Cast Away Meat Eaters Dip

This is another of my old Fish Camp/Deer Camp recipes and I made it yesterday for the Georgia game at Cast Away Cove. Lisa and I were working on the house while watching the game and we both found ourselves going back to the crockpot again and again for more of this delicious dip. It’s pretty meaty, cheesy and addicting, especially watching football on a fall day. Btw, you can replace the ground beef with sausage, venison, chicken or even turn it into a seafood dip with shrimp or Langostino lobster. Here’s my best stab at the amounts as I have never really officially measured anything and I always suggest making changes to the way you like it.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-1 pound of cooked ground beef/venison, cooked sausage or cooked chicken
  • 2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can of Ro*Tel Dice tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped andouille sausage (optional)
  • I like to throw in a little Old Bay for that southern flair
  • salt and pepper to taste

I just mix all of the ingredients listed above in a big mixing bowl and then put it all in my big blue baking dish. I cover and bake the dip for about 25 minutes covered and another 15 minutes uncovered. After I remove it from the oven I transfer it to the crockpot to keep it warm and ready to serve with my favorite, Tostito’s scoops. Enjoy!!

The Hawk and the Crows

I wrote this a while back and decided to put it on my blog. Try to be the hawk in life”.

The Hawk and the Crows…..I spend a lot of days on the lake now and as I’m going about my day I can’t help but see the occasional hawk flying around the lakeshore and nesting in nearby trees. We have a very large population of red tailed hawks around the lake and a lot of times the hawks will use the lake as their hunting grounds. I love to watch the hawks swoop down for a floating fish from time to time and often times I can see them in the trees working together to hunt squirrels and small ground type rodents. They have a shrill scream and can be heard from a long way away when they are hunting or communicating and it’s easy for me to get distracted from fishing to watch the hawks. Numerous times I’ve seen the big hawks flying over the lake and sometimes hoovering around the big hawks are one or two black crows. The black crows seem to harass the hawk at every turn and they are relentless almost crashing into the hawk as they dive and swoop over the hawk during flight. The crow does not hunt and is not a predator and certainly no match for the hawk in battle. A couple of my observations during these hawk vs crow encounters are number one, if you watch closely you’ll see that the crows never attack the hawk from the front, it’s always from the rear and it’s always followed by a quick get away. Another observation is that the hawk pays little to no attention to the crows. The hawk goes on about his business and very rarely acknowledges the harassing crows existence. Keep in mind that the hawk is a master hunter and can kill it’s prey in flight with a quick swoop of it’s talons but it chooses to ignore the smaller weaker crows with focus and an even temper. My guess is that the hawk doesn’t like the taste of crow or there would be a lot less crows and a lot of fat hawks around there but they pay the crows no mind while in flight. After a few minutes of relentless attack, the crow gets no reaction and usually looses interest, moving on with no blood loss or feathers shed. If there is a moral to my observation, it would be to try and be like the hawk as you go through your life. There will always be a crow or two nipping at your heals, trying to throw you off course but pay them no mind and keep going with the focus and even temper of the hawk. Be the hawk in life, not the crow.-Jim Farmer

Cast Away Chicken Croissants

This is a recipe I picked up years ago and I still make it once every few weeks. I’m pretty sure this dish isn’t very health but it’s very delicious and somewhat easy to make. I like to serve it with quartered potatoes and a green vegetable. Here’s the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken tenders boiled
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup with herbs
  • 8 ounces of Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 1 can of original crescents
  • 1 full soup can of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

I like to boil my potatoes and chicken in the same pot to save time.

Once the chicken is done I set it aside to cool and finish boiling the potatoes. When the chicken has cooled I break it into pieces and start my cheese sauce on very low heat so the sauce doesn’t burn when it thickens. Preheat your over to 375 degrees at this point.

Add a good pinch of chicken to each of the unrolled crescents and continue to stir the cheese sauce. You may need to adjust the added milk to get the perfect thickness for the cheese sauce. Place your chicken crescent rolls in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

I guess you can get the picture from here. Enjoy!!

Cast Away Sunday Morning Biscuits and Gravy

My first memory of gravy was when I was very small and my grandmother would make fried rabbit gravy that she made in an electric skillet. I used to watch her mix the flour with the used grease drippings and then add the milk. She would quarter potatoes and the gravy would be served on top of the potatoes to go with the rabbit. She also made the gravy in that electric skillet for biscuits and gravy in the morning. You may want to play with the ingredients just a bit but here is my best guess at the amount of everything. I just wing it and I don’t measure anything, I just know how much to use.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 (6 ounces) package maple flavored sausage (or any flavor sausage you prefer). Note: Use bulk sausage instead of sausage links.
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion (optional) (Lisa doesn’t like the onion) (Not Southern!)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the Maple sausage in a non-stick skillet

Add the butter and onion once the sausage is broken down and browned

Add flour and Worcestershire sauce and stir thoroughly

Add milk slowly and continue to stir.

Once it begins to simmer it will thicken. Continue to simmer until desired thickness. If it gets to think I just add a little more milk.

Once desired thickness has been reached, remove heat and pour into a serving dish and pour over your biscuits.

Enjoy!!!

Aunt Susie’s Southern Baked Beans

This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to do for a while but didn’t get the pictures I needed till yesterday afternoon when we made the baked beans to go along with our smoked brisket and potato salad for ourselves and our house guests.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 large cans of pork and beans 53 ounce (we drain 1 can)
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2-1 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Vidalia onion
  • salt to taste
  • course black pepper to taste
  1. Brown the hamburger meat, drain and set aside

Finely chop the onion

Prepare the bacon and set aside

place the 2 cans of pork and beans in a aluminum pan for baking.

Add the ground beef, onion, brown sugar and ketchup to the beans

When everything is mixed thoroughly, top with the stripes bacon and bake the mixture uncover at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Ready to serve.

Cast Away Southern Potato Salad

*All of these ingredients and the amounts are subject to your own taste so by all means make adjustments, additions or subtractions to make it to your own liking. This is just a basic potato salad recipe that I created while I lived in New Orleans. I needed a good side dish for fried fish.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds of medium red potatoes, boiled soft and peeled, cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 large hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 2TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup of dill pickle salad cubes with 3 TBS of dill juice
  • salt to taste
  • course black pepper to taste
  • lemon pepper to taste
  • paprika for garnish


Directions:
1. Place potato pieces in a large pot of hot water andBring to a boil. Then simmer until potatoes are just tender. Drain in a colander and give them a quick rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. I included my 4 eggs for the last 15 minutes of boiling time on the potatoes. I let the eggs and potato’s cool for 10-15 minutes before peeling the potatoes and shelling the eggs.

2. I like to hand cut my potato’s into pieces and chop the egg as well while they are still warm. Some folks like to use a potato masher but I like my potato salad with chunks. After chopping the potato’s and eggs I add the chopped onion and I place them in a big glass mixing bowl and place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour to cool and solidify the potato pieces. *This helps hold the potato’s together when you fold in the rest of the ingredients.

3. Next I start adding the remaining ingredients starting with the Mayo and working my way down the list of remaining ingredients stirring after each addition. Season with salt, pepper and lemon pepper to taste. Garnish the top with paprika.

4. I like to cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. As the mixture cools the ingredients tend to blend together and give it more taste.

Cast Away All In Crawfish Gumbo

A few months back I discovered a new resource for frozen peeled Louisiana crawfish tails so I’ve been stockpiling the deep freeze in the garage with bag after bag for cooking all kinds of delicious recipes with crawfish. Back when I lived south of New Orleans on the West Bank I immersed myself in the local culture and a local favorite comfort food of mine was gumbo. Everyone that was local had their own special style and gumbo recipes were passed down from generation to generation. I was fortunate enough to eat a few bowls of gumbo and taste a lot of different flavors while I was there. This gumbo recipe is one that I came up with after I discovered that making a roux wasn’t my thing so I was looking for the easy button. I started using a box of gumbo base instead of creating a roux on my own. I found that my gumbo was just as tasty with a good boxed base like “Zatarain’s Gumbo Base” or “Louisiana Fish Fry Products Gumbo Base”. Those are my two favorites. Gumbo is something that I like to serve as a appetizer if we are having a seafood dish for dinner or I like a hot bowl of gumbo if I’ve been fishing on a cold winter day and l’m looking for something to warm my core. Lisa and I can make a meal out of gumbo and sliced French bread.

Ingredients

******Here are a few different brands that really give my gumbo that Louisiana taste*******.

Thomas brand Ragin Cajun Andouille Sausage in either medium or hot flavored.

Riceland brand Louisiana crawfish tails

I like to add Gumbo File’ for flavor and thickening

One of my favorites for making my base

  • 2 boneless skinless breasts or 3-4 boneless skinless thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds) cooked and cut into small pieces
  • 16 ounces of peeled crawfish tails or peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 pack Cajun-style andouille sausage (680g; about 8 links), sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 package Zatarain’s Gumbo Base
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper  
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sliced okra,
  • 1/2 teaspoon filé powder, plus more as needed for serving

Cooking Directions

Here is how easy it is to make my Louisiana Gumbo… Bring water, Gumbo Base and oil to boil in large saucepot on medium heat, stirring to dissolve any lumps. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in crawfish and/or shrimp, chicken, sausage, celery, bell pepper and onion; cover. Simmer additional 30 minutes or until desired thickness. Add File’ as needed for thickness.

Serving Suggestions

I’m pretty simple when it comes to a rice bed. Here’s my favorite rice for keeping it simple. You just add a bag to boiling water and wait about 10 minutes until the rice is done and ready to drain and serve.

I prefer sliced French bread and butter as something to go with the gumbo and often times the gumbo winds up on top of the bread. Enjoy!!

Cast Away French Bread Pudding with a Kentucky Bourbon Sauce

“This is a recipe that Lisa and I came up with after a recent visit to the Bourgeois Fishing Lodge in Louisiana. We came up with the idea after talking with one of the local cooks that prepared our food for us while we were staying at the lodge. She made a delicious French bread pudding with a bourbon sauce one night and while chatting with her, she gave us some good ideas for our own personal recipe”.  

 Prep Time  10 minutes

 Cook Time 50-55 minutes

 Soaking Time overnight if possible

 Total Time  1 hour

Bread Pudding Ingredients

  • 1 loaf French bread, broken into pieces (approximately 9 cups)
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 ripe bananas (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons spoons ground cinnamon

Bourbon Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream or whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon or 2 teaspoons brandy extract

Bread and Egg Mixture Prep

  • Pinch bread into 2 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl Pour milk over bread, stirring to allow bread to soak up the milk.  Make sure to have enough milk to just cover the bread, being careful not to add too much milk or it will be too soupy. Thinly slice 2 bananas and fold into bread mixture.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the eggs then slowly whisk in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter.
  • When thoroughly blended, pour this mixture over the bread mixture and gently fold together.
  • Pour combined mixture in a metal 13×9 baking pan.
  • Cover and refrigerate 2 hours minimum but preferably overnight.

Baking Instructions

  1. Bake at 350F degrees for 50-55 minutes or until the liquid has set and the top and sides begin to brown.
  2. The outside should be a little crisp and the inside will be soft and delicious.
  3. I like to let it cool uncovered for a few minutes before serving.

Bourbon Sauce

  1. Over low heat, melt the ¼ cup of butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Whisk in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and whipping cream and continue stirring while you heat the mixture over low heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk in 1/4 cup Bourbon and continue cooking over low heat for about 2 minutes. Serve immediately. The sauce should be thickened, but thin enough to pour over the bread pudding when serving.

Serve

  1. Serve warm, drizzled with the warm Bourbon Sauce.
  2. Jim also likes to add a scoop of French vanilla ice cream

The Goose in the Pot

It’s been about ten years now, ten years of watching nature at it’s best and at it’s worst. It all started several years ago when we purchased a little doublewide trailer on the lake and started using it for a weekend getaway from our main home which was 10 minutes away. My wife and I really enjoy fishing so buying a lake house with a dock for our boat was a no brainer and a mutual goal of ours to make it easier to fish and enjoy the lake. We really enjoyed the lake life and started making plans to live on the lake full time by building our dream home on the property. One of the main reasons we decided to live on the lake full time was due to the peaceful serenity of our little cove, appropriately named “Cast Away Cove”. Since making our purchase and spending time at the lake we’ve gotten to know our surroundings and our neighbors as well. Our little place is tucked back into a private little pocket that is out of the way of all the boat traffic and is only visited by the occasional fisherman if the water level is high enough to provide cover for the bass around our docks. Also, since making our purchase, we removed the old doublewide and built our permanent full time home on the property. Since our home is above the cove we made the best of the lake views and positioned our large living area bay windows to face the lake. We have an un obstructed view of the cove and the shoreline as well as 4 or 5 of the neighbors docks. Right away when we started making fishing trips from our dock to the creek we started noticing a few Canadian geese that seemed to be hanging around one of our neighbors dock like maybe the dock was their home. They were either on the dock or out in the water swimming around but always making the dock their focus while swimming about. Sometimes they would disappear for months at a time but they would always return sometime in late winter and stay until late spring. During the time that they stay around a neighbors dock we started noticing one particular goose sitting atop one of the large flower pots that the neighbors had sitting on a corner of the dock. At first we thought that the goose had taken ownership of the pot for territorial purposes but we soon realized that the goose was sitting atop a pile of eggs. We were baffled at first because our neighbors have a boat in their slip and occasionally use the boat but the mother goose never really seemed bothered by the neighbors comings and goings, she just kept right on sitting on the eggs. We’ve gotten to be good friends with our neighbors and they are of a mind to let nature take it’s course so they go on about their business of launching their boat around the pot and the nesting goose. She hasn’t been too fond of the neighbors comings and goings on the dock while she sits in the pot but she tolerates the traffic with an occasional squawk.

The remarkable thing about the whole process of nesting and hatching eggs is really ‘the whole process’. In the 9-10 years we’ve been here at the lake, we’ve watched it play out year after year, no two years have ever been the same when it comes to the outcome. What has been constant in the hatching of the eggs is the devotion of mother and father geese and not one year has gone by without mother goose sitting on those eggs through rain or shine for more than a month. She rarely leaves the pot and the male mate is always patrolling the area around the dock for intruders…. and there are intruders. Other geese would try and move in on the territory but the male mate is pretty big and usually takes care of business in short order, running any other geese out of the area. These geese don’t play either, they can fight to the death if one doesn’t relinquish and leave the area. From time to time a big Blue Heron might show up but is promptly run off by the male. I’ve also seen him go after our little Rat Terrier a few times when our terrier got close to the waters edge next to the dock.

The male that hangs around the female has a large neck and he gives me the big stink eye with those big black eyes every time I idle by their dock. They communicate through honking sounds and the male usually has a few low groining sounds when I go by. I’m sure it’s some kind of obscenity in goose language but I politely move on and he goes on about his day without incident. I’ve really been impressed over the years because out of all the years of watching these geese, they have never left the eggs until they either hatched or didn’t. There were years that they didn’t hatch, mostly because of the weather. If we got a real cold spell during the process there was a chance the eggs would get to cold and not hatch at all or in the case of last year, the eggs hatched but the goslings died shortly there after because the mother had smothered them during a bad storm. While she spends hour after hour and day after day on the pot she passes her time pecking away at the edge of the pot and slowly making the pot shorter. Over the last 10 years she has managed to chew the sides down a good 4-5 inches and if this keeps up the pot will dwindle to nothing in the next 4-5 years.

Two years ago we placed a small towel in the bottom of the pot to help with insulation the bottom of the pot and five of the eggs hatched after the mother removed one of the eggs from the pot and left it on the wood stained deck of the dock right next to the pot. I assumed the sixth egg was just too much for the pot so she removed it. It was pretty cool because all five eggs hatched the year and we had a group of seven geese around here for a while before five of the seven left the area, assuming they may have migrated with other geese during the migration periods here on the lake. This year she successfully hatched 4 out of five goslings and they are cruising around here as we speak.

The tragic part about this years hatching is that four of the five eggs hatched this spring but a fifth didn’t. We’re not for certain why the fifth didn’t hatch but I can say that the four that did hatch left the pot while she was still sitting on the fifth egg off and on waiting for it to hatch. Occasionally she would get off the pot and the four little hatchlings would try and jump out of the pot as we could see their little heads bobbing up and down inside the pot. Finally, three of the four vacated the pot while mom was walking around the pot but the fourth was smaller and really struggling to get out while mom was on and off the pot. We could tell the mother wanted to be with her new hatchlings but there was still one egg unhatched and one small hatchling that was really struggling inside the pot to get out. Finally the fourth made it out and left the dock to join the other three. Later we found out that another neighbor who was watching everything unfold with binoculars from her house said a small prayer for the fourth gosling to make it out and by golly the little one finally made it out and joined the rest of the little ones.

Once the little ones left the pot and entered the water for the first time, daddy goose quickly rounded them up and they swam away to another neighbors half submerged gangway that was directly in the warm sun. There the father goose and the four goslings rested at the waters edge of the gangway. Momma goose was still on the pot waiting for the fifth egg to hatch while she helplessly watched the other four of of her hatchlings on the gangway with daddy from afar. Perhaps she knew the fifth egg wasn’t going to hatch or perhaps she couldn’t stand watching the newborn goslings from afar anymore but whatever the reason she chose to leave the pot to be with her newborn goslings and leave the fifth egg unhatched in the cold morning air.

We watched to see if she would come back to the pot after joining the rest of her family but she never returned. Her, daddy and the four babies moved to another neighbors shoreline where mom and dad have spent the bulk of their time coddling the young ones. The goslings have a hearty appetite and eat constantly. The family wanders around the grass and weedy areas of our shoreline while the little ones graze on new grass and weed tops. As in past years I’m sure we’ll be visited by the family from time to time throughout the remainder of the spring and summer as we watch the small goslings grow into adulthood and leave the area by next winter only to see two geese reappear around the dock next February ready to start the cycle all over again.

Our Sauna Build Project

About 10 years ago Lisa and I put a steam sauna in our last house and we enjoyed it so much were going to install another one. When we built the Cast Away Cove house a few years back we had the builder add a small room off of the man cave bath and leave it unfinished. (I also knew that a lot of the sauna heaters are 220vac heaters so I had our electrical install a dedicated 220vac and a switch box in a little utility room under the stairs and will be access to the heater control as well as Bluetooth for tunes when the sauna is complete). Our plan was to install the sauna later. Well. now it’s later and we ordered everything we need from Superior Sauna out of Wisconsin. We received the shipment yesterday so now we can get started with our winter project 2021. I’ll be posting pictures of the progress until it’s complete.