Five great books for Christmas

Just in time for Christmas, I've finished the fifth and final installment of my "cookbooks for hunters and anglers series" with a look at "Salt Fat Acid Heat," by Samin Nosrat. There's no particular hunter/angler emphasis in this book, but Nosrat breaks down the four main elements of cooking in an easy, understandable way. If you're learning to cook, or even if you consider yourself an old hand in the kitchen, you'll learn a ton reading "Salt."

My favorite tidbit of "Salt" inspired insight: socarrat is the word for the crisp, brown rice crust that forms on the bottom of a pan of properly prepared paella. Though I haven't made paella in decades, I'm quite familiar with socarrat. I make a version of tomato rice a couple of times a month when I'm cooking Mexican/Tex-Mex grub. By accident I learned to create a socarrat crust in my tomato rice, though that's not the way it's normally served, and until I read this book, I didn't know that's what it is called. I make my rice crusty every time now.

By the way, I called these columns reviews, but I don't mean review in a clinical, break it down, chapter-by-chapter sense. These are more impressions rather than thorough critiques. The books were fun to read, though you don't really read cookbooks cover to cover (at least I don't). I'll be thumbing through these titles for as long as I'm cooking, leaving fatty thumbprints on all my favorite recipes.

“Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

“Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail: Upland Birds and Small Game from Field to Feast,” by Hank Shaw with photos by Holly Heyser

“The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game, Volume 1: Big Game,” by Steven Rinella

“Hook, Line, and Supper”: New Techniques and Master Recipes for Everything Caught in Lakes, Rivers and Streams, and at Sea," by Hank Shaw with photos by Holly Heyser

Cookbook and guide to big game hunting

Author Steven Rinella has rewritten the rules for hunting and fishing television. His "MeatEater" show restored the primacy of eating the animals we hunt in outdoor television. Too many hunting programs end with the kill shot, or shortly thereafter, with a DGDH "glory" shot (That's Dead Game, Dumb Hunter, btw).

The kill is usually about the midway point in a "MeatEater" program. Rinella then proceeds to field dressing, butchering, and finally, cooking game. "Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game'" is a great how to guide for the novice, and a thorough, detailed refresher course for the experienced big game hunter. You'll find my review here.

This is the third in a series of cookbook reviews for hunters and anglers. See "Charcuterie," here, and "Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail," here.

Hunting partners almost as good as a dog

I've learned not every hunter is a suitable hunting partner. Some folks are fine, but many possess the unfortunate ability to render the worst day hunting less pleasurable than the best day working.

Those folks you actually look forward to hunting with are rare. I'd tell you to cherish such folks, but part of what makes them superb hunting partners is they don't require cherishment. It offends them.

You spend time following your dogs about, maybe killing a few birds, and then you get back to the rest of life, keeping in touch until the next time.

The Long Walker is one of those dudes.

Cookbook review: Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail

Well, I promise I intended this as a cookbook review when I sat down to write it a few weeks ago. But reading it now, I have to wonder about myself. I suppose this is more a book about how the work of author and chef Hank Shaw has influenced my own culinary adventures, especially where wild game is concerned. “Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail: Upland Birds and Small Game from Field to Feast," has been a central guide as far as that journey is concerned.

In contemporary outdoors media, too often the act of eating game is completely divorce from the act of killing. To the degree I am able, I intend to fight that trend. Henceforth, there will be fewer tailgate shots, and more dinner prep shots in my social media activity.

This is the second of a five-part series of cookbook reviews I will write as Christmas gift suggestions. You can find a link to my review of Michael Ruhlman's "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing," here.

Safety Doesn’t Come Cheap

The shooting death on the set of the film "Rust" is a reminder that firearm safety is the responsibility of everyone handling a firearm, whether they're an actor, armorer, or even an assistant director. Cutting corners, however, is never the answer.

My latest column.

The latest on the "Rust" shooting is that an attorney for the film's armorer has suggested someone may have sabotaged the film by placing live rounds in a box of blanks, though live rounds shouldn't have been on the set regardless. And here's a look back on some of my coverage of a shooting at the Cody Gunfighter Show in 2016, here and here. That shooting was eerily similar to the the "Rust" shooting, though fortunately no one was seriously harmed.