Bunny burgers, anyone?

A wild looking DJ confronted me last night as I returned from a choir rehearsal, brandishing a knife. “Don’t come in the kitchen, dear,” he warned me, his face glowing like a ripe beetroot, “You wouldn’t like it.” I ignored his pleas and pushed past him in search of a glass of water, doing my best to ignore the grey fluff peeking out of a plastic bag in the sink.

The SAS Survival Handbook lay open on the coffee table and even our laptop featured a particularly gory selection of YouTube videos. No, DJ wasn’t re-enacting scenes from The Shining in my absence, but attempting to skin a rabbit for the first time.

My bartering friend John got in touch yesterday morning. “I’m going shooting so I might have a rabbit for you,” he yelled over his crackly mobile phone. “If you’re not in I’ll leave it in a bin bag on your doorstep,” he added, worryingly. This was great, I thought, but not if my elderly next-door neighbour stumbled over it accidentally in the dark. Mind you, no doubt she has a stronger stomach than me, so she would probably be fairly sanguine about it all once she got over the initial shock.

As a soppy animal lover and a complete coward I wondered if I would be able to bring myself to look in John’s bin bag when it arrived, let alone skin it. Last year DJ and I attended a wild food course and just watching an expert skinning a rabbit turned me green. At the time I really thought I was going to vomit.

In the end John turned up while I was out and DJ agreed to skin it, being of a less neurotic disposition. Unfortunately we only had six eggs and our straight barter – rabbit for eggs – was for a dozen, so John will have to pop round later in the week to collect the rest when the girls have produced them.

So tonight rabbit stew is on the menu. And with food prices apparently spiralling it will be interesting to eat a meal for which we have essentially paid nothing, merely bartered our own goods. In some supermarkets people are spending 50 per cent more on free range eggs and the price pasta, rice and potatoes have risen sharply because of tighter supplies, increased demand and differing weather patterns.

Perhaps in some cases bartering may be the answer. But not everybody has the opportunity. We live near the countryside but if you live in an urban environment freshly shot rabbit probably isn’t an option! However, using a supermarket comparison website like mysupermarket.co.uk can help you compare prices of groceries from store to store. Here’s a good article on ten ways to save money on your shopping.

But I also think meal planning and making shopping list and really sticking to it is vital considering all the tricks supermarkets use to try and get you to buy things you don’t need. I try to avoid shopping when I’m hungry, and online shopping can be a good way of getting around this, as long as you buy enough to avoid paying a delivery charge depending on the supermarket you use. And avoiding waste is another issue. Apparently UK consumers throw away seven tonnes of food every year, so if we cut down on that we could all save a small fortune. I try not to have too much meat sitting in the fridge in case we forget to eat it and have to throw it out. Plus if there are leftovers I save them for my lunch or freeze them if I can.

Also buying grain and pasta in bulk can be more frugal. Maybe I don’t have a sensitive pallet, but I don’t notice any taste different between cheap and expensive pasta. On the other hand, I don’t like buying cheap meat. I prefer to eat less of it and have something that is better quality. So now if I make a stew, for example, I use just half the amount of meat and add more vegetables. While we should be careful to save money, we shouldn’t cut back on our nutrition and should make a point of enjoying our grub. After all, it’s one of the few vices I’ve got! Oh – and avoid buying popcorn at the cinema!

Are you affected by rising food prices? Where do you source cheap food from?

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35 Responses to Bunny burgers, anyone?

  1. rik says:

    Can\’t fault you on the rabbit, You know it hasn\’t been force-fed any chemicals etc. It\’s lived on the best stuff it can find and had as natural a life as possible. Don\’t envy the skinning though, or the gutting (which I suspect would have been done before you got it) that takes some getting used to smell wise! I haven\’t done that for years but I can still remember what it was like!

  2. robert says:

    sounds like you got the right idea going on here, living in the countryside i spose it is easier for me to be able to barter and even catch my own food, and at the end fo the day theres something satisfying knowing that what your now sitting eating hasent come from god knows where, been eating god knows what and hasent been pumped full of countless chemicals. i do feel sorry for them "city slickers" who spend all of their time rushing through the streets and some times i would love to show them how things used to be, although i know a lot of them would have a hard time killing their food, let alone skinning it and butchering it, people these days are so detached from where their food comes from.

  3. Melanie says:

    While I am not going to comment on your opinion about the acceptability of hunting or killing animals (unneccessarily, imho) for food, I do feel I need to comment on your last point.  You use half the meat and then point out that whilst saving money it is important not to cut back on nutrition; implying this relates to the meat comment.  It is now well established that meat is not only an unneccessary part of the human diet (for those who have access to a range of alternatives, i.e. the western \’developed\’ world), but its consumption is related to a number of life threatening diseases/conditions; including bowel cancer, coronary hear disease and areteriosclerosis.  You would live a far healthier (and most probably more \’frugal\’) life if you were to turn vegetarian.

  4. JAMES says:

    a lot of what you say I agree with there is absolutely no reason why you should not gather your own food its not everyones cup of tea but at the end of the day you know that your food is as fresh as you will ever get it and natural too, the country side offers a great deal of food to the gatherer as long as you have permission to do so and you take only what you need it wouldn\’t do however to trespass and steal food albeit wild, I have been gathering such food for some years I enjoy doing so but always with a limit of what I take, not only wild fresh fruit and the occassional rabbit and pigeon but a bit of help to the farmer in exchange for potatoes or corn cob you know the type of thing it all helps in this day and age of high consumer prices  

  5. piper says:

    Hello there – thanks for all the comments. Rik – DJ asked me to point out that he had to gut the rabbit too! It was a bit smelly.
     
    James & they call me Todge – that is brilliant that you\’ve been gather wild food. What can you recommend?
     
    Melanie – actually I didn\’t mean to imply that you can\’t be veggie and eat healthily. I simply meant that if you decide to be a meat eater then it\’s better to pay for a decent cut of meat than eat cheap rubbish. In fact I\’m planning on trying a couple of weeks being veggie to see what it\’s like. Any tips?

  6. sharron says:

    as a mother of 3 with a husband to feed i live on the edge of countryside and we source local foods from farms and small shops and we live quite well not all our cash goes to the almighty tesco(and others like them)
    i bake my own bread and cakes because contrary to popular belife children do not thrive on sugar and E numbers
    i gather free hedgerow fruits and freeze them for use in baking or we make them into jam and the odd bottle of wine
    plus we grow our own veggies at the bottom of the garden, we have a greener – cleaner life than we used to live and a cheaper one too!
    i even do home baking and take it to market to help other people see the joy of a home made cake. and i sell out within an hour or 2 of arrival
    just remember 1 small point people ….. there was life before tesco landed and too over the high street ( and otheres like them )

  7. robert says:

    well my recomendations would entierly depend on how you are going about gathering the food, if you have the means to then shooting is a brilliant way of geting meat for your table, you dont even need a shot gun, an air rifle is sufficient for the pray you can find. Rabbits obviousaly pose exelant trgets as there are plenty of them and they taste prety good. if you have permisson of a farmer to shoot on his land then ask him about what its ok to shoot because some farmers are rather picky about what you can and cannot. pigeons are another exelant quarry and are quite easy to butcher as well, and i know many people would turn their nose up at the mention of it, but, gery squirrels are a pest species and shooting them is doing every one a favoure, and they taste prety gd to! how ever, if shooting is not an option for you then there are few options for meat other than road kill, and i know it may sound rather gruseom and gropry but the fresher the kill, the better the meat. other than that then its best to stick to the hegderow foods you can find, the obviouse being the fruits, berries and mushrooms, although be careful as some species are incredibly poisonus. i find watching tv programs like ray meers are brilliant for finding inspiration and geting information on whats safe to eat and whats not, the internet also hold an indespencible ammount of information. basicly everything is dependant on your situation and where you live, but just ask around, its the best way to find out, and you might even get invited to a shoot or 2! 

  8. JAMES says:

    todge I couldn\’t have put it better yes airgunning is ideal for rabbit and pigeon alike and a bit of fishing too I recently picked up two road kill phesants not a mark on them and what a pie they make, there are some good berries to be had along the hedgerows a wide variety of mushrooms but beware some can induce vomitting and the like if you can buy a book on wild berries and mushrooms then
    please do so remember some fungie can kill. info can be usefull from the tv as you state, when I was a young man I was forced to live off the land it can be terribly harsh but the rewards can be great as well just a note to say if I dont get any meat then I dont go into meltdown it isn\’t the end of the world if I put myself out I could have meat every day but I dont want it every day I must say that sharons input is great well done to you all sharon you see it can be done home made wine with what you pick yourselves great

  9. rik says:

    I\’ve got to agree about airguns, I used to hunt rabbits with one and they\’re probably the best way to get meat for the table. (Shotguns will fill them with pellets that need picking out, snares can be unreliable and cruel if used wrongly). You do need plenty of skill at both accurate shooting and stalking though, this takes lots of practice but the rewards (apart from the free food) are huge. It is though, very hard to get permission to shoot unless you\’ve got good contacts, (would you let a stranger shoot in your backyard?). I\’d advise anyone thinking of hunting to first join a field target club, you\’ll learn how to shoot from the best and there\’ll be plenty of hunters who\’ll give all the advice you need. Even a £200 airgun (new price) will be up to the job, so don\’t believe the "you need to spend £100\’s more" people. You can pick up second hand bargains from around £50 that are capable. Avoid cheap and nasty chinese things though!
    Food for Free by Richard Mabey is excellent for gatherers, also Ray Mears Wild Food and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall\’s always useful!

  10. JAMES says:

    I do agree with you rik airguns are a good way to shoot rabbits it takes a lot skill to get close enough to you quarry you can pick up a good air rifle from around 150 pounds new but cheaper second hand ones are out there,but beware you must be at least 500 yards from a public high way to discharge one
    anyway good hunting everyone

  11. rik says:

    Thanks for your comment James, but you are mistaken on the distance. The law actually states :
    "It is an offence to fire an airgun within 50 feet of the centre of a public highway, if by doing so you cause any member of the public using that highway to be injured, interrupted or endangered. This applies even if you are on private property adjacent the highway. Public highways include roads, bridleways and public footpaths."
    More here. You can actually shoot perfectly legally in your own backyard as long as the pellet doesn\’t leave your property or, as stated in law,  injure, interrupt or endanger the public. (50 feet from the CENTRE of the highway isn\’t usually a problem!). Just watch where your pellet will land if you miss and/or it goes through your target, (this does happen with rabbits/rats often!). Good for getting rid of rats if you keep chickens etc.!

  12. JAMES says:

    hi rik yes you are perfectly correct in the distance stakes when I applied for my shotgun certificate I was told by the licensing officer
    I had to be 500 yds from a public highway to be legally able to fire it well that makes sense really being a shotgun so I checked with the fire arms office in kent and they verified it
    have you been out lately

  13. rik says:

    I\’m not sure about the distance for shotguns, (not really my thing), but I would have thought 500 yds was a bit excessive as their range isn\’t really any greater than a legal limit airgun. Strangely though I can\’t seem to find mention of this on any shooting law sites! I haven\’t hunted now for a long time but may start again in the future. Is it still a "right" to have a shotgun certificate unless they have a good reason not to grant one?
     
    p.s. Sorry Piper for hijacking your post!

  14. sharron says:

    ello again all
    thanks for your kind words james
    unfortunately i would not go as far as baking road kill .. but id use them for baiting an eel trap ( good idea off that nutta hugh fernly wotsisface)
    and if anybody needs any recipes for pies and casseroles plz ask .. u dont ask u dont get so they say
    and if you wish to make hedgerow wine there are loads of ideas and recipes on the old net to use and abuse
    happy hunting boys, have you tried selling your bunnies and pheasents to the local gastro pubs yet 😉 ?
    some might buy them at the back door like when we was kids ( a pound earned is a blessing)

  15. JAMES says:

    hello again rik thank you for your feedback, I have always said that 500 yards seemed excessive but I also agree that with you that there is no writen law that states this distance so I dont know where the authorities get this figure but I always try to abide by it as it were if you get my point.
    anyway wish you well

  16. JAMES says:

    hi sharon your welcome road kill isn\’t as bad as you think some times there isn\’t a mark on the pheasants I wouldn\’t however pick up a rabbit that you could use for a frizby for example.
    as for the recipes that would be nice I often bake pies maybe you have a secret ingredient or something I like to cook my pheasant once diced in red wine ooohhh bliss ( ha ha ), I dont sell anything I find or shoot only what I need is my golden rule.
    good health

  17. sharron says:

    hi james
    bunny frizby hmmmm wonder if the kids will play with 1 without arguing ( giggle)
    a favorite recipe in  (what the kids name the skinflints kitchen)  is chicken thingy sounds apetising doesnt it (giggle)
    take left over chicken and dice it into chunks…. set aside
    i then chop 1 large carrot into about 4 huge chunks or use 4 small skinny carrots you get the idea
    add carrot to 1 red onion chopped into large chunks a few cauliflor chunks a few slices of white cabbage mix them all in a roasting tin and roast them off
    once you have these roasted veg mix the chicken chunks through them and splosh over a few spoons of chicken gravy that you hid in the fridge for another day ( i know you do it every sunday same as us ..giggle)
    finaly hide the whole lot under a good layer of mash potatoe and put it in the fridge/ freezer until needed .. (this makes the mash nice and firm and stops it melting into the pie )
    bake in a medium oven until bubbling hot and golden brown … yum
    i serve this with yorkshire puds and roast tatties
     
    ok i have to stop now my belly is rumbling too much … curse you james (giggle)
    enjoy
     

  18. piper says:

    Mmm sounds good Sharron. What do you do with your eels, Sharron when you catch them?  I\’ve only had jellied eels once and hated them!  Thanks for all the shooting tips guys. I suppose it\’s a bit costly having to go to the trouble to learn to shoot, get your firearms certificate etc.
     
    Anyone got any good rabbit pie recipes? Cheers, Piper xxx

  19. sharron says:

    hi pipper
    fresh eel … simply cut into large chunks and lightly dust it with seasoned flour and fry it … yum
    or occasionaly i bung it in a fish stew
    theres a big bone in the middle if your going to skin and bone the beatie
    and the best way to skin an eel .. nail his tail to a post in the garden and pull his bum over his head (giggle) look on the net for a how to guide is much better advice for you though
    good luck ,.. let us know if fresh eel is better than the jelly ones
    enjoy xx

  20. sharron says:

    bunny pie
    roast the victim first then chunk him into large bits off the bone.
    place in a pie bowl for the oven
    add a slosh of left over gravy .. chicken if you have it
    add 1 chopped leek a small chopped carrot ( bunnys get the nibbles while cooking .. giggle)
    and i throw in a sprinkle of chopped chervil and carraway (fresh not dried herbs please)
    and lastly put a pastry lid on and cook till golden and bubbling
    enjoy xx

  21. rik says:

    I think you\’re getting enough input on this blog to justify a separate space!Don\’t worry about the firearm/shotgun certificate cost, airguns are still licence free (for now), pellets under a penny each for good ones and they\’re quieter too. And remember, they can be used in your backyard for rats (must be the odd one if you keep chickens) and pigeons etc. all perfectly legal. There\’s some knowledgeable folk on here, I haven\’t heard sharron\’s way of skinning an eel for years, just remember their bloods poisonous \’till  it\’s cooked!

  22. sharron says:

    (giggles at rik)
    what can i say .. im an old fashiond gurl 😉
    i cook the way my granny did and yes do be careful when skinning an eel .. they are slippery little gits too !
    i just chunk mine up mostly and bake it in a medium oven good thing is .. if you get a good catch they freeze well and could last you months
    a good rich meaty meal, and lots of the " good fats" you want in ya diet for all the health nutters out there
    i dont need an airgun for the rat population rik .. i have a large striped old moggy for that 😉 and it saves on mog food .. when he earns his keep
     

  23. rik says:

    It\’s a good cat if it keeps rats down, I\’ve heard of it taking five cats to kill a rat, I think two of the cats actually died as I remember. Don\’t know if it\’s true, but it was from a reliable source with a picture of the (eventually) dead rat with cat fur still in it\’s teeth! I know old farm cats don\’t have a problem with them though. Our cat wouldn\’t know what to do, she just catches leaves!

  24. sharron says:

    rik … you would not like to meet old fur balls in the dark ..he\’s a little savage !

  25. JAMES says:

    hi sharon thank you for the recipes and from how I read your blogs you have a wicked sense of humour ( ha ha ha ) I love it.
    I will try out your recipes this weekend I didn\’t know if you would get the rabbit frisby joke but never under estimate a woman aye.
    I enjoy watching a fellow angler catch good sized eels and cut their throats and grab the head and pull down and hey presto skinned eels very impresive, thanks again sharon.
    I like the name skinflints kitchen ah bless heh heh,I thought it was a small earth quake but it must have been your tummy. 

  26. JAMES says:

    a final one for this morning hello rik I really have to say you are an absolute gold mine of information I never knew that their blood was poisonous ( eels ) now I know I will take special care thank you very much any more precious info please blog.
    good night all sweet dreams, you too have a sense of humour good one mate

  27. sharron says:

    good morning bloggers
    james kids said i had lost the plot when i told them about the bunny frizby ( still giggling )
    and a bacon butty might persuade your angling chum to part with the odd eel and a hot brew out of the thurmos might get him to skin it for ya 😉
    and finaly
    the children have informed me that the minor earthquake you experianced wasnt mommys tummy ….. it was daddy..opening his wallet! ..( ok im crying laughing now)
    right time for the school dash with all the other psyco\’s desperate for some peace and quiet , thank god for term time
    kids now say im beyond help as im still sat here chuckling away to myself and the 6 yr old said mommy really is bonkers (bless him )
    blog ya laters xx

  28. Unknown says:

    good morning sharon, I have had to re-assess my opinion of you I now believe you are totally mad as your six year old has already told you…I cant see the screen for tears… lovelly kids by the way.
    that is one hell of a dragonfly havn\’t seen one that big since I was a child its huge? I see poor old hubby came in for some stick about his wallet ( wicked ) still no-one is safe from the wit of a woman chat later I hope

  29. sharron says:

    the kids call the dragonfly ..syd.. and he isjust over 5 inches long he\’s a right wopper. he sits sunbathing on our garage wall for a few hours a day all summer long. he never offers to move while you try to mesure him either
    we have a squirel family in the garden too 2 adults and 3 babies very mad things and they pick on our cat who just to save his skin hides in the long grass and bushes up his tail so they think he is 1 of them or they take it in turns to jump on him from the apple tree
     
    see it\’s not only me thats barking mad here
    and as for hubby getting some stick … he\’ll get over it ..( giggles)

  30. JAMES says:

    blimey sharron a cat… a squirrel family… a dragon fly I dread to think whats coming next ha ha
    do they actually play with each other, yes i\’m sure hubby will get over it too ha ha it took me ages to clear my eyes well going to bed now sweet dreams to you all dont let the sane people get you.

  31. sharron says:

    good morning hope we all slept well
    james ure as bonkers as my lot, that piggin squirrel family terrorises the neighbourhood, theres not a bird table safe and they "chuff"
    at you if you go in your own garden…. i am pondering squirrel gloves for the winter and squirrel pie !
    somebody needs to inform these damn squirrels that my washing line is not a toy ..grrrrrrrrr

  32. piper says:

    Wow – thanks Sharron. Definitely going to try out the rabbit pie recipe. Might brave the eel one too. Your cat could teach mine a thing or too!  It\’s taken him years to learn how to catch mice but he mainly just plays with them. He\’d probably run a mile from a rat. xxx

  33. sharron says:

    morning pipper
    it\’s not always a bad thing having a scaredy cat….. i get little gifts plonked on my step .. in my wellies …in my flower pots and then he demands fuss …. sometimes i wish he wasnt quite so good at his job
     
    i am just incredibly thankful that he can\’t ask for a pay rise 😉

  34. JAMES says:

    morning sharon ..morning piper hope we all slept well, once again I find water in my eyes as I catch up on the blogs aahhh sweet little
    cuddly squirrels so cute, so agile, and boy.. so tasty I roasted a few some time back and then popped the meat into a pie with onions…carrots…chunks of tatties..and some swede…very tasty indeed as you have guessed I am a little overwieght and the wieghing machine in woolies ( the one that speaks ) couldn,t stop laughing when I got on it a few weeks ago yes I love my food.
     
    and yes piper try the rabbit pie you\’ll be hopping mad for more bye ladies  

  35. sharron says:

    (laughs at james )
    it\’s when the scales scream you need to worry hunny …well .. thats my view and i am aiming for that target at speed i think .. too much free pickings made into pies i fear (giggle)
     
    i shall soom be making elderflower wine ( waiting for blossom)
    if anybody is joining me get all your bottles scrubbed and ready you wont have long to wait;)
    and if you feel like having a go for the first time .. i shall plonk my recipe on  my space just click on the link under my name.
    i shall blog it over the weekend
    good luck xx

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