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Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: A good read can be great gift for all outdoors enthusiasts
If you’re still scratching your head over what to get the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman on your holiday shopping list, two new immensely readable, informative and entertaining books are available.
Although it would be difficult to have them here in time to place under the tree, you could always get a card that announces the book has been ordered and will soon be available to cope with mid-winter cabin fever.
Scott Leysath, known around hunting circles as “The Sporting Chef,” has compiled a collection of his favorite venison recipes. Leysath has been involved in the restaurant and food business since 1978, but as he notes in the introduction to “The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook,” he doesn’t consider himself a “foodie.”
“But, I am passionate about cooking, especially when it comes to anything with fur, fins or feathers,”
Leysath encourages readers to use the 100 recipes in the softcover book as starting points and to adapt ingredients and techniques to their own styles and tastes.
I’ve had the pleasure of eating Leysath’s creations on a number of occasions and, without fail, they are creative, mostly simple taste treats. He is a tireless advocate of proper field care of deer and then treating the best cuts of meat like fine beef steaks. Overcooking is a chief culprit in ruining many backstraps and tenderloins.
The book is well-organized. The first chapter is a primer on venison cooking basics, loaded with tips on how to get the most out of your deer. Subsequent chapters are organized similar to the way a typical meal presentation would go, with “Small Bites” leading things off, followed by “Salads and Side Dishes” and “Soups and Stews” before moving into main courses.
From there, the book moves through the various ways of cooking venison, including chapters on grilling, ovens, stovetops and smoking. Enticing, flavorful sauces recipes are also included, such as blackberry chipotle, spicy red currant and mustard, orange–ginger and apricot–horseradish.
Among the recipes that’ll be first on my list to try this winter are Chile Verde, Blue Cheese Burgers, Grilled Venison with Sweet Mustard Sauce, Apple-Stuffed Braised Shanks, and Pan-Seared Tenderloin with Zinfandel Sauce. More than 30 color photos show finished dishes or preparation stages.
Leysath’s book is published by Krause Publications and sells for $24.99. To order a book, call 800/258-0929 or visit shopdeerhunting.com.
Next would be South Carolinian Jim Casada’s “Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters.” This 317-page hardcover book chronicles in concise fashion the turkey hunting contributions of 27 men.
Casada notes in the introduction that determining who would be profiled in this book wasn’t easy. Many people have contributed to the wild turkey’s status as an enduring, noble trophy game bird.
In the end, Casada settled on three main factors in determining who to include. First, the person must be deceased. The other two factors were the person’s stature in either the world of turkey hunting literature or callmaking or both.
Casada collects calls and vintage publications related to the outdoors. Turkey hunting is one of his longtime passions and he personally knew or met many of the legends in the book. He scoured his own library, researched printed literature and the Internet, and reached out to friends and the subject’s family members to gather details and color about them.
Opening Chapter 7, about callmaker Leon Johenning, Casada writes, “Were I asked to select a single state where turkey hunting’s historic roots run deepest, it would be Virginia.” He later notes that “No state has a richer tradition of fall turkey hunting, which in turn attests to an enduring program of successful turkey management.”
Another Virginian profiled in the book is William Frank Hanenkrat, known for excellent scratchbox calls.
Some other well-known names include Tom Turpin, Neil Cost, M.L. Lynch, Ben Rodgers Lee, Dick Kirby and Archibald Rutledge. But the stories of some of pioneers—such as the eccentric Simon Everitt, or Larry Hearn, E.A. McIlhenny of Avery Island Tabasco Sauce heritage, Tom Gaskins, Charlie Elliott and others—help further reveal turkey hunting’s rich heritage.
This is a book that any dedicated turkey hunter, who is also a student of the game and its evolution, will want to own. The photo illustration is superb, with old images of hunts, memorabilia and other portraits and “personality” photos that help define the characters.
The book is published by High Country Press and sells for $39.95, plus $5 for shipping and handling. Signed, inscribed copies are available at jimcasadaoutdoors.com.
A sample chapter can also be read on the website. Books can also be ordered by personal check or money order by contacting Casada at 1250 Yorkdale Drive, Rock Hill, S.C. 29730.
This year has seen its share of national and world upheaval. Between the incredible acrimony of the recent presidential election, ongoing wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and the devastating news of the school massacre in Connecticut by an apparently mentally disturbed young man, many people won’t be sad to see 2012 relegated to the past.
Let’s pull together to make 2013 better. Let’s hope we can sustain focus on conservation and preserving fish and wildlife habitat, on teaching and sharing our love for the outdoors with the generations behind us, on transcending and overcoming polarized political agendas, kneejerk reforms and fiscal cliffs.
May your holidays be merry and your New Year filled with peace, hope, health and happiness.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or e–mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on outdoors things to do around Fredericksburg and the region, sign up for The Free Lance-Star’s newest e-newsletter, Mighty Outdoors, at fredericksburg.com/topics/mightyoutdoors/about.html