Earlier this year, friend Craig Moffatt of Stockbridge and I were driving to Becket to make the final salmon fry stockings into the Westfield River watershed, when we struck up a conversation about cooking fish and wild game.
I had some venison, rabbits and perch that I wanted to cook up. Usually, I would just toss some butter into the frying pan and fry the stuff up. This time I wanted to spend some time and cook it up right. Craig mentioned a book entitled "Wild Fish & Game Cookbook," written by John Manikowski, and he later lent it to me.
Upon opening the book, several things caught my attention. The first was that it had some really unique recipes, like sautéed woodcock with oyster mushrooms, grilled wood duck with dried cherry sauce and grilled venison kabobs with Satay sauce. This was a gourmet's cookbook.
The second thing was how the chapters were put together. Interspersed among the various chapters were very interesting personal hunting or fishing stories about various trips the author and Moffatt had taken over the years to different parts of North America. They were very well-written and a joy to read. There were also wonderful drawings and artwork, created by the author himself, throughout the book, including the outer hard cover.
The last thing that caught my attention was the fact that John Manikowski is a local fellow living in Mill River. He is an outdoorsman, fisherman, wildlife artist and former partner in excellent restaurants specializing in game meals like Konkapot Kitchen Restaurant in Mill River, and the four-star Charleston Restaurant in Hudson.
His illustrations have appeared in Field & Stream, Fly, Rod & Reel and other outdoor magazines and newspapers. Here I was reading a book filled with great recipes, great artwork, and great outdoor sports stories all prepared by a local author. How cool is that?
I have not yet tried the recipes, and refrain from evaluating them, but I can say that I enjoyed everything about the book. I loved his suggestions for side dishes and drinks to accompany the main courses. If you can collect the recipe ingredients, this book is for you. I believe the printings are sold out, but you can obtain used books from Amazon.com.
He authored a second book, a soft-cover book entitled Fish, Grilled and Smoked. It has 150 recipes in it. I wondered how to obtain it, so I logged onto John's website, johnmanikowski.com. I was in for another surprise.
It turns out that he not only has written the cookbooks, but makes custom knives -- art knives, hunting and fishing knives, chef's knives. Though totally functional, his knives are painstakingly shaped works of art and are one of a kind.
Some of his work is on display today at the United Church of New Marlborough, 243 Norfolk Road in Southfield, this weekend from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. There will be carved knives, sculptures, drawings, magazine illustrations, etc., with the theme based mainly upon nature, streams, rivers and trees. There might still be time to go today and check them out.
Free fishing days, no licenses required, are coming up: In Massachusetts, they are June 1-2; in New Hampshire, June 1; in Vermont and Maine, June 6; and in New York, June 29-30.
Recently, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan honored 22 energy and environmental education programs at the 19th annual Secretary's Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education. The awards credited programs in the categories of energy conservation, environmental protection and recycling. Congratulations to Julie Nelson, fourth grade teacher at Morris Elementary School in Lenox, for receiving an award.
Paid for by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, the awards ranging between $100-400 are intended to fund further environmental education initiatives at the schools.
Secretary Sullivan also recognized four U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools from Massachusetts, including Berkshire School. The award honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education.
The Pittsfield Conservation Commission has announced it and Lyon Aviation will sponsor a Fishing Derby for youths 14 and younger next Saturday at Wild Acres. Volunteer support is being provided by the Onota Fishing Club to assist with dressing fish, providing fishing tips and techniques, baiting, etc.
The derby runs from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to those who catch a tagged fish. Bait will be provided, and a limited amount of fishing poles will be available for use on a first come, first serve basis to those who do not own one.
Michael Lyon, president of Lyon Aviation, said that he and his family participated regularly in fishing derbies and decided to "give back" to this event so that other children may continue to enjoy this time-honored tradition."
Wild Acres is located off of South Mountain Road in Pittsfield. For more information, contact Rebecca Tefft at (413) 499-9370.
The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River in Clarksburg, Cheshire and Adams; Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy and Windsor; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Ashfield Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Plunkett Lake, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Windsor Lake, Otis Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Goose Pond and Windsor Pond.
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