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Early Summer Trout Fishing, Foraging & Campfire Cookery

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Met up with my friend Jared at the end of June to paddle on the Musconetcong River in New Jersey but low water levels changed our plans and so we decided to do some trout fishing, foraging and campfire cooking.

We lucked out with a Rainbow Trout, Milkweed Flowers, Monarda, Nodding Onion, Day Lilly, Wood Nettle, Elderberry Flowers, Bay Berry and a mix of wild fruits including raspberry, mulberry and strawberry.

It turned out to be a most delicious meal and a fun challenge to feed ourselves from the local landscape.

 

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Venison Jerky with the Little Chief Smoker

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My Little Chief Smoker has been very busy since this past deer season. While I do like to package and prepare back-straps, tenderloin and roast for future meals, the majority of the meat from this years harvests went into the jerky pile.

My technique is to slice pieces clean to remove any sinew or cartilage and fill a gallon zip lock bag.

Venison Jerky and Backstraps with Old Hickory

I’ll add approximately 2 cups of soy sauce, 1 cup of honey or maple sugar and some heavy splashes of garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper and some chili flakes.  It’s best to let it all marinate 24 hours in the refrigerator with a flip or two to make sure all pieces get even coverage.

  

Next it goes into a strainer for a few minutes so that pieces can be lifted out without them dripping marinade and they are placed onto the racks of my Little Chief for smoking. If not complete dried I’ll place the pieces into the refrigerator or leave them in a dry environment and in a breathable paper bag so moisture can continue to escape.

  

Adirondack Lean-to Camping and IceFishing

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“The core of mans spirit comes from new experiences” – Into the Wild

 

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It took a 5 hour drive after work to reach the point of entry into the beautiful Adirondacks before pulling sled a mile or so over land and ice to the planned shelter spot and beacon of lantern light left out at the edge of the water by a friend. The trip was designed originally as a canvas hot tent outing but due to the heavy rains and warmer temps we ended up staying at a nearby location in a lean-to and never took the tent out of the bag. The lean-to made for an easy base camp and was situated 100 or so yards from the waters edge. We woke before the sun and drilled holes through the approximately 10 inches of ice and placed tip-ups according to plans made after reviewing the state water depth maps and considering the fickle habits of our target species.

We caught many Lakers but to be a keeper they needed to hit the 21″ regulation. They bit on jigged lures baited with spikes (aka maggots) as well as tip-ups at varying depth baited with live shiners and later baited with smelt when they were caught. It took till sunset to reel in a keeper the first day and although it wouldn’t have been necessary it was a moment of satisfaction to know that the planning, patience and perseverance before and during the trip paid off handsomely. That fish would make the first dinner for the 4 of us along with an onion, oyster mushrooms found in camp and some black trumpet and chanterelles pulled from the freezer. A cup of foraged wintergreen leaves made a tea that was added to the first nights feast.

It rained all that evening and when we woke, the mist rising off the lake added to the beauty of the Adirondack landscape and kept providing new scenery throughout the day. We fished hard another day catching more Lakers and Smelt as well as small mouth bass but no Brook trout would be had on this outing.  Later in the afternoon a big storm blew in and took the tip-ups with line and bait and blew them down the ice. We scrambled to gather our belongings and take shelter in the comfort of the lean-to. The storm made water collection easy off the corner of a tarp we rigged as both an extended roof and to cover the face of the lean-to at night in order to block the winds.

That second night we fried and ate many of the smelt caught earlier in the day and enjoyed them as appetizers. The main course consisted of venison, wild rice, pierogies and other goodies like Pillsbury wrapped hot-dogs. All of it helped to fuel and warm our bodies after a wet day and during a blustery stormy night. As we got settled in, the temperature began to drop, reaching 20f, the rain turned to snow, winds picked up and when we woke the forest floor was covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

We slept in past sunrise and tidied up making sure to leave the place better then we found it and left behind a pile of split firewood for the next campers in Adirondack tradition. With packed sleds and a final sip of coffee we were off across the ice, using a spud to check for stability and safety and then up the trail to the vehicles for a long ride home.

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..

 

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

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