Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Oct

Grokfeast in Wisconsin

On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness. Vote for your favorite on October 8.

Preparing for the Grokfeast

We decided to center our Grokfeast around unusual meats. I found a source for elk at my local farmers market: Hawk’s Hill Elk Ranch. A local restaurant meat supply store provided the other meats – rabbit, duck, and Cornish game hen. The night before the Grokfeast, we had all the meats thawed, and the elk prepared and ready to go in the crockpot. At 3 am the morning of the Grokfeast (don’t worry, I was awake anyway to feed Derek), I started the elk cooking. Then, at a more reasonable time that morning, we started the rabbit cacciatore and roasted birds. After Michael was done removing as much rabbit meat as he could for the cacciatore, there was still some good meat left on the bones. So we added an impromptu soup to the menu to use the rest of the rabbit.

The Feast Itself

We were lucky enough to find an empty pavilion in the park with a fire circle next to it. Since the day was somewhat chilly (overcast, windy, in the low 50s), we began the Grokfeast by building a fire out of branches and leaves scavenged from the nearby woods.

Our guests had been asked to bring sides if they wished. They added salad greens and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar dressing, green beans, deviled eggs, and apples to the menu. One guest, having looked through the website and discovered the 80/20 principle, declared that she was a baker, not a cook, and that she would be bringing our 20%. So we had an apple crisp for dessert. We also had fresh apple cider from the farmers market to supplement the water Michael and I had brought. Derek, of course, had his own personalized menu, consisting entirely of milk.

The favorite dish was by far the elk – we called the dish pulled elk, since it resembles pulled pork. The roast duck was the runner-up; no need for me to supply the recipe, though, since it just involved putting the duck in the oven. The Cornish game hens were rather ordinary – perhaps unsurprising since, despite the name, they are actually just small chickens. The rabbit cacciatore (a tomato based rabbit stew) was also well received. The soup came out a little bland – perhaps in need of more seasoning or a thickener, but we were entertained identifying the bits of rabbit skeleton we fished out of soup bowls.

The Post-Feast Activity

Before the feast, I worked up a set of rules for a tag game called Tools vs. Teeth. Every participant was issued a strip of blue cloth, one of red cloth, and three bean bags. They would have one of three roles: deer, wolf, or hunter. Deer are only permitted to walk, or to sprint when they feel threatened. Wolves, indicated by wearing the red flag, can tag deer. If they do so, the deer becomes a wolf. Hunters, indicated by wearing the blue flag, may throw bean bags at deer.  If they hit the deer, it becomes a hunter. Wolves can also tag hunters or hunters throw bean bags at wolves, in which case they revert back to being deer (and receive a head start before they can be tagged again). Hunters are taken out after one tag, wolves after two bean bags. One player begins the game as Chief Grok, who can survive two tags instead of one, and can use a foam spear in addition to his bean bags for tags. Another begins the game as the Alpha Wolf, who can survive three bean bags instead of two, and can use two foam swords (representing claws/fangs) in addition to his hands for tags. (We had the foam weapons on hand since most of us are LARPers, see A wounded player (wolf, Chief Grok, or Alpha Wolf) who successfully converts another player regains his health. The game ends when either Chief Grok or the Alpha Wolf is taken out.

We played four rounds of Tools vs. Teeth. Each time we had ten players, as someone had to stay and watch Derek. For the first three rounds, everyone except Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf began the game as deer. They were given two minutes lead time to disperse, and then Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf left the starting point in different directions. The first two rounds ended undramatically in hunter victories.  In the third round, we had a better sense of team tactics, and the round ended in a dramatic showdown between a pack of five wolves and a tribe of three hunters, with the wolves victorious. For the fourth round, we decided that since the pack hunting techniques were the best part of the game, Chief Grok and the Alpha Wolf would begin the game with an additional wolf and hunter as sidekicks. This addition seemed to improve the game – I would recommend it if you try the game yourself.

All of our players seemed to enjoy the game. We thought it would have been even better with a lot more people; we could imagine playing with thirty or forty people, and multiple wolfpacks and tribes hunting at a time. On the whole, it seemed to be a very successful primal activity.

The Feast

Main Dishes:

  • Pulled Elk
  • Rabbit Cacciatore
  • Rabbit Soup
  • Roast Duck
  • Roast Cornish Game Hen


  • Green Salad
  • Green Beans
  • Apples
  • Deviled Eggs


  • Fresh Apple Cider
  • Water

Dessert (the 20%):

  • Apple Crisp

Recipe: Pulled Elk


  • Elk Chuck Roast
  • 3 red onions
  • 1 cup Marsala Wine
  • 3 tbsp Ground Mustard Seed


Slice the red onions in half-moons.  Place the elk roast in a crockpot and place the onions on top of and around it. Pour the wine over the top. Sprinkle the ground mustard seed over the roast. Cook on low for eight hours. Remove the bone.  Shred the meat.

The Tribe

Michael Magness (Magness), Beth Magness (MamaMagness), Derek Magness, Nathan Bethke, Sam O’Reilly, Gwendolyn Halliday, Seth Mulhall, Kim Simmons, Kenny, Casey Erlandson, Jaime Frey, Deborah Hicks

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Wow that elk looks really succulent! And bonus points for the variety of meats

    Ben wrote on October 6th, 2010
  2. That elk looks delicious!

    Cindy Hanna wrote on October 6th, 2010
  3. very creative game you created! sounds like lots of fun.

    noah216 wrote on October 6th, 2010
  4. I’m amazed that the 20% didn’t include any cheese, Wisconsinites. Although I think Cheese is primal in Wisconsin.

    Sorry, I can’t resist – I’m a Flatlander (that’s what Wisconsinites call us Illinoisans – usually right before they write us a speeding ticket).

    The Elk looks great, and those woods in the background make me want to head North.

    Duncan wrote on October 6th, 2010
    • I’ve heard Wisconsinites use…ahem…”other” terms for Illinoisans! 😉

      Larry wrote on October 6th, 2010
      • Like “FIB?” I heard that one from a State Park Police officer. :)

        Duncan wrote on October 7th, 2010
        • That’s the one I was thinking of! LOL!

          Larry wrote on October 8th, 2010
  5. All that meat sounds really good – I’m jealous!

    Ryan wrote on October 6th, 2010
  6. The pulled elk sounds lovely, as well as the tools vs teeth game.

    christie wrote on October 6th, 2010
  7. game sounds interesting… where in WI was it played???

    Marti wrote on October 6th, 2010
  8. What a fantastic game. Well done for being so inventive!

    alley cat wrote on October 6th, 2010
  9. I like the game and the elk sounds great! Where in WI was this? I’m moving to WI next summer and would like to meet the local “tribe”.

    Larry wrote on October 6th, 2010
    • We’re in Madison. And we’d love to meet up with other primal folks – the rest of the tribe for our feast were friends, but not primal. But they were at least willing to give it a try for an afternoon!

      MamaMagness wrote on October 7th, 2010
  10. I have a connection for pastured elk that I haven’t been using. Definitely makes me want to move on that!

    Not surprising at all that RPers would come up with such a cool game!

    Kris wrote on October 6th, 2010
  11. What a fantastic selection of not-your-every-day meats!

    Adina wrote on October 7th, 2010
  12. never had elk before, but you guys make it look delicious

    mike wrote on October 7th, 2010
  13. Nothings primal without fire. Elk looks delish.

    Garth Whelan wrote on October 7th, 2010
  14. Wow, lucky that you can get game meats like that. I live an island so we don’t really get elk or rabbit (or my favorite, venison!)

    tools vs. teeth sounds like fun!

    Mason wrote on October 7th, 2010
  15. What a creative game… it took me a couple times reading through to really get it, does that qualify as “use your brain”? =] Cornish game hens are so freaking cute, I wish it were easier to find good quality ones around here.

    mayness wrote on October 7th, 2010
  16. Now that is food Grok would love.

    Mark wrote on October 7th, 2010
  17. Nice game! And I like how you went for less-eaten meats.

    Ryan wrote on October 7th, 2010
  18. Wow, very creative game. I love it! I want to get some Crossfitters here to do some primal games and get togethers. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Julie wrote on October 7th, 2010
  19. That game sounds pretty awesome. Like a much more intricate version of something I’ve been working on!

    Mlkrone wrote on October 7th, 2010
  20. Whew! Game sounded complicated but as I remember, games often read as more complicated than actually playing them.

    Thanks for including your own critique on the game.

    Sharon wrote on October 7th, 2010
  21. I love trying new meats! if only there was an elk farmer around here… … I’m dying to try an ostrich omelette too!

    Fatkid wrote on October 7th, 2010
  22. Pulled elk?! I want some!

    Whitney wrote on October 7th, 2010
  23. I love learning a new game!! You should video tape it and submit it to MDA!! 😀

    gilliebean wrote on October 8th, 2010
  24. I really enjoyed your selection of meats!

    carol wrote on October 8th, 2010

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