Game

Susannah not backing down after outrage over pics of her daughter enjoying duckshooting

Yesterday we and outrage over a t-shirt some womble scientist wore, the other day it was over Susannah Constantine’s photo of her daughter duck shooting.

Susannah, of the Trini and Susannah TV show fame, is made of far sterner stuff than the scientist who cried over the shirt.

She sticks it to the moaners and whiners.

I’ve learned in the past week that sometimes in life it’s better to duck. When a newspaper ran a piece about my daughter on her first shoot with the headline ‘Ten years old and smeared in blood’, the fallout was loud and instantaneous. My daughter Cece was horrified – because she’s 11, not ten.

I’m certain that the hullabaloo about her age will haunt us for weeks. But the rest of the article, which was centred on the fact that she had shot her first duck and, in the time-honoured country tradition, had been ‘blooded’ with a quick smear of the cheek, completely passed her by. Water off a duck’s back, you might say.

To her, a country girl, shooting food for the table is a natural part of rural life. My only regret is that the fuss brought about something I’ve always tried to avoid. I’ve never wanted to include my family in my professional life – and never have done – but sadly her picture was only deemed to be newsworthy because I’ve been on TV.

The one thing I’d do differently is not post the photo on Instagram. It was naive of me to think it would stop there, and naive of readers to believe a picture speaks a thousand words when it camouflages the sportsmanship, conservation, habitat management and regulation that lies behind all country sports.

The brief media clamour was, however, a sign of how times change. When my father took me on my first shoot and blooded my face, it was a regarded as a celebration of rural life. Everyone understood it, everyone supported it. My father was not a TV presenter, and no one cared what he did in his private life. But it was also 1970 and people were still watching the Black and White Minstrel Show – and that was OK too.

‘Duckgate’ – as we now call it at home – and the overwhelming response (both positive and negative) has caused me to reflect on my views about rural life. If I’m honest, it gave me a sense of pride to see my daughter tackle something adult and challenging – and succeed.

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Whale Oil Tax?

Via the Tipline

I thought you might get a kick out of this. In the game “Dishonored” (winner of numerous Game of the Year awards for 2012) the settings is a world in which whale oil is used as a source of power. All over the game are references to Whale Oil. It’s kinda funny. Here’s an image as an example.

whaleoil

 

That’s one of the few taxes I would approve of.

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5 Most Common Game Cooking Mistakes

American Hunter

Now that I am regularly shooting tasty animals it is important not to wreck the meat, either in preparation or in the cooking. American Hunter Magazine outline the 5 most common mistakes:

1. Not Aging the Game First
Unlike domestic animals, wild ones have a rich, variable flavor, because they are often older at death, exercise freely and enjoy a mixed diet. The wild flavors that result from cooking these animals are often described as “gamy.” In Old World Europe, game was hung until it began to rot—a treatment they called mortification—which not only tenderized the meat but heightened the wild, gamy flavor even further.

2. Not Brining or Marinating the Game First
Brining is an old-fashioned technique that involves soaking meat or poultry in a flavorful saltwater solution to enhance its moisture and taste. The proper ratio is 2 tablespoons of salt to 4 cups of water. It is especially good with breast meat and other lean cuts like the loin.

3. Overcooking the Game
The surest way to turn someone off of wild-game to serve it to them overcooked. Because there is less fat in wild animals, the moisture evaporates quickly in the pan, drying out the meat, turning it gray and giving it that “gamy” flavor. White-meat upland birds should not be served rare, but can have a blush of pink in them. The wild ones will be more muscular and will dry out more quickly, so you need to tend to them while they are cooking—basting them, poaching them, doting on them until the very last second.

Dark-meat birds, such as ducks, and red meat game animals like venison must be served no more than medium-rare. Serving it rare is even better. There is no use in eating it otherwise.

4. Cooking it the Wrong Way
In the world of chefs, meat is categorized into first, second and third category cuts. The first category is the leanest and most naturally tender, like the tenderloin. The third category is the toughest, like a shoulder. The cooking method used to cook these cuts varies greatly and is crucial to making the final dish successful. The first category—the loin—must be quickly seared and served.  The third category should be braised in liquid over many hours until the collagen breaks down.

5. Overcompensating
Sometimes we do too much to a dish, when the ingredients should be allowed to speak for themselves. We smother it in cream of mushroom soup or wrap it with jalapeños, cream cheese and bacon—dominating the star of the show.

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Wednesday Weapons – Lock and Load

It is game bird season. Tomorrow I am off shooting. Here is the selection of ammunition that will be expended on Rabbits, Possums, Hares, Deer, Ducks, Pheasants and Quail over the next 5 days.

All ammunition was supplied by Hamills Manukau, the best shooting sports store in Auckland.

 

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