What’s in Your Freezer?

Forget the wallet. There’s nothing in there but club cards to stores I frequent. What’s in the freezer is a much more interesting topic.

Certain current and former colleagues will recall a Christmas party at our house at which we revealed little freezer bags filled with skinned squirrels, frozen in all their scrawny nakedness. The ensuing conversation revolved around all the staff members who had ever eaten squirrel. Based on the number of people who had eaten squirrel, one would not have thought that we were advanced degreed educators living a mere hour from the sophistication of Washington D.C.

In our defense, I must say that those squirrels ended up in a very tasty French recipe,soaked for three days in cognac. Ok, I personally couldn’t eat the meat,having watched the squirrels splayed on the ping pong table being skinned, but it was quite a flavorful stew.

Then there was our (third) daughter’s wedding where the groom had to be warned not to open the green trash bag in the mancave freezer. It contained a decapitated deer head, with antlers of course, awaiting a trip to the taxidermist. The deer, in all it’s taxidermied glory, now watches over football games wearing a Raven’s cap. The freezer is currently available for things like ice cubes.

My niece’s husband recently got a deer with a very nice rack on it and he wondered if he could store the head in our freezer. Ha ha, no. John suggested he put it in his father-in-law/my brother’s freezer. I’m guessing that went well…I haven’t heard yelling from my brother yet.

Our currant unorthodox freezer arrangement involves bee hives. Bee hives can not just sit around in the mud room. Critters like them. Ants, for starters. And wax moths, for keeps. After spinning the honey in July, the honey box sat in the mud room for a little while. To ensure that no unauthorized squatters had taken up residence, Mr. Beekeeper put the frames on ice. A little time locked in the freezer will kill off unwanted pests.

The difference between freezer storage versus fridge storage is that stuff can stay in the freezer indefinitely. It might get freezer burn, but it doesn’t get moldy or liquefy and drip into every inaccessible crevice. It sits there gathering ice crystals until you have to make room for something else. It may be inedible, but it doesn’t smell bad. Hey, my mom used to put garbage in the freezer so it wouldn’t stink up the trash.

The current batch of hive frames will be ousted soon. We have a dead hive whose hive box has been taken over by wax moths that need to die. Freezer as execution chamber. Some people store dead stuff in the freezer till trash night. Others store stuff in the freezer to kill it off.

So what’s in your freezer? And don’t tell me it is full of apple pies and peach cake. I will believe you but I will be bored.

Future Bambi-burgers

Stupid fawn--trying to look vicious but not succeeding. Can you see the smarter sibling in the background?

Two fawns have been hanging around Maywood recently.  They still have spots.  They are cute.  They are young and innocent.  They make you say, “Awww…..”  The GGPs (Great-grandparents) have seen them napping under an arborvitae in their yard next door.  The fawns hang out in front of our house and traipse across the driveway.  They are so naive that they do not realize that they should fear humans.

Ok, if you live in the suburbs of Timonium this is no big deal.  Suburban deer have no predators except for automobiles.  If you are my sister in Parkton this is no big deal because her deer have been traversing her gardens for decades and still consider her the intruder.  She can jump around like a crazy person (which she does) and they just glare at her.

Maywood, however, is a hunting ground.  We even have hunting rituals, usually involving the McQuaids drinking beer in our kitchen.  These deer have not yet experienced a hunting season.  So I’m thinking that maybe I’ll just let them get used to me.  Then John can waltz right up to them and shoot them.  John shot a couple of young ones last year and, while they weren’t exactly trophy material, they were really tasty.

Slowly, I maneuvered up the driveway, inching closer and closer to the one fawn.  Its buddy, evidently the smarter of the two, stayed camouflaged in the woods nearby.  I took pictures.  The flash even went off.  The fawn just ate and stared at me.  With each flash, the deer stared and I inched forward.  The intelligent sibling finally had enough of the hypnotism and darted off.  My photo prey jumped to another part of the yard.  I could have followed it all day, I think.  But then it crossed the line from eating woodland offerings to stuff I actually planted.  Get out of here, you stupid animal!!!

There are times I actually miss having a dog.

A-Hunting They Will Come

Mike, John, and Gage with their 4 deer

     Some people think it’s lonely living in the woods.  Not so.  Especially during hunting season.  There is often someone out there in the woods and frequently they stop in for coffee (in the a.m.) or beer (after an evening hunt).  Around the kitchen table, they shoot the breeze with John and debrief from their hours in the tree stand until a text message from a wife gets them packing.

I love the messages.

“Where are you?”

“I’m near the car.”

“How near? ”

“Not far.”

“You’re in John’s kitchen having a beer, aren’t you?” 

Ooooo.  She nailed him.

     Yesterday morning, John got a text from Mike in the woods.  There were deer everywhere.  He and son Gage had just gotten two.   John needed to get out there.  So John took his shotgun, a cup of coffee, and a cigar out to his tree stand.  His unconventional strategy of smelling like normal did it’s usual trick of not alerting the deer to anything abnormal.  He shot 2 does.

     Four deer in the driveway made for a full afternoon of  guy-bonding butchering while I scooted off to Tuba Christmas downtown.  Today we will eat venison tenderloin with cranberry-dill sauce.

The deer with the dear who will cook them



This recipe is from Barrie Kavasch’s Enduring Harvests cookbook (1995, Globe Pequot Press).  I bought it because it had a venison recipe in it but found it had a lot of other great recipes, too.  And the best part was that, because they were Native American recipes, the ingredients were easy to find and inexpensive!

Venison tenderloin with Cranberry-Dill Sauce

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup red onion, coursely chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, coursely chopped

1/4 maple sugar*

1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated or ground

pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried dill weed.

Combine all but dill weed in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring to blend thoroughly, until cranberries pop, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the dill weed. Remove from heat.  Serve hot or cold.  Flavors get even better after a day in the fridge.

*I substituted our Maywood honey and a touch of molasses for the maple syrup.

Leaf management

For those who were worrying--you can get to the front door now

It was a great day in the Hereford Zone today. John spent the morning fixing the brakes on the Jeep while friend Mike and son Gage were hunting in the woods. It was Youth Day today and 15 year old Gage got a young buck.  So Mike and Gage butchered the deer by the driveway while John repaired the Jeep.  Mike’s wife Shelley stopped by and we both thought someone should take a picture but neither one of us wanted the images on our camera.   So we didn’t.
After years of despair over the amount of leaves we have to process, we have come up with a system that works for us.  I rake the leaves out of the beds and then John blows them into the woods with the riding mower.    John likes this system because he can do it with a beer in his hand.  (As you can see in the picture.)  He can also sing very loudly and think that no one can hear him.  (He’s wrong.  I can hear him over the tractor right now and I’m inside the house!) 

Why is smoke coming out of the leaf pile?

Today John discovered that there is a limit to how high a pile he can mow.  If the leaves are too high, the hot tractor engine can set them on fire.  Hence,  the smoke in the picture.  Ok, they didn’t quite  burst into flame, but they were burning.  We raked them out and that seemed to do the trick.  (If you hear that 83 is closed due to a forest fire, then you’ll know that it didn’t do the trick.)  If you want a better picture of John’s look of  bewilderment, click on the picture. : )

Hershey inspects our work

Hershey enjoyed supervising the yard work.  She’ll come this evening all tuckered out from the effort.