The Swedish Lapland and the heart of a moose

Little by little we have been eating the contents of our freezers. This year we were lucky to have a fairly large quantity of game meat. As nature goes through cycles, so does our freezer. Some years it is better for a population of a species to grow and flourish and then if there is too many for the ecosystem, it provides a window of opportunity to hunt. Since I grew up in the city and my family did not have hunters, I really did not understand the essence of hunting. I have been learning. Since my husband is a passionate hunter, I get regular lessons. If done correctly, it is about following the cycles of nature, protecting the wildlife and also conserving areas so that wildlife might have a refuge. Although every hunter would like to at least occasionally catch some game, the most important part is being in the quiet forest and observing nature. Often the reward from an early morning venture is only a healthy amount of exercise and fresh air. And sometimes there might be a story to tell and some fresh game. I would like to believe that hunters truly want their game to be wild and free and if they would be caught, that their death would be quick and painless as possible. The photos below from the Swedish Lapland are from last fall and are taken by my husband. Every year my husband and a few of his close friends and brothers drive to northern Sweden. If you have been following tableofcolors for some time, you may recall the post on the nordic fell. It was a hunting adventure that included the ladies. The pictures from the trip below was for the gentlemen and four dogs, and I would like to share some of their experiences and stories they brought back. Their trip was for grouse but the recipe I will be sharing below is for moose heart, a delicacy rarely had.

latoAll alone in the middle of the wilderness was this old barn and farm. The closest road was twenty kilometers away. The people who had inhabitited the farm had used a boat to reach it. It had no road or path leading up to it, perhaps at one time there had been a small path. Most likely it was now overgrown with grasses and shrubbery. It makes one wonder who built this farm so far from the towns and villages. Maybe the children grew up and left for the cities as so many others and so it now stands alone.

lato2landscapeThe landscape is scarce of people and it is easy to see how the mythology of elves has evolved. The Finnish elves or tonttu often protect a home or sauna. Perhaps the abandoned farm has it’s own elf, protecting it in the middle of the wilderness.

The heart of the moose or deer is a rare treat. Sometimes when we have had some on hand it becomes an evening snack after the kids are in bed, quickly fried on the pan so that it remains very tender. We always eat it fresh and this time we did share with the children and it was a weekend meal served with sweet potato and potato mash.

moose heart sweet potatoThe heart of the moose

Trim away all valves, connective tissues and papillary muscles and cut into slices. Using a mortar and pestle grind a mix of peppers and a few chili flakes. Rub the ground peppers on the meat and fry on a hot pan for about two minutes per side and season with sea salt.

moose heartSweet potato mash

1 large sweet potato
8-10 floury potatoes
about 7-8 dl/3-3.5 c hot milk
about 70 g/2.5 oz butter, melted
salt
black pepper

Peel sweet potatoes and potatoes. Cut the sweet potato into large chunks and potatoes into fourths. Place into a large pot and add water so that it just covers the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Pour out the water. Place the milk and butter into a microwave proof bowl and heat until the milk is hot and butter is melted. Using an electric hand mixer, mix the hot milk mixture into the potatoes and whip until desired consistency. I usually prefer mine to have a few lumps. Season with salt and pepper. If the mash is too stiff for your liking add a little bit more hot milk or some of the cooking water to thin it out.

riekko

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35 Comments

  1. Although I don’t eat meat, only fish, I can appreciate those who hunt ethically. My nearby neighbours hunt deer and rabbits ( feral pests in our region ) and fill their freezers.. I am happy to fish and dive and eat what I find. I loved those pics of remote Sweden- they remind me of the images I have when I read Swedish novels.

  2. While I have never hunted myself, my mother grew up hunting with her father at our cabin in northern Minnesota. There’s something to be said about being connected to your environment and following its cycles. I’ve never tried the heart before but your picture makes it look moist and delicious!

    1. I personally have not hunted myself either, but I have been along several times. Sometimes it has been just an early morning to observe the mating rituals of the black grouse in the early spring and a couple of times our hunting trip has been for a weekend or even a week.

  3. Most of us are far removed from the original source of our food that we don’t even understand hunters. I loved your explanation. This is how nature is meant to be. I’m sure the planet would be a healthier place, and so would we if we had to hunt and forage for our food.
    Thanks for the enlightenment.

    1. Yes, it is true that quite many of us are far removed. I was one of them as well. I completely understand that not all have the opportunity to hunt or forage, and I view it as a privilege to be able to do so.

  4. I love the respect and dignity you give to the process of hunting (for what you need) and then treasuring what is provided. Heart (sheep usually) used to be eaten a bit in my younger days. I found it very tender. Tongue was another popular meat. I don’t think these items are as popular today; we all look for the easy cuts of meat and that means intensive farming year round to provide for our needs. It would perhaps be better if we learned again how to make the most of the whole beast.

    1. We have had sheep heart occasionally as well and once I have had the chance to taste tongue. It had a little bit of a different consistency than the traditional cuts but it was quite good. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  5. I’m really glad you wrote about this Laila – and very happy to be reading it. We are so easily disconnected from how meat comes to be on our plates. This way – your way – is the best. You know the animal has had a good, full life and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Bon appetit 🙂

    1. Thank you Sophie for your kind words. I am a city girl at heart and hunting was not on my list of things to do when I was younger. The lifestyle of a hunter/gatherer is something I have acquired through marriage and if I say so myself—I have been quite lucky.

    1. Thank you Suzanne. Yes, the landscape is quite peaceful. The photos in the post are from Sweden but the Finnish Lapland is very similar…so similar in fact that if you showed me photos from both, I might not be able to tell the difference.

  6. Such an interesting. There are a lot of moose in northern New Hampshire but hunting is restricted to a certain number depending on the population of the animals in certain regions. Hunters are selected through a lottery system.

    1. Moose hunting is also regulated here as well. In northern Finland the amount hunted is much larger than in the south. If there are too many moose, there is an increased risk of car accidents. They are such large animals, yet they camoflouge wonderfully after they have run across the road. They seem to just disappear back into the woods.

  7. This was a wonderful post. Whenever I come upon an abandoned home, no matter where, I wonder how it came to be abandoned. Dad was a hunter but, when it came to deer, an unlucky one. We did get venison every Fall, however, from his more successful friends. He had much better luck with pheasant and I remember cleaning a number of them each Fall. I don’t recall ever having deer heart; I suspect the hunter kept that for himself. Moose never crossed our table. Your recipe for moose heart sounds delicious.

  8. Great post Laila, and a really interesting insight into hunting. Have never sampled moose. Your recipe sounds delicious. Hugely impressed that you enjoy heart of moose as an evening snack. That puts my cheese and crackers to shame.
    Love your story of the abandoned farm having its own protective elf! My favourite book growing up was Gnomes by Rien Poortvliet. Do you know it? It was published in the 70s and features almost scientific observations of gnome life in Holland, including their interaction with the forest animals, and dealings with elves and other mythical creatures. The illustrations are just absolutely beautiful. I now read it to my sons and they are transfixed.

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