Yay snow! Colorado is funny. Yesterday it was 60 degrees and I was wearing shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt today it’s 22 degrees and so far this morning there’s about 4 inches of snow on the ground. My toddler is thrilled he loves to take his construction trucks, his “machines”, outside to play. I am still on my first cup of coffee so he will have to wait a bit.
Today’s snow is a nice reminder of our homesteader stuck in the suburbs mentality. Yesterday I processed deer meat from our freezer. I made 15lbs of deer burger. I added three pounds of organic humanely raised pork shoulder to the 12 pounds of meat I thawed from the freezer. Pork is easy access meat right now… deer not so much. Hubby is a traditional bow hunter (i.e. he hunts with a recurve bow) and being in a new state where he doesn’t have years of knowledge of all the best spots or the landowner friend base he had in Missouri/Kansas, hunting is a bit harder. Add to that Colorado is mostly a draw state (you only get certain animal tags thru a lottery type system) and the fact that hunting with a traditional bow you have to be right up on the animal to take a shot…well lets just say we know the mule deer in the freezer is a blessing.
When I proudly posted on Facebook last Fall that he got a deer I had a few people get riled that he murdered a poor deer. None of these people are vegans or even vegetarians. I hunt. Or more correctly I should say I have hunted (and got my first turkey with a recurve bow when I was 8 months pregnant!) as I have yet to go out again after having our little guy two years ago. I was a vegetarian for 20 years. I was and still am an animal rights advocate. I eat meat now but I make a point to buy meat that has been humanely raised or hunted. If you are a vegan I totally get you being opposed to hunting because you would be against the death of any animal. None of these people are vegan. Somehow they feel that it’s ok to eat an animal someone else killed but its not ok to kill an animal yourself to feed your family. Because of my vegetarian past it is my belief that if you are going to eat meat you should have to be willing to harvest that animal yourself. You don’t have to agree with me. I do ask you to consider it for a minute however. Hunting and processing an animal makes you appreciate the life it gave way more than just picking up pieces of said animal nicely wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.
When I was a kid my folks would buy large amounts of meat directly from the butcher shop and process it all themselves. My dad grew up in a grocery store/butcher shop so to him it was just the way you do things. Now that butcher shops are less common (and my folks have gotten older) they don’t do that as much. Having to cut, grind, and wrap your own meat also gives you an appreciation for what you have.
Which comes back around to me making burger meat. Its a bit of a process (especially while trying to keep an eye on an active 2 year old!). We butchered the deer a couple months ago and just divided it into steaks, roasts and meat to grind or jerky and put it all in the deep freeze. I only process 12 to 15lbs of burger at a time as I only have enough bowls to handle that amount. I thaw it in the fridge for a couple days to the point I can cut it into cubes but it isn’t totally thawed. One thing with making burger meat is you have to keep everything as cold as possible. I cube it and stick it back in the fridge until I am ready. Usually little guy only gives me a certain amount of time to do “mom stuff” so everything I do is in sections.
We have a professional meat grinder that is awesome. My dad used a hand crank grinder to make burger so every time I plug this machine in I give thanks that I don’t have to do all this by hand. I grind it three times to make sure its well mixed (the pork adds some fat that the deer doesn’t have) and has a nice texture. After its all ground I weigh it out into one pound portions, wrap, and freeze.
Today for football playoffs (Go Chiefs!) I’m going to make mini deer meatballs in BBQ sauce…even if you don’t watch football you can to!
Great Balls Of Fire
*please note I hardly ever measure when I cook. Baking yes. Cooking Not so much. When I asked my grandma how much of an ingredient to add Gram always said “How much to add? Add enough.”
1 lb of ground meat I find that a mix of meats is always best…today it’s deer and pork
couple cloves garlic diced
1 TBS hot sauce see recipe I posted Dec. 31, 2013
1 large egg
1 shredded toasted slice bread I use Udi’s Gluten Free Multigrain
handful pepper jack cheese shredded
Put crockpot on high and add a bottle of BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays Honey Chipotle ’cause it was on sale heehee) and add about a 1/2 cup to a cup of water. You want it thinned out some but not so thin it’s soup. Let it warm up so you are not putting hot meatballs into cold sauce. Once it is warm you can lower temp to low.
Mix above ingredients (minus BBQ sauce and water) by hand or with a mixer. If it seems super wet add some non-GMO cornmeal. Don’t go crazy. Form into balls smaller than a golf ball. Warm skillet. Add olive oil just enough to coat pan (or spray with cooking spray) and fry the meatballs until brown. Don’t wig out about cooking them all the way thru as they will finish cooking in crockpot.
Add meatballs to crockpot and cook on low for at least three hours. I usually just pour the whole skillet into the crockpot as there is little fat and what’s there adds flavor to the sauce.
I serve these with gluten free rolls.
Appreciate your food. Consider where it came from. Give thanks and enjoy!