Your Best Recipes Aren’t Always Cast in Stone

Messing around with pots, pans, the stove and cookbooks apparently is something that I’ve been doing ever since I was a wee tot old enough to pull a chair up to the counter.

Venison kebabs1My late mother used to tell me a story about finding me one morning at the kitchen stove making breakfast. I was maybe five years old, possibly younger. After she had made my father breakfast and he had departed for work, she dozed off on the couch. She woke up smelling smoke to find me gleefully stirring the remains of egg shells, bacon and other leftovers in the skillet with a spatula and proudly proclaiming that I was “making breakfast just like you!”

Thankfully, I didn’t burn down the house. I did burn the corner of one of her cookbooks, which I still have. As I grew older I’d watch my father frying fish and hushpuppies on our patio with his propane cooker. Our son thinks my propane cooker is cool like I did when my father would make those tasty golden nuggets.

Food is a touchstone for everyone. We all have to eat. Many of us enjoy watching Food Network or Travel Channel shows like Chopped or Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations or Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. Some of us like the tried and true, and others explore with the knife and pan and new recipes.

I recently heard a radio show report that featured two women from the Caribbean discussing their native foods. One of them said something that hit me pretty well, that she sees “a recipe as a guide … to be pulled apart and put back together.”

That’s a good line of thought. What you may believe is the only, hardcore way to fix a venison roast or Granny’s Famous Cornbread might be something I would tweak. Variety can be the spice of life, although I draw the line at adding sugar to cornbread.

Here’s a good salad dressing recipe from Barnsley Resort, located in northwest Georgia and one of my favorite places. Adam Hayes is the new executive chef and this dressing would be great on a summer salad to go with your grilled venison kebabs or spicy bacon backstraps.

Two Mile Honey Lavender Vinaigrette
1 pint blended oil (50/50 canola and extra virgin olive)
1 gram fresh lavender flowers
1 cup lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup local honey

Combine all ingredients (except the oil) into a small mixing bowl. Use a burr mixer to incorporate the ingredients and slowly add the oil to emulsify. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Yields 3/4 quart

Here’s a cool venison burger recipe to try this weekend, too!

Yogurt Venison Burgers
This venison recipe for Yogurt Venison Burgers offers a different take on the standard grilled venison burger. It comes from Deer & Deer Hunting reader Rich Decembrino of Pennsylvania.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground venison

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, mustard and lime peel. Refrigerate until burgers are ready. In a separate bowl, combine the onions, yogurt, jalapeno, salt, pepper and ground venison. Form into 8 patties with a consistent thickness so that they cook evenly. Grill over medium heat, turning once until cooked to medium. Do not cut or poke holes in burgers while cooking to ensure that they stay moist.

Top with cheese of choice if desired. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with mayonnaise spread. Enjoy!