"The Compleate Woman" From Woods to Home for the Holidays

"If you reach for that spoon one more time, you'll pull back a bloody stump"... Mom scolded holding up a butcher knife. The impish Irish humor in her eyes betrayed any veracity to such a gory hyperbole. We locked eyes for a second, then both broke into hysterical laughter. At ten years old, I thought I was pretty sneaky filching samples of dinner when her back was turned. She was and is the quintessential woman. Raised on a farm, she could hoist hay bales or shoot the eyes out of chicken with a .22 at 50 yards, with as much savoir faire as singing "Ave Maria" to win first runner-up in the Miss Minnesota pageant in 1950, one of many pageants she won before marrying my Father. With beauty, genius IQ and an unmatched wit, she remains today my inspiration that women do not have to fit into any stereotypical mold. We can do it all. And to that end, Mom is the greatest fan of my hunting.
There is a certain satisfaction to be derived from a process I will call "going full circle". As a young girl, I observed Dad going to work; Mom stayed home; Dad killed the deer; Mom canned the apples; Dad had the guns; Mom sewed our clothes; Dad was an only child and city slicker, while Mom was a country girl and one of nine children. As for me... I wanted to do everything that BOTH of them did, and Mom encouraged this. And for the most part, I have done so.

Harvesting game animals with a bow demands skill, time and luck. And while being a "hunter-gatherer" is a stereotypically male role, women hunters have publicly stepped into the spotlight in recent years. My former business partner Kurt once said that I just didn't look like a "typical woman hunter". I asked him "What, is a typical woman hunter an illiterate, frizzy haired, toothless hag who's married to someone named Billy Bob?" "Pretty much", he responded. If that was ever true, which I don't believe it is, today's women hunters break the mold. Women hunters like Michelle Crummer, Brenda Valentine or Tiffany Profante prove that you cannot label a woman hunter, and that we most certainly CAN do it all.

Harvesting an animal, and then creating recipes around the bounty we have taken, is enormously satisfying. To be a predator/harvester and yet also be the chef brings the hunting experience to completion. I also get this satisfaction from the harvests of my garden, or my apple tree, or cutting a Christmas tree up my hunting shack, but those cannot equal creating recipes, cooking what I kill, and feeding my family.

The following recipe is one I created in my mind one afternoon on my deer stand and it was a main course this year along with turkey at Thanksgiving. Cooking Nouvelle Cuisine (French cooking) is a hobby of mine, and this recipe was created in that spirit. The sauce reduction deviates from the purist's "glace" rendition for simple savings of time. I served baby peas with toasted slivered almonds as a side dish.

For women who have never hunted, or even prepared wild game, perhaps it is time you gave these things a try. I work out of my home, kill deer, can apples, have lots of guns, sewed the kid's and my clothes when they were little, and I am both a city slicker and a country girl. Ladies, if you feel that hunting somehow compromises your femininity or identity, I would respectfully disagree. You can do it all.

Bon Appetit

Juniper Venison with Orange Cherry Chutney
Created by Linda Burch

1 large or 2 small quality venison roasts (total 3-4 pounds)


1 cup Merlot wine ½ c. apple cider
¼ c. light soy sauce ¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 T. worstershire sauce 1 T. Juniper Berries
1 bunch finely minced green onions (lightly crushed using mortar & pestle)
¼ cup canola oil  

Pierce roast all over with long tined fork.
Marinade overnight or 24 hours.
Remove meat and set aside ¾ cup of marinade.

Place roast on rack in covered dish with 1-1/3 cups of apple cider.
Roast for 3 hours at 325 degrees or until desired doneness.
Check periodically and do not overcook.

Pour 3 cans of beef bullion into saucepan, boil and reduce to one cup.
Add ¾ cup reserved marinade and 1 cup of drippings from roast. Add 1 T. brown sugar.
Cook and stir. Add small amount of flour thickening if desired.

Slice roast very thin and serve with sauce poured over. Serve chutney on the side and garnish with very thinly sliced oranges. Thick cut venison steaks may be substituted and grilled instead of roasted.

Orange Cherry Chutney
(Prepare at same time as marinade the day before):

Two oranges, peeled, sectioned and sliced
¾ cup fresh cranberries
4 ounces dried cherries
¼ cup sugar (or more, to taste)

Place orange slices in food processor and mince fine. Put in bowl. Place cranberries in food processor and mince fine. Add cranberries and whole dried cherries to oranges. Add ¼ cup sugar and mix. Refrigerate overnight.
© December 2002