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Meat supply solutions

By Philip Hunt

Tales of the Hunts

A disruption in the meat supply train has given Americans another thing to lose sleep over. If isolation and wearing a hazmat suit to the grocery store weren’t enough, we now may have trouble passing the time at home smoking large pieces of meat or eating a nice steak. There are ways to avoid feeling the meat shortage though.

The first way is to shop local. There are places nearby that raise and process animals for consumption. I was lucky enough to help store a side of beef from a Caroland Farms cow. I charged rent in my freezer by picking a vacuum sealed package of beef whenever I had a craving.

While buying meat locally is a good option, I always enjoy providing my own wild game as the main source of protein in our household. This week, our menu will include venison, trout and bluegill.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have any venison in the freezer, you can’t go out to harvest any. But you may have a neighbor that has plenty, so just ask. Ground venison is treated like ground beef at our house. Burgers, tacos and pasta are all crowd pleasers and with the right preparation can make fans of wild game food.

If venison is not possible, the next best way to provide your own food is to catch it.

With the scare of “catching” a virus plaguing some minds, it might be good to re-associate that word to catching dinner. Right now, Bluegill and bass are relatively easy to find and catch in ponds across our area.

Crickets are our go-to bait of choice for bluegill. If the fishing is slow, the kids can have cricket races. This time of year, if the fishing is slow, it means you are in the wrong spot. I would suggest moving until there is a constant cycle of baiting, catching and rebaiting the hook.

Once you have a mess of bluegills, our favorite way to eat them is to dredge them in buttermilk, coat in breadcrumbs and fry them. Our kids now call bluegill “pond nuggets”. If I try to release one that is too small, I have to wrestle an eight-year-old out of the way. Bluegill are his favorite.

Finally, our area is blessed with many streams containing trout. Both North Carolina and South Carolina have been stocking streams throughout the quarantine. Depending on the regulations, you can go to many local streams and catch your dinner. If bait is allowed, a can of whole kernel corn is a good choice. Creamed corn is a bad choice.

We like to make tacos with trout. We find it easier to bake or fry the whole fish, then pick the meat off the bones. Another favorite recipe we love is trout cakes. Trout cakes are crab cakes but using trout instead. Both kids and adults love this meal.

If the meat department in the grocery store is getting empty there is another place you can go to supply your family protein. The great outdoors is bountiful in the spring. With a little legwork, you can have a day full of activities followed by a plate full of food. You will be surprised how much meat you can get for a can of corn.