How To Hunt And Gut Your Own Dinner … And Other Life Lessons From A Hoosier Kitchen Renaissance Woman
Former biology teacher Halle Haste lives on 25 acres in Roachdale, west of Indianapolis, where she grows her own produce, preserves it for the winter, hunts and butchers, keeps bees, and scratch-cooks nearly everything her family of four eats at home. Oh, she also helps run the family business, Haste Woodworking. She’s the kind of woman you just want to follow around to learn her Jedi ways. Ready are you?
Hunting & Butchering
About 80 percent of the meat Haste’s family eats every year is venison they hunted themselves. She admits she doesn’t fit the hunter stereotype, but thinks most people have that wrong, anyway. “The biggest misconception of hunters is that they’re ignorant, or redneck, or uneducated,” says Haste. “Most hunters are respectful of the land on which they hunt, and of the animals themselves. When I’m in that tree stand, I feel more primal and less modernized. I like that sense of depending on no one other than myself.” Haste also butchers most of her own meat. “Since I’m the cook, I know exactly what I want. I want the bone in this, or I don’t want the bone in that. I want this size, this cut. I can cater it all to my specific needs, instead of having someone else do it for me.”
Four big garden plots fill Haste’s yard, growing almost every vegetable you might find at a farmers market on Saturday morning. She even has a small fruit orchard, with peach, pear, apple, and cherry trees. Since most people don’t have that kind of space, Haste suggests working with what you’ve got, even if it’s just a small area with herbs for cooking. She loves Thai food, and plants her own Thai basil, since it’s so hard to find. “I don’t want to drive to an Asian grocery store every time I cook, so it’s easier to grow my own.”
A certified Master Food Preserver, Haste stocks her pantry with homemade jams, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and various pickled products. She also ferments her own kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Even if you aren’t up for canning or fermenting, Haste says not to forget about the easiest way to preserve food: the freezer. “I think everybody could use a deep freezer. Even if I didn’t have kids at home, I would still want one. I like that feeling of being able to save up, or make a lot of something and use it later.”
Haste’s homesteading efforts come together in her kitchen, where almost every meal is made from scratch. “I want to feed my family healthy food that we’ve raised, hunted, gardened, or foraged,” she says. That means bucking the modern trend of meal planning, in which menus are selected, grocery lists made, and shopping done. For Haste, it’s the opposite. She sees what she has in the pantry and freezer, and develops ideas from there. “I like to use what I have,” she says. And don’t forget dessert. The national grand champion of the King Arthur Flour’s Sweet Victory Challenge dessert division (for her maple Italian cream cake) and reigning champ of the Beasley’s Orchard Great Apple Pie Bake-Off has a thing for carbs. “Pie is probably the No. 1 thing I’m known for,” says Haste. Sadly for the rest of us, her piecrust is classified information: “It’s my only secret recipe.”
Haste has five beehives, a hobby that grew directly from her interest in science: “I love insects, I love biology, and I love the study of bees.” Though she uses some of the honey in her kitchen, and the garden benefits from the pollinators on site, she tackled the bee project for the same reason she does a lot of things: the challenge. “A lot of the stuff I do is about learning something new. Learn, learn, learn.”