Thanksgiving is all about family and friends -- enjoying the day with the ones we love. To his dismay, however, the Grump has discovered that many of you are leaving one member out -- the one that lives in your attic. This Thanksgiving, let's all make a point to invite our squirrelly friends to dinner. Or better yet, let's make them the dinner.

Now, I realize that some of you less fortunates have never enjoyed the privilege of dining on native squirrel. How sad. Not only is the meat delicious (just ask Bear Grylls), but it's a completely renewable, self-sustaining resource. Fact is, squirrels reproduce faster than we can eat them, thanks to all the people who set up bird feeders and end up feeding our furry, flea-bitten friends instead. By consuming more squirrels, we are being good stewards of the planet and leading the way to a more diverse and satisfying dinnertime experience.

At this moment, you're undoubtedly asking yourself: "How do I prepare squirrel?" Well, to the squirrel itself, you say, "If you're not tender, I'm using the blender!" (High-protein squirrel shakes are ideal for body-builders, athletes, and, well, your cat.)

To the cook in your house, you say, "I just found a whole lot of tasty squirrel recipes on the Grumpy Gardener!"

Now, in the interests of full disclosure and mainly to avoid a lawsuit, I admit these recipes come from Backwoods Bound (www.backwoodsbound.com), where you can find a whole slew of delicious Rocky recipes -- Bacon-Wrapped Squirrel, Cajun Squirrel, Chicken-Fried Squirrel, Squirrel Cacciatore, Squirrel in Cream Sauce, and Squirrel Stew. The one I'm going to present here, Squirrel Creole, is gamey enough for the football crowd, yet tailored to the refined palate.

Of course, you wouldn't dream of serving a dish like this unaccompanied by the perfect wine. Scott Jones, food editor and wine expert at Southern Living, recommends a full-bodied Syrah. Try Yellow Tail -- an excellent expression of dark fruit and spice, and at around 7-8 bucks a bottle, it's a Grumpy Best Buy.

Squirrel Creole

~ 4 squirrels, cut into pieces

~ 2 tbsp. canola oil

~ 1 clove garlic, minced

~ 1 green pepper, chopped

~ 1 medium onion, chopped

~ 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

~ 2 cans(14.5-oz) tomatoes, chopped

~ salt and pepper to taste

~ 1 cup brown rice, uncooked

Season meat pieces with salt and pepper, lightly brown in oil

Combine remaining ingredients and mix well

Spoon into large casserole dish, arranging meat pieces on the top

Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender enough to fall off the bone.

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Thanks, Backwoods Bound! If only you'd been around to advise Miles Standish at the first Thanksgiving, a lot of innocent turkeys might have been spared. And our attics would be a whole lot quieter!

But, Grumpy, My Grocer Doesn't Stock Squirrel! What, Oh What Shall I Do?

It's hard to believe, but many supermarkets (obviously in the pockets of Big Turkey) fail to offer squirrel. This is not a problem for hunters, however, and it should not be for you. Did Miles Standish go to Publix for his turkey? He did not.

If unenlightened local ordinances prevent you from discharging firearms at suburban wildlife, try a squirrel trap. I find sunflowers seeds and peanut butter to be excellent bait. If they don't work, try an electric line squirrels can chew through the short out all the power to your home. No squirrel can resist that!

Many home centers carry squirrel traps. The one I recommend is the Havahart trap, which should really be named "Have-Some-Sweet-Taters-And-Cornbread-With-Your-Squirrel" trap. Go to www.havahart.com to order your trap. If it doesn't come by Thanksgiving, don't despair. Rocky will be glad to join you for Christmas.

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