Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BBQ Cooking a Rabbit

My favorite cooking method for rabbit is BBQ cooking. Grilled rabbit or barbecued is great, and my favorite piece is the backstrap, or loin. If your rabbit is young, the meat will likely be pretty tender. If the rabbit is older, you might want to parboil it before grilling.
Just as there are several ways to dress a rabbit, there are lots of rabbit recipes for BBQ cooking. Some people like to soak the meat overnight in salted water. I usually prefer to use a wet rub on the meat, much the same as I would with pork or chicken. I use olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, ground red pepper, onion powder, and garlic. Form the mixture into a paste and rub the rabbit all over. Place the meat in a bowl, cover it, and leave it in the fridge for several hours.
Preheat your grill to around 300 degrees, or use the indirect cooking method over charcoal. Make sure your grate is clean and oiled. After the rabbit has cooked for about 45 minutes, start brushing it with your favorite barbecue sauce. Rabbit should be done in about another 15 minutes. At this point, I like to dunk the pieces of meat in the bbq sauce and cook them over high heat for a couple of minutes to caramelize the sauce.

How to Skin and Dress a Rabbit

If you’ve been successful with rabbit hunting, or if you’re raising rabbits as part of your survival plan, you’re almost ready for a rabbit meal. You’ve heard that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, right? The same holds true for rabbits. When handling uncooked rabbit flesh, you need to wear rubber gloves. Rabbits sometimes carry tularemia, a relatively rare but potentially deadly disease for humans.
After killing the rabbit, some people cut the head off immediately to let the rabbit bleed out. I’ve never done this, but it’s an option. I’ve found the easiest way to dress a rabbit is to remove the fur first.
To remove the fur quickly, lift up the hide and skin at the rabbits back and make a cut in it with a sharp knife. Be careful not to stick the knife point in the meat. Stick the forefinger and the middle finger of both hands into the slit and pull, like you’re playing an accordion. With younger rabbits, the hide will come off pretty easily. With older animals, it might be more difficult. If you notice grub-like worms under the skin, don’t freak out. These are warbles – bot fly larvae – and they pose no danger to humans as long as the meat is cooked properly.
Once you have the hide down to the feet and neck, you’ll need a small, sharp hatchet. Chop off the feet below the lower leg joints, and chop off the head. This can also be done with a good hunting knife.
Now the innards have to be removed. To do so, cut a slit in the belly skin, making sure not to penetrate the internal organs. You can gently “shake out” most of the organs, but be careful not to rupture the bladder. You’ll probably have to reach in under the ribs with your finger to get the heart, esophagus, and lungs. Don’t worry about cutting around the anus – that area will be cut away with butchering.
Next, lay the rabbit on its back and spread out the hind legs. Cut the back legs off at an angle, as close as you can get to the spine while avoiding the anus. Do the same thing with the front legs.
What you should have left of the body now is a point at the neck and a point that includes the anus. Cut straight across at both points, leaving the loin section.
You should now have five sections of rabbit meat – two front legs, two hind legs, and the loins. Rinse the meat thoroughly in cool water, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate. The meat should be kept at 35-40 degrees, unless you’re freezing it, of course.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Experience with Survival

For several years of my life, I was in survival mode. I didn’t do this because I couldn’t afford to buy food at the grocery store. I did it because I could. I enjoyed growing my own food and taking advantage of gathering and harvesting nature’s bounty. It gave me a deep feeling of accomplishment and security whenever I saw all my home-canned goods lined up neatly on their shelves and knowing that my freezers were full of meats, game, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
We kept pigs, beef cattle, goats, turkeys, and chickens, so we always had meat and eggs available. We also hunted for deer, quail, woodcock, doves, ducks, geese, rabbits, raccoons, and wild pigs. We also fished, crabbed, and netted shrimp. Sometimes we picked our own oysters and dug our own clams, too.
We had some fruit trees, but I also took advantage of wild fruits, including blackberries, blueberries, and mayhaws. I also gathered nuts and put them in the freezer.
We had our own milk cows, so we had fresh milk and cream. Sometimes I made my own butter and whipped cream.
I don’t do most of these things now because I can’t. For one thing, my health won’t permit it, and for another, I no longer have the land I once did. I can still share my knowledge and experience with you. Actually, I’m still into survival – it’s just taken on a different form. Now I find deals and buy in bulk and store the foods and other items in the barn or in my survival closets.
What I grew in my huge garden
Acorn squash
Bell peppers (all colors)
Brussels sprouts
Butter beans
Butternut squash
Cherry tomatoes
Cream forty peas
Cucumbers (slicing and pickling varieties)
English peas
Field peas (several varieties)
Ford hooks
Green beans
Hot peppers (several varieties)
Lettuce (several varieties)
Mustard greens
Pattypan squash
Plum tomatoes
Pole beans
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes (numerous varieties)
White acre peas
Yellow squash (two varieties)
Zipper peas

Frozen meats and poultry

Wild game
Frozen venison
Venison jerky
Frozen quail
Frozen doves
Frozen rabbit
Frozen duck

 Frozen fish and seafood

Canned vegetables
Green beans

Frozen vegetables
Whole kernel corn
Creamed corn
Yellow squash
Butter beans
Ford hooks
Garden peas
Field peas
Butter peas
Diced onions
 Diced bell peppers
Winter squash

Frozen fruits

Jams, jellies, and preserves
Apple jelly
Blueberry jam
Blackberry jelly
Peach jam
Pear preserves
Plum jelly
Mayhaw jelly
Pepper jelly
Scuppernong jelly
Strawberry jam
Watermelon rind preserves
Fig preserves

Pickles and relishes
Chow chow
Whole dill pickles
Dill pickle slices
Onion relish
Green tomato pickles
Bread and butter pickles
Cucumber lime pickles
Pickled okra
Pickled eggs
Pepper relish
Pickled peaches
Pear relish
Squash pickles
Watermelon rind pickles
Zucchini pickles

We also grew our own sugar cane for syrup. The syrup making was done in the fall.
I froze bags of shelled pecans.
I froze bags of boiled peanuts.
I parched and fried peanuts for snacks.
I toasted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
I usually grew a row of popcorn in my garden.
We kept honey bees.
We stored potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions.
I made my own sourdough bread.

Walking Up Rabbits

Hunting rabbits is a great survival strategy, and you don’t have to have rabbit dogs to be successful with rabbit hunting. With a little luck, you can bag a few cottontails all on your own, but you’ll need to be patient and alert. Before setting out on a rabbit hunt, it’s a good idea to scout a few areas to find out where the rabbits live and feed. Rabbits are usually out and about very early in the morning and late in the evening. These are the best times to observe rabbit activity from your automobile.
Once you’ve found where the rabbits are frequenting, decide on the gun you’ll use. For sport, a .22 rifle is a great choice, but if you’re hunting for survival and meat, use a shotgun loaded with #6 shot. I’ve always used a 12-gauge, but my old rabbit-hunting buddy always preferred a 16-gauge. An improved cylinder is best for short distances, like in heavy cover where you’ll likely be shooting.
Speaking of heavy cover, you’ll need to dress accordingly. Rabbits love thick, tight brush, and they seem to have an affinity for briars. If you’re planning on doing a lot of rabbit hunting, you might want to invest in a pair of hunting chaps or thorn-proof trousers. If not, wear the thickest pair of jeans you have. Rabbits are often found in swampy areas, so you’ll need a pair of waterproof boots, too. For safety reasons, wear a bright orange cap.
For rabbit hunting alone, use a walk-and-wait method. Take a few steps, then stop and remain motionless for a few seconds. Rabbits will often flush. If you have a sharp eye, you can sometimes spy a crouching bunny in dried grass or thickets. Forget about looking for the whole rabbit – their tawny fur blends in perfectly with dried vegetation. Instead, look for the small black marble that’s the rabbit’s eye.
If you get a good chance for a headshot, take it. If the rabbit is moving, you’ll need to lead it a little. You won’t usually have a lot of time to think about this, however, so always be on the ready.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Survival and Jerky

Jerky is great for survival. It’s high in protein, and it lasts a long time without refrigeration. All jerky isn’t equal, however, when it comes to its own survival. Beef jerky usually holds up the longest, especially if it’s made from lean beef. Jerky made from lean meat, in general, keeps for longer periods of time than jerky made from meats with a high fat content. Also, jerky that was made commercially almost always has a longer shelf life - up to a year - than homemade jerky. Another important point: jerky made from wild game won’t keep as long as jerky made from beef.
So, is it a big waste of time making your own venison jerky? Absolutely not! Making jerky from deer and other wild game animals is a great way to preserve some of the meat. Homemade jerky from deer, for example, will usually stay good for about three months at room temperature, when stored in a dark, cool, dry place. You can keep it a lot longer, however, if you store it in the freezer.
Freezing jerky is good for survival. Since most of the moisture has been removed in the drying process, jerky is a concentrated form of protein. It won’t take up nearly as much room in your freezer as the same amount of protein would in its normal state.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fried Squirrel and Mushroom Gravy

Fried squirrel is a southern food that's quite tasty when prepared correctly. Young squirrels are more tender, and they have better flavor, as older critters can be tough. If you’ve killed a mess of older squirrels, however, they can still be good to eat – they just take a little more work. Most hunters prefer to parboil them in some salted water for a few minutes before frying.
There are several different ways to cut up a squirrel for frying. I like to make each squirrel into three pieces: the front legs section, the back, and the hind leg section. Some people fry whole dressed squirrels, too. Rinse the squirrels well and rub each with salt and pepper. Cover with buttermilk and store in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Remove squirrels from buttermilk and shake in flour. Fry in about an inch of oil on medium heat until both sides of the squirrel meat are brown. Remove squirrels from skillet and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil. Stir in 2 cans cream of mushroom soup and water to make gravy. Be sure to scrape bottom and sides of pan. Add the fried squirrels back to the pan, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until squirrel meat is tender. Great served over rice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Deer Hunting Rifles: Pros and Cons of Each

Deer rifles: The Old Favorites
Deer hunting is a great strategy for survival. Venison tastes just like good beef when prepared correctly. Venison can be used to make venison burgers, venison jerky, and deer sausage. A venison roast can be baked in the over, on the stove in a Dutch oven, or smoked on a smoker. Small pieces of the meat can be turned into venison stew, while the venison steaks are delicious when battered and fried. Also, venison tenderloin can be cooked on the grill just like beef steaks. Click for the best venison recipe I’ve ever eaten – EVER! All of these are great survival foods.
If you’re new to deer hunting, you’re probably wondering about the best hunting rifles and other deer hunting tips. Actually, there is no one “best” deer hunting rifle. If you were to as 25 deer hunters to name the best caliber hunting rifle for whitetail deer, chances are that you’d get close to 10 or 15 different answers. A lot depends on the particular hunting conditions where the hunter will be shooting. For example, are you looking for a hunting rifle that’s excellent for long-range shots in open country? Or do you need a short-range hunting rifle for close shots in heavy vegetation? Do want a hunting rifle just for whitetails, or do you need one that can take down larger game, too? Are you interested only in deer hunting rifles for which you can find ammo easily that’s relatively inexpensive? All of these elements must be considered when you’re trying to decide which caliber deer hunting rifle is best for you and your hunting situation.
Below are short descriptions of thebest hunting rifles and most popular deer rifles.
The .243 Deer Hunting Rifle
Although it’s a popular deer hunting rifle with young hunters and with female hunters, the .243 hunting rifle sometimes gets a bad rap. Some hunters report that it doesn’t have enough stopping power and complain of wounded deer running off after being hit, along with causing blood-shot venison. The problem is most likely not the rifle – it’s the bullet. A lot of .243 shooters use an 80-grain bullet because it’s faster, but for deer, a heavier bullet is better – one with at least 100 grains.
With the right ammo, the .243 deer hunting rifle is great for long-range shots. It doesn’t have much of a kick, and it has a flat trajectory. This is a popular hunting rifle with smaller hunters because the recoil is only 8.4 pounds.

The .30-06 Hunting Rifle
The .30-06 is a fine hunting rifle for deer, and it’s one of the most popular. It’s typically fast and light, and it’s extremely accurate. It has a flat arc, even at 300 yards. With this hunting rifle, you’ll have a wide selection of bullet weights and loads from which to choose, and ammo is easy to find. One of the few complaints with this hunting rifle is that it hits pretty hard at ranges under 100 yards. It also has a fairly hefty kick at 20 foot pounds.
7mm Hunting Rifle
Many deer hunters prefer a 7mm, but in truth, this hunting rifle is better suited for larger game. It’s also better suited for larger hunters because of its kick – 24.3 foot pounds. This rifle has amazing knock-down power. Unfortunately, it often makes a huge entrance hole and exit hole in whitetail deer. It’s also very loud.
If you’re searching for kind of an all-purpose hunting rifle that can be used for several types of big game, however, the 7mm would be a good choice.
The .308 Deer Hunting Rifle
In my opinion, these are the best hunting rifles for deer. It’s what I used most of the time. The .308 is good for long ranges, and it enjoys an excellent performance history for shots over 200 yards. It has plenty of knock-down power for whitetail deer and is sometimes used for larger game like black bears.
Many hunters feel that the .308 has a little more accuracy than the .30-06, even though the two rifles are comparable. The .308 has a recoil of 14.8 foot pounds, so it doesn’t kick as hard as the .30-06. In the past, you could find plenty of cheap military surplus ammo for practice shots. About the only disadvantage reported by some hunters is that the .308 doesn’t typically handle heavier loads as well as the .30-06.
The 7mm-08 Hunting Rifle
The 7mm-08 is gaining popularity as a deer hunting rifle. It’s actually a .308 that’s been necked down to accept a 7mm bullet. These are very versatile deer hunting rifles. The 7mm-08 is fast, accurate, and has a flat trajectory that’s capable of long-range shots, while it’s also good at short range. In addition, the recoil is fairly mild. It’s a little faster and has a slightly flatter arc than the .308.
The disadvantage with this hunting rifle is that factory loads are often difficult to locate.
The .300 Hunting Rifle
The .300 is a good deer hunting rifle for short and medium-range shots. It’s also a good all-around hunting rifle for big game like moose, elk, and bear. One problem with the .300 as a deer hunting rifle is that it can mess up a lot of meat on a whitetail. Also, the trajectory drops about 12 inches at 300 yards. This isn’t the best hunting rifle for smaller hunters, either, because of its kick – 27.2 foot pounds.
The .270 Deer Hunting Rifle
These are good deer hunting rifles for long ranges, with a reputation for accuracy. The .270 has a moderate recoil, at 15.7 foot pounds. This is a very versatile rifle that can be shot by almost all hunters.
Another advantage you’ll often find with the .270 is that you can often find a good deal on a used one because they’re not as popular as a .308 or .30-06 in many areas of the country. Also, the cartridges are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
The .30-30 Deer Hunting Rifle
More whitetail deer have probably been taken with these deer hunting rifles than with any other. If you hunt in heavy brush at close range, the .30-30 will perform well, especially for shots under 100 yards. It can blast through vegetation like nobody’s business, and the recoil, at 11.4 pounds, is fairly mild when compared to many other deer rifles.
Ammunition for the .30-30 is readily available and can be found just about anywhere. Another advantage is that this hunting rifle is one of the least expensive deer rifles on the market.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Save Money on Meat

I said in the beginning that this blog wouldn’t be just about survival in the traditional sense – it’s really more about day-to-day economic survival. Nowhere is that hitting Americans harder than in the grocery aisles – except for at the gas pump. I told you how you could save a little money on buying gas in an earlier post. Here, I’m going to tell you how to save money on groceries - in this case, meat, which is probably the bulk of your grocery spending, unless you’re vegetarian.
How to Save Money on Beef
When you’re craving a nice grilled steak, you might just go into sticker shock when you see the price tags on T-bones, Porterhouses, rib eyes, and New York strip steaks. Forget about it! Instead of buying those pricey cuts, buy chuck-eye steaks. They’re a heck of a lot cheaper, and when you tenderize them correctly, they’re great on the grill! Try wrapping them in bacon after tenderizing. For tips on tenderizing meats, click.
If you’re planning on splurging and buying filets for a special occasion, don’t. Filets rarely go on sale, and even when they do, they’re cost prohibitive for most people. Wait for Porterhouse to go on sale, instead. One side of a Porterhouse is tenderloin, and the other side is a strip steak. Cut the meat from the bone, and you’ll get two steaks from each Porterhouse.
A lot of folks concerned about fat and cholesterol pay extra for extra-lean ground beef. They also think they’re getting a bargain in the long run because less is cooked off in the form of fat. True, but extra-lean ground beef has a higher water content than fatty ground beef. Buy the cheap ground beef, crumble and fry it, then place it in a colander. Place the meat under running hot water and rinse it to remove most of the fat. If you want to be really frugal, place a pan under the colander as it drains and save the beef broth. Freeze it in bags for the next time you make soup.
How to Save Money on Chicken
When it comes to survival food, chicken is chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are usually about $4 a pound in our neck of the woods, while leg quarters comprised of drumsticks and thighs can be found for 69 cents – sometimes cheaper – when they go on sale. You do the math.
The cheapest leg quarters are usually sold in large bags. Buy a big bag and separate it into meal-size portions and freeze. If you prefer, cook all the meat in a large pot and remove it from the bones. Cool the meat and divide it into meal-size portions and freeze. Use it for casseroles, chicken salad, soups, chicken and dumplings, chicken and rice, chicken and dressing, etc. Don’t throw out all that fat and broth, either! Freeze it for future use.
How to Save Money on Pork
Center-cut pork chops are delicious, but they’re expensive. Use pork steaks, instead. Save even more money on pork by purchasing shoulder roasts or fresh hams and slice your own pork steaks for frying, grilling, baking, and stir-fry recipes.
When you’re craving cured ham, buy a picnic (shoulder) ham instead. These are usually significantly cheaper, and they taste much the same as traditional ham. Save any remaining slices in the freezer for future meals. Freeze small lean pieces for adding to casseroles, ham salad, and scrambled eggs. Freeze chunks of fat for seasoning vegetables.
How to Save Money on Fish
The best way to save money on fish is to catch your own! Fishing is fun and easy, and it provides a healthy food for free. Fish is versatile, too, and can be cooked in a wide variety of fish recipes. Don’t throw out leftover fish, either. Remove the skin and bones and save the flesh for soups and chowders. For some saltwater fishing tips and a recipe for fish chowder, click the link. This recipe uses sheepshead, but any lean fish can be used, including bass, bream, catfish, flounder, seatrout, whiting, redfish, grouper, snapper, tilapia, etc.
How to Save Money on Meals
Don’t throw out leftovers if you’re concerned about survival foods. I always keep a “soup bag” in my freezer. Whenever we have leftover meat and veggies during the week, I add them to the bag. At the end of the week, or whenever the bag contains enough food, I make a big pot of soup.
Serve a meatless dinner once or twice a week. Use eggs, instead. Eggs are much cheaper than meat, yet they’re high in protein. Such dishes might include scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, frittatas, or egg-drop soup.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Survival and Raising Pigs

Pork is a favorite southern food. It's high in protein, it's versatile, and it's delicious. Raising pigs is a great idea for survival, if you have the room. Of course, raising pigs doesn’t require as much room as raising cattle, but it’s not like you can keep a pig or two in your city apartment. If you live in a rural area, or even in a non-rural area where it’s legal to keep livestock, you won’t need a lot of room for keeping pigs.
What do Pigs Require?
Pigs require what most animals require: food, shelter, and water. Pigs do better on a diet of quality pig feed, but in a survival situation, they can also turn acorns, roots, kitchen scraps, and garden refuse into high quality, protein-rich pork. A word of caution: Never feed pigs meat scraps or any food that has been in contact with meat, as it could spread dangerous diseases. Kitchen scraps that are safe to feed to pigs include trimmings from fruits and vegetables, stale bread, leftover cooked vegetables, rice, corn, potatoes, etc., as long as they contain no meat and didn’t come in contact with foods containing or seasoned with meat.
Pigs also need shelter. Because they don’t sweat, pigs need a cool place to escape hot weather. They’ll also need a warm place to stay in very cold weather.
Pigs need plenty of cool, clean water to stay healthy. They should have access to this water at all times.
Piglets or sows?
If you decide to raise pigs for survival and independence, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy some small piglets to “grow out,” or whether you’ll want to buy gilts or sows that will reproduce. Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages.
If you choose to grow out a few young pigs, you won’t have to deal with breeding and farrowing. In essence, you’ll get a headstart on raising pigs. The downside is that you’ll usually end up paying more.
If you buy gilts or sows, they’ll have to be bred to give birth to a litter of piglets, obviously. This means either keeping a boar yourself or paying a boar owner for breeding services. Sometimes you might be able to find gilts or sows that have already been bred.
By keeping your own gilts and sows, you can quickly increase the size of your herd. A female pig can give birth to as many as 18 or 19 piglets, although the average is more like 8-12.
Uses for Pork
It takes only a few months for a pig to go from newborn to large enough to butcher, which is another reason raising pigs is a good long-term survival strategy. The pork can be used fresh, or it can be smoked or cured. In fact, the entire pig can be used for human food. “Scraps” can be made into sausage, the fat can be rendered into lard, and the fatback can be used to season food or fried into pork rinds. Even the feet can be used! Many folks pickle them in a vinegar solution.