move!  My gun is a break away and I thought surely with all that deliberate motion, she would move!  Nope, just stood there.  So I am reloaded and she is now moving slowly.  She turned and faced me!  I am sighting her back in as she is moving again, and unfortunately she is in a spot where I didn't think I could get a clean shot, so I called to her and she stopped.  No clean shot!  Darn it!

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement to my right.  So I very slowly turn and yup...a buck!  Knowing I can't get the doe, well what's a girl to do???

Do you know that I am a lousy shot???  I got flipped the bird a FOURTH time!  Geesh!!!  

So that's my story...Four shots...Four misses. 
But ya know what? 
I'm am a happy little camper!
And I am still getting to "The Rib Racker" part...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet The "Rib Rackers"

Well, we made it there and back with lots of great stories and pictures!  I know some of you will be bored to tears and I do apologize in advance! 
I have talked to a bunch of people since we got home and received all sorts of responses to the stories.  So that said, I just want y'all to know, we don't hunt what we wont eat!  And I am truly OK with folks who disagree with hunting so long as we all respect each other.  I believe the deer live as God intended them to and not shoulder to shoulder in their own filth, shot up with hormones, antibiotics and truly helpless for cover or to run, unlike the beef we buy from the store.  There, my disclaimer is out of the way! 

On to the fun stuff! 
We arrived in The Shawnee National Forrest late Wednesday night.  After we got situated, we sat around the fire and chewed the fat. 
Larry's Van...complete with twin bed and buddy heater!
Thursday morning was our 'Scout' day.  My brother, Donnie, and his Dad, Larry, have been hunting the Shawnee for years.  Larry -39 years!  Donnie -30 years!  So they know all the prime spots and keep them for themselves of course!  (wink, wink)

Every morning, as promised...my brother would cook breakfast.  We got up at 3:30 on Hunting days!  Here is Donnie's slop on Scout day:
He fries potatoes, bacon or sausage, then adds in a dozen eggs.  And there you have SLOP!  Good Slop!!

The first territory we scouted was for my nephew, Josh.  This year he hunted from a tree stand.  We call it the "TajMaStand" as it isn't broke down quite yet!
Here's one of the things you look for:
It's a 'rub'.  I didn't get a picture of a 'scrape' though.  But we did see them!

I gotta say, it's a darn good thing for "Seasoned" Hunters.  I was concerned with making a fool of myself and falling flat on my face and keeping up.  Whereas the seasoned, well they see things like this...and Stop!
I would have walked right into that puppy!  aka Skunk    Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did keep up and I did fall flat on my face...once.  :0)

After Scout day was done and we got back to camp, it was lights out fairly early.  Big day ahead!

If anyone had told me that I would sweat to death on the mile trek out Friday morning, carry half my body weight on my back, fall flat on my face while lugging like a pack mule, I would have laughed.  So I did laugh!  Lots!  We had a blast!

Here is the load and go at 4:30am!

And I believe y'all wanted to see a goofy looking me...I felt like the kid in "A Christmas Story" who couldn't put his arms down or walk!
Here is my niece, Andrea.  Orange is a good color on her!  This was her first season too!
We were in our spots by 5:30am sharp!  Pig Pen and I hunted from a blind most of the first day.  Here is what I saw on Friday:
And that be it...that's all I saw on Friday.  Just Pig Pen walking back to the blind.  Not.One.Deer.
But it was a good day!  I got to sit for 13 hours with my man!  And I still love him...  :)

At 7:15 we heard shots fired from my brothers area.  Patiently we waited for the radio call...and yupper!  My brother bagged an 8 point Buck!  His biggest ever!  He was so happy he said he dropped to his knees and cried just a little!  So we waited a bit and went to help him out!  Well, Pig Pen helped, I took pictures!
Nice looking rack, eh?

After he field dressed him, he drug that 149 lbs deer on out and Pig Pen took over his spot.  I stayed in the blind and waited patiently.

Wasn't but a few hours later, more shots fired from that same area, and yupper...Pig Pen got a 6 point Buck from the same tree stand!  A real Honey Hole!

6 Pointer, one rack was broken though!

Naturally, Pig Pen and my brother moved me on over to The Honey Hole.  There I sat...and sat...and sat.  Still didn't even see one.  Not.One.Deer.

When we got back to camp that night, our camp tallied off at 4 Bucks!  Pretty darn good day! 
Everyone saw deer except for me, and all who got shots off meet their mark.  So we had 4 other hopefuls still waiting...

Any takers on how Saturday went?  Guesses?  Bets?  Predictions?

I didn't sit the blind the next day.  We went to The Honey Hole. 
I'll leave it at that for now.  This post is long enough, don't ya think?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crash The Super Bowl!

I just got wind that my cousin is in a contest for a

"Crash The Super Bowl" commercial!

So here is what I need for ya to do!  Go to this link:

In the upper right corner, you can Register to vote/comment.  It only takes a second!

The commercial is called "Message in a Bottle"

Hot guy = my cousin!  And YES ladies...he's single!

And I am 110% confident, the bottle was not left behind!  :)

Vote for my cousin by leaving a Comment!! 

Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost There!

Well I am in the final check-check-double-check of my lists, supplies, clothes and what not for our Hunting Trip.  The part I dread most is hauling it all out to the camper!  I am 100% confident I have over packed in fear of frostbite! 

I haven't had a chance to break in those boots much.  Little bit worried about that!  We will have a mile or two to walk one way, so hopefully no blisters!

Pretty much down to the wire with making any food that has to go along.  Normally I would make a big pot of home made Chili for something like this.  But that dish was already 'called', so I opted for Ham & Beans with Corn Bread.

How dumb am I?  They don't call sleeping bags "Fart Sacks" for nothing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let's Try This a Different Way

Remember that book I threw out there for Pig Pen and asked the ladies in my family to make sure he picks up on Christmas Eve Night?
I should have known better. 
I should have never done that. 
I should have just kept my trap shut.

Because my darling litttle Aunt Bena went and had it sent to me!  Ain't she sweet?  I think I should spank her, but instead, I'll just Thank Her!!  Thank you, Aunt Bena!  I did not mean for you to do that!  No good deed goes unpunished!  Just warnin' ya.

It got me to thinking though, maybe I should try something out...

All I want for Christmas is...

No?  OK...it was worth a try!

I can't wait to dig into this book!