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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Project Faith loses second round in court

Clark Leming, attorney for Project Faith, Inc., lost a second round in court last week on April 9 in...

In case you missed it

In case you missed it

The lunar eclipse, the first of four consecutive lunar eclipses, began around 1 a.m. and lasted well...

Safety on the minds of students

Safety on the minds of students

Several citizens, teachers and school staff turned out on Tuesday to speak at the Town Council meeti...

Town Council considers a .25 cent increase in real estate taxes

During a long budget work session held on April 15 the council wrapped up discussions after almost f...

W&L's Andrea Roane granted a continuance on DWI charges

The principal of Washington & Lee High School has requested and received a continuance of her We...

Montross and Westmoreland County Museum kickoff Student Art Walk this weekend

Montross and Westmoreland County Museum kickoff Student Art Walk this weekend

April 12 to May 10

The Westmoreland County Museum will be hosting a local student art walk from April...


 

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King George

SETTING

Healthy kids

Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Healthy kids

Kids from throughout the King George community were excited to participate in the Healthy Kid’s Day Fun 1-Mile Run at the YMCA on April 12.

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Colonial Beach

SETTING

Safety on the minds of students

Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Safety on the minds of students

Several citizens, teachers and school staff turned out on Tuesday to speak at the Town Council meeting on April 10 to compel the council to approve funding for the high school repairs.

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Westmoreland

SETTING

W&L's Andrea Roane granted a continuance on DWI charges

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The principal of Washington & Lee High School has requested and received a continuance of her Westmoreland County General District Court appearance on charges of drunk driving and use of a handhel...

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Sports

SETTING

Drifters overpower W&L Eagles

Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Drifters overpower W&L Eagles

On Thursday, the Drifters won the first round of the annual Northern Neck war between the Beach and Washington & Lee, 17-0. Nick Graves went 3-3, with a grand-slam homer, a double, and a single th...

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Area Deaths

SETTING

Eunice V. Johnson

Friday, 04 April 2014

Eunice V. Johnson, of Alexandria VA, died on Friday, March 21, 2014 in Alexandria.

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Columnists

SETTING

Antiques Considered - April 16, 2014

Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Antiques Considered - April 16, 2014

This Victorian chandelier hangs in an old Northern Neck home.  The owner writes that it is not original to the house, but was an estate sale acquisition many years ago for $100.  The glass i...

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Office-for-rent Jrnl Bldg 20130925

Small game cooks up into tasty soups and tacos

Small game seasons are still going strong and judging by the number of squirrels visiting the area around my chicken coops and bird feeders, their numbers have increased or they are hard up for food.
Squirrels and rabbits make up most of the small game interest in our area and both are very tasty and easy to prepare into various meals. Perhaps the toughest part about cooking these fine meats is the field dressing and pre-cooking effort.
When I field dress my squirrels, I always skin them and then simply quarter the meat. There is little meat on the ribs so normally I won’t bother with it. Rabbit on the other hand can easily be skinned and quartered and the backstrap of a rabbit, particularly a large rabbit, is well worth a few extra cuts with a sharp knife to carve it out. That strip of boneless meat is prized at our house and is the first one to disappear.

Skinning either animal is easiest when the animal has been freshly harvested. All game is better when gutted quickly. Like deer or fowl, small game can be aged or tenderized. I prefer to do my meat tenderizing in the refrigerator though since skinning a cold squirrel that has been hanging for a few days is a candidate for a winch and a truck. Aging can be done for several days in a container that is airtight.
Rabbit tends to be tender compared to squirrel, but both can be prepared in such a way that the meat is very tender. Some people like to parboil or preboil the meat and then slow cook it in the oven. I prefer to cook slow, but remove the meat the moment it is done. One of the easiest ways to cook squirrel or rabbit and have it come out tender every time is to simply put the quarters in a slow cooker or Crock-Pot with a cup or so of water. The meat will fall off the bones after a full day (or overnight) of cooking. Then the chore is to simply pull out the bones. I also make a point to season my meat in the slow cooker so the flavor can have time to be absorbed.

Soups
Squirrel stew, also at times known as Brunswick Stew, is tasty, flavorful and healthy. I rarely see fat squirrels, so you don’t have to worry about eating too much fat!
After doing the prep cooking (see above) I usually start a vegetable brew of okra, carrots, onions, potatoes and green beans. You can vary your stew contents to your liking. Be sure to drop in some flavor such as beef cubes, garlic, or some sort of seasoning salt or spice. Sometimes I will add in rice the last fifteen minutes or so of cooking. Barley is a great ingredient to add to the mix. Throw in some other game meat and you can really cook up a flavor that will delight the taste buds. The same can be done with rabbit meat too.
The one thing that seems to really bring out the best in my homemade soups is the fact that I let them simmer a long time. It is not unusual on a snowy February day for me to let the stew cook all day long on low setting.
Leftover soups can be used later if you freeze them or can them. Canning soups is wonderful and really does not take a whole lot of preparation if you have the soup already made. Follow the recipe in your canning book for beef stew. On a bitterly cold, winter afternoon after working outside I love to come in and select a quart jar of squirrel stew or even deer stew out of our cabinet and pour it into a sauce pan to warm up. Campbell’s has nothing on it. Perhaps the visual of the cooked carrots, barley and meat through the jar makes it that much more scrumptious.
If you decide to use deer meat you can cube up any cut of meat and stir fry it prior to putting it in the soup. Be sure to cook the soup with the meat for a while to allow the venison to absorb the vegetable flavors. Venison roast can also be used if you have leftovers.

Tacos
Using the slow cooking preparation noted above you can shred the meat down further and then lightly fry it or warm it with some salsa before adding to a tortilla or hard shell. I prefer a warmed or even lightly fried tortilla to a hard shell, but it is all about preference. As long as the bones are completely removed and the meat has been seasoned to your taste the taco will really stand out as one of the best ones you have eaten while still being unique. Add fresh tomato, cheese, sour cream, etc.

Bonus idea
Sometimes after slow cooking the small game meat I shred it down as if I were going to make BBQ. Instead I will season it with my favorite seasoning (usually a Cajun mix of something mild) and then heat a skillet up with a light coat of olive oil. At this point you can add some bread crumbs to the shredded meat to help keep it intact and in a packed form. I have also used shredded potatoes and mixed it thoroughly with the shredded meat. Make the combination into a patty and drop into the skillet. Brown it on both sides and remove. Eat promptly with a side and some hot bread.
Hungry yet? A short walk in the woods should yield three or four squirrels, just enough to create one of the meals above.



Mark Fike


 

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