Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to make Crappie Chowder

The idea for this recipe came after successful day fishing at Prineville (Oregon) Reservoir. I borrowed some ideas from different sources, tweaked ingredients and the concoction became a hit among my fishing friends. The recipe was entered in the summer, 2001 "Crappie World" magazine recipe contest, and won first prize.

by Leon Pantenburg
A great comfort food on a cold night, or in camp after a successful day of fishing is chowder. If you can use some of the catch to make dinner that night, that is an added bonus.
While I fully support and follow catch-and-release philosophies on many species of fish, there are other fish that may need to be harvested to maintain a healthy population.
Crappie are a prolific panfish, widely distributed and fun to catch and eat! (ODFW photo)
Crappie are a prolific panfish, widely distributed and fun to catch and eat! (ODFW photo)
Always follow local laws, of course, but there are many species of panfish you can harvest, eat and enjoy without guilt.
Crappie are a prolific panfish that are available virtually anywhere. I've caught them through the ice, or with a cane pole and crickets on blistering hot Mississippi afternoons.
My favorite crappie rig, is a six-to-seven foot spinning rod, with a small to medium spinning reel. Four-to-six pound line, depending on the conditions, should be about right.
My go-to crappie lure is a 1/16 or 1/8-ounce lead head jig, with a two-inch yellow Mister Twister grub body. Using that combination, I caught crappie all down the Mississippi River. (To view the story of my journey, click on Mississippi River Canoe trip.)
Obviously, variations of color and jig head size abound, but I start out with this combination and usually don't have to do much switching to get into the fish.
The flesh of a crappie is delectable and is a favorite for fish fries. But sometimes, you want some variety, and that's where this chowder recipes comes in. Substitute canned milk for fresh and Half-and-Half, and you can make this recipe on a river bank or in a fishing camp. You could even substitute dehydrated onions, potatoes and corn, and canned butter and make this recipe entirely out of storage foods and fresh fish fillets.
Crappie Chowder
10 crappie fillets (or about 1-1/2 lbs of any firm, white fish. Catfish works very well!)
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
3 medium potatoes, cubed (Yukon Gold or white potatoes are best. They stay firm and don't cook down to mush)
4 c milk
1/2 c. Half-and-Half
1 tsp Old Bay(trademark) seafood seasoning
1 12-oz. can whole kernel corn (fresh sweet corn is best, if available)
salt and pepper
  Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about four minutes. Remove onions from skillet. Pan-sear crappie fillets for about one minute on each side. Remove fillets from skillet, and cut into small squares.
Add potatoes and onions and cook, stirring frequently for about five minutes or until they begin to soften. Stir in enough cold water to cover potatoes, cover, bring to a boil, add Old Bay seasoning and cook for about 10 minutes. Add fish to potatoes and cook seven minutes on a slow boil. Add milk and Half-and-Half, stir and heat until very hot, but do not allow it to boil. Season with salt and pepper.

How to cook salmon in the traditional Indian way

This traditional method of cooking salmon around a campfire can also be used for meat.
by Leon Pantenburg

Last weekend, I had the honor of starting the fire for the annual Salmon Bake at Central Oregon Community College. I used the flint and steel method, with indigenous tinder and wood. (Murphy stayed away: I got the fire going with no problem.) In many tribes, starting the fire for a ceremony is part of the tradition.
celilo falls 2
Celilo Falls, on the Columbia River, about 1900. Settlements in the area go back at least 15,000 years. (Oregon Historical Society photos)

The idea behind the COCC salmon bake was to recreate, as much as possible, a gathering that would celebrate the return of the salmon upstream.
Salmon were as important to the northwest indigenous people as the buffalo were to the tribes on the plains. The annual salmon run, when the fish returned upstream to spawn, was eagerly anticipated by the residents. For the duration of the run, which could be several weeks, the people harvested salmon, dried the flesh and socialized.
See the how-to video below
That tradition ended in the 1970s when the Bonneville Lock and Dam system flooded the Celilo Falls on the Columbia River.
"Celilo" is the name of a series of cascades and waterfalls on the river, as well as to the native settlements and trading villages that existed there in various configurations for 15,000 years.
All that remains of the salmon community is memories. One way to keep those memories alive is through the ceremonies and gatherings, such as the COCC Salmon Bake.
Every year, the Native American Club at the college hosts the Salmon Bake, which features dancing, story telling and the keynote salmon feast.
The head cook for the event was Geraldine Jim, 75, ably assisted by her husband Wilford. Geraldine, of Warm Springs, Oregon, learned how to cook salmon from her grandmother, and the recipe and technique goes back thousands of years.
salmon fishing at Celilo falls
Celilo Falls was the site of massive salmon runs, where the fish would concentrate on their way upstream to spawn

The technique is simple, Geraldine Jim said, and relies on some skill and the correct types of wood.
Here's what you need, according to Jim:
  • A campfire made of hardwood. Alder is preferred, Jim said, because pine or other soft woods will smoke and cause the salmon to blacken with soot and taste bad.
  • Hardwood sticks, about three feet long and slightly curved. The bark should be removed.
  • Skewers, about 12 inched long, and about 1/8-inch think.
  • Filleted salmon with the skin still on.
  • Lay the fillet skin side down, and insert the long stick next to the skin and push it through.
  • Pin the fillet on the stick by pushing the skewer through the skin, through the flesh, then through the skin on the other side. Break off the ends of the skewers so they don't catch fire.
  • Place the end of the stick in the dirt next to the fire. The distance from the end of the fillet and the ground should be about two hand widths.
  • Slightly tip the top of the fillet toward the fire. The fillet should be about two to three feet from the fire.
  • Cook about 45 minutes to an hour. When the fish is done, the skin will be dry.
Remove and feast. The taste is incredible, and unlike anything you've probably ever eaten. Until you've tried this, you only think you've eaten good salmon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

High Speed Venison

by Leon Pantenburg
We were somewhere between the "Food is Fuel" and "Use the Dutch Oven to Cook Something Wonderful" philosophies of wilderness campfire cooking.
So this recipe, named "High Speed Venison" because of its speedy preparation, was chosen. Mike set up the stove and Dutch oven on the tailgate of my pickup; Phil sliced up some backstrap from a deer he'd killed, and I sliced onions. All this preparation took less than five minutes.
Ingredients for this dish go on every hunt. All you have to do is add venison, and you have a great, tasty meal that doesn't require a lot of preparation. We've cooked this same dish in the parking lot of the motel in Orofino, Idaho; outside of a motel room in Lowell, Idaho, and at home, when a quick meal was in order.
A great, easy side dish is to slice potatoes and onions, add butter, and wrap everything in foil. Toss this package in the coals, turn occasionally and cook until done.
While the other two went down to the river to swim and clean up, I watched the food. Phil came back up to the truck, so I could go take a swim. By the time everyone was cleaned up, we were ready to eat.
2-3 lbs venison steaks
1 pkg beefy onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 onions, sliced
3/4 C milk
salt and pepper
Trim fat off steaks and brown in skillet or cast iron Dutch oven. Mix together the mushroom soup, beefy onion soup mix and milk. Pour over steaks. Add onions and bouillon. Simmer one hour. Serve over rice.
Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Squirrel Mulligan

Some recipes, like this one, are old friends.
by Leon Pantenburg
Recipes trigger memories sometimes, and that's what happened when I came across this mulligan recipe. The date on it is December 16, 1989, it has a 3.5 star rating out of a best possible four and I remember why I cooked it.

Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce newcomers to hunting. This squirrel recipe is good for stretching food resources when you don't have much meat, or only harvested one small game animal. (Pantenburg photo)
Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce newcomers to hunting. (Pantenburg photo)

At the time I lived in Washington D.C., and I frequently hunted at Quantico Marine Base, south of the city.
Check out the striker and charcloth for flint and steel firemaking!
For a country type such as me, weekend hunting trips helped me keep my sanity amid the Beltway hustle and pressure associated with a stressful job.
Shotguns were required to hunt on the base, but there was a loophole that allowed blackpowder rifles for small game hunting. Blackpowder is my favorite method of hunting anyway, and my .40 caliber flintlock was my ticket to small game heaven. All hunters were required to check in at the gate before dawn, and each was allotted 160 acres to hunt on for the day. I had scouted the land, and knew where the hickory and oak groves were, and I usually got my favorite spot.
There is something about drifting through a hardwood grove just after dawn, wearing a powder horn and shot bag and hunting with a genuine longrifle that is makes it impossible to worry. The smell of the damp leaves, and ker-flu of the flintlock firing, followed by the fog of powder smoke were part of an incredible experience and harvesting a squirrel was a bonus.
On this particular day, I was shooting well, and had killed three squirrels with three headshots. I hiked out to my car, and ran across two other squirrel hunters. My flintlock usually gets some looks and comments and this day was no different. I explained the complexity of loading and firing the rifle, and the feel I got hunting with it.
All this was lost on one of the hunters, who was packing a Remington semi-automatic shotgun.
"But it's got to be a handicap, hunting with that thing," he said. "What do you use when you want to kill some squirrels?"
"I got three squirrels with three shots," I answered. "How are you guys doing?"
They both laughed.
"Not that good!"
Later that week, I was looking for a recipe to use three squirrels, and found this one. It's a winner!
Squirrel Mulligan
3 squirrels, dressed
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 russet potatoes, diced
4 Tbs chili pepper
salt to taste
pepper to taste
dash of Louisiana hot sauce
1 c cooked rice
Stew squirrels in water until tender. Removed meat from bones. Place meat into broth, and bring to a boil; add remaining ingredients except rice. Cook 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add rice and serve.
For more survival gear information, click on making your own survival kits!
Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wild game chili

Few dishes evoke the passion of chili, and you probably either love it, or don't care for it at all.
by Leon Pantenburg
Check out this survival LED light for a keychain!
 Check out this survival LED light for a keychain!

The freezing wind whipped around the pickup tailgate, and it was snowing sideways. It was the worst possible conditions for a chili contest, but the Boy Scouts Fremont District usually has a cookoff at the annual Freezeree Winter campout in January.
One of the best things about chili is the variety of ingredients that can be used.
One of the best things about chili is the variety of ingredients that can be used.

I was elected to represent the Troop 18 scoutmasters. While the batch was simmering, the snowfall increased to the point where we had to rig up a blue tarp to keep the snow off. But everything came out well, and I ended up with bragging rights.
In chili competitions, as in many other obsessions, environmental challenges are just part of the journey. And a blizzard at the cookoff just makes the story better.
 Few dishes evoke the passion of chili, and you probably either love it, or don't care for it at all.
There are probably as many chili recipes as there are chili cooks and an enthusiast will probably have strong opinions about how and what it is made of. Then, you have to decide which camp you're in: do you prefer your chili beanless or with beans; spicy or mild? Should it be soupy or so thick you can eat it with a fork?
What is the best meat to use: Beef, venison, buffalo or some other type of wild game? And what is the best utensil to cook it in? Cast iron seems to be the standard, but enthusiasts usually have a favorite pot. The official state dish of Texas, the origins of the spicy meat stew are obscure. The only thing certain is that it didn't come from Mexico.
San Antonio writer Charles Ramsdell claims: "Chili, as we know it in the U.S., cannot be found in Mexico today except in a few tourist spots. If chili had come from Mexico, it would still be there. For Mexicans, especially those of Indian ancestry, do not change their culinary customs from one generation, or even from one century, to another."
There are many legends and stories about where chili originated and it is generally thought, by most historians, that the earliest versions were made by the very poorest people. The first chili mix was concocted around 1850 by Texan adventurers and cowboys, according to the International Chili Society, as a staple for hard times. The cattle drovers and trail hands popularized the dish throughout the southwest.
Legend has it, that one famous range cook made chili along all the great cattle trails of Texas. He collected wild oregano, chile peppers, wild garlic and onions and mixed it with whatever meat he had at hand to feed the cowboys. To make sure he always had a supply of native spices, he planted gardens in the path ofcow drives. These were put in the middle of mesquite thickets to protect them from the cattle.
There was another group of Texans known as "Lavanderas," or "Washerwoman," that followed around the 19th-century armies of Texas making a stew of goat meat or venison, wild marjoram and chile peppers. Today, chili is served all over the world in various incarnations, and it has never been more popular. The annual International Chili Society's World Championship Chili Cookoff in California pulls in competitors from all over the world, and draws more than 30,000 spectators.
The popularity probably has something to do with chili's extreme versatility. For comfort food, few dishes beat slow-simmered chili and cornbread after a day spent hiking, snowshoeing, skiing or being outside in the cold. Making chili may be the easiest way to turn a tough piece of meat into a tasty meal. For big game hunters, chili is a perfect way to use the tougher pieces, such as meat from the neck or lower legs.
Many cooks claim chili is best made the day before, and then refrigerated. Then, all that remains is to warm it. This makes a quick, easy meal for busy nights.
No matter how you like it, there is just something about a bowl of chili!
This chili recipe has been evolving over the years. It has been a hit at hunting camps all over the country.
Mississippi Chili Chunk Style
3 lbs venison, coarse ground or chunked
1 - 16 oz can of red kidney beans, red beans, Mexican style pinto beans
1 - 16 oz can stewed tomatoes
3 - diced green peppers
2 - medium onions, diced
1/2 c celery, diced
3 T oil
2 Tbs bacon drippings
1/2 t garlic powder
2 Tbs parsley flakes
2 Tbs chili powder
1 t pepper
1 c water
Saute meat in hot oil. Cook peppers, onions, celery in oil. Add tomatoes and other seasonings. Cook very slowly for one and one-half hours in covered pan. Add beans and cook for 20 minutes.

Follow Me on Pinterest
Sign up for our Email Newsletter
Check out the campfire cooking videos: