About Sarah Fromenthal ProStaff for EvoOutdoors

Bowhuntress from South Louisiana with a passion for hunting (mostly big game), fishing, cooking, and just about anything else in the outdoors.

Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

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Life Is A Garden: Do you dig it?

By Sarah Fromenthal

EvoOutdoors Team Member

So you’ve gone out and harvested yourself some wild game. What pairs well with the fresh, “free” food you just harvested? That’s right…. fresh, “free” vegetables from your own vegetable garden in your back yard! What could be better than a meal prepared by yourself, from items you harvested yourself?
Growing up, I had the benefit of watching my parents and grandparents, year after year, grow a fairly large, successful garden. When it came time to do mine own, I began to do my research and realized there is a lot more to it than just throwing seeds into dirt.

A backyard garden can be the most rewarding or the most painful process, depending on the amount of effort and forethought put into it.

It takes the realization that gardening is more of a long term process than a weekend project to be successful. I compiled a list of a few things you may want to research on your own before starting your first garden.
What are you planting? This part should be fairly simple right?

  • First take into consideration what do you like to eat. Think of the recipes you most commonly eat and what fresh produce it takes to prepare that meal. Does your family consume more venison spaghetti than the law allows? Plan on planting some tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and possibly fresh herbs.
  • If you produce too many, will you have a way to preserve it such as canning, freezing, donate to more than happy to accept neighbors, sell at a local farmers market, etc?
  • Do you plan on getting small plants from a local nursery or starting from seeds? If getting seeds please read the seed packet carefully for planting instructions. Some seeds need to be sewn indoors before being planted outside, while others prefer to be planted directly into the garden.
  • Keep in mind there are hundreds of varieties of the most basic vegetable. Look at your local agricultral publications to find varieties that have proven to work best in your area.
  • Some plants benefit from being grown next to certain plants while others when planted close by will cause problems for each other through disease, bugs, etc. This is called companion planting. Think its just by chance that basil pairs well with tomatoes in many dishes? Nope! Basil is often grown in the garden next to tomatoes. This pairing helps with repelling pests while attracting bees for pollination. In addition, it improves the flavorings of your tomatoes.

Where to plant?

  • What kind of garden do you want to have? Old fashion rows in the dirt, raised bed, vertical gardening, flower pots, etc. I’ve also seen people plant directly into a bag of potting soil.
  • How much of a space are you are willing to sacrifice from your yard? How much do you plan on planting? Are you feeding yourself, your family, or the whole neighborhood? Keep in mind a larger garden is a larger time spent tending to the garden. Also remember bigger plants (tomatoes, eggplants, squash, etc) need more space per plant
  • Take into consideration you will need a spot that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Also think about water drainage; you don’t want a spot that water collects in your yard. Most importantly you will need access to a water source near by unless you want to haul pails of water.

Get into your “zone”!

  • What is a zone you ask? The USDA has established a map called the Plant Hardiness zone map.  This map helps to determine minimum temperature ranges of your local area. When choosing your plants, look closely on the plant tag or seed pack and they will often tell you planting schedules based on this or similar zones.
  • Each plant has a specific “growing season” in which they thrive. For example, tomatoes love warm weather and aren’t very cold hardy. Because I live in Louisiana where it warm for most of the year, I have a larger “growing season” for tomatoes compared to my friends further north who may only get warm enough weather for only a few weeks a year. All this information on the plants you chose can be found with very little effort online.
  • Soil types, minerals, and pH vary from place to place. You should send off a sample of your soil to your local Ag center for soil testing. They should be able to tell you what needs to be added to your soil prior to planting. Either amend your soil according to their suggestions or chose plants to fit with your soil type.
  • Warmer areas tend to have a larger bug problem. Have a pesticide plan in your mind. If you are choosing to go a more natural route with pesticides, research more organic options and ideas on companion planting to help reduce the bugs.

Use some common sense:

  •  Don’t “Go Big or Go Home”! Start off small and manageable. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at first and you can always expand next season. Also, you won’t need the fanciest of tools to get started. A simple, rake, spade, trowel, and pruners will get you far.
  • Ask plenty of questions. Online resources are there by the millions (just be sure to look up more area specific information) or go to a local nursery. Use local Ag center publications. They are often free and full on great information. Youtube is also a great tool to see other’s techniques.
  •  Recognize symptoms before they become a major problem and fix it before the problem turns into a disaster. For example, if you see a couple of bugs on your lettuce, look into a way to get rid of them before you come back to a half chewed up plant or they spread to others.
  • Don’t forget some plants require a little extra support from trellises, stakes, cages, etc. Some require special pruning, fertilization, etc. Want free, easy, fertilizer? start your own compost pile from uncooked kitchen scraps. Anything from paper products, uncooked fruits and veggies, the fish you filleted for dinner, shellfish peelings, egg shells, etc. can be collected and made into a compost pile while cutting back on your waste.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. -Audrey Hepburn

Now that I’ve given you enough to get you a good starting point to begin your research, I will tell you how I started my garden last spring. I first decided I wanted a raised bed. This would help decrease my weeds, give me good soil drainage when we get our crazy spring monsoons, and I could personally keep better control of my soil type. I simply picked a spot, laid out my timber, and got to work. I first took my shovel and removed the top layer of grass (not a required step but it will definitely cut back on the weeds). I then screwed together my timber and I drove some heavy duty angle iron into the ground and screwed it into my timber for support. The angle iron step is not a necessity, but the weight of the soil can easily cause your boards to bow outwards. I then laid out a layer of flattened card board boxes and news papers as an additional weed barrier before adding my soil. I personally used a 25:75 mix of bagged topsoil and garden soil to promote good drainage and aeration. I also chose to go the “difficult route” and start all my plants from seeds.  Yes, over the course of the growing season, I struggled with bugs and plant disease, but as i previously mentioned, it is important to make these observations early and correct them. After long weeks of drawn out anticipation but very little effort, I began to see my little seeds grow and turn into huge plants which then turned into vegetables that we were able to eat.

A few things that I learned along the way in my first year:

  • Do not lose your cool when one plant seems not to be growing as hearty as the others, it may just need a little more TLC but will soon catch up with the others.
  • Checking the buds every twenty minutes will not help them grow faster.
  • Bees love the garden. They will pay little to no attention to you working in the garden and are not there to attack. Lizards are also a necessity to keep some of the bugs at bay.
  • I needed stronger stakes for my tomato plants that got carried away and had the tiny metals ones nearly bent in half.
  • Try growing something you’ve never tried before and it’ll force you to get creative with recipes.
  • I just love my garden. Growing and hunting my own food gives me a true appreciation for what I’m putting in my mouth and how it affects the way my body functions compared to junk food.

 

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I was born, raised, and am currently living in Thibodaux LA (about an hour SW of New Orleans). There is nothing I don’t at least attempt to do. Gardening, cooking, kayaking, bow fishing, crafts, hunting, etc. I like to stay constantly busy.

BBQ Shrimp: A Quick Cajun Favorite

BBQ Shrimp: A Quick Cajun Favorite

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors Team Member

www.evooutdoors.com

Do you love seafood, spices, butter, and crusty bread and want a quick weeknight meal (approximately 20 minutes total)? Well this is a meal that will quickly grab your heart by the tastebuds! Unlike the name suggests, this is far from your traditional ” BBQ” and requires no grill or BBQ sauce. Also, be warned in advanced that this is a finger food that is NOT meant to be neatly eaten, but instead, it encourages finger licking.

Now the original version that I have indulged in over the years contains an inordinate amount of butter, but I have knocked the butter content down from a pound of butter to under an individual stick of butter. Its also traditionally served with crusty bread to sop up all of the juice, but since we are going healthier I chose to use lightly steamed cauliflower.

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You will need:

  • About one stick of butter (my conscious only allowed me to use about 3/4 of a stick)
  • One can of your favorite beer
  • 1/2 Cup of green onion
  • 1/3 Cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of liquid crab boil (I use Zatarain’s)
  • 1 Tbsp if cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tsp of hot sauce (I’m partial to Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of dried thyme leaf
  • 1 Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 6 Cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 whole bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Approximately one pound of large shrimp- de-headed but not peeled (the peelings enhance the flavor)
  • Juice sopping option (crusty bread, cauliflower, etc)

Melt the butter on a medium heat in a large saucepan. Once melted, add the beer and allow to simmer until some of the beer begins to evaporate. Once the beer is slightly reduced, add the green onions, garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire, crab boil, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary sprig, and hot sauce.

Roll the whole lemon on the cutting board before cutting in half to release its juices, then squeeze the juice of the halves into the pan then drop in the whole lemon (don’t let the seeds fall in because it will add an unwanted bitterness).

Stir all the ingredients well and let them come to a low boil without allowing it to smoke. If for some reason you think it needs more liquid, add additional beer.

When ready, add the shrimp in but be sure they are laying in one flat layer to ensure they cook evenly. After approximately two minutes depending on size, flip them over and allow that side cook until shrimp is all evenly pink in color but not overcooked. Remove the bay leaves, then pour all this deliciousness into a large plate and serve with your favorite bread (or other option to soak up the juice) with a handful of napkins!

Enjoy!

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in Southern Louisiana and has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors and cooking.

 

Healthy Living: The Effects of Western Hunting on a Southern Girl

In Louisiana most whitetail deer hunting is done on private land. You can ride an ATV up to any spot, throw a lock up in a tree and sit for hours. Do not get me wrong, many south Louisiana hunters put in a great effort working on the land, sometimes walking through waist deep water. Tackling the swamp while being mauled by mosquitoes for hours on end. However, it is very easy to get complacent in ones physical health, clothing/gear choices and still be able to perform the tasks required to hunt down here.

My eyes were opened to a new world of hunting necessities when I set out on a new (to me) adventure of elk hunting in the public hunting land of Colorado. 

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Heading out west, I had no clue what to expect nor had I ever seen mountains before.

I studied articles and videos to prepare myself for what was to come however, nothing prepared me for the way it would change how I thought about myself. The mountains showed me that although I was physically fit enough to be able conquer the hikes we took from the base camp, I was in no way fit enough to accomplish a pack in hike. My dream was to be able to hike in for miles with a heavy pack and sleep in the wilderness away from everything. To hike further and higher everyday than I had on that first trip. I knew doing this would take months of preparation to ensure that I was fit enough to do not only the long hike in but to also recover quickly in preparation for the following days hikes.

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As hunting season in Louisiana wrapped up, I decided to buckle down and start living a healthier life. My first step was to build a raised garden bed in my tiny back yard. Growing up, my parents and grandparents always grew a beautiful garden therefore I knew with the knowledge I had gained from watching them over the years I could grow my own veggies. It was a huge money saver. A few dollars spent on seeds translated into many meals and even some vegetables preserved to be enjoyed all year. As every hunter knows there is a sort of “slump” that sets in after season ends. My garden kept me physically and mentally active.

I quickly found working in the garden to be very therapeutic, rewarding, and a huge confidence booster to see the tiny seed that I planted flourish into a huge plant.

I decided I needed to do more than integrate a few vegetables in my diet so I joined in on an “accountability group” 9D144EC0-0EA2-49BE-8C1A-06003E9DCC9B_zpsdef38gtsthrough work.  This forced me to weigh in weekly. The fact that I was doing it with coworkers forced me to stay focused. I didn’t want a simple diet where I was omitting a certain type of food completely; I wanted a lifestyle change that would change my way of eating forever. I worked on portion control, which I have always struggled with, by weighing and measuring everything until I had a better idea what a serving size actually looked like. In addition, being creative with my wild game, seafood, and fresh vegetables, I recreated my favorite dishes into a new healthier version of its previous self. I used seasoning and spices to give food more flavor so it was more filling. By making these simple changes to my diet, I began seeing a change on the scale.

858DB16B-58B1-4135-AE06-1E2F126229B7_zps9hvnk1qhI quickly realized that in addition to eating correctly, I needed to start a workout regiment for myself to be able to get stronger and gain muscle. I started off slowly by walking around the local university. Slowly it progressed into a walk/run and further distances.  I incorporated various weight lifting workout videos I found online. After I felt that I was strong enough, I decided to start working on building “mountain muscles”. I started off with a fifty pound sack of deer corn in my backpack I planned on using for my Colorado hunt. I walked to the university stadium and did the bleachers, then I walked a lap around the campus. Over time, I slowly added more and more weight until it was time to leave for the hunt.  Not only was this building muscles but it helped me get my pack adjusted correctly with heavy weight. By adding these additional exercises to my daily routine, I was able to drop weight even quicker and I was seeing a big boost in my energy levels.

The next part of my “elk ready” process was to re-access my gear and clothing choices. I knew we would be doing a pack in hike so I worked to find lighter alternatives to the supplies I had and reduced the amount of unnecessary supplies. I planned to bring dehydrated meals, vacuum sealed “harvest kits” containing such items as game bags. I planned out how to stuff all of these items into my pack. I weighed each item and then the pack as a whole to be sure that I could easily carry everything I needed. When I went to access my new choices of clothing, I tried to pinpoint problems I saw in my previous gear and worked along with EvoOutdoors CamoConcierge service to find products that would best solve these problems.

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aProblem 1: Stretch and maneuverability in durable pants. I quickly realized that my previous clothing was actually working against me while hiking because of its lack of stretch, especially in the pants. I decided to get a pair of the FirstLite Kanab 2.0 pants and the Corrugate Guide pants. Both offered a unique fit that was looser in the hips and thighs but more fitted in the lower half. This fit allowed for full range of motion. Both have high waisted fits and can be worn with suspenders, preventing them from riding down over time with a heavy pack and impeding maneuverability.  The Kanab 2.0 pants are made of ultra light merino wool with body stretch 1441587702159-1927885061nylon and also feature a rip stop pattern making them perfectly silent for a spot and stalk while being durable. The Corrugate Guide pants are made of a lightweight, durable, breathable nylon fabric that makes them nearly bombproof against all but the most extreme weather. While they aren’t as silent as the Kanab’s, they truly proved themselves to me in the rain we endured on an almost daily basis while in the Colorado mountains.  Not only were they somewhat water resistant, but when it came to getting drenched in the downpours, they dried very quickly making it possible to wear them again day after day. First Lite also features a “shooters cut” on their shirts (see problem 2) that have specially designed shoulders to allow full range of movement and fitted lower sleeve to prevent bow string interference.

Problem 2: Odor control after days of continued use. Knowing we would be in the back country for a number of days1430188149902-2353460841430071241262694008033a with limited ability to wash clothing, I needed clothing that would naturally neutralize odors, even after days of continued use. It was suggested that I use a merino wool based product because wool naturally wicks away moisture (as much as 30% of its weight) and releases it into the air. By doing this the moisture doesn’t remain on the skins surface, allowing bacteria and therefore odors to be created. First Lite created a women’s line of merino wool base layers that fit my needs perfectly. The set of the Lupine crew shirt and Larkspur bottoms created naturally odor resistant base layer that I topped with the Artemis hoody and finished it off with a pair of their Mountain Athlete Compression socks. Even after days of wear, these products remained relatively odor free (except for the socks, but I blame the waterlogged boots). Minus 33 has a line of merino based underwear that I also used and highly suggest.

Problem3: Reusable gear. Lets face it, I am a tight with my money so I wanted gear that not only worked well in the mountains but would also be good for hunting at home so I needed something that could span from the heat of 14301875240601376827267Louisiana early season but could stand up to a cool Colorado mountain archery season morning. I also wanted a pattern of camo that would work for both areas. First Lite accomplished these as well. Another 1409588562924-768062539great attribute of merino wool is because of its extreme moisture wicking abilities, it helps maintain the body’s natural micro-climate by removing the excess moisture in the air between the skin and clothing. This makes the wearer cooler in the heat and warmer in the winter. Previously, I was using a well known popular brand of camo that blended well in some locations but not in others. The fusion camo is a unique pattern described as “crackalature” by First Lite is designed to distort the hunter’s silhouette while avoiding “color blobbing” that has truly14398583972051093645653proven to blend in with everything from the rocks to the swamp. It uses large and small shape disruption to cause distortion of not only the general shape but of “texture” and depth also. Their website truly has some very interesting literature on this subject, but I can tell you from first hand knowledge that it is easy to lose someone sitting only a couple feet away from you in the fusion camo.

 

With these changes to myself and my gear, I headed west again with confidence and the ability to conquer whatever mother nature could physically throw at me. After a little over a ten mile hike, uphill, in the pouring rain into our designated camping spot and spending nearly a week in the back country, I could not conjure a single negative statement about the First Lite gear that had been suggested to me. As for my physical fitness, I had advanced leaps and bounds over what I would have been able to accomplish had I stayed on the path I was traveling.  I am no miracle worker or extraordinary case.

If I can change my life for something I am passionate about, just about any one can if they put in the time and effort.

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in South Louisiana. Sarah has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors, and cooking what she catches/kills flowing throw her veins. She believes archery is a sport you can never completely master and is always reading, listening, and observing to become the best archer she can be, but she also loves to share the knowledge she does have with others.

Gumbo: One Dish, Endless Possibilities

Ingredients

The endless possibilities of gumbo are due to the different combinations of ingredients that are possible to include, but one thing they all have in common is that it’s a favorite heart-warming, comfort food of choice for most Cajuns. No two individuals will fix a gumbo exactly the same and most will argue to the death that no one makes it better than their Momma!  I will try to breakdown the different parts of gumbo and explain a few possible variations to give you the basis for your gumbo attempt while sharing my favorite recipe for chicken and andouille gumbo. Fear not! It may look complicated, but in actuality, a gumbo is pretty hard to screw up.

 

Roux (pronounced “rue”) 

Even down to the basic building blocks of the dish, there is often debate on the type of roux that should be used and how dark to make it. You can make a classic roux or an oil free roux just depending on your preference.  All roux is a 1:1 flour to oil (or omit the oil for the oil free version) mixture that is slowly toasted over a low heat  stirring constantly until the desired color is achieved. The darker the coloring, the richer,deeper,nuttier the flavor, so I personally prefer my roux very dark, almost the color of a rich chocolate.  Constant stirring is very important to getting the entire roux a uniform color without burning it. Start over if even the slightest hint of burnt roux is present.  Roux can also be done in the microwave to save time, just be sure to heat in small increments stirring between each. Roux is the basis of many Cajun dishes and it’s flavor can be easily varied by using different oils and flours. If at any point your roux becomes even slightly burnt, do NOT attempt to salvage it in any way. A even slightly burnt roux will mess up the flavoring of the entire dish.

**Warning: Never, ever, EVER let hot roux get onto your skin unless you want to experience what we call Cajun napalm! Seriously, Madea’s hot grits has nothing on a hot pot of roux,**

Roux

 

The Flavor of “The Trinity”

Chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery often make up “The Trinity”.  This, like a roux, is often a staple in the beginning of the majority of Cajun food. I personally am a garlic feign so I add garlic to it (usually in obnoxious amounts) and I often leave out the celery out of personal preference.  Adding the chopped Trinity into the piping hot roux once the desired color is achieved helps break down the veggies quicker and also tempers the roux down so that it doesn’t continue to cook and potentially burn.  You want to be sure to cook down these veggies until tender before added the liquids.

(There is also the option of adding chopped tomato at this point, but then you are diving into the argument of “Creole” vs Cajun gumbo. I’m not a fan of the “Creole” gumbo, so you will never find tomatoes in my gumbo.)

The Trinity

The Meats

The meat choices for gumbo are incredibly unlimited. Basically anything you can catch, shoot, or raise on a farm is considered fair game (well except fish, I’m sure it can be done, but those are better saved for a grill or a Cajun courtbillion).

A few favorite combinations include but not ever limited to are:

Andouille or smoked sausage with chicken, turkey, and/or duck

Shrimp and crab (some add okra to this too)

I usually brown all of my meats (with the exception of seafood obviously) in my pot before cooking my roux and place it aside while the roux and Trinity cook down. It is added back in once all the liquid has been incorporated into the roux so that they simmer in the stock allowing the flavors to incorporate into the gumbo. Be aware that some seafood may overcook if simmered for too long, so add accordingly.

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The Liquids and Seasonings

Only liquids that are hot should be added to the roux and Trinity mixture. I repeat ONLY HOT LIQUIDS! If cold liquid is added the oil/flour mix will separate and cause a “curdled” appearance and preventing the gumbo from properly thickening. The liquid of choice to add is completely up to you, but be sure that it compliments the ingredients. I typically use a half flavor complimentary stock/half water mixture.  Add a large ladle full at a time, being sure to fully incorporate the current hot liquid before adding the next ladle full. Continue to add liquids until desired consistency is reached.

Once the liquid is fully incorporated and your meats have been added, add your seasonings of choice which can vary from a General Cajun seasoning like Tonys to herbs and peppers. Just be sure to remember not to over season or salt the gumbo at this point because as it cooks down the flavors will greatly intensify. I almost always add a few dried bay leaves in there during the simmering process also to add a subtle depth of flavor.

Once everything is added I continue to cook it down for no less than an hour, but I recommend letting it cook for several hours or simmering slowly overnight in a crockpot.

Finishing It Off

A completed gumbo can be topped with a medley of things such as gumbo file (powdered, dried sassafras…my favorite), green onions, paprika, pepper, etc.

Most gumbo is served over rice, but I was brought up to also always have a healthy serving of potato salad along with it (often served right in the bowl). The potato salad we use is of the mustard variety, consisting of minced boiled eggs and potatoes blended together with mayo and mustard and optionally pickle relish and chopped onions. A slice of bread also works wonders as a accompaniment to soak up the juice.

The SINGLE Most Important Part

I know, I know. By this point you’re thinking, “Seriously, Sarah? More to remember?!” Yes!

The single most important part of having a any Cajun dish be the best it can be is to share it with others. Having said this, on a recent adventure to visit some friends up in Pennsylvania, I froze my favorite andouille and packed it in my suitcase so that I could share a taste of Louisiana with them. This is the recipe for the gumbo I shared with them one day after a long day on the  snow catching a few perch on a frozen lake and glassing for elk. Doesn’t get any better than that does it?

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Chicken and Andouille  Gumbo

(Caution: I never actually measure when I cook so these are rough estimates, and I made a huge batch so that they had plenty left overs so feel free to cut down on portions)

2lbs of andouille sliced and halved

2 large chicken breasts diced

8 oz of olive oil

8oz of all purpose flour

2 large onions

2  green bell peppers

3 cloves of garlic

10 cups of half chicken stock and half water mixture

seasonings: Tonys, Louisiana hot sauce, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, gumbo file powder, salt and pepper

Rice, bread, and/or  potato salad to finish it off

Brown the meats, then place them aside as you prepare the roux and the Trinity as I have previously mentioned. Slowly incorporate the stock and water until you get the desired consistency, then reincorporate the meats. Season and let simmer for a few hours.  Serve with rice, bread, and/or potato salad.

Gumbo

I ♥ Deer Heart

 grilled venison heart recipe photo by holly heiser

In the pursuit of big game a lot of hunters aim for the heart however, I try to avoid making a direct heart shot if possible. “Why?” you might ask. Many people are familiar with using deer quarters, the loins, the backstrap, etc., but have you ever tried the heart?  Yes, the good ol’ pump station! Now do not be quick to blame my Louisiana roots on this craziness. The crazy Cajuns down here have been known to eat just about any part of any critter. Even here in Louisiana not many people have been brave enough to try the heart, but those few brave souls that have are delightfully rewarded with a beautiful cut of meat.

 

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Tips on Preparing the Heart (think back to your old anatomy classes):

  • Remove all of the blood and blood clots by rinsing thoroughly. Be sure to get deep down into the chambers of the heart and even submerging it in cold water while giving it a few squeezes will help flush any remaining blood out.
  • Cut away the “crown” of the heart leaving behind the main muscle. Cut away excess fat and connective tissue from the outer part of the heart, then butterfly and trim the remainder of the main artery, valves, and the fibrous tissue. What you are left with is gorgeous, filet-like meat that lacks the grainy, fibrous texture of the more traditional cuts of venison. The overall misconception is that it has a liver-like flavor when infact it does not.
  • Need step by step instructions? Click here!

 

 

 

“The Instant Grill”: Because what better way to enjoy your fresh wild game then on an open fire after skinning and quartering it?

IMG_5666Simply prepare the heart as previously mentioned, then season it as you would your favorite steak. I like to use garlic powder, season all, salt, pepper, and olive oil ( I also sometimes marinate it in beer, but its not required).

Light up the fire pit and sit back and relax until the embers and coals are nice and evenly hot. Throw the meat on the grill and cook to a medium rare and then remove from heat.  Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing to ensure that the juices do not run out. Enjoy! Best served with some awesome garlic mashed potatoes!

“I ♥ Fajitas”: Bring your typical boring fajitas to a new level with all fresh ingredients and a little venison love. 

Fajitas can be as extravagant or as plain as you like but this is my favorite way to eat them! After preparing your deer heart, slice into strips and season with your favorite fajita/taco seasoning mix and a little bit of garlic and cilantro. While that is resting, slice up some green onions, purple onions, yellow and red peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and more cilantro. Toss the mixture in lime juice and sear the veggies in a screaming hot skillet and cook until they are barely limp, then remove from the skillet. After the veggies are done, toss in the heart slices and cook until medium rare. Best served on a corn tortilla with the heart, veggies, avocado/guacamole , fresh cilantro (yes, I use a lot of am obsessed with cilantro), pico de gallo, and a drizzle of sriracha sauce on top.

Over the years I have had venison heart prepared in a few different ways, so be adventurous. Above are a few of my favorite ways to prepare the heart. In addition, a couple other good ways to prepare the heart include smothering it with onions, stuffing it with sausage or another stuffing of choice, and this awesome looking bruschetta recipe.

To those that have never tried it or were afraid to try it, would you be open to the idea of keeping and cooking your next big game heart? If so, which recipe would you indulge in first?

 

Sarah Fromenthal
EvoOutdoors Prostaff

Naturalist Huntress: Keeping It Simple and Scent Free

Let me start off by saying, yes, I am a tomboy by nature, but I also enjoy some of the girly things in life as well.  Although I can usually keep up with the best of the boys, my hair is one of those things that I am sort of on the particular side about. Is it always perfect? NEGATIVE! But, I do like it to be out of my face and not looking like a hot mess. With all of this being said, I wanted to share a few super simple tricks I personally use along with my favorite scent free shampoo and conditioner while hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. to keep my hair trophy photo ready.
Simple Ingredients (Aloe not in Picture)ME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scent Free Salt Spray — Recreates that awesome beach hair you had during your pre-hunting season beach vacation.Salt Spray Ingredients

  • Adds texture and volume to hair (great to use on fine hair that doesn’t hold styling well)
  • Add to damp hair and it helps create beachy waves (because you can’t exactly flat iron in the backcountry)
  • Helps battle winter time static (no more “finger in the electrical socket” look)

What you’ll need: Spray Bottle, Water, 1.5 T Epsom Salt , 1t. Sea Salt,  0.5t. Scent Free Conditioner, and 1t. Aloe Vera Gel

Mix together Epsom Salt (use more or less for different amount of texture), Sea Salt, Aloe Vera Gel, and of your favorite scent free conditioner. Add 1/2 cup of warm (not boiling) water and mix well  and then let cool before pouring into spray bottle.

You can also easily make a scented version by adding a few drops of essential oils of your choice.

Scent Free Hair Spray — Will it hold as good as your grandma’s aerosol? Nah, but it will serve its purpose out in the field.

Scent Free HairsprayWhat you will need: Spray Bottle, Water, 1.5 T White Sugar (yes, the same white sugar you add in your coffee in the morning– add more or less for amount of hold but too much will leave hair sticky), and a 1/2 t of rubbing alcohol (optional, but without it must be refrigerated)

Mix sugar thoroughly with 1/2 cup of boiling water and allow to cool to room temperature before adding the alcohol  to stabilize the mixture. Pour into spray bottle.

To use: Spray lightly and allow to dry before adding another layer. Adding too much too quickly will leave the hair sticky. Also combine with the Scent Free Salt Spray for awesome texture and hold.. and NOOOO it won’t attract bears!

Scent Free Detangler/Leave-in-Conditioner -Ok yall, This one is a tough one!Scent Free Detangler

What you will need: Spray bottle, Water, 1 T Scent Free conditioner

I’m sure you figured this out already, but mix well and put into spray bottle and spray onto damp hair.

 

Other hair tips for outdoors:

  • Thinking a little hair is not too important? Try sitting still in a stand with that trophy buck in bowrange and have an aggravating hair sticking to your eyeglashes or even worse tickling at your nose. So, moral of the story: KEEP YOUR HAIR OUT OF YOUR FACE! Be sure to pack extra hairbands and bobby pins.
  • While ponytails are obviously good ways to keep hair out of the way, try changing it up with a bun or braid. Even on short hair, braiding the front bangs can help keep your hair out of your eyes to make that crucial shot. For longer hair, I like a french braid with my favorite EvoOutdoors headband.
  • Oily hair? Sprinkle some scent free powder on your roots and brush through to absorb the oil.
  • When all else fails or the weather is just down right horrible, throw on your favorite ball cap from EvoOutdoors selection of headwear.
  • Throwing on a HooRag  is also quick and easy, and it has so many functions [from a neck gaitor, ponytail holder, facemask, beanie, balaclava, headband, doorag, etc.] that it comes in handy for just about anything!

EvoGear Womens HatFrench BraidEvoOutdoors HeadbandFront Braid

Game on the Go: Quick and Easy Meals for the Busy Hunter

As many of you know,  I am ALWAYS on the go between working full time as a Medical Technologist and being an outdoors obsessed woman.  Although I do not always have a large amount of free time, cooking a home cooked meal using the game and fish that I have harvested/caught is always preferred over a fast food burger or boring salad.  So here are a few of my favorite “quick” meals that I throw together when in a time crunch.

Crock Pot Wild Game Spaghetti:

Deer Spaghetti What you will need:

2 Large onions, 2 bell peppers, and garlic (chopped)

Wild game meat of choice (my personal favorite is to use green onion seasoned ground deer and deer stew meat together to have varying textures)

Can each of tomato sauce and tomato paste

2 Cans of stewed tomatoes

Mushrooms (canned or fresh)

Seasonings: Italian herb blend, garlic powder, “Tony’s” Season All, Salt and Pepper

Large Slow Cooker and a Large Skillet

 Before bed, brown your wild game thoroughly and saute the vegetables until tender. Throw this along with the cans of  stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste,  mushrooms, and two cups of water into the slow cooker and stir well.  Season to taste using the above seasonings (for added spice I throw in cayenne also).  Set the slow cooker to low and get some rest it will be there waiting for you after the morning hunt!

**CAUTION: IT WILL BE HARD TO SLEEP WITH YOUR HOUSE SMELLING SO AMAZING**

 

Grilled Fish with Creamy Crab and Mushroom Sauce

RedfishBluegill
Fish and Veggie NoodlesWhat you will need:

Fish of choice ( my favorites: redfish “on the half shell” or scaled whole bluegill)

Can of  low fat cream of mushroom soup

Lump crab meat

Onion (chopped) , Garlic (minced), and Mushrooms (now is a good time to use the morels you’ve been collecting)

Butter and Lite Italian Dressing (I prefer using the Olive Garden Light dressing)

Seasonings: Garlic powder, Louisiana hot sauce, “Tonys” Season All, Cayenne, Lemon juice

The fish: Marinate the fish with the minced garlic, hot sauce, Tony’s Season All, Garlic powder, lemon juice, and a little Italian dressing.  Make a basting sauce of softened butter, Italian dressing, hot sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and Tony’s/Season All. Grill until fish is thoroughly cooked basting regularly throughout the cooking process.

The Sauce:  Saute onions and garlic until tender, then add cream of mushroom and a half a can of water. Toss in crab meat, mushrooms, and desired seasonings then simmer on low while you grill your fish.

I like to serve the fish and sauce along with fresh vegetables from the garden such as squash and zucchini which are delicious grilled on the pit or cut into “noodles”.

Back Strap Salad

Back Strap SaladWhat you will need:

Whole Deer Back Strap (or for the brave… same recipe can be used on deer heart)

Baby Spinach or Spring Mix Salad

Red onion and garlic

Feta cheese and Parmesan cheese

Beer or wine (or for the non alcoholic version… Italian dressing)

Seasonings: (I think you get the hint by now that I put Tony’s, hot sauce, and garlic in everything)

Marinate the back strap with garlic and seasonings along with beer/wine/Italian dressing.  Sear the back strap in a skillet until cooked medium/ medium rare.  Set strap aside and DO NOT CUT until the meat has rested 5-10 minutes to allow for the juices to soak back into the meat. In the same pan, add a handful of chopped onions and some garlic and cook down until tender then add any remaining marinade and more of the beer/wine/dressing and reduce by half.  Mix together your salad, cheese, and raw red onions. Top with the sliced back strap and the reduced pan mixture.

 

Sarah Fromenthal – ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Hog Wild: A Porky Predicament

Wild Boar

 

After seeing many posts on social media such as ” You are so lucky to have so may hogs” and hearing of people hunting hogs that were “brought into the area”, I was completely blown away! LUCKY?! TRANSPORTING HOGS?! YOU’RE KIDDING ME RIGHT?!? So I figured a little education on hogs was in order.

Most Wild hogs originated from escaped free range domestic pigs that turned feral over time or European boars imported in for the hunt. They can weigh on average 150 up to 400 lbs and will live about 4-8 yearsWith a wide variety of habitats from marsh to timber land, they can thrive just about anywhere with access to water, cover, and food supply, but become very nomadic when food supply or human pressure changes.  Originating in the southern and western parts of the US, they have spread into new territories because of both legal and illegal introductions into new territory as game animals. (NEVER TRANSPORT LIVE HOGS!!!) Also a very rapid reproduction also leads to invasion of new regions to support growing population.  A sow can reach reproductive maturity after only 6 months, can have up to 10 piglets after a 115 day gestational period.

 SO THEORETICALLY :

365  days a year÷115 day gestational period ≈ 3 litters a year

3 litters per year × 5.5 years (avg life span of 6 years minus maturation time)

≈  16.5 litters over a lifetime

16.5 litters over their lifetime × average of 8 piglets per litter ≈ 132 piglets 

All from a single sow!

Mature boars usually live a solitary life and the sows and their piglets will stay in groups called “sounders”. Even alone and in small sounders, their extremely destructive rooting and wallowing can demolish more than a football field size area in a matter hour a few hours. All those piggies cause major havoc on the agricultural and forestry industries causing over 1.5 BILLION dollars in damages annually (not including the damage to wildlife, person property damages, and destroying the sensitive wetlands we fight to conserve).  . 

They can totally push out other wildlife populations from a desirable habitat because of their aggressive nature and ability to eliminate food sources. The best part? They have no natural predator except for humans … and themselves. That’s right hogs are omnivores! So besides eating up crops, acorns, saplings, and just about anything else they come across,  they also will eat other young and/or wounded hogs, turkey poults, fawns, turtles, fish, snakes, and other assorted small mammals and reptiles. They have even been known scavenge for diseased, wounded, or dead animals and have also known to attack and eat adult livestock. They will actually consume the entire carcass and not leave behind a shred of evidence.

Not only do hogs destroy property and consume livestock, they are a significant source of disease (usually without showing any physical sign). These diseases can be passed onto wildlife, livestock, humans and pets.

Cleaning the Hog

ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES!
Just because a hog appears healthy, doesn’t mean it isn’t infected.

Brucelosis: A bacterial infection that is transmitted to animals and humans through infected tissues or fluids (specifically reproductive organs, tissues, and fluids).  Symptoms: severe flu-like symptoms along with possibly crippling arthritis and/or meningitis.

Trichinosis: Microscopic intestinal round worm found in pork. To prevent infection be sure to cook meat thoroughly by allowing meats to reach an internal temperature of >170°F or by freezing at the meat 10°F for at least 10 days.

 Leptosporosis: bacterial infection transferable to humans via infected tissue/fluid causing flu like or hepatitis like symptoms

Pseudorabis Virus (PRV): Not a type of rabies; Viral infection transferable to animals only which can be spread to livestock and pets through contact with infected tissue or contaminated clothing, footwear, equipment, etc. PRV attacks the central nervous system, common cause of death in mature hogs. 

MORAL OF THAT STORY IS: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES, WASH HANDS AND EQUIPMENT WITH SOAP AND HOT WATER, AND COOK MEAT THOROUGHLY!

While their keen sense of smell, wariness of humans, and aggressive nature make them an ideal challenging big game animal to hunt, they are not to be hunted as you would a trophy whitetail or elk.  With all the negative aspects of the hogs presence, there is only one thing to do: reduce their numbers humanely and by any means possible (snaring, trapping, shooting, dog hunting, etc)! BIG OR SMALL–KILL THEM ALL!

Many states (Louisiana included) have made hog hunting a year round season and even have special designated times of the year where they can be hunted at night in effort to control the population.  Even with constant efforts to reduce numbers, it is nearly impossible to totally eradicate them (see previous astounding number of piglets per sow).

Erik's First Hog

 

 

photo 2

 

 

My Largest Bow Hog

 

 

So besides all of the negatives, there is one positive aspect of them: THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Besides the occasional extremely musky boar, wild pork tastes very similar to and can be prepared much in the same way as the store bought variety and can be just as tender.  A great way to eliminate any “wild” taste the pork (or any big game) may have is to “bleed” the meat in an ice chest for up to a week, adding ice as needed and draining the water.   Just be sure to take the proper precautions when cleaning and cooking to keep yourself safe from the previously mentioned bacteria/parasites.

Feta, Red Onion, and Spinach Stuffed Pork

Stuffed Pork:
-Marinade Pork loin/Roast with olive oil and seasonings
– Butterfly pork and top with fillings of choice (I used feta, spinach, and red onions)
-Roll the pork back on itself and secure with twine or toothpicks
-Sear in a hot skillet then roast in the oven until pork is cooked thoroughly.
-Enjoy

 

Straight Shooting

Sarah Fromenthal EvoOutdoors ProStaffWith archery season fast approaching,  I’m sure everyone has knocked the dust off the bow from last season and begun practicing, but is your technique as nice as you would like? Whether you are a new shooter using a second hand bow or a veteran shooter that’s shooting “old faithful”, there is always a few things to improve upon every season.  Insuring proper draw length, shooting form, draw weight, and/or grip on the bow play vital roles in these pre-season preparations.

Draw Length and Proper Shooting Form

Draw length by definition is the measure from the knock point  to the backside of the bow (side facing away from the shooter) at full draw. It is an integral part to ensuring a bow “fits” the shooter properly especially if you are shooting a bow that was given to you second hand or buying a new one.  Improper draw length can cause issue with proper form and accuracy.

 

 

Proper Form: body, in straight line with the target, feet shoulder width apart, vertebrae straight up and down, bow arm slightly bent

Tell Tale signs of improper draw length:

Too long: Leaning back when at full draw, anchor point set too far back, and/or eye too close to peep (too large of field of view).  Another tell tale sign is the bow arm being completely straight to compensate for the extra inches of length and possibly pulling the bow arm to the left (right for lefties), which could cause you to shoot off of your mark and possibly slap your arm with the string upon release.  Getting an arm guard is not the fix for this… its a draw length issue (TRUST ME I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE!)

Leaning too far back off of center

Leaning too far back off of center

Bow arm totally straight

Bow arm totally straight

Too Short: Bow arm too bent, anchor point set too far forward, and/or eye far from peep (decreased field of view).  Being “jammed up” to fit into the shorter draw length can pull the bow arm to the right (left for lefties) in attempt to shorten the draw, once again causing you to be off center with your shots.

Draw length can be easily measured by standing with both arms outstretched to the side and measuring from finger tip to finger tip. This will get you a good starting point from which you can fine tune.

DRAW LENGTH =”WINGSPAN”÷ 2.5

 (Remember to keep in mind that using a loop and some releases adds additional length to your draw.)

 

Draw Weight

Many bow shooters are “over-bowed” and do not realize it. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO PULL BACK 70+ POUNDS. The poundage you are pulling back should allow you to draw the bow straight back from any position and shoot numerous rounds without fatigue or soreness. Too often hunters are seen having to the raise their bow up to draw back because it helps them gain more leverage (not to mention how impractical all the excess movement is when you have the trophy of a life time only yards away).  This is a sure sign the draw weight is too high and should be knocked down to a more comfortable poundage.

Proper Drawback

Improper Drawback

 

Also, its important to check with state rules and regulations for minimum draw requirements. For example, Louisiana requires a bow to have a draw weight of at least thirty pounds to hunt whitetail, but most states require a forty pound draw weight. This may not seem like much to an experienced archer, but for a woman or youth archer this may take some work to build up to.  Building up poundage on a bow should be done gradually and not increasing to the next poundage until you can shoot your current poundage with ease.  The muscles used to draw back your bow are rarely strenuously worked otherwise, so the best way to build them is to practice regularly.

 Grip

Although most archers will swear by their grip technique, proper grip can make the world of difference in tightening your groups. The goal is to stabilize the bow during release without torquing it in reaction to the shot or slight hand movements.

Ideal Grip

Ideal Grip

Grip too tight aka "Death Grip"

Grip too tight aka “Death Grip”

Grip Too Loose aka "Spirit Fingers"

Grip Too Loose aka “Spirit Fingers”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ideal Grip: The basic principle it to have your thumb at a “two o’clock” position from the grip and turn the fingers slightly upward causing the grip to fall right into the pocket along side of the thumb. Closing your hand and placing the finger tips lightly on the grip allows to stabilize the bow without causing it to torque.

Too Tight (aka “Death Grip”): Although stabilizing the bow, this grip can cause the shooter to torque the bow and any slight movement of the hand will cause you to move the entire bow.

Too Loose (aka “Spirit Fingers”): With the fingers outstretched, the bow has too much back and forth freedom.  Also as an instinctive reaction, the hand may close slightly with the shot causing the muscles to move in the palm of the hand which in turn can move the bow.

 

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, and Shoot Some More

  • Practice makes perfect and forms muscle memory to where shooting techniques become instinctive instead of a list of information to remember.
  • Be sure to anchor in the same spot every time.  Changing up your anchor point will cause inaccuracy and larger groups.
  • Practice in the hunting gear that you just bought from EvoOutdoors and plan on hunting in to find out how extra layers, headwear, gloves, face mask, badlands pack etc., affect your grip, anchor point, and maneuverability.
  • Practice shooting from the location/position you are likely to shoot from in the field whether its from a elevated platform (safety harness please!), ground blind, uphill, downhill, sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. Also be sure to practice in different climates and lighting to be ready for any situation that can be presented.
  • Extend your practice yardage out as far as you can.  Being accurate at further distances will make close shots seem like nothing (REMEMBER: Just because you can shoot a target at a certain yardage does not mean you should shoot animals at that distance!)
  • Make sure your bow is properly tuned.  All the practice in the world can not help you improve your groups if your bow is out of tune.  It also important  to know your bow. Educate yourself on every part, its purpose, and how it works.  By understanding this, you will be more capable of troubleshooting your problems on your own during practice or on that trophy hunt.  Do not be afraid to ask your bow shop technician questions about how and why.

bow parts

Sarah Fromenthal

ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Photo Credits:  to my amazing Nanny  Jo Ann LeBoeuf .

Be sure to check out her stunning work at www.joannleboeuf.com or her Facebook Page.

Got Wild Turkey?

Wild Turkey (Eastern) Feathers

Bagged a few wild turkeys this season and tired of frying it or cooking it the same old boring way? Try adding a little Cajun flair by transforming it into a sauce piquante (pronounced: sos-pee-kont).  Sauce piquante (which literally means hot; spicy)  is a spicy tomato based stew and can be made with a wide variety of meats including just about any wild game (and some fish).

Sarah Turkey HuntingBecause this was my first season actively pursuing turkey, I spent it tagging along with my dad and a few friends, observing and soaking in their every move like a sponge.  Although I had a few close calls, the score is still Longbeards – 1  Blondie – 0.  Knowing this, an awesome friend of mine graciously donated some of their surplus turkey meat (and even a turkey fan to add to my collection of antlers and various animal tails until I can get one of my own).

After the rush of having my hair stand on end from getting gobbled at up close and personal, I am officially hooked and have made it my personal mission to become more proficient at calling before next season. Heck maybe I’ll even luck up and bag my own trophy.

Wild Turkey Sauce Piquante:

 Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of chopped wild turkey breast
  • 3/4 Cup White flour
  • 3/4 Cup of Vegetable oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion & 2 green bell peppers chopped small
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 cup Fresh chopped Parsley
  • 6 Cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 8 oz can of stewed tomatoes (drained)
  • 8 oz can of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • Cooked White Rice
  • 6 Whole dried bay leaves
  • Seasonings: Black pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Powder, Louisiana Hot Sauce,  Onion Powder, Tony’s Creole Seasoning, and Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil (optional)

 

Roux (French thickening agent):

Mix flour and oil and cook until chocolate-brown.

  • Stove top method:  Cook on medium heat stirring frequently until desired color is achieved. 
  • Microwave method: Cook for 1 minute on full power. Stir. Continue cooking in 20-30 second intervals stirring between each until desired color is achieved. (I personally use the microwave method because it’s basically fool-proof)

Caution: If roux smells burnt, then it is and will ruin your dish! Do NOT try and save it by adding more flour or oil.   Start with a fresh batch and stir more frequently.

Sauce Piquante:

  • Season turkey with seasonings listed in ingredients (WARNING: Only use a drop or two of crab boil) and sear in a large pot until thoroughly cooked. (This is a good time to begin to prepare your roux… either microwave or stove top method)
  • Toss in bell peppers, garlic, green onions, yellow onions, and parsley and cook until tender. Mix in cans of  diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, and tomato paste with the vegetables, and let cook down for about 7 minutes before adding tomato sauce and about 8 oz of water.
  • Once sauce is bubbling, slowly stir in roux until well integrated.  Sauce should have a consistency of a thin spaghetti.
  • Add in Bay leaves and any additional seasonings to taste. Remember flavors will enhance during cooking so don’t over season. ( I do not feel that I am qualified to give measurements on seasonings being that I’m from south Louisiana and prefer mine blazing hot!)
  • Allow to simmer on low heat for a few hours (or overnight in a slow cooker).
  • Serve over white rice with green onion and parsley for garnish.

 Wild Turkey Sauce Piquante

To outfit your next turkey adventure (or any outdoors adventure) check out EvoOutdoors.