In the words of Jimmy Buffett, a cheeseburger in paradise is heaven on earth with an onion slice.
We'll take that tune another step and add a heaping helping of home-made bread and butter pickles to that big warm bun and huge hunk of meat.
Here at Camp See No Deer, we're all about cheeseburgers, especially during February when the white-tails seem to vanish. We happily fire up the grill and whip up a platter of venison blue cheeseburgers, our camp favorite.
A handful of blue cheese crumbles mixed in with ground venison, ground elk, ground beef or turkey before cooking elevates those sizzling patties to gourmet level. That warm melted blue cheese oozes from inside the meat. Topping that burger with our Camp See No Deer home-made pickles makes taste buds do a happy dance.
We've been whipping up our own bread and butter pickles most of deer season, thanks to my pal Hog Ears, the best camp cook on the planet, or at least at his cabin in Alaska where he lives out on the Kenai Peninsula.
On weekends, we both love to grill or smoke some tasty carnivorous creation. For Hog Ears, it's mostly wild game like moose, caribou or fresh-caught salmon he's brought home from his adventures in the 49th state. In the evening, we send each other pictures of our fire-born masterpieces.
During one photo exchange, Hog Ears mentioned he'd fixed a batch of bread and butter pickles. That's our pickle of choice here at deer camp, but we never dreamed of making our own.
Hog Ears shared his easy-to-make recipe. We tried it with immediate success. The pickles are so good we've shared the love with friends here in our fair corner of Arkansas. Now, other lads and lasses are fixing them, too.
Here's what to do. Slice three cucumbers into pickle-thin slices, whatever thickness you like. Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon and a half of salt. Toss the slices and salt together. Cover and refrigerate for about 90 minutes.
Keep the slices in the bowl, rinse off the salt and set aside. Now mix together these ingredients in a sauce pan:
1 cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoon mustard seed, ½ teaspoon celery seed, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric.
Cook over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Slice one-half an onion very thin. Add the onion to the bowl of cucumber slices. Pour the liquid into the bowl and mix everything well.
Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Transfer your home-made bread and butter pickles and some of the juice to a quart-sized canning jar (mainly for looks) or other suitable container.
We've made these pickles without the mustard seed or turmeric and they turned out fine, but they're good ingredients if you have them.
For folks who aren't crazy about blue cheese, small chunks of cheddar or Swiss makes a great cheeseburger. Camp See No Deer pickles are fine on a burger, any sandwich or all by themselves.
Deer hunting is almost done, just like our grilled blue cheeseburgers with home made pickles.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at [email protected]