Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

What could be better in the fall or winter months than a meal built around homemade sausages. We love them, and I decided to make different type. Looking over many receipts, I found several rather interesting ones.

lcanian sausage is a true old-world sausage and can be found in literature in the 4th century. Ten surviving  cookbooks of the Greco-Roman world survive under the name of Apicius and are the works of several authors.  One receipt included in this work is lcanian sausage which is the forerunner of the Greek Loukaniko. Loukaniko may have originated in Italy, however, it became popular in Portugal in addition to Greece and a few other countries.

Loukaniko is comprised of pork and lamb and a laundry list of spices, wine, and grated orange.  It was often served as a mezze (appetizer). I also came across a receipt for Saulcisses en Potage in  Lancelot de Casteau, Ouverture de Cuisine, 1585. This was a  “Tourney Dish” of sausages with apples, onion, cinnamon and nutmeg eaten at the mock battles during the Middle Ages. I thought this would be great to do together. In addition, I found a German venison receipt from the manuscript of Sabina Welser, 1553. It was edited by Hugo Stopp and published as Das Kochbuch der Sabina , 1980.This was timely, as I was given venison by a friend.

I made the two types of sausages,(receipt below) and  I took each receipt and divided it in half. one half I added pink curing salt; these sausage would be cold-smoked.  After the four different types of sausage were stuffed into their casings, they went into the refrigerator to sit overnight.

The next day I got out the Cameron’s Original Stove top Smoker and hickory chips. Once this started to smoke, the two different sausages with the curing salt went in and stayed for 4 hours on a low heat. I was careful to keep the two sausage separate  so I’d be able to know which was which. After two days, and help from Allan, my sausage making was complete; now to share them.

For the first night we had our neighbors in.  We always like to have them taste test things for us.  The menu would be Loukaniko  with pottage, Emmer flour Flat Bread. sautéed Brussels sprouts with New Hampshire elixir (maple syrup), and sautéed apples, onions, garlic and cabbage slaw. Now Allan dislikes Brussels sprouts, so I needed to do something a bit different so they would be not be as bitter as he recalls. I was hoping the maple syrup would do the trick.

 The first thing I had to prepare for the dinner was the dough for the flat bread.  Emmer flour is a rich and nutty, ancient, wholegrain flour, and I thought I would try it to see if I liked it.  After they were flattened I put them between strips of plastic wrap and stored them in the refrigerator.

The Saulcisses en Potage does not have cabbage, however, my Russian heritage was screaming put it in! Also I remembered similar receipt from Hannah Glass that I have made.  So I incorporated them together. As a result I made a slaw with cabbage and carrots to be added to the apples, onions and garlic all to be sautéed in butter, spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, a tad of sugar, and a bit of dry white wine.  This also sat in the refrigerator ready to go.

Allan built the perfect fire, the neighbors arrived and we all enjoying appetizers, which included the smoked Loukaniko. The cooled smoking made the sausage firm and enhanced the flavoring of the spices and orange zest. Served with crackers and cheese. All in all a thumbs-up for sure.

When the coals in the fireplace were ready, it was time to get cooking. The  sausage went on the  gridiron first. The pottage and Brussels sprouts went into three-legged pans to sauté. Last but not least the flat bread went on the hanging griddle.

When everything was done and put on the table we just dug in, so, sorry no pictures. We took the flat bread and use it as a roll adding the sausage and the pottage on top.  OMG!!!  It was an epicurean delight, if I have to say so myself. A distinct flavor of lamb in the sausage then a subtle hint of the leeks and garlic hit with the zesty orange and herbs all exploding on your palate, glorified by the pottage all wrapped in a soft and fragrant flat bread. The Brussels sprouts being sautéed in oil and butter with the addition of syrup had a nice brown and sweet nutty finish, And all did try them. The meal was a success.

 A few days later we had our friends, who gave us the venison, over for dinner. On this occasion we sampled the cold-smoked venison sausage as an appetizer. To accompany the grilled venison sausage, I chose to serve sautéed wild mushrooms and oven roasted vegetables. Once again I use the fireplace to cook almost everything. (I put the roasted vegetables in the oven).

The venison sausage had just enough of a noticeable gamy taste, with a hint of the clove and the tart taste of the juniper berries was spot on. This time I wanted to try the three-legged griddle to cook the flat bread.  It cooked better, I think, as they browned better than on the hanging griddle. We tried the sausage and mushroom in the flat bread and it was good, however my choice would be the sausage with pottage. Again thumbs-up on this one. And what can you say about, farm-fresh, roasted vegetables except yum!

I was happy with the turnout of all the sausages and the wonderful sides that accompanied them. We were able to share this with friends by the hearth with a good glass of wine and beer and an evening of wonderful conversation.

 May you have many warm and happy winter days cooking,


 “…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”
― Julia Child, My Life in France

PS. Its nice to have the blog working again. Thank you all for putting up with all the tests.  And keep your fingers crossed.  Next blog will be two meals of Rabbit.




1 pounds pork shoulder, cubed

3 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of silver skin and cubed

1 pound pork fatback, cubed

3 tablespoons kosher salt                     

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 whole leeks, trimmed of dark leaves and finely chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 medium cloves)

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest from about 3 oranges

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Greek)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/3 cup red wine, chilled

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, chilled

Hog casings

Lancelot de Casteau, Ouverture de cuisine, 1585


Sausages in Pottage. Take sausages, & fry them in butter, then take four or five peeled apples & cut into small quarters, & four or five onions cut into rings, & fry them in butter, & put all of them into a pot with the sausages, & put therein nutmeg, cinnamon, with red or white wine, sugar, & let them then all stew.

 The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse (1796)


Take half a pound of sausages, and six apples, slice four about as thick as a crown, cut the other two in quarters, fry them with the sausages of a fine light brown, lay the sausages in the middle of the dish, and the apples round. Garnish with the quartered apples. Stewed cabbage and sausages fried is a good dish.

Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin


 1 lb. ground venison                    6-8 oz. bacon          1 tsp. salt                 1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. mace                                 1/2 tsp. cloves       1/2 tsp. ginger                  

1/2 tsp. grains of paradise         1/2 tsp. cubebs      pinch ground saffron

1 oz. water                                      casing                                   

 To this recipe I added 1/2 tsp of juniper berries ground

 Did you know that during the Middle Ages the word “venison” referred to any wild animal with edible flesh?


There were six people in the workshop and all wanted to learn how to make coffins. It does seem to be a popular form of pie-making these days. This day we would go a step beyond the normal and make a coffins and a ‘subteltie’ or eye-catching centerpiece.

– A castle with a keep, three towers and a center.

First thing that needed to be done was make the fillings for the coffins. Veronica made the mushroom and onion filling while Matt added bread crumbs and spices to beef to make a forced meat mixture.1

Nancy made two fillings. Both needed constant watchfulness and stirring. A rice filing hung over the fire, made with milk, could easily scorch, while the spinach sweating in a large spider over coals had to be carefully tended. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling, and she and Matt started on the Orange Fool. Veronica put the finishing touches on the mushrooms and onions.4 copy

Kate lends a hand to Nancy and places the spinach in a cloth-lined bowl to remove the last vestige of moisture.

Susan made a paste of shredded chicken breast, eggs and cream then picked all the meat off of the boiled quail. This would all go in her coffin with wild mushrooms, dates, fresh figs, and spices.6 copy

Kevin took the receipt for Cucumber a la Forced. He cut a small piece off the end of the cucumber and using a marrow spoon he removed all the seeds. Next he made a forced meat of bread cubes, eggs, melted butter and many fresh spices. This forced meat was stuffed into the center of the cucumber and the little end also.  Susan made a leer for her quail coffin over the fire with a roux.  Leers are like our modern gravies, made for pouring in the coffins and enjoying  as a side. One of the interesting things about this roux is most of us put the butter in the pan add the flour and mix it together. Early receipts call for mixing the flour and butter together in your hand and then put it into the liquid, a very different concept for us.


Now back to Kevin and the cucumber. The small end needed to be sewn back on. I did a brief demonstration for him and he was on his way to resembling three forced cucumbers. Susan watched the surgery.5 copy

Veronica beat the egg whites for the Orange Fool. This was folded into the juice, sugar, and rinds, and thickened on the hearth by Matt. 3 copy

Nancy grated the mozzarella for the spinach filling and mixed it with parmesan, whole eggs and spices. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling and she and Matt, working as a team, strained the orange peels from the sauce for the Orange Fool. Untitled-1 copy

With all the fillings ready to go, we made our coffins. Everyone took turns pouring the hot water crust liquid into their flour.  You must stir it with a spoon first and wait until you can touch it. When that time comes, you need to work fast to get the flour to mix with the liquid. 

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Once the flour will keep its shape as a ball, out on the work surface it goes. Ten minutes of kneading and then 10 minutes of rest and you have a ball that feels much like play dough. Using a coffin form, Susan starts on her large coffin. 8 copy

Coffin forms are mentioned in early 19th century cookbooks. I have not seen any evidence, of their existence, in the previous centuries, however, they do make the work easier, and I’ll keep looking for proof.

Turning the form upside down helps to raise a nice tall coffin. Then in went the quail mixture.9 copy

Nancy used a smaller form for her spinach filling and a tall one for the rice. Kate’s venison would go in a taller form. The spinach would be the center and the rest would become part of the castle towers. 10 copy

Veronica and Matt made the flanking towers.11 copy

Susan rolled out hot water crust to make the top for her coffin; she did a wonderful edge on the side. Kevin mentioned that she is an excellent pie maker. This edge showed off her skills. Kevin was pretty good with a basting brush, and applied the egg wash all over the coffin.12 copy

Matt really gets down making his tower tall, it would become the castle keep.  Kevin does the honors of positioning the quail coffin into the back side of the beehive oven.Untitled-12psd

With the center, towers, and castle keep filled, the tops were placed on and the embattlements cut out. Then they were stuck together to form a castle Richard II would be proud.14copy

Into the beehive they went, and after an hour they came out.15b

While the coffins cooked, Kevin simmered his forced cucumber in chicken stock. In the kettle, the leers that were made were kept warm.15

With flags flying on the castle towers, Matt take it to the table. The tops was cut off to reveal, rice pudding, venison sausage, beef forced meat, mushroom and onions and a center of spinach. All worthy of a medieval feast.

We think of creating “subteltie” as being only in the medieval times, however, even Mrs. Beeton, in 1890, did a game pie with a stuffed pheasant on top.copy4

Susan’s quail pie baked perfectly and was exceptionally good with the fruit, giving it an enjoyable tang .copy3

Everyone around the table thought the spinach tasted much like spanakopita. The venison sausage was terrific, the rice pudding slightly sweet and creamy, the mushrooms and onions delightful and the ground cloves in the forced meat was a wonderful surprise. The forced cucumbers were interesting ranging in ratings from, “glad I had it once” to “it’s not bad.”

Everyone loved the Orange Fool. It was such a popular dessert in the 1800s that Hanna Glasse had at least four receipts for it. Topped with a bit of blueberry sauce it was a perfect ending to the meal.copy 1

Another coffin workshop behind me, and so glad to have shared the day with such wonderful and interesting friends.18


“Food . . . can look beautiful, taste exquisite, smell wonderful, make people feel good, bring them together . . . At its most basic, it is fuel for a hungry machine . . . “

Rosamond Richardson, English cookery author


And the hot oven!

What a difference a year makes. Last winter it snowed almost every Saturday, and the workshops were always being rescheduled. So far this year we have had wonderful weather, even though it has been below freezing a few days. Our workshop day dawned sunny and 22 degrees outside, with wind gusts up to 15 miles an hour. Perfect day to cook over the fire!

One of the dishes we were making was a stuffed pumpkin. I bought several pumpkins in the fall to see how they would keep over the winter. I was just at Old Sturbridge Village at the Freeman farm house and Victoria, who was working there that day, told me how their pumpkins have not fared well, being that the house is so cold. I stored mine under the sink in the panty. We keep this door open on very cold nights so the pipes won’t freeze. The pumpkins survived in wonderful shape with the exception of one that we fed to the deer outside.

The pumpkin was of a good size and I started it early in the morning. When Cathy and Sherry arrived  filled the pumpkin with a stuffing of apples, raisins, brown sugar, cubed bread, butter and spices. This would need to be turned every 20 minutes or so.

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Natalie and Kathy started right in on the quail coffin. Their marble pasty board was covered in cling wrap to keep it clean while they worked on the meat. The birds would be fried brown, cooled and picked of their meat. Four legs would be save intact to stick out of the top of the coffin. A version of, “Crustardes of Flesh,” from the Form of Curry 1390.Untitled3 copy

Sherry and Cathy read the receipt from Robert Smiths , ” A Venifon Pie” and the modern version that they plan to use. With the venison cut into cubes, Sherry renders some salt pork in the pan. Untitled-6 copy

Kathy and Natalie place the cut quail pieces in the oiled pan. After it browned at bit, they added garlic, anchovies, capers, red wine, and stock. A bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and oregano went into the simmering pan.

With the salt pork rendered, Sherry added the cut venison and browned it on all sides.Untitleda-1 copy

The filling for the venison coffin has onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potato, wine, spices and butter. When everything was cut, it was all put into the pan with the venison, and simmered along with some broth. Hanging on the crane is a pot with eggs boiling for the Lumber pie. Untitled7opy

Four quail legs were set aside and the picked meat was mixed with raisins. The braising liquid from the pan and some red wine was thickened with corn flour then poured over the torn meat. This was set aside in a cool place. The cling wrap was removed; the dough was made. After kneading it for 10 minutes it was placed in a linen cloth and twisted and set aside to help the flour absorbed the fat evenly.1

To make our coffin dough we used a medieval receipt from c 1465 Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v). It is a hot water crust dough which is mainly flour, water butter, lard and a pinch of salt. The trick is to make sure you knead it well then tie it in a cloth.Capture

Now I’m lucky that I have such a handy husband who has a wood lathe. He made me three coffin forms. I’m not sure when wooden forms started to be used. I do know that they existed.

Robert Deeley, The Caildron, The Spit and the Fire, shows a picture of an 19c coffin form.

Delia Smith who wrote Food in England in 1954 has a wonder article on pork pies being cook in coffyn or coffer, i.e., little box or enclosure; it lent itself to elaborate traditional decorations, on top and sides. She says these forms were made of hot pasty and molded, or raised, round wooden molds.

And this might be the best YouTube I’ve seen of making meat pie with a wooden form.

Cathy flours the forms really well, and Natalie takes a piece of the warm dough and makes a small bowl shape with it. The inside gets floured and is put on the floured form and made into a coffin. Allan made two small forms on the wood lathe. This way we can make individual coffins. Kathy and Natalie were very excited with this, they want to do small coffins for the Deacon Graves House Museum dinner one day in Madison, CT.

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Next the quail filling goes in with the reserved leg in the middle. A top is then placed on with a hole for the leg. The sides and top edge were washed with beaten egg. Once they are pinched together they should hold in the filling nicely.Untitled-15 copy

Susan was in charge of Robert Mays’ 1660 “Lumber Pie” receipt. While she cuts all the suet, mushrooms, shallots, and marrow, I peel the eggs.Untitled-8 copy

I had some barberries in my spice box and even though the venison receipt did not call for it I ask the ladies if they would like to try it. Susan, a superb venison cook, suggested we grind three berry’s and add it to the mix and everyone agreed. The meat for the Lumber pie was made into little sausages and were then wrapped in caul to hold them together.Untitled-9

The sausages were browned in batches. I had made a beef gravy previously and we warmed it up with a bit of verjuice for pouring on the top of the filled coffin.Untitled-10 copy

Sherry and Cathy worked on their coffin. They were using the large wooden mold. And, yes, we went through a lot of flour, with three different coffins being made it’s not surprising.Untitled-11 copy

With their coffin made the venison filling was poured in. Cathy rolled out a lid and after brushing things with the beaten egg, she crimped it together. Their coffin was not raised very high, however, it would hold a goodly amount and serve four easily.Untitled-12 copy

Susan started to make her coffin on the large form. The wood was floured very well and she was able to make it very tall.Untitled-13 copy

Susan used a wooden noodle roller to make a great outside cover. Brushed with mixed egg, she applied the design.

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Now came the layering of the grapes, figs , eggs, mushrooms and meat sausages in the coffin. The gravy was poured on last.Untitled-18 copy

With the top pinched all round she cut more designs for the top. It was definitely decorating time and everyone was busy putting on the finishing touches of their coffins.Untitled-19 copy

Susan put leaves on top of her coffin, Sherry and Cathy put hearts, Natalie and Kathy use a combination of designs.

After all Valentine’s Day was only one day away. Coffins were ready for the oven.Untitled-20 copy

Because of the stretch of cold days Allan felt the bricks of the chimney and bake oven would take a long time to heat up. He kept testing the bake oven with the Laser Infrared Thermometer. It just would not get up to heat so he added more wood. Finally, he said it was 500 degrees and falling, so in went the coffins.

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While the coffins baked away, Cathy prepared the lovely golden and red beets she had boiled and then sliced into rounds. She melted a stick of butter in a pan, added a little roux and stirred in the chopped parsley. scallions, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper and sautéed them lightly. The beets were added and simmered until the sauce thickened.



So it was time to check the bake oven. First thing that someone noticed was that there was smoke pouring out of the back of the wooden door. It was smoking and I mean really smoking. So we tossed it in the sink and poured water on it. Next we looked at the coffins. Yikes! The Lumber Pie was way in the back and BLACK. We took it out and cut off the top and found that the inside was fine. Perhaps this is why they never eat the coffin dough . (Only kidding) 

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The Venison pie did not look too bad and the small coffins were about the same. The dough was cooked, but a tad over brown!



Fredrick Nutt’s The Complete Confectioner, 1790, and his Chocolate Drops.

The chocolate was put in a brass kettle and confectionery sugar added. Sherry put it over coals and started stirring and stirring and stirring until her arm was almost baked. At this point, it was removed to the stove and it took some doing, but the chocolate and sugar melted together.


Now the chocolate was dropped by a spoon onto a piece of parchment and sprinkled with nonpareils. When the parchment was filled, the edges were picked up, and the bottom was tapped on the marble to flatten out the chocolate. In theory, this would work. However, that would be to good to be true. What we made was glass, pretty glass, but GLASS.Untitled-25 copy

All in all the meal was enjoyable and showed off the coffin-making skills of the cooks.

Each coffin had its own distinctive taste. The capers and rosemary in the quail coffin added a nice bright taste. Putting the barberries in the venison was a great idea; you could taste them in the background. Next time I’d add more. The lumbar pie had many layers of flavors with the fruit adding sweet moisture to the gravy.

The red and golden beets with a hint of lemon and the apple pumpkin brown betty was superb.


As we sat eating, there was lots of discussion of what went wrong with the candy. The beginning of the receipt says “Take one pound and a half of chocolate, put it on your pewter sheet or plate, put it in the oven just to warm the chocolate,….” (Our chocolate was sitting by the fire all day and was very soft.) “then put it into a copper stew pan, with three quarters of a pound of powdered sugar, mix well………” So, Cathy thought this sounded like a double boiler type process; other disagreed. What do you think? We would all be interested to know. One thing for sure we went way past the candy stage of warming the chocolate.

Here’s our group ready to feast on three coffins, a medley of beets, and apple-stuffed pumpkin24

Later that night, as Allan and I sat waiting for the fire to die down, he picked up the Laser Infrared Thermometer. Guess what? It has two settings, Fahrenheit and Celsius. It seems Allan was dealing with Celsius and didn’t know it. After all, he had it in his mind that the temperature outdoors had been so bitter cold that the brick stack would be cold. WRONG.

500 degrees Celsius is 800 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s a wonder the coffins didn’t burst into flames!


“…no one is born a great cook; one learns by doing.”

̶ Julia Childs, My Life in France

PS: Coffin Workshop Two ̶ check the laser.



I have just posted my up-coming classes for April – May

Look for them in the gray box on the right side of the site –


Hope you can join us


Venison Stew Wolley Style

With the leftovers from the Venison Pasty below, I wanted to make this a complete meal so I boiled some potatoes (we did use white potatoes here in New Hampshire)  and carrots with thyme, chopped parsley, garlic and onion placed on the fire. I then took the leftover pasty and dug out the meat and mushrooms placing them on a plate to which I added the rosemary.  I wish I had done this when it was warm last night as it would have been easier to remove the goodies from the pasty.  I save some of the pasty to use as a thickener at the end.

With the embers just right I scooped the venison mixture into the oiled pan. What a great sizzling sound it made. I poured in the wine and the aroma of the stew was magnificent. I guess it has been a while since I have had a chance to cook over a fire.

I was very light-handed with the vinegar and sugar. This is an acquired taste and much of the early receipts include mixing herbs and spices in way unfamiliar to our 21ST century tastes.  In went the leftover pasty cut fine and as soon as it absorbed the liquid, I spooned it out onto the platter. With the vegetables softened, I pan-fried them, letting them pick up the bits and pieces of the remaining stew, until they were a golden brown.

Keeping the dish of stew warming by the fire; it was ready for the colorful vegetables.


Venison with Samuel Pepys and Hannah Wolley

Once again I find myself using venison in an early receipt. On January 6th , 1660 Samuel Pepys diaries records the following “ I went home (from the office) and took my wife and went to my Cosen Tho Pepy’s and found them just sat down to dinner, which was very good; only the venison pasty was palpable beef, which was not hansom”  

On the streets of London you could buy Pasty and Coffins to take home.  Obviously Cosen Tho bought from a trickster and his meat may have been cheap or even rotten. The date of Pepys meal is in January so I thought it a fitting receipt to being my food blog.  

In Pepys at the Table, David and Johnson have included under this quote a receipt by Hannah Wolley, author of the The Accomplish’d Ladies Delight, London. 1675. Hannah was the first women to publish an English cookery book and wrote about food in order to earn money. Her receipt “TO STEW VENISON” can be found in the blogs Receipts file. 

If I’m translating Woolley’s receipt correctly, I believe she calls for venison that has already been cooked, which you then stew in wine and herbs, thicken with grated bread and add sugar and vinegar to taste.  So first I need to make the venison and have chosen a receipt from Robert May The Accomplished Cook 1660 (see receipt file). Having come from a family of Chefs Robert May was sent to Paris at the age of ten to be an apprentice cook. He came back to London and worked his way up as chef to the British aristocracy. However many of his receipts are written with common ingredients that could be used by people of modest means. 

 So, I will have to make venison pasty first before I can use Woolley receipt. O goody venison dinner for two nights. 

Reading Robert May receipt I realized I could feed a neighborhood with this pasty receipt and still have leftovers.  It seems I will have to reduce the amounts a bit, that should do it for two people.  Like most cooks today, one adds or subtracts what they like in a receipt.  I’m adding mushrooms as I have many varieties that are dried and I love the taste of them with venison.  Not having a bake oven handy at the moment I’ll be doing this in my oven, then on Friday the second receipt on the fire. 

Design of a venison pasty from Robert May cookery book

 (I drew this rendition and it is not as pretty as his however you get the idea.) 

 A note about mushrooms; I come from a family that foraged for them in the woods and dried them on tables outside in the shade to use in the winter similar to our ancestors.  The ones I am using come from the store as my husband told me long ago “SHOW ME THE CAN OR THE BOX, OR I’M NOT EATING THEM” 

 First I must make hot paste dough this needs to be wrapped in a dry cloth and reat for a bit.  1/3 of the dough will go for the pasty and the rest for the design.


I have everything assambled I will need.  The paste has rested and after I rolled part of  the paste I made the design for the top covered it with a wet cloth and set it aside.

 After mixing the meat and spices I cooked it a bit as I did not want to bake the pasty for eight hours. With the venison half cooked I place it on one half of the pasty then fold it over and add the design. 

Then in to the oven it will go at 325 degrees for an hour.  Half way through I washed the top with the beaten egg.  It looks nice and the aroma is wonderful I hope it taste good.

The Venison Pasty is delicious, with notes of nutmeg and cloves but not over powering.  The mushrooms added a texture and earthiness to the mild game taste. Half the pasty is leftover and will be used in Wolley’s receipt, Venison Stew.

January 12, 2012 by Sandie