Stews and Whiskeys, Mohican Style

Last night, the promised dinner went off without a hitch. And when I say without a hitch, I mean that considering my humble meal was supposed to be for me, my brother, and my mom at most, it turned out to be a full-on foodparty, and I ended up cooking venison stew, mashed potatoes, and succotash for 9 people. Although me (and my wallet) suffered some anxiety at the added pressure, thanks to some very timely help from my line cook brother, it all turned out great.

Let me start by revealing my super secret recipe source. It’s called Tastespotting and believe me, if you have any interest whatsoever in food, this is probably the best thing since…I don’t know, white bread? Needless to say, it’s awesome. It’s a compendium of food blogs, so when you go to the site, all you see is a bunch of really appetizing pictures; click on one, and it goes to a food blog, which 99% of the time contains a recipe for said appetizing picture. And you can find ANYTHING on there. Generally, I just browse, but if you’re ever looking for something in particular, say, venison, you just search for it and voilá! So, thanks to The Dabble, Savour Fare, and 12 Bottle Bar, I had my menu, as follows:

Venison Stew


and very importantly, the Stone Fence Cocktail

There were mashed potatoes as well, but my brother made those from a recipe in his head. If you want the recipes for any of the other stuff, just click the pictures above.

So, down to business. Unlike most literature, which almost always mentions a substantial amount of food, The Last of the Mohicans only mentioned a specific foodstuff four times, two of which I made: venison, dried bear meat, spruce beer, and succotash. Bear jerky was not sold at my corner store, sadly. Spruce beer, apparently is widely sold in Canada and other northern U.S. states where the spruce tree is common. It looks like you can buy it online, but it’s scarce. You could make your own too, but you’d have to get your hands on some authentic spruce as well, sooo sadly I had to forego the spruce beer, too. Sadly, because I love beer. Succotash, luckily, was easy, cheap, and very good. According to the novel, it was a dish that consisted of cracked corn and beans. That was all the description it gave. So I’m not sure how similar my succotash was  to the one the Delawares ate, but I did my best. Last but not least, the venison, which I made into a stew. Also pretty hard to find. There are many perks to living in Southern California. Having a thriving game season due to the high population of deer is not one of them. But thanks to a really awesome gourmet deli called The Meat House, I got two pounds of venison tenderloin. It cost me a whopping seventy bucks, but the things we do for creative expression, right?

I’ve never eaten venison, or seen it, really, but Bambi has some incredibly dark meat. I’m not generally a queasy person, but I don’t relish handling raw meat. Lucky for me, my brother took that job.

Like I said, dark. Obviously, Chingachgook, Uncas, and the Scout probably didn’t have access to red wine, cippolini onions, etc., so I have to wonder what it would be like to shoot a deer, skin it, carve up the meat, and cook it, while in the woods with not a single modern comfort. It truly is crazy to think of the things we have now as opposed to the 18th century. How different life is. And how different it’s not. One thing I thought about a lot while reading this novel was how human beings never change. Not really. But this is the food part of the entry, so I’ll forego the existential humanity lecture.

By the way, if someone knows an easier way to peel cippolini onions, please share. Maybe if I hadn’t just cut my nails. But they taste so good, they’re worth it. 

See that one there ^^? Watch out. First of all, Rittenhouse Rye,the whiskey I used for the Stone Fence cocktail, is 100 proof, which means 50% alcohol. I can drink a lot, and that can get me into trouble when I’m drinking something with a lot of firepower for the first time. I had three. Let’s just say, the latter part of the night is a little fuzzy. Luckily, I’m not a sloppy drunk and I, uh, comported myself with dignity…ish. Moral of the story: careful with this baby. And if you’re not a whiskey lover, comme moi, it’s probably not for you. IF you’ve read this carefully, you might be asking yourself why I made a whiskey drink when I specifically said that there were only four foodstuffs mentioned in the book, whiskey not being one of them. I confess. I used my assumptions. Cooper does mention “White Man’s fire” and I’m deciphering that as…WHISKEY. And I chose this specific  drink because you can trace this cocktail back to our colonial forefathers. They may have been backwards, bigoted, and blind when it came to Native American relations, but at least they knew their whiskey.

These are just a couple of the people who came over for dinner. The tall kid with the funny haircut is my brother, He Who Cooked the Meat. Even though it meant extra work and some extra money, it really was fun to have my friends and family enjoy the food with me. I think I actually might make a thing out of it.

If you’re still reading this, props. I appreciate it. I’m almost done. I just have to talk a little bit about the game we played after dinner. It has absolutely nothing to do with The Last of the Mohicans in theory, though the book did kind of creep into the game, as you’ll see. The game is called Fax Machine. Each player gets a number of pieces of paper, the number coinciding with the number of players. Each player then writes a sentence on the paper, any sentence, and passes it to the person next to them. Then, on the second piece of paper, each person draws a picture of what the sentence says, and passes it again. You’re only allowed to look at the picture or sentence before your turn, and not the ones that came before. Then each person writes a sentence describing the picture, and so on, until you have your original sentence in front of you again. Each player then shows  everyone else the papers, starting with the original sentence. Believe me, it’s hilarious what people do. This was probably the funniest game I’ve ever played. The surplus of whiskey in my body probably helped though.

See? Hysterical. And so, my first book/food experience is complete. I hope you enjoyed it at least almost as much as I did. Right now, I’m reading a book written by a family member, and I’ll review it on here as a favor to her, but I hope to be back on track by next week. I’m thinking something contemporary. Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. Ciao.

Footnote: I think my blogs are too long.



  1. What a great idea for a site! Anxious to see what other books/meals you decide to do.

    The Stone Fence was a very good choice, if a powerful one. Wow, three of them — that’s impressive. Both rye and New England rum would have been in wide use at the time, as would the hard cider. Glad that you enjoyed.

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