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Christmas gift leads to canning hobby

October 13, 2010

MASON CITY - - Tame or wild, it doesn’t matter to Loretta Lovitt! Every fall she cans a turkey; whether it’s been purchased or shot depends on the outcome of turkey season.
During turkey season, it’s not unusual for hunters to ask permission to use her land, as she lives in the country outside of Mason City. After a successful hunt, it’s customary for her to receive thanks by being given one of the birds that was bagged. On occasions such as these, Loretta tells the men just to skin the bird and she’ll do the rest.
During the years when no turkey hunters borrow her land, or do and are unsuccessful, Loretta simply will purchase a frozen turkey from the grocery store. Once it has had time to thaw, she will prepare it and can it, same as she does the wild ones.
Loretta credits her canning habits to her late husband, as he was the one who bought her a pressure cooker for Christmas. It came as a surprise gift several years back and she had no idea what it was. He had taken such care not to give away the secret, and had even gone through the trouble of wrapping it elsewhere.
“I was so excited! It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten,” Loretta said with a smile. She then went on to tell how much she’s utilized it and is very happy that it hasn’t worn out yet.
To prove her point, Loretta pulled two jars of canned turkey out and sat them on the table. There was little noticeable difference, even though one was from a wild turkey and the other was from a farmed turkey. The juice in the wild turkey jar was a smidge darker, but in all other aspects the jars were indistinguishable.
The only thing she does different between canning a wild turkey and a boughten one is pressure cook the wild one for a longer period. This is because the shot birds are usually hunted for trophy, which means that they are larger and in turn older and need to be tenderized.
Once the birds have been cleaned, they are then slow roasted in the oven. Loretta likes to bring out the tenderness and add flavor by adding water and vegetables to the roaster. When finished cooking, she cuts the meat and strains the juice. Both the broth and meat are canned and become a great base for many dishes. One such dish is her enchilada bake, where she substitutes the chicken for her canned turkey.

CHICKEN ENCHILADA BAKE
6 – Tortilla shells
2 – tablespoons margarine
1/2 – cup chopped onion
1/2 – cup sliced black olives
1 (4 ounce) – can of diced green chilies, drained
1/2 – cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4 ounce) – can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 – cups chicken (or turkey), cooked and cubed
1 – cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 – cup broth (chicken or turkey)

Heat oven to 350˚. In medium saucepan melt margarine and sauté onions until tender. Stir in half of the olives, all of the green chilies, sour cream and soup. Mix well. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for later. To the remaining sauce in pan, stir in chicken and 1/2 cup of cheese. Warm tortillas in microwave, then fill with chicken sauce mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in ungreased 12x8-inch baking dish. In a small bowl combine the reserved 3/4 mixture with broth and spoon over tortillas. Bake 30-35 minutes or until bubbly. To serve sprinkle remaining cheese and black olives on top.

MIXED BEAN CASSEROLE
1 – can kidney beans
1 – can lima beans
1 – can pork and beans
1 – small onion, diced
6 – slices of bacon, browned and crumbled
1 – pound hamburger, browned
1/3 – cup white sugar
1/3 – cup brown sugar
1/4 – cup ketchup
1 – teaspoon dry mustard
2 – tablespoons molasses

Mix ingredients and bake 2 hours at 350˚ in a crock-pot.

PARTY CHEESE BALL
2 - (8 ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese
2 – cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 – tablespoon pimento, chopped
1 – tablespoon onion, chopped
1 – tablespoon green pepper,chopped
2 – teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 – teaspoon lemon juice
Pecans, finely chopped

Combine softened cream cheese and cheddar cheese, mix until well blended. Add remaining ingredients except nuts. Mix well, shape into a ball, and roll in chopped nuts. Serve with crackers.

BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE OR MUFFINS
3/4 – cup sugar
1/4 – cup shortening
1 – egg
3/4 – cup milk
2 – cups flour
2 1/2 – teaspoons baking powder
3/4 – teaspoon salt
2 – cups drained or frozen blueberries
Topping:
1/2 – cup sugar
1/3 – cup flour
1/2 – teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 – cup soft butter

Bake in 9x9 pan at 375 ˚ for 35-40 minutes or as 18 muffins for 20 minutes.

CHERRY BARS
1 – cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 – cups sugar
4 – eggs
3 – cups flour
2 1/2 – teaspoons baking powder
1/2 – teaspoon salt
1 – teaspoon vanilla
1 – can cherry pie filling
1 – cup powdered sugar
1 – tablespoon water
1 – teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar and add eggs, one at a time. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter-egg mixture a little at a time. Spread 2/3 of batter into a 10x15 inch pan. Spread on cherries and drop the rest of the batter by spoonfuls over the cherries. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350˚ oven. While still hot, drizzle the mixture of powdered sugar, water and vanilla over the bars.

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