Tag Archive | "upland hunting"

Tags: , , , , , ,

FORGOTTEN SKILLS OF COOKING by Darina Allen [Book Review & CO Radio/TV]

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Cork Graham

In 1972, I arrived in Singapore to attend the Singapore American School and soon after was introduced to a documentary film, called Future Shock, based on a book by Alvin Toffler and narrated by Orson Welles which was taking the US by storm. As a child, it totally freaked me out….perhaps one of the reasons I avoided computers until I could avoid them no longer. At that time there was also a large movement to get back to basics.

It revealed itself in the very large “Ecology” movement of the 1970s (remember the riff on the American flag, in green with the Greek letter ‘Theta’ where the stars and blue background would have been?), and publications like The Foxfire Books, a collection of stories detailing life in Southern Appalachia. I still have my father’s copies that he picked up on visits back to the States. It’s full of information on woodcraft and pre-supermarket self-reliance. They even showed how to properly scald a pig, which I used in this episode of Cork’s Outdoor TV on roasting a pig.

I’m reminded greatly of the back-to-basics movement of the 1970s, by these latest “slow food” and “green food” movements recorded by Michael Pollan and Paul Bertolli. What could be better than eating food that led to a slower and more relaxed society? But, so much information has been lost due to the increasing lack of family histories and traditions being handed down through live practice, i.e. on a farm or ranch. So many generations have moved off the land and into cities. Nowadays, most slow food information is that carried into the US by new immigrants from Asia and Latin America.

This is a pity as there was a lot of slow food information held in the family lines that came here from Northern Europe. In March of this year, I had the opportunity to complete a phone interview for Cork’s Outdoors Radio with one such food authority on her latest book on getting back to the basics (be sure to listen to the audio and watch the show below).

Darina Allen is noted as the “Julia Child of Ireland” and has been entertaining and educating on the subject of cooking in Ireland and the United Kingdom through her TV show and a collection of books. Her latest book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time Honored Ways are The Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why, is that treasure trove of not only Irish, British, and foods from other parts of the world, like Italian slow food recipes, but also articles and remedies for raising your own chickens for meat and eggs, how to properly butcher large farm animals like pigs, cattle and lambs.

It’s a gorgeous book, with photos that took all the seasons to create, evidenced by plants in bloom, and the foods in season. It’s all about being seasonal, Allen says, something clear in how she describes not only those foods that are collected on the farm, but also on a day’s walk in the woods gathering such morsels for the kitchen as nettles, mushrooms and a number of herbs, leafy greens, and berries.

Both land and water are covered, with foraging rewards, like limpets that are easily found in the Americas, and are cooked in a number of dishes that incorporate the bounty of the farm and field.

Though spending a lot of time reading through the scrumptious recipes that anyone would easily take a few years preparing all the scrumptious family meals using organic ingredients (either purchased or foraged): pies, breads, puddings, roasts and grilled fishes, I was keen on the game and fish sections.

Hare, venison, duck and goose are covered well, both as farm offerings and from the marsh, and of course the obligatory pheasant, but I’d done enough pheasant recipes lately, so I quickly focused on the basil cream rabbit recipe. It was the very cottontail taken with a .22 pellet rifle from Crosman. Who would have thought the hardest part for this recipe was to get the caul fat: Thank God for Dittmer’s in Mountain View, CA!

Watch the preparation and presentation on Cork’s Outdoors TV and return for the recipe below:

SADDLE OF RABBIT WITH CREAM, BASIL, AND CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS

reprinted with permission from the publisher, KYLE BOOKS

SERVES 6

6 saddle of rabbit (use the legs for confit)

4oz pork caul fat

salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

23 cup dry white wine

23 cup Chicken Stock

23 cup cream

2oz basil leaves

Caramelized Shallots (see below)

 Steps:

  1. Trim the flap of each saddle, if necessary (use in stock or pâté).
  2. Remove the membrane and sinews from the back of the saddles
  3. with a small knife.
  4. Wrap each saddle loosely in pork caul fat.
  5. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the rabbit pieces in a stainless steel or heavy roasting pan and roast for 8–12 minutes, depending on size.
  7. Remove from the oven, cover, and allow to rest.
  8. Degrease the pan if necessary, and put the wine to reduce in the roasting pan.
  9. Reduce by half over medium heat, add the chicken stock, and continue to reduce.
  10. Add the cream.
  11. Bring to a boil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and add lots of snipped basil.
  12. Serve the rabbit with the basil sauce, caramelized shallots, boiled new potatoes, and a good green salad.

 

CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS

1lb shallots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

12 cup water

1–2 tablespoons sugar

salt and freshly ground pepper

 Steps:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and add the peeled shallots.
  2. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for about 10–15 minutes or until the shallots are soft and juicy.
  3. Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Allow the juices to evaporate and caramelize. Be careful not to let them burn.

For more information on Darina Allen’s cooking school in Ireland, check out her school’s website: Ballymaloe Cookery School

 

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Darina Allen’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

Comments Off on FORGOTTEN SKILLS OF COOKING by Darina Allen [Book Review & CO Radio/TV]

Tags: , , , ,

Rabbits – Airgun Hunting with James Marchington [DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Cork Graham

Rabbits reside in the past memories of many as their introduction to hunting. Rabbits remind me of the elation of returning to the US after spending a childhood in South Vietnam and Singapore—where the only ones with guns were government personnel and guerrillas, and most of the hunting happening was of the two-legged variety.

With a 16 gauge Marlin pump handed down to me by my father, who had last used it before he went off to lay down telephone lines across Latin America in the late 1950s, I ventured forth to Arroyo Seco in Los Padres National Forest. As I wasn’t old enough to drive, it meant that it was a family affair and we didn’t get to the forest during the optimum morning times, and left before the best evening times to make it back to the Bay Area before dark.

One day, though, I got lucky. Our dog, that must have been a mix between either a beagle or Spaniel and a terrier, who loved to dig and chase, suddenly got onto a small cottontail that bolted and I shot.

I only hit it with a few pellets, and not knowing how to finish it off with my hands, I simply stepped back and aimed again. Problem was that I didn’t really understand chokes and how I had to walk much further, else turn that small brush cottontail into hamburger.

The experience almost turned me off hunting all together—I still don’t like to hunt small game with a shotgun, but more for not having to pick shot out of my meal. But then the next year, I got a Marlin semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine!

Even with the issued open sights, I could drill a rabbit through the head, wasting none of what would become my favorite meal. No more stray pellets puncturing the stomach or gall bladder, tainting the sweet cottontail meat…like chicken but so much tastier. It’s no wonder that my natural progression in adulthood would be back to the rifle that I was a introduced to shooting with in the first place: a pellet gun.

Without all that “bang” that comes with gunpowder, I’ve come to enjoy the silence of hunting with a bow that in the world of rifles is most imitated by an air rifle. It’s really fun shooting a pellet rifle for a number of reasons: the ammo’s cheaper, it’s quieter, there’s an unlimited amount of propellant (we breath it every second) and there’s no smoke preventing you from keeping an eye on the target.

For this reason the airgun was used extensively during the 1600s and 1700s for  hunting. In war, Napoleon saw the major effect of the quiet airgun, un-affected by rain, against his troops, that he had a standing order that all enemy combatants captured with an airgun in possession be executed on the spot.

My Wyoming huntin’ buddies Gerald Gay (l) and James Rivera (c) and bison taken with a .61 cal air rifle

As a fanatic small-game hunter with a taste for large cottontails, I’ve learned the merits of putting a .22 caliber pellet rifle through it paces. While last year was my introduction to the break barrel offerings of Crosman, this year I plan to put their scoped Benjamin Marauder through a number of hunts!

The Marauder, a rifle that uses an air reservoir much like ancient rifles, is similar to the AirArms rifle that airgun aficionado James Marchington uses on his own hunts for rabbits in his homeland of the UK, hunting in England and the Isle of Skye. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of watching his DVD release (I think I’m even the first one to get it in NTSC, instead of PAL).

As Marchington stated in our interview that follows, technology has come a long way: how much easier it is to teach by producing a DVD as compared to publishing a book. And what an entertaining lesson it is in his production: Rabbits — Airgun Hunting With James Marchington!

Through a number of nicely shot scenes, the viewer is taught how to choose an effective pellet rifle, and type of scope to mount. In the field, some of it shot on the beautiful and very rustic Scottish Isle of Skye, Marchington takes the audience through a number of sighting and shooting sessions.

The topics also touch on clothing (which I especially enjoy because he’s not wearing camouflage, but a good hunting tartan) and go in-depth into the skills of stalking and using the terrain to get close to the rabbit. If there’s ever a DVD to get for a child to show them something they can easily go hunting for, which would teach them to hunt just about every other game, this is it!

So much out there is directed toward the adult, and really doesn’t cover the hunting opportunity of rabbits in a way that I’m sure will appeal to the neophyte hunter, young or adult. Those rifles mentioned are definitely “adult” pellet rifles, and Marchington stresses the important of all types of good woodcraft and rifle stewardship.

Marchington makes a great teacher and yet another reason I highly suggest getting a copy to watch with your son or daughter.

As for the hunting in the field (it’s not all about picking equipment and talking about woodcraft), Marchington mounted a Guncam on the rifle so that the viewer can see exactly what the shooter is seeing as he shoots. Very impressives footage and shows how effectively a .22 pellet rifle can dispatch a large rabbit as quickly as a rifle shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge.

To get your copy visit www.marchington.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy James Marchington’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics:

Track 1: James Marchingon talks about his entry in hunting in the Great Britain, and how much stalking rabbits is a great training aid for learning to hunt large game.

Track 2: James Marchington touches on the topics of rabbit game species, air rifle options and new upcoming DVD productions for hunters.

Comments Off on Rabbits – Airgun Hunting with James Marchington [DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Central California Cottontails with a .22 cal Crosman Pellet Gun

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Cork Graham

Cork Graham with a freshly taken Sylvilagus audubonii, using a .22 Crosman pellet gun

Cork Graham with a freshly taken Sylvilagus audubonii, using a .22 Crosman pellet gun

Whenever a rerun of Spy Game is broadcast, I always smile when I hear Brad Pitt’s answer to Robert Redford’s question about how he became a sniper: shooting team in the Boy Scouts. For me it was my Daisy BB gun and trips out to Lake Pond Oreille, every summer we visited my grandparents in Spokane, when my family home as the son of American expat businessman was Saigon and Singapore during the 1960s and 1970s. Trying to hit the metal band of a log piling reaching six feet above the surface of Pend Oreille, 70 yards offshore from the porch of our family friend’s cabin, was a lesson in trajectory and wind.

I shot every chance I got during those summers, because when we returned to Southeast Asia, I would have to leave my marksmanship to slingshots and low poundage field archery equipment. Firearms and even BB guns were illegal to possess in Southeast Asia.

Shoot enough years it’s hard not think fondly of those early days, out in a field plinking at tin cans and perhaps sniping a bird or rabbit for the family table. When an excuse to try out the new “adult” pellet guns came up—we’re now legally allowed to use pellet guns of at least .20 caliber to hunt wild turkey in California—I called up Crosman to try out one of their .22 line.

…Plus, I’ve received a number of cookbooks I have to review from American authors and those across the pond, like Darina Allen and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, two well-known and respected cooking writers in Ireland and England, who really know how to do wild game justice: a big fat cottontail would be a perfect entree!

What arrived in the mail was a .22 Cal. Remington(R) NPSS Digital Camo. Talk about accurate. With a rifled bull barrel and a large objective scope on top, and nearing 1,000 feet per second it looked like a sweet combination for small game and hitting a turkey in the head. What makes the drawback, though—like it can with any firearm—is the trigger.

I’m all about triggers as you may have guessed. A crisp trigger with a light poundage triggerpull (2-3 pounds), greatly assists a shooter in their keeping a tight group. What a trigger on a pellet gun that relies on a spring, just like a majority of triggers you find on crossbows (except the well-designed trigger from Excaliber Crossbows), has going against it is that it delivers that “Boing!” that does wonders in knocking off a marksman’s focus on the target.

As with a conventional bow, follow through is very important. That’s where a smooth trigger helps in keeping that target fixation: As if using a bow, you keep your bow focused on the target, and with a rifle you keep your crosshairs on the target for a few seconds after you shoot.

Now, if you’ve tried the triggers on break-action, as Crosman calls, it “break-barrel”, pellet guns, you’ll notice that the trigger does have that sponginess that makes it hard to predict exactly when the gun is breaking. But, because of this, and also because of the lack of a significant recoil, pellet guns are a great training tool to improve you shooting skills.

Though many would think that improving shooting means learning how to deal with heavy recoil, it’s really about learning how to work a trigger, and in conjunction with breathing and beats of your heart. When you can overcome the uneven resistance of a break-barrel pellet gun trigger, you’ll have mastered the even squeeze necessary to hit a target with a fine-tuned firearm.

A great work on the act of integrated shooting (breathing, heart rate, trigger squeeze), is on page 180 of The Ultimate Sniper [Updated and Expanded], by a man I highly respect for his work, background, and teachings Major John L. Plaster—I’ll be conducting a Cork’s Outdoors Radio interview with him soon, so stay tuned!

Armed with that Crosman .22 Cal. Remington(r) NPSS Digital Camo, and having already been successful on wild boar earlier that day at Native Hunt, described in last week’s column, Michael Riddle and I put the pig in the roaster and jumped in my truck.

We drove over to another property that makes up 27,000 acres of prime land that Native Hunt has sole hunting rights to, and found the cottaintails that had teased me earlier while we waited for a  longbow hunter that was slated for hunting pigs that morning.

As usual, the cottontails didn’t show until the last hour of daylight, something that made the large objective scope a real asset. When I took my first shot, Riddle called out, “High!”

Adjusting, the next shot hit lower, but not enough. Peter Cottontail bounded off, sitting just short of a clump of weeds.

Lowering the reticle of the scope yet again, I took another shot at Sylvilagus audubonii, otherwise known as the desert cottontail rabbit, prevalent in Central California and much fatter and larger than the small bush cottontail I was accustomed to hunting in Mendocino National Forest as a teen. A .22 pellet hit Sylvi Auduboni in the head with the effect of a light switch being turned off.

Wide-eyed, I looked at Riddle. “Dang!”

These little pellet guns pack a punch. Only a 20 yard walk to where he lay, the cottontail rabbit was stoned cold dead, not even convulsing. Not wanting my Brittany Spaniel, Ziggy, getting interested in rabbits, I walked quickly past the backseat of my Dodge Ram Quad Cab (Ziggy staring at me, and the just-departed Sylvi in my hand, from the backseat), and put Sylvi in the back of the truck payload.

In an hour, Riddle and I would be back at the Native Hunt Lodge, checking the doneness of the pig in the Caja China, and skinning Sylvilagus auduboni deciding which review volume I’d be referring to in order to cook the prime pink cottontail meat and its heart, liver and large kidneys: The River Cottage Book, The River Cottage Meat Book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why, or maybe even Pot-Roasted Rabbit with Prunes and Pinot-Noir from Chef John Folse’s eloquently illustrated and easy to follow gamecook’s bible After the Hunt: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Wild Game & Game Fish Cookery, with a Papapietro-Perry 2007 Peters Vineyard Pinot-Noir from the Russian River Valley.

 

COMING UP

  1. On the Track of the Wily Wild Boar Babi Guling
  2. The River Cottage Meat Book by Michael Fearnley-Whittingstall [Book Review]

Comments (2)

  • STAY CONNECTED

  • Advertise Here
    Advertise Here