Lately …

blackthorn blossom behind oilseed rape

 

Lately, we’ve been out in the fields. I walk the dog, admiring the wildflowers that splash the verges of the fields with colour and the brilliant yellow of the oilseed rape flowers against the white of the blackthorn blossom in the hedgerows, while

 

tractor and sprayer

 

Bill rushes around on the tractor. There’s spraying to do, fertiliser to spread (the big bags by the barn contain fertiliser), rabbit fencing to put up …

 

taxidermy

 

Recently, we’ve found a different use for rabbits. We have a problem with rabbits on the farm, especially on the corner of the field next to the Country Park where they breed like … rabbits. Normally we give away or eat most of the trapped rabbits, but last weekend they were used for a taxidermy course in The Barley Barn. Unfortunately, I was delegated to kitchen duties but I managed to sneak in to see what was happening. The rabbits were carefully skinned (there was some complicated manoeuvring with the paws that I missed because I was taking the huffers out of the oven) and after a wash and blow dry (there may have been more to it than that, but you can guess where I was) the rabbits were rebuilt and sewn up. I considered serving rabbit for lunch, but one of the course participants was a vegetarian and I wasn’t sure how hygienic some of the dissecting might be, so I gave it a miss.

 

green leaves from the garden

 

As the days lengthen and warm, hearty soups and rib sticking puddings aren’t quite as appealing as they were on dark, cold winter days. After months of peeling and chopping root vegetables, it’s good to grab the scissors and wander out to the garden and hedgerows to cut fresh green leaves for salads.

 

elderflower gin and tonic jellies

 

Lately, there has been jelly to eat. Slamseys Elderflower Gin & Tonic Jelly to be precise. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe here.

 

elderflower gin and tonic jelly

 

If you wanted a non-alcoholic version, you could replace the Elderflower Gin with elderflower cordial and reduce the amount of sugar, but quite honestly, where’s the fun in that?

39 thoughts on “Lately …

  1. Cecilia Mary Gunther says:

    Are you crazy? Replace the gin? No way! I want the GIN jelly.. and am off to see the recipe though I have no hope of finding your daughters gin out here! Lovely shots. You should have served rabbit anyway – would have made me laugh. c

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne Wheaton says:

      The girl who tutors the taxidermy makes a point of eating her specimens when practical, which makes sense to me.
      You’d be amazed how many people won’t eat rabbit – even if they haven’t just skinned it.

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  2. Christina says:

    I have been enjoying my dog walks, too. A taxidermy course, how amazing. Not for the squeamish I bet. I know how to skin a mouse but I have none of the other skills to make a stuffed one. Hmm there’s a thought. Gin and tonic jelly is going on my dessert list for my next dinner party!

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Stuffing the mouse is suprisingly tricky. It’s like stuffing a toy (which I always find dificult to get right) but then having to get the muscle definition just right too. The mouse I did looks as though it’s been stretched.

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  3. Jane says:

    Wow, Spring is really well and truly with you now isn’t it Anne. Why is it that we always seem to be stuck in the kitchen when something interesting is going on?! Perhaps you should start making hats from the rabbit fur like our Akubra’s over here. That jelly looks perfect…I’m off to check it out. So pretty with the flowers settled on top.

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  4. The Snail of Happiness says:

    I can really associate with the comment about months of peeing root vegetables… they are delicious, but I do start to crave lettuce and fresh herbs after a while! Last weekend we had potato wedges, smoked trout and a green salad – one of the first of the season and it was bliss.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Come the autumn, I’ll be desperate for a swede! Smoked trout sounds good. We have the first of the asparagus just showing in the garden – I wish it would hurry up and grow tall enough to cut.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Faith says:

    I absolutely love the candid speech in your posts. I cannot even imagine a site like this in the US, but it is one I envision. I am trying your violet recipes right now, my son and my yards are just covered with violets and I am excited to see what they all taste like.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    Your jellies are just amazing. In fact I think you’ve made them into an edible art form! Ethereally beautiful to look at and fragrant to the nose and tongue. Unlike the rabbit to be taxidermied, I suspect! Eeek, Anne! I’m afraid I’d have headed for the kitchen the moment dissection started and would have been difficult to extract. And no meat would have been on the menu either! I know, I know, once a townie wuss, always one! I think I’ll go back to the jellies now! E x

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      The smell of the jellies is very different from a rabbit being skinnned! Especially when the scalpel goes a little deep. You may well have stayed to see the skinning – it’s a fascinating process – though perhaps eating the resulting meat would be a step too far.

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  7. thegardendeli says:

    Gin jelly sounds interesting – and I don’t even like jelly! Looks like you’ll have a good crop of sloes too, if all that blossom leads to fruit. It’s lovely to see the hedges turning from winter brown to spring green and white.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      You don’t like jelly! Good heavens.
      Fingers crossed for the sloes. A couple of years ago we had a glorious show of blossom but then we had a wet spell that badly affected the sloes and they were in very short supply.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      You have to remember that the rabbit is turned inside out in the photo, which is why it looks a little strange. I’d gone home by the time they finished but will have to get a photo from someone.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. arlingwoman says:

    I had one of those deep sighs at the sight of your parsley in the colander. That jelly sounds wonderful. I checked out the recipe. There’s a gin here called Green Hat that has some more delicate flavors than the usual. I bet it would do well in this. I wouldn’t mind sending a few bunnies your way for some taxidermy as well…

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  9. Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe says:

    I could barely look at the pics of the rabbits but I am fascinated that a vegetarian was doing the taxidermy class – I guess I have known other vegetarians who are far less squirmish than me. wildflowers and floral jelly sound like a wonderful way to herald in the spring

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  10. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says:

    Anne, “wander out to the garden and hedgerows to cut fresh green leaves for salads” — I do love the sound of that! Even without your beautiful photography, you paint a picture that gives us all a taste of, and longing for, life on the farm.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    Life is full of variety of your place Anne…wow, rabbit taxidermy is impressive. An uncle of mine is trying to find someone to taxidermy (I am not sure if that is correct English) a sheep for him. This is proving difficult! Sheep are tricky to do and fairly uncommon apparently.

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  12. Emily Grace says:

    Your photos make me so happy, Anne. They are pure, straightforward bliss.

    Thanks for sharing!…excepting the rabbit carcass being handled without gloves. It’s about supper time here and I think I’ll need to block that image to proceed. 🙂

    Best!
    eg

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  13. Annie says:

    I would love to attend one of your taxidermy workshops and I wouldn’t at all object to rabbit for lunch.

    My elder son’s partner is a country ranger type who must cull deer and rabbits as part of her work … we and the dogs eat well! She makes a mean sloe gin too, and elderflower cordial (I shall be pointing her at your jelly recipe). What more could one ask for from a daughter-in-love?

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  14. polianthus says:

    very interesting life you do lead – vegetarian taxidermists – curious and curiouser – you were planning to serve the rabbit from the stuffed rabbits? I Understand that you didn’t! Might have been a bit much rabbit for one day.. lovely to find your blog thanks to Margot, look forward to reading more Poli

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