I’ll Take Mine With Bones, Please!

This past Sunday we sold a bunch of old laying hen chickens to a neighbor who intended to butcher them up for use in soups and stews.   Our family has a small flock of about 40 birds for egg laying and when they’ve run their cycle—usually after about three years or so—we offer them up for butchering to folks who will take them.

It’s a great reminder to all of us here on the farm as to where our food comes from.   In particular, the process is important for the next generation to witness.

In this instance my 5–y/o daughter cried when she suddenly realized those pretty birds were gone—for good!   Indeed, we reminded her that the neighbor was taking them home to eat them and that was all part of the cycle of life.   In fact, we also reminded her that when we go to the grocery store the meat she likes to eat all comes from some animal.

Kids need to appreciate and understand that concept, but in today’s world most kids are never even exposed to that.   Not in the slightest.

Next time you are at a restaurant offering a choice between bone-in and boneless hot chicken wings ask the waitress which type is most popular.   Heck, I will save you the trouble.   If the diners are beyond, oh, let’s say about 40 years old or so, the answer is usually bone-in.   Less than that the preference is usually for boneless.   Why is that?

Can I offer up an educated guess?   The simply answer is GUILT.   As our society gets further removed from “the farm” people don’t want to be reminded of where their meat originates.   When you’re gnawing every morsel of muscle fiber off a chicken wing or a pork rib bone it’s pretty hard to put that out of your mind, isn’t it?

Not so when meat once served as bones included now comes with the convenient option of bones-free.

Oh, sure, I am not so naive to realize how there are other factors at play here, too.   The point is lots of processed foods are just easier accomplished without the hassle of bones, but you can’t completely discount my contention we are today living in a society that does not want to concern itself with where our foodstuffs are derived.

That’s why hunting, fishing and other “consumptive” sports are important.   If a kid is only exposed to the process of killing and subsequent consumption of an animal a few times a year that is more than most children get.   Food is not something to be ashamed of or to be dealing with feelings of guilt.   We all must eat and consuming meat is one of the most natural activities ever known to mankind.

So, the next time you’re eating in a restaurant do you go boneless or happily grab the bones?   How you order your food might just be saying a great deal about you.   I know from now on when I see people eating anything boneless I will interject a sense of reality by reminding them they are actually eating an animal.

Huh!  It’s funny how when you take a person either hunting or fishing this type of conversation never has reason to be mentioned.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Spicing Up My Life With Some Variety

Yeah, I’ve been a pretty pathetic blogger lately.   I know that.   I feel bad about that.   Not about to make a bunch of excuses, either.

Instead, I want you to know where my mind has been.   It’s not been consumed with hunting and fishing matters…nor has it been inspired to jump on some outdoor cause and lead the charge for reform.   Nope.   I caught the BBQ bug.   What you say?   What the heck it that?

Let me explain.

I’ve loved cooking outdoors for most of my life.   Whether it has been in the mountains of Colorado during an elk hunt…or streamside on some coldwater trout stream, I love the challenge of making good food and doing so away from the home kitchen.

Long story short…I’ve been smoking food for the better part of a decade.   Almost like a Picasso who painted eye-catching masterpieces of art, I yearn to perfect an art form of a different sort.   My goal has long been to make people happy with my cooking and increase my ability to do so.


The judging plate used to arrange food samples in a KCBS BBQ competition.

Okay, stay with me here in this blog post.   EVENTUALLY I’m going to throw you hard-core outdoor enthusiasts a bone in the form of a recipe, but indulge my rambling for just a bit longer.

Indeed, over the past few months I joined the Kansas City Barbeque Society and became certified as one of their BBQ judges.   This distinction entitles me to travel anywhere in the country and serve doing something that comes quite natural to me—eating.   Oh, yeah, they also want me to write down a little score.   But it’s all about good food.

So, why judge other people’s BBQ?   That’s simple…to know where your food ranks a person first has to know and understand what “good” food really is.   In essence, I view the judging component as nothing but a learning process to where this is eventually taking me.

Well, you probably guessed it…my ultimate goal is to start a competition BBQ team and that is exactly what I plan to do beginning in 2013.   Are you ready for this…introducing my team name and logo:


Please understand I am not substituting this activity for my hunting and fishing pursuits.   Instead, I view this as becoming a more well-rounded person with a diversity of interests.   After all, I strongly believe one passion in life can help fuel the other things you do.

That being said, I promised earlier in this post I would throw my loyal readers a bone in terms of sticking with my ramblings and explanation.   Part of the process of competing on the BBQ circuit is developing different flavor profiles for your food.   Now, I know there are many good commercially prepared spice products you can use to bring out the full flavor in your wild game, but have you ever considered making your own special blend?   I guarantee it will further enhance your enjoyment of shooting your own game, then cooking and eating it…give this recipe a try:

Sportsman’s Blog Outdoor Cooking Spice (combine)

  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar (usually found in the organic food section)-must use turbinado as it has a higher burn point than regular sugar, plus it imparts a molasses flavor.
  • 1/2 cup Season Salt
  • 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Paprika
  • 3 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 3 Tbs Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Garlic Granules (not powder)
  • 1 Tbs Dry Prepared Mustard
  • 1 Tbs Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Basil
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Hickory Powder

This recipe makes about 30 ounces of combined spice, so I usually store it in a quart container.   Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get the proper ratios by mixing smaller batches.   I usually buy several empty small 8 ounce containers at the grocery store in the bulk spice section and store it this way.   Makes a great gift to hunting buddies or to cooperative landowners.

Here’s what the final product should look like prior to mixing:


And finally, here is the packaged product when I am finished.


Now, if you are having difficulty locating turbinado sugar or hickory powder you can get it online at the Spice Barn where I purchase many of my spice components.

Thanks for being patient with me as I explore some varied activities in life.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.