The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

November 16, 2013

A true artist cooking wild game

BECKLEY — I first met Eileen through her husband, John. In fact, John was in attendance the first time I was tasked with hosting writers on a media event. I was super nervous and very reluctant to interact with the other writers. John noticed my nerves and settled me down by simply taking the time to talk about subjects I was familiar with, like wingshooting and shotguns. We quickly became friends and have hunted together in such far-off places as Argentina, New Zealand and Texas, to name a few.

In my travels, I have had the privilege of hunting with Eileen, too. One of my favorite times spent in camp with her was on a whitetail hunt where we got into a friendly but heated debate over who could make the best venison jerky. We took the challenge very seriously as we donned our aprons and took over the camp’s kitchen for a full-blown jerky war. With the other hunters in camp willing to play along as judges, we set up a scene worthy of any reality TV cooking show. I learned right at that precise moment that I am a cook, but Eileen is an artist with wild game.

Eileen and I love to share our experiences in field-to-table meals. We often talk about our little victories and defeats in the kitchen. So when she called to tell me about her latest cookbook, I was thrilled to hear the news. In fact, she has authored nine wild game cookbooks, including two for Ducks Unlimited, and was the game care and cooking columnist for Field & Stream and Successful Hunter magazines for many years. She is also a member of the Ducks Unlimited Culinary Council. But mostly, Eileen is a hunter who just happens to be a darned good cook. (Last year she took her 100th big game animal. That’s a lot of meat, a lot of variations in flavor and a lot of cooking.)

Eileen’s cookbooks include the whole process — bullet to fork. After all, what happens in the field makes what happens in the kitchen taste good. Her last all big-game cookbook, “Slice of the Wild,” included field care and butchering techniques, and her latest, “Sausage Season,” is just as detailed, but this time all about sausage.

She does not have a fancy, boutique restaurant in one of New York City’s trendy neighborhoods; instead, she prefers to be the head chef at her Montana home and share her knowledge and skill of preparing fabulous dishes with others through her writings and books.

With her latest book in hand and a little luck this deer season, I am looking forward to whipping up a batch of chorizo, a few knockwurst and maybe even some brats for Sunday afternoon football games. I’ll keep you posted on my results, but with Eileen’s help, the odds are good that some great food will be shared by my friends and family this holiday season.

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For those of you who understand the value and richness of preparing a meal for friends and family provided by nature’s bounty, you may want to check into one of Eileen’s cookbooks. A complete listing of her books can be found at www.riflesandrecipes.com.

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