I spent the morning helping Grandpa put a twenty-seven-foot truss beam together in the cramped shop (like everything that is useful, the shop is big, just not quite big enough for the next project) where Grandpa does his hide tanning. He has made room in his tanning spaces to accommodate building the trusses. The three-legged sawhorses he made special for the truss project are lined up all against the west side of the shop pinched up against wood planks and materials from other projects making movement to the back side of the truss tricky. To top it off the salted and dried out cow elk hide hanging at the end of the truss workspace effectively blocked easy access to the back side of the truss making me cranky.
Half an hour into the project I lost patience with the stiff salted hide and when there was a break in our workload, I moved it. It’s a roadkill elk so the hair is a mess and the whole thing looks disgusting. Grandpa is going to tan it. To him it is ‘just right’; not as hard as beef hide to manage; thicker and more durable than deer hide; it is pleasing to him. That elk hide holds the potential for many beautiful projects.
Grandpa grinned at me after I moved it. We got to talk about elk. He has the jaw of that cow elk. It is totally desiccated from weathering outdoors. He showed me the ‘whistler’ teeth. Each cow elk has two. He pointed them out to me, “this isn’t a very old cow elk. Three,” he leaned closer to peer at the dried-out jaw, “no, I think she was at least four years old. More years, more color.” He touched the ivory tooth. I saw respect in his countenance. He glanced my way and said in a matter-of-fact tone, “The older cows have more colorful, beautiful teeth.”
Grandpa has a special place in his heart for elk. Growing up in the Rocky Mountains, elk was the mainstay of the family’s food. They raised beef but didn’t eat it; they sold beef for the money to pay bills. As a youth growing up, he was the best hunter in the family, so he was usually the one who brought home the meat they ate. Now I can’t say I find those ‘whistlers’ beautiful. I can say I find it beautiful that he does. It is amazing how we, each as individuals, find different things ‘beautiful’. For Grandpa, finding beauty in the teeth of an old cow elk caused him to be a better hunter. I got to wondering what I find beautiful that makes me better at what I do. I’m going to have to think on that a bit. I’ll just take a brain break and pause from worrying about tomorrow. Maybe then I can imagine what kind of beautiful will cause my countenance to radiate respect.
½ to 1 lb. meat per person
A few ¼ cups of water
1 teaspoon diced onion per person (optional)
1 tablespoon diced carrot per person (optional)
1 tablespoon diced celery or green pepper or chili per person (optional)
½ teaspoon your choice seasoning per person (optional)
Roasting pan, crockpot or iron skillet with tin foil or anything that works.
Decide on cooking vessel. If making the elk roast in the oven, turn the oven to 375 ℉. Try to find a cooking vessel that the roast will fill two-thirds full. Put roast in the vessel. If it is a crock pot, leave out the water. If using an oven pour a ¼ cup water over the roast. The goal is to have a quarter to a half inch of water under the roast so continue to add water, ¼ cup at a time. Add optional ingredients and cover with a lid or tin foil. It usually takes an hour to an hour and a half for me to cook a roast in the oven. The crockpot takes half a day on high and a full day on low.
Note: This recipe works for deer, beef, pork, goat, and even chicken. Roasted meat will shrink, often to two thirds its original size.
In 2000 Michele Priddy left the work force to become a stay-at-home mother and wife. Being a one-income family in today’s society meant she had to learn to budget quickly. Food became a priority early because she wanted the children to have the best nutrition, she could offer them even on a budget. She also taught cooking classes on how to stretch the food dollar with simple ingredients at various churches in her community. Michelle has put her kitchen strategies and recipes in booklets, her church newsletter and in her hometown newspaper, The Goldendale Sentinel. We hope you will enjoy her strategies, stories, and recipes. You can contact the Leavenworth Echo at Reporter@leavenworthecho.com or 509-548-5286 if you have any questions or comments for Michelle.
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