Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sharing the Wealth of Hunted Meat.

 Since moving to Monticello, in 2009, I have to say that some of the kindest folks we have encountered, were local hunters.  Each year, after deer and elk seasons were done; after meat was butchered and processed, the sharing came.  Whether it was to a place of employment, or a packed plastic grocery bag left at the front door; processed packages of deer and elk meat were given freely to our family.  No compensation asked for, just a simple “thank you” made the giver happy.  Of course, my baked goods always made a showing, at the hunter’s home, eventually.

Unfortunately, the hunters we knew have moved, or passed, on; we have not seen any of this sharing of the hunted wealth for two years now.  While we miss the kindness of the giving act, and the meat, we also understand that the last two years have been challenging to so many.  Especially 2020, when each month is a new scenario of ill health, financial woes, and violence under the guise of “social reform”.  Yes, there are many examples of sharing and caring, but privately, the wagons have been circling for the “just in case” scenario.

Personally, each year I purchase a desk calendar to record appointments, attach greeting cards, mementoes, ticket stubs to enjoyable events, etc.  At the end of each year, I pack it away in a box where the other years reside.  I want my memories.  However, I have not purchased one for 2020; I just did not get around to it, and then Covid-19 hit.  No events to attend, appointments cancelled, heck, not even the occasional greeting card in the mail.  Last week we went to the Walmart in Cortez, CO as I needed printer ink and paper, and could not wait for a delivery.  Then I saw it, a 2020 desk calendar; a bluish-purple color, just my style, and I kept walking.  No way, no how, was I purchasing that item; there was no intention, of tempting fate, happening that day!

How strange that the idea, of purchasing a desk calendar, could bring on an unnatural feeling of dread.  Let me tell you that going to Sonic, to gorge on burgers and (the most awesome) onion rings, made it all feel so much better.

Anyway, to all the hunters out there that are successfully making a kill, to feed their families, we salute you.  We salute the dedication of your sitting in camouflage, in an uncomfortable blind, for hours; possibly covered in the pee of your prey. 

…and here is a recipe to make that deer or elk meat taste that much deserved.  Hint, sprinkle some red wine vinegar on the venison, cover in plastic and leave overnight.  Kills that gamey smell and taste, unless you like it though, then ignore this hint.

Opening up the paper wrapped package, removing the meat from a plastic bag, I am still amazed at how beautiful elk meat is; so lean, red and looking like something only a rich person could afford to indulge in.  Slicing into thin strips, the meat (use two pounds for this recipe) is mixed with two tablespoons of light soy sauce (to bring out more of the rich elk flavor), plus a half teaspoon each of fine sea salt and ground black pepper; also one teaspoon of garlic powder.   Place the bowl, covered in plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for a half hour to settle.  During that half hour, prep a large green bell pepper by seeding, and slicing, it into 1/4 inch strips; also two large onions cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Green bell peppers are very flavorful, so use only one large; otherwise use two red, yellow or orange which are milder, for more peppers in this dish.

Over medium-high heat, large skillet, heat up two tablespoons of canola oil, add in the peppers and onions. Give them an occasional toss, but do not add the elk, into the skillet, until they just began to soften.  Spread the meat on top to allow the peppers and onions to start browning on their edges. Then begin mixing all three together, making sure to turn the strips of meat as they too browned. This all takes about 20 minutes to accomplish, then comes the cheese - 16 slices of American cheese plus 8 slices of Provolone. That’s correct, 12 slices of cheese for each pound of meat.

Once the cheeses are completely melted and mixed in with the other ingredients, remove the skillet from the heat source and let it rest for 5 minutes.  The cheese will thicken around the meat and vegetables, and be ready to serve up in sub rolls. 

You have just created, Elk, or Venison, Philly Cheesesteaks!  Spectacular! The meat is so tender; all the ingredients marry together well, so that no one item is overwhelmed in taste.  Whether you already have meat in the freezer, or anticipating the next season of hunting, this is a dish worth waiting to try out.

Bonus with any leftovers; get out the pasta pot, fill it half way with water, set on high heat to bring to a rolling boil.   Take out the leftovers, place in a large skillet and set that onto low heat. Once the water is ready, add 3 cups of dry penne pasta to cook, plus a sprinkling of salt; the leftovers are heating up nicely and the cheese is melting.   Add to the skillet a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained); this will help the cheese to become a thinner sauce. Drain the cooked pasta, add to the skillet and toss to coat it all.   Let it remain on the low heat for an additional five minutes.

All in all, it will take about 30 minutes to complete this extremely easy and delicious meal from simple leftovers and the addition of two ingredients; diced tomatoes and cooked pasta. Sorry Hamburger Helper, but you have got nothing on my elk.  Wow, could I go so far as to say I have invented "Elk Helper"?

Mary Cokenour

Monday, July 13, 2020

Guest Food Blogger - Belinda Y. Hughes

There are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of food bloggers who are posting their own recipes and techniques, making demonstration cooking vlogs, and basically wanting to get appreciated for their culinary skills.  Some are professionals who are coveting a spot on Food Network Channel or the Cooking Channel; maybe even that Top Chef position at a famous restaurant.  The majority are home cooks, like myself, and while many get that great opportunity to have a cookbook published, the rest depend on a following online.

Personally, I think we should all support each other, but then again, I'm naive and still believe in fairness.  So, I don't mind having another be a guest on my food blog.  I don't mind giving credits to a recipe I found on another food blog.  It certainly is wonderful to know that many feel the same as I do, and I've been a guest, or been credited by others.

So, I'm shutting up for now, and let me introduce you to Belinda Y. Hughes and one of her recipes from Cafe Belinda...Crispy Chickpeas.  It is a vegetarian recipe Belinda obtained from Tupperware, so they're credited with that.  Belinda enjoys vegetarian cuisine, and I know many of you will enjoy reading her blog for new recipe ideas.  With all that's Belinda Y Hughes!

Belinda Y. Hughes proudly represents Avon and Tupperware and food blogs at Cafe Belinda. She is also the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, a veggie cookbook, available on Amazon. When her nose isn’t buried in a gripping mystery or sizzling romance, you can find her hiking, watering her organic, companion-planted container garden or deep in a bubble bath with the dial set on public radio or classic rock.
Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2:

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are like a really good yoga teacher - unbelievably flexible. No, these limber legumes won’t do your planks, but you can blend them into hummus (see Mary's yummy recipe here) sprinkle them into salads, soups and stews, or nosh on them as healthy low-carb keto snacks.

The quick and easy, keto vegan recipe I’m sharing today, Crispy Chickpeas, can spice up all of the above. Keep them on hand and you’ll always be ready for snacking, gifting and camping.
Important Note: Keep chickpeas away from non-human family members. For some, their bellies and reproductive systems are not chickpea-friendly. Resist “the look”.
Did You Know?
The great Italian orator Cicero’s family got their name because they raised chickpeas (cicer). No chickens were used in the naming of chickpeas. It’s a long crazy story across eons, lands and languages. As for garbanzo, that comes from the Basque word garbantzu, which means “dry seed”.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are powerhouse superfoods! Just a few things they do for you:
       Balance blood sugar
       Ease bowel movements & improve regularity
     ●       Reduce cholesterol & inflammation
       Dial back cancer risk (fight cancer & help eliminate sick & dying cells)
If you’re not already scarfing down chickpeas, you need to be. These guys are your new bffs.
Per cup, chickpeas contain:
       ~269 calories
       ~4 g fat
       34 (canned) to 45 (dried cooked) g carbohydrates
       9 (canned) to 12 (dried cooked) g fiber
       6-7 g sugar
       10 (canned) to 15 (dried cooked) g protein
Of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals, they contain, per cup:
       6-8% of calcium
       40% of fiber (incl. pre-biotic fiber)
       8 (canned) to 22 (dried cooked)% of iron
       15 (canned) to 70 (dried cooked)% of folate/folic acid
       17 (canned) to 39 (dried cooked)% of phosphorus
While this recipe calls for canned chickpeas, I recommend either getting cans marked BPA-Free or going for the dried beans. They’re more budget-friendly and far more beneficial nutrition-wise, as you can see. Plus, this addictive, versatile recipe gives you a reason to buy in bulk.
You may notice some links in the Crispy Chickpeas recipe. That’s because Mary graciously agreed to do a guest post swap with me, to help me introduce you to my Tupperware store. In exchange, she shared her recipe for Vegetable Lasagna Rustico (two words: Alfredo sauce!) on my veggie food blog, Cafe Belinda. Merci beaucoups, Mary!
Now, grab your favorite beverage and let’s whip up some superfood snacks!
Did You Know:
Photo courtesy of Tupperware

Recipe: Crispy Chickpeas (courtesy of Tupperware)

Serves 4
Serving size ¾ cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Two 15 oz./425 g cans chickpeas, drained
(reserve the liquid, aka aquafaba, to sub for egg white in other vegan recipes)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt

  1. Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and add olive oil. Add remaining spices, seal and shake to evenly coat.
  2. Place chickpea mixture into the base of the MicroPro® Grill and place the cover in grill position. Make sure the cover is touching the chickpeas.
  3. Microwave on high power 10 minutes.
  4. At the end of cooking time, uncover and stir chickpeas. Replace cover in grill position and return to microwave to cook on high power for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.

Thank you Belinda for sharing your information, about chickpeas, and this recipe from Tupperware.  Need more information on Vegetarian Cuisine, Tupperware or one of Belinda's other interest, contact her at one of the links listed above.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Another Pajama Day

I do not envy people who work second or third shifts; did it for eight years, and hated it. Roy did it for 4 years and was not too happy about it either.  However, for all the disdain we felt for the hours, the money and benefits were just too good to give up, so we plodded on.  Mine was also a cushy job; no management watching constantly, only one other coworker, and most of the time we just sat around listening to music, surfing the net, or reading.  Not much to really do when working in a computer server room, and testing programs.  When the financial institution aka “large east coast bank” was bought out, and we got the announcement about being laid off, all I could feel was relief.  I was getting a nice severance package, eligible for unemployment, and a huge bonus for staying on until the company was finally done with the computer operations department.

Roy was soon laid off from his graphic design position too, so we needed to make plans and quickly.  We had made a five year plan, but the layoffs forced us into a two year plan.  Living in Pennsylvania was something we had both started to dislike...intensely.  I had fallen in love with Utah when we visited his mom in 2006, and even then I had said to him, "Honey, one day we are going to live here."  October 2008, we took a two week trip to Utah, scoped out potential areas to live in, and made a decision....we put the PA house up for sale.  Coordinating with realtors in PA and Utah, we sold our home and purchased a new one; well not a new-new one, it was a dumpy handyman special, and we had to put a lot of work, and money, into the house to get it livable for us.  Far from being our dream home, but it had to do.

I have gone on another one of my tangent’s here, so back to working nights.  No matter how many years done, one just cannot get used to sleeping during the day, feeling no sunlight, or missing experiences in the outside world.  We were always tired, mainly due to neighbors who knew we worked nights, but were obsessed with lawn care.  We never really had a full weekend off.  Saturdays were usually spent sleeping part of the day, and then trying to get everything done we did not do during the week.  Sundays we were still playing catch up on chores; then suddenly, it was back to work.

Roy and I have had several jobs since moving to Utah.  While I always worked day shift, he works swing shifts, but it is not as bad as the job in PA was.  We were able to actually have a real pajama day occasionally.    Staying in night clothes, watching movies in bed and basically doing squat all day, and not caring at all.  There is just one main problem, we do not want life to pass us by; do not want to miss anything.  We start out with a pajama day, and then suddenly get dressed in our adventuring clothes, and off we go!

With Covid-19, well pajama days seem to be almost every day, for me at least.  Roy’s an “essential” worker, so his schedule has not really changed much.  But, in essence, do not let life pass you by just cause you can; seize the days and enjoy them.  But once, every once in a while,
give yourself a pajama day cause you earned it.

Originally, my friend Jena, who still lives back in PA, shared this recipe with me.  Came off the back of a soup can, so you know I had to play with it.  Once completely baked, it would not win a fashion award once served, but who cares!?!  This dish is delicious, satisfying and just one of the yummiest recipes I have ever made.   Having a pajama day?  You deserve a serving of this in your belly.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole


2 whole chicken breasts, deboned, skinned, cooked and diced.
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10.5 oz.) can refried beans
1 (15.5 oz.) jar mild or medium heat, chunky salsa
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Mexican style cheese (1and1/2 cups + 1/2 cup set aside)
1 package (10 in package, 6” or 7” diameter) corn tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large mixing bowl, mix well the first 7 ingredients (not the 1/2 cup of cheese set aside).

Spray a 2-quart baking dish (round or oval), place 4 tortillas on bottom. Covering bottom and up the sides. Spread out 1/2 the mixture from the bowl. Cover with 3 tortillas, spread out other 1/2 of mixture. Cover with 3 tortillas, spread 1/2 cup of cheese over top of tortillas.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes; remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes, until top is slightly brown, and mixture is bubbling. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

It's not gourmet restaurant fashion pretty, but you will be going back for seconds.  I don't know anyone who would choose pretty, but disgusting food over "it ain't pretty, but so delicious" food.  Well except pretentious people who show off, by spending loads of money, buying "a name" over quality.

Note: The chicken can be boiled, baked in the oven, or purchased pre-cooked.  I make mine by preheating the oven to 350F.  Slice the breasts in half lengthwise (now have 4 pieces), season both sides with salt, ground black pepper and paprika (just a sprinkle of each seasoning on each side of the chicken).  Bake for 20 minutes…the chicken will be fully cooked and juicy, so you will be tempted to eat it.  Don’t!  Dice it up and add to your casserole mixture instead.

Hint:  You can always cook up more chicken, dice it up, add mayonnaise and now you have a delicious chicken salad for sandwiches.

Mary Cokenour