Wild Dessert: Blackberry Crumb Bars

After putting together wine and brandy, I used what was left of my blackberries to make a pan of crumb bars. Like with most of my recipes, I adapt an existing recipe for grocery store, domesticated whatever it is. I used smittenkitchen’s recipe for blueberry crumb bars (though at some point I’d love to go wild blueberry picking), and just swapped the fruit.

So, like most of the best desserts, these things are full of buttery goodness. I followed the recipe exactly:

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

And then once assembled, into a 375F pre-heated oven.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

The texture you're shooting for.

The texture you’re shooting for.

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.

Filling.

Filling.

Crumbs on top.

Crumbs on top.

A nice golden brown about about 45 minutes in the oven.

A nice golden brown after about 45 minutes in the oven.

 

The end result.

The end result.

I’ve already eaten about half the pan. I’d also go a further step and say I like them a bit better the second day. I also went out yesterday evening, and gathered another 3 pounds of blackberries. If I can scrounge up another pound or two from somewhere else (I’ve gotten just about all there were ripe out at sunny slope), I might start a second gallon of wine.

Wild Food: Hunters Eat Salad, Too.

There hasn’t been a lot of action around the house of late. Matt’s pushing really hard to get things done on the Ditch Boat (to the exclusion of every other task but work), and en route to Milwaukee a week ago Sunday, my kayak rack blew off my car on I94. Excellent. No outdoorsing for us, really.

This past weekend, we were invited to a 4th of July party thrown by the family of one of Matt’s college buddies. It was down in Wilmette, Illinois on Lake Michigan. I contemplated bringing a fishing pole, but opted not to. We ate and socialized, and camped on the beach. It was a pretty decent time.

Lake Michigan under steely gray skies.

Lake Michigan under steely gray skies.

SAMSUNG

Sunset on the beach, facing north-ish

Sunset on the beach, facing north-ish

 

Waves by firelight. The lake water is definitely still cold.

Waves by firelight. The lake water is definitely still cold. Sources say about 45-50F, with some areas in the 30s.

So, when we got back, Matt dove right back into doing his work on the boat (of course). I did a bunch of yardwork, and decided a nice, light dinner was in order, after Maxwell Street Polish, hotdogs, and french fries all the night before. So after looking around at a few recipe ideas, I set out the last duck we had from last year, and picked up salad materials.

 

Arugula, watercress, duck breast, green pepper, zucchini, artichoke hearts, pickled beets.

Arugula, watercress, duck breast, green pepper, zucchini, artichoke hearts, pickled beets.

I started with watercress to go along with the idea of “if it grows together, it goes together”. I added the arugula because I like it. I also threw in some baby red leaf romaine from the garden. So I had to sear the duck, the zucchini, and the peppers.

The skin turned nice and crisp.

The skin turned nice and crisp.

Fried zucchini

Fried zucchini

Rare duck breast

Rare duck breast

After that, it was time to assembled the whole lot. I went with a nice, simple olive oil vinaigrette for dressing.

I like my salads to be loaded down with other veggies.

I like my salads to be loaded down with other veggies.

It was good. I had seconds. I’ll probably have more for lunch today, too.

We’re really hoping to make it down to Illinois again next weekend, only this time to my home town. We’re planning to go back after asian carp in the Illinois River.

Wild Food: Venison Kebabs

Matt had a leftover turkey permit for this week for our part of the state, since he didn’t make it up north to hunt. We only made it out Sunday morning, and heard the birds, but didn’t really see any. For all that the weather is more comfortable for turkey hunting in May, the whole, light-at-4:45 bs is a bit too much for me. I’m happier being chilly in April, but able to sleep until 5:30. Speaking of sleeping, I’m low enough on sleep this week from work and also waking up at 4 to turkey hunt that I managed to literally pass out while sitting this morning. I was getting some micro sleeps, so I re-positioned to being propped on my elbow on the ground. I woke up 30 minutes later curled in a ball on my side, head pillowed on my pack. I must have needed it.

So, since I was so tired today, but sick of not eating at home (dinner at work everyday. Yeesh), I threw together these awesome, quick cooking venison kebabs. Also fulfilling my personal goal of eating more veggies.

The small, long muscle from a hindquarter, squash, onion green pepper.

The small, long muscle from a hindquarter, squash, onion green pepper.

I keep them round, but I've seen it done up pretty fancy as a zucchini ribbon.

I keep them round, but I’ve seen it done up pretty fancy as a zucchini ribbon.

Always soak your skewers.

Always soak your skewers.

Meat cubed and in a - apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, and canola oil.

Meat cubed and in a marinade: apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, and canola oil.

Veggies cut up in their marinade- salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and canola.

Veggies cut up in their marinade- salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and canola.

Skewer assembled

Skewer assembled

Place on a piping hot grill.

Place on a piping hot grill.

Cook 'em until the veggies are just charring a bit.

Cook ’em until the veggies are just charring a bit.

 

Tasty, fast, and they’ll be good cold on a salad later this week. I had mine with a roasted sweet potato. Matt got his own meat-only skewer. I’m so glad the weather’s warmed up enough to grill comfortably.

Wild Comfort Food: Venison Meatloaf.

We ground our venison last Fall. But we never got around to cutting it with ground pork like we normally do. Since we also haven’t bought a sausage stuffer that’s worth a damn, I’m not sure we’ll ever get around to it. This is sounding a lot less like a problem, though. Plain ground venison is pretty versatile.

I came home from work around 7, and had this thawed pound of deer meat. I ground up a packet I’d separated of really fatty bacon ends, and then mixed the venison, an egg, some Ritz crackers, and some seasoning in my (new!) Kitchenaid. Then I formed it into a round and baked it in a foil-lined pan.

Freshly ground bacon fat and ground venison

Freshly ground bacon fat and ground venison

Kitchenaid made short work of it all.

Kitchenaid made short work of it all.

GE

Pre-baking

Pre-baking

Hot from the oven.

Hot from the oven. After I dropped a potato on it, of course.

It came out extremely well. I don’t know what that kid in A Christmas Story was complaining about- meatloaf is delicious. My mom would be proud.

Wild Food: Barbecued Venison Ribs

I haven’t written a post in over a week. With most of the seasons we’re interested in closed, and weather that’s making getting out on the ice to at least chase panfish seem iffy, we’ve spent the last weekend or two mostly relaxing and starting to get the house in order.

Case in point- I spent Saturday scooping all the dog poo out of the back yard (two hours and 5 garbage bags. yikes), and then Tuesday afternoon cleaning up the front yard and porch. Random litter, sticks, sweeping, and everything else I could manage with the ground being pretty frozen still. With a wedding in Minnesota to attend this weekend, I don’t really know how much else we’ll get up to.

I set out a side of venison ribs Tuesday afternoon for dinner. Believe it or not, we’re getting down to the end of our venison. There’s a few steaks left, two football roasts, and two more packages of ribs, in addition to some packages of bones to make into stock. I’ll have to start stretching the venison with store bought chicken, pork, and maybe even beef.

The ribs I intended to grill. I figured they’d be tough, though, so I cooked them in foil in the oven for a few hours first. I made a short marinade inspired by a recipe for Korean beef short ribs. They were only in that for about 30 minutes before I sauced them with some altered barbecue sauce (Ray’s with some “Saipan Sizzle” nonsense Matt had lying around, some ginger, and sesame seeds). They cooked for a good long time in there until I had coals in the grill (2-3 hours), then another hour in the packet on the grill, and then I sauced them some more, and let them char a bit over the coals.

In the end, they were pretty tasty. But the next incarnations of deer ribs, I will be sure to trim every bit of fat off- it definitely has an off flavor, even in small amounts. I’ll also wrap it in some bacon ends before cooking. But it did look pretty impressive on my plate. These were from the smaller, younger doe so they were still pretty small. The ones from the bigger doe will be larger and meatier.

Verdict: Barbecued deer ribs will make you feel like a cavewoman (or man).