We have a lot of deer hanging out near where we live; urban deer with no natural predators and only the occasional dog to worry about makes for bold deer.
So this happened last week.
As I’m coming down the steps from the house, I look up to see two deer, one on each side of the truck. The one on the right starts walking towards me, she clearly remembers having had an apple or two tossed her way. The other follows suit. I’m in a bit of a hurry, heading to the airport to pick up my husband. They look unconvinced when I say I have nothing.
I remember that morning having thrown out a couple of overripe pears in the garden, knowing the deer would be along at some point. Looking under the trees to my right, I spot one and think “Well, I’ll just get that out and pass it to her”, because I’m not sure deer understand “sorry, I don’t have any on me” and neither do they seem inclined to take no for an answer. I bend down, and am using a stick to pull the pear out from under the low hanging branches, when I pitch forward and fall into the tall grass. Scrambling out backwards, thinking I should have just gone back up to the house to get more damn apples, I snagged my hair in the twigs and nearly put my eye out with a broken branch (glasses can be a good thing). Manage to disentangle myself from branches and finally make it back upright, only to turn around and find Doe One RIGHT THERE by my elbow, peering around my shoulder into my hands (Whatcha got there Liz? That a pear? We like pears!). I jump, startled by how close she is, and that triggers a chain reaction whereby SHE jumps back, and then I step back so as not to panic her further and very nearly fall back into the trees. We all stop, looking at each other, and Doe Two says “Hey, you only got one. There’s two of us”. Sorry, I tell her. I didn’t think this through.
So I impale the pear on one of the offending twigs and manage to break it in two. I roll one half to each deer, and leaving my dignity and a tuft of hair on the branches, get in the truck. The whole thing has taken about 10 minutes. To go back upstairs for apples would have taken 3.
(Husband thinks nothing strange about the email I send him regarding being delayed by deer thugs in the yard.)
The thing is, aside from deer enjoying pears, and apples, these fruits make excellent accompaniments to deer meat (venison). The gamy taste of the meat is balanced by the natural sweetness of the fruit, whether it’s an apple-pear compote, blueberry barbecue sauce, or cherry glaze.
This is an apple compote recipe that will work with venison, lamb, pork, or even roast chicken.
And a final word on our neighbourhood deer-don’t worry, they don’t subscribe to Internet services, so they’ll never see this recipe.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 /4 cup minced red onion
1 large Granny Smith (or other tart) apple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 large Bosc (or other firm) pears, peeled cored and cubed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup apple cider
salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat oil and cook onion until softened.
Add apple, pears, sage, honey and cider.
Simmer over medium heat until fruit is softened and liquid has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
This compote may be frozen, or pressure canned.