Bunny in my freezer

bunnies

No one with a heart beating in their chest could possibly look at this picture and think, “Man, do they look delicious!” I grew up in the era where little children ran around with rabbit’s feet for good luck and did not think my fellow grade-schoolers barbarians. I actually coveted the rabbit fur coat of friend and not once imagined the skinning of these creatures as part of the process. Yet when the thought of eating rabbits hits, I am positively overcome with sadness and revulsion. A quick recap, you can carry their feet out of superstition and wear their lovely fur and I’m fine with it. Eat them and I freak out.

Our friend, Chris, who is Mr. Sustainable, surprised us with a cooler full of wonderful meat from his farm this summer. Grass-fed,hormone-free beef, free-range chicken and you guessed, one little bunny. I was delighted  for the the beef and poultry but the bunny? I tried to give it back. Ignoring my protestations of, “But I won’t eat it. I won’t even cook it. You monster!” He informed me that I was no kind of pioneer if I could not eat a rabbit. He doesn’t call them bunnies, which probably makes it easier for him, heathen.

According to WeEatRoadKill.com (not a real site), bunny tastes a lot like chicken. The question lingers, why not just eat chicken then? We are already used to eating chicken, why branch out? The smarty pants response is, what if chickens weren’t available? What if  the only thing around was rabbit? My answer: what if horses fly and leave gigantic piles of poop on top of my house? Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, hmm?

Yet I take this whole bunny in my freezer thing as a personal challenge to prove my worth as a woman of the earth, pioneer stock if you will. You could double dog dare me to eat it but I wouldn’t budge but challenge my grit and I’m pissed. How am I going to do it? I think I’d have an easier time eating my neighbor’s guinea pigs, cause let’s face it, they aren’t “bunny” cute. Don’t panic Jen, I won’t eat them, I’m just saying…

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What the @&#%?

Annaslide

Sometimes, for the sheer entertainment factor, I try to imagine what real pioneers would have made of our modern conveniences.

One of my favorite imaginings is showing up on the prairie with a Jumparoo, that magical piece of equipment deemed a necessity for the modern baby. The Jumparoo allowed me to exhaust my baby whilst doing important things like loading the dishwasher, running the vacuum or taking a bubble bath ( I brought the Jumparoo into the bathroom with me… genius, I know). A real pioneer mom could have made bread for the week, hauled water, fed the animals and killed a chicken without worrying that her baby would accidentally crawl into a flaming hearth. In fact, had they had the Jumparoo on their wagons as they climbed the Rockies, I venture to guess they would have dumped their grandma’s china beside the road before letting go of what could have been a very important part of pioneer motherhood.

Can you imagine what the pioneers would have made of modern grocery stores, where Cheetos, candy bars and laundry soap abound? The sheer shock and awe that we as a society treat such things as commonplace would certainly overwhelm. Not to mention how much easier their lives would have been with sanitary supplies, toilet paper, Vicks vapor rub, Tylenol and Zoloft.

Last weekend, we took the girls to Super Bounce in Salem for a birthday party. I had not yet experienced the wonders of such a place and was momentarily struck mute by what my eyes beheld. Actually, my first thought was, no effin WAY! My second  was that of envy as I wouldn’t be allowed to climb up and whiz down that super-amazing slide. And finally, my third thought; the real pioneers would have crapped their pants to think that in a matter of a century, their future kin would be jumping around in over-sized blow up contraptions. With their everyday survival, who would ever have the time, money, inclination to build something so outrageous just to entertain children? Children, who  in their time, would be needed to work as soon as they could walk to help keep the family alive.

Ah, the joys of modern  pioneering! While we yearn to get back to the earth, and we are, we are still fully relishing the convenience of raising our children in the modern world. Here’s to being a New Pioneer and not a real one.

The Golden State, Where the Water Runs Yellow

yellow_water

We currently have an old friend visiting us from California. It is food for our souls to be together again, reminiscing of old times and planning future adventures.

Beth, who grew up in California, has been updating us on the drought situation there. We are bemoaning the aspects of drought we already know about; crop failure being the most worrisome. Anyone can live without a beautiful green lawn. We had to our last year in California and were only allowed to water our lawns for twenty minutes once a week. Why bother. But now it’s not just lawns that are affected. Now, it’s our very food source. California supplies nearly fifty percent of fruit and vegetables for the whole country. Being that the Golden State is now the driest it’s been in a hundred years, this is seriously going to affect produce supply and costs.

What we haven’t heard about before was what is happening in towns where the water is already running dry. Beth lives in such a town. On the surface it is a beautiful little artists community in the San Gabriel Mountains; a place anyone would want to live and raise a family. Yet several months ago her town had to change its water source because of the drought. Where is the new water coming from? Don’t know. What we do know is that the water is coming out of the tap yellow.We were shocked to hear this. How can you palm off yellow tap water to a whole town without people freaking out? We asked her what the local paper is saying and what the town officials are saying. Here’s the party line, “The water, while yellow, is perfectly safe. Just don’t give it to your animals.” What?! It’s shades of West Virginia with the small exception that this has been going on for months with no foreseeable end in sight. Don’t give it to your animals! Why? How can you cook, bath and drink water that is unsafe for your animals?

What I know is this.California was not named The Golden State because the tap water was yellow, until now.

Comfort Food on the Prairie

Picture 241

There’s nothing quite like roasted root vegetables on a cold winter day. Pair them with a fabulous meatloaf and you’ll be a rock star in your own house. Add an apple crisp and you’ll be signing autographs and getting your feet rubbed, not. How I wish that last part were true. Nevertheless, your tummies will be happily filled with the bounty from your garden and contentment will reign.

Roasted Veggies

  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
  • 12 brussel sprouts, cut in half
  • 12 small red beets, quartered
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh minced thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large glass bowl combine all veggies.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar and spices.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over veggies and mix well.
  4. Transfer to two cookies sheets and bake 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir occasionally and switch racks half way through.

Meatloaf

Home-style Meatloaf

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds lean ground Turkey (although beef is yummy too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 slices of fresh bread crumbs (I use multi grain)
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¾ tsp dried basil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix ground meat, minced onion,spinach, eggs, bread, water, ketchup, salt, pepper and basil.
  2. Shape mixture into a 9 X 5 greased loaf pan.
  3. Bake  for 1 ½ hours. Pour off juices before serving.

Squash and Apple Pie Crisp

Apple Crisp

  • 12-15 Granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1-1/2 cups golden brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place slice apples into 9 x 12 x 2 glass casserole dish (or something relatively close)
  3. Sprinkle the apple liberally with cinnamon.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oatmeal and flour. Mix in butter until nice and crumbly.
  5. Pour the crumble over the apples and bake for 40-45 minutes.

It goes without saying that you need to serve this warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice-cream.

The Worst Pioneer, EVER!

wonderland

The last few days have gotten me to thinking about what the real pioneers had to deal with in order to survive. We are experiencing some uncommon weather for our neck of the woods and while I grew up in “real” weather, in the Mid-West, I have not had to deal with it in many, many years. Two days ago a foot of snow got dropped on us and while we were all, “Oh how pretty! I hope its good packing snow! and Who wants more hot chocolate?” the reality of the situation hit home today now that we are under a Severe Winter Storm Warning. This includes dire suggestions that you leave the house only in case of real emergency. This just in, the state does not consider running out of milk a real emergency. Luckily, we have plenty. It also includes predictions that we will be without power at some point for at least several hours as the ice starts to snap power lines and tree branches start coming down. Eek!

Pioneer Husband, Jimmy, is outside digging out our walk and driveway before the 15 or so inches of snow turns into solid ice. Good man. I , on the other hand, am running around higgledy-piggledy trying to prepare in all ways that seem important to me. These are the very things the real pioneers would have scoffed at and picked me as the first one for certain death.

1.  I have to vacuum if I won’t be able to do so for some undisclosed amount of time.

2. I feel strongly that we should all wash our hair and blow it dry because apparently dirty hair isn’t the way I want to spend the next day or two.

3. I just got done boiling 2 kinds of noodles and defrosting a big hunk of chili so that we can more easily heat dinner over a can of Sterno.

4. I’m not sure why, but I feel the need to clean the bath tub while I can still see the dirt. I am aware that this makes little to no sense.

5. I’m washing clothes that don’t really need washing. Why? I don’t want to be a dirty pioneer. Oxymoron much? Emphasis on the moron.

6. In addition to charging phones, which is smart, I am also charging the video camera and regular camera in case the perfect photo op presents itself while the power is out.

7. I am making a batch (make that a double batch) of chocolate chip cookies. Pioneer husband wonders why as we have a freezer full of baked goods. To which I answer, “They won’t be fresh, they won’t be warm!” Knowing full well that they won’t stay warm for long anyway, but I HAVE to do it.

8. I check up on the storm via the internet every ten minutes or so while I still have power. Of course the dire warnings stand and nothing changes but I feel the need to read and reread them ad nauseum.

9. I am letting the pioneer children watch WAY more tv than normal or even healthy by absorbing all the Madeleine they can stomach while I prepare for the worst.

10. In addition to all the idiotic things I’m doing, I’m also getting all the batteries and flashlights out, making a list of things Pioneer Husband needs to bring in from the shed (Advil, propane heater, popcorn…) and searching the house for a good book to read by candle light.

And the whole while I’m doing all this stuff, I’m well aware that the real pioneers would look at me like an alien species. That, my friends is why I’m a New Pioneer and not an old one. Wish us luck!