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How to make Authentic Hmong Deer (Venison) Stew Recipe

Fall may be Pumpkin Spice and turkey season for some, but for many outdoor enthusiasts –including the Hmong, it’s also Deer Season!

My late father loved hunting for deer, and to this day my mother and brothers still love to go hunting. I recently received a slab of fresh deer meat from a close relative and I decided to make some authentic Hmong Deer Stew. My husband loves this dish. We only eat it around this time, for obvious reasons!

I wasn’t able to find a recipe for this dish at all so I decided to put this recipe together based on my own family tradition and from eating others’ versions too! This is a recipe that’s so easy to make, plus it can be modified to fit your taste buds.

For this recipe, you’ll need some fresh deer meat, Asian herbs, vegetables and a stock pot, at least 6-quarts big. You can also cook this recipe in a pressure cooker to cut down on time.

Hmong Deer (Venison) Stew Recipe (6-8 Servings)

Ingredients

  • 2lb Deer (Venison) Meat
  • 2 Tablespoon Oil
  • 8 cups of water
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 2 inches Ginger Root
  • 2 stalks Lemon Grass
  • 8-10 Thai Eggplants
  • 2 inches Galangal Root
  • 1 cup Mint leaves
  • 1 cup Hot Mint leaves – “Luam laws” (Also known as Rau ram or Vietnamese coriander)
  • 1 cup Basil
  • 1 cup Cilantro
  • 6 stalks Green onion
  • 3 Red Thai Chilli Peppers
  • 4-6 Lime Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep (10-15 minutes)

  • Wash and dry all vegetables and herbs. Remove stems from mint, basil and cilantro.
  • Chop cilantro and green onion.
  • Cut Thai eggplant in half, then slice into 1-inch pieces.
  • Peel ginger root and galanga using the edge of a spoon or small knife. Slice into 1-inch pieces.
  • Mince garlic.
  • Trim fat and loosely chop venison meat into 1/4 inch pieces.

Cooking Directions (1 Hour & 5 Minutes)

1. In a 6-quart pot, add two tablespoons of oil, minced garlic and sliced ginger. Stir and cook for 1 minute on high heat until fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. Add venison meat and lemon grass. Cook until meat is brown. About 6-8 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Add 8 cups of water and galangal to pot mixture. Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover pot with lid while cooking.

4. Add Thai eggplants, lime leaves, Thai chili peppers and cook for additional 15 minutes on medium-high heat.

5. Add cilantro, green onion, basil, both mints to pot mixture. Stir well. Turn off heat and cover pot for 1 minute.

Serve and enjoy with jasmine rice!


Head to your local Asian store to find many if not most of the herbs and vegetables. You can also go to your local butcher to see if they carry venison meat. Can’t find any? You can substitute the deer meat for beef!

If you can’t find some of the herbs, that’s ok. As long as you have garlic, ginger, green onion, cilantro and mint, you should be all set. These are readily available at most large grocery stores. You may even substitute the Thai eggplants for zucchini and carrots!

Did you know? You can substitute 2 cups of water for 2 cans of beer! Yes, the Hmong love cooking with Bud Light and don’t worry about the alcohol content because the alcohol will actually evaporate during the cooking process.

Many Hmong dishes are not written down and measurements are never exact. This recipe is loosely based on a family tradition and you can modify it to fit your own taste. In other words, feel free to taste as you go and add things as you cook.

I did not include MSG in this recipe, though it is widely used in this dish and many Asian dishes so it’s completely optional. If you do decide to add it, just add a small pinch. I find that if you add too much, it makes the broth very bitter!

Speaking of bitter, another version of this Hmong Deer Stew uses Bitter Melon instead of Thai eggplant.

Pin this for later!

Do you have any special ingredients or want to share how you make your Deer Stew? I would love to hear about it! Please let me know in the comments below!

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What I remember most about my childhood – A Memoir of the Hmong-American Upbringing

Here’s the truth: You can’t make up these stories. I know because I lived them. While some kids remember growing up with fond memories of going to Disney World, getting their first brand new bike, or traveling afar, my memories are about eating donuts from large clear plastic trash bags and picking out clothes in dusty old churches.

This is a story that I have never told anyone until now. Not just because I was too ashamed and too embarrassed but mostly because I didn’t understand, until now. I have risen from the ashes. I have come from literally nothing. Now I work hard every day to build my own empire. I have cried to myself, many times, wanting so badly for things to be better because I wanted so much more. I worked endless nights while my husband worked during the day so I could be with my kids. While they slept at night I hurried to catch up on the days work. As a parent, I now understand the love and struggle that my parents overcame in order to give me a better chance at life.

As a child, I remember going to a corner church where there were no windows and just a wooden door. My mother and I would spend hours inside there, it seemed. I always wondered why my mother always brought me here. I was probably no more than seven years old, just like my own daughter.

Now I understand. She would look at clothes while I wandered around the shop. These clothes were piled up onto tables and racks. They were mostly very dark and dusty and they had a very distinct smell: worn, old, aged. She carried a large black trash bag as she picked out clothes and put it in the bags.

I was afraid to put things in her bag because I knew that I had no money and neither did she. She was a stay at home mom who raised nine children while my father worked and made six dollars an hour. Mostly I remember finding belts, scarves, wrinkled dresses and purses, things I wasn’t big enough to wear but found to be interesting things I might need or want when I get older. I would hesitantly pick up things and ask my mom how much it was and if I could keep it.

The Caucasian lady who sat at the front door told me everything was free, I didn’t need to pay even a penny. Still, I would ask my mom first if it was ok for me to put them in the bag to take home. She said no, but she would find me some knit sweaters and corduroy pants. She would dress me up wearing mismatch colors like pale pink floral tops and lime green pants. Whatever fit and whatever was available, I had no choice.

We did this for several years, her and I. I always went with her until my siblings and I grew up and were old enough to watch ourselves and get our own jobs. My mom was finally able to get her first job as a housekeeper in a hotel.

Only now did I realize how poor we really were. I’m sure my mother never wanted to take me there, but it was essential for our family. I could never afford namebrand clothing or shoes. My first pair of namebrand shoes were white Filas that no longer fit my older sister. She took good care of them and let me have them one day.

Each year we would get to go shopping as a family for one day. That was the day before school. We each got to pick out one casual outfit for the first day of school and one dressy outfit for our New Year party. We could wear that for picture day too if we wanted.

On the weekends we would sit outside in our backyard and listen to music. There were two very kind and generous women who would come and visit us on occasions. They would bring us large trash bags of donuts. This was one of my most happiest times as a child.

Our meals consisted of fried fish caught from the local river, beef stew, boiled chicken and pork. Our fruits and vegetables came from my mother’s garden in our backyard: corn, cucumbers, cilantro, green onion, green beans, squash, strawberries, watermelon and tomatoes. We never got anything sweet to eat. Getting a bag full of donuts was like waking up on Christmas morning with presents filled under the tree.

In college, I attended student government meetings and one day someone had suggested we visit local bakeries to ask for donations for our next event. You see, instead of throwing away their baked goods at the end of the day, some if not all would donate them to organizations or poor people (like me). Only then did it dawn on me that all these years I had been eating mostly unwanted and maybe even expired donuts. Why else did they come in trash bags and not nice bakery boxes like you’d get when you purchase them? 😭

When I think about my childhood and how poor I lived, it makes me work that much harder to reach my goals and to give my own children a better chance at life.

My mom, now 71 years of age and me at her Hu Plig Ceremony in August 2019

 

My mom has always been there to take care of me and now it’s time for me to pay it forward. Our time on earth together is so short. It makes me sad to think that one day I won’t have her to guide me into the right direction.

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Hmong Everyday Life in Laos – Story Cloth Inspired Illustration

I know the reason why my mother and father loved their home country of Laos. They often talked about living in the mountains. My mother once watched her family’s bull fighting during a new year festivity and as the other bull over powered theirs, it slowly toppled over, tears streamed down her eyes. She loved and cared for it like it was her very own pet, just like many people care for their own dogs and cats.

She woke up before the break of dawn to feed her chickens and pigs and made sure there was a fire started for a hot pot of water to use for the day, be it a shower or for steaming a pot of rice.

She walked miles to her garden where she tended to her various vegetables, fruits and herbs. She scoured the jungles for barks and unnamed plants to use as natural remedies that healed ailments. Til this day she still carries a large duffel bag full of her dry barks wrapped in rubber band and although they all look and smell the same, she knows exactly what each one does and how it has the power to heal like no other prescription medication can.

She only rarely stepped below the mountains to fetch for salt, pepper, and a few essentials that couldn’t be found or made in the mountains. She grew fields of flowers and harvested the opium that seeped from the buds as she sliced thru each one. They used this opium like currency to trade for other essentials that they needed. It was their cash crop.

Life was busy, life was hard, but life was simple.

There’s a song called Tshua Kuv Lub Teb Chaws by the classic Hmong band, Xanakee with a verse that sings ”Peb lub teb chaws tsis thaj yeeb” – “Our country is no longer at peace” and the word Yeeb – which directly translates as “Opium” is symbolic of the euphoria that inhaling opium brings. Peace. It was the life my mother and father would long for even as they aged, their dreams like many Hmong elders was to always “go back to Laos.”

The Hmong lived this way for many years, isolated, independently self-sufficient, until war slowly started to break out. Suddenly the world changed in an instant, every inch of their land became a war zone; bombs dropped everywhere, some waiting to burst with every step that they took.

When the war started and abruptly ended, they found themselves stepping forward into a new time period, almost overnight as they became refugees of war and were relocated to America. Flushing toilets, talking TVs, light bulbs that switched on, stoves that lit up at a switch of a dial. These were all things created by the greatest inventors to make our lives easier and yet they wanted none of it.

The air was polluted and too industrialized. They couldn’t freely hunt and fish, you need a license for that. Things were too complicated, learning how to drive was terrifying, why were those fluffy white things falling none stop from the sky? The weather was too cold, their body’s felt frozen in this new zone.

Their chickens couldn’t run freely. They had no where to grow their food and herbs. Their plants didn’t grow well in this climate anyway. Most of all, they looked very different and they spoke very differently from their new neighbors.

They started to feel like depressed outcasts, overwhelmed by the realities of learning a new language, new skills and finding work. Even their children struggled with school, fitting in, and balancing the clash of two very different cultures:

I understand now that growing up was like having an identity crisis every day. One day I’m killing chickens in my garage and the next day I’m watching an episode of Full House where none of the characters look like me or talk like me. In order to grow and be prosperous, we have to be willing to change and let go of a past life.

Hmong traditions run deep. Clan leaders hold the authority and everyone below it obeys. The chain of hierarchy is hard to change, in any society. In order to succeed professionally and academically, I have to learn to be independent, outspoken, a thinker with her own views and opinions and theories. To be out spoken and independent means stepping out of that hierarchy; stepping out of that cultural norm. In order to fit in, I have to think and speak like them. But in order to be more Hmong, I have to speak more fluently in Hmong. They laugh at you if you don’t. They point their fingers and say “She’s too white” or “She’s too Hmong.” What am I?

I know my parents longed for their simple and peaceful life. I get it now. We all want comfort. We all want to fit in. We want to be good at what we do, and we all want to love what it is that we do. Most of all, we want that peace.

Hmong Everyday Life in Laos” Hand Illustrated and printed with premium heat dye technology on plush velour, low piling rug with a non-slip underside.

Available in 3 sizes, in my shop.

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Hmong Motifs & Symbols

Today, I share with you the Hmong Motifs printed pattern that I created for Mai&Co. To many, it may look like colorful geometric shapes repeated in a pattern, but at a much closer look, it’s a combination of symbolic Hmong motifs found in traditional Hmong embroidery, batik and paj ntaub.

It is believed that centuries ago, the Hmong, who lived in China, used motifs and symbols to communicate with each other and tell stories about their culture and daily life. They were forced to conform to Chinese culture and traditions, and as a result, were forbidden to use their own language. They began to sew these symbols onto their clothing, which served not just as decorative elements, but to preserve their language and tell their stories.

Traditionally, the techniques used in Hmong embroidery and batik were passed on from one generation to the next and became a main form of expression and identity. Because of war and persecution, the Hmong migrated into different geographic locations and many of these traditions evolved or were lost and became obsolete.

Inspired by the traditional motifs and symbols that make up the patterns in Hmong textiles and clothing, you’ll find my modern forms on the many pieces that I’ve designed for Mai&Co. My goal is to connect and transform this old tradition into modern fashion, in hopes of resonating with current and future generations.

To learn more about Hmong motifs, traditional Hmong textiles and embroidery, you can visit these free resources:

I’d love to know what your thoughts and interpretations are. Please leave me a comment below!

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is May 12. That’s less than a month away. If you’re like me, you’re already thinking about what to get her! Instead of flowers, consider getting something that’s personalized and unique.

I’ve put a list of my top six products here for you to give you an idea of what to get your mom, aunt or grandma. I hear from my customers all the time about how amazed their recipients are when they receive their items. You won’t find these items anywhere else but here, in my shop!

Family Portrait Tapestry

The Family Portrait is printed on lightweight fabric and great for hanging anywhere. My illustration of your family is printed on this fabric in vibrant colors. The graphics are inspired by the traditional Hmong Story Cloth. You can customize it to include all your family members at their current age. There’s also a blanket version to use as a blanket on chilly nights.

Hmong Story Cloth

The Hmong Story Cloth is a visual illustration of the Hmong and their migration from Laos to Thailand. This is a popular story that’s found on many hand-stitched story cloths of the Hmong. My version of the story cloth is printed on tapestry and is great for hanging. It’s available in several sizes and you can also get a soft blanket version to use as a blanket on chilly nights.

Hmong Clock

I originally created the Hmong Clock as a tool for my kids to learn their numbers in the Hmong language, however, it’s a great functional piece of artwork for anyone at any age. This is a great conversation starter too!

Hmong Tote

There are several versions of the Hmong Tote that I designed. Check them all out here. This would be a great addition to any other gift, as you can carry many items in it!

Kitchen Towel

If your mom loves to make or eat papaya (who’s mom doesn’t?!) this is the perfect gift for her!This is the personalized kitchen towel with various fruits and vegetables like Papaya, and my fun Hmong characters holding on to the pestle and mortar.

Extended Family Tree

For years I’ve had many family members ask me to make family trees. As you probably know, Hmong people have very large extended families. We have lots of siblings, lots of aunts, lots of uncles, lots of nieces, nephews and lots of pets (you get the idea). As a result, I created this Extended Family Tree that you can now order for your own gigantic family.

The Extended Family Tree includes a set of grandparents (most likely, your parents), children/siblings (most likely, you and your siblings), kids (most likely your kids), sibling’s kids and any pets you may have! This is truly an heirloom piece and worth the investment as it will be cherished for many years to come, across different generations!

So there you have it: My top 6 gifts for Mother’s Day. I hope you found this guide helpful. Let me know in the comments below.

You can check out more unique custom creations in my online shop here.

Be sure to order early so that you get your items on-time and before May 12. Items will usually take about 2-3 weeks for me to create and to ship so plan accordingly.

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Hmong embroidery in it’s digital illustration form

What does Hmong embroidery have in common with modern illustration? It’s all made up of Xs and squares (in digital words: pixels).

When I was much younger, I remember learning how to do hand stitched Hmong embroidery with my mom and older sisters. We would create a cross stitch pattern. The core basis of this is that you create two diagonal lines with your needle and thread to create an X stitch and everything is done in uniform in one small square to the next in such a tedious yet mathematical manner.

I often wonder how my mom was able to create elaborate pieces without knowing math because the stitches are based on the number across or up/down if you really think about it. As far as I knew, I was just counting the number of X’s I made in each row in order to create a certain shape. If I made too many stitches across, I would have to back track and undo my stitches, otherwise my shape would look completely off!

It’s amazing how almost 2 decades later I am still doing the same thing, except now using a digital medium. Hence this is why I wanted to share with you guys a sneak peak of my patterns in digital form and how it evolves from here onto the many clothing pieces that you’ve seen here and at shopmaico.com. You often see the end product but you may not realize the amount of work and effort that goes into creating each piece.

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The Hmong in Laos Story – Illustrated Paj Ntaub Story Cloth

In almost every Paj Ntaub story cloth that tells the story of the Hmong in Laos, you will see an airplane in the top right and three soldiers from the Communist Lao Army, wearing forest green uniforms, pointing guns at the Hmong –who are wearing their traditional signature black clothes with blue and pink trim.

In the middle you will find a river -The Mekong, and at the very bottom of the story cloth is Thailand, on the other side of this vast river that separates and connects Laos to Thailand.

There are Hmong men, women and children who swim across, ride on rafts and makeshift floats, in the direction of Thailand.

There is a lot of chaos in most of these story cloths, almost like there is no rhyme or reason.

Crossing the Mekong – Hmong Paj Ntaub Story Cloth – Photo Credit: Hmongabc.com

The reality is that thousands of Hmong people swam across this river to escape persecution in Communist Laos, in the 1970s. Many have experienced and know this story first hand, including my own parents.

My father wasn’t the best swimmer but he was strong. He managed to swim across, bringing along my older siblings and my mom across this river.

Did you know the Mekong is wider than the Detroit River? If my Google Map calculation serves me right, the distance between Laos to Thailand is about 2375 feet wide (0.45 Miles long) and the distance between Detroit to Canada is approximately 2000 feet wide (0.37 miles).

Can you imagine swimming across the river in the middle of the night while bombs and guns are going off? I often wonder how much strength and perseverance my parents had to have had in order to endure this long and terrifying trek!

This is an illustration I did that is based on these story cloths and real life stories. When I look at this with my own children, I can explain to them the complex and difficult history of their grandparents in such a simple illustrative format.

As a first generation refugee, I can share with them my very own story so that they never forget where we came from and how long we have come as a people.

Illustrated Hmong in Laos Story Cloth Blanket

Available for purchase in two sizes. Shop now.

 

 

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Happy Sweetest Day – Custom Portrait Illustration of Hmong Couple

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday on this Sweetest Day in October! It’s super chilly here in Michigan and I can’t believe it has started snowing in some places across the country!

I have a new design to share with you guys. Here is the latest from the Hmong illustrations I’ve been working on! The Hmong Couple is a custom portrait illustration that’s so detailed, it’s crazy! If you’re interested in getting a print of your own (custom made of course) then check it out here!

You can also check out a previous version of the couple, here.

Hmong Couple – Happy Sweetest Day

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The Siv Ceeb, and it’s role in Hmong Marriage

Here is a fun fact for you: The “Siv Ceeb” is an important symbol of Hmong marriage. The Siv Ceeb is a thin piece of black/white striped cloth, folded many times to look like a long ribbon. You may have seen it many times, wrapped around the outer edge of a Hmong women’s purple hat. The purple hat, which looks like a turban, is “txoj phuam” -which is actually, traditionally also not a hat, when translated, it’s “ascarf.”

My father once told me that when he was much younger, back in Laos, during the Hmong New Year, the Hmong women who were married would not wear the “Siv Ceeb” around their purple hat and only those who were single were allowed to wear it, so the single men would know who they could talk to or who was already taken. Thus, the single men would go looking for their soulmate, who would wear this Siv Ceeb along with their finest and most expensive clothing that they owned.

After a while, he said married women wanted to look beautiful too, so they started to wear the black/white Siv Ceeb stripes around their hat along with other variations that are beaded and much more elaborate in design and patterns.

During a Hmong Wedding, the Siv Ceeb would be wrapped around a black umbrella –which is representative of the woman, or symbolic of a man and his family. So when you see a black umbrella with “txoj siv ceeb” wrapped around it, you’ll know that a wedding is taking place!

Once the Hmong wedding is over, the couple would be instructed to hang their umbrella, with the Siv Ceeb in a high place, in their home.

The umbrella is also an important symbol in Hmong culture, which is.. another lesson, another day, but in case you wanted to know you can listen to the song by Rihanna “Umbrella” because it’s actually a great representation of what the Umbrella is in Hmong family culture! 😂

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We’re officially open for business!

Welcome to Mrs Kue’s Shop. My name is Hlee and I am so glad to have you here. I started this online shop to showcase the creative pieces that I’ve created over the years and continue to create every day.

Here you will find digital art, custom works of art, apparel and unique gifts.

 

I want to thank you for your support and I look forward to creating a piece for you that will bring a smile to your face.