Squirrel Crazy

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Published on: Jun. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

Can a vegetarian city-girl find happiness in the arms of a hunter who thinks the four basic food groups are deer, elk, turkey and squirrel?

When I married Ken in 1965, I knew he was an avid hunter; I knew he ate meat. Although I lived mainly on whole wheat toast smeared with processed cheese, I wasn't a vegetarian who refused to wear leather and furs. I didn't question the ethics of hunting creatures for food. In fact, I had never known a hunter. I just refused to eat anything which had eyes or lips.

The Monday morning after our Saturday wedding, Ken left for his honeymoon (deer hunting in Colorado with a truckload of friends). My half of the honeymoon was spent in our small apartment in Columbia--all part of the on-the-job training for the vegetarian, city-girl bride of an avid hunter.

I know now that it was foolhardy of me to set a fall wedding date. If a woman who marries a serious hunter ever wants to spend a wedding anniversary with her husband, she'd better consult the Wildlife Code.

With the prospect of deer meat in the freezer, I glanced through Betty Crocker while Ken was gone. Also, I had a couple of general ideas about cooking meat. I knew the number-one method involved coating the raw meat with flour and plunging it into hot grease until it turned "golden-brown," and the number-two method consisted of immersing the meat in a pot of boiling water for hours and hours.

As for the mysteries of skinning, plucking or hacking the carcass into pieces? I guess I just thought meat always appeared magically in shrink-wrapped foam trays at the grocery store.

From the sight and odor of Ken when he returned from Colorado, I thought he surely must have spent most of his trip rolling in dung to mask his scent. Since he had come back empty handed, I guessed he'd even grossed out the wild animals. Even with the help of baking soda, the rancid stench took days to fade.

I was relieved not to have to cook a deer because I had decided that hamburger was the answer to my aversion for handling meat. I could get hamburger from the package to the pan without having to touch it, and, according to Betty Crocker, hamburger could be tossed in with any number of ingredients. And hamburger was meat, right?

We threw away heaps of leftover casseroles.

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