It has been a busy couple days! Jesse got an elk tag this year (spike elk) and has been up to Strawberry Reservoir multiple times hoping to fill his tag but didn’t get anything in that location. He left for La Sal mountain range on Tuesday because he wanted to try his hand up there and his brother and family would be going up at the end of the week to try and fill their deer tags. Well, Jesse filled his tag on Tuesday night!
Jesse’s first elk!
He drove back home on Wednesday and he had already field dressed and quartered the elk so I started processing. Holy moly, that was a lot of animal! Ezra met Jesse at the top the stairs and greeted him with, “We’re so excited you got an elk, daddy!” It was adorable, especially because I didn’t tell him to say that.
elk ready for processing
Our knives weren’t very sharp so it took me awhile to get through the processing. I was able to finish the backstrap and some organs before Velvet and kids came over for dinner that night (we had Chinese food night!) and then after they left I started again and finished the organs then got through the tenderloins and one hind leg before admitting defeat and going to bed around midnight.
huge hind leg, probably about 50+ lbs
We found a knife sharpener and the processing went much more smoothly the next morning. When we sharpened the knife edges during processing, I noticed that one of our Cuisinart knifes has a crack in it! It’s near the base but I was a little miffed because Cuisinart is supposed to be a decent brand I thought and we’ve only had the knives for a couple years. Maybe if I contact them they will send me a new one. But I’d probably need the original receipts…hmm.
I think I finally finished up processing around 1:30pm and Jesse ended up leaving for camp again a little bit later that day. (I say *I* did the processing but Jesse helped me bag it up, thanks honey!) Our deep freezer is stuffed full of elk now. We probably have a few hundred pounds total of steaks, hams, ground, stew meat, organs, and dog food (scraps and overly tendon-y pieces). If Dustin and his son are able to fill their two tags, we won’t have the room to store it all, but Velvet said we can use her freezer and there are a couple other family freezers we can store with as well. As much as I’m not looking forward to processing more animals (because it’s somewhat trying), it’s totally worth it to spend three days processing if it means a year’s worth of meat.
I was all kinds of irritated last night because I had cleaned everything up earlier in the day only to find a large bag of meat meant to be ground still in the fridge from the night before. I had to get out the grinder again and put it together and grind the meat (we got another six stuffed quart bags) and then I had to disassemble and clean everything again. I may still have some grinder pieces soaking in the sink.
With ground elk, I know most people grind it with the addition of some kind of fat (either pork or beef) because elk is so lean and if you try to make burgers with it it will just fall apart. However, we like the beef patties we get from Costco and really just wanted ground to use in things like burritos, taco soup, stroganoff, that kind of thing, so I didn’t add anything to it when I ground it up.
We really try to utilize the whole animal when we kill anything. We kept the spike antlers to give to the dogs as chew toys. We usually buy antlers from Best Bully Sticks and they like them well enough but these two antlers are super fresh and I have a feeling they will go crazy about them. We kicked around the idea of keeping and tanning the hide as well but we don’t know enough about that process to really do anything worthwhile with it. Maybe we can learn more this year to be better prepared for it next year.
On Tuesday while Jesse was gone, I decided to swap our bedroom with Ezra’s room. I thought it was a smidge larger than our bedroom and also my closet was in that room and Jesse hardly ever uses his closet that was in our (old) bedroom.
I was able to get a lot of stuff cleared out of the bedrooms, but then I needed Velvet’s help to dismantle the bunk bed and move our heavy bed base to the new room. I was right that the room is a bit larger, we definitely have more room for Leo’s portable crib and when we put together the big crib (which we need to do in a couple days because he’s way cramped as it is) that extra room will come in handy. Not sure what we’ll do when Leo is old enough to stay in his crib and share a room with Ezra, there’s not a lot of leftover space in that room. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
In any event, the majority of our stuff has been swapped around but there are still little odds and ends that need to be moved around and some shelves need to be put up still. The first night in the new room Ezra kept getting up and he told me that he heard a scary sound in the bedroom, and he did the sound for me. I tell you, it sounded like something straight out of a horror movie. Ker-ker-ker-ker-cha-cha-cha-cha. Koo-waa! Freaked me out and I was home alone with the boys so I just said, it’s nothing, just a new room, takes some time to get used to. But man, it took me awhile to fall asleep that night.
Ezra has been wanting me to make cakes so I tried my hand at a coffee cake and while it was pretty good, I think next time I want something with more spices and also maybe swirled batter. Maybe what I really want are cinnamon rolls. Yeah, that sounds good. I used this recipe and the only difference was I subbed macadamia nuts because that’s what I hand on hand.
I sent the remaining pieces of cake with Jesse for him to share with his hunting crew, and then last night I made apple crisp using this recipe. Velvet got me an apple peeler/corer quite a while ago for a birthday or Christmas or something and I finally tried it out for the first time. I had to fiddle with some settings but was able to make it work pretty well. MUCH faster than peeling and coring by hand, that is for sure.
I like the recipe well enough and while all the reviews said there was a good amount of crumble topping to apples, I did not find that to be true. It’s still pretty tasty but I want larger crumble pieces that are a crunchy-sweet contrast to the tart apples. Looking back at the pictures maybe I hadn’t cut in the butter well enough because it was still pretty powdery. Oh well, I’ll remain on the hunt for the perfect crisp recipe a while longer I guess.
Ezra has been very accommodating in the compliments sector lately. Yesterday, Ezra gave me props for watching a scene of his cartoon, “Good job seeing it, mom!” I aim to please, folks.
Leo is rolling over now. And then he gets all frustrated because he doesn’t want to be on his belly. *sigh* He is growing up so quickly!