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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere: Cooking for Uncle Mort

For the first time ever, my Uncle Mort attended my wild game dinner this year. This annual affair gets bigger every summer, with upwards of one hundred friends and relatives bringing something they caught or shot the previous year.

Having never hunted, fished, or gathered anything other than stock options and a monthly paycheck, I imagine my dinner seemed pretty exotic to Uncle Mort. His bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken was a nice gesture, though.

I don’t know if Mort got to try the frog legs, and I guess I should have told him those deviled eggs he was enjoying were not really from a wild springbok – they were from my neighbor’s laying hens. I just labeled them like that for the fun of it.

Most of my friends and kin are fairly attuned to the land, and as far as I know, Uncle Mort was the only one who didn’t know springbok are African antelope. Once, long ago, when I mentioned I was going to Africa for an impala, he asked me why I was going all that way to buy a car.

Uncle Mort lives in Seattle, but he keeps a summer place on the Pend Oreille River. I think it’s a shame to have a nice place like that on prime duck, goose and smallmouth water and not use it as a base for fishing and waterfowl hunting.

The Pend Oreille has a dandy early flight of widgeons, and beautiful diving ducks like redheads and goldeyes come later. Of course, this means nothing to a man who doesn’t know his springbok from his Rhode Island Red. When I mentioned the redheads, he asked if blondes and brunettes also used the river.

Uncle Mort once told me he didn’t hunt or fish because he didn’t care for wild game, but he did say he wanted the recipes for the corned beef, the sirloin tip shish kabobs and the baked chicken nuggets he sampled at the wild game dinner. Well, the “chicken” was walleye, the shish kabobs were made with mallard duck and the “corned beef” was Canada goose.

Everyone who tries these last two dishes has the same reaction – “This can’t be waterfowl!” Until I found the recipes, even I had to sometimes force myself to eat the waterfowl; now, I can’t get enough. I use the corned goose to make Reuben sandwiches, served on rye bread with mozzarella cheese and Thousand Island dressing.

Of course, learning to hunt ducks and geese is a lot more involved than learning how to cook them, but if Uncle Mort would give me the chance this coming autumn, I’m pretty sure I could make a self-sustaining carnivore out of him.

Should he decide to take me up on my generous offer for us to use his river place as a base, all he’d need to do is get a license and drive over. I’ve got all the gear, and I’d bring the food. Even if we don’t get any waterfowl, we’ll still have the chicken nuggets and springbok eggs.

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