Holiday Preparations by Virginia Davis

The weather is cooler, which only means it’s hunting season and the holidays are here. Whether you’re the Martha Stewart of your family on Thanksgiving or the next star of Realtree Outdoors, this time of year is all about gathering to enjoy good food and great company.

As the wife of an avid hunter, I have had to get very creative with wild game, which has included everything from duck to Texas antelope.  One can only eat deer meat wrapped in bacon so many times.  Given that dove season is about to conclude, I thought it might be appropriate to include a dove recipe since we all need to clear our freezers to prepare for deer and duck season.  All the credit goes to my dear husband for discovering this recipe, which should not disappoint, particularly given that this dish is just simple fried goodness with a little kick.

Due to the long awaited colder temperatures, not a lot of produce is available this time of year. Fortunately, some of my favorite vegetables for side dishes are in season, which include collard, mustard, and turnip greens. These powerful greens offer fiber, vitamin K, vitamin A, and, depending on their preparation, they can be relatively low in calories and carbohydrates. My infatuation with these vegetables definitely reveals my nutritionist “nerdiness.”

I love how in the South, whether you choose ham hocks or bacon or chicken broth or wine, we give greens our own personal touch. The first Thanksgiving my husband and I were married, I decided to go completely unconventional and replace the traditional green bean casserole with another side dish.  Some might consider this a cardinal sin, but I wanted to create our own holiday traditions. Given my love of collards and turnip greens, the replacement dish was a no-brainer. We loved the following simple and delicious collards recipe. It has become a time-honored addition to our Thanksgiving menu. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

As a rule of thumb during holiday time, it’s essential to be prepared with a signature crowd-pleasing dish to bring to parties and family gatherings.  The third recipe I’ve chosen is embarrassingly easy.  You can whip it up 15 minutes before you head out the door to that tacky sweater party, and your friends will think you spent hours in the kitchen.  The red raspberries provide a festive touch and make it perfectly fitting for Christmas.

If your family is anything like ours, by February your freezers and refrigerators are full of hard-earned meat and holiday leftovers.  I have learned that men tend to hold on to frozen meat like that one Polo shirt from college that they think is still suitable to wear in public.  As a Registered Dietitian, I’m somewhat of a food storage Nazi. Thus, I decided to outline some general rules for properly storing food and leftovers.  The following guidelines come from the ServSafe program, website, and the Clemson University Cooperative Extension website.

·      Always store poultry below all other ready-to-eat, produce, meat, and fish to prevent bacteria from poultry contaminating the other foods

·      Discard refrigerated leftovers after 4 days. 

·      Label and date all foods before freezing them so you know how long the item has been frozen

·      Vacuum sealing wild game meat is preferred

·      Freezer storage times:

·      Fresh chicken or turkey: 9 months

·      Fresh wild game: 8 months

·      Seasoned or cured wild game: 4 months

·      Cooked meat and poultry leftovers: 2 to 6 months

·      Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months

As you can tell, these recipes are on the heavier side of holiday fare.  The holidays only come around once a year, so savor every bite, keep your portions in check, and appreciate every moment. 

Hot Fried Doves


·      12 whole doves, plucked and gutted

·      1 cup buttermilk

·      2 cups all-purpose flour

·      3 tablespoons unsalted butter

·      4 tablespoons honey

·      4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

·      3 tablespoons hot sauce

·      4 jalapeños, thinly sliced

·      ¼ cup fresh herb leaves (suggestions: parsley or marjoram)

·      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·      Oil or lard for frying


1.     Halve the birds, effectively removing the breastbone.

2.     Soak the halves in buttermilk for 6­–12 hours in the refrigerator.

3.     Remove the birds from the buttermilk, season well with salt and pepper, and dip in flour.

4.     Shake off the excess flour and refrigerate them for at least half an hour.

5.     Heat a few inches of oil to 375 F in a fryer or large pot.

6.     Melt the butter. Then combine it with honey, garlic, and hot sauce in a large bowl.

7.     Fry the birds in batches until golden brown and crisp, approximately 3–4 minutes.

8.     Drain on paper towels.

9.     Toss the fried birds with the melted butter mixture. Add the jalapeños and herbs.

10. Serve immediately.


Kickin’ Collard Greens


·      1 tablespoon olive oil

·      3 slices bacon

·      1 large onion, chopped

·      2 cloves garlic, minced

·      1 teaspoon salt

·      1 teaspoon pepper

·      2 cups chicken broth

·      Pinch red pepper flakes

·      1 pound fresh collard greens cut into 2-inch pieces


1.     Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp.

2.     Remove bacon from pan, crumble, and return to the pan. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

3.     Add garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt.

4.     Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.


Christmas Raspberry Tarts


·      1 package mini fillo dough shells (15 shells per package)

·      1 jar (11.5 ounces) lemon curd (preferred brands: Rothschild Farms or Stonewall Kitchen)

·      1 can of Reddi-Wip

·      1 package (6 ounces) fresh raspberries


1.     Defrost fillo dough shells, if not at room temperature.

2.     Spoon lemon curd into each shell and fill near to the top.

3.     Spray a dollop of Reddi-Wip on top of the lemon curd on each shell.

4.     Place one fresh raspberry on top of the Reddi-Wip topping and serve immediately.