Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm Going to Smoke Again

The other day, before Precious' birthday, Deus Ex Machina went out shopping. Shopping is not something either of us really enjoy. He likes it even less than I do, and usually it's a chore we do together - shopping for the girls' gifts - which makes it not quite so awful - you know, misery loves company and all.

But my friend was coming over with her kids for a playdate before they headed south for the holidays, and there was just no other chance for us to get out together. So, he went alone.

There were a couple of very specific things Precious wanted. One was a union suit that she'd seen at the Army Barracks, which is both one of our favorite places to shop (I mean, for a thrivalist it doesn't get much better for finding all kinds of cool gadgets and sturdy cheap clothing) and a regional store.

Even though we knew we could find the union suit at the Army Barracks, they only had one, a red one, and we weren't sure it would fit her. We thought we would have a larger selection at one of the Big Box camping stores. Surely, a place like that would have long underwear.

And they did. The two-piece sets. For about four times (at $20 per piece!) what the union suit from the Army Barracks cost.

He called home so that we could discuss what to do. We decided he should go over to the Army Barracks. Then, he told me that he found something for me at the camp store, but he didn't tell me what. I just couldn't imagine what it might be. An LED lantern. A nifty knife. A solar shower. A composting commode. That .22 I've been eye-balling in the catalogs. The possibilities were mind-boggling.

When he got home, he handed me two bags of woodchips for smoking meat on our barbeque grill.

The man doth know and love me well ;).

During the summer, I bought woodchips from a vendor at the Farmer's Market ... just to try them out. It was one of those impulse buys, and I thought it might be itneresting to make smoked chicken.

I seasoned the chicken per usual, and then, we put it on its perch (a can filled with seasonings and inserted into the cavity so that the chicken is in an upright position while it cooks), and both the chicken and a pan of woodchips were placed on the barbeque grill

Oh, my ... taste buds singing the hallelujah chorus!

It was the best chicken I have ever had.


And we all know I eat a lot of chicken, because ... well, I raise it, right?

It was like bacon, only not so salty ... or greasy. It was nothing at all like bacon. It was better. Crispy where it should be crispy, and juicy and tender where it should be juicy and tender. I craved it for weeks afterward.

When we harvested the rabbits, I decided that the best way to cook the meat would be to smoke it on the barbeque grill, the way we'd done the chicken.

Unfortunately, I'd only purchased one small bag of woodchips from the lady at the Farmer's Market, as a trial, and after the success of the first smoked chicken, the plan was to get a few more bags - maybe some different types of wood (I'd purchased applewood for my trial run).

When I went back to the Farmer's Market a couple of weeks later, with the intention of getting another bag, school had started back, and half the vendors who were there during the summer, were no longer selling their wares, including the woodchip lady. I was bummed.

I tried chipping my own log ... with a hatchet. It didn't work very well. Grilled rabbit is okay, but it's definitely not the ode-inspiring palate pleaser the chicken was.

Two of the rabbits Deus Ex Machina harvested are in the freezer, and now, we have the woodchips Deus Ex Machina found at the camping store.

Thanksgiving is next week, and really, if one realizes that Thanksgiving is not about turkey and television, but about celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the generosity of the Earth during the past growing season, then one understands that this day, above all others in the year, is a locavore's ideal.

Several years ago, we were featured in the local newspaper for the all local Thanksgiving dinner we'd planned, which mostly consisted of the typical Thanksgiving Day fare.

I remember, at the time, there was a discussion in the locavore circles about they types of food we typically serve this time of year. If Thanksgiving really is about celebrating the bounty of the Earth, then the question is, if one lives in a place where cranberries don't grow, does it make sense to have cranberries at one's Thanksgiving Harvest feast?

And it really, kind of, doesn't.

I do happen to live where cranberries grow and so they will be featured in our celebratory dinner, but if the ideal is to celebrate nature's gifts from what we were able to grow, then we should have a few things that aren't typically on the menu.

Like smoked rabbit.

And we should also feature some of the things that nature grows without our help.

Like lobster.

This year, I'd love to ignore the hundred years of silly tradition and serve foods that really are representative of the Earth's gifts to those of us who happen to live in the coastal northeast.

If I could, I'd serve smoked rabbit, fresh greens salad, pickled beets, and potatoes - all grown on our quarter acre ...

... and lobster, creamed corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and baked apples (simmered in our own maple syrup) - all grown within 10 miles of where I live. It would be a true Thanksgiving feast - the shear volume and diversity of local foods where I live is incredible - and it would truly illustrate how much we have to be thankful for.

Especially Precious, who got that union suit she really wanted, and she hasn't taken it off since her birthday.

Does that make it her "birthday suit?"


  1. So have you actually smoked the rabbit yet? I'm dying to hear how it turns out. For all my culinary background, I've cooked rabbit only once or twice. We're still thinking about raising them for meat at some point, but we want to figure out whether or not we enjoy eating them before taking that plunge. And I know how lean rabbit meat is. So any tips you've got on cooking rabbit - please pass them along.

    As for applewood chips, I've got a LOT from our own tree. If it's applewood your heart is set on, we could do a barter!

    And the idea of a truly local Thanksgiving is awesome. The dishes I'm bringing to the clan meeting are all based on stuff from my garden. My extended family all contribute dishes, so it would be hard I think to get everyone on board for a fully locavore Thanksgiving. But it's certainly worth floating the idea, perhaps for next year. Our bird is coming from within 15 miles of home, pasture raised by my farmer friend.

  2. Ooooooh! Smoked rabbit is the yums. Except Dad used to do it in a smoke house (like a ham or bacon), then we would just cook it like normal whenever we got the hankerin' for some bunny wabbit.

    I dig your thoughts on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I am jealous, though. I wanna live somewhere that lobster is so abundant!!

  3. Hmmm...I've only ever had smoked salmon. It took all day to smoke, but man was it good!!! I guess I never thought to smoke other animals!

  4. you mean ya'll DON'T eat it (lobster) for Thanksgiving in place of turkey!! Good Lord!, if I lived in Maine, I'd be having me some lobster at every available opportunity! lol!

  5. Our family joins some friends every year for Christmas and we have lobster stew in place of other "traditional" Christmas fare. It's very yummy.

  6. Sounds like a great idea. Eat what you want to for T-day...the 'T' stands for Thanksgiving not turkey after all.

    Sometimes I wish my man was a hunter. He's not. If he was then wild turkey, venison, and wild pig could be on the menu along with just about any vegetable that grows in dirt(fantastic growing season here if I just got a garden going). We would be a little sparse on the berries though. I haven't seen a wild berry in the 20+ years I have lived in the region. We would also be a little sparse on the apples and other fruit. Most of this region is heavily developed and most of the trees here were planted with the new construction. Few if any planted fruit trees. There could however be wild mustang grape wine.

    Alas I do not have access to the wild turkey, venison, and wild pig so a store turkey has to do but, I am pretty certain that we will have some pecan pie with pecans we gathered ourselves this year.