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From the pages of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

The Nebraska Table: Winter Recipes

Story and photos by Ryan Sparks Winter is a time for reflection, and if you’ve been following along with the Nebraska Table you have a lot to reflect on. You’ve foraged morel mushrooms and stinging nettles. You’ve watched the sunset from a deer stand. You’ve felt the rush of a covey of quail as they burst from a fencerow. The best meals capture these moments. They contain the essence of a place, and each bite is made sweeter from the …

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An Ice Storm Feast

Photographs after an ice storm. I woke up on the morning of January 17 with a clear plan of attack. The biggest ice storm in a decade had ended the previous evening, and the forecast had correctly predicted clear skies and calm winds for the post-storm sunrise. Road crews had worked through the night, allowing me to slowly and carefully make my way across Aurora to a series of restored prairies along Lincoln Creek. It was going to be an …

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Wild What’s Up

Send your wildlife questions to our environmental educators. As an environmental educator, I am asked countless questions about wildlife, habitats, and plants. Occasionally I know the answer, but now and then I have to do some research. Nebraska Game and Parks now has an email address (wildwhatsup@nebraska.gov) where people can send their wildlife questions and get a response. Here are some questions we have recently received. Do fish freeze in the winter? Fish are cold-blooded, which means that as the …

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Threatened and Endangered

The Scaleshell Mussel If you spend time along Nebraska’s lakes and rivers, you are likely to come across the occasional large “clam” shell. These are examples of our state’s native freshwater mussels. It can be quite interesting to observe the unique shapes, sizes and colors of the 29 species found in our state, although a few of those are considered relicts, meaning only their shells, and not the living mollusk that would normally reside within, are detected. They have descriptive …

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Frozen Art

Snowflake Photography with Don Komarechka Don Komarechka is a connoisseur of snowflakes. Give him a random snowflake, and he’ll probably have a pretty good idea of how and why it likely formed, despite having no background in science. He can also tell you exactly how to take a macro photograph of that snowflake in dazzling detail, having photographed thousands. Komarechka, a self-taught professional photographer from Barrie, Ontario, has made a career out of photographing what he calls “the unseen world,” …

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Ice Fishing: Search for the Heydey

Ice fisherman Don Cox reflects on 25 years of fishing through the ice Don Cox of Mullen clearly remembers 28 years ago. He was at Pelican Lake on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge ice-fishing with his brother-in-law, Dave Fehlhafer, near an angler they nicknamed Red Man. While Red Man was catching some of the largest bluegill Don has ever seen, Don and Dave weren’t doing so well, spending most of the time second-guessing their tackle and technique. Nowadays, Don doesn’t …

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Hasenpfeffer – German Rabbit Stew

A forgotten family recipe When I was growing up, once a year my family would shoot a few rabbits while hunting pheasant and quail. The following weekend, using the rabbits, Mom would undertake what she called “the task of making hasenpfeffer.” Then, my uncles and older male cousins on the Steinauer side of the family would gather at our house for an evening meal of hasenpfeffer and gravy-smothered dumplings. This was followed by endless games of five-point pitch played for …

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The Red Crossbill

A distinctive finch with an unusual beak The red crossbill is a distinctive finch whose crooked beak usually catches one’s attention. Rather than being a deformity, the odd beak is an adaptation that the bird uses to extract its preferred food source – seeds from the cones of conifers such as pines, spruces and firs. Although its specialized beak may give the red crossbill an advantage in foraging on its preferred cone type, its relationship with conifer cone seeds is …

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Flying Squirrel

Nebraska’s Threatened and Endangered Species In spring 2004, I was attending a National Association of Interpretation certification and training program as a naturalist. The daily workshops were interesting, but as is often the case, the most memorable part of my trip took place during the meeting off-hours. I was spending the night in a cabin in the woods. I was also tired and very pregnant at the time, only a few weeks shy of my due date. As I was …

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Venison Chili Recipe

Cooked with red wine, this is the best chili you will ever taste. I would venture to say this is not only the best venison chili you will find, but the best chili you will ever taste, period. It differs from other chili recipes in its red wine base. Don’t spend a fortune on the wine, but get a robust variety like malbec or cabernet sauvignon that will hold up to the spices. Serve with a dollop of sour cream …

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