Friday, September 30, 2011

Trail Bites: Beef Jerky

Ann here to share another recipe for food to take on the trail.  When I am stuck inside unable to hike, I like to experiment with lots of different recipes.  Beef jerky is one of the best things you can take hiking with you.  It is high in protein, easy to carry, and relatively stable at room temp.  It is however, expensive to buy already made.  You get a measly three or so ounces for five or six bucks.  A three pound cut of brisket will yield approximately one pound of jerky.

I recommend keeping your eye on the grocery store adds for when beef brisket cuts are on sale.  You can usually get a good deal if you pay attention.  Have your butcher cut all of the visible fat off the cut of meat and slice the meat against the grain in ~1/4 inch slices.  You can do this at home if you like, but having the butcher do it,  it will save you time and hassle trying to slice evenly.

I recommend getting an original flavored jerky seasoning kit.  You can use any flavor you like; they come in a variety such as hickory, mesquite but I really like to create my own.  The jerky kit comes in two packets:  the seasoning and the cure. 

3 lb beef brisket, fat removed and sliced
4 tablespoons jerky seasoning
4 teaspoons jerky cure
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water

Placed sliced meat in a large non-reactive bowl.  In a separate container, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Pour over the meat.  Cover and refrigerate for one to two days.

AFter mainating the meat, drain the liquid.  You can dehydrate the meat in one of two ways.  You can either use a dehydrator or use your oven.  I use a Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator, which uses convection heat set at 155 degrees; set your oven to 175 degrees.  

Pat the meat dry and then lay out on racks.  If you are using your oven, you can lay the meat out on metal cooling racks placed on a large cookie sheet.  You can then sprinkle the meat with additional seasonings such as cracked pepper, red pepper, and even Old Bay.

The meat will take anywhere from 4-8 hours to dehydrate.  Once it is done, let it cool, then place it in zip top bags and place in the refrigerator where you can safely store it for a month or so though it is usually all gone long before then here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ann's Savage Hike

Hike Date:  August 6, 2011

After a short day at work on Saturday, my friend Angela and I drove a short way to Savage Park in Savage-Guilford, Maryland to stretch our legs.  The Wincopin Trail-head is off Vollmerhausen Road half a mile from Savage-Guilford Road.  In total, this area of the park offers over three miles of trails.  

Creature Feature: Northern Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a very unique turtle.  Occupying primarily coastal habitats from Massachusetts all the way down South along the coastline through Texas this species has adapted well to survive in brackish estuaries, bays, and rivers.  There are seven subspecies of Diamondback terrapins, but here in the Northeast we have the Northern subspecies.  These turtles love to eat a variety of crustaceans and mollusks with their powerful jaws which have evolved to crush this type of hard shelled prey.  Females tend to be larger than males attaining a size of about nine inches in shell length.  These turtles typically nest in sandy habitat in the spring and their babies hatch mid to late summer.

In Maryland there are many projects underway to help protect the terrapins native to the Chesapeake Bay.  Many organizations spend a lot of time protecting nesting habitat by installing protective fences around nests to keep out predators like foxes and raccoons.  One of the biggest threats is not just the collecting by humans for consumption but the loss of habitat due to the disappearance of the islands in the bay as a result of sea level rise and powerful storms eroding away viable nesting habitat.  Many of the islands acted as a sanctuary for nesting turtles.  On the islands many animals  that predate turtle eggs are absent from these islands which greatly increases turtle hatch numbers.

One of the most important projects has been the recreation of these islands.  Poplar Island is one of the bigger projects which is restoring a lot of lost habitat.  For more information visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website which has more information on the project.

Lesser Known Fact:  Not only has the Terrapin been the University of Maryland's Mascot since 1933, it was also designated as the official state reptile of Maryland in 1994!  Maryland is one of 26 states to adopt an official state reptile.

Chincoteage NWR: Road Trip Beach Weekend

Wow!  It has been quite some time since we have posted any new hikes.  I assure you, we have spent a great deal of time outdoors, we just got a little bit behind in our blogging.  I promise you that there are a rack of blogs waiting to be written and posted as we speak.  While you wait on those, check out a couple new features on the site.  We have added a LinkWithin widget to the end of each blog that will suggest other entries you might enjoy reading.  At the very bottom of the page, there is a new listing showing this weeks most popular blogs, so be sure to check that out also.

Chincoteague Pony
Mid July, we decided to take a road trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia.  Chincoteague was made famous by Marguerite Henry with her books about the wild ponies of Assateague Island.  Once a year, I like to get to the beach to relax.  I could care less about the actual laying out activity, it is just a peaceful place to go, listening to the water and smelling the salty air.