Pass the Hasenpfeffer

The Easter Bunny stopped hopping by my house when I was about six.

He may have noticed the pens of rabbits in the backyard and realized that we took our bunnies pretty seriously. If he noticed the butcher block hung on the big tree back there, he probably made tracks into the next county immediately, spilling little black jelly beans along the way.

To make up for his sudden lack of love to our neighborhood, we invited all the local children over once in a while for butchering day.

We could’ve sold tickets, but we just wanted to share the stuff of nightmares around.

We just wanted to make things right.

You can’t be greedy with your cold sweat train wrecks, and the education these little friends received probably rises up, unbidden, into their frontal lobe even today, in the middle of corporate meetings or after their third martini.

They’ll thank us some day, if they need to go all Scarlett O’Hara and live off the land.

Eating rabbits are different from pet rabbits (little lop-eared litter-box-trained puffballs) or from game rabbits (Bugs Bunny and the Rabbit of Cairbannog).

You should try to learn the difference between pets, food, and entertainment.

The lines blur, I know, but as Duck Dynasty gets paid to point out, your dinner did not come from the grocery.

It came from the backyard.

And once in a while, we proved it.

When the rabbits were cleaned, skinned, quartered and wrapped, the show came to an end.

The dogs were running around with lucky rabbits’ feet in their mouths, the kids were running home to tell parents about their brush with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and we were running into the kitchen to see if Mom was gonna make dinner now.

And she was.

I sure miss rabbit for dinner, but the cottontails running around my current backyard are faster than I am.

I called to get the recipe just in case, exactly “The Way Mom Used to Make It”.

Mom: “I can’t believe we used to do that.”

Me: “Just try to remember, mom. This is for posterity. I will make sure everyone knows you are completely against hurting any animal of any kind.”

Mom: “I won’t even fish anymore. I used to love fishing. I just won’t hurt a fish.”

Me: “Okay. Pretend it’s a tofu bunny. How do I cook it?”

Mom: “Cooking rabbits are very tender and mild, not at all gamey. You can do it up like chicken, but there won’t be any skin so you lose a bit of fat in a recipe. You could bake it like chicken parts, but it will be slightly more stringy or chewy. It’s best stewed, I think.”

Me: “Cool. Tell me how.”

Mom: “I flour the pieces and brown them in hot oil in the bottom of my cast iron dutch oven. Then I put all the pieces back in, added maybe an inch of water, put the lid on and simmered it for about two hours. Check it now and then in case the water evaporates. Add a bit more, you don’t want it to run dry. Then add your veggies, potatoes or carrots or whatnot to the pot and simmer another hour or so until everything’s cooked through.”


Me: “Sounds like a roast beef.”

Mom: “Yes, and if we had crockpots then, that would have worked just as well. If you wanted to, you pulled out the food and added cornstarch or flour to the liquid and made up gravy for it.”

Me: “Gravy is my Alamo.”

Mom: “Well, cheat and add a packet of gravy mix from the store. It has all the spices and flavorings and thickenings done for you. Just stir it up.”

Me: “Thanks, mom. I may never eat another rabbit, but I will always have the memories.”

Mom: *deep sigh* “Wish I didn’t.”

Perhaps if we stuck to the German, it would sound palatable....

Perhaps if we stuck to the German, it would sound palatable….

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