California Style Ramps & Eggs

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Ramps are one of the first wild foods to emerge in the spring. To me, their flavor is a cross between onion and garlic. Ramps can be eaten raw or incorporated into many dishes.

Last December, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in California. We visited my daughter who lives in Los Angeles and ate some amazingly good food. We quickly noticed that just about every dish in LA is served with avocados. We also had some really great vegetarian meals. So I used these ideas for my starting point when I created this ramps recipe. The ramps are up, but their growth so far is stunted. They are about half the size that they normally reach. Not sure if the slow growth is being caused by the snow, cold, or lack of moisture.

CA Style Ramps & Eggs

Ingredients

1 bunch of ramps cleaned
1 green pepper
1/2 container of fresh mushrooms
2 cups diced potatoes
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
handful of cherry tomatoes

Thin slice the white bulb and purple portion of the ramps. Slice the green leaf part into 1 inch wide strips and set aside. Chop green pepper and slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet then begin to saute sliced ramps, green pepper and mushrooms. After about 5 minutes add diced potatoes. Stir frequently. While potatoes are cooking, beat eggs well and then mix in milk. When potatoes are cooked, stir in cherry tomatoes and ramp leaves. Next, stir in egg and milk mixture. Reduce heat, and cover and let cook until the egg mixture is solid.

Sparking a Flint Lock

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FFtbang! Shooting a flint lock is the most challenging and rewarding type of shooting there is in the shooting sports

I had been wandering around the woods all day in a raging blizzard. It was the third weekend of deer hunting and the first day of the Wisconsin muzzle loader season. During the 9 day gun deer season, I had harvested two deer with my .54 cal Mortimer flint lock. I figured one more big Wisconsin deer would completely fill the freezer, and keep the family supplied with meat until the following fall. When I got up in the morning to hunt, the blizzard was raging so hard I couldn’t see past the end of my short driveway. “I thought, “Yup, its gonna be a great day in the woods”. I charged up my trusty flinter, put on an extra layer of longies, pulled on the Capote, and headed out to the woods. My drive time to the happy hunting ground was triple the normal drive time. I guessed that with the snow flying and the wind howling, the deer would be bedded down in the shelter of the swamp rather than up on the ridges. I was hoping to kick up a deer or cut a set of fresh tracks and then run down the deer. But the deer outsmarted me and I did not see a single deer or fresh track all day. As the gray light of the storm began to fade to the black of the night. I moseyed back to my car, I pulled the cow’s knee off the lock and discovered there was snow packed around the frizzen. I gently blew the snow off the lock, cocked the rifle and pulled the trigger. The gun went off like clockwork.
A flint lock can be a finicky and unpredictable beast, but with proper loading procedures and care, a flint lock can also very reliable. My Mortimer has dropped many a deer and even bear.

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The main components of a flint lock are the cock, which holds the flint and scrapes the flint across the frizzen to generate sparks. The frizzen- piece of high carbon steel on a hinge, which does two jobs-create spark and hold the priming powder in pan. The pan which holds the priming powder, and the touch hole which is the conduit between the flash of powder in the pan and the main charge in the barrel.

Understanding the process by which a flinter ignites the main powered charge is vitally important to making one work.The pan is primed with powder, the cock is pulled back. the target is in the sights, and the shooter squeezes the trigger. Now what? The springs in the lock propel the cock forward and it collides with the frizzen. The collision causes the frizzen to snap forward uncovering the pan and priming powder as a shower of sparks from the frizzen descends on the priming powder in the pan. Then POOF!. The priming powder ignites. A fraction of the flame from the priming powder flicks into the touch hole and the powder charge in the barrel goes BOOM!
There are three things that can happen when the trigger is pulled on a flint lock. The best result is the rapid boom described above. Second is a fffft-boom, this is a called a hang fire. The third is silence. This is called a misfire. Of the three, the misfire is the most dangerous because the lack of firing may be a really long hang fire. Hence, if there is a misfire, the muzzle must be pointed in a safe direction for at least a minute before the shooter begins to tinker with the gun. Even after a minute, the muzzle must always be pointed in a safe direction.
If a hang fire or a misfire occurs some thing prevented one or more parts of the firing sequence from happening. The good news is that with meticulous loading techniques, a shooter can get a flint lock to go Boom nearly 100% of the time.
I am going to describe my meticulous loading process and explain why each step helps my flinters go boom with no delays. The first step in the ignition process is the flint striking the frizzen. To make sparks, the flint must be sharp. The best way to ensure a sharp flint is to put a new flint in the cock before heading out to hunt or starting a serious competition. If plinking or a friendly competition, just run your finger along the edge of the flint. With some experience, a shooter can tell if the flint is sharp. If the flint seems dull, employ the knapping hammer until one or two small flakes of flint drop off. Now get the frizzen ready by wiping it down with a cloth. And while you’re at it, wipe the pan out as well. Doesn’t hurt to wipe the underside of the flint too. Now that all is clean and sharp, the gun is ready to load. It should also be noted that the wipe down process can be done after the barrel is charged. First powder goes in the barrel along with a patch and a ball. After the powder is dumped in, it doesn’t hurt to tap the butt on the ground a time or two to make sure the powder settles down into the breech and in front of the touch hole. The next step is to ensure that the touch hole is not obstructed. Do this by running the touch hole pick in and out of the touch hole a time or two. Some shooters will put the touch hole pick in the touch hole prior to pouring the powder down the barrel. In addition to clearing out the touch hole, the pick acts to create an air space in front of the touch hole. This pocket allows the flash from the pan to ignite more granules of powder than if the powder was flush with the touch hole, which means a faster over all ignition time. The final step is to put powder in the pan. Don’t load it up and cover the touch hole. This will cause a delay since the excess powder will act like a fuse. For fast ignition the gun must have a good flash from the pan. Think of the priming powder in the pan as a spark plug.
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The tools needed to load a flint lock include (Right to left) Primer, Spare Flints, wiping cloth, touch hole pick, screw driver, flint knapping hammer, and pan brush. Powder horn and measure is for charging the barrel.

When shooting the gun, listen to the ignition process. Do all the individual sounds meld into one continuous sequence? If so, you have your loading process down. If not, try tweaking the loading process. Add a bit more or a bit less prime to the pan. Try putting the flint in the cock with the bevel up or down. Try both 3Fg and 4Fg for the priming powder. The diameter of the touch hole pick may make a difference. I have a thin wire pick that I use on the Mortimer, it works great. But when I got a trade gun, it occasionally had hang fires. I inadvertently fixed the problem when I bought a hand-forged set of flint lock tools. The pick was custom fitted to the touch hole and the hang fires disappeared. The goal is to make the ignition process as fast as the lock will allow.
That brings up one important point on flint locks. As seen from the article, a well functioning flint lock is an intricate device. It takes skill to make one that works well and is reliable. When buying a flinter, its best to check out the reputation of the manufacturer to make sure you get a good one. Buying a flint lock because it is cheap is usually a recipe for failure.
There are a few tricks that can be used when hunting, to increase the reliability of the flinter when dat ole thurdy point buck comes strolling past. A “Cow’s Knee” is a piece of leather or cloth that covers the lock and trigger to make it harder for moisture to dampend the prime and prevent the gun from firing. After priming a flint lock rub a bit of bees wax-based lip balm on the area where the frizzen meets the pan. This will also make it harder for water to dampen the priming powder. Finally, check and change the priming powder often. Even if its completely dry out, I will change out the prime a few times during the day to make sure the gun will go off like clock work.
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A cows knee fitted over the lock lowers the risk that moisture will interfere with the ignition process.

It takes more skill to shoot and hunt with a flint lock than another type of gun. This is what makes hunting and shooting with them so rewarding.

Sour Dough Bread

Few food items conjure up images of pioneers and prospectors like sour dough bread. Hardy Alaskan prospectors who had been in country for a winter or more were accorded special status with the title “Sourdough”. The Sourdoughs in Alaska protected their starter from the cold of winter by keeping in it a bag under their clothes. Since bathing during the long cold Alaskan winter wasn’t practical, I wonder what flavors were imparted to the starter while it was kept under the prospector’s clothing. Sourdough is sort of a self rising ingredient so one can use low gluten flours like all purpose and rye flour which do not work well with active bread yeasts which needs the gluten to make the bread rise. The trade off is that sourdough breads take longer to rise than breads using active yeasts.
Sourdough Starter
The first step to making sourdough bread is to create a starter. This process can take up to two weeks. The two basic ingredients for sourdough starter are water and flour. A third basic ingredient is wild yeast which is everywhere. The water and flour is left open to the air so the yeast can fall into the flour/water mixture where it begins to ferment. Eventually the starter is formed. To speed the fermentation process up, a sugar such as honey, white sugar, brown sugar, or a fruit juice can be added to the starter. Packaged yeast can also be added to the starter. The starter I used called for
1 package of dry yeast
21/2 cups warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Table spoon honey or sugar. (I used honey)

The ingredients were dumped in a bowl, a cheese cloth was put over the top and the mixture was left to ferment. The mixture had to be stirred two or three times a day. When the starter was bubbly and smelled like a frat house after a wild beer party-it was ready for baking.
Sour dough bread
1 cup sour dough starter at room temperature
1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1 ½ cups warm water
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ to 1 cup all purpose flour

Mix 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking soda and sugar into dissolved yeast mixture. Add starter, then mix in as much of the ½ to 1 cup of flour to mixture stirring with spoon. Kneed on a lightly greased surface adding flour until you have a moderately stiff dough. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down, divide into two loaves and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough into round or oval loaves and place on a greased cookie sheet or round pan. Cut a criss-crossed pattern on top of loaves with a sharp knife. Cover loaves and let rise until doubled. This may take up to a hour and a half. Bake in a 400 degree over or in a hot Dutch oven. One tip from the cook shack: If using the oven preheat the oven to 450 and the turn down to 400 after the dough is in the oven. If using the Dutch oven preheat prior to placing the bread in the oven. Also, place the dough in a cake pan and elevate the pan from the bottom of the Dutch oven to lower the risk of burning. I use metal corner brackets to elevate the pan. The bread is one when you tap on the crust and it sounds hollow.
Sourdough bread is a culinary experience worth the time and effort it takes to make it.

Deer Hunting the Focus of Major Questions at the Spring Hearings

Many major changes are being proposed to Wisconsin’s hunting and fishing regulations at the Spring Hearings this year. Some of the proposed changes include a non-toxic ammo requirement on DNR lands, a baiting and feeding ban, longer gun deer season options, and a spring bear season. The Hearings will be held on Monday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. The Dunn County hearing will be held at the Dunn County Fish and Game Club House. Citizens can attend the hearings or use an on-line option to cast their votes on the questions.

The Proposed Questions

Questions 1-7 require the use of non-toxic ammunition on state owned or managed lands. Each of the seven questions asks about the use of non-toxic shot in different situations. Question 1 asks about the general use of non-toxic shot. Question 2 would require the use of non-toxic bullets and slugs. Questions 3-7 ask about using non-toxic shot and or ammo on various game species including, doves, pheasants, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and small game.

Multiple questions deal with the issue of baiting and feeding in Wisconsin. Question 8 would restrict the use of artificial water sources in areas with CWD. Baiting is already prohibited in areas with CWD and this question would make artificial water sources a type of bait. Question 16 in the Natural Resources Board section of the Hearing calls for prohibiting baiting and feeding of deer statewide. This ban is designed to help stop the spread of CWD and other diseases like bovine tuberculosis. Questions 20 and 21 ask if CDACs can have authority to make recommendations on baiting and feeding. Currently baiting and feeding can only be restricted within a certain area if CWD is detected, and the restriction can only last for a limited time. Question 21 asks if the DNR should have greater authority to determine baiting and feeding regulations. Question 22 queries if CDACs should have the ability to regulate baiting and feeding in their counties.

Question 9 suggests using a raffle to award a new type of hunting license and tag. This question proposes to create a special license awarded through a statewide raffle that would allow the holder to hunt critters that have a long wait period like elk, and bear, plus possibly other species like turkey, bobcat, and waterfowl hunts in access restricted areas. The funds from the license raffle would go to fund wildlife habitat restoration and management.

Questions 10-17 suggest major changes to the current structure of the deer hunting season and have been placed on the Spring Hearing Questionnaire by the Natural Resources Board. Some of these questions will radically change the way deer hunting is conducted in the state. Question 10 suggests adding 10 days of hunting onto the end of the current nine day season to create a 19 day season. This proposal would also eliminate the muzzle loader season. Hunters could use rifles, shotguns with slugs, crossbows and bows during the 19 day season. Question 11 calls for the elimination of the antlerlesss-only holiday hunts. Eliminating the holiday hunt is being proposed because of the possible change in the season length proposed in Question 10. Question 12 surveys participants to see if they would like to establish a 2-day or a 5-day no-hunting period prior to the opening of the gun deer season. All hunting seasons, except for waterfowl hunting would be closed during this no-hunting period. Question 13 is a bit confusing as it invalidates archery and crossbow tags during the gun deer and muzzle loader seasons. However, hunters could still use bow or crossbows during the gun deer season but only to fill gun deer tags. Question 14 would limit the use of crossbows for hunting from October 1 to October 31 and then again after the gun deer season is over. Hunters with a disabled license or over the age of 60 would still be able to hunt with crossbows during the entire archery season. This rule is being suggested because some feel that crossbow hunters are killing more than their share of bucks. Question 15 seeks to eliminate the current 4 deer management zones (Northern Forest, Central Farm Land, Central Forest and Southern Farm Land). If this question passes, all deer management questions would be decided at the county level by the CDACs. Question 17 calls for closing the crossbow season during the month of November. Question 17 differs from Question 14 by opening the crossbow season up during the months of September and October but closing it during the month of November. The implications of Questions 10-17 are profound for deer hunting in the state. Every deer hunter in the state should vote on these questions.

Question 18 seeks to establish a spring bear hunting season that would most likely last between two to three weeks. While not known for sure, baiting and spot and stalk hunting would be most likely methods used to hunt bears in the spring. Harvesting cubs or a sow with cubs would be illegal in the proposed spring hunt. Hunters would be issued only one tag and could use the tag either in the spring or the fall.

Questions 19 to 55 are being posed by the Conservation Congress. The Congress generates its questions either from citizen resolutions that are introduced at prior spring hearings or through the work of its committees. Passage of resolutions on this portion of the Questionnaire could result in changes to laws and regulations at a future date. Many of the Conservation Congress Questions deal with local issue like bag limits on specific lakes.

Questions 19 and 20 do have a statewide impact on deer hunting. Both questions ask if the state should bring back the Earn-a-Buck program. Proponents of Earn-a-Buck note that it was very effective in reducing the deer population in areas where the deer exceeded population goals. However, many hunters despised Earn-a-Buck because it made it difficult to harvest a buck and thought that there should be more deer rather than fewer deer. Question 19 asks if the DNR should have the authority to use Earn-a-Buck, and Question 20 asks if county CDACs should have the authority to use Earn-A-Buck in setting up hunting seasons.

Question 23 proposes that CDACs be given the ability to designated portions of deer hunting season as anterless only.

Question 24 is a two part change to the structure of the deer season. The question lengthens the season to 16 days and opens the season up approximately one week earlier by moving opening day to the Saturday closest to November 15. Currently the opening is determined as the Saturday immediately preceding the 4th Thursday (Thanksgiving) in November.

Questions 25 and 26 deal with the topic of bear baiting. Question 25 would allow the use of man made containers for bear bait on private land, but not public land. Question 26 would allow bear baiters to nail bottoms on the hollow logs that they use for bear baiting to keep unwanted critters out of the bear bait.

Question 28 Opposes the propose Back Forty Mine metallic sulfide mine on the Menominee River. The mine would be located on the Michigan side of this outstanding border rive but pollution would effect Wisconsin sports men and women who use the river and contaminate Green Bay.

Question 31 seeks to establish an experimental Badger trapping season with a limited harvest.

Question 49 looks to protect native Buffalo fish by ending their rough fish status and setting up harvest parameters.

Question 50 asks for a legislative change in boating regulations so that operating a boat at speeds in excess of slow and no wake could only occur on lake that are larger than 50 or more acres.

Question 50 seeks legislative change so that DNR game wardens would have the ability to enforce trespass laws.

Expanding the funding sources from license and stamp fees to other potential revenue streams is the goal of Question 55.

How to vote in the Spring Hearings.

Citizens can vote on the questions by either attending the Spring hearing on April 13 or by going on line. Meeting attendees can choose to fill out the forms immediately, or stay and give input on each individual question. The input from citizens is then part of the public record. The on-line option goes live at 7:00 PM on April 13. Individuals who want to complete the form on-line can go to the Spring Hearing and get a code (VRN-Variable Random Number) that verifies that they are a resident of a specific county so their vote will be included in the official tally for that county. Or they can just go on line and vote. Their votes will be listed as a county resident but in a separate tally for that county. The on-line voting portal can be found at [https://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html] or go to DNR.WI.GOV and search keywords “Spring Hearings.”

County Conservation Delegates Selected.

The delegates who represent each county are also selected at the Spring Hearing. Every year, one delegate is selected for a 2 year term and one is selected for a 3 year term on the Conservation Congress. To vote for the Conservation Congress delegates one must attend the hearing.

The entire spring questionnaire can be found at [https://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/Documents/spring_hearing/2020/2020_Spring_Questionnaire.pdf]

Blues Burgers

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Blues Burgers is a great way to dress up a hamburger. It can be grilled or broiled.

Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray, Mark Cameron, and tons of other awesome musicians all play some mighty great blues. Its my favorite type of music. So when I saw a recipe call Blues Burgers I knew I had to try it. I even had the sound track to the Blues Brother 2000 movie jammin in the background while I was cooking. I added caramelized onions and dry sauteed the mushrooms rather than sauteing them in butter as in the original recipe. I used a burger press to make the burgers. I kept the burgers on one sheet of the wax paper until it was time to cook them up. This made handling easier and gave more area for sprinkling the blue cheese on the burger. Take special care to make sure the edges are sealed around the entire burger or the cheese will leak out. This is a great burger. Definitely worth the extra effort

Blues Burgers

Ingredients

½ lbs fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ lbs burger
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 oz crumbled blue cheese
BBQ sauce
Caramelized Onion slices

Directions

Saute the mushroom in a dry pan until tender. In large bowl, mix burger and spices and form into 8 thin patties. Sprinkle half the patties with blue cheese. Place remaining patties on top of blue cheese and smoosh together especially the edges. Grill or broil for ten minutes or till desired doneness. Place on a toasted bun, and top with BBQ sauce, onions, and mushrooms,.

Maple Roasted Venison

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In between cleaning snow off the drive way and snow shoeing, I was able to toss a venison roast in the oven. As an experiment, I poured a mixture of maple syrup, and rose wine over the venison roast. I also tossed the ingredients for a loaf of fresh whole wheat bread in the bread machine. I was so hungry when supper was finally done after smelling baking bread and roasting venison all afternoon. Maybe that is why this roast was so good. The venison was also served with a wild rice side dish.

Ingredients

Venison roast
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup red wine. (I used cheap rose)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon onion powder
Teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

Place roast in dutch oven. Combine rest of ingredients and pour over roast. Cook at 275° for 4 hours. Ladle sauce over meat about every half hour. When roast is done, remove meat from dutch oven and use left over sauce to make gravy. Pour gravy over meat before carving.

Lefse

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Lefse is one of my favorite holiday foods. But I have never been able to make it until recently when I joined my friends, the Hansens, for their annual lefse making affair. I discovered that making lefse is an intricate process. The process began the night before we rolled out the lefse, when the Hansens boiled up a bunch of russet potatoes and then riced them. Later they mixed up the ingredients listed below, and then rolled them into two ounce dough balls and chilled the dough balls. The next next afternoon, we the rolled the balls into sheets of raw lefse. We did this on a cloth covered lefse pastry board, and rollers covered with cloth socks. It was much like rolling out pie crust but much easier. Keeping the right amount of flour on the roller and the pastry sheet while rolling out the lefse sheets was critical to success during this step in the process.. Finally, the sheets were removed from the pastry cloths with a lefse stick and cooked them on electric lefse griddles.

Hansen’s Way Lefse Recipe
4 cups riced potatoes
1/3 cup half and half
6 tablespoons corn oil margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cup flour

Making lefse was a fun group project. We had two people rolling out the dough and two cooking and prepping the dough. Much mirth also accompanied our efforts.

Acorn Squash and Gravy

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A different take on biscuits and gravy. Squash and gravy adds a few ingredients for a delicious and simple meal.

I was planning on making stuffed squash, but that seemed like it would take too long and be too much effort so I created this squash and gravy dish. Its fairly quick and really good.

Gravy
Ingredients
1 lb. of your favorite breakfast sausage
½ half lb. of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion finely chopped
Milk
1 cup cold water
3 or 4 teaspoons all purpose flour
salt and pepper as preferred

Directions
Heat cast iron skillet and fry sausage, mushrooms and onions, until done. Turn off heat. Place cold water and flour into bowl and stir with a whisk. Pour milk over sausage mix until almost covered, Add water and flour mix, and salt and pepper. Fire up stove and cook on medium until mix is hot and bubbly, Stir frequently.

Squash

2 acorn squash cut in half and with seeds removed

Place squash halves in kettle with about 2 cups of water. Cover and heat until water boils. Turn down heat and steam squash until it is done.

To serve: Place squash on plate and ladle gravy mix into squash.