It’s a Hoot

The Great Horned Owl

I thought we here in Glen Ellen must be pretty special because Great Horned Owls seem to be hanging out in our ‘hood – and hooting up a storm each night. Then I did a little research and realized they’re everywhere in the U.S. Alas, Glen Ellen isn’t so special after all.

Just a bit of info about these gorgeous creatures – which, admittedly, I’ve never seen in person: The Great Horned Owl doesn’t have horns – those are tufts of feathers. They usually weigh around 3 pounds and are about 20″ tall; their wing span is around 40″. Their flight is so silent that their prey likely never hear their approach. And – these owls have been known to fly away with small dogs!

While I’ve been busy learning about our neighborhood owls, Andy – in today’s Andy’s Corner – has been busy researching a “family” owl – and remembering another predator he was familiar with as a child.

This National Geographic video is fascinating and short – but not for the squeamish!

According to the Audubon Society, these Great Horned Owls take rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and skunks. They eat some birds up to size of geese, ducks, hawks, and smaller owls. They also eat snakes, lizards, frogs, insects, scorpions, but rarely fish. I’ve also read that they’re also known to eat chickens, which causes big issues.

There are times we could really use these Great Horned Owls in action, rather than sitting in a tree hooting. Our tomato patch has been decimated this year for the first time ever by some unknown creatures. A long discussion on our local NextDoor would indicate it’s rats – or possibly squirrels – doing the damage. I might feel kind of bad to see one of our pesky squirrels fly away in the talons of the owl, but I’d likely cheer if our local rats became a part of the diet of a Great Horned Owl.

Damage done to our tomatoes by…a squirrel? a rat? a raccoon?

In deciding upon today’s owl-based recipe, I couldn’t possibly go for squirrel (though we were offered squirrel gumbo at a party in Baton Rouge when we first arrived there. Needless to say, we had a We’re-Not-in-Colorado-Any-More moment). And we’re clearly not into rat meat (why we don’t eat rats may be a good topic for a blog one day) – so the next thing that came to mind was rabbit. Do you remember the dish Welsh Rabbit – later changed to Welsh Rarebit, so that diners weren’t confused about whether they were eating meat – or not?

A Welsh vegetarian Rabbit dish is clearly the perfect recipe to celebrate Wynn, our new little Welsh Corgi – who BTW has been instructed to watch out for Great Horned Owls. And we don’t give a hoot whether you think that Welsh Rabbit name is weird or not. AND we’re pretty sure our Great Horned Owls can’t be tricked into eating Welsh Rabbit, even if they should be considering a more meat-free diet.

FYI: one source says the name Welsh Rabbit came about because Welsh peasants couldn’t afford meat, so the name was some kind of attempt to appease them. A 16th-century tale about the dish is even wilder: Apparently “toasted cheese” in Welsh translates as “caws pobi.” The story goes that God asked St Peter to get rid of the Welsh from heaven, as they kept causing a ruckus.  St Peter marched outside the Pearly Gates and shouted “caws pobi!”. All of the Welsh men and women excitedly ran out of the gates to get their cheese and toast – and the gates were slammed behind them (since I have a lot of Welsh in me, I feel it’s PC for me to tell this tale). 🙂

One final note: should you be in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the near future, check out the Welsh Rabbit Bistro and Cheese Shop. It’s in the fun part of FoCo – Old Town.

Welsh Rabbit – or top with a fried egg and you’ve got a “Buck Rabbit!” Yum.

Welsh Rabbit

If you top this with a crispy fried egg, you’ve created a “Buck Rabbit” – which we love for breakfast.  This is classic pub food, so think casual when you serve it.  Quick lunch?  A snack?  LIght dinner?  Drink any remaining stout along with it 🙂

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 c porter beer or stout (we use Guinness Stout)
  • 1/4 c cream
  • 1 1/2 c –  shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 drops hot sauce
  • 4 slices toasted rye bread or thin slices of a baquette (buttered, if you like)
  • minced chives for garnish (optional)
  • paprika sprinkled on top for garnish (optional)
  • crispy fried bacon as a topping (optional)
  • crispy fried egg for topping (optional)

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth. Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 4 inches from the heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange the toasts on top. Spoon the cheddar mixture over the toasts, and broil until bubbling and browned around the edges.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.


  1. Connie Smith says:

    When i was a child, we sometimes had Welsh rabbit for Sunday night supper at my grandparents house. Everyone had it on toast, except for my grandfather and me. We had ours over Ritz crackers. The best!


  2. Robert Briggs Carleton says:

    When we were getting our shots updated for our first visit to Asia, the travel-nurse advised that there was one thing we should avoid in Thailand… A street food “fave” that is deep fried rat. We decided to avoid street food entirely (though we did indulge at a KFC street joint in Beijing).


    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: Did you get an opportunity to see any of the deep fried delicacy? Just wondering if they left the tail intact. Also, did you wonder what kind of chicken (if indeed it was chicken) was in your KFC bucket?


  3. David Ewing says:

    Looks awfully like what my dad used to call SOS, though that did have a little salty meat-like stuff in it. And my mom fairly often served Bread and Gravy, but that was made of only pan drippings and flour. Adding cheese and chives and mustard sounds more like something French than Welsh.


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