golden-brown. May be I should use something heavy to press the squirrel down in the grease? With no time to consult Betty Crocker about proper techniques for flattening a curved squirrel, I took action.
I looked up from the smoking iron skillet to scout for a fireproof, heavy object. What luck! On the nearby counter stood several one pound cans of pork and beans. Shouldn't five or six pounds be enough weight to squash the squirrel into submission? I grappled for the cans with my free hand and maintained the pressure on the squirrel with my other hand.
All the pork and bean cans covered the squirrel, but caused the lard level to rise alarmingly high. Using potholders to protect my hands, and stretching as tall as possible onto my tiptoes, I bore my weight into flattening that rodent into the smoking, popping grease.
By now, the stove, the cabinets, the floor and most of me were layered with a combination of gummy flour and lard. My pity had vanished. We were both destined to be fried if that's what it took to finish him off. Hasta la vista, squirrel!
Was it the smell of burning hair--mine, not the squirrel's? The clouds of flour drifting into the living room and coating the TV screen? The sound of lard popping? My furious grunts of exertion? Or was it the delicious smell of the squirrel reluctantly turning an all-over golden-brown that penetrated Ken's ballgame-induced comatose state? Who knows? Something diverted his attention from the baseball game.
He arrived in the kitchen to discover a wild-eyed, flour-encrusted madwoman poised over a skillet full of smoking lard, several cans of beans and the misshapen chunk of more than golden-brown something-or-other. "What are you doing? Don't you know those cans could explode? You could get killed!" he bellowed.
After turning off the burner, rescuing the cans of beans and telephoning for a cheese pizza, Ken scraped the worst of the caked flour and lard from my overheated face and asked, "Why in the world didn't you cut that squirrel before you fried it?"
"Cut it up?" I asked.
His mind must have reeled. What might I do with an elk hindquarter? Fry it up in the hood of his `54 Chevy? So much for his dream of marrying a girl just like the girl who cooked wild game for dear old Dad.
In the past 31 years, I have progressed slightly beyond piling pork and bean cans into the skillet. There was an unfortunate incident with a small mallard duck roasted hard enough to be an NFL football, but I have satisfactorily barbecued a coon, produced edible deer jerky and I've even been asked for my venison stroganoff recipe.
But the wild game preparation remains unchanged. If Ken wants sliced meat, he slices, it. If he wants chunked meat, he chunks it. If he wants hairless or pin-featherless meat, he packages it exactly the way he wants it to hit the pan! And, if he still has doubts? He cooks the game himself.
Ken figures that if I am flexible enough to celebrate our wedding anniversary on any convenient, infrequent day of the year which doesn't coincide with a fishing or a hunting opportunity, he can be flexible enough to break a venerated outdoorsman's tradition and dress his own game for the pan. And the herbivore and the carnivore shall sit down to a meal together in peace!