It’s pheasant season. My neighbor, Mark, of Bloody Mary fame, is a hunter. He asked me earlier this week if I would like a couple of birds to cook up.

Rewind to a balmy Summer night, friends gathered on the patio, sweet cigar smoke scenting the air, drinking a new whiskey, an old favorite beer, or a yummy glass of Pinot Grigio. Lots of talk around the table. Catching up on the latest news of the neighborhood, talk of the past, and talk of the future. The upcoming hunting season was approaching and the talk went to cooking game. This city girl (who would so love to be a country gal) had never cooked edible game. Oh, I tried wild duck breasts a few years ago and they turned out to be inedible. They were tough, bloody, and tasted like bad liver. I was clueless to the whole process. I told Mark I was willing to learn to cook anything he hunted. Game on!

Mark and I had a hard time catching each other this week for a coordinated “bird drop”. Finally, last night we came up with a plan.  He was going hunting very early this morning and would drop off the dressed and frozen birds on my porch. I told him I would leave homemade cinnamon rolls for him. So, I rolled out of a very warm bed at 6:30 this morning, went to the kitchen, put a couple of cinnamon rolls in a baggie, and then taped them to the storm door. I then crawled back into bed and put my frozen feet on Mr. Gravy. I’m guessing it was about 18 degrees outside, too cold and dark for me. So, back to sleep I went.

When I got up, later, there was a bag of frozen birds on the porch and the cinnamon rolls were gone. Heckuva deal! I thawed the birds, cut them up, and cleaned them up a little. Mark did an awesome job cleaning those birds. He even threw in a couple of dressed little quail.

I had watched a cooking show called Farmhouse Rules with Nancy Fuller earlier this Fall. She cooked a wild duck cacciatore. So, I did some reading around the internet and found out that cacciatore means “hunter style” of preparation. Sounded good to me. I ended up using her recipe for the pheasant and it turned out fabulous! I was totally amazed.

I served it with smashed potatoes and green beans with bacon and onion. I had dinner rolls left from yesterday and we also had those. I think a very crusty french bread or sour dough bread would be perfect with this dish. The wine we had was the wine I opened to use in the cacciatore.



Old Vine Red Lot Number 60 was a very tasty red blend made up of mostly zinfandel grapes. I found this wine as a result of the wine tasting our neighborhood grocery store has every month. It tasted like a mouth full of jammy, dark berries with just a touch of oak and not a lot of tannins. It paired very well with the pheasant. I picked it up for under $12.

Duck (or chicken or pheasant or duck or rabbit) Cacciatore

by Nancy Fuller, Farmhouse Rules, The Food Network, 2014


1 duck, cut into 8 pieces (I used two pheasants, cut up and two tiny little quail leg quarters)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Flour, for dusting

Olive oil, for the pan (I used a canola oil blend, which was just fine)

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 ribs of celery, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup dry red wine

One 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, include the juice

3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, whole

4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

2 sprigs parsley, whole (I did not use)



Sprinkle the duck pieces with salt and pepper, then dust lightly with flour.


Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Brown the duck pieces on both sides until golden brown.

Remove the pieces to a plate and pour off most of the fat from the pot. In the same pot, over medium heat, add the garlic, carrots, celery, onions, and red wine. Scrape the pot to dislodge the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Next, add the tomatoes and mushrooms, and stir.



Place the duck on top of the vegetables and top with the pieces of butter and parsley. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.

Note: I had to cook my pheasant almost two hours on that medium-low heat.

Remove the duck pieces and vegetables to a serving platter. Spoon over the juices and serve warm.




Please forgive the pictures. I had steam everywhere, flour on my hands, and (I know it will come as a shock to you) I am not a professional photographer. I’m a cook and a baker. I just want to show you what it looks like along the way. It is not staged…it is real time cooking. It’s messy.

Print Friendly
Posted in Old Vine Red, Old Vine Red Lot Number 60, Pheasant, Pheasant Cacciatore, Red Wine, Stew | Leave a comment

Labor Day…..the A/C took a day off

So, the grands were spending the night last night and it progressively got hotter inside. The A/C decided to take Labor Day weekend off. After all, it has worked for ten and half years with not so much as a hiccup. It was due. But really, on a hot and humid, last hurrah of Summer, weekend? Our basement is finished and is cooler than a Napa wine cellar, so we hung out watching Frozen and slept down there. That’s one of the great things about the Midwest…..basements. Not those old fashioned cellars smelling of dampness and dirt. I think the correct term is “lower level”. I still call it the basement because it is below ground level and it’s where I go if there is ever a tornado warning. But that’s another story for another time.

Today, the kids went home. They were pretty happy to leave, actually. Cans of pop in hand, snacks in tow, they were outta here. This is the first time they had ever experienced no A/C. It is also the first time I did not make them breakfast. I had breakfast catered by…..McDonald’s. They were a little uncomfortable in the hot house. Their mom and dad and both Gravy Guy and I were telling them about “the days before A/C”. I really couldn’t add much to the conversation since I was raised in Las Vegas and our home and schools all had A/C. They were shocked to hear of schools with no A/C. It was an abomination in their eyes!

So, this afternoon, with freshly brewed iced tea poured over crushed ice, the Guy and I enjoyed a lovely breeze and snacks out on the veranda. I tried two new cheeses and am here to report on them.


The first was Beemster brand. An aged, firm and bold cheese from Beemster, Holland. I described it to the Gravy Guy as the old cheddar cousin to Parmgiana Reggiano. A dry and sharp cheddar with just a little crunch from the salt in the cheese. It was noted on the package that it was lactose free and gluten free. Not that a little lactose or gluten is a problem for this girl but I have heard that it does pose a bit of a problem for some. This cheese was made to savor, small bites at a time. We had some whole grain crackers and a few kettle chips with the cheeses. What’s not to like…..salty and crunchy on a very warm and humid day.


The second was Collier’s Welsh Cheddar. Does that make it Wales’ Cheese? Get it? Whale’s Cheese? Sorry, I used that line on the Gravy Guy and he smiled. This cheese was another aged cheddar. A white cheddar with kind of a buttery background with the same salty crunch. Since I was describing new cheeses to the Gravy Guy, I described it as Parmesan’s sweet and buttery cousin from Wales. You can definitely tell that many centuries ago, the Romans had an influence in the making of this aged cheddar. So very good. The two cheeses complemented each other very nicely.

I am going to stay right here, on the veranda, with my feet propped up, watching the hummingbirds share feeding space with the wasps and the little finches. The cats are lying on their backs, catching the breeze across their tummies. I’m so glad I don’t have to wear fur on a day like this!



Print Friendly
Posted in Beemster Aged Cheddar, Cheese, Collier's Cheddar | 1 Comment

Easy Cheesy Spread and a Glass of Red




The Dog Days of Summer are upon us.  Hot and humid days that leave you listless and unmotivated. I always want something flavorful and kind of salty on days like this. This cheese spread fills the bill.  Actually, it’s great any time of the year.  It is also great for parties and get togethers.






I had a glass of 2013 Limited Release Apothic Rose with my snack.  A semi-dry rose with just a hint of sweetness.  That little bit of sweetness plays well with spicy salami and salty cheeses. Perfect for Summer snacks on the veranda. Serve chilled. I purchased it for under $10.




Easy Cheesy Spread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 ounces very soft cream cheese

3/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons finely chopped roasted red pepper or pimientos

2 green onions finely chopped and include the green tops

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed

In a medium mixing bowl hand mix all ingredients using a spatula. Makes about 2 cups of cheese spread. It is good to go but is really much better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Keeps for about a week in the fridge. Spreads easily when it sits out a bit at room temperature. Serve with your favorite crackers, pita, tortillas, bread sticks, or even veggies.


Print Friendly
Posted in Apothic Rose Wine, Cheese, Cheese Spread, Easy Cheesy Spread, Wine Review | Leave a comment