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Dishin’ with Dody: There is a season?/Texas chile

dody-denman-fpwebThere is a season? Run. Run.

By Dody Denman

Fall has fallen. It is not always easy to tell when autumn arrives in Houston. I’ve heard it said there are only two seasons here, summer and January. That’s not true and we are quickly approaching the fourth quarter of our calendar.

The fact that most of us were pulling out the sweaters a few days ago is certainly a give-a-way. I know we will be back into shorts and T’s again, but that’s because fall sort of teases its way into our lives.

However, if you look really close you can see that leaves are turning colors. Gold and orange is quickly taking the place of green. Nights are turning cooler and days are growing shorter. I told you, change is in the air.

jeff-in-camoI would know the seasons were changing even if there were no hints from the weather. At this time every year the men in my life go through a little ritual and I know winter is just around the corner.

There seems to be an unavoidable attraction to plain shirts, safety orange hats and anything camouflage. With chests swelling and nostrils flaring, the ceremonies begin as the hunting rifles are taken down and lovingly cleaned and polished. Then I know, the most important season of all has arrived, DEER SEASON!

My sons are veteran hunters, each boasting several stories and a few racks, but they didn’t get their desire from me. I suppose they were infected by their father who contracted the disease from my father who contracted the disease from his father, do you get the picture?

Not only does my father murder innocent deer, but so do my mother, my sister, my aunts, uncles and cousins. (I should caution you that even though this disease is hereditary, it can be contracted by association. I tried to warn my brother-in-law, but he paid me no heed.)

This is the kind of family I grew up in and people wonder what’s wrong with me? I come from a long line of deer hunters, but somehow the fever passed right over me, something my father will never forgive. Actually, he might forgive me for not being a hunter if I would only give up my annual trek through the woods of East Texas.

Back to our story on autumn. There isn’t anything lovelier this time of year than to walk through the peaceful trees surrounding my parent’s home in the country. Truly a wilderness, the only sounds you can hear are those created by nature and me stomping the known deer paths screaming, “Run deer, run. The hunters are coming! The hunters are coming!” I know my family really doesn’t appreciate me expressing my view, but I feel it’s a calling, sort of like my mission in life to protect the Bambi’s and Rudolph’s of this world.

I’ve listened to countless lectures on the price of feed and all the work that goes into building deer stand just to have me “run off all the deer.” I have also heard all the stories on the fact that if hunters didn’t help keep the population down the deer would starve themselves in the winter.

Well, if all you “oh so noble sharp shooters” would continue to leave the deer feed you are enticing the poor innocent bucks and does with, there would be plenty of food for them over the winter!

I also know that none of my mass murdering relatives are trophy hunters; that everything killed is used for food, but I ask you, what is a choice steak going for nowadays? The last time I figured it, with the cost of hunting lease, rifles, ammunition, special clothing, including wool socks, gloves and thermal underwear, deer stand, feed, knife, walking boots, hunting license, binoculars, freezers (and Dad has a meat cooler and butcher shop for processing his spoils of war), the cost per pound for this “free” venison was about $374.82 and that doesn’t include wrapping.

There seems to be something sacred about rising before the sun, donning layers of clothing and sitting in the cold in hopes of seeing a deer pass by that if one should happen to, it’s usually to dark to see. Yet somehow sleeting rain and freezing temperatures adds to the joy of this sport. Hours upon hours are spent sitting motionless in a plywood box nailed up in a tree. No thanks, I believe I’ll just turn the thermostat up and stay put in my bed. The irony of all this is my family thinks I’m the one that’s crazy.

Don’t think the worst is over, because even with all my precautions, it seems that someone will return to camp with the carcass of a deer draped over the hood of their pick-up. Then all within ear shot are subjected to a lot of grunts and stories of “ugh, me hunter, that deer.” I think this is referred to as “hunter bonding”, something not to be taken lightly. The camaraderie among hunters is a relationship stronger than matrimony.

We are now at a crisis point. Bow season has already opened (though this has yet to prove a threat to my little creatures) and rifle season is right around the corner.

It is time for desperate measures. Please don’t tell my family, but I’ve been emptying the corn from the automatic feeders. I’m stomping little hoof prints all around (this trick has worked for years and they come back to camp so excited about the deer eating their feed), and diverting the food to another location away from the deer stands. I think driving the truck on the dirt roads through the woods with the radio blaring and the horn honking is helping too.

In spite of all my efforts, there is a slim possibility the inevitable will happen. I don’t like to think about it, but just in case one of my hunters should nail a deer and use a tag, come on over, I make a mean pot of venison chili.

IMAGE: Jeff (supplied)


Dody’s Cayman Award Winning Texas Chili

This recipe was a Chili Cook Off winner during Pirate’s Week


2 lbs. of meat in 1 T. oil if needed *

With one diced onion and 2 minced garlic cloves


1/2 cup ground chili powder

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. oregano

1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper

(or to taste, but this is spicy without being too hot)

Stir seasonings into meat until you can smell the seasonings, two or three minutes


1 8 oz. can tomato paste

2 cups of water

Cover and simmer for about an hour, until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. About twenty minutes before you serve, stir in 2 1/2 T. Masa Harina that has been mixed with 1/4 cup warm water. Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

*Cook’s Note: Use beef or venison, ground or diced. I prefer hand cubing the meat (brisket, roast) into about 1/2 pieces. If you use larger pieces of meat, add more water and allow much more cooking time until you reach desired consistency. Just let this simmer slowly and you will be rewarded with a hearty chili.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled with great results.


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