For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pioneer Dinner; cooking rabbit.

Well, our pioneer themed dinner worked out quite well!  Before I go on to that, though, here's how I ended up cooking the rabbit for the evening.

The rabbit we got was frozen - fresh wasn't even an option.  Friggin' expensive, too.  Just over $25 for the one.  The bison roast was more expensive, though, and wasn't really much more meat, so we stuck with the bunny.

Ingredients for this dish:

1 whole rabbit
about 1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (or water)

Once it was thawed, we figured out why we couldn't see the hind legs.  They were tucked into the body cavity, where we also found the liver (which fell out, so it isn't in the photo) and kidneys (which were still attached).

Some of the recipes I found included instructions for the liver and kidneys, but not for how I'd decided to cook it.  In the end, I chopped them up and gave them to the cat.  Only one of our cats will eat real food, for some reason, and she was more than happy to have it all to herself. :-D

If this had been an old rabbit, I would have soaked it in salt water for a while, first.  As it was, I just rinsed it out.

I then had to figure out how to cut the carcass into pieces.  I've never butchered a bunny before.  The legs were easy enough, but the body took a bit more figuring out.

I've decided I need a cleaver, though.  Making do with a chef's knife will only go so far.  Bunny bones are weak enough to go through, but it still took a bit more than I was comfortable doing with the knife I had.

This is what I ended up with - 8 pieces.  Plenty of meat on those back legs.  The ribs are quite scrawny, though.  The rib and back pieces got rolled up to make the thickness similar to the leg pieces.

The pieces were then dredged in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper.  Some versions from the time period had the pieces rest for a while, then get dipped in beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs. I decided our hypothetical settlers weren't established enough to have eggs or large amounts of flour.  For a long time, if the settlers were able to grow their own grain at all, they usually had only enough to grind small amounts in a coffee grinder to make bannock or pancakes.  Breadloaves, especially yeast breads, didn't become common until the late 1800's, early 1900's.

The floured pieces were then browned in a pan.  I used bacon fat for this.  Pigs became common well before cows, so pig fat was more available than any other kind.  People would let their pig root around in the bushes, feeding itself throughout the spring and summer.  In the fall, they'd butcher it, preserve the meat (usually smoked or brined) and render the fat for use in the winter.  Adequate dietary fat was a major concern.  In the early years, a lot of people died of "rabbit starvation."   Rabbits were plentiful and easy to catch, but the meat is very lean.  It was the only food source for some people, but didn't have adequate amounts of fat for the human body's needs.  So even though their bellies were full, they were hungry, as their bodies craved fat.  Unable to get any, they died of "starvation."

Isn't that a cheerful subject.


The browned pieces were then set aside for later.

 Onion pieces were then added to the pan the rabbit was browned in.  I found myself needing to add more bacon fat, though, as the pan was really dry.

At this point, if our hypothetical settlers had had other veggies, they'd add the cut up pieces now.

When the onion (and any other veggies that might be there) were softened, I added about 3 cups of chicken broth that had the last of the dredging flour mixed into it.  Orignally, the broth might have been made from Prairie Chickens, other game, vegetables, or just plain water.

The broth was cooked down to about half it's volume, give or take.  With the flour in it, it started to thicken a bit, too.

Once the broth was cooked down, the browned pieces were returned to the pan and left to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.

It went over really well at the dinner. Both of the girls found it delicious.  I had one person comment that this was the first time she'd had rabbit, and it won't be the last! *L*  With 20 people, we all took only a little bit each, and there was actually some left.  For a while.  A couple of the kids discovered them, and polished them off. *L* 

This is definitly something we'd do again - if we're ever willing to spend that much money on it again! *L*

Friday, November 20, 2009



Today is our big errands day.  Every couple of fridays, we do our bulk grocery shopping and general running around.  The girls helped me pick up the groceries, and the total bill was about $75 more than usual.  About $30 of that was stuff we don't buy very often, but at the same time, there were things we normally buy that we didn't need to on this trip.  In fact, the stuff we didn't buy comes out to more than the "extras" we did get this time around.  I'm going to have to totally re-work our budget and find some way to re-direct more into the groceries budget.

Part of our running around today involves getting ready for our pioneer dinner this Sunday.  We picked up a frozen rabbit at a butcher shop.  This particular shop has all kinds of unusual meats, including kangaroo, camel, and musk ox.  Today we saw something different - python!  A little piece about 6 inches long, 3 inches wide and maybe half an inch thick cost $7.50  Ouch.  We saw some alligator, too.  I didn't even look at the price of that.

Cooking the rabbit authenticaly isn't going to take much.  The butcher said to just cut it up and pan fry it, which is pretty much what I was thinking.  I'm tempted to marinade it or something, but that would never have been done in our time period.  There's so little meat, though.  Maybe I should do a rabbit stew, instead.  It was expensive - just over $25 for one - but it still cost less than a bison roast.  I'm not sure that the bison would have given us any more meat for our money, either.

Now we're on the hunt for wild rice.  I used to see it in our usual grocery store, but now I'm just finding it in blends.  There's another place I want to try out before I break down and use one of those.

*sigh*  Time to get off my butt and start on supper.  I'm making hamburgers tonight.  I haven't done that in a long time, and the kids are asking me to. :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time to write

Funny how I have no real problem sitting down at the computer... it's sitting down to actually write that's a problem.  Well, here I finally am now, headphones one with Band of Skulls "I know what I am" playing, drowning out the sounds of Youngest playing a new Xbox 360 game behind me, while Dh and Eldest head off to a second run movie together. 

The biggest news since I last wrote is that we finally got a new computer.  Just the tower, plus a higher end video card and some updated software that wasn't worth getting as long as we had the old machine.  Not enough processing power.  Getting it used up most of my husband's sign up bonus, but I think we all find it's been worth it.  Amazing, how much of a difference there is.  I can actually browse and listen to music at the same time, without loading pages causing the music to stutter and skip.  The difference really shows when I work with photos, graphics and movie software, but little things, like booting up in under 2 minutes instead of 15, are greatly appreciated, too. ;-)

Eventually, we'll get another monitor and rebuild the old machine so Dh will have his own desktop.  We did offer it to the kids, but they chose to stick with their old Dell.  Something to do as funds get freed up.

I haven't done a library list in ages.  We slowed down on the library trips quite a lot after getting our own books back.  We finally even have them all unpacked, though a couple of small boxes of books are set aside to pass on, as the kids have outgrown them. 

The library trips are picking up again, though.  Eldest has been getting lots of books on weapons for reference drawings.  Youngest is more into Brother's Grimm, which are somehow not in our collection (though we do have the complete Hans Christian Anderson and a lot of world mythology).  We've got another historical themed dinner coming up this weekend.  We've officially started a group with others interested in doing these, but no one was up to hosting an evening, so the girls chose an early pioneer theme.  They were looking specifically for early agriculturalist, prior to the land grants and rush of immigrants in the late 1800's, set in the prairies.  It's been a challanging theme.  Most of the info for the time period is either US based (where things happened a lot faster than in the Canadian prairies), or coastal (with well established towns long before central Canada was settled).  There just weren't a lot of settlers in the prairies before then, and they certainly didn't spend much time writing cookbooks. *L*  So we're researching into what they did have, as far as equipment (often just a frying pan and a Dutch Oven type pot) and ingredients (very much feast or famine!).

We're looking at a good turn out, though - three other families are coming, for a total of 19 people.  There will be kids as young as 3 yrs old.  The mom of one family is actually a professional story teller who focuses on this region's history, which is totally cool!  I'm really looking forward to it.  If I can find it, we'll be doing wild rice and rabbit.  If not, mixed grains and bison.  With some of the other ideas bouncing around, things should be really good. :-D

Youngest, meanwhile, is well into her voice lessons, with only a slight roadblock.  She has a very well developed, deep voice.  What she doesn't have is a developed high voice.  Her teacher wants her to stay away from using her lower registers completely for the next while and focus on singing in the upper registers.  The challange was finding songs she likes that are already in the key she needs to sing in.  The music she usually listens to are male singers or deep voiced females. So now we're getting a lot of Loreena McKennett and the like.  Once she gets her high voice developed. her teacher will start bringing her back down again, and eventualy be marrying them all together, and she'll be able to sing just about anything she wants.

After we got back from her lesson today, which was more about listening to songs the teacher was suggesting to add to her list (a few more, and they'll be set with a songs list to work on for quite a long time!), Eldest made up a pot of tea and suggested watching a library movie.  They chose Elegant Universe, a 2 dvd set on physics, quantum physics and string theory.  It was a bit more edutainment that we usually watch, but they really liked it.

Normally, tomorrow is our library day, but I think we'll push it back to thursday.  One of the things about living in a co-op is that unit inspections for mainenance are regularly required, and we've got that happening sometime tomorrow.  A good time to think about the little things that need to be worked on that we tend to let slide. 

*sigh*  And some time tonight, I need to get all the cut down boxes from the books and other stuff we've unpacked into the recycling bin, which is across the street in the highrise of our complex.  I really don't want to be doing those stairs.  My knees have been doing the patella polka far too often for my comfort. *L*

Monday, November 02, 2009

Pausing to regroup

Isn't it weird how we can just go and go and go and seem to busy, but when you look back, it's hard to see just what was accomplished?  What was I so busy with?

We've finished up with a rather quiet halloween, except for the home schoolers party we went to.  Nothing quiet about that! *L*  The group we've joined booked facilities for the party, and it's a really nice little play.  I'll have to keep it in mind for the future. 

Youngest spent weeks making a papier mache Zor helmet, with some help from Eldest at the end.  Some painted cardboard pieces, black t-shirt, belt, a drawn on mustache and blue-black hair completed the outfit.  She did an excellent job.  Eldest used her postapocaliptiic regalia for a costume, which she's been working on for a couple months now.  Unlike a friend who's working on his at the same time, she had no access to home make swords and chainsaws, but she did make a very cool canteen out of an old-fashioned soda bottle, some leather scraps and strips of fabric. She made a holster for her replice flintlock, too.  We dyed her hair black, too, but that's just 'cause we had dye left over from doing Youngest's hair, and we had to waste anything.  Even hair dye. *L*

The kids didn't go out trick or treating, though.  We were at a loss as to where to go.  Certainly not our block-long street (oh, good news - the drug house at the end of the street was torn down.  That makes 2 down, possibly one more to go, though that house might actually be salvageable).   Eldest and accompany me to hand out candy at our co-op's lobby.  I dressed up at the last minute, going as a tacky diva.  Shiny, bright purple wig in a bob hairstyle, lots of make up and sparkles with a deep green gown.  Funny thing was, people actually didn't recognise me, and I got lots of complements on how well the purple looked on me. *L*

In our co-op, members donated candy over the past couple of weeks, then the social committee made up baggies for every kid in the complex.  There was extra for other kids in the inner-city housing on our street, too.  The baggies were all labelled with unit numbers and the names of the kids.  Even my two got one each - I wasn't sure if they would, since they're older.  These were very generous baggies!  One little girl came in and I had help her put it into her bag.  One stop and her bag was full! *L*  There was another little one with a bucket that it just wouldn't fit in.  Her mom had a bigger bag, though, so it went straight into there.

With halloween come and gone, we can focus on our next historically themed dinner.  I've now formally started a group for this, and we've got an email group to help organize things.  The girls chose the theme, since no one else volunteered to host.  Early settler, Canadian prairies.  We're not talking Little House on the Prairie, here, but even earlier.  It's turned out to be a challanging time period.  We ended up opening the time period up to include the first half of the 1800's because there simply weren't a lot of settlers on the Canadian plains before then.  It was mostly exploreres and traders.  We're after recreating meals eaten by the first agriculturalists, and quite frankly, they starved a lot.  It should make for some very interesting dishes.

What's cool, however, is that we're going to have 19 people for it!  Four families, including ourselves.  We'll even have a couple of story tellers among the guests, and interest in dressing up.  We've booked on of the multi-purpose rooms in our complex for the evening. 

It should be really great!