Rabbit Could be the Most Sustainable Meat to Consume for Americans Part 1

In the light of economic, global and dietary climate concerns, why not begin to consider rabbit as an alternative to chicken?

“Floppy” was a Friend

As a youth, rabbit was frequently prepared at the home of my grandparents. From rural Texas and Central Louisiana, they had a friend from whom they purchased rabbit, venison, seasonal fish and game fowl. The meats they sourced were reminiscent of their childhoods. Meal preparations were simple, hearty and delicious. My grandmother’s gravy, often from the smothering of chicken, rabbit or liver, is the best I’ve had to date. When available, the rabbit’s gravy was often a delightful and substantial breakfast. My perception of the delectable rabbit has never changed. The night my father brought home a lovely, young, white flippity-flop as a reward for receiving straight A’s on my report card, I considered the new pet “possible food.” I never forgot about Grandmother’s delicious smothered rabbit. I knew one day, “Floppy’s” fate would be met. My father, an animal lover and a country boy, was not above spinning a yarn and serving us the beloved pet for dinner. Although it never happened, I reminded myself daily of the possibility.

Reacquaintance with a Childhood Friend

I didn’t eat rabbit again until I was 27 years old when my friends held their first annual “Who’s the Betty to Beat” cook-off. Participants drew vintage Betty Crocker recipe cards and were challenged to recreate the dish with personal touch, modern flair and “Betty Crocker-ness.” My card was “Chicken Cacciatore.” I elected to use rabbit to replace the chicken as my personal touch and modern flair, as I had grown weary of chicken. As the default protein, served regularly, eaten nearly daily and often featured, chicken and I had developed a relationship which required a generous amount of space. A short time passed and again, I ate rabbit. I worked as a waitress at a local, regional Italian kitchen. With great enthusiasm, I’d sell the house preparation, “cacciatore” or “in the style of the hunter.” The rabbit’s leg quarters were braised in stock, wine, tomatoes, carrots and onions served fork tender, as a panino with montasio and sour cabbage. It was often my shift meal before I left the restaurant to begin my nightly haunt.

Bugs Never Surrenders, without a Catch

The healthiest meat for consumers comes at a cost which is considerably higher than all other regularly consumed meats in the U.S. A whole rabbit now costs around $7.50/lb (up from $6.00/lb on average, in 2013) for a five-pound fryer with organs. Yet, rabbit is rapidly becoming, the original “other white meat” amongst the adventurous cooks, diners, and crowds who support sustainability. Rabbit is a specialty item typically found on menus of European restaurants. Higher costs are directly related to the rate at which the meat is consumed and produced. Now, rabbits are locally grown, small farmed products and are not subsidized by the United States government.
What this means for the consumer is meat that is low in fat and rich in flavor, at lower costs for higher quality. . . if you chose to raise them at home. At lower prices, is it not something to consider? Rabbits are the simplest of animals to butcher at home. They are also safer to consume as they have a lower cooking temperature, are raised off the ground, can be easily raised at home, and in nearly any climate for the highest quality production.

A Long Way to Hippity-hop…

Historically, a food of the rural dwellers of meager means world wide, in America, rabbits have maintained the profile of friend, favorite furry and giver of eggs, as per its association with Easter. As times shift, so will the role of rabbits. The costs and consumer ranking amongst America’s top consumed meats will also shift. And we will look forward to innovative creations from “foodies”, research and production from the environmentally conscious and advocates, all working to continue to shine new light on the rational delicacy.

Baked

Baked

 

It was one of those places you drive past all the time with every intention of going in, yet you always have some sort of reason not to stop. A doting lover of pastries, bakeries are a treasured resource for me. Consequently, I am kicking myself for not stopping at Baked sooner.

Bakeries have always intrigued me. Whenever I am some place new, I try to always oblige my vacation duties and stop at a local patisserie. They remind me of how much I enjoyed waiting in line on Saturdays at Reynas on Kansas Ave with my mom, picking out sweet breads and absorbing the aroma for future memories. Local artisan bakeries have the smell, the price, and the taste to help you find something to suit any craving.

After agreeing to satiate my hunger for nostalgia, I found that the French establishment lived up to its simply stated name.

Located in the former home of Napoleon’s bakery in Westport, Baked offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, but the pastry case is what got my undivided attention.

The Chocolate Croissant ($2.75) was classically flaky and delicious, but the cinnamon roll ($2.50) moistened with thick decadent icing is what left me wanting more.

The BKC Candy Bar ($4) rightfully the most popular, is a generous layered indulgent dream. A crumbly crust sets up the crispy, crunchy caramel texture with a serious layer of fudgy chocolate topped with a thin caramel topping.

Another selling point, it’s a bakery that serves beer. Housed with Boulevard, other craft selections, wine and cocktails, plus you can’t beat the idyllic summertime outdoor patio.

A reliable bakery nearby can be an invaluable source. I suggest you explore, and indulge.

Stefanie Penn

 

The Publican 837 W Fulton Market Chicago IL 60607

Brunch Me – The Publican 837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

 

It’s Tuesday afternoon, work is dragging on and I’m in a group text already discussing with friends potential Sunday breakfast spots.

“We gotta try this new place. $7 unlimited mimosas, boom,” reads a text.

Call it a hangover recovery meal or just an excuse to keep alcohol in your system, Sunday brunch is the best reason to dine out.

It is a known fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet during the week I often skip it. Who has time really? Mornings are the opposite of my thing, but I am comfortable saying that I am one of those people who bases their social calendar largely around the food I will be consuming. Especially, when it comes to breakfast. Let’s be real, nothing motivates this girl more than the promise of a short stack.

So, on my most recent adventure to Chitown, my friend and I discovered the Fulton Market treasure that is the Republican. Imagine a large dining hall with long bench communal seating and vestibule booths. The “old-world” sense of décor added a cozy comfort to the meal’s experience.

Most noted for their pig-centric menu, we opted for Saturday brunch. Despite the overpriced mimosas, the corn beef hash paired with two fried eggs and crispy crunchy hash browns made me glad I woke up early. I was dazed at the cut and deliciousness of the pork belly bacon ($7) doused in just enough maple syrup. I savored every fatty bite. The seasonal lobster scramble ($20) made for an enjoyable fresh seafood find in the landlocked Midwest.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for an instagrammable classic corn beef hash, but as steep as the prices were, I’d absolutely put the Publican’s on my brunch roaster.

Stefanie Penn

Bonnaroo

What to chew at Bonnaroo!

 

Manchester, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival consisted of four days, and three nights of literally nonstop music, and sweltering sunshine. The unforgettable hippie-fest attracted over 90,000 people this year, so you can imagine all the hungry stoners. Fortunately, the mobile food quality on the 700-acre farm didn’t disappoint.

The ensemble included food pop-ups from NY chef Eddie Huang, as well as a bigger than ever Food Truck Oasis with trucks from all over the South, as well as Kansas City’s “Good You” truck serving organic, urban street food sourced by local farmers. Further, you could wash all that down at the Broo-ers Festival, housing craft beer from over 25 breweries across the U.S.

Newest festival finds included Hamageddon and BaconLand, offering a bacon flight serving quality selections from all over the country; including, BLT and baconlicious grilled cheese.

Call me cheap, but my taste buds had the best experience amidst the 70 food vendors scattered throughout Centeroo, and throughout the campgrounds. Perhaps the appetizing aroma as I walked passed or the not-so subtle approach of yelling, “Come get this Gyro girl, you know you want it!” won me over.

Either way that 1.5 mile journey back to my tent was much more tolerable knowing I could indulge in the comforts of a giant chicken gyro, a cheap grilled cheese, a flavorful teriyaki bowl, or traditional meaty tacos on my walk home.

The amazing music, half-dressed, very sweaty people, and delightful culinary offerings left this virgin roo’er satisfied.

Stefanie Penn

Ode to NOLA

I remembered an article that once said, “Food defines New Orleans like nothing else.” So naturally, when the opportunity arose, I jumped ship finals week of my senior year, hopped in my fatigued Jeep and trekked the 18-hour drive with friends. Despite the stress that soon followed my potentially future damaging escapade, it is still the best worst decision I ever made.

New Orleans is a city for foodies like myself who are on an exploration for a kick-in-the head flavor that leaves your taste buds strung out on a Cajun and Creole combo of Y-U-M, yum.

The Big Easy’s food scene feels unlimited. Taking a bite right out of history with dishes like a traditional muffuletta sandwich, Coop’s Place Jambalaya Supreme, Mother’s Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo, Acme Oyster House’s fried fish Po-boy and my favorite doughnut in the universe—Café Du Monde’s beignets.

Feeling nostalgic and undeterred by my often displeasure with chain establishments, (Yes, I’m aware of my snobbery). I ate at a Kansas City favorite, Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen on a recent Friday night. Lacking seriously good Cajun in this area, I applaud their longstanding effort to approximate New Orleans to Kansas City. You simply can’t beat the live music. The menu is quite overwhelming but in the best way possible. After committing to the Tilapia with Devil’s Krab Stuffing, I was gratified with the delicious rendition of the unapologetic heat found in Cajun cooking.

For some reason, I feel as though hush puppies are the forgotten seafood side, despite their savory fried satisfaction, but Jazz’s hush puppies are insanely superb.

Jazz provides an authentically charming, rowdy, and inviting environment to all who are willing to endure the typically long wait. Yet in true NOLA sentiment, I ‘let the good times roll’ and enjoyed good food, good music, and good company.

Stefanie Penn

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