Red beans and rice again, really Uncle Ben? You, Hamburger Helper, and Paint by Numbers can all eat your collective hearts out because this is our house.
My kids have a playroom. If you read the description on our blueprints however, the room is listed as a ‘Study’. There is studying that takes place in that office, but not of the sort you may expect. When our corporate suite mates moved to a different commercial building and threw away both of their 4.5’ x 4.5’ brushed aluminum trimmed, dry erase boards yours truly went dumpster diving.
The fist board made it up north to our mini-cabin where we leave childish messages to one another to receive the next time someone goes camping. The second board is front and center in the kid’s study. It’s a blank canvas and symbolic of the overall theme of that room which is encircled by Legos ready to be assembled, faux food not yet cooked, and games yet to be imagined.
On cold winter weekends when the TV is off, when iPads are put away in their docking bays, and our kids are left to their own devices their collective imaginations run wild. Their playroom spills over into the whole of the house. They drag playroom furniture up the colonial stairs. They pilferage the basement for unused artifacts. They line up fleets of strollers and three and four wheeled armadas. And, they loot the pantry, and steal the dog’s food to feed their Build a bear pack.
Something similar occurs at mealtime. My wife, who kicks ass in the kitchen, puts her game face on and becomes an unstoppable force. To be certain, she’s great at everything she enjoys doing. Her father Carl knows his way around when it’s time to eat too. I vividly recall her talking about growing up and always loving to watch her Dad cook. Whether its dinner time, or breakfast time, and especially during Holiday time, you can expect a full and magnificent spread. Directly proportional to how great and varied the dishes are, is the amount of destruction that’s left in her culinary wake.
Where I’m concerned, when I’m working on a project (i.e. building a 20’ shuffleboard table, or building a glass-backed bar, installing a stone masonry chimney, or building docks, decks, or patios) my brain and workspace are whirlwinds too. Tools all over, sketches aplenty, sawdust and planer chips everywhere. But when I cook, when it’s not packaged in carryout containers, it’s all very orderly. Plate the steak; season the steak; clean the counter; grill the steaks, all orderly.
Focusing on what comes next has always been my foodie loving flaw. Having goals is great, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about being in the moment when you’re knee-deep in a task. You think Barry Sanders or Ty Cobb, Steve Yzerman or Gordie Howe ever stopped to consider how tidy their uniforms were halfway through a quarter, inning, or period? It’s why Henry Ford’s assembly line broke projects down into incremental portions. It’s why, on a construction site, sweeping always comes last. And, it’s why Chef Kate Williams (Lady of the House) never worries about the cleanup ahead of the prep work.
The same is true with Jen. If there’s not splatter marks on the ceiling and walls; if the sink it’s full of tin cans, heads of strawberries and tomatoes, avocado husks, and lemon rind; and if we’re not taking the recycle and trash out every 30 minutes; then it’s probably not a dish worth serving. Contrary to what my Grandma Kenita and Nashoba Brook Bakery say, the FDA insists that love is not an ingredient. Well, it may not be her love that creates the climate, but one things for sure. Jen cooks with a whole lot of confidence. It’s that confidence, baked into her meals, that I hope is worth sharing to anyone looking for a change of pace.
When it’s all said and done. When the kiddos have exhausted themselves in play with their cousins. When shuffleboard is being played with friends and family. When we have broken bread at our breadboard table. When childhood imaginations have run wild; when stories of the chase for game and quarry have been shared; and when the fish and wild game meals have been served, the house still looks immaculate.
Instead of a distraction, cleaning becomes the shared task. In cooking as in play, if anything great is going to be accomplished then there’s bound to be a mess involved. If you’re interested in getting into the wild or are already hangry for the outdoors hit us up. We would love to hear your stories and try your inspired meals.
The Recipe: Venison Red Beans and Rice:
This recipe can be as jazzed up as you would like. On weeknights, I keep it simple and lightly seasoned for the kiddos. On weekends, I like to make it spicy. We have had this dish as a meal and as a side dish. One thing is certain, you must boil the white rice in V8 or tomato juice. It gives the rice more flavor.
What ingredients do I need?
1 pound ground venison
2 cans red kidney beans
2 cups V8
2 cups Instant White Rice (or preferred rice)
1-2 Tablespoons Cholula
1 ½ teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
Extra V8 juice to your likening
Brown the venison in a pan and season with the Cajun Seasoning
Bring 2 cups of V8 to a boil
Add the 2 cups of Instant Rice and cover for 10 minutes or according to the rice package
You will want to check and make sure that there is enough juice. You may need to add a little more
Add the cooked rice and 2 cans of rinsed beans to the ground venison
Add a little more V8 and Cholula to your liking
We serve this with some cornbread. You can jazz this up with peppers and onions if you like. I like to keep it simple for the week nights.
Fish & Wild Game Recipes by Jennifer Hiller