News from the Tennessee Valley Food

Roger Ferrell, Holman Moores and Jack Moores have lunch on a trailer during the opening day of dove-hunting season.
Daily photo by Patrice Stewart
Roger Ferrell, Holman Moores and Jack Moores have lunch on a trailer during the opening day of dove-hunting season.

Get Your
Game On

Start of dove season brings out
a real flock -- of hungry hunters

By Patrice Stewart · 340-2446

“Bird! Bird!”

Shots rang out almost as soon as the words were spoken.

John Templeton, left, samples Jon Sedlak's goose served with onions and bell peppers. They also smoked ribs and Boston butt for this feast on the opening day of dove season.
Daily photo by Patrice Stewart
John Templeton, left, samples Jon Sedlak's goose served with onions and bell peppers. They also smoked ribs and Boston butt for this feast on the opening day of dove season.
The call to dinner wasn’t as loud, but a hundred or so men, women and children — dressed to kill in camouflage — gathered for this traditional feast on the opening day of dove-hunting season Saturday.

Decatur hosts Jon and Shelley Sedlak and Barney Lovelace and helpers put out smoked ribs and Boston butt, goose flavored with onions and bell peppers, venison burgers, hamburgers and hotdogs.

The tables, which were under an equipment shed in a field, also held side items and desserts, many sent by wives who chose Depot Days or other activities instead.

When their bellies were happy and doves circled overhead, they picked up their guns and headed into the field leased for hunting. Occasionally they came back to home base to check football scores on a TV hooked to a satellite dish.

The cooking process began Thursday with the rub for the ribs. Then on Friday John Templeton and Allyn Crane helped Jon Sedlak cook the meat.

“We prepared 65 pounds of ribs, 20 pounds of Boston butt, about 50 venison burgers and some goose kebobs made with the results of an earlier hunting trip,” said Sedlak.

“We’ve been fixing wild game and burgers on opening day for eight years and barbecue for the last three years,” he said.

Sedlak, who is heading the United Way drive this year, said friends and fellow hunters who are invited to join them for the dinner toss money in a jar. “After we pay food expenses, we’ll make a donation to United Way in the name of the farmer who leases us the land.”

Sedlak said while slow-cooking their ribs and other meat, they add hickory and pecan wood to their charcoal fires.

“After two or three hours, we spray them with a mixture of apple juice and extra-virgin olive oil to keep them moist, then wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil and let them sit in the smoker around 250 degrees for another two to three hours.”

Then they pack the hot meat in coolers overnight, knowing the cooking and tenderizing will continue inside the foil wrap.

They don’t reheat the meat the next day.

Shelley Sedlak said the rest of the menu is simple, and they have regulars who call to ask what they can provide.

She makes Jalapeno Cheese Squares, a simple appetizer that’s good at a variety of events.

“You can adjust the recipe to your crowd and pan size,” said Shelley, who likes to make hers in a Pampered Chef bar pan.

She also created her version of Mushroom Wild Rice with Dried Cranberries that tastes good with wild game and smoked ribs.

“I started with Uncle Ben’s wild rice and made up the rest, using beef broth instead of water and adding mushrooms and dried cranberries,” she said.

Sherri Rahm made Big Boy Baked Beans, flavored with cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, red pepper, garlic and more. Kristin Propst sent a corn, tomato and cucumber salad plus a potato salad, while Taylor Roberts brought slaw.

Morgan County Circuit8 Judge Sherrie Paler and husband Rick brought her favorite cookies, Four-in-One Cookies with chocolate chips, and frosted squares of carrot cake.

She got the recipe for Karen Henry’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing from a shop owner while attending law school in Knoxville. Through the years she has continued to make this moist version with crushed pineapple and shredded carrots.

Jalapeno Cheese Squares

8 cups grated cheese
8 eggs
Fresh jalapeno peppers
Optional: sour cream, salsa

To prepare easily, purchase the 8-cup bag of shredded cheese. Slice the jalapenos into small circles and have them ready to use as a garnish.

Beat the eggs by hand in a bowl (just enough to break up the yolks). Combine the eggs and cheese in a large bowl and mix until all the cheese is coated (by hand works best).

Spread the cheese mixture evenly into a 161/2x111/2x1-inch bar pan.

Place jalapeno slices on top of cheese mixture to form rows over the entire pan (one jalapeno slice will be on top of each cheese square after cutting later, and those who don’t like peppers can remove them).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firmly set (a darker, crusty look is fine).

Let cool and set before cutting into squares. These are good served either warm or at room temperature. Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.

Note: The cheese to egg ratio is 1 cup to 1 egg, so you can adjust the recipe to your size pan, whether larger or smaller.

Mushroom Wild Rice with Dried Cranberries

1 box Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice (original or mushroom flavor)
Butter and water as called for on box (or beef broth)
Fresh mushrooms
Dried cranberries, if desired

Prepare wild rice according to package directions (beef broth can be substituted for the water). Sauté the mushrooms in 1/2 to 1 cup butter or olive oil, depending on your taste preference, and add to finished wild rice. Stir in dried cranberries, if desired.

Big Boy Baked Beans

1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground cloves
Dash ground red pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 large cans vegetarian baked beans

Combine all ingredients in a 9x11-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 12.

Four-in-One Cookies

1 cup shortening, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
11/4 cup sifted flour 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick 1-minute oatmeal
1 cup chopped pecans
1 6-ounce package chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together. Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Carrot Cake

3 eggs
11/2 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple

Beat eggs and sugar. Beat in oil. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and blend into oil mixture.

Stir in carrots, vanilla, pineapple and nuts until well combined.

Bake in a greased 9x13-inch pan at 325 degrees for one hour or until center is set. Let cool and frost.

Cream Cheese Icing:

1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat in vanilla and sugar until smooth.

Get back to wild with cook-off

If cooking venison, duck, dove and pheasant is your game, your skills are needed for a wild game cook-off Oct. 2.

Backyard chefs from Morgan and Limestone counties should get their dishes ready for judges to sample when the Alabama Wildlife Federation hosts its annual Chevrolet-AWF Wild Game Cook-Off beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Riverwalk Marina in Decatur.

Categories include wild game, fish and fowl. There is no entry fee for cook teams, but those planning to participate must pre-register.

Prizes will be awarded to first through third place in each division, as well as best overall and best presentation. The overall winner will be invited to the state finals in Millbrook in August to compete for the title of Chevrolet-AWF Wild Game Cook-Off State Champion.

Those who prefer to eat rather than compete can sample some of the area’s best wild game dishes. Door prizes, a silent auction and live entertainment also will be part of the evening.

Tickets are $35 for a couple or single (free for cook teams and children under 15). The ticket price also includes one membership to the Alabama Wildlife Federation and a subscription to Alabama Wildlife magazine.

To purchase tickets or register a cook team, contact the Alabama Wildlife Federation at (800) 822-9453, Greg Lambert at (256) 998-0057 or Sam Glover at (256) 318-0157. Tickets also will be available at the door.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization. For member information, call (800) 822-WILD or visit

Patrice Stewart

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