Venison meatballs sausage and mushrooms and a special note on wild mushrooms

000_08361.jpgDestroying Angel of the Amanita familyI like to combine ground pork and venison for moisture. In a large bowl I mix the meat then add herbs and spices, Here I’ve used fresh rosemary, sage, sea salt, fresh pepper, finely chopped onion, garlic and sweet red bell pepper. I tossed in a handful of fresh grated bread crumbs, a couple shakes of dried, grated in some fresh Parmesan cheese, and added a couple eggs. I mix it by hand and shape into 1-2 inch balls.

I cook my meatballs and all other meat in the sauce on low temperatures in the oven. Before adding the meat to the sauce I first brown it off in a large skillet with olive oil.

In this sauce I’ve added sweet Italian sausage, and country style pork ribs. I would have liked to have used venison or wild boar sausage, and boar ribs, however I did not have them on hand. After browning and adding the meat to the sauce I added course chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, fresh oregano and basil, 1 sliced carrot, and fresh grated cheese. I then baked for several hours @250 degrees, then for 2 more hours @350.

After removing from the oven let the sauce stand and cool so as any grease from the pork will come to the surface where it can be spooned off. I served over fresh linguine with Italian bread and mushrooms sautéed in butter and sherry wine.

Note: here I have used store bought white mushrooms. To add a better flavor try the various dried or fresh wild variety offered at your store or from a source online. You will find the flavor far superior to common white ones.

A word of caution, do NOT try picking your own mushrooms in the wild unless you are trained in mycology or go with a trained mycologist. There are a good number of fungi through out North America and else where that will certainly kill you if eaten. I will include a picture of one of them that I took here in New Hampshire. I believe it is a mushroom called the “Destroying Angel.” It is the most deadly fungi here in the US, and the second most in the world and is abundant every where in the North East. It comes from a deadly family of mushroom know as the Amanita. Most all in this family are poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. Do not even touch them.

There are a number of publications out on mushrooms and if you spend any time outdoors you should study this science of Mycology not only for safety, but for the knowledge and fun of identifying various fungi when afield. There are literally thousands of different variates and it makes for an interesting outing.

Here are some web sites on this subject.

Have a great day,

Captain Don


Winter boat care

The first winter preparation for boat owners start with getting the vessel ready for hauling and storage. This will differ with the size of your boat, but preparation is mostly common sense and good house keeping. Start by removing all and any equipment such as fishing gear, personal belongings, deck brushes, buckets, and so fourth. If nothing else a less cluttered deck is easier to work around. Then the removal or folding down of any masts or antennas, gin posts, and any other objects aloft will need to be done before the haul out. Weather being lifted out by a travel lift in the marina or hauled out on a trailer and transported overland, crews will be very happy to see the vessel ready to go the day they show up for the task and don’t have to wait around for stuff to be taken care of the last minute. Fall is their busy season and most company’s lists are long and their time short, and if they have to wait for you to remove things from your boat it only holds everyone up. If you are being hauled out by travel lift be sure to have some padded blocks of wood with attached ropes to go between the lifts straps and the hull just below the splash rails if you have them to keep them from getting crushed. Blocks of Styrofoam will work in a pinch also. When setting up the boat on blocks and stands or in a cradle, be sure the bow is slightly higher so rain and melting snow will drain to the stern. If you are using jack stands, be sure they are in good working order, always place a plywood base under each stand to prevent sinkage, and always secure the stand to the one on the opposite side with chain to prevent them from popping out during the winter. Do not use rope for this as rope will stretch.
It is wise to top off your fuel tanks for the winter and to add an additive to prevent algae and other growths from occurring. This is also true for outboard portable tanks, keeping it full of fuel leave no room for moisture to condensate.
With different types of vessel there are different types of winter storage tasks.  Outboard craft are best if the engine is removed, winterized and placed in storage, if storage is not an option then winterize and cover tightly with a good tarp. Inboard-outboard need to have the outdrive removed and put in storage, then the thru hull opening where it was removed needs to be covered and made watertight. The main engine also needs to be winterized. Inboard gas and diesel engines need to be winterized, gas motors have to have proper coolant for cold weather as do diesel engines. Any water needs to be drained from heat exchangers, raw water feeds and strainers, and raw water pump housings. All raw water impellers should also be removed for the winter. The best advice I have for winterizing your motor is to have it done by a professional if you are the least bit unfamiliar with the engine room, most yards and marinas have technicians that will take care of this process once your vessel is hauled.
All boats have a plug either at the stern or in the bottom of the keel for the purpose of draining water from the bilges. This plug needs to be removed and placed in a safe place you will remember in the spring when it is time to put it back in.
Remove all electronics, loran, G.P.S., radios, radar, everything and store in a warm dry place. Electronics do NOT like cold and they will last longer if kept warm and dry for the winter. Be sure when removing to number all the connections and wires and diagram them so installing in the spring isn’t a night mare. Be sure to tape over exposed electrical connections with electrical tape to keep moisture out and prevent corrosion.
Now for the number one most frequently asked question, to cover or not to cover the boat. There are some out there that feel it’s a boat and should stand up to the elements, however the truth is boats, like cars will show signs of weathering if left to the elements all winter. My answer is without any question, cover your boat the best you can. I would prefer to have it shrinkwraped, done properly it makes your vessel almost airtight which not only keeps the moisture and dirt out it also makes it very easy to heat on those days you need to perform some off season maintenance. If shrinkwrap is not possible then use good heavy tarp to wrap up your boat as tightly as possible. Use good sturdy rope to tie it down with and here’s a little tip to save yourself some serious trouble, do NOT tie the tarp lines to the jack stands, if a big wind should work your tarp loose it will in turn pull out the stand and topple your boat. Secure the lines to the other side of the tarp by going under the boat and up the other side. If you need to anchor lines down use heavy cement blocks, and use enough of them to insure against wind overpowering the blocks weight.
Another idea to keep in mind is to request the crew blocking it up to face it bow first to the North West, this is generally the direction the real hard blows come from in the winter and if facing it the bow will shear the wind. Most yards store their boats in that manner for that reason, but if you’re storing at home it’s a good point to keep in mind.
Don’t put off any maintained until spring time, take care of the outside hull in the fall right after haul out, take the prop(props) off and store or send off for reconditioning, get the sanding done and paint it up, it beats the heck out of rushing to get it done in the spring. The long cold months also give you the opportunity for home improvement projects. Installing new hatches, put in a new deck, maybe a new galley, another stateroom, it’s a boat, the list can go forever, and the off season is the time to get things done.

If things get boring this off season and you’re looking for something new to try stop by your local archery shop and check out this sport. Almost all shops offer learning courses and have indoor ranges. There are winter league shoots every week, a lot of shops have the movie screen range where you shoot at a screen at movies if real animals. There are also 3-d shoots every week-end year round. These shoots are outdoors and feature life size 3-d targets of all kinds of critters in realistic hunting conditions. This is good fun for the entire family.


During the mid-summer months when the fish head out to the deeper and cooler waters far off-shore fishing can become a little slow. Although I’ll never pass up a chance to get the charter some good looks at a whale or dolphins, it’s during these lean times I keep an extra close watch for some marine mammals to spice up the day.
Here in the Gulf of Maine there are a good number of different species, but the most common and likely to be seen are:

1. Humpback whale
2. Finback whale
3. Minke whale
4.Atlantic White Side Dolphin

And less common :
1. Atlantic Right whale
2. Blue whale
3. Orca, or Killer whale

The Humpback , because of his sometimes curious, social nature and acrobatic displays, is a favorite of whale watchers. The adult Humpback reaches lengths of 40-50 feet, and around 30 tons, (females are slightly larger than the males). At birth the calf is 10-12 feet in length and weighs around 2000 pounds. Humpbacks have a life span of 40-50 years and it is thought that this might be a low estimate.this whale is deep black/ gray topside, white on the bottom, and has extremely long white flipper like pectoral fins. The spout is a low and bushy combination of water vapor and stale air expelled from the blowhole located topside just behind the head. Another identifying characteristic is that when humpbacks dive they will 99% of the time lift their tail(flukes) in the air as they go down. An interesting feature of the fluke is that each has it’s own different and unique markings on the bottom, just as we each have different fingerprints. Whale researchers use these markings to keep track of the populations so they can learn about their migration, mating, and social habits. It is also a means of positive identification, as in the case where a picture was taken of a humpback and calf in 1939, then 40 years later in 1979 the same adult whale was again photographed and identified by it’s fluke marking.
The Humpback is a baleen whale, meaning it has no teeth, but rows of filters inside it’s mouth that are used to hold in food while water filters out. The two primary foods of humpbacks are krill(tiny shrimp) and sandeels the whale will swim with it’s mouth open until full of food and water, expel the water and swallow the food. It is interesting to note that when the humpbacks, and other whales as well are here in the Gulf of Maine it is for the sole purpose of eating and gaining as much blubber reserve as possible because while they are south in the winter they will not eat as there is no food for them there. The whales migrate south to warm tropical waters every fall to give birth to their calves. At birth the calf’s have no protective blubber and would die if exposed to the cold north Atlantic ocean in winter.
These whales can put on amazing displays of entertaining behavior that include;
full body breeches (leaping fully out of the water and coming down in a huge splash)
tail breeches( suddenly lunging the tail out of the water and splashing it down)
flipperflaping(laying on their sides and slapping the surface of the water with their flippers)
Spy hopping (the animal actually stands on his tail and pushes his head up out of the water, usually alongside a boat in order to get a look at the open mouth expression of the people onboard.)
Bubble feeding (this is when the animal dives under a school of eels or krill and expels a huge breath of air to trap the tiny fish in the bubble. It then swims up through the cloud with it’s mouth open and filters out the water.)
Bubble chain feeding( sometimes several whales will work together in this method. It involves the whale swimming around a large school of food and surrounding the fish with a chain of bubble clouds trapping the food inside ths chain.)

Finback Whale
The Finback is the second largest whale in the world after the Blue whale. It reaches a length of 45-70 feet, and weighs around 40 ton as a adult. This is a slender sleek animal sometimes refereed to as the greyhounds of the Atlantic because of their great speed, in excess of 30 miles per hour. It is a solitary creature seldom seen in social gatherings, and does not have the playful personality of the humpback, in fact at times they are quite timid and hard to get a good look at. This makes research and identification difficult especially because finbacks seldom if ever raise their tail out of the water when diving. The best times to view a finback is when it is lunge feeding, the animal lunges through schools of sandeels with it’s mouth open. It too is a baleen whale and purges water from it’s mouth the same as a humpback. This whale has another interesting feature, it’s lower jaw is asymmetrically colored both inside and out. The right lower jaw is white while the left is grey/black as is the rest of the animal. While there is no evidence as to the reason for this unique feature it is believed the flash of the white side is for startling bait fish making them vulnerable.
There is little research to age these creatures but as with most large whales they are believed to live long lives.

This whale is unique in that it feeds exclusively on plankton. It too is a baleen feeder, and feeds by swimming along on the surface with it’s mouth open filtering plankton and other marine vegetation.
Right whales are 10-15 feet, 3000 pounds at birth and grow to 45-55 feet, 40-50 ton as adults. They, like the humpback, lift their tail when diving. Two ways to identify a right whale is the absence of a dorsal fin, and an odd short bushy V shaped blow. This is an extremely endangered species and it is believed there are only several hundred here in the northern oceans. This poor creature was hunted extensively in the distant past and get’s it’s name “Right whale “ because it was considered the best whale to hunt because of it’s slow swimming speed and also that it floated when dead.
It is believed Right whales live up to 60 years of age and longer.

This is the smallest of the baleen whales, adults are 15-25 feet and weigh 5-8 ton. They feed on krill, squid, mackerel and other small fish. This is a very quick and timid animal. In order to photograph it you have to be extremely lucky and be pointing your camera at the right spot when it pops up for a second and then goes back down as quickly as it appeared. There is little research for this creature, however the populations are abundant here in the north. Their life span is unknown.

Always a crowd pleaser on the whale watches these dolphins travel in social groups as small as a few and as many as hundreds. At times when not putting on acrobatic displays leaping and rolling around they will swim around the boat on their sides doing a little people watching. Another favorite trick of theirs is to play and surf in the boats wake. These dolphin have teeth and feed on fish such as mackerel and herring. As adults the white side weighs 300-600 pounds and is 5-8 feet in length. It’s lifespan is believed to be in excess of 25 years.

This is the largest mammal to have ever lived on earth!they grow to a length of 70-100 feet and weigh up to 120 ton. A long sleek whale with a huge head, it is blueish/grey in color. It is a baleen whale that feeds on plankton and krill. The blue whale’s heart is the size of a small car, it’s head is so wide 50 humans could stand on it’s tongue, and it’s arteries are large enough for a human baby to crawl through. these giants are believed to live up to 100 years.
For some interesting photographs of blue whales go to