Welcome Spring!

This Friday is going to be the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. Which basically means the time the sun is up will be equal to the time the sun is not up. Which means that here in England, Spring has finally sprung!

Like the other three seasons, I love Spring. There are many reasons to love it and many things to do. The days are going to get longer and warmer and melt into Summer.

The first thing I’m looking forward to is the beach! I’m an outdoor person in all weather, but something that’s very hard to do in Winter is go to the beach. Chilly wind, huge waves, flooding, sea spray, storms, beached animals and sand flying everywhere doesn’t really make the multi-hour trip to the coast worthwhile. But I’m not really much of a Summer beachgoer either. Direct sunlight for more than a few hours at a time, the intense heat and the holiday crowds don’t appeal. So Spring is when I like to get to the beach. We don’t go very often even when it is Spring, but I’m looking forward to when the air is warm enough to go out in a top and a light, airy skirt, the water is just cool, the wind is calm enough to sit for a picnic and the beach is empty enough to go for long walks, seek out mussels and crabs and just have a great time.

Until the weather is spot on and we have a series of days off in a row, though, our walks will remain landlocked, in the green countryside. I adore spring flowers. From the last nodding snowdrops to the first daffodils to the explosion of Summer wildflowers, Spring brings great colours and scents to the countryside and my garden. I look forward to collecting a variety of wild daffodils on our walks, watching the wildflowers and beds bloom in our garden and seeing my seedlings start to burst up and flower, ready to give us tasty fruit through Summer and Autumn. That is, if we get to them before the rabbits do!

A part of Spring I hate to love at the moment is all the little fuzzie baby animals. They’re so cute and bouncy, from lambs to rabbit kittens to ducklings. They break into my garden and eat everything they can get their grubby paws, hooves, mits, teeth and beaks into, but they look so cute and friendly, as all diminutive animals do. Don’t get me wrong, they’re going in the pot when they grow up. But whilst they’re tiny I like to look at them and think about when my babies will be running about the garden stepping on my peonies and eating the tomatoes off the vine.

And then, once the rain is dying back, onto Summer with delicious home-grown fruit and veggies, barbeques in the garden, picnics in the woods, mid-afternoon siestas and weightlifting outdoors.

But for now, let’s enjoy Spring.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What are your favourite parts of Spring? What are you planning on doing this Spring? Is it Autumn where you live? What are you looking forward to down there?

Recipe Corner. Roadkill Rabbit.

Yes, roadkill. Yes, recipe. It isn’t half as bad as it sounds!

But it’s EXACTLY what it sounds like.

Basically, we live in the countryside. And there are a few warrens around here. There happens to be one either side of the main road and one just down the lane. So rabbits are getting hit all the time, often right on our doorstep! Sometimes, we can walk down the road and on our way back there’ll be something there that wasn’t there 30min ago. Sometimes it’s pancaked, but others it’s surprisingly whole. This time, we took it home.

Slight amount of blood on the side of its head implies it was “nicked” by a car, rather than properly hit. Rigor-mortis hadn’t even set in and it was warm.

When we got it home, Jon tried to sever the spine to ensure it was 100% dead and not comatose. He missed by an inch, but the fact the throat-wound didn’t produce a flow of blood (more of a spatter) assured us the heart wasn’t beating any more. So the process could begin.

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Now, I’d seen people preparing rabbits in Spain, where they seem to be the predominant form life wishes to take (well, rabbits and cacti). However, I hadn’t done it myself. It appears that, like pheasant-plucking, it came naturally to me, as I did it over the sink and counter without instruction, relying on instinct and memory.

Step 1: Remove the feet. Snap them at the ankles and cut through the skin. Place to one side if you want to make lucky charms.

Step 2: Pierce the skin over the breast bone. This ensures a clean skin at the end and that you don’t puncture the organs before it’s skinned.

Step 3: Pull the skin away from the body and make a clean cut down the middle. Mine turned out at a bit more of an angle, but otherwise it was good.

Step 4: There should be a solid amount of ligament down the breastbone proper, cut this away.

Step 5: Peel the skin away from the chest.

Step 6: There is more strong ligament in the armpit and hip-joint areas, as well as on the knees and elbows. The best option is to cut a straight line down the inner thighs, remove the ligaments and just peel it off by turning it inside out.

Step 7: There are odd bits of strong ligament down the spine. Cut a ring around the neck, remove these ligaments and detach the skin.

Rigor-mortis started setting in near the end of the skinning, but I finished the job nicely. Whilst the description implies it would take longer, I wanted the fur, was working with a hardening animal and inexperienced and I only took around 20min, so it wouldn’t be that hard at all. Really, you could perform step 1, cut the head  and tail off, make a tear down the back and front and peel it in a minute. You could even bypass using a knife, like I did when removing the feet. All you really need is your hands.

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Fur and feet.

Bunny almost ready for food.

Bunny almost ready for food.

Step 8: Cut off the head. The reason I didn’t do this before is that it seemed easier to get a clean skin with the head still attached. I think it worked.

Step 9: I messed up this part a bit, so in case you do too, do it over the sink. Break the hips open. Make an incision directly under the ribs, running along the whole of the bottom of them. Peel the skin back. Insert your fingers between the ribs and the organs. When you find a strong ligament, pull down. The entirety of the offal should come out cleanly.

I managed to get it out cleanly, but in three parts. One was the diaphragm, as described above. The other was the heart and lungs, which I fished out later, along with that magical ligament. The last was the end of the colon which I cut out.

Washed and ready for butchering.

Washed and ready for butchering.

I cut it up into the four limbs, a front piece and a back piece and boiled it in salt water for an hour or so. This is to ensure it’s well-cooked, so any tiny risk of parasites is further reduced.

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Now comes the recipe!

Ingredients:

-1 cooked rabbit

-1 large onion

-4 medium carrots

-6 stalks of celery

-500ml of red wine

-5tbsp chilli olive-oil

-4 tbsp mixed herbs

-2tbsp pepper

-1tbsp onion powder

-1tbsp lemon juice

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-cooking pot

Recipe:

1: Wash, peel and chop the vegetables. Add them to the pot and pour the wine on top. Add the olive oil and then water until the vegetables are covered.

2: Put on a high heat and leave. Note: put the lid on. As the alcohol in the wine will be boiling at a lower temperature the veg will take slightly longer to cook-through, but by keeping the pot covered you can increase the temperature enough so that the difference is hardly noticeable.

3: Strip the rabbit off the bones. Cut any big bits of meat down to size. There should be a lot of meat, so make sure you get the loin, everything from the legs, the pectorals and the strips of meat under the ribs.

4: Once the veg is softened, add the rabbit and the remaining seasonings.

5: Simmer at a low heat until everything is coloured by the wine and the flavours have blended.

6: Serve. We had ours with a bit of wine on the side.

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I will dry the feet and tan the fur. Not sure what I want to do with them, though…