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  • November 21, 2012

    A Wild Side Dish for Thanksgiving: Honey-Bacon Brussels Sprouts

    By David Draper

    On the Thanksgiving table, the centerpiece turkey and potatoes—both sweet and mashed—get all the glory. Sure, there are some green things scattered here and there, maybe a tossed salad and the ubiquitous green bean casserole, but they’re mostly footnotes to the dynamic meat-and-potato duo. Still, there are those of us who appreciate a good green vegetable, and one of my favorites this time of year is that cabbage-in-miniature: Brussels sprout.

    Even as a kid I loved these little crunchy orbs, and I willingly ate them when my mom put them in front of me. Mostly they were just steamed or boiled, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper, but I loved the crunch and cabbage-y taste then, and still do today. Now, I dress them up a bit and generally cook them in a very hot oven for a relatively short time. This adds a rich, roasted flavor, especially when tossed with bacon grease and honey and sprinkled with crunchy bacon, as detailed in this simple recipe.

  • November 14, 2012

    What's the Best Doomsday Food?

    By David Draper

    If you believe the people’s posts littering my Facebook feed (and it should be noted, I don’t), last week’s election was as much of a harbinger of the End of Times as the Mayan Calendar. Whether that’s true or not, it’s good to be prepared. Over at Buzzfeed, you can find a list of 10 Life Saving Recipes For the End of Days courtesy of the show Doomsday Preppers, which aired its season premiere last night. Many of these recipes call for Spam, instant rice, and, shudder, lentils. I don’t know about you, but spending the rest of my life eating that is my definition of doomsday.

    Luckily, as hunters, we have a leg up on the rest of the populace. Not only do we have some good stuff in the freezer that we can cure, dry, smoke, corn, or otherwise preserve, we can also use our skills to harvest fresh meat if need be. (Most folks claim only cockroaches and coyotes will survive the apocalypse, but I’m betting on whitetails to make it through as well, and in any case, if anyone can make a coyote edible, a hunter can.)

  • November 12, 2012

    My Favorite Sandwich: PB&J On Pancakes

    By David Draper

    In hunting camp, my mouth starts watering whenever I see pancakes on the breakfast table, but not for the reason you might think. Sure I love a short stack slathered with butter and maple syrup (or better yet, homemade jelly), but what really gets me excited is the thought of peanut butter and jelly pancake sandwiches for my hunting pack. On several occasions I’ve been known to forgo a flapjack for breakfast just so I can have leftover cakes to make a sandwich.

    There’s just something about pancakes that blow standard white bread out of the water when it comes to making a PB&J, especially when they’re really good. In addition to the sweet, eggy flavor they add to peanut butter and jelly, pancakes stay firmer than standard bread, and don’t get overly soggy from soaking up all that jelly.

  • October 1, 2012

    The Toast: Are You Old Enough to Remember Church Keys?

    By David Draper

    This is a photo of my church key collection. Don’t ask me how I got started acquiring these antiquated tools, but now I’ve got a full-blown assortment of them from Golden-Age breweries such as Hamm’s, Schlitz, and, yes, even Miller High Life. Which is why I was positively giddy with excitement when I found out about Church Key Can Company.

    The home-brewers behind this pilsner-style ale claim anyone under 50 probably doesn’t know what a church key is, but I’m way closer to 40 and I remember my dad and grandfathers opening their beer cans with the pointed end of one. Personally, I always have one close at hand to pop the lid from a Bell jar of pickles or crack open a bottle of craft brew. It’s more civilized than using the blunt end of a lighter and more dental-friendly than using your teeth.

  • July 30, 2012

    My Favorite (and the Most Disgusting) Condiments from South Africa

    By David Draper

    A few weeks removed from my first trip to South Africa, there are many things I miss: the incredibly friendly people, the beautiful and varied landscape, and, of course, the abundant wildlife. But perhaps surprisingly (and perhaps not), one of the things I find myself thinking about most often is the food--and not just the flavorful game meat (I’m saving that for a later post). At nearly every meal, there were two things I invariably found myself reaching for: Mrs. H.S. Ball’s Original Recipe Chutney and Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce.

    Chutney had mostly been a foreign concept to me. The few times I had it prior to Africa, I’d enjoyed it in restaurants, but it just wasn’t something I considered using at home. Well, that’s all changed after my first taste of Mrs. Ball’s. Made with peaches and apricots, the condiment delivers the perfect blend of sweet and spice. (The Hot version is even spicier, though not what I’d consider overly so.) I used it on rice, vegetables, eggs, and even (blasphemy!) backstrap. I didn’t think to smuggle any home, but luckily Mrs. Ball’s is so popular you can buy it here in the States, which is what I just did, ordering two bottles.

  • July 11, 2012

    The Toast: How to Make Gin and Tonics by the Pitcher

    By David Draper

    It shames me a bit to admit, but late last spring, in an effort to get control of an expanding waistline, I declared a moratorium on beer until July 4th.* This would be no easy feat, but it has been helped along by an increased consumption of gin mixed with diet tonic. Normally these are just mixed a glass at a time, but for weekends or special occasions I like to stir up a pitcher using a recipe my sister, no stranger to gin herself, gave me years ago. (To give credit where it is due, I did a little Internet research and found a similar recipe originally credited to venerable New York bartender and writer Toby Cecchini.) The photocopied guide has long since been lost, but I’ve made them enough times that the simple ratio is ingrained in my head.

    *As for the beer ban, I didn’t plan on wheat harvest being two weeks ahead of schedule, so I only made it until the middle of June before cracking a can.

  • July 9, 2012

    Contest: How Would You Cook A Mammoth?

    By David Draper

    In case you missed it, NPR recently celebrated “Meat Week,” a series of articles and news reports about meat consumption in America since the turn of the previous century. Among the interesting reports and anecdotes is a friendly jab at the current diet fad of eating like a caveman. Called the Time Traveler’s Cookbook, the illustrated history of eating meat uses archaeological evidence and historical data to reconstruct mock recipes for a number of dishes from gazelle tartare to caveman steak.

    Among my favorites is the guide to pit-cooking a woolly mammoth, which is rooted in an actual 25,000-year-old cooking site excavated in the present-day Czech Republic. As much as I’d like to try mammoth meat, I’m not sure pit cooking one would be my first option. For one thing, it would require digging a really big hole and the cooking with hot rocks things scares me a bit ever since I witnessed a river rock explode in a campfire.

  • June 26, 2012

    Alternatives to the Red Solo Cup

    By David Draper

    Can we all please stop drinking the Toby Keith-spiked Kool-Aid and admit that his little ditty “Red Solo Cup” is the worst song ever written, bar none. I would rather listen to “Pac Man Fever” on repeat than hear another drunk co-ed slur through the chorus while splashing warm, stale beer down, as Keith so eloquently puts it, “the front of my back.”

    While I can appreciate the form and function of a red Solo cup, the unfathomable popularity of such a stupid song (or pretty much any Toby Keith song) has not only further eroded my already-thin faith in humanity, but also forced me to boycott the crimson cups on principle alone. This leaves me with a few alternatives for my summer cocktailing.

  • June 13, 2012

    Would You (or Do You) Eat Expired Food?

    By David Draper

    Maybe it’s the miser in me, which was passed down through a few generations of Scotch-Irish ancestry, but I’m one of those people who knowingly keep food well past their listed “best if used by” or expiration date. Being a conspiracy theorist doesn’t help either.

    I probably watched too much “X-Files” in college, but I can’t help but think seemingly arbitrary dates stamped onto a bottle of ketchup or a can of peaches are just part of the Illuminati’s grand plan to keep food companies in business, and rule the world in the process.

  • June 12, 2012

    How to Prep and Cook a Prickly Pear Cactus

    By David Draper

    I spent the weekend down in south Texas hunting free-range axis deer and hogs, where my guide Rudy Reyes and I spent much of our time together talking authentic Mexican food. While cleaning a hog that will end up in Rudy’s freezer, I remarked about the amount of cactus that particular pig had been eating, leading to a discussion about nopales, or prickly pear cactus.

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