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Wild Mushroom and Venison Meals

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Autumn has arrived and so has the excitement of finding delicious mushrooms on forest walks.

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Hen of the Woods & Chicken of the Woods

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Together my wife and I made Anthony Bourdain’s Mushroom Soup Recipe.

The same day I managed to harvest a doe from the forest and it being Saturday, we finally had the time to try butchering it ourselves. The process was very time consuming having not done it before but very much rewarding. We took our time scavenging all the meat including the smallest scraps that would be put into a grinder with a mix of bacon fat.

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Exhausted, I threw some in a pan with a few slices of mushrooms for a quick meal.

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But later after all was packaged, placed in the freezer and wiped clean multiple times… my wife made the most delicious venison meatballs with home grown tomato sauce.

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It was a rewarding day and felt like a culmination of skills recently learned put into the culture of our daily lives.

Foraging & Making PawPaw Crescent Rolls

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Took a drive out to a forest in Pennsylvania with a known spot for foraging wild PawPaw.
The broad leaves of the tree give a jungle like feel to the forest and produce a sweet sugary fruit full of large seeds.

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My companions as botanists had a secondary goal beyond enjoying the fruit in the shade of the forest.
They plan to grow trees from the seed for their own backyards and to share through a native wild plant nursery.

We tasted and collected many fruits to find the most choice potential seeds.

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I gathered them gently in a basket hoping to avoid bruising the highly delicate fruit.

Along the Way, I found some very large and abundant Spicebush berries.

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and some Jewelweed seeds that have a taste very similar to walnut.

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Afterwards, I wanted to make a pawpaw crescent roll.

To do so, I made a mini fire to have just enough coals to cook over. The goal is to gently bake the crescent but not the pawpaw in a tinfoil pouch. A flip after 3 minutes and about 2 more minutes provided a delicious fruit filled pastry treat..

 

Fishing Derbies – Hooked on Fishing!

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It’s a special opportunity to help kids catch their first fish. Fishing may seem like an easy task to those who fish often but for those who haven’t ever before a little help goes a very long way. Creating a successful first experience is key to creating a nature connection that lasts a lifetime.

Some Quick Tips for Newbies:

  1. Learn to Tie a Clinch Knot – you don’t want to lose your first fish because you made a sloppy knot.
  2. Use around a size 8 or 10 fishing hook – small hooks catch small and big fish! Too many kids try for the biggest fish in the pond with some wacky lure they found.
  3. Keep it Simple – Start with worms.

This summer we teamed up with NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program and had a great experience.

Smoking Lake Trout in the Little Chief

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After my first few visits to New Jersey’s Round Valley Recreation Area I came home with an empty creel.  Finally, a friend helped show me the skills and we were able to set a few hooks in Lake Trout. The fish were biting around 80 to 90 feet deep on a mix of jigs and baitfish.  Turned out their stomachs were mostly full with scuds and the scud clouds could even be seen on the fish finder.

 

 

After the catch, I put some of the trout into The Little Chief Smoker with a pan or two of alder wood chips and it came out awesome! Both plain and marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, garlic power and chili powder.

Making Oyster Mushroom Jerky

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If you follow my blog you may recall that I made some  Hen of the Woods Jerky that came out delicious.  Well, I tried the same recipe with Oyster mushrooms and it did come out tasty but Hen wins easy for texture and flavor.

To make the mushroom jerky, I boiled pieces for 10 minutes, strained and placed them in a marinade overnight.  The marinade was a mix of honey, chili powder and soy sauce.  The jerky went in the dehydrator the next day at a low temperature for about 8 hours until it felt right.

 

 

Spring Trout & Wild Edible Outing

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Had a great weekend camping for the opener of trout season in NJ.  It’s become tradition to catch some rainbows and make a meal with some mixed wild edibles including wintergeen, wintercress, watercress, chickweed, dandelion, leeks, trout lily and partridge berry.  Hope you enjoy the video!

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.” -Nessmuk

Orienteering to Vernal Pools in Allamuchy State Park – NJ

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As part of Iz Turley’s Hardwoodsman challenge, I went out to practice my map & compass navigation skills. My destination was a few wetland habitats within Allamuchy State Park. The wetlands on the map appeared to be perfect locations  for vernal pools and the diversity of species that call them home.

Along the way I found Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, Spotted Salamanders, Eastern Newts, Fairy Shrimp, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood ducks and much much more including a BEAR SKULL!!!

 

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

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