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Poachers Stewpot

This week's extract from the play 'In Time o' Strife' by Joe Corrie in our 'A Kist o Ferlies' feature is a reminder of the high cost in human terms of the coal-mining industry. Coal has been extracted in Scotland since the Middle Ages but an era came to an end with the closure of the Longannet Colliery, Fife, in March 2002 - the last deep Scottish mine. Incredible as it must be viewed from the 21st century, colliers and their families in Scotland were treated as serfs until 1799. In that year they were finally freed from servitude to coalmasters and the last vestige of medieval serfdom disappeared from Scotland. But coal-mining was always dangerous and death and injury a common daily occurance - Scottish history records many pit disasters. A sad reminder of the death-toll in the mining industry is on display in Fife until the end of August 2002. The Fife Mining Memorial Book, unveiled at the centenary of the Donibristle disaster last August, will be on view at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library. The book lists the names of people who have lost their lives working in the Fife pits and was dedicated at a service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Donibristle disaster, and has since been displayed in venues throughout West and Central Fife.
It was compiled by staff in the Fife Library service along with volunteers such as former SNP Councillor Joe Paterson, Lochore, from official records, newspaper accounts and private information from relations and descendants of casualties. The book contains about 1800 names with the earliest dating from 1829. The fatalities include at least 20 women, the youngest being a girl of four and the eldest a man aged 78. As well as being displayed in the villages and towns of the Fife coalfield area, the Memorial Book is also available on the internet  - visit  - for anyone interested in the mining industry, viewing the website on the Fife coalfield, compiled by Michael Martin, is indispensible.
In times of hardship, such as the Miner Strikes of 1921 and 1926, many a miner must have poached a rabbit or two, or similiar game, for the pot which inspires this week's recipe - Poachers Stewpot. Rabbit makes an excellent stew or casserole.
Poachers Stewpot
Ingredients : 2 lb ( 1 kg ) rabbit cut into pieces; 1/2 oz ( 15 g ) lard or dripping; 8 oz ( 225 g ) streaky bacon, chopped; 1 oz ( 25 g ) plain flour; 1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks; 2 sticks celery, cut into pieces; 1/2 pint ( 300 ml ) brown ale; 1/2 pint ( 300 ml ) stock; salt and pepper
Heat the lard in a large flameproof casserole and fry the bacon, onions and celery until brown. Coat the rabbit in flour, add to the casserole and brown well. Add the ale and stock, and season well. Cover and cook in the oven at 190 deg C, 375 deg F, Gas Mark 5 for about one hour or until tender. If desired dumplings may be added for the last 25 minutes of cooking. Serves 8.

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