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Hunting for Antinguan Food

Hunting for Antinguan Food


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On the Caribbean island of Antigua last weekend, our local-food queries were most frequently greeted with:

"Local food? Saturday only."

"You have to go to someone’s home. Or to the little spots in St. John’s."

"Hmmm…." (cue squinty thinking face)

It’s true we hadn’t done our own usual research. This trip, a long weekend ensconced in a quiet beachfront apartment on Antigua’s northwest shore, was a "babymoon" of sorts — that final relaxing trip before the new addition arrives, in just over two months for us. We weren’t planning on working, really. But we had to eat, and we wanted to eat local, not at the overpriced (and underwhelming) Italian restaurant next door.

We arrived on a Friday, and at first it seemed all of the beach cafes near us had something local to offer — conch chowder (delicious), garlicky local cockles (pricey), curried Antiguan lobster (pricier). The first restaurant we landed at, a waterfront spot called Miller’s, offered a "local breakfast" on Saturdays; when we returned there the next morning, we were pleasantly surprised by what we found: a tasty array of salty, sautéed ling fish; chop-up (a vegetal mix of okra, spinach, eggplant, and pumpkin); fungee, a cornmeal polenta of sorts; and johnny cakes (fritters); plus avocado and a hard-boiled egg. Later that same day we wandered off the beach into Russell’s, whose chalkboard menu announced such Saturday specials as conch water, souse (a pig trotter soup), saltfish cakes, and Creole snapper. Local food heaven, but we weren’t yet hungry again, so we limited ourselves to a few small tastes and some old-fashioned rum punch (for Scott). Clearly Antiguan dishes weren’t too hard to track down around here.

Well, that was Saturday.

By Sunday there were still stewed meats around — a common thing to eat here — but none of the more exotic dishes we’d by now heard about and begun to covet. Goat water, everybody’s favorite stew. Ducana, a dense steamed sweet potato dumpling of sorts. Pepperpot, a meat and veggie medley. One couple, long-term visitors we met while swimming the Caribbean’s azure waters, suggested an area grocery store with a hot-foods section; when we showed up there on Monday, we learned the local dishes were available weekends only. Another recommended “Caribbean” restaurant nearby had permanently closed. On the advice of the Jamaican night guard, with whom we shared hours of conversation and rum, we went to Tony’s, a beach club popular with day-tripping cruise-ship passengers, but it too offered its small selection of local foods on Saturday only.

We settled for local snapper — the more expensive seafood dishes are more readily found during the week — and, two nights in a row, Jamaican jerk chicken, a popular and delicious island import.

When we finally made it to the capital, St. John’s, in the shadow of looming cruise ships, we fared a bit better, locating some tourist-friendly restaurants with a local dish or two, a good Caribbean-drinks stand, and a hole-in-the-wall stewed-meats emporium beloved by locals. (There’s also a very popular Trinidadian roti shop worth a try.) Still, by the eve of our departure, we found ourselves tanned and relaxed — number-one goal achieved! — but a little bummed at how many Antiguan dishes were just out of reach.

We didn’t get it. The local food we had tried was pretty delicious. We wanted more. Where was the goat water? Where was the Caribbean culinary pride?

In four days, we couldn’t put our finger on it, but the dearth of local food — or rather the challenge of easily finding it — seems to stem from a few factors. Antigua’s number-one industry is tourism, and it probably makes more sense to many restaurant owners to serve what they believe tourists want to eat. Namely, pizza and burgers. Shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, lamb chops. Moreover, food doesn’t come cheap here — most things are imported, as the island lacks much of an agriculture sector, so again, restaurants likely can charge higher prices for so-called continental cuisine. And, as in some African countries we’ve visited, certain dishes tend to be associated with certain days, so it might be hard even in someone’s home to find pepperpot on, say, a Monday.

Of course, to us this makes it even more important to track down those places that do serve local dishes, so other interested travelers can experience them as well. We were surprised to meet a lot of return visitors—people who come back to Antigua year after year — who really had no idea what the island’s traditional dishes were, or where to find them. While we discovered there aren’t tons of local restaurants, there are a few options at least, especially if you’re on-island for more than one Saturday.

As for that Caribbean culinary pride: It’s not flaunted about on Antigua, but it definitely exists. Just hours before our flight on Tuesday, we were served plates of piping-hot goat water with fungee and salad at Tony’s. The previous day we’d practically begged the chef, Esther, to make us some, to which she finally relented for the sake of our unborn child. (Her: "Is the baby wanting goat water?" Me: "More than anything!") Goat water on a Tuesday is nearly unheard of around here. But, man, was it delicious — and Esther knew it.


11 Strategies For Growing The Perfect Deer Food Plot

BioLogic

Bobby Cole is an expert at growing food plots and works at Mossy Oak BioLogic. He loves seeing people have success with their own plots. We recently caught up with Cole to ask him 11 critical questions about growing a successful whitetail food source.

1. Outdoor Life: What steps do I need to take to establish a new food plot and what’s best to plant in the first year?

Bobby Cole: When establishing a new food plot, after you clean the area out thoroughly, I would strongly suggest taking a soil sample. This will tell you exactly what’s needed to make the soil perform for you. It will provide your pH and fertility levels. Some of the best tests make available precise recommendations according to the plot you hope to plant. These tests are typically under $10 and a bargain. I try and clean my plots up as best I can and if it’s in a wooded area, I definitely want to open up the area as much as possible to allow sunlight in. New food plots are fun, they are full of promise and hope. But the soil generally needs some help in the form of lime and fertilizers.

2. OL: What’s the best way(s) to quickly increase the quality of my food plot soil?

BC: As I said, soil tests are critical in order to let you know how much lime and fertilizer you will need to raise the nutrient levels of your soil. There is also a product called Soil Solution from Deltag that I love to apply to new food plots which also helps soil health. I really believe in this product.

Prepping a summer plot with a tractor and disc. BioLogic

3. OL: Annuals or perennials? How do I judge what is best to plant?

BC: So, annuals know they only have a short life span and will produce as much forage as possible in a six to seven-month window. This is perfect for hunting plots. The key to annuals is timing. In the deep South we plant in September. In Missouri its mid-August, and in Minnesota it late July. So hopefully you can align your location with these states, determine a planting date, watch and get in front of a rain event, and plant an annual. It will be up growing and attracting deer in 10 to 14 days. BioLogic blends like Maximum really explode before frosts. Now with that said, I love some perennials and when I say perennials I am mostly meaning clovers. I love clovers. In the South we plant in late September and in the North you plant in the spring or even frost seed.

We have two clover blends that in my mind are the finest clovers you can buy—Clover Plus and Non Typical clover. I would suggest putting 30 percent of my plots in clover. It’s almost a year-round food source and we see plots last four to seven years. When you do the math that’s a value. Clover will need some annual maintenance like mowing and spraying for weeds, but it will respond to some TLC and the wildlife will love it. Soil test and fertilize specifically for clovers.

Soil samples are critical in determining the proper amount of nutrients to add to your soil. BioLogic

4. OL: Is there a recommended plot/blend to plant that will generally attract more wildlife?

BC: I like blends to attract the most wildlife. At BioLogic, we have a blend called Perfect Plot. I think it’s the best. It’s not cheap, it’s like $60 an acre but you have to remember, seed is really the cheapest part of the plot when you think about fuel, tractors, fertilizer, and lime. Don’t skimp on cheap seed. You will regret it. Perfect Plot has a lot of perennial ingredients that the deer love so much you have to plant it like an annual.

5. OL: What’s the biggest mistake first-time food plotters make?

BC: That’s easy—they use too much seed in the plot. They think if 20 pounds is good, 40 will be even better, which is simply not true. If you have too many plants per square foot, they will stress competing for moisture and nutrients. Measure the plot, know the size and plant the right amount of seed for the square footage.

Clover plots are ideal summer and early fall plots. They will, however, need mowing and weed-control measures. BioLogic

6. OL: Mossy Oak BioLogic initiated the brassica craze. What’s so good about them and why should I consider planting them?

BC: Brassicas are the perfect deer browse. Your readers have probably seen the fields that the Drury’s grow. They are the best. These big broad-leafed plants, if sown correctly, can grow 10 tons of forage per acre. They are extremely nutritious and that makes them highly attractive. You will truly pull deer from miles around. By overwhelming your deer with good groceries, you’ll make them stay close while you’re improving the health of your deer herd. These plants are the best at pulling nutrients out of the soil and making them readily available for the deer to digest. It’s critical that after each planting, you test your soil before planting again the next year and add back the minerals through fertilizer that your soil needs. It’s easy and simple and makes a huge difference. You have to behave like a farmer and take care of the soil.

7. OL: What’s the best way to control weeds in my plots?

BC: Spraying for sure. Weeds are typically just a problem in the spring and summer, but you can spray to control them. Chapin Outfitters makes some really nice affordable spraying equipment for any budget.

8. OL: Spring plots? Fall plots? Or both? How do I know which I should plant? Does it depend on the region in which I hunt?

BC: I think you should plant both. Always keep something growing in your plot to keep the deer conditioned to feeding in the area. We love Protein Peas and Soybeans as spring annuals. They play a big part of our summer nutrition but clover is also a big part. I think diversity is important.

Deer radishes will be heavily browsed by deer once the weather turns cold. BioLogic

9. OL: If your deer season runs into winter, is there anything that I should consider planting that will stay green after the cold weather hits?

BC: All of our late summer/fall planted blends will stay green through cold weather. However, some produce better forage for the coldest days. Our Winter Bulbs and Final Forage are designed to continue feeding your deer herd through the deepest part of winter. As a gamekeeper I am really proud of these blends and what they do for a deer herd.

10. OL: Cheaper/generic food plot blends are often available from seed supply stores. What’s the difference in the seed?

BC: There are cheaper varieties available, but they are vastly different. Be careful you don’t get garden varieties. Lots of places try and sell garden varieties because they do look similar. But that’s where the similarity ends. You want forage varieties. That’s all BioLogic uses. Forage varieties are designed to be browsed, they provide palatable nutrition, and are bred to withstand cold weather. Don’t try and save a few dollars…you will literally cost yourself a few bucks.

Exclusion cages help determine how heavily deer are browsing your plots. BioLogic

11. OL: How long will leftover seed last? Is there anyway to store it properly from one season to the next?

BC: Store it in a dry cool area like a basement or garage. Depending on the seed, it should easily save for the next season. Keeping it dry is the key. The next year, do a wet towel test to determine its viability. Drop 10 to 20 in a row on a wet towel and put it in a window that’s gets sunshine. Keep the towel damp and check on it every few days and you will be able to determine if its good seed. You will see it trying to sprout. Clovers and brassicas can last several years—they have tough hard shells. Wheat and oats are viable for about two years, soybeans maybe two years, corn several years. It’s all a bit different. But yes you can save it one year for sure.


Ducana (Antiguan Boiled Sweet Potato)

A recipe for Ducana (Antiguan Boiled Sweet Potato)! Grated sweet potatoes are mixed together with coconut, sugar, raisins (optional), spices, and flour, folded in banana leaves or foil, and boiled until firm.

Ducana is a type of boiled sweet potato mixture from the Caribbean island of Antigua. Variations are also popular in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and surrounding islands. Grated sweet potatoes are mixed together with grated coconut, sugar, raisins (optional), spices, and flour. The mixture is folded in banana leaves or foil and boiled until firm.

For a full meal, serve this sweet dish with saltfish (here is a recipe for Saltfish Buljolde) or other stewed fish and chop-up (spinach, eggplant, and okra or other vegetables). This meal is particularly popular during the Easter season on Good Friday.

Leftover Ducana can be sliced and pan-fried for a nice crispy texture on the outside.

I grated the sweet potatoes using a food processor. This still made the pieces a little too long for my liking, so next time I will switch the blades to pulse them for a more fine and uniform mixture. You can also manually grate the peeled sweet potatoes or use a blender with some water added.

I used fresh, grated coconut located in the freezer section of my local grocery store. Finely grated carrots may also be added.

If the dough is too dry, mix in just enough water to form a cohesive dough (I needed about 1/4 cup). The exact amount will depend on the water content of your sweet potatoes and coconut.

I wrapped the dumplings in banana leaves, then aluminum foil for an added layer of protection. You can use one or the other. If using only banana leaves, secure them with twine before adding to the boiling water. Here is a video showing how to make the ducana and wrap them. I found the banana leaves in the frozen section of the International market specializing in Latin American/Asian ingredients. Rinse the leaves under hot water or lightly toast over an open flame to help make them pliable.

Boil the Ducana from 30-45 minutes based on personal preference. 30 minutes will keep them a bit softer. 45 will make them firm enough to slice and fry if desired.

I halved the original recipe for our family. The ingredients can easily be doubled.


Contents

Breakfast dishes include saltfish, eggplant (aka troba), eggs and lettuce. Lunches typically include a starch, such as rice, macaroni or pasta, vegetables or salad, an entree (fish, chicken, pork, beef etc.) and a side dish such as macaroni pie, scalloped potatoes or plantains. On Sundays many people in the country go to church and afterward prepare a variety of foods at home. Dinner on Sundays is often eaten earlier (around 2:00 pm) because people are often off from work on Sundays. Dinners may include pork, baked chicken, stewed lamb, or turkey, alongside rice (prepared in a variety of ways), macaroni pie, salads, and a local drink. Dessert may be ice cream and cake or an apple pie (mango and pineapple pie in their season) or gelatin. Antiguan Butter Bread is also a main staple of Antiguan cuisine, a soft buttery loaf of bread that needs no butter added once baked. Many locals enjoy fresh baked butter bread and cheese for breakfast and throughout the day. There are many homes in neighborhoods all over Antigua that have small bakeries built on to them, where locals can go and purchase these fresh baked loaves. They are coupled with cheese, sardines, and a bright red sausage that locals sometimes call salami, and many other foods. They also have what is called provisions with most meals. Provisions are foods that are usually a root or starch like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, eddo, etc. During Carnival, souse, a type of soup made very spicy with pigs feet, knuckles, and tails with many onions, is a popular snack, sold by vendors on the side of the road. Black pudding also known as blood sausage, a well seasoned sausage made with rice, meat, and blood is also enjoyed by locals in Antigua. As you travel the roads of Antigua's countryside, you will see locals roasting fresh picked corn, usually in the husk, on makeshift grills ready to be purchased and eaten. Antigua is proud to claim their locally grown pineapples as one of the sweetest types to be found. The Antiguan Pineapple is a very small fruit but often juicy and sweet. There are small pineapple crops throughout the island.

Local drinks are mauby, seamoss, tamarind juice, raspberry juice, mango juice, lemonade, coconut milk, hibiscus juice, ginger beer, passion fruit juice, guava juice, soursop juice and ginger beer, a soft drink. Alcoholic drinks include beer, malts and rums, many of which are made locally, including Wadadli beer (named after the original name of the island) and the award winning English Harbour Rum. Many locals drink bottled sodas that they call sweet drink, one popular flavor is punch. The locals also enjoy Red Stripe beer, Malta, Guinness stout and Heineken beer. For the Christmas holidays a special celebratory alcoholic drink that is very popular in Antigua is called Ponche Kuba Cream Liqueur, a thick creamy tan colored drink that is also very sweet and high in alcohol content.


Amerindian Foods

Food was often roasted on a boucan, from which we get the word 'barbecue'. Food was also roasted in the embers of a fire. The ash formed a jacket that was later scraped off. Sometimes roasts were wrapped in clay and placed straight in the fire.

Food Gathering

When the clay was broken open, feathers or scales came with it. Boiling was not so common except for crabs. Crabs were cooked in a pot with little water and much red pepper, the whole being covered with leaves. Fish, half gutted and with scales left on, were also cooked this way. No salt was ever used.

Mainly fishermen, the Amerindians we know as the Caribs and Arawaks, geared their lives to the bounty of the land and sea. Digging sticks were used for planting gardens and fire was used for forest clearance. Line fishing was carried out with shell and turtle shell hooks. The thread was made from pineapple, dagger tree and other fibers.

Fishing
Fish were shot with the bow and arrow from the rocks and then retrieved by diving. They were often inebriated first using a certain beaten up bark of a tree( Piscidia sp.) Nets were made of palm fibre or cotton. Rocks were taken to dive for lobsters and for conchs.

Turtles were caught by slipping a cord around their flippers and by harpooning. Crabs were searched for at night by using torches made from Torchwood. Pelicans and kingfishers were tamed to fish for them. Hunted were: Rice-rat, birds, iguana, snakes, worms, insects, spiders.

Birds were shot with an arrow with a wad of cotton on the end instead of a sharp head. Birds were trapped in small traps and also by a strong glue from resins. Parrots were gassed from fires lit under trees in which gum, green pimentos or peppers were burnt.

CASSAVA
This root vegetable(Manihot esculentas) was the main staple of the Amerindians. The Cassava plant grows easily, but is a factor of soil degradation. This is probably the reason why the Amerindians moved slowly up the Lesser Antillean chain when they left South America at about the time of Christ.

Cassava kept and travelled well in ocean-going canoes. After processing, it produced flour, bread loaf (6 ins thick) and several other varieties, a sauce called cassareep and a wine. As a vegetable it was light on the stomach. It was cooked over a fire on a griddle.

PROTEIN
AGOUTI (Dasyprocta aguti) was a dark brown rodent that lived in Antigua about the size of a rabbit, and was introduced from South America. Agouti were hunted by non-barking dogs. It was kept for a day as it was too gamy, then it was salted, smoked and boiled in cassava juice for a long time to tenderize it. The guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) was another mammal occasionally used as food.

Terns
(of the family Laridae) Larger birds, like Terns, had their wings cut half off and were turned in the fire to burn off the feathers. They were then left on a grill to smoke. Common Tern is a marine bird related to Sea gulls, but smaller with long pointed beak, wings, and forked tail.

Small birds were wrapped in leaves to cook slowly. The outer skin was peeled off and the guts taken out. They were eaten without a sauce. Sometimes small birds were boiled in cassava juice with peppers, they had been smoke-cured, then drawn and feathered. Flamingos and parrots were aboriginally present in Antigua and were prized for their flesh and colorful feathers.

Reef Fishing

Fish was boiled in fresh water, often half cleaned without being scaled. It was sometimes roasted on a spit. Fish was seasoned with peppers. Sea food was kept alive in corrals until needed, this was a common food storage method. Crabs were a delicacy. Many different species of crabs and shellfish have been found archaeologically in kitchen middens (garbage dumps). Conch and whelks appear to be the commonest in most village sites.

PEPPER POT
The Peperpot was called Tomali (Toma Sauce, ali clay pot). This method of cooking was a ingenious type of food storage. A rich brown pungent sauce was made by boiling any or all of the following available items. Fish heads, bones of fish, agouti, rice rat (Oryzomys spp.), iguana, birds, monkey, seashells (chip-chips, oysters, whelks) into a deep clay fire pot with peppers, sweet potatoes, cassava juice and fine cassava flour. Cassava bread and other meats were dipped into this stew. It was boiled continuously and added to next day. Father Breton noted that it was rather unhygienic (even by 17th century standards!) as often roucou (body paint) and old women's hair was always found in pepper pots.

VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Maize (corn) was roasted on coal and maize cakes, Kayzu, were made by boiling. Green maize soup was also made. Other vegetables were. Yams Kuchu, beans Mankonti arrowroot baked, Carib Cabbage Taya was used as a seasoning. Peanuts were eaten with cassava. Some fruits were the pineapple, introduced from South America and the native coco plum (Chrysobalanus icaca L.) Native seaside grapes and the fruits of the prickly pear cactus were also eaten as well as many other introduced plants as avocado, soursop, guava, paw-paw and mamey.

DELICACIES
Delicacies were raw fish eyes and the entrails of the sea-cucumber were sucked out. If food was short, these holothurians were rubbed in the ashes of a fire to rid them of their slime and then cooked. Another delicacy was lice, particularly those from the heads of their enemies, these were rolled between the teeth for a quarter of an hour to savor. Toads (houa), snakes, worms and insects were also eaten. The Amerindian thus exploited natural resources to the maximum. They were very fond of honey.

BEVERAGES
The main alcoholic drink was cassava wine, Wi'ku.This was a heady drink made from cassava and sweet potatoes fermented in syrup and water "Gossiping old women" chewed and spat out the cassava which was fermented in pots. A beer was made from maize Pallino, and pressed pineapples were used.

The juice was probably left to ferment as a wine. A soft drink was honey and water Maba, and another was made from the cooked roots of the Carib Cabbage. An unknown plant calledKarratas was used to make a drink to quench the thirst when far from water. During the European contact period, the Caribs pounded sugar cane in a pestle and boiled it to make a drink.

RECIPES
Tacallalaca throw into a pot the bones of a fish just eaten, add handfuls of red pepper, cassava water and very fine cassava flour and a few pieces of crab stirring the whole with a flat-ended stick. Hot sauce. Make from boiled cassareep juice and squashed pimento. Lime juice was included after European contact. Plants played an essential part in the daily social and economic life of the early islanders.

A plant-based culture provided the early people with food, utensils, ornaments and drugs in fact materials of all kinds. To say the least, Antigua and Barbuda's environment was fully exploited. The early islanders brought with them from South America their principal useful plants, without which they would have had to rely on the scarce resources of the natural flora and fauna of the Lesser Antillean Islands.


A Primer on Antiguan Fare, and How to Get a Taste of It in NYC

New York City has long had a large population that can trace its roots to various islands in the Caribbean, and so it’s possible to find restaurants from many of those nations within the city limits. For years, Antigua was no exception: There was a restaurant in Prospect Heights years ago a bakery once sold Antiguan specialties on Saturdays in the Bronx. But whether it’s a symptom of gentrification or just bad luck, there are currently no restaurants specializing in the fare.

To figure out how to get a taste of it here, we turned to chef James Murphy, the former culinary ambassador for the island nation, who owns Yabba Catering (646-407-0311), a company that specializes in the cuisine of Antigua and Barbuda.

As with much of the Caribbean, the cuisine of Antigua and Barbuda has roots in the slave trade. When the islands were first settled by the British, tobacco was the main cash crop. But when Christopher Codrington brought new sugar technology from Barbados to his settlement Betty’s Hope Estate in 1674, his success inspired other settlers to switch to sugar plantations. More slaves (mostly from Nigeria) were shipped in to work the crops.

The slaves brought their food with them. Fungi, a porridge made from cornmeal that’s somewhat similar to polenta, is a derivative of African fufu. You can find similar dishes all throughout the Caribbean and western coast of Africa. It’s a component in one of Antigua’s national dishes, the pepper pot. A riff on Nigerian egusi (a soup of seeds and leafy greens), the pepper pot includes several varieties of leafy greens (kale, mustard greens, Chinese spinach, etc.) flavored with salted meat or seafood. Peppers, squash, thyme, okra, and onions are also added. The fungi is placed in the center of the plate and the stew-like pepper pot surrounds it. “The slave owners needed a cheap way to feed the slaves,” says Murphy. “It became such a part of the Antiguan diet it stayed with us because we realized the health properties.”

The greens used to be boiled for hours over coal-fired pots, but with pressure and gas cookers, it now takes about fifteen minutes to simmer and soften the produce. And the goal now is to maintain nutrients. Where salted meat used to be the main protein, now many Antiguans opt for fish and other seafood.

If pepper pot vies for the status of national dish, ducana is its competitor. The dish features grated sweet potato dough that’s wrapped in sea grape leaves, then boiled or baked — it’s kind of the Antiguan version of a tamale. Several variations and additions can be included, such as coconut, cinnamon, brown sugar, and/or raisins. A popular Good Friday specialty, it’s frequently served with salted fish that’s boiled and baked, then cooked in a stew with onions, peppers, and thyme.

Peppers (scotch bonnets and bird peppers) and salted proteins are ubiquitous in Antiguan cuisine. With no refrigeration and scorching-hot temperatures, that was the only way to preserve the food. Salted fish, beef, and pig snouts and tails are frequently used to flavor dishes. And not all dishes are spicy. Murphy says that in Antigua, it’s more about letting the flavors stand out, rather than masking them with spice.

Again, you can’t walk into a restaurant to try it out, but if you’re really curious, Murphy caters events and even small dinner parties through his company. Or you could make the food yourself with these recipes for fungi and pepper pot and ducana.

New York boasts residents from just about every country in the world, and many of them have opened restaurants dedicated to their homeland cuisine. We’re celebrating the resulting diversity of this city’s dining scene by eating around the globe, from A to Z, without leaving the city limits. Every week, we’ll be hunting down a restaurant that represents a different country, from Afghanistan all the way to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between.


Hunting for Antinguan Food - Recipes

Planting food plots is a fun way to stay connected to your hunting land, provide some supplemental forage for deer, and give them extra food sources throughout the year.

To reap the rewards a hunting food plot can provide, it’s important to consider the elements that make these plots work.

“Build it and they will come” is an iconic line from one of the best baseball movies of all time and also a commonly used marketing line in regard to food plots. In the story line of Field of Dreams, all Kevin Costner had to do was convert a section of his cornfield to a baseball field and magic would happen.

Isn’t that essentially what hunters are told about creating a food plot? All they have to do is plant a piece of ground with some kind of food plot seed and sit back and plan their taxidermy account savings plan.

There is no question that food plots can help improve your hunting odds by increasing the likelihood of deer showing up on your property. Also, there is little mystery as to why this is the case. Food is a core need for deer and if you provide more of it on your property, the odds go up that deer will frequent your hunting spots.

This is no different from building restaurants in a concentrated part of town, which will attract droves of customers. But would you frequent a restaurant that is in a bad part of town, has horrible service and food that is barely edible? Successful food plots do not happen by randomly picking a food plot site, grabbing just any seed and throwing it on the ground with little more thought other than planning the spot in your man cave to hang your trophy.


WATCH: HUNTING WHITETAILS NEAR FOOD PLOTS

WHAT EXACTLY IS A HUNTING FOOD PLOT?
The term “food plot” in the deer hunting world is used generically to encompass any and all forages and fields planted for whitetails. When looking at food plots scientifically, a distinction must be made between hunting plots and feeding plots. Feeding plots are those fields planted with the primary purpose of supplying nutrition to the deer herd.

It certainly doesn’t mean that feeding plots can’t be hunted, but that is not their main function. In fact, oftentimes a feeding plot is treated much like a sanctuary to encourage the unmolested use of the food source. Feeding plots are typically larger plots and located near the center of a property. These characteristics lend well to supplying large amounts of food and holding deer on the property.

Alternatively, the goal of a hunting plot is to supply a food source that can be used directly and specifically to harvest deer. Obviously, hunting plots also supply nutrition, but that is not necessarily their main purpose. Hunting plots are normally smaller, strategically placed and shaped, and planted with specifically selected forages.

LOCATION IS PARAMOUNT

Where you plant hunting plots is a key factor to success or failure and there are many considerations to keep in mind. First, the plot must be located in an area that deer frequent, specifically during daylight hours. Deer feel vulnerable when they are feeding in a plot because they are in the open. Watch deer when they enter a plot. Typically, they spend quite a bit of time just inside cover, scanning the plot for signs of danger. Even when they enter the field they remain on high alert, constantly using their eyes, ears and nose to detect predators.

Clover is one of the most popular things to plant for deer and turkeys, especially when it’s planted correctly to maximize growth.

Deer feel unsafe in food plots that are located in wide-open areas far from cover and will likely use them most heavily at night. To maximize daytime use of hunting plots, they should be in areas that provide as much adjacent cover as possible. In a perfect world, there is cover on all sides of the plot or at least on as much of the parameter as possible.

A good example is a clearing inside thick timber or an open area surrounded by tall brush or grass. I have even had success planting a hunting plot in an open area by planting tall grasses all around the outside of the plot. It is a simple equation: The more parameter cover a plot has, the more probability of daytime activity.

Another consideration for food plot location is stand placement options. A good hunting plot allows for stands to be placed for multiple wind conditions and provides entry and exit routes that minimize hunter detection. I am sure you have read or heard this before, but these two factors are still often overlooked or dismissed. Take a little time when locating your hunting plot areas to identify good stand locations. If there are simply no good stand locations, move on and select another spot. Too much time is spent creating a good food plot to be wasted on an unhuntable location. Hunting plots should not be placed in high human traffic areas. You want deer to feel safe while feeding in hunting plots so avoid main roads often used to travel through your property.

One final consideration is how the topography will influence how deer access the plot. This aspect is rarely if ever considered by most hunters when deciding on plot location, but can be a major determiner of hunting plot success. It is common to have fields that are accessed by deer at several points, which can be unbelievably frustrating to hunt. Multiple trails leading into a plot can result in a cat and mouse game, where you sit in one stand only to watch deer enter the field by another trail and just out of range.

While it is not always possible, if a hunting plot can be created in an area where the terrain influences where the deer enter and exit a plot it will greatly improve your chances of harvesting a deer and maintain- ing your sanity. For instance, a plot at the point of a major travel corridor or mostly surrounded by a physical barrier such as steep banks, dead falls, etc., will force deer to enter the field in a specific spot. A great method to manually create this situation is to clear a plot in the middle of cover, pushing the cleared trees and brush to the parameter — creating a natural fence, but leaving an opening where you plan to hang your stand.

WATCH: VETERAN TIPS ABOUT HOW TO IMPROVE FOOD PLOTS



SIZE AND SHAPE

Hunting food plots are generally small in comparison to feeding food plots, rarely exceeding 1⁄2-acre and are oftentimes 1⁄4-acre or smaller. Why so small? First, smaller plots maximize perimeter escape cover. Think of it as the time needed for deer, when faced with a threat, to return to protective cover. The larger the plot, the longer it takes deer to escape and less likely they will venture out into the plot during daylight.

Also, larger plots minimize the opportunity for shot opportunities that are within effective range. This is especially true when bowhunting. While a plot is rarely an exact square, for reference consider that a 1⁄2-acre plot would be roughly 50吮 yards. This means that regardless of where the deer are located in the plot, they are not that far out of bow range.

Hunting plot shape can have a great influence on shot opportunities. People ask me how wide I typically make my hunting plots and my answer is never more than 40 yards wide if possible. Sometimes, however, the available plot space dictates narrow, long plots, but there are a couple of things that can be done to bring deer within range. The first option is to simply make the plot smaller. Going from 20𴠼 yards to 20吮 yards is an easy fix.

However, you might want a larger plot due to a large herd and heavy browsing pressure so a second option is to design the plot in shapes that bring deer close to you. The most common is the hourglass food plot that is larger on both ends but narrows in the middle. A stand can be placed in the narrow portion of the plot to create shorter distance shot opportunities.

Another shape often used is the “L” shape plot. The stand can be placed at the juncture of the angles, which can allow for shots both in the field or in the cover on trails that go from one angle to the next because deer, especially bucks, often feed at the end of each arm of the L then go through cover to the next arm.

Creating food plots is fun, but consider making them with irregular shapes instead of squares or rectangles. Irregular shapes can help deer have a better sense of security. One of the most common shapes is the hourglass food plot that is larger on both ends but narrows in the middle. A stand can be placed in the narrow portion to create shorter distance shot opportunities..

WHAT TO PLANT
As much as hunters would like for there to be one perfect food plot forage for all situations, to my knowledge that silver bullet simply doesn’t exist. However, there are some food plot varieties that work better than others in a given application. The first consideration is when you plan on hunting that food plot.

Forages, especially annuals, tend to be more attractive and palatable to deer during a specific growth phase in that plant’s life. You have likely heard that brassicas are largely ignored by deer until a hard frost forces the plant to mature and ripen at which time they become highly desired by deer. While some brassica varieties can be attractive even before ripening, this rule holds true in most cases. So, if you are planting a field that you would like to hunt during an early bow season, brassicas might not be the best choice.

Brassicas may provide deer some tasty treats in winter even when covered by snow. Deer will paw the plot to find the covered plants.

While there are many good choices for early season hunting plots, my go-to forage types are oats, wheat and clover. Oats and wheat are the most attractive to deer when they are in the early vegetative stage — when they have the highest nutrient content and are most digestible. That being the case, I time my plantings so the oats and wheat are between 3 to 6 inches tall. In southern Iowa that means that I am planting in early September for the October bow season.

Annual clovers (as well as other annual legumes such as certain pea varieties) work well for early to mid-season hunting plots, but if used by themselves, need to be planted earlier for optimal growth. Of course, another good option is to plant a mix of all three. When I do this, I still plant in early September, knowing that the clover might be not be at optimal growth by early October, but unless there is a premature frost the clovers will still provide a good food source and the oats and/or wheat are at maximum attractiveness.

While annuals are commonly used in hunting plots, I would not forget about perennial legumes for a hunting plot option. I remember a few years back I got a bit out of control experimenting with annuals in hunting plots and even though deer were using these fields, they were also using my perennial clover fields. As long as they have not matured, perennial legume fields stay highly attractive until below freezing temperatures set in. The added bonus with the perennials is that they are more browse tolerant and provide a great food source during spring and summer.

For mid-to late-season plots, brassicas are my food plot species of choice for smaller hunting plots. There are many different varieties of brassica mixes containing turnips, kale, rape, etc., all of which are highly attractive in the colder days of late season. I prefer mixes over a straight planting and I also prefer a mix of both tuber and non-tuber varieties.

Tubers, such as turnips, produce a root that deer eat long after the green tops have been consumed, which extends the life of the plot. I plant brassicas to allow for a window of eight to 12 weeks of growth prior to a frost. Plant much earlier and you risk the forage maturing before season begins. Plant later and you will not get optimal growth by the time season rolls around. I also like soybeans for a late-season plot, but not in small hunting plots because deer tend to wipe them out before they have a chance to produce beans. If you are planting a larger hunting plot for rifle or muzzleloader hunting, however, soybeans are a great option, suppling the green leaves to eat during summer and early fall and then the high fat content beans for winter.

HUNTING A FOOD PLOT
While this article mostly pertains to creating hunting food plots, I wanted to make just a few comments about how to hunt a hunting plot. I am not claiming to be an expert, but having planted and hunted these types of plots for several years I have figured out some things that greatly influence hunting success. First, it is very important to minimize pressure on hunting plots.

As discussed earlier, it is vital to have entry and exit routes that decrease the chances of deer seeing or smelling you. Remember, you want deer to use these plots in the daylight hours and pressuring these plots, even those with close escape cover, will cause deer to use these fields at night or maybe not at all.

I have also gone back and forth over the years on whether to hunt on the field or back in the woods several yards on a trail leading to the plot. I would never commit to giving up the option to change my opinion, but my current and most successful method is to locate stands where I can shoot into the field and also have a shooting lane that goes 30 to 40 yards back into cover.

If you have done your planning correctly, the odds of a mature buck coming directly into a hunting plot is quite high. If they do not come into the field, they will typically skirt the field close to the perimeter but still in cover, which is the reason for the shooting lane back into the woods. On larger plots that lack some of the characteristics of a hunting plot, this stand location does not work as well because bucks are less likely to enter the field and also tend to skirt the bigger fields at distances farther away from the edge.

CONCLUSION

There is a good deal of science that goes into planning and building a hunting plot. But art is not completely lost on building hunting plots. The various scientific pieces of a hunting plot are intertwined, each influencing the next so they cannot be looked at individually, but need to be considered as a whole.

Location can influence size or shape, while at the same time size and shape can influence location. Location can also determine forage selection based on soil type. In my mind, putting these puzzle pieces together becomes the art form and for that I am glad. Because while science helps lead to success, it is the art that makes it fun.

— Matt Harper is an avid whitetail hunter and food plot expert from Iowa.


Moose, Rabbits and Family Tradition

The chef Cezin Nottaway is excavating the recipes of her grandmothers to help put indigenous cuisine back on the map.

My name is Cezin Marie-Cecile Nottaway, and my occupation is chef-owner of Wawatay Catering. I was born and raised in Rapid Lake, Quebec. It’s an Algonquin community in Parc de la Vérendrye. And I grew up there learning how to hunt, how to live off the land, how to prepare the animals. This is our method. This is the traditional method that I still keep and practice on how to smoke our meats. The creator decides, the animal decides if he wants to give their life. You don’t feel sorry for the animals when you kill it because you take their purpose in life away from them. And also, if you don’t hunt the animals they feel like you’ve forgotten them. They feel neglected that their purpose in life is taken away. People might see that as not a good thing. But as an Anishinaabe person, I don’t look at it like that. This is how I was raised. This is how I look at it. And this is how I’ll respect it. And it’s through ceremony as well. My style of cooking is like rustic-slash-kokomis cooking, very grandmother-ish. I’ll do some fancy recipes. But I really like to stick to the rustic kokomis recipes that I learned how to do when I was a kid. It’s moose meat. It’s beaver. Partridge. It’s blueberries. This whole growing up has been geared to me like being this kid, alright, to prepare foods to share. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. And that’s what I’ll always do.

In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the nation’s past “humiliation, neglect and abuse” of indigenous people, and vowed at the United Nations to improve the lives of the country’s 1.4 million indigenous citizens. The effort, however belated, has accompanied a renewed appreciation of indigenous culture, including a rich food tradition that stretches back centuries.

That tradition is resurfacing all over. Starting this summer, Rich Francis, an indigenous chef who finished in third place on “Top Chef Canada” in 2014, will host “Red Chef Revival,” a new series on YouTube that will explore, among other subjects, the roots of indigenous cooking.

There are indigenous food trucks in British Columbia, cooking courses in Ottawa and new restaurants and cafes in Toronto, including Ku-kum Kitchen and NishDish, which serves plates like dandelion-cranberry salad. Ms. Nottaway served smoked char chowder to a crowd of thousands on Parliament Hill in Ottawa during Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations last year.

“Because of the political reconciliation, there is a culinary reconciliation and renaissance,” the Quebec chef Jean Paul Grappe said.

At 75, this eminence grise of Canadian cooking, an early champion of indigenous cuisine, is traveling around the province teaching young chefs reared in the age of Twitter how to use the techniques of their ancestors — such as covering a partridge in clay and simmering it for eight hours on top of hot stones in the ground.

Ms. Nottaway, who also goes by her French-Canadian name, Marie-Cecile, is a member of the Algonquin nation, one of the 11 indigenous groups in Quebec whose people lived here long before European settlers arrived in the 17th century.

After decades in which these communities have grappled with discrimination, poverty, gambling, suicide and alcoholism, Ms. Nottaway sees her embrace of traditional cooking techniques as nothing less than “decolonizing myself.”

“This is the food I grew up on,” she said. “They took away our land, our culture, our language, and I am fighting to bring it back with my food.”

The plucky, charismatic chef, who speaks three languages (English, French and Algonquin), juggles her catering business with raising her two children, and is as at home with a shotgun as with a frying pan. Her interest in traditional cooking took root when she was a teenager, eschewing trips to McDonald’s in favor of learning Algonquin recipes, passed on orally from her grandmothers.

Both her parents had been forcibly sent to residential schools, where, she said, a priest who taught at her father’s school told him to use a metal brush to scrub the brown from his hands, until they bled.

To ensure she didn’t lose touch with the land, her grandmothers taught her how to smoke moose meat with rotted wood, and how to kill a rabbit for dinner by pressing an index finger on its heart.

What to Cook Right Now

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • Do not miss Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible soba noodles with ginger broth and crunchy ginger. for fungi is a treat, and it pairs beautifully with fried snapper with Creole sauce.
    • Try Ali Slagle’s salad pizza with white beans, arugula and pickled peppers, inspired by a California Pizza Kitchen classic.
    • Alexa Weibel’s modern take on macaroni salad, enlivened by lemon and herbs, pairs really nicely with oven-fried chicken.
    • A dollop of burrata does the heavy lifting in Sarah Copeland’s simple recipe for spaghetti with garlic-chile oil.

    “My grandmothers taught me from a young age that I shouldn’t feel sorry for killing animals, since they suffer and are lonely if they are not hunted,” she said as she doled out a stewed rabbit’s head served with wild garlic to three guests. “We respect animals and pray to the animal spirits to show our thanks.”

    Ms. Nottaway said her interest in reviving indigenous food was also part of a wider national effort to improve nutrition in those communities, where, she noted, the removal of people from their land has contributed to poorer health conditions, sedentary lifestyles and the proliferation of processed and junk food.

    Yet even as indigenous cooking is now being celebrated in some quarters, it is drawing criticism from animal rights advocates, who complain that serving the meat of hunted animals breaches Canadian food safety rules prohibiting that in most restaurants.

    In 2014, the Quebec government proposed a temporary exception to the law that would allow 10 celebrated restaurants, including Au Pied de Cochon and Joe Beef in Montreal, to serve game that had been killed by licensed hunters. But the plan foundered. (In Quebec, indigenous people are allowed to hunt and serve game on reserves.)

    Protesters have organized petition drives against some indigenous restaurants, including the newly popular Ku-kum Kitchen, which offers seared seal loin and seal tartare. (Serving seal meat is allowed by law, and Ku-kum is supplied by SeaDNA, a seal meat producer, which Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans allows to harvest an annual quota of seal “for meat and oil.”)

    Late last year a petition calling on Ku-kum to remove seal from its menu gathered more than 6,500 signatures. “The seal slaughters are very violent, cruel, horrific, traumatizing and unnecessary,” the petition said, adding that the seal meat came from a “commercial company” and “had nothing to do with the indigenous hunt.”

    But a counterpetition asked why that restaurant was being singled out when so many other Toronto restaurants served meat.


    Top 10 Foods of the Maya World

    We may not realize it, but many of our favorite foods—from guacamole to tamales to chocolate—were discovered, developed, and refined centuries ago in the Maya world. Here are a few of our favorites.—By Michael Shapiro

    Chocolate
    Cacao is endemic to the lands of the Maya, who were the first to take the seeds of the fruit and roast them to make hot chocolate. The ancient Maya didn’t make candy bars, nor did they add sugar and milk to the cacao. Instead they took their chocolate as a ceremonial elixir and a savory mood enhancer. For the Maya, cacao was a sacred gift of the gods, and cacao beans were used as currency. Ek Chuah, the Maya god of merchants and trade, was also the patron of the cacao crop. When the Spanish invaded Maya lands in the 1500s, they adopted the beverage, adding sugar and milk to make it sweet and creamy. To learn more about cacao and taste chocolate, visit the Ecomuseo del Cacao in the Puuc region of Yucatán, www.ecomuseodelcacao.com.

    Avocados and Guacamole
    The avocado, originating in southern Mexico and Guatemala, is loved for its rich taste and creamy texture and was a treasured crop of the ancient Maya. Even today a person from Antigua Guatemala is called a panza verde, or green belly, because of the region's reliance on avocados in hard times.Combined with chilis, garlic, cilantro, onions, and lime or lemon, avocados become guacamole, a sumptuous appetizer. Don’t expect to find lots of Hass avocados in the Maya world—there are many other varieties, most of which are bigger.In 1917, Wilson Popenoe, a California Avocado Association explorer, reported why Guatemalan avocados are best: “The flesh is of a deeper yellow color, smoother, more buttery [in] texture, and richer [in] flavor than any varieties yet known in the United States.”

    Poc Chuc
    This distinctly Yucatecan dish dates to the days before refrigeration, when meat was preserved with salt. Slow-cooked pork is combined with sour orange juice and vinegar to temper the saltiness of the meat. The orange juice refreshes the salted pork and gives it a tangy flavor—“sour orange” is a variety of orange the juice hasn’t gone sour. The dish is topped with onions sauteed with coriander and a bit of sugar.Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, which serves Yucatecan specialties, says his favorite restaurant in Yucatán is Restaurante El Príncipe Tutul-Xiu, in Maní: “They make the best poc chuc on Earth!”

    Michelada
    Southern Mexicans like to add some spice to their food—and their beer. A michelada (or chelada in some parts) infuses cerveza with lime, coarse salt, pepper, and shots of Worcestershire and/or Tabasco sauce, served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. Some versions also include soy sauce or Maggi seasoning. It sounds odd, but it’s refreshing and well suited to a hot day—or a rough morning.If the spices sound a bit much, try a simple version, which blends just lime juice and salt with a light beer, like Corona or Tecate. It’s so popular that Miller and Budweiser have created their own versions of michelada, but of course there’s nothing like the real thing.

    Corn Tortillas
    Handmade Guatemalan tortillas provide an elemental satisfaction. In outdoor markets, you can hear a rhythmic clapping as women pat them into shape, then cook them on a comal, a big wood-fired iron or clay pan that looks like a Caribbean steel drum. These tortillas are only three or four inches across but thicker than what North Americans are accustomed to.The Maya creation myth says people were made of masa (corn dough), and this remains the essential element of the indigenous Maya diet. Hot off the comal, tortillas are immensely satisfying, an ideal accompaniment to Guatemalan black beans, a perfect base for a layer of guacamole.

    Traditional Breakfast
    Simple foods are often the best. The typical Maya desayuno includes scrambled eggs, a side of black beans, fried plantains (akin to bananas but larger, with more complex flavor), a bit of queso blanco (white cheese), and a cup of rich coffee made from local beans. It’s all accompanied by a cloth-lined basket of warm yellow corn tortillas. After an all-night flight to Guatemala, I head straight to Antigua Guatemala’s Posada de Don Rodrigo and enjoy a morning feast in the hotel’s leafy courtyard, as a marimba band plays.

    Coffee
    Seeing where your coffee comes from is an eye-opening experience. The typical coffee plantation tour includes a visit to fields (and often an explanation about the virtues of shade-grown coffee), continues to areas where the beans are dried and processed, and ends with a cup of café. Finca Filadelfia, with views of distant volcanoes, offers tours near Antigua Guatemala. If you want more kick than a cup of joe offers, cap off your day with a ride on their zip line. Near Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala’s western highlands, an organic coffee and macadamia co-op farm called Comunidad Nueva Alianza is well worth visiting.

    Two Refreshers: Jamaica and Horchata
    At cantinas throughout the Maya world you’ll see big glass jugs with aguas frescas. The bright red drink is agua de jamaica, known simply as jamaica, (pronounced ha-MY-ka) made from hibiscus flower calyxes, water, and sugar. It’s high in vitamin C and an ideal way to temper the summer swelter. Another popular refresco in the Yucatán Peninsula and beyond is horchata, a blend of rice milk, ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. Some varieties have chufa (tiger nut), vanilla, or barley. The result is almost like a milkshake but not as thick or rich. A horchata complements spicy food.


    Mummy Special Crab Curry step by step details below:

    1. Firstly dice the crab and wash it properly.

    2. Take a tawa or pan add little oil. Once hot add fennel seed and cumin seed. When they crackle.

    3. Add 2 sliced onion. Keep one onion aside for Tadka (tempering).

    4. Now put Garlic cloves, desiccated coconut, 3 tbsp Coriander Leaves, Ginger and green chilies. Saute until onion all mixture becomes dark brown. Combine this fried mixture in the grinder. Grind until it forms a smooth paste. Add little water if required.

    5. Take little oil in the same pan. Add now fresh grated coconut to it.

    6. Saute until they are brown.

    7. Grind to form a smooth paste. Add water if required.

    8. Get a wok or vessel add 3 tbsp Oil. Add the remaining chopped onion. Saute for 2 mins on low flame.

    9. Add tomatoes and saute for a minute.

    10. Mix all spices except salt. Stir for sometime.

    11. Let the mixture become brown. Roughly after 5 to 6 mins.

    12. Add the fresh coconut spice paste to the curry. Its time to add crabs to it.

    13. Combine well. Now add the desiccated coconut paste to the gravy.

    14. Check the consistency add water as required. Stir well cover with a lid for 5 mins. Stir again. Once the curry starts bubbling add salt as per taste.

    15. After 3 to 4 mins taste the curry. See if more salt or spice required. Switch off the gas. Your Crab Curry is ready now. Before Serving garnish with coriander leaves. Serve This Crab curry with Pav, Bread Or Rotis. This crab curry goes well with steamed rice or pao.


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