Posts Tagged ‘fish trap’

If I could Live During the Pleistocene Part VII–The Food I Must Have

November 21, 2011

I’m writing a food-oriented blog entry in honor of Thanksgiving week.

If I’m going to live in my imaginary adobe brick home 36,000 years BP on a stone-wall protected piece of land 1 mile north of the Broad River and 2 miles west of the Savannah River, I’ve got to have certain favorite foods.  But I don’t want to travel back and forth through the time portal to go grocery shopping.  I’d suffer a letdown every time I left my pristine wilderness and returned to the decimated mess man has created.  So I’d manufacture as much of my own food as possible on my Pleistocene homestead. 

There are numerous staples of my diet I can’t live without–cheddar cheese, chili con carne, sourdough bread, fruit, vegetables, brown gravy, soy sauce, etc.

I’ve been making sourdough bread, pancakes, and biscuits from this sourdough starter since 1998.

I grow my own wheat on my Pleistocene homestead.  (In reality I have successfully grown wheat in my backyard garden.)  The weather conditions in Georgia during the interstadial I chose should be favorable for winter and spring wheat.  Setting up a stone mill for grinding grain into flour though is too complicated.  An electric home mill that I plug into an outlet is sufficient for my needs.  (I have electricity, thanks to solar power and a generator that runs on wood alcohol which I manufacture.)  It’s necessary to grow 2 kinds of wheat–a high protein variety for bread and a lower protein type for pastry.  I’ve got to have pies and cakes.

A bowl of red with a side of cornbread.  Chili con carne is my favorite dish and a useful one for converting dodgy game meats into tasty food.  For this batch I diced round steak and cooked it in the crockpot.  I more commonly use ground meat which shouldn’t be cooked in a crock pot because slow-cooking the meat that long will turn it mushy.   I use 2 tablespoons of pure New Mexican chili powder per pound of meat.  I serve it on red beans that are cooked in a different pot.

I can’t live without chili.  This is a quite useful dish for Pleistocene living.  Most of my meat is wild game.  I live in a mostly forested region interspersed with small prairies and meadows.  The most common big game animals are white-tailed deer, elk, and long-nosed peccary.  Less common but occasionally available are long-horned bison and horses.  Depending on the age, condition, and diet, the meat from these animals varies in flavor and tenderness.  By grinding the meat and seasoning it heavily with chili powder and tomatoes, I can make tougher cuts of meat taste good.  George Leonard Herter in his book, How to Get out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month (a volume that deserves its own blog entry), wrote that the only way he could make coot meat taste good was to turn it into chili.  He stated that coot meat tastes like a mouthful of mud prepared any other way.  Cajuns soak coots in milk overnight to get rid of the bad flavor.  I avoid coot meat.

I do raise milk cows on my Pleistocene land, but I’m reluctant to kill them for meat because they’re like pets that provide me with cheddar cheese, butter, and cream.  So my chili is most often made from venison and/or peccary meat.  Tomatoes, new Mexican chili peppers, red beans, onions, garlic, and cumin all grow in my garden and greenhouse.

Jagerschnitzel with a side of sweet potato.  I had leftover mushroom gravy from making hamburger steaks and gravy (another good dish for using wild game meat), so I added fresh mushrooms and smothered pork chops in the gravy.  Sweet potatoes should be easy to grow during an interstadial.  The good cuts of a peccary make excellent pork chops.

I could probably eat chili everyday and never get tired of it, but I also like meats smothered in a brown mushroom or onion or mushroom/onion gravy.  Lipton makes a great mushroom-onion gravy mix that I believe I can duplicate.  In my Pleistocene garden I cultivate shitake mushrooms.  (In reality I innoculated an oak stump with shitake mushroom spawn.  I’m still waiting for the first bloom.)  Mushrooms don’t grow year round, and I wouldn’t dare forage for wild mushrooms, so I dry some of the cultivated ones when they bloom.  I make my imitation Lipton gravy mix with dried mushrooms, dried onions, flour, salt, and soy sauce and store it in jars.  I brew my own soy sauce–another magical condiment that transforms wild game meats into civilized food.  I make a fine dish by slicing tough game meats against the grain and stir frying them with vegetables.  Marinating game meats with vinegar, oil, oregeno, and salt and cooking them shish ka bob style also helps to make them tender.

Frying hamburgers in an iron skillet.  I love cooking in this vessel.  The best Pleistocene hamburgers are made out of the ribeye steak meat from a long-horned bison.  I more commonly have venison in my meat freezer.  This requires added fat.

A meat grinder is a must for processing wild game.  I raise geese for the fat.  A good hamburger requires a certain amount of fat not found in most game meats.  To make a decent hamburger with lean venison, I mix it with rendered goose fat.  (I’ve actually experimented with this in real life and it works well.)  It keeps the burgers from getting too dry, and the grease rendered out can be re-used.  Turning tough game meats into meatloaf, meatballs, and sausage is another way to make them tasty.  A meatloaf made out of 1/2 ground vension and 1/2 ground turkey is excellent.  (Another successful real experiment.)  I capture all the turkeys I need with my turkey trap.  (See

A Niles pizza burger with a salad.  Niles, Ohio is the only place I’ve ever seen a real pizza burger on the menu.  I lived in Niles from the age of 2 to the age of 13.  It’s another one of those little Italy’s where many Italian-Americans settled.  The secret to this dish, besides using real pizza instead of a hamburger bun, is to keep it in aluminum foil, like a gyro, so it doesn’t fall apart.  The salad is a mix of leaf and head lettuce dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Olives are difficult to grow in Pleistocene Georgia, but walnut oil is an acceptable substitute.

Fish and chips with a side of mustard greens.  My Pleistocene home is located close to a river for the abundant food supply.  Game, fish, waterfowl, turtles, crayfish, and mussels abound near the water.  Potatoes are easier to grow in Pleistocene Georgia than they are today because the summers are cooler.

I eat a lot of fish in the Pleistocene.  I have fish traps throughout the Broad River and in the Savannah.  Most of the fish are small bream, crappie, catfish, smallmouth bass, and sucker fish.  I pan fry these, usually dredged with a mixture of cornmeal, flour, garlic salt, and lots of black pepper.  I dip the fish in egg first so the coating sticks.  (I have plenty of eggs because I raise chickens as well as geese.)  Surprisingly large fish, even today, still swim in smaller streams.  Fish big enough to filet often get caught in my traps.

Diagram of a colonial era fish trap from google images.  My Pleistocene fish trap differs slightly.  Mine doesn’t stretch all the way across the river and has a net or basket at the point of the v instead of slats.  I remove the net when I’m not planning on eating fish to reduce unnecessary fish kill.

I sometimes use a milk or beer batter to fry these.  Fish weighing over 10 pounds can be cut into steaks and grilled over a charcoal fire.  Or they can be stewed.  When I tire of fried fish I cook them in a white wine-cream sauce with mushrooms or sorrel.  Sorrel is an easy pot herb to grow.  Vegetables in the brassica family are also easy to grow.  Brassica pollen even shows up in a couple of palynological studies of Pleistocene age sediment, proving that some type of wild mustard grew in Georgia then.  In my real life gardening experience I’ve successfully grown mustard, bok choy, napa cabbage, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage, and red cabbage.  All grow in my Pleistocene garden.  They thrive in the long cool season.  I’ve had mixed success with lettuce.  Some times I can’t get the lettuce to grow big enough to use.  The best lettuce I ever grew was a variety known as Rouge d’River–a red leaf type.

Spicy meatball and sausage jambalaya.  I make many different versions of this famous dish–chicken jambalaya, chicken and sausage jambalaya, double sausage jambalaya, shrimp and sausage jambalaya, turkey and ham and mushroom jambalaya, etc.

I grow rice in my Pleistocene garden because I can’t live without jambalaya or dirty rice.  Brown rice is a common side dish, but for jambalaya I remove the rice bran and feed it to the chickens.  White rice makes a better jambalaya.  I use sodium nitrates to turn the sausage red.  Curing meats is another way to make game meats quite palatable.  Much of my venison is corned.

Green posole.  This is the first time I ever made this dish.

Corn grows in my garden.  It provides a vegetable and a starch and animal feed.  I manufacture corn oil and corn syrup as well.  In the pioneer days the dried cobs were used as toilet paper.  In my Pleistocene world I manufacture more modern toilet paper.  There are just some improvements I can’t live without.


Little Kettle Creek–The only Pleistocene Fossil Site in the Piedmont Region of Southeastern North America

March 17, 2011

Little Kettle Creek excites me because it is the closest Pleistocene fossil site to where I live.  It is the only known Ice Age fossil site in the entire piedmont region.  Bogue Chitto Creek in Alabama is in the northern coastal plain, and Ladds in north Georgia is in the southern ridge and valley, so there are other fossil sites close to this geographic region, but Little Kettle Creek is the only one actually in it.  Its discovery 40 years ago sparked hopes that it would lead to discoveries of more sites in the region but that hasn’t happened.  But I believe it can’t be the only one and some day I hope to find another piedmont fossil site.

The word, kettle, is a derivative of kittle which is an archaic word for fish trap.  In the days before supermarkets Indians and early pioneers likely laced the creek with fish traps for  easy suppers while they were busy clearing land and working in the fields.  A Revolutionary War battle fought here demoralized the British, so the area has plenty of interesting history, despite being off the beaten path–the county population is a mere ~10,000 and early town leaders rejected the development of railroad lines through here because they considered trains “faddish, noisy, and dirty.”  Eventually, railroad lines were built, but by then, the rest of the state had passed this county by.

Location of the Little Kettle Creek fossil site.  From a copy of the below referenced paper.

A photo of Little Kettle Creek on property for sale.  This photo is probably a few hundred yards downstream from the fossil site.  Fossils were found in sediment accumulated behind granite dikes like those seen in this photo.

I found land for sale near this site.  For $235,000 one can buy 65.12 acres of nice timber land where he/she can hunt deer and dove, fish the creek, and prospect for fossils and artifacts.  However, the only building on the site is an ancient barn.  It may be heaven for me, but my wife doesn’t appreciate the lack of amenities.

Most of the fossils were discovered in an accumulation of sediment trapped behind a granite dike similar to those shown in the photo above.  The son of the then property owner discovered a partial mastodon tooth 100 yards downstream from the dike but all but one other specimen were found behind the natural rock dike.  The whole area is underlain by pre-Cambrian age granite which is eroding at different rates.  This accounts for the uneven distribution of the granite outcroppings.  Pleistocene sediment overlays this.  I’ve thought about this for a long time and believe the creek must cut through a large undiscovered Pleistocene deposit farther upstream from the site.  The fossils washed downstream (and may still be periodically washing into the same dike) to become lodged behind the rocky impediments.

Dr. Voorhies and his students scoured the area for fossils and found specimens of 7 species.  Here’s the list.

–a vertebrae and pectoral fins that compare favorably to a channel catfish

–2 cheek teeth of a southern bog lemming, a species that no longer occurs south of Kentucky

–a tooth that compares favorably to the red backed vole, a species that no longer occurs south of extreme northeast Georgia in the mountains

–2 partial teeth of a mastodon

–a partial mammoth tooth

–teeth, metacarpals, and phalanxes from bison

–teeth and metatarsals from white tailed deer

The catfish bones show growth rings similar in size to those from fish that live in midwestern states where fish stop growing in the winter.  Fish in modern day southeastern states don’t show these size growth rings.  That means the climate at the time these fossils were living creatures must have included colder winters than those of today in this region.

I’m planning a trip early this summer to visit Wilkes County.  In addition to the fossil site, the Revolutionary War monument is worth seeing, and I’m curious as to whether I can find William Bartram’s “Great Buffalo Lick,” which reportedly an historian has determined is nearby.  Of course, I’ll recount the day trip on this blog.


Voorhies, M.R.

“Pleistocene Vertebrates with Boreal Affinities in the Georgia Piedmont”

Quaternary Research (4) 85-93 1974