I have a number of friends who have been animal lovers their whole lives. They love them all: cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, caterpillars (are these animals?)…all of God’s creatures, distinct from the human kind. I have come to this much later in life, although I always loved horses and birds. But I was scared of dogs and I remain ‘not’ a cat person. You can’t say anymore that you ‘own’ your pet. But for the sake of brevity, I will say that owning my own dog cured me of my fear.
I love poodles. Our male standard poodle ‘Thor’ (now deceased) was an angel. Our female miniature poodle ‘Rosie’ (six years old) is a more complex creature—the most angelic of angels, and the most devilish of devils. She is something else.
My husband will not eat meat or poultry and he is dedicated to feeding the birds.
I do eat meat and poultry and I will confess that the overbreeding of Canada geese in our fair city has often prompted me to say that a goose in every pot at Christmas time would be a local improvement. So imagine my delight to see in the letters section of the National Post this morning what sounds like a terrific recipe for Canada Goose. I thought about it as I watched the latest crop of goslings (looking quite mature already) practicing their swimming today in the Stanley Park pond. The letter with the recipe follows:
“The low income people in Pennsylvania who are to be fed Canada Goose are in for some “gourmet” meals, as many of us in Western Canada already know. Many years ago, a native Canadian friend gave my husband and I a Canada goose, cleaned and ready to cook. I was about to throw it out, but my grandmother soon put an end to that notion.
Gran had spent from 1918 to 1937 in Alberta, on a patch of scrubby land called a farm. She was 22 when she arrived at a farmhouse with a dirt kitchen floor, no plumbing and no electricity. She set to work learning the skills she needed to survive. One of those was how to cook a wild goose. She told me that if it hadn’t been for the abundance of geese on the prairie, they would have gone to bed hungry many times. The goose she cooked for me that day was indescribably delicious. Here’s Margaret Stranaghan Millar’s (1896-1993) recipe:
The secret to roasting a goose is to render all the fat out before the final roasting. To do that, soak the cleaned goose in salt water for three hours, remove to a drain board or pan and drain for three hours. Put six medium-raw onions inside the goose cavity, put in a roaster with one quart cold water and steam for two hours. While goose is steaming, prick skin all over to drain fat. After two hours, remove goose from roaster, pour out fat, then let sit in roaster overnight with the onions still inside, lid on, in a cool place (but not a fridge).
Next day, remove onions. Wash the cavity with warm water and stuff with your favourite stuffing. Make a paste of: 1 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. flour, 3 tbsp. cool water and cook this in a pan until thick.
When cool enough to handle, rub paste into all the skin, shake on salt and pepper. Put goose in roaster with just a little water, lid on. Roast at 325F for about three hours, until juices are clear.
I also saw a raccoon in the park today in broad daylight sauntering up to have a visit with a Parks Board gardening crew. I scooped up Rosie. I have heard horror stories about dog and raccoon encounters. This got me thinking about raccoon coats. I have always loved them. Vancouver and Toronto are overrun with raccoons.
Finally a note about squirrels. Rosie goes nuts when she sees a squirrel. They used to get Thor going too. Both of them would race out the back door of our house a hundred times a day if necessary to chase down the various squirrels that lived in the dense grove of cedars at the back of our yard. It was endless fun for all the creatures involved. I lived in a cartoon. In my new house, my upstairs studio looks down on a utility pole that has had no end of attention from the cable company and the wildlife department in an effort to clear out a black squirrel family. All sorts of fancy equipment surround this pole to keep out the squirrels. Completely undeterred, they lifted up the anti-squirrel mesh at the top and have been stuffing laurel leaves into the silo formed by the metal sheathing. They are incredibly industrious and cunning. I can’t help rooting for them. When my internet connection next goes on the fritz, I may change my tune. But ’til then…Go Squirrels Go, as we say (or used to say) in Canuckland.