It may come as a surprise to some but not all food grows in a packet, lives in a refrigerator, or comes with a price tag. There are literally thousands (okay, maybe not thousands but lots anyway) of foods that cost nothing.
If you have plenty of room, get involved in the "Good Life". What about keeping your own animals like chickens, a house cow or milking goat, steers, sheep, ducks, pigs, and so on. You will obviously need some room and not too many close neighbours! Use household scraps to feed the chickens or pigs and a bit of open space to grow swedes or maize for stock food. A house cow or milking goat will produce enough milk to feed your family - with plenty of fresh milk you can make your own butter, cheese, ice-cream and yoghurt, and have lots of milkshakes and milk puddings. Animal manure is also good for your garden, which means heaps of fresh greens to go with your milkshakes and puddings!
- One reader breeds rabbits (she reckons they are table rabbits, but we know they live in cages!). The manure goes straight onto the garden, which gives her an endless bounty of fresh produce. When the rabbits are old enough they are served as a delicacy. There are many ways to cook rabbit, but if you prepare it in the same way you would cook chicken you can't go too far wrong.
- In this country we tend to turn our nose up at the thought of eating goat meat (known as chevon). While it is not part of our traditional diet, goat is a basic meat for many millions of people around the world, particularly in the Middle East. Goat meat is stronger in taste than that of lamb, hogget or mutton. It also requires a longer cooking time to tenderise it (marinating the meat will, of course, help). Goat can be dressed as you would mutton and the cuts of meat cooked in the same way.
- Wild duck may be prepared for cooking as you would chicken. Since it is not possible to determine the age of a wild duck (and looking at their teeth doesn't help!), long, slow cooking is recommended to make sure it is tender enough to eat. A good rule of thumb is to bake them at about 150C for 3 hours or more.
- One oily ragger is an expert rock fisherman and always has a freezer full of fish. When his freezer is full he fires up the smoker. His hobby has saved his family thousands of dollars off their grocery bills.
- Roast pheasant is easy to prepare and delicious (and free if you shoot your own). Pluck, gut and rinse the pheasant to get it ready for cooking. Fill the cavity (that is, the space where the internal machinery used to be) with stuffing. Roast at 190C for about an hour. It may be necessary to baste the breast of the pheasant throughout cooking to prevent it from drying out or overcooking.
- Watercress can be found in streams and with its unique peppery taste, it is a wonderful addition to salads and sandwiches.
- Puha can be served as a vegetable or in casseroles. If eating it as a vegetable, wash it thoroughly and cook it for around 25 to 30 minutes to remove the bitterness. Dot with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
There is a surprisingly large amount of free food available for those with a keen eye, a little motivation, and an adventurous appetite!
Do you have a favourite wild food recipe? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei and we will share it with others.
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