Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bavarian Pigeon

As everyone knows, I love to cook.  I also have a lovely new kitchen... and neighbours who raise pigeons for the table.... what a great combination!

One of my favourite winter recipes is for Bavarian Rabbit.  It is tasty, warm and filling.  Can be dressed up for a dinner party, or eaten family style from big bowls with warm bread and fresh butter.

Our lovely neighbours asked me a few days ago if we ate pigeon.  "Mais oui" was the response.  OK, but you will have to pluck and gut them yourself..... pause.... I think he was waiting for me to cringe and make wretching noises or something.  "Pas de souci!" was my response ("no worries" - in Aussie vernacular).

So this morning after Sophie and I arrived back from our little walk, I was presented with two gloriously plump pigeons.

I am a big fan of the markings on feathers.  The colours and patterns are beautiful.  The first few minutes were spent stroking the feathers and admiring them.  Like brushing your hand across raw silk.  Glossy and irridescent and soft.

Since it wasn't raining or snowing, I thought I would plumer the pigeons outside.  That way, any fine downy feather could float away on the breeze into the orchard, rather than lingering for weeks in the house.  I rather enjoy plucking birds.  It is a relaxing job if done properly, and it gives you a real appreciation of the anatomy of the bird.  So I sat and happily daydreamed of all the things I could cook and tried to decide which recipe to use.  Did not count on the interest of a small grey cat though did I....

Sophie sat beside me salivating the whole time.

I really thought she must be desperate for some pigeon meat.  After plucking them I dressed them, saving the legs and g├ęsiers for her.  I put the necks aside for my boys to enjoy.

Do you think any of them would even look at the pigeon when I was done.... no way!  Sophie took one sniff and walked away.  Guy had a tiny (and I do mean tiny) lick, then decided that if he smooged me hard enough I would take it away.  Eric looked at it from about a metre away and then lifted each paw in turn and shook it... as if to say "I'm not touching that - YUCK!"  Spoilt little beggers!

It has only taken a week for Sophie to become as spoilt as the boys. sigh

Whilst the furbabies have expressed their disgust in pigeon, Wayne and I will be enjoying it tomorrow for dinner.  It is always best after sitting a day.

Normally I make this with rabbit, but substituted the pigeon to see how it would go.  From the smells emanating from the kitchen, I think we have a success!  Below is my quick version of the recipe.  If you want to see a proper version, head over to http://honest-food.net/2012/09/10/german-rabbit-stew/ at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  I prefer the veg in the dish, and also prefer to cook the meat in the stock, rather than browning first.  I find this gives the stock a better flavour and makes no difference to the finished dish.

Bavarian Rabbit (or pigeon)
1 large rabbit jointed (or a few pigeons cut in half)
1 large onion diced
clove of garlic
good few sprigs of fresh thyme
large splash of vermouth or dry white wine
veg stock to cover meat
zest of 1 lemon
potatoes
carrots
1/2 cup light sour cream or creme fraiche

Place rabbit or pigeon pieces in bottom of oven proof dish (I use a vintage le creuset).  Add good splash of vermouth.  Cover with stock by 1 or 2cm.  Add onion, thyme and clove of garlic.  Do not cover.

Place in oven at 180celcius till meat cooked.

Remove meat and let cool till able to handle.  Then remove bones from meat and add meat back to pot.

Add lemon zest, potatoes and carrots.

Cook on low heat (around 100-150celcius) for another few hours.  Keep checking liquid level - you may need to top up with water or stock.

When cooked it is delicious, however it is even better the next day.

To serve, add the creme fraiche and mix well.  It should be a thick, extremely moist casserole.  Not a soup, but with a good gravy to the mixture.

Fill bowls with the casserole and serve thick slices of fresh bread slathered in fresh butter alongside.



Thursday, 17 January 2013

Introducing Sophie le Soyeux


Every farm must have a farm cat.  Fact.

My two boys are too spoilt to ever be true farm cats. Seriously, can you imagine Eric having to chase a mouse across the terrain.... he can't walk on grass without nearly having hysterics.  Guy maybe, but only if I am there alongside him.  Yep, really not farm cat material.

So last friday night we were having a cuddle puddle on the lounge (cuddle puddle is where everyone is draped over everyone else) watching a dvd, when there was the most pitiful howling coming from outside the loungeroom windows.  I got up to investigate, and there was this little grey face pressed to the glass, begging for help.

I went to the back door and made entreating noises, and she bounded across to meet me.  A poor, starved and pathetic looking grey cat.  I was impressed with how affectionate she was for a cat in such a condition.  She just wanted - no demanded - pats and attention.  I gave her some cat food, which she woolfed down so fast it was distressing to watch. 

She was so deprived of nurishment and love that she was on the downhill slide to dying a lonely death in a hedge somewhere.


So I gave her some more food and Wayne and I agreed that we would check her out fully in the morning.  She was too full of parasites and too ill to bring in to the house with our boys.

Morning came and she was gone.

Later we were driving home from shopping and I saw her in the garden of a house in our village.  I jumped out to speak to the owner and see if it was their cat.  The elderly lady told me that no it wasn't her cat, it was a stray and it was a horrible cat ... all the while the cat was desperately trying to smooge against her legs and get some affection..... ironic hey.

So what else could I do... of course I called to her and she followed me home.  Yes, I know I am a complete sucker.  But how hard is it to give a small amount of your time to look after an animal whom is so obviously in need.  Don't even get me started......

We had a rdv with the vet that afternoon for Guy's vaccinations, so I spoke to them and they gave me worming treatments and flea and tick treatments.  The poor little thing was covered in ticks!  She has also come off second best in a confrontation with a dog or someone's shoe.  Nothing too serious, but unpleasant and uncomfortable for her.

Arriving home, I thought she would be gone again, but no, she was sitting waiting for us.  I made her a bed in the outbuilding, and gave her food and water and her treatments.  She purred the whole time.

In the past week, she has turned from a scruffy bedraggled facsimile of a cat, to a worn, but pretty, and real cat.  Still a way to go before she is in perfect health and condition, but she is getting there quicker than I hoped.

Her nature is incredible.  The best little personality and super affectionate.  Loves to talk to us, even though she has a meow like a rusty gate, and a purr like a tractor.  She has not left the fermette since I brought her in, and each night when I check on her before locking up she knows it is bedtime and goes to her bed when I tell her.  Clever little girl.

I know she is appreciative of the care and love, as she brought me a half eaten bird...... 'nuff said.

Wayne wanted to call her Gandalph the Grey (Lord of the Rings) but as it is a girl, I refused and said we had to find a girls name.  So she is now Sophie le Soyeux (the soft/silky).  In one week she has learnt her name and comes running when I call her.

So finally I have a little girl.... but now I have to change the tag on my emails.  No more "and the boys"...lol.  The balance of the household is slowly changing and equalling out!