What’s On Your Food Writing Menu: Bird, Beast, or Fish?

As food writers we’re always looking for ways to expand our market coverage. We may do restaurant reviews, write a food-related column or contribute to one, maybe we’re compiling a focused, specialized cookbook or submitting food-related stories and recipes. One technique which has worked well for me is writing interesting anecdotes or short clips to set the scene and then providing a couple or so recipes to finish off the reader’s “experience”. This is especially productive if the article slant is highly unique or very different in some way. This kind of “How-to-catch-it” followed by a “How-to-cook-it” or recipe selection provides more than just the typical run-of-the-mill, Grandma’s hand-me-down recipe story.

Here’s an example of mine excerpted from “Piranha: Deadly and Delicious” published in BRAZIL magazine:

“The Amazon is filled with danger. Soldier ants march by the millions devouring all life in their path. Submerged up to the eyes, Crocodiles lie in wait for the unwary – whatever or whoever that may be. Undulating its 20-foot length beneath the surface, the Anaconda, one of the world’s largest snakes, uses heat-seeking guidance to find its next meal. The barbed stinger in the tail of platter-sized stingrays can inflict a wound that takes months to heal. But none of these carry the fearsome mystique of the voracious Piranha, the perfect killing machine.

They had it even before we knew what was happening. My rod bowed in prayer to something below the tea-colored water’s surface. The six-pound test line danced like a cat on a hot pavement. All hell had broken loose. Beads of sweat rolled down Doris’ back. Her clothes were now a second skin, clinging to her every move. We panted for breath. We had fish on. The silvery oval-shaped body and red belly of a Piranha broke the surface. I reached for it. “Don’t let a finger get near their mouths or you’ll lose it”, our native guide barked.”

The second half of this piece contains four different recipes for preparing the fish, noting what substitutes can be used if they’re not available where you live. The piece sold within 24 hours of querying.

Is there a hunting or fishing specialty in your area? Hunting and Fishing Clubs are great sources for outdoors interviews as hunters and fishermen seem never to tire of telling the story of how they bagged that “big one”. The tightened up, condensed narrative makes an excellent prelude to three or four different recipes for preparing the catch of the day.

Some fish, fowl and game species that are frequently sought after fishing-based pieces include:

o Trout

o Salmon

o Catfish

o Eel (Yes, these are often eaten, and they’re delicious too – even considered a delicacy in Europe and Asia)

But for a change, try something a little less common that may well pique an outdoor editor’s interest like:

o Pike, pickerel

o Shark

o Tuna

o Turtle (where species taking is not illegal or endangered)

For fowl-based writing try pieces and recipes for the likes of:

o Squab (dove or pigeon)

o Quail (also pheasant and Grouse)

o Duck

o Wild turkey

You can also hit the food-writing jackpot more easily with other game-based writing on hunted species including:

o Bear (where species taking is not illegal or endangered)

o Wild boar

o Deer (venison)

o Snake (quite common in some areas)

Don’t forget small game possibilities either. They are not only plentiful, but will often be scooped up if local area sportsmen are featured. Good bets are:

o Squirrel

o Possum (also called Opossum)

o Groundhog

o Muskrat (also called “Marsh Rabbit”)

You can glean a wealth of preparation methods as well from the hunting, fishing and outdoors club and group members you interview. It’s not only different, but fun. Both hunting and fishing are seasonal in nature so you’ll be able to do a number of pieces every year, all year long as the seasons change.

A variety of available markets exist. The clubs themselves may have a members’ publication you can pitch. Restaurants that feature game cooking, outdoors magazines, Men’s magazines are good bets too. Pitch to seasonal issues of food magazines. Don’t forget teen, children’s, and travel magazines all take unique food-related articles slanted to their readerships. Town and Country, Hunting, Fishing and Adventure magazines will help round out your submissions list.

So by all means do keep up with the restaurant reviews, cookbook compiling and food column writing. Continue to work up Grandma’s hand-me-down recipe stories too. Just expand your thinking (and your paychecks) to include food-related writing of “How-to-catch-it” followed by a “How-to-cook-it” or recipe selection pieces for sporting markets.

“Piranha – Deadly and Delicious” is online at:

Cooking With Toaster Ovens – Small Appliances With Big Cooking Features

In a country where the rise in population is directly proportional to the fall of available space, it is very practical to live in smaller units such as apartments. However, the hazard of living in such small places is that your appliances and furniture tend to be smaller, too. Your refrigerator is smaller, your bed is smaller, and even your toilet bowl is smaller. So, when the time comes that you need an oven for a special dinner, all you can do is scratch your head.

But that is not the case anymore. Because appliance manufacturers noticed the need for smaller yet fully functional appliances, they have produced toaster ovens. You might think, “I won’t be able to bake in that thing.” That is where you are wrong.A lot of moms know the need of owning an oven at home. Without one, you will not be able to make decent lasagna or bake cookies for fundraising events. With a toaster oven, cooking these things is no problem at all.

Toaster ovens come in two different types, the first one is the plain oven where you are just limited to toasting breads and grilling a sausage. The second one, however, performs functions of a normal oven and allows you to bake, broil, and grill, complete with timer and temperature controls.

Toaster oven cooking is actually very easy if you already know how to use a full sized oven. The controls are pretty much the same, allowing you to fiddle with the controls for customized settings. Most toaster ovens have controls of whether you want to turn on both the top and bottom wires or just one at a time. They also come with a convection function, making sure that the temperature is distributed equally inside the oven.

The convection control normally serves as the rotisserie control as well, allowing this type of cooking for chicken. Normally, a rod and two locks are included n the box when purchasing a toaster oven and, having tried one, I could say that the locks really do a good job in keeping the chicken secured.

Toaster ovens normally use electricity to operate, although it does not consume as much as a full sized electric oven does. The size, like mentioned, is perfect for smaller families.

There are a few drawbacks in this kind of cooking, however. Since the oven is smaller, the space between the hot rods and the food is greatly reduced. Because of that, food seems to cook quicker compared to a larger oven. It is also quite hard to fit a turkey inside, again because of the size. But that one can easily be solved by replacing it with a smaller bird such as a chicken. After all, Thanksgiving does not come around every day.

Toaster ovens are perfect for families living in smaller spaces or for anyone who cannot afford a decent full size oven yet. It performs most of the functions of the real one at a smaller size and a relatively smaller price, as well.