I had this crock-pot meal as a kid. My Uncle took me hunting for the first time, joined by my two cousins, all three being seasoned hunters. Up to then all I had ever used a firearm for was target shooting and busting clay pigeons with my Dad. Before we left the house for the woods my Uncle took the time to explain to me that hunting was not for "fun" or to just go about killing annoying things (relax, you're safe, star LOL) - but rather a skill to be used out of necessity, whether it be food, clothing or whatever - as long as all parts were used... and respected.
He told me that we were going hunting for squirrel, as they were abundant on his property and "tasty" ...a few hours later I spotted one in a tree, nibbling on some kind of nut or seed carefully held between it's tiny front paws. So I quietly lined up my sights, braced for the kickback, squoze the trigger and fired.
I got him right in the ass.
He fell from his branch with his two little paws still locked around that nut or seed no longer needed to provide sustenance to either himself or his squirrel-family.
He lay there, maybe 20 feet away, alive, bleeding and missing one rear leg. His mouth was as wide open as a squirrel's mouth could be, gasping for air like a fish out of water.
My uncle and I looked at each other as if we were aliens from other planets attempting to communicate for the first time. I turned to look at my squirrel and my uncle explained that I needed to end his misery. The suffering had to end. It was the right thing to do... and while tears began to form as a reaction to what I had just done, I raised the rifle. It was real-life in slow-motion, the gentle movement of leaves sounding like a thousand rattler snakes, the colors of Mother Nature never so vivid. I could smell the universe spin around me.
The squirrel looked at me. I mean, really LOOKED at me, silently pleading to end the pain. And spoke to me... it was OK to have done what I just did and he forgave me. It understood it was a teaching lesson and as long as it didn't go to waste, it was "all good". Sometimes I wonder why the "human" race can't do the same for each other without repercussion when the quality of life has gone..
I stood over the squirrel, looking into it's tiny black eyes that, if human, would have been filled with tears of pain and agony, begging me to please end it.
The second shot hit it's target and the pain was gone.
And we all walked back to the house, silent and lost in our own thoughts and worlds. And after we arrived I was taught, while still in a spinning, dizzying, silently screaming Salvador Dalí-like world, how to gut and dress. I learned the horrific procedures as my prize's entire being was stretched, salted, dried and made into a small, incredibly soft pelt. The organs were fed to the dogs and the meat placed into a stew pot.
I now knew the true value of life.
I often wonder about that squirrel's "family" and that animals have feelings, too. If they didn't there would be no survival instinct. And how odd it is that we as a species can kill for recreation or to simply cause pain to prove a point in an empty moment of vengeance. And again, we are the only species that practices vengeance and uses violence to get others to comply with our own individual ideologies. Look at how Columbus dealt with the native Indians after stumbling upon "American" soil.
And that we also are the only species on the planet that abuses free-will and often chooses to self-destruct by suicide when we selfishly decide that there is nothing to live for.
Having said all that, the stew was delicious. Years later a friend brought a dressed turkey into my shop. He had hit it just a few hours prior with his truck but it was not bruised in the edible portions. Still, it was fresh roadkill. I'll say it again... ROADKILL! And I've always sworn that I would never eat roadkill.
It was delicious. Probably the best turkey I've ever had. Another animal had given it's life to fill our bellies. And we ate every last bite in caveman-tribal-like respect, often wiping the saliva from our chins as we sliced another piece and slobbered it down while talking about our day and marinating not just in food, but companionship.
Please remember where the food on your plate came from. Hmmm... odd how I'm posting this so close to thanksgiving...
Anyways, here's the resipe for my Uncle's squirrel stew... I love crock-pot meals... it makes about four healthy-sized servings. It's also good with rabbit (in the same proportions)...
Uncle Eddie's Squirrel Stew
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 cups baby carrots (pr thick-sliced)
4 large potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 large green bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
4 cubes chicken bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
3 squirrels - skinned, gutted, and cut into pieces
water to cover
2 tablespoons flour
8 hrs 25 mins
Place the onion, carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, garlic, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper in your crock-pot. Lay the squirrel meat on top of the vegetable mixture. Pour enough water over the mixture to cover completely. Don't stir just yet. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours. Stir the flour into the mixture and cook about another 2 hours.
Then enjoy - it's a heart-healthy meal that's very tasty and quite filling - and like any other crock-pot recipe it's even better re-heated after a night in the fridge.
I write this on 9/11 - it strikes me odd how the pain and deaths of thousands does not always equal or trump the the pain or death of one, even a squirrel, who gave their life to ensure that others may continue their own.
Be thankful for your next meal - it may be your last. You never know...