A sharp crack rang through the woods; it was the distinctive sound of a .22 long rifle being fired. A few minutes later my oldest son walked up carrying a squirrel by the tail. That was number three for the morning, enough for a good meal. Half an hour later, we had all three dressed and soaking in a brine solution.
That was Saturday morning. Not a bad way to start the weekend.
Living Off the Land
As homesteaders, we like to live off the land as much as possible, growing our own veggies, raising our own meat and eggs, and harvesting the fruits of the land. Hunting is a vital part of our chosen lifestyle. It’s especially important to take your kids hunting with you. It teaches them to navigate the woods quietly, gets them outdoors, and it builds confidence in their abilities.
We like trying new things. It helps us to expand our palate during the good times so that one day, if hard times do befall us, we’ll be more accepting to or at least familiar with non-contemporary sources of food.
Trying new and non-contemporary food also helps to develop a since of openness to new things in our kids. When they see violets or chickweed in the salad, they may think we’re a bit loony but they are trying it and finding that it’s not so bad. And that’s good.
Squirrel & Dumplings
In a prior post, I shared our recipe for Squirrel Extraordinaire; it’s fine eating. This time, we made a favorite of many old-timers: Squirrel & Dumplings.
Squirrel & Dumplings
- 3 Squirrels, quartered
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons of lard
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 can of English peas
Soak the squirrels in a brine solution overnight. We use water and salt for our solution.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a roiling boil in a large stewpot and add the squirrels. Cover and let boil for approximately 1 hour.
While the squirrels are boiling, add the milk and lard to a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour and mix well. Adjust the consistency by adding additional milk or flour as needed. Knead the dough into a ball. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into your desired thickness. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into your preferred dumpling size.
Remove the squirrels form the broth. Bring the broth back to a boil and add the dumplings, celery, onions, and carrots. Let the veggies and dumplings cook covered for 15 minutes.
While the dumplings are cooking, remove the meat from the bones, being especially careful around the rib cage where the bones are fine.
Add the squirrel meat, salt, and pepper to the mixture and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Open and drain a can of English peas and add to the mixture, simmering for another 3 minutes.
Serve in a bowl with crackers or bread as a main dish and enjoy.
Have you tried squirrel, rabbit, goat, or other non-contemporary meats? What did you think? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?