Well, since I’ve already fully ‘outed’ myself as a rabid Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, I might as well come completely clean on all fronts. Prepare yourself for this shocker!
Rampantly, unabashedly. . .and every single thing I can get my hands on! The truth is, I’ve smoked from a very young age. . .all my family were smokers, so it was just a natural progression for me: diapers, walking, talking, then smoking!
Betcha didn’t think you’d ever learn that about The Practical Pioneer, now didja?
We’re referring to smoking foods here, of course! (though you probably already figured that out, though, right?!)
I honestly wasn’t too old when I began. . .I started with fairly easy stuff and worked my way up. Things I could quickly season and slap in the smoker for a relatively short period of time were my specialty. I think my first attempt was venison jerky. Or maybe trout fillets. I don’t remember, but I was certainly hooked as soon as I tasted my creations and it all grew from there!
The smell of smoking food is undeniably enticing, especially on crisp fall mornings when the air is pure and clear and clean. My uncles often had their large shed smokers in full operation for most of autumn as they preserved the deer, antelope, elk, trout, and huge king salmon they harvested on regular hunting and fishing trips. I loved to help with preparing the brines and dry rubs, and the slicing and arranging of the meats on racks. I loved to help with the canning of the finished slabs of smoked salmon and thick stew cuts of beef as well as the vacuum packing of game jerky and delicate trout fillets. Hundreds of pounds of delicious meats went through my Aunt’s fall kitchen and I loved every single protein-packed second of it. It was a wonderful family time full of laughter and gorgeous food and togetherness.
Most of that generation of hunters and fishermen are gone now, but I still smoke wild caught meats as much as possible and even resort to store-bought on occasion (catching a great sale on salmon or beef can mean a pantry full of flavorful smoked meats for use in winter!). And I’ve branched out considerably since then, smoking things my grandparents would never have thought to . . .salt and garlic are two biggies, but I’ve also smoked cheese and cream (which make the most AMAZING mashed potatoes!!), and my own gorgeous bacon and sausages, etc. The possibilities are endless and the results are unbelievable.
I shouldn’t find it surprising, then, that one of my most ‘re-pinned’ pins on my Pinterest boards are ones that have to do with building your own smokehouse, such as this one from DIY Guides, for example. Folks love the process, love the results, and are finding out that smoking is no longer merely a way to make jerky (though OH! the flavor of homemade jerky!!). Endless delicious possibilities await.
So, go on. Start smoking. I promise I won’t tell your mother!