A good deep-frying experience is all about the freshness of the oil, the temperature of the oil and the dredge used as the batter. Backyard cooks can control the first two items, but finding a good all-round dredge may be a difficult assignment.
Most of the commercial dredges are overpowered with herbs and spices and, often, salt. The end result is table fare not reflecting the delicate taste of the meat, fish or vegetables, but only the overly strong taste of the dredge.
Old-time cooks usually used nothing more than a little salt, pepper and flour for their basic dredge. It’s good, but over the years, I have fine-tuned my recipe. In the words of Emeril Lagasse – I kicked it up a notch.
I start with 5 pounds of corn starch, 5 pounds of enriched fine ground white cornmeal and 5 pounds of enriched flour. I blend 1 pound of cornstarch, 1 pound of cornmeal and 1 pound of flour, along with 1/8 cup of Adobo. (Adobo is a mixture of salt, pepper and garlic.)
I combine the items, whisk the ingredients and store the blended mixture in freezer bags. The dredge will keep in the freezer for a couple years, but once you start using it, it won’t last as long as you think.
The dredge is super for chicken and fish and makes a good wet dredge for onion rings and shrimp. You can use the blend to make a beer batter, or use ginger ale, which works great, too.
Winamac FWA hosts family shooting range event
All the family members can learn about shooting sports at a family fun shooting range event at Winamac Fish & Wildlife Area June 9. The free event runs from 8 a.m.-noon Eastern Time. Participants can come and go as they please.
No shooting experience is necessary to participate. Experienced firearms and archery instructors will teach proper form and ensure safe shooting procedures are followed.
All firearms, ammunition, and equipment will be provided. Shooting stations will include rifle, pistols, shotgun and archery. Hearing and eye protection will be provided, but participants may also bring their own.
An adult must accompany children, and the whole family is encouraged to participate. Lunch will be provided beginning at 11 a.m.
Space is limited, and you must register at www.bit.ly/2rTtraV or by calling 574-946-4422. The shooting range is on Pulaski County Road 200 West, 1/2 mile north of County Road 500 North.
Snake fungal disease now in Indiana
An emerging fungal disease lethal to some snakes has been found in Indiana. Snake fungal disease, caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is not a risk to people, but in snakes it can cause facial swelling, disfigurement, skin and scale lesions, internal lesions and death.
A team of researchers led by Matt Allender and Sarah Baker of the University of Illinois discovered the disease during surveillance in late 2017. Researchers swabbed the skin of 53 snakes from Indiana and identified the fungus in 13 of them. Two of the 13 had visible lesions.
Species testing positive included Northern watersnake, racer, milk snake and queen snake. Sampling has occurred in 10 Indiana counties and will resume this year.
The fungus is an emerging pathogen identified in many diverse species of captive and free-ranging snakes in more than 20 states, so far. It can persist in the soil. How the disease spreads is unknown, but it may occur through contact with soil, other infected snakes or from mother to offspring.
Snake fungal disease may cause high mortality rates in Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, a federally threatened and state-endangered species living in scattered locations in northern Indiana. The potential long-term effect on massasauga and other snake populations remains uncertain.
Other emerging fungal diseases, including white-nose syndrome in bats and chytridiomycosis in amphibians, have been implicated in population declines of numerous species.
Snakes are important predators. They play a critical role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem and keeping rodent populations in check. Monitoring fungal disease in Indiana snakes will help biologists develop conservation and management plans.
The snake fungal disease surveillance project was funded by a state wildlife grant. Learn more about snake fungal disease at www.wildlife.IN.gov/9704.htm
Conservation of non-game and endangered species in Indiana is supported by donations to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. To donate, visit www.wildlife.IN.gov/3316.htm
Learn to fish from a kayak
Monroe Lake is offering a two-hour kayak fishing workshop at Paynetown State Recreation Area (SRA) on June 14 at 6 p.m. The free workshop is limited to 15 people ages 18 and older, and registration is required by June 11, at www.bit.ly/kayakfishjun2018
Participants may bring their own kayak or rent one for $10. The workshop is a partnership with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife. No fishing experience is required and new anglers are welcome; however, you must have at least two hours of kayaking experience or have completed an Introduction to Kayaking workshop within the past year.
The workshop will begin with shoreline fishing to ensure all participants are comfortable with fishing basics. Participants will then climb into kayaks and work on translating their shoreline skills into on-the-water skills.
Participants must possess a valid Indiana fishing license. Fishing licenses may be purchased online at www.wildlife.IN.gov/9339.htm
Monroe Lake is located at 4850 South State Road 446, Bloomington, IN 47401. For more information, call 812-837-9967 or email jvance@dnr.IN.gov
Learn wildflower identifications
Monthly Flora Field Days at Monroe Lake this summer offer a chance to learn and practice wildflower identification. Monroe Lake naturalist Jill Vance will lead the field days, which take place at 9:30 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month through October.
Each session happens at a different location around the lake. All sessions are free but require advance registration. Participants of all skill levels are welcome. Identification skills are taught using Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Copies are available for participants to borrow if they do not have their own.
•July 3 at Cutright SRA; register by July 1 at www.bit.ly/florafieldjul2018
•August 7 at Allens Creek SRA; register by August 5 at www.bit.ly/florafieldaug2018
For more information, call 812-837-9967 or email jvance@dnr.IN.gov
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at email@example.com or by writing to him in care of this publication.