Last week I was asked a question I bet most of you don’t get asked very often. I was visiting my friend Suzanne and her family while getting some of that wonderful Jersey milk, and her husband asked me, “Andrea, does your family eat bear?” “I don’t know,” I replied, “We’ve never tried it.” “Would you like to try some?” “Sure…we’ll try anything once!”
Bill is of direct Cherokee descent, and he has many connections within the Cherokee community. They had been gifted with a large amount of bear meat and were sharing the bounty with us. It took almost a week for the huge slab of meat to thaw enough to cook–it was so huge it caused our refrigerator to freeze! Sunday morning before leaving for church was the perfect time for putting it in the oven. I was told it needed to cook in a low oven all day and to be sure I used plenty of sage and garlic. I rubbed the meat all over with lots of sage and garlic and some salt, threw in some coarsely chopped onion and some carrots and a little water, placed the meat on the roasting rack in my roasting pan, set the oven for 275 degrees and left for church.
Church was a joy, as always, mixed with some sorrow. Our faithful long-term interim pastor is leaving for a job in Iraq. We are thrilled for the provision for his family–it has been a long lean season for them–but we are all going to miss Tom’s faithful teaching of the Word and his careful pastoral care of our small flock. Tom is a kind, patient, humble, faithful servant. We have been blessed under his care. Church always recharges me–corporate worship with other believers is special. We left church after an extended fellowship time and came home.
Jokes have been parried about in our home all day, starting with my husband’s comment when we arrived home to the aroma of roasting meat. “I smell a Bahr” (You have to say it that way or it isn’t as funny, you know.) Playing along, I asked, “Whar?” “In our oven!” The corniness never stops here on our mountain. (Don’t tell my husband that I still think he’s funny; it might go to his head.) Corny or not, we loved the bear meat, when it was finally done enough to eat. At 7 pm we had to cut off part of the top and roast it separately in a hotter oven. About an hour later we could finally eat. We were warned that bear has a lot of fat–and it was fatty, but it was also very tasty. Some parts were a little tough, but the tender parts more than made up for that! We had a LOT of meat left over, so our plan is to cut it into chunks, put it in the crock pot with some water and cook it on low all night. We hope to render the fat out and have some really nice and tender meat for barbeque sandwiches tomorrow. We expect to feed a small crowd. I hope they like bear.
A few hours ago our 15 year old daughter came in and informed us that the bear that plagued our trash cans last year is back. He is a big ‘un, as they say up here. I’m afraid that bear probably won’t make it past bear season. She’s a pretty good shot with her bow, and she has begged her Daddy to teach her how to use the rifle. I might as well go ahead and warn you…if you come to my house this winter, you might just be asked, “So, does your family eat bear?”