Cooking scares me. I always follow the directions to the nth degree but every single time, the dish in question turns out either burnt or tasting faintly of dead rodent. Case in point; the red velvet cake I lovingly crafted for DU about a month ago. (I know it's been about a month because the sad remnants still stand in our fridge; an effigy to my baking prowess, or lack thereof.) DU loves sweets so I figured that I'd do the girlfriend thing and make him a cake. I added the water perfectly, the oil was already in the bowl just waiting to be united with those strange oblong white spheres while the cake mix stood with a chip on its shoulder, knowing that it was the star of this show. I urged the mixture into a pan and began pushing it into the thundering furnace when DU asked how long I was planning on baking it for. I told him a half hour when he informed me that the directions didn't say 22 minutes and 2 seconds, but 22 minutes for 2 pans of cake mix. Thoroughly disgusted with my performance, I threw things around in the kitchen, blaming the box for its stupid directions.
Less than a half hour passed, filling the house with the aroma of red-velvet goodness. Feeling a little confident, I went to check on the cakes. Like a seasoned pro I checked the middle of the bakery goods with a tooth pick to check its consistency; which happened to be dry and hard as a hockey puck. I took the pans out, allowed them to cool then attempted to pry them from their pan entrapment only to be faced with brutal refusal. The edges took 4 washings to be expelled from the baking surface while the center was still gooey. In an effort to save the project, I mixed the edible pieces with an entire vat of cream-cheese whipped frosting. Applauding my own quick thinking, I set a bowl for DU to taste. Smiling his best boyfriend smile, he said it was delicious. Three weeks later, the bowl is still full; DU finally admitted that my dessert had made his stomach angry and I hung up my apron.
My sad apron pouted in the recesses of my closet until last night. Earlier this week, DU came home with at least two processed deer in his truck bed. One of his buddies was moving and paying money to transport the meat was not high on his priority list so he bequeathed the wild game to us, which could not have made me happier. If there is one thing that I am not completely hopeless at, it is making wild game delicious. After harvesting my first deer, I refused to buy any meat from stores until the entire doe yielded her entire bounty, hence I got really creative with my dishes. I perfected venison tacos, wraps, and salads. Whilst normal cooking can send me into a confused tizzy, creating dishes from an animal I harvested myself gives me a super-woman surge of confidence.
The tornadoes and horrific storms kept us from turkey hunting this weekend so when DU asked what I wanted to do for dinner, I immediately said, venison! So while DU tinkered in the garage, I rummaged in the pantry. In the hour that followed, I far surpassed my own expectations by making a sauce that left both of us flabbergasted.
Spaghetti with Venison Sauce
Hardware: 2 pots and a skillet (or 1 pot, and a cast-iron skillet*), a strainer, spoon
1 pound ground venison
1 pound angel hair pasta
1. Kill a deer or a find a fabulous friend who is nice enough to move and, in the process, leave you with a lot of professionally processed deer meat.
2. While throwing Prego, or if you're really fancy your own sauce, in a pot to simmer*, open a bottle of red wine, (Drink up.. this is an easy recipe) and don your cutest, polka-dotted, monogrammed apron.
3. Sprinkle some of your favorite dry steak seasoning on the ground venison (I added this ingredient as an afterthought and it was superb.) Brown the meat in a skillet* on medium-heat until the majority of the venison is brown. Given that venison is low in fat, it tends to try out easily. Hence, I leave some of the meat pink as to ensure the meat does not dessicate.
4. Once venison is cooked, add to simmering sauce. Add pepper and garlic seasoning to taste (we use a LOT of this). Allow entire concoction to meld on low heat for as long as it takes for your family to drag themselves to the table. While this may take hours, be rest assured, the meat will stay tender.
5. Cook pasta to taste. We like ours al dente so after only 5 minutes cooking, the pasta joyfully fell into the red sauce; ready to be eaten.
6. If you're really into carbohydrates, and who isn't during turkey season, throw some bread in the toaster oven to aide in the spooning of the venison sauce.
* If you are using a cast-iron skillet, brown the venison in it then add the sauce to simmer. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet so all the goodness is soaked up. While this isn't the way that I went about it (I had no idea we owned a cast-iron skillet nor how to use it), DU noted that when he makes sauce, it enhances the flavor considerably.
Remember to save leftovers in a sturdy container as venison spaghetti tastes better the second time around!