I did not grow up in a family that hunted, gathered or even had a garden. In fact, I was an adult before I had ever tasted wild game. My dad loved to fish and shrimp and since we grew up on the beach, I never thought twice about eating fish or sea food. But venison, dove, wild turkey or hog, that was a different story. And the whole sustainable living thing…well, that was for hippies.
Fast forward to where I am today, we try really hard to live a sustainable lifestyle. To us, sustainablity is not just about being good stewards of the Earth, it’s also about being good stewards of our bodies and our finances. We’re far from perfect in this journey but we try. We don’t have much mentoring for sustainable living with our friends or family so I’m always on the look out for people who can help us on this journey.
Last month I came across a homeschooling post from Stacy Harris of Game and Garden that resonated with me. Our children are of a similar age range and we’ve had similar homeschooling experiences. As I browsed Stacy’s site I saw she had a Gourmet Venison dvd. Since the totality of my venison cooking is canning it for meat and gravy or stew, hoping Carl has the opportunity to make sausage,or making jerky, I knew I wanted to watch the dvd. I contacted Stacy and asked if I could get a review copy. She was so sweet and offered to send me the dvd plus her books Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living and Happy Healthy Family Tracking the Outdoors In. She also offered to send me a second set to use as a giveaway. And, of course, I accepted her generousity.
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For all three products I really appreciated the beautiful photos and video. Carl calls books like these “Mom’s picture books”. But there is so much more than pretty pictures. I loved the family element in each product. Stacy incorporates her family and family stories in each book and throughout the dvd. I feel like I know her and her family after reading the books and watching the dvd. I also appreciate that all the recipes are doable – even for me with my limited culinary expertise ;-). Even though the title of the dvd is Gourmet Venison the most “gourmet” ingredient is a brief mention of polenta which I can find in my local grocery store. The gourmet is in the process and presentation.
Recipes and Tips for Sustianable Living is a great overall book for sustianable living. While it’s not an encyclopedia of sustainable living there is enough information to help you feel comfortable starting – which is one of the goals of the book. The first section of this book is The Garden which includes heirloom gardening, vertical and container gardening, herbs and preserving The second section is Beyond the Garden which is a small section on foraging wild fruits, herbs and greens, beekeeping and poultry and eggs. I really appreciated Stacy’s advice on how to prepare an older chicken as that is on our horizon. The last section is Woods and Water which covers venision, wild turkey, duck, quail, small game and fish and sea food. This last section was especially inspiring to me since this is the area I struggle most in. I counted about 90 recipes in this book and I believe everyone has a photo. All the recipes are one page recipes, so you can see that they are not complicated recipes – just what this mama needs.
Tracking the Outdoors In is all about cooking with wild fruits, greens, herbs and game. The sections include Starter, Soups and Salads, Dinners, Vegetables and Sides, and desserts. Each section starts with a little story or tips from Stacy about cooking with with foraged food. I counted 75 recipes, each with a beautiful photo. Just like with Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, Tracking the Outdoors In has recipes that are very simple yet elegant. My favorite quote from this book is “Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts”. I think that nicely sums up the feeling I got from reading both of these books, cooking should not be stressful but fun, especially when the whole family is included.
Gourmet Venison is a dvd of 15 recipes mostly from Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living. If you are a very visual person like I am, this is a great addition to your library. I enjoyed watching Stacy make these 15 recipes and the tips she had. For instance, I had no idea that when browning meat you should hear a sizzle or else you’re just sweating it an the flavor will be different. And yet, when I think about it, I can recall times when I’ve added water (because I didn’t thaw the meat all the way) and it really just isn’t as good as when I do it properly. If you’ve ever been intimidated by butterflying and tying a venison loin (or pork or beef) you will totally feel like you can do it after watching Stacy. Benjamin was watching the dvd with me, I recommend not letting your 12 year old boy watch it with you. Why? You will be demoted from coolest mom on the planet. When it was over Benjamin said, “I really like her. She’s super cool. ;She makes A LOT of meat.” ;-).
There isn’t anything I didn’t like about these books and dvd; the quality of the actual products, of the photography and writing is wonderful and the information is spot on and encouraging.