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Wildcrafting Meat

I spent most of my childhood in town, many small towns,  but in town.  I was not connected to my food  the way I am now. I enjoyed hiking and escaping to the little places in town or in the neighborhoods we lived as a kid.  I would ride my bike to them and park myself to observe, read, draw. When I was growing up my family spent some time traveling to visit some beautiful national parks.  I loved these times, it was then that my dreams and aspirations started to form.  Dreams about wild untouched places, living with nature, learning about all its little secrets. My husband didn’t spend time traveling as a child but he learned to immerse himself in the wilderness in a way I am still learning.  I struggle sometimes to quiet and settle myself so I can enjoy and learn. All these years with him (almost 33) and I am still learning how to enjoy the stillness like he does.  He can sit for hours and be part of the forest around him. While I get antsy and struggle calm my thoughts. He also has this uncanny sense of direction. No matter where we are he seems to have this internal sense of direction and a compass. I am the opposite and really have to think and pay attention.  I am learning, slowly to calm myself when I enter the woods and take in my surroundings. I am learning from a master.

We love the wildlife and woods but we do hunt and harvest meat from the woods. For many years this was survival for us.  We used an old family rifle or a bow, the same clothing and boots we wore outside, and harvested ourselves.  The whole event costs us time, ammunition or an arrow and some freezer paper. It was one of the cheapest and healthiest ways for us to feed ourselves.  It also brought us connection to our food and the woods. We honor the animal with eating as much as we could, wasting as little as possible and a humane death. It is not something we take lightly.

So “a hunting we go”, or this year, he went (I was unable to).  All summer he watched for signs and  then placed himself where he saw trails or evidence of deer.  On opening day of rifle, after sitting it the woods for bow season without any harvest, he was able to harvest a nice buck. As always, he was a good shot and the deer was down quickly. Once the deer was down in the woods the deer is field dressed, meaning it is gutted in the woods or a field.  Currently we take the heart, liver and kidneys.  In the future we will probably harvest the spleen as well. Below you see me inspecting and washing the organs.  These were beautiful and healthy so I washed and packaged them for the freezer. While I was doing this my husband was washing the deer and hanging it in the garage under the supervision of Scout our dog. He has learned butchering means some tasty morsels.

When the weather is helpful and provides natural refrigeration we prefer to hang the deer for a week to 10 days, this year was one of the years mother nature was helpful.   This  Aging helps tenderize the meat. We then quarter it and bring it inside to process at the kitchen table.  Our kitchen has always been the place we do these things.  I have an old table and a lot of counter space for this reason.

We aren’t professionals and we aren’t chefs.  We eat pretty simply.  Our cuts are burger, roasts, jerky, and tenderloins. The jerky is wet brined and put into the fridge for a few days before dehydrating or smoking.  The roasts are all cured for corned venison, which takes 5 days and then I can it. Burger is used for anything we’d use beef or pork for, we often mix the three together. The tenderloin, we enjoy just fried medium rare in a skillet and often with some mushrooms and onions.

After years of hand grinding using a hand crank grinder that attached to the lip of the table or counter we were finally able to afford a large beefy electric grinder to help us with processing meat. It has been so nice to not spend hours hand grinding but we have the memories of ‘good old days’. Stories our kids can share about processing (it’s a right of passage, isn’t it? To share such stories). From here it goes into jars and the freezer.

What do I do with the offal, otherwise known as organs?  Well the kidney and heart we actually like to eat.  The heart is usually made into chili, the kidney into a shepard’s pie and the liver…that is the one we struggle with.  I try to hide it in my food, but none of us love it.  I have found that we do like liverwurst but I need to perfect the process in how I make it.  The flavor is good but the presentation is lacking and doesn’t look appetizing. We do also put it in the dog food we sometimes make for Scout.







Here are my recipes, I do get a kickback from Amazon for anything you buy when you use these links. Thank you for your support.

Brine for Jerky:

1 Quart water

1/4 cup salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cayenne  pepper

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp pepper flakes  

1/2 smoked paprika

Brine for one week in the fridge and dry or smoke


Corned Venison

Makes one 2-4 pound roast

Prep: 5 days

Cook 3 hours

1/2 gallon water

Heaping 1/2 cup kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar (you could use maple syrup or honey)

1/2 ounce instacure No 1 (sodium nitrate, pink stuff)—You can just omit this if you like, it will cause a little different flavor and color.  I have done it both ways.

1 TBS Cracked black pepper

1 TBS toasted coriander seeds (this is cilantro that has gone to seed, you can harvest from your garden)

6 bay leaves, crushed or 2-3 juniper berries per bay leaf  (12-18) (I use juniper because it is harvested locally by me)

1 TBS mustard seed

1TBS dried thyme – easy to grow in the garden

1 TBS caraway seeds – I have seeds but have not gown yet

1 cinnamon stick

6 cloves 

5 chopped garlic cloves, crushed- hopefully you have yours planted now

A 3 to 5 pound venison roast

  1. Add everything but the roast and bring it to a boil. Turn off temp and cover.  Let it cool down to room temperature while covered.  It will take a few hours.  Meanwhile, trim away silver skin you find off the roast. Once cooled add the roast to the brine and make sure it is covered.
  2. You can weigh down with a clean stone or a plate.  Cover and place in fridge 5-7 days, depending on the roast size. The longer it is brined, the saltier it will be.
  3. After the allotted time has passed, you have corned benison.  To cook and east, rinse off the meat and put in in a pot just large enough to cover with fresh water. You don’t want too large a pot or the fresh water will leach out too much flavor form the meat–its an osmosis thing. Gently simmer, do not boil for at least 3 hours and up to 5 hours.

Eat hot or cold.

Can at normal canning time for meat.


These are affiliate links, meaning I do get some kickback for posting them.  Thank you for your support.

Instacure #1

Black Pepper

Coriander Seeds

Bay leaves

Juniper Berry

Mustard Seed



Cinnamon Stick


Cayenne Pepper

Smoked Paprika

Pepper Flakes

Book Link for Dog Food:

Yin and Yang Nutrition for Dogs



Staghorn Sumac Cranberry Relish


I have been slowly doing my cooking this week which has made for a relaxing slide into the holiday season.  I decided yesterday to make the cranberry relish with the sumac I had gathered from the field. The flavor is amazing!  For those who don’t know what sumac tastes like you will be surprised at the tangy flavor.  I still added some orange zest but I omitted any lemon or orange juice and opted for a strongly brewed sumac tea and then sumac powder. I made the sumac powder by grinding the berries called, drupes in my mortar and pestle and then sifting the seeds out using a mesh strainer.  I made the mistake of consuming all my maple syrup, my nest batch will be!  This dish can easily be a dish right from the woods of Northern Michigan. My only complaint so far about sumac is I didn’t gather nearly enough!! There is a blog post about sumac that I did a few weeks ago.



The Preparation for a Day of Gratefulness



This is one of those more seasonal and traditional posts.  Folks always ask if I eat different on the holidays.  Kinda.  My gravy will include the boiled neck, liver and gizzard, apparently that is weird. Yet every person I’ve met loves my mom’s gravy. That is how she’s always made it and taught me. My fat choices for baking will be home rendered lard from the hog we butchered with friends.  I will try using some staghorn sumac in the cranberry sauce, the vegetables and herbs are all home grown, the apple cider vinegar will be home grown and home made. But overall our celebration will look quite traditional. We may corn some fresh venison and make some coleslaw from the garden cabbages. That means we have to butcher the deer and dig the cabbage out of the snow. However corning the venison takes several days, so I guess that is out,  but I have some canned.

One of these years I will have a wild turkey on my table and that will be a feather in my cap that I just might brag about a bit!

Anyway, at times the work seems overwhelming.  I have found working in bite sized pieces over the week before things like this really help me, especially since I am working off the homestead. Working and getting ready for a gathering can be tricky to do without losing your mind.  There I said it.  Cooking from scratch and for food allergies complicates things but it doesn’t need to if you plan ahead and you prep as much as you can ahead of time. Here is my tentative schedule for prep and cooking. I will update you with photos later in the week.

Friday– Cook Squash for pie and pumpkin roll

Saturday– make green bean casserole sauce and onions, but don’t mix together yet.

Sunday– Thaw Turkeys, make cranberry sauce. Work Day

Monday–  remove Mr. bubbles and feed, dump hooch.  Work Day

Tuesday– Make bread and rolls, let rise over night. Make pumpkin roll cake part and frosting (leave separate), make pie crust and filling (leave separate). Work Day

Wednesday-Brine Turkey, bake rolls and bread, get stuffing ready but don’t bake. Work Day

Thursday– cook turkey, put the pie together and bake, bake stuffing, bake green bean casserole

It really helps keep me not freak out over the amount of scratch cooking that needs to be done if I break it down into bite sized pieces over a few days instead of getting up at 4 and working myself  into a frenzy.  It also leaves me time to stretch, exercise, and think about what an amazing year it has been.

I am incredibly grateful, 2022 has been one for the books!  I am beyond thankful and humbled for the blessings that have showered down. I am thankful for the family, friends and community I have surrounding me.

Here are some links to recipes and one of my favorite cookbooks.

Smoked Brined Turkey-Bearded Butchers

We will not be smoking the turkey, just baking it.  We will be using this brine though.

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

I will probably use ground pork rinds and I will be using my own home canned green beans

Cranberry Sauce

I might try sumac instead of the orange juice, maybe 1/2 a batch for myself incase others don’t like it.

Grain Free Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll

We have to replace eggs in this, see below for the recipe gelatin egg or the link for egg replacer.  Gelatin eggs seem to work for 2 eggs but after that it gets iffy.  Also, for dairy free you could make a vanilla frosting.

Sourdough Buttermilk BiscuitsGluten Free Flour Mix

I will sub out the flour and use my gluten free flours.  There is a recipe below.  I sometimes use this but I also switch things up with the blends too.

Gelatin Egg



As an Amazon affiliate I have to inform you that the links below do add a few cents to my piggy bank. Thanks for your support.



Against All Grain Celebrations Cookbook

Hands down one of my favorite holiday cookbooks.  The recipes always get great reviews even from those not allergic to foods.

Egg Replacer

Grass Fed Gelatin

Great for gummies, jello, egg replacer, etc…




Life Happens, Seasons Change, and Time Marches On…


Life happens, seasons change, and time marches on.

It doesn’t matter if we have hills to climb, the clock keeps moving and things of this life still need our attention despite the fact that the hills have turned into mountains.  The past few months we’ve been loving on some people in our lives that needed us. The past few weeks the mountain we hike has not been one of our own choosing. The trails have changed daily and sometimes hourly. Strewn with switchbacks and boulders, but we manage, together.    We climb this mountain, exhausted with heavy burdens, but we do so willingly, eagerly out of love, respect, duty. It is an honor and privilege to assist people we love and care about.  This mountain will eventually fade into our distant past, but the memories shall carry on in our hearts forever.

Because of this please forgive my absence last week.  The blog is still in infancy, I still have much to learn which means it takes me longer than it should to figure out how the gritty details of blogging and posting efficiently.



Developing Skills Challenge

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases through links from this website.


I’ve spent years developing skills and honing them.  Skills take time and practice.  Some skills take a mentor or a teacher.  With the internet and a library the ability to acquire and develop skills has gotten a lot easier to attain.  The 10,000 rule is something Gladwell spoke of in his book, Outliers. It is the idea that to become a master of a complex subject you need to spend approximately 10,000 hours at it to become a master.  I have musicians in my family who are masters. Over the course of two decades they have spent far more than a few hours weekly honing a skill that has turned into a craft with beautiful and inspiring outcomes.

There are natural abilities, inclinations and there is practice. My family members developed mastery with practice, no amount of natural ability can replace practice and study. Certainly if you are gifted in an area the skill and subject matter outcome may be different.  However, I have known many with natural abilities that got nowhere with their skill because they lacked the desire and determination to practice.  I have also met people who struggled with natural ability but practiced their way to mastery.

If we do the math it takes about 2-3 hours a week over 10 years to be a master at an advanced skill.  Some skills take less mastery than others. You can speed this pace up or slow it down.  Boiling an egg probably only takes a few hours to master.  Do you like hard boiled, soft boiled? Are you using fresh eggs or aged eggs? And so on.  The art of tanning hides I know can take years to master and yet I know of a young man who learned over the course of a few years by diving deeply into the subject by spending countless hours in study and practice.  He makes beautiful buckskin apparel now. He couldn’t learn this just by reading or watching, he had to do it.  He failed and he did it again and again AND AGAIN.

One thing must be said here, you can’t be afraid to fail.  Our modern systems often teach us to be afraid of failing, afraid to give the wrong answer. Failure means you are trying, you are doing! We should be afraid of NOT failing because we didn’t risk anything. We should not be afraid to try and fail and dust ourselves off and try again.  This process can repeat over and over again before we master something. And even once mastered failure is part of the process. One of my favorite farmers Joel Salatin puts it like this, “Anything worth doing well, is worth doing poorly first.” Wise words!

So what is the challenge?  I’d like to challenge my readers to develop a skill, start with one.  It can be as simple as boiling and egg and as complex as mastering a string instrument. You pick!  I will be working along side you to acquire my own skills.  I am starting right away with my third season of experiments growing food inside in soil under lights.  I also will be bringing out my art supplies and creating fiber products and artwork. These are skills I am honing, skills I’ve already started to develop. I will share with you here the new skills I decide to develop in posts.  I will be honest and share my failure and comical attempts.  Some of these skills I will never take to mastery and others I may decide are worth the time and effort.

A great book and website for this subject is Paul Wheaton’s book SKIP.  Don’t let the title turn you off, it is a book about skills, not just about the acquisition or gifting of land. Paul has a great site that is full of information called Permies. You can hop over to Telegram or my Facebook page and share your journey.  You can also just email me and I will cheer you on!

Now go do the things!!!





Staghorn Sumac Foraging

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases through links from this website.


Foraging, also known as wildcrafting,  is one of my favorite past times, if you decided to take a walk with me in the woods, on the beach or in a field it will be a wandering stop and start filled with photos for later identification.  If you want to actually walk for the mere exercise of going from point A to point B, I’m probably the wrong person to stroll with.

This last week has been a week where every walk has involved me harvesting something.  By now one would think I would remember to bring my foraging bag, but I forgot it.  So I stuffed my pockets full of seeds, leaves, and took lots of photos.  My kids have laughed and said that I am like a child. They comment they would never wash my clothes without emptying my pockets first! It’s true!


My daughter caught this photograph of me

getting poked by wild rose thorns…

A few weeks ago I collected Staghorn Sumac.  It is a colorful small tree with clusters of red berries that grows really well here in Northern Michigan.  It is used medicinally, for a culinary spice, dye , smoking bees, and probably many things I am unaware of.  There is also a poison sumac so be sure to identify this properly.

I discovered it was medicinal and not just culinary when I purchased a herbal book.  I have not used it medicinally, but I will probably use the mouthwash recipe in the book.


This plant has been studied for its vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, antioxidants, its ability to help with blood sugar regulation, ability to help with fungus and bacteria, effects on organs,  antiviral, clotting, liver benefits….and so much more.  I will link to some studies if you want to review it more.

Study: Effect of Sumac on blood sugar

Study: Medicinal, nutrition, and more of Sumac

Paper: Cardiologist on effects of Sumac on C


This is the reason l gathered it. I think I am always talking about food or thinking about food.   It is one of the things that makes life enjoyable! And yet it can also be medicine and healing.  Sumac can be made into a lemonade since it has a citrusy flavor.  But most use it as a spice on meat and salads. You can use it as a substitute for lemon juice or zest in recipes. Some people use it in hummus or on breads.  It is used in many ethnic foods, commonly in a spice called za’atar.  Za’atar has several different variations.  I am trying a recipe I’ve adapted for things I mostly grow and wildcraft here.  I have seen these in several variations but never together like this.


1 TB ground dried oregano (home grown)

1TB Cumin seed, toasted

1T Coriander seed, toasted

1T Toasted Sesame Seeds

1.5t. Sumac ground (foraged)

1.5t  Hibiscus leaves ground (home grown)

1/2 t. Salt

Toast according to directions above and then grind in a mortar and pestle or food processor. I think I will be experimenting with our gluten free sourdough and this spice.



Sumac Lemonade

Seeds, so you too can grow some yumminess..:

Stag Horn Sumac

Cranberry Hibiscus

Sesame Seeds

Cumin Seeds

Coriander Seeds

If you don’t have the spices or ability to grow there here are easy links off Amazon:

The Herbal Apothecary

Mortar and Pestle

Foraging Bag

Ground Sumac



Cumin Seed

Whole Coriander

Sesame Seeds

Himalayan Salt


Things to consider:

A link on spices and the treatment of them. Did you know a lot of your food is irradiated?  The article explains it with a lot of links to clarify what it means.  I prefer to source ingredients that are not irradiated but I appreciate her research.

Also, I am not a professional forager or herbalist, though you should stay tuned to the podcast, we are scheduling interviews with some really well qualified people. Because I am not a professional you need to remember this is what I do for myself and my family, this blog is for entertainment and a personal journey.



Embrace Your Uniqueness!

This really is me!  I have talented children who took photos of me so I could own all my content and keep a desired feel for my page.

My goal for this blog is to inspire you not to live like me, but to discover what it means for YOU to live and thrive in an increasingly unhappy world. Embrace your uniqueness, it is a gift.


Saturday October 22, 2022


Today’s notes, thoughts, and whatever…

I got up early at 5 am and have been working on personal paperwork and organizing for the day.  The cat has been less than helpful while I did that by getting into papers and taking off with my pencil. In the mornings I really struggle with the rush of information my brain puts out and I struggle to process it all and get it to slow down, then by 3 pm my brain just is done.  I am not sure how to remedy this or organize the thoughts that appear in my brain and breed like rabbits but rest like a pile of tangled spaghetti. I wrote some things down, worked out, stretched and sometimes that slows the brain and organizes it.  Today not so much.  It’s 7:41 and sunrise is at 8:07.  I have carrots to pull and wash for canning and fermenting,  sweet sorghum to cut, peel and juice for syrup.  I don’t have a dinner plan but I do have to sort apples we picked from the trees several weeks ago and I will pull the softer ones and make some apple rice wraps for dinner.  What did I do with that recipe? I think I will make some coffee and some scrambled eggs, but first I need to put the dishes away.

Folks, I’m not nearly as organized as most people think.  My brain goes non-stop, mostly at an uncontrolled and frantic pace.  I do carry around a notebook in a pocket most days, just to jot down ideas, thoughts, and lists.  I then try to go back over them at night before I forget what “Holistic P” or “juniper + rose” means.

I have to get, all this needs to be done by noon…



Some of these products are not primitive or whatever description you may want to use.  They are however products I use daily in my life.  I’ve said before we straddle this life of primitive, off grid, Rewilder Life and modern living. Well one of the things we do have is a freezer and internet with wifi. We have also had a freezer fail and leave us with a bunch of bad food.  So we have decided to use a wifi/bluetooth temperature and humidity thermometer.  You could actually use it anywhere in your home to check on things, this one will also work for a freezer.  It connects to your phone and I get updates anywhere I have a cellphone signal. It also has alarms where I can set the temperature or humidity at a specific degree or percent and it will tell me if something is having issues.  So, below is a link to the device we use and like.

Govee WiFi Thermometer Hygrometer H5179
Smart Humidity Temperature Sensor

The Excalibur Food Dehydrator is one that is loved by many homesteaders, I am one of those!  I have two!  I prefer gadgets with no digital timers or thermometers because they fail.  A dial has far less places to fail, simplicity is not overrated when it comes to failure and repairs for us. You can always purchase a timer to plug it into if you wish.   The dehydrator is on sale currently and has a coupon, I have no idea how long this sale will last.

Excalibur 9-Tray Food Dehydrator

Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases through links from this website.