Beer…It’s Not Just For Drinking Anymore!

If there’s one thing I have failed to do with this blog since its inception is to provide more cooking tips and recipes.   Now mind you, I’m not going to profess to be some sort of gourmet chef when it comes to cooking (with or without wild game).   Yet, I must humbly say if you ask any members of my family they will quickly point out that cooking is one of my passions…and that’s mostly because I like good food.

If I look back at the stats for this blog one of the most “Googled” links ever happens to be a fish batter recipe I re-printed from a former Minnesota State Legislator.   You can find it here.   Aside from that, you have to go back to one of the very first posts on this blog site (can you believe it almost four years ago now) to find some of the other cooking suggestions I made here.

BeerBookWhat got me thinking about a blog post on cooking was an e-mail I received from a publisher back a few months ago.   It was touting a book entitled The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook by John Schlimm.   The book contains more than 400 recipes (many using wild game and fish) but all containing a common ingredient — beer.

It got me thinking how not only do sportsmen like to drink beer, but often times some of our best recipes will contain this cherished beverage.   Personally, I will admit that I am NOT a beer drinker, but when it comes to cooking with the substance I have no qualms whatsoever if it ends up in my food.   In fact, in many instances beer is not only a great cooking liquid but it intensifies the flavor of many things cooked with it.

To check out Schlimm’s book you can find it on by clicking here.

In the press release for the book it offered several mouth-watering recipes, such as:

Barbecued Venison
Yields 6 Servings
12 ounces beer
3 cloves garlic
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
2 onions (sliced)
3 bay leaves
3 pounds venison round steak (trim away excess fat)
2 cups barbecue sauce of choice
In a large bowl, combine the beer, garlic, salt, pepper, onions, and bay leaves, mixing well.  Add the venison to the mixture, coating it completely.  Refrigerate the venison for 12 hours to overnight, occasionally turning it.  Remove the venison and onions from the marinade and place them in a crock-pot.  Pour 1 cup of the barbecue sauce over the venison and cover the crock-pot.  Cook the venison on low for 11 hours or until desired doneness.  Serve the venison with the remaining barbecue sauce.
or how about:

Sweet & Sour Trout
Yields 10 Servings
1/4 cup butter
2 onions (chopped)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 ounces beer
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 pounds trout fillets (cut into bite-size pieces)
1 tablespoon vinegar
In a skillet, combine the butter and onions, sautéing the onions until they are tender.  Add the flour and cook the mixture, uncovered, for 3 minutes.  Add the beer, brown sugar, peppercorns, cloves, and Worcestershire sauce, cooking over a low heat and stirring until the mixture is thickened.  Add the trout filets and cook the mixture, covered, until the filets are done.  Add the vinegar and cook for 2 minutes longer.
Now certainly this blog post would be remiss if I didn’t share one of my own beer-laden concoctions.   It’s rather simple, but check it out:
Slow Cooker Venison & Beer
Yields About 6 Servings
2 pounds stew venison, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 envelope onion soup mix
12 ounces beer

3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
dash garlic powder
1 bay leaf
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except for the beer.   Toss until meat is well coated with the dry ingredients.   Then pour beer over the venison mixture and stir.   Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours.   Remove bay leaf before serving.   Serve over noodles, rice or potatoes.
As they say…Bon Appétit.
2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

My Personal Battle Over The Books

In nearly two years of blogging on this site you’re probably noticed I haven’t done many book reviews.   In some regards that’s sort of a shame because I absolutely love a good outdoors book…especially a how-to book that focuses on some special kind of outdoor activity.   A fine example would be books such as Snares and Snaring by Raymond Thompson or Comfort Below Freezing by Robert McQuilkin.   Neither book exemplifies Pulitzer Prize quality of writing by the authors, nevertheless each book serves as a tremendous resource on the respective outdoor topic being covered.Snares & Snaring

Much to my wife’s chagrin I’ve been a collector of outdoor books for over 25 years.   As I recall my collection first started with purchasing a host of trapping related books.   Followed by fishing books…hunting books…you name it, if it’s an outdoor subject I very likely have a book that covers it to some degree.   And that’s where the problem begins for my wife.   She understands there are many books I must own for reference.   She’s a registered nurse and even has her own small library of medical books that she occasionally consults.   But she fails to see my need for books on the wide variety of topics I own.

The problem is my entire library of books has been in storage for about 15 months while we built a new house last year.   It wasn’t until this weekend that I decided it was time to do the big move back into the new house and to set up the necessary book shelves once again.   Her contention is…if you haven’t used any of those books for over a year…what makes me think I will have any future need for them.   This argument is further bolstered by the fact she knows I now do a lot of topical research on the Internet.

Therein lies the problem.   Indeed, the Internet is a quick and handy source to look up almost any topic quickly…but is it always a safe way to do things?   Granted, information contained in a book can be bogus just as easily as if it’s found on the Internet…but I tend to feel that what gets printed in a book, generally speaking, has more credibility than what is commonly found on the Internet.   Now I realize that is not always true, but you still need to be careful no matter what your primary source might be.

You see, my wife is having a dreaded garage sale next weekend so everything she looks at these days (especially if it’s an item I brought into this marriage) appears to her to be good “junk” for the sale.   To me, my 300+ outdoor book collection is a prized and closely coveted part of my outdoor life I am not feeling the need to part with anytime soon.   She’s trying her best to make me understand I should feel differently.   The battle goes on.

Okay, I’ll admit there are a lot of books I have read and will likely never read again.   Heck, I might not ever crack them open again if the right situation doesn’t arise.   But as a sportsman who occasionally must double-check a fact…owning my very own outdoor library gives me a certain peace of mind.   I can almost guarantee you that if I drove to any public library within 25 miles of my house I could not find an outdoors (hunting and fishing) section as complete as the one I have on display here in my home.   That’s not bragging…rather, just stating the situation as I believe it to occur.

These days I’m not so sure that most sportsmen value book ownership quite the same way folks used to view them a few decades ago.   Certainly my wife is right…if you want to learn a bit more on a topic—such as snipe hunting, for instance—many people will start off with a Google search.   And why not!   I might be tempted to do it too.   Using a computer attached to the World Wide Web is quick and often very thorough tool to get work done.   You might even read about someone’s encounter that will give you an idea for a unique slant on a story.

Even so…as I debated with my wife I explained to her that the books I own are no way obsolete because of my computer.   In fact, many are probably collector material that you certainly would not want to mass liquidate at some garage sale.   I’m not sure…but I think she’s slowly realizing there are two things of mine you don’t touch in this household.   The first one would be my guns (she wouldn’t touch them anyway) and now my book collection (which she would rather see in a dumpster than displayed on several nice oak bookcases).

For many years I slowly accumulated my collection of books without ever giving much thought that they would someday undergo such intense scrutiny.   And don’t get me wrong…I completely understand now that we have a new house we must carefully choose what items we plan to display and store in our new digs.   It’s just that today when my collection of books were de-valued in my wife’s mind it gave me pause to do some introspection if possibly she could be right.   Do I continue to own all these books because I really need them?   Or do I continue to hold on to them because it’s a habit I’ve developed now for over 25 years running?

That’s when I decided to question her on whether she really needed those Pfaltzgraft dishes she owns.   In the nearly five years that I’ve known her we’ve never eaten off them.   Worse yet, they were purchased in connection with her first marriage so any sentimental value they should have for her should be highly questionable.

Yea, I realized the counter-tactic was a dangerous maneuver…like walking through a proverbial minefield where one must tread very carefully.   But so far it has worked…she’s now spent the day focusing more on her own belongings rather than casting a sinister eye with evil intent toward discarding my precious outdoor books.   Again, let’s just be thankful she doesn’t read these blog posts very often.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.

Time Well Spent Inventorying Guns & Gear

Let’s face it…nobody likes to think about the possibility of your guns or outdoor equipment getting stolen, but few among us are so naive to think it could not happen.   So what steps have you taken recently to make some safeguards to protect your financial investment?   So, you say, you’ve got a list…but when was the last time you reviewed or updated that record?

I know…it’s not one of those activities that most of us enjoy.   Yet, to be prudent gun owners we need to occasionally take some time to ensure we have all the details correct about our collection in case of disaster.   I’ve also found that the late winter doldrums is a perfect time to sit by the computer and accomplish some of these necessary tasks.

For me it starts by pulling each gun out of the gun safe and giving it a quick once over looking for any evidence indicating the first signs of rust, etc.   Then I take a digital photograph trying to get an up-close view to show the gun’s condition.   This year I even took the extra step of using an image editing program to permanently label the photograph with the gun’s model number and serial number as shown below:


Next, I used a spreadsheet program in Excel to document all the details of the gun and to serve as a permanent (and editable) record of my ownership information.


To down-load a template of the particular Excel file I use for my record-keeping click HERE.   There’s nothing fancy about this file…but it aids in performing some of the totals calculations to keep a running value of your collection.   I also set this program up to include a worksheet tab for non-gun items you may want to include…such as binoculars, range finders, GPS, wildlife art, etc.

Now to be honest, if you’re one of the lucky few who has a rather extensive collection of prize firearms it might be wise to check out this program.   Blue Book Publications, Inc. puts out a wonderful Inventory Software Program that accomplishes the same thing as my file above, with the addition of having the gun valuation software built right in to its function.   That’s right…this program will walk you through and help you determine the value of each gun as well as capturing all the pertinent ownership details.

BBP not only sells this great computer program, but this company also sells the “bible” which is used industry-wide to determine all gun values.   This company’s products are definitely worth a look and best of all, if you order now you will get their most recent book and software program issues that are scheduled to be released in April.

Oh…and one last word of advice.   You may want to password protect any of these files for added security from your spouse.   Even as helpful as these programs would be in establishing value in case of theft…the important numbers they reveal could definitely work against you if they fell into the wrong hands within your household.   Don’t take that chance!   Who needs a spouse backed with this critical information lobbying against your next gun purchase?   I know I sure don’t.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.