venison with morel sauce herb and floral pasta confetti cookies cream of shiitake mushroom soup


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emergence

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Recipe: venison with morel sauce

We received our second shots the day before the anniversary of Kris’ passing. Based on reports from several friends as well as the CDC, I assumed I’d be feeling pretty miserable within 24 hours of my second dose. I bought some flowers earlier in the hopes they would still be bright and perky on May 1.


sunny ranunculus for kris



Because my parents were in town for the past month, our emergence from pandemic isolation has been hastened by their desire to see us. There’s being fully vaccinated and then there is being mentally prepared for the increase in activity and engagement and noise and personalities and driving. And I have to admit that while seeing my parents again has been good, the chaos and stress of stepping back into “normal” life feels anything but normal. It’s not being out of practice so much as questioning if being social is what I enjoy or what society wants me to enjoy. Perhaps Brood X is on to something.

a strawberry mother’s day cake i baked for mom



Per our usually scheduled atmospheric programming, it snowed on Mother’s Day and it snowed some more after that. Any precipitation is welcome in our mountains as we are practically guaranteed a terrible wildfire season in the American West again. The snows and rains made for a cooler, wetter, moodier May, but that hopefully means more mushrooms, more wildflowers, and healthier wildlife here on the Front Range. The western half of Colorado hasn’t been nearly so lucky, but I remain hopeful that the summer monsoons that evaporated the last few years will reappear now that La Niña has officially ended. I love a good Colorado mountain summer rainstorm.

colorado sun and snow in may

signs of life in the mountains: a pasqueflower

deck lounging season has commenced



After taking my parents to the airport last week to catch their morning flight back to Virginia, Jeremy and I stopped to check a morel spot on the plains. We hadn’t paid much attention to the season and we weren’t expecting anything other than a few spears of feral asparagus. But if you don’t look, you’ll never find them. Foraging on the flats is my least favorite kind of foraging because of the ticks and poison ivy and heat and sun and bugs and so many more people, which might explain why I’m so half-heartedly half-assed about the whole endeavor. And to our great surprise, we found a handful of large blonde morels – including the biggest one I’ve ever seen in the flesh!

growing out of the ground like no big deal

approaching child-sized status



My inclination upon finding the first morels of every season is to batter fry them, but that can get a little strange with a morel the size of a guinea pig. The other three weren’t small by our standards, either. Sure, you can cut the big ones up, but half the fun is eating them whole. I flipped through Hank Shaw’s Buck, Buck, Moose cookbook, unearthed a couple of venison backstraps from our freezer (courtesy of our wonderful neighbors), and decided the fate of these precious fungi. The dish is straightforward, quick, and special.

morel mushrooms, venison backstraps, salt, flour, canola oil, butter, beef stock, pepper, port wine, onion



Venison with morel mushroom sauce in the cookbook is slightly different from Hank’s updated web version. The cookbook recipe (this one) works and I’m certain Hank’s newer recipe is just as good if not better, but I didn’t see it until just now. I used fresh morels, but if morels aren’t in season and you have dried morels, Hank has instructions in both recipes for how to use those instead. I suspect you could go with frozen morels, too (I sauté extra morels in butter then freeze them for later use). And if you don’t have access to venison backstrap or tenderloin, beef is a decent alternative.

salt the venison

chopped onion and morels



I seared the venison backstraps rare, measuring the internal temperature at the thickest end to about 120°F (rare is 125°F), knowing it would continue to rise some as the meat rested on a plate. You can shoot for medium rare (final temperature 130°F), but cooking more than that will ruin this lean, tender cut.

sear the meat

resting



**Jump for more butter**

oh deer

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Recipe: bacon-wrapped venison and garlic-herb butter

Last week it was unseasonably warm and sunny, so Kaweah spent a good bit of time on the deck as I worked inside. While I love spending time with my pup, she can really get underfoot when I’m shooting or cooking anything involving meat, or vegetables, or fruit, or cheese or peanut butter… Basically, anytime I work with food (which is all the time) she is my little shadow.


perfect weather for a kaweah



And I needed to get a lot done without constantly dodging the dog or worrying about tripping over her while carrying camera equipment, sharp knives, or fragile dishware. I was trying to get a jump on my work schedule which seemed to have blown up in the span of two days. That, and my folks arrived in Boulder last week. Even though I see them a lot more than I used to, it’s important to me to spend time with them. We just have to agree on things that we all enjoy because I loathe shopping (they are avid shoppers) and they don’t do the outdoor stuff that Jeremy and I like to do – especially anything in the cold.

picking them up at the bus station with roses for mom (because i’m a good chinese daughter!)

we took my folks to try some awesome korean barbecue at dae gee in westminster



One evening when I took rolled pistachio baklava to my neighbors, Ann went into the kitchen to retrieve a plate to return to me. She set a little package wrapped in butcher’s paper on top and told me Herb had returned from his hunting trip in the Midwest (he’s a bow hunter). It was venison. She asked if I’ve prepared venison before and I said only once – when I had no clue what I was doing and Google didn’t exist yet. I assured her that I would find a good recipe. The next day, I was chatting with Herb and Ann in the driveway when Herb rattled off a quick and simple recipe for the venison. It sounded amazing.

let’s start with the garlic-herb butter: butter, parsley, garlic

chop the parsley

grate the garlic



**Jump for more butter**