Sunday, January 2, 2011

Porcupines and Home Cooked Porcupine Eggs

Porcupines are a nuisance on Alaska’s North Slope. They eat the tires off vehicles left too long in the cold and dark of the Alaskan winter. When small gold mining camps close for the season, the porcupines frequent the camp eating what they choose. They eat the handles and tires off gardening equipment, they eat the wood siding on homes and they will eat your yard furniture. They eat these things not because they find these items nourishing and natural food, it is because they crave salt. They will eat just about anything with a salty taste, including rose bushes, lily pads, garden produce, succulent plants and even saddle leather.

The North American porcupine is the only species
that lives in the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest of all porcupines, weighing up to 35 pounds. A single porcupine will have up to 30,000 easily detachable quills.

In northern climates, a natural predator of the porcupine is the fisher. Fishers are a type of weasel and are about the size of a large house cat. Other predators of the porcupine in Alaska; include the bobcat, the timber wolf, and the wolverine.

While living on the Kenai Peninsula located at the southern tip of the mainland of Alaska, we came to share living arrangements with a four-legged canine that we called Fred. Fred weighed close to 50 pounds, and was a free-ranging, female husky/wolf hybrid who came to be a dear friend of the family.

Fred tangled with a porcupine one night. She got too close and the quilled rodent slapped her nose with its lightning quick tail. Poor Fred, she was in considerable pain. If not removed the sharp quills will work deeper and deeper into the flesh, causing a nasty infection and in extreme cases death. We transported Fred to the veterinarian for porcupine quill removal the first time it happened. All this discomfort caused Fred to develop a deep-abiding hatred for the porcupine. First chance she got she tangled with another porcupine.

Porcupines are a nuisance in Oklahoma too. They are herbivorous and feed on the bark and the twigs of softwoods like pine, elm, poplar and cottonwood. Never the less, even when feeding only on trees, porcupines can cause problems. They can strip so much bark off the tree that it dies.

Porcupines are great climbers; their agility is evident; they have been spotted 50 or 60 feet high in cottonwood trees. The only natural predator of porcupines in Oklahoma is the bobcat. Occasionally a coyote will kill a porcupine, but as in Fred’s case, they usually get a mouth and snout full of quills while the porcupine gets away!

Porcupines are single-moms. They give birth to a single babe, called a porcupette. Porcupettes are born with soft quills that hardened within the first hour after birth. In two weeks, they begin to eat solid food.

Native Americans once used the quills as needles and as ornaments on clothing. They also used the quills in fashioning warriors’ breastplates.

As far as porcupine cuisine goes, some people consider the porcupine a delicacy reminiscent of rosemary flavored pork roast. This recipe for Porcupine Eggs is spicy and eaten as a hearty appetizer.

Wear some sort of gloves to handle the peppers, the capsicum in peppers is hot and can be transferred to other parts of your body. You do not want to get it near your eyes, nose or nether regions!

Use about 10 fresh jalapeno peppers, about 2 inches long and more round than long and narrow. Wash the peppers in cold water. Dry the peppers thoroughly using paper towels. Take a sharp knife, such as a boning knife or paring knife and cut the stems off. Cut each pepper in half and use the knife to scrape away the veins and seeds. Set the peppers aside.

Grate 1 pound of Monterey Jack Cheese. Tightly pack each half pepper with grated cheese using about half of the cheese.

In a bowl, stir together the remaining one half pound of cheese, 1 cup of Bisquick biscuit mix, 1 pound of sausage and 3 beaten eggs. Make the mixture into small patties; completely wrap your cheese stuffed peppers with the patties. The last step is to roll the wrapped peppers in shake and bake pork mix to coat. Place on cookie sheet and bake in a preheated (350 degree) oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Shebolith Says…

If you do not have the biscuit mix and/or the shake and bake pork mix, you can make your own using the following simple, homemade recipes.

Mix this Biscuit Mix up in advance and keep it on the pantry shelf in an airtight container. It can be used in any recipe calling for store-bought biscuit mix; such as Bisquick and will keep for up to 3 months.

9 cups flour
1/2 cups non-fat dry milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups vegetable shortening, Crisco

Place all these ingredients in a very large bowl. It is important that the ingredients be very will mixed. Stir together all the ingredients except the Crisco until very well combined.
Cut in the Crisco using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

A homemade Shake and Bake Mix for Pork consists of the following ingredients:

1 and ½ cups dry bread crumbs
¼ tsp. onion salt
¼ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
Generous dash of black pepper

After thoroughly mixing, store in an airtight container.

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