My comfort food is German and that’s what I make a lot at the fort. I can justify it by knowing that there were a lot of German settlers that came to the Watauga by way of the Great Road from Pennsylvania. I got a recipe from my friend, Chef Stephen Block, and made it with beef at home. WINNER!!! Technically it’s a venison dish and there is a venison roast that Earl Slagle gave me just waiting to be cooked so that’s dinner at the public house, aka Cabin 4, the Hillbilly Hilton, for the February muster.

Here’s the recipe and it’s wonderbar!


1 lb venison (or stewing beef), cubed, all the silver flesh cut off

a few spoonfuls of bacon fat

4 small onions, halved and wedged

4 shallots, wedged

1 tbs flour

3/4 bottle of red wine (I used merlot)

1 cup beef broth (2-3 cups if you make dumplings)

1 tsp beef bullion crystals

3 tablespoons good paprika (I used 2 of sweet Hungarian paprika and one of smoked)

1 tsp cayenne

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tsp minced rosemary

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 juniper berries

8 peppercorns

2 fresh bay leaves

2 tbs lingonberry jam

salt and pepper to taste (add at the last)

1 lb crimini or baby bella mushrooms (add last 15 minutes)


  • Brown the meat in the bacon fat and then set aside.
  • Add the onions, shallots, Brown and then add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes. then add the garlic
  • deglaze the pot using the wine. Add the broth and bullion. Simmer on low heat.
  • Add the spices (after you toast them gently in a separate pot to release their flavors), jam and meat.
  • Cover and simmer and hour or until the meat is tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste the last 15 minutes

Thicken the gravy if you don’t make dumplings (pats of butter rolled in flour will make a wonderful thickener and glaze the gravy)


1 egg

6 tbs flour

pinch of salt


add to broth and when they float, they are done.

Serve with pickled red cabbage.



Oatmeal Soup

I know this sounds rather not appetizing( shall I just come come right out with it and say “disgusting”?) but truly this is a really good tasting, hearty soup. I got the recipe from last year and have made it several times. The oatmeal almost has a barley consistency but I like it better than barley. It’s easy to make at home or in camp.

4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 pound fresh spinach
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup Irish oatmeal (steel cut oats)
Salt and pepper to taste
Unsweetened whipped cream or sour cream for accompaniment
  1. In a skillet or pan, melt the butter over a low heat. Add diced potatoes, mushrooms and sliced onions and cook until soft.
  2. Wash spinach. Remove stalks and tough stems and chop finely.
  3. Transfer carrots and onions, mushrooms and spinach to a saucepan and add the stock, salt and pepper to taste, cloves and diced potatoes. Stir in the Irish oatmeal and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree soup with a hand-held blender or in small batches in a conventional blender or food processor.
  5. To serve, ladle soup in bowls and top with a small dollop of whipped cream.

Makes 4 servings.


An Austrian friend of mine made another kind of oatmeal soup which I like just as well, especially when I’m not feeling too well.

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken stock + 1 cube chicken bullion

1 tbs butter

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup quick cook oatmeal

1 carrot, grated

1 leek, whites only, chopped

In a dutch oven, melt the butter and add the garlic and oatmeal.Saute both until the oatmeal and garlic  is browned. Add ther leek and carrots, and saute. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or so. The soup will be somewhat thickened and rich.