In The Field and In The Kitchen With Food Writer Danielle Prewett

Danielle Prewett creates beautiful food. I mean, seriously, look at these photos. It’s gorgeous.

Interviewing the chef, writer, recipe developer and food photographer totally made me think twice about how (and why, and what) I cook. It also made me re-imagine wild game. And it gave me a new appreciation for tromping around the fields on a gloomy summer day.

Not bad for a morning at work!

Grilled Asian Pheasant and Pineapple Kebobs — Photo by Danielle Prewett

See, before I checked out Danielle’s blog, Wild and Whole, I’d pretty much decided that wild game wasn’t for me. The traditional Midwestern wild game recipe relies pretty heavily on cream based soups and a crock pot, no matter what type of protein you’re cooking, and the results are usually  every bit as underwhelming and homogeneous as that description suggests.

When I settled into a comfortable chair in Danielle’s living room in Dickinson, North Dakota to interview her for this story that I wrote for the October issue of “North Dakota Outdoors,” those crock pot recipes were very much on my mind. Thankfully, Danielle takes a radically different approach.

Seared Halibut with Herb Roasted Tomatoes and Peaches — Photo by Danielle Prewett

“A lot of people have this notion that wild game is its own separate little food group that gets its own special recipes – your mom and pop’s crock pot recipes handed down from the family. And that’s great. You don’t have to get rid of that,” she said.

But then she settled in and really got rolling, which is always my favorite part of an interview. I love to hear what people are passionate about. And Danielle is passionate about food.

“But I like to think of wild game like meat you’d buy from the grocery store. Think of pheasant like chicken. With duck, venison, treat it like red meat – goose too. Once you kind of realize it’s just red meat, white meat, you realize that you can make anything you can make with chicken or beef and make it with wild game. You don’t need a special recipe.”

Grilled Redfish on the Half Shell with Harissa and Broccoli Tabbouleh — Photo by Danielle Prewett

A move to North Dakota from Texas with her husband Travis prompted a change in the way that Danielle thought about food. “Living up here enabled us to sort of embrace a very different lifestyle that you can’t get in Houston,” she said. “Cooking wild game really evolved from this idea of wanting to know where all my food comes from.”

She’s inspired by author Michael Pollan, and chef, hunter and angler, Hank Shaw, and shares their belief in healthy, high qualify, minimally processed food. Some of Danielle’s recipes are dairy free and vegetarian, a refreshing surprise for a site that focuses on wild game. Many are Whole30 and Paleo friendly as well, not because it’s a trendy thing, but because fresh, locally sourced food is what she’s all about.

Green Bean and Quinoa Salad — Photo by Danielle Prewett

Her motto for her recipes and her day to day life is “Eat Wild. Eat Whole. Live Well.” Danielle tries to practice that in every aspect of her life, from cooking, to finding that ever-elusive work/life balance (she’s a legal secretary by day) to her yoga practice.

She’s teaching one class a week now, after finishing 200 hours of training and it took all my willpower to not derail the interview with a million yoga questions.  I seriously can’t think of anything that sounds as heavenly as 200 hours of yoga, except maybe 200 hours of writing.

As you can probably tell, it was a fun interview. It’s always fun to connect with other creative people.  I know it’s especially hard for those of us who are used to calling the shots to step out from behind the camera and the computer and be the subject of a photo or an interview for a change, so I appreciated Danielle’s openness and spontaneity. You can read her thoughts on the experience here.

On top of that, Danielle’s food really was a revelation to me. She makes food I want to cook and eat, dishes inspired by fresh produce and ingredients from all over the world, from Middle Eastern spices to Vietnamese pho. And all the protein she features in her recipes is fish or wild game that she and Travis procure themselves.

She’s an accomplished hunter and it’s always interesting for me to learn more about a lifestyle I don’t know a lot about. And even though it wasn’t pheasant season, she took me out into one of their favorite pheasant hunting spots to watch how she and Travis train their sweet dogs, Marina and Zissou.

We had a great time tromping through the wildflowers and prairie grass, despite the fact that I was the slightly absurd outfit of a boho maxi dress and sneakers, since my hiking clothes got wet and muddy the day before. (The couple graciously ignore this, with I appreciated.)

We picked up feathers, watched the dogs practice and visited with the fainting goats in her friend’s farmyard. That’s Danielle, below, in one of two photos I got before the goat decided it was so over this photo shoot pranced off in a huff. (There was only one diva on set and it certainly wasn’t Danielle!)

I really encourage you to check out the “North Dakota Outdoors” article linked at the top of the post if you want to learn more about Danielle’s life and philosophy. And definitely read it if you’re a hunter or angler, since the article is written with you in mind and includes some processing tips you might find helpful.

And everyone should certainly read Danielle’s blog for a little cooking or healthy living inspiration. Or if you just want to ogle some gorgeous food.

Hey, everyone’s got to start somewhere.

Goose Sandwich with Fire Roasted Corn Poblano Salsa — Photo by Danielle Prewett

What about you?
Which of Danielle’s recipes would you try? Have you already tried some of her recipes?
(These can be from her site, the article or my story. I’m curious!)
Do you have a food philosophy that you follow? Tell me about it!
What kind of outdoors stories would you like to read more about?
What’s your favorite cold weather recipe?

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