Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Down Home Stories: Mud Bugs

Down Home Stories: Mud Bugs:    There is one thing you can almost always find to eat down home and that is mud bugs, better known as crawdads or crayfish to you city...

Mud Bugs

   There is one thing you can almost always find to eat down home and that is mud bugs, better known as crawdads or crayfish to you city folks. I always thought the best thing about mud bugs was the catching part, unless you happen to be out in the Arizona desert and you haven't had anything to eat in three or four days. I have been in that situation and the feeling of your backbone chewing on your navel kind takes the fun out of spending a lazy day on a creek bank trying to catch a few.

   When I was a kid back in Oklahoma the main thing we caught them for was fish bait and the main way we caught them was by seining the farm ponds. I always loved dragging a seine through those ponds. You never knew what you were going to pull out. It could be perch which we would use for bait when we set trotlines for catfish, crawdads, which were good bait for most all kinds of fish from bass to crappie and more than a few snakes,  which for some reason, no one else seemed as happy to catch as I was.

   You could also fish for them . All you needed was a piece of string and something for bait. This was a good way to keep the little kids busy and out of your way while you were fishing. My uncles would tie a piece of bacon on a string and set us on the bank. If you drew the string out of the water slow enough the crawdads would hang onto the bait long enough to get them up on the bank where you could grab them. Of course if we did catch any the older folks would take them to use for their bait.

   There are lots of folks down south who know hundreds of better ways to cook mud bugs but since I grew up around people that didn't eat them I pretty well had to learn on my own. As I got older and had the chance to taste some of the other meals using them I quickly discovered how bad most of mine were. My first attempt was just to pull some hot coals off to one side of my fire and toss a few of them directly on the coals. I was really hungry that day and a little desperate. It surprised me how good they tasted even allowing for the hunger herbs.

   This is one that turned out to be my favorite woods food. It's gonna be hard to do a recipe because you just add what you got or can find.  Crawdads, as many as you can catch, leave the shells on. Fish, I have used perch, bass, crappie and catfish so again it's whatever is biting that day. Fillet them and cut into chunks about one inch by one inch. Cat tail stalks, two good size ones, peel the outer leaves and cut the inner core into one inch pieces. Sheep Showers, about a tablespoon full of the leaves (can't help you much here, we never knew the real name for them but they are a clover, mostly three leaves, with a real bitter taste). A handful of wild onions and if it's in season and handful of dock. Mix em all together and and set the pot on a bed of coals from the campfire. Add more wood t the fire as needed to get it boiling and keep it there for at least twenty minutes. Separate the mud bugs and eat the rest as a stew.

   You can also use a boiling bag if you don't have a pot. My bag was a large piece of deer hid (hair off). I cut a row of small slits around the edge so I could hang it over the fire or use it to line a small hole and use hot stones to get the contents boiling. As long as you don't let  it boil dry the hide won't burn.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Down Home Stories: Heading Home

Down Home Stories: Heading Home:    Seems that no matter how long you've been gone, once an Okie, always an Okie. I'll be going down to visit Stanley the last two we...

Heading Home

   Seems that no matter how long you've been gone, once an Okie, always an Okie. I'll be going down to visit Stanley the last two weeks of May anf the first week of June. The first thing out of my mouth when I tell folks about the trip is that "I'm going back home".
   We won't be doing any prospecting down there aal though I am thinkin about taking the metal detector along just in case. We are going to be doing a lot of fishing and maybe even a little noodling. Really looking forwar to that. I may even get the chance to do a little squirrel hunting.
   The big event will be a pot luck dinner at Schulter School. We had a great turn out the last time I was there and I'm really looking forward to this one. My oldest Daughter will be coming down and if things work out right I'll get to meet my grandsons, finally! If everyone makes it that seems to want to there should be lots of family some of which I haven't seen in close to 40 years and a lot more that I have never meet.
   Keep ya posted.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Down Home Stories: Quail

Down Home Stories: Quail:     Quail    Here's one that I happen to really like. You can do this at home but to make it really special you need to be ...



   Here's one that I happen to really like. You can do this at home but to make it really special you need to be out in the sagebrush country of eastern Oregon or northern Nevada. 

   First off you need to get some Quail. How many will depend on how many folks you're going to feed. I think Quail is a pretty rich meat so I only need a couple for myself. How you get them is up to you. Since I'm not talking store bought here, make sure you know what the game laws are for which ever area you're in. To me the best way is to trap them. You can make a bird trap using small limbs fro the sagebrush as the frame and the bark as string to tie it together. You can also snare them using anything from fishing line, shoelaces or cordage you can make from sagebrush bark. Yes, shooting them will work but you really need to use a rifle and go for the head shot. There's just not enought meat to be wasteing with a shotgun.

   Any time I build a campfire I always dig a shallow pit and line it with rocks and build my fire n top of the rocks. This gives me a nice fire inside an enclosed area so I don't have to worry about it spreading, an oven if I do find something like a Quail that I want to bake and hot stones that I can use in a boiling bag in case I find something to make a stew with.

   Keep in mind that Quail, like most other wild game, are very lean meat. You can pluck them just like a chicken and save the skin. I try to do that if I'm going to roast them but for baking or stew it's not worth the trouble most of the time. I guess that would depend on how hungry you are.

   For this idea I just rippend the fethers off, skin and all. Cleaned tem good, saving the heart and  kindneys which I left in the body.  I added salt and pepper then stripped the end leaves off some sagebrush. Crush the leaves and rub over the outside the add more to the body cavity. I also stuffed  three fruits from a prickleypear catus in to the body. (you don't need these but I just happened to run across a patch that morning and pick quite a few of them)

   Wrap the birds in cat tail leaves (soak the leaves in water first) Strip a few pieces from the leaves to use to tie them.

   Scrape the stones from your fire pit and sprinkle a thin layer of dirt over the coals. Place the birds in the bottom and cover with the stones. Replace any hot coals yo have scraped out and re-build your fire.

   I keep a small steady fire going for about three to four hours. Doesn't have to be a hugh bonfire. Just enough to keep the stones hot.
   Pull them out, unwrap them, sit back and watch the sunset as you enjoy a great meal!