Category: Food


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I am a Roadkill Recycler, Cook and Wild Food Forager. 
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I often hold  impromptu workshops at camps and small festivals, teaching the joys of Roadkill Preparation and Preservation.
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HOWEVER… I AM AVAILABLE TO FACILITATE AND TAILOR INDIVIDUAL WORKSHOPS AND DEMONSTRATIONS UPON REQUEST.
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I love what I do.
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I am a very happy scavenger and I dislike waste.
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true story of a roadkill cook
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Wild Meat!

“It always amazes me how squeamish your average carnivore is!”

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My workshops are either individually tailored or totally spontaneous.  They often include discussions about the many symbolic, cultural, moral and ethical meanings and values of “recycling ”.  In particular awareness is raised with regard to the human consumption of Wild and “Accidental Meat” as opposed to the “factory farmed” varieties found in supermarkets and butcher’s shops.

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These sessions always include a practical workshop imparting some of the knowledge required for the preparation of dead animals for food, art and taxidermy.

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“I deal with all animals and participants in a sensitive, respectful, responsible and ‘matter of fact’ manner.  I feel that if one intends to be a carnivore , then one would benefit from knowing what the process involves – from beginning to end and in-between.”

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As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the ‘experiencer’, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something delicious, beautiful and compelling, often from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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Is it still fresh?

Is it still fresh?

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Roadkill Recycling, Eating and Artwork…

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“When I see a tray of pre-packaged meat, I often wonder how the animal had been fed, what it ate, how it was looked after, respected, transported and finally slaughtered.  Did the animal suffer?  What has been pumped into it?  Is it full of antibiotics and growth hormones?  What is its carbon footprint?  Do I even want to put this meat in my body or offer it to my family?”

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Essential questions, especially if we are to try to live a ‘green’ and sustainable life now and in the future.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -   J. Krishnamurti 

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Come and learn a Survival/ Essential Life Skill, and maybe even challenge your own perceptions and concepts of “weird”, “disgust”, and fears of the unknown and unusual.  

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Participate and ask questions, or be a spectator – everyone is welcome – carnivore and vegetarian alike.

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Prepare to feel closer to Nature and more in tune with what you eat.

These are not your average workshops!

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Please contact me to discuss your thoughts and requirements.

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Ali cooking
Cooking road kill on Come Dine With Me.
(a 2 minute clip)

“YUMMY MUMMY” 

My Experimental Adventures Lacto Fermenting Using Raw Breast Milk

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First step, seperated breast milk into curds and whey

- “MAMA MOOLI” -

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nourishing-traditions I had been trawling the web for ages looking for a local raw milk supplier so I can start lacto-fermenting foods.  We had recently bought the book ‘Nourishing Traditions’ and I had been building up courage to experiment with lacto-fermented vegetables, cultured dairy products and fermented beverages like kombucha.

To begin I ideally needed to make “WHEY” – as in ‘Curds and Whey‘.

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Finding good RAW mlk turned out to be quite a challenge as there are many laws regarding the selling and comsuming of unpasteurised milk.  A lot of the information out there is trying to convince you that drinking raw milk was DANGEROUS!

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We did the research.

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The benefits, in my humble opinion far outweigh the risks.  So I kept looking for a local supplier, preferably of organic ‘Goat’ milk.

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Then a penny dropped… “DING!”… “what the feck, Derrrrr!!”

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surprised goat

We have a live organic goat living with us already… ME!!!

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Why didn’t I think of it before?  Was it simply because of the cultural conditioning  and belief that drinking your own breast milk is a bit, well, “Eeeeeewwe” ???

Really?  My god!  It is barmy when you think about it.  Human milk is designed for us, but we drink, and feed our new-borns and children, milk from another ‘species’, often rather than our own!!!  A species that is factory farmed, sometmes in terrible conditions, regularly pumped full of growth hormones, antibiotics and fed pesticide enriched food stuffs?  And THAT is totally socially acceptable?  How weird is that?  “Eeeeeewwe”!

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Well, MY milk tastes bloody yummily lovely thank you very much, lol, and it is clean, chock full of antibodies and completely free!

That was it.  Didn’t need any convincing.  Time to get pumping!

 “MOOOOOOooooooooooo”

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happy mad cow

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Soooo, I started pumping!!! … and pumping!!!

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Unfortunatly me and the pump… we don’t like each other (long story) so didn’t get much out.  Thanks to copious amounts of Green & Blacks chocolate I eventually got a few fluid ounces out.

It was enough however to make my first jar of lacto fermented “MAMMA MOOLI” using my own milk!  And it was great, Yayyyyy!!

 (if a little salty… I used too much salt)

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The process was the same as the one laid out in the book for normal fermentation using whey and I will provide a link here  to the recipes rather than type the whole thing out (busy mum needs to find short cuts and solutions, lol)

I hope the pics are enough of a visual guide and I am happy to anwswer any questions personally using the comment boxes provided with this post.

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Since originally drafying this page ages ago I have weaned my little one.

I could have happily extended the breast feeding, but my partner and I are trying for another.  At 44 years old I need to maximise my chances.

Sadly, breast feeding is one of those things that can inhibit conceiving.  The process of weaning was (sometimes still is) actually harder for me than it was for him.  I still get a little emotional at times, my hormones are taking an entire cycle, at least, to return to normal.  I am content that our little ‘Mooster’ was given the very best start in life and had his ‘booby’ for a good 18 months.

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However…. the story does not stop there!

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One of my dear lactating friends, Eirene, upon much encouragement by me, has begun pumping for the Milk Bank.  How fantastic is that!!

She is now a breast milk donor for the poor little premature babies who do not get the chance others get.  She has an abundance of rich, nourishing and much needed milk, and now she saves lives!  I am so proud of her.

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Caitlin, another breast milk donor fed my little one when things got tough for me at one point in the early days.  I saw her personally at her home and was lucky enough to get her milk ‘raw’ and unpasteurized.  She even wet-nursed my baby, which was a huge experience for both of us.  We are quite close now, a bond was formed between us that can never be broken.

Eventually I pumped my milk back and continued to feed my baby for another 15 months,

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Soooo, Eirene with regularity has a freezer full of bags of lovely milk.

All the milk that the bank cannot take, she is giving me… so my lacto fermenting veggie adventures using breast milk continue…. Yaayyyyyyyyyy!!!!

….but using someone else’s milk…. lol.

Now that raises another eyebrow doesn’t it!!

raised eyebrow baby

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As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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Feel free to explore my site and other posts such as…

 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

 “Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it”

12 Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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Other blogs on ART projects -

SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKIN, ANTI  BADGER-CULL TRIP-TIC, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART &  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

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“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

PLACENTA ART & COOKERY

  Earth  Air  Fire  Water

 Self portrait of the archetypal image of Sheela-Na-Gig in B/W, Earth, Air, Fire & Water.

       

  A series of experiments completed during my artist’s residency at the NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

During my time at the Nomadic Village 2012 I just happened to have a 13 week old placenta sat in the freezer.  An odd thing to have in the freezer?  Maybe – if you weren’t me, I guess.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.  I wanted to create as many beautiful things from it as possible – before I ate it.

Eating placenta was something I found to be incredibly natural.  It is called Placentophagy and most mammals do it – are we really that different? Even herbivores eat theirs!  Apparently camels are the exception to the rule – perhaps they don’t like theirs covered in sand.

From a cruelty-free, veggie perspective – it’s the only piece of meat (save eating a surgically chopped-off bit) whose owner didn’t have to die first for it to be eaten!

The way we treat the placenta in the West is to incinerate it (and hospital maternity units don’t offer mothers the option to keep it), but there are other cultures in which it has a special place in rituals following a birth. It is common to use them in symbolic burials and tree planting.

The Chinese use it in traditional medicine and it’s growing in popularity to have it dried and encapsulated.  ‘Potential’ benefits of eating your placenta are:

  • Warding off postpartum depression.
  • Improving breast milk supply
  • Stimulating involution of the uterus
  • Increasing energy and even preventing aging
  • Postpartum hemorrhage

I could blab on and on about what I have read and learned about placentas, but I reckon I’ll save that for another blog!

I was too preoccupied after the birth to dig out and defrost my carefully stored placenta and cook it.  As I briefly mentioned, you can hire someone to dry it out and reform it into easy-to-swallow capsules, but I wanted to do more with it than that, so I left it there, among the bags of liquidized kale, yellow-label Tesco bargains and Suma nuts and seeds.

The opportunity arose when I was chosen to participate as a resident artist in the Nomadic Village project – ahhhh, enforced creativity time… I would never have prioritized this idea otherwise.

mobile exhibition space      

On one of those amazing hot sunny days, under our snow-cam, lean-to in the shade of our motor home I prepped a workspace for my, now defrosted, placenta.  Fellow nomadic sound artist Marek Gabrsych, recorded and documented the entire process from printing to fine-dining.

I did the following things on a large roll of wallpaper liner…

  1. Placenta Printing
  2. Painted Sheela-Na-Gig images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. Lino Prints
  4. Cured the Amniotic Sac that contained Max and stretched the skin
  5. Made the artistic piece, “A Womb With A View”
  6. Cooked the rest and shared the meal with my partner and four adventurous others!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism
  8. Retained the rest of the skin to make other things at a later date – including a pair of baby booties! I tried to crotchet a pair, but the pattern flummoxed me!

1.  Placenta Prints

Printing onto wallpaper lining using the blood in the amniotic sac. Nomadic Village 2012

 Without really doing much with the organ, I blotted it using the wallpaper liner spread before me.  I repeated the process, experimenting with positioning.  It was an amazing thing to play with.  The veins running through the skin made patterns like a road map, palm print and tree roots.  The flesh inside the bag was just like a sponge, in texture and function… it just kept on blotting!!

2.  Sheela-Na-Gig

Painting Sheela-Na-Gig using blood mixed with black food colouring. Nomadic Village 2012.

 The bowl within which the placenta had been defrosting was full of blood!  I experimented by painting with this blood and then mixing it with black food colouring – it applied like ink!  I repeatedly painted a stylized self portrait based on a Sheela-Na-Gig – an ancient and archetypal pre-Christian image of fertility.  I had a picture of this on the wall near my birthing pool to assist me through the first and second stages of labour.  It reminded me that women have been doing this for millennia and it ‘does stretch that much’!

 

3.  Lino Prints

Block printing using a lino tile and placenta blood. Nomadic Village 2012.

I then made some block prints using a lino tile I had cut just days before the birth.  The image was that of the Sheela-Na-Gig image that helped me through labour.  I made pencil rubbings of the tile and created thank-you cards for my ‘Blessingway Sisters’ who had nurtured me beautifully.

4.  Placenta Rawhide

Scraping the amniotic sac in prearation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

I skinned the placenta to remove the bag Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!  Failing that, I could make a shamanic baby’s rattle!  And I could attach the rattlesnake’s tail I had brought back from the States during last year’s ‘Burning Man’ trip.

The skin was beautiful and heavily veined near the umbilical cord.  I could not seperate it in one large unbroken piece so ended up with three medium sized bits.  The skin wasn’t a single thickness either – it seemed to be made up of two layers.  It reminded me of the construction of ply-wood.  I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits in salt, stretched them on the wallpaper and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum or baby’s rattle.

The umbilical cord had gone pink in colour, as opposed to the beautiful white colour with a royal blue vein spiraling around it.  An umbilical cord has two arteries and a vein, known as a three vessel cord.  We would have liked to have had it cryogenically stored for possible future stem cell use… but it just didn’t happen.

I still have the cord in the freezer, part of it I will bury under a tree…but the rest?  Suggestions anybody?

5.  A Womb with a View

Using whatever bits I could find in the van, I made a light box, backlit with the LED innards of my broken head torch, a  plastic version of a 12-week-old fetus that was given to me last year, tissue-paper and a placenta skin window.  I named it,  “A Womb with a View”.  I have a little skin left so I am going to also make a pair of booties to hang like fluffy dice, lol.

         

Recycled mixed media and placenta skin  (Nomadic Village UK 2012)

6.  Placenta Bourguignon

    Placenta cookery, dining in the communal kitchen, Nomadic Village 2012  

We did get around to eating it eventually that day, with my partner Marcus.  In fact… four adventurous others tried it too… it was delicious!  We first tried a small piece lightly fried in olive oil just to see how it tasted before the addition of onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of tomato paste, red wine and seasoning.  It was really tastey! I thought it tasted like lamb with the texture of heart, and Marcus thought it tasted more akin to beefy liver.  Marcus also tried a small section of umbilical cord and when asked what it was like - ‘parilla’ was the answer – ‘intestine’ to the uninitiated, lol.

It was amusing to see the looks on the faces of those who had tried it in a moment of curious spontaneity, after they had had a while to mentally process the occasion.  They would give me a skewed look of “Did I really just eat that?” or “OMG!!  That fell out of your vagina!” lol. One of the funniest comments was when Austrian Captain Klaus tried some – he said

“It iz very nice in zee mouth, but very weird in zee head”. 

The moment of ‘fine dining’ was recorded as a live performance, albeit quite private in one corner of the kitchen tent.  The table was decorated with beautiful orchids (unbeknown to everyone, they had decorated the lid of a coffin recently and we wanted to recycle them).

Later we had a discussion on cannibalism.

7.  Cordon bleu or Cannibalism?

Now then, I keep saying ‘my’ placenta, but in actual fact, it isn’t mine, it is Max’s!  It carries his genome.  So… despite me growing it, and giving birth to it, it belonged to Max.  This meant that eating it was actually a form of ‘cannibalism’!  This sparked a couple of interesting conversations on the subject which will have to be saved for a different blog.  In the meantime, here is someone elses blog that pretty much covers it…

Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?

As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the experiencer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Great!!  I get to tackle ‘another’ taboo!  I also get to playfully threaten Max later on with…

“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

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COMING UP!!    – Placenta skin Booties!  WATCH THIS SPACE!!

Look out for blogs on my other projects created at Nomadic Village– SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE   &   JAPANESE INSPIRED WISHING TREE

“BEYOND BELIEF”

Scottish Foraging Adventures and Roadkill Collaborations for Beyond Productions and the Discovery Channel – EXTREME WORLDS – Now renamed “FORBIDDEN”

forbidden snip

I am contacted quite often by people interested in my ‘free spirited lifestyle’, artwork and personal angle on wild food foraging, ethical meat-eating and, of course, roadkill.  Sometimes they want to get to know me personally, other times they ask me to be a contributor or consultant on various matters I have special knowledge on.

Anyhow, I was contacted recently by a Researcher from Beyond Productions (Discovery Networks International) who are working on a new series called ‘Extreme Worlds’.  The Australian based company ‘Beyond’ has made many popular shows and documentaries. I personally used to watch their series ‘Taboo’ on the National Geographic Channel years ago.

Taboo - National Geographic

Beyond, a respected and award-winning independent production company based in Sydney, Australia, is producing a new series for Discovery Networks International provisionally entitled ‘Extreme Worlds’.  The series is shooting across the globe, and will comprise of 12 one hour episodes featuring three or four stories each. It will air in 209 countries and territories across the world, reaching an anticipated audience of over 1.3 billion.

Each episode will have a theme that looks at subcultural movements and exciting, unusual and enlightening belief systems or ways of life.

“Well, that’s us then!”  lol.

They wanted to explore the phenomenon of eating roadkill and had been looking at my blog site.  They liked my ‘sass’ and attitude towards the self sustainability aspects of being nomadic and the symbolic, cultural, moral and ethical meanings and values of eating & recycling ‘accidental meat’.

On a recent trip to Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

‘It’ started as a bit of a program about Marcus and myself, living as a new family with high hopes for a different and more alternative future, living off the land, close to nature and doing what we can now, to make that change possible.  Our philosophy on life being one of kindness and inclusion of others, self sustainability and zero waste, all the time respecting Mother Earth, everything on her and trusting the flow of things.

It was then suggested that it would be a lovely idea to have a feast on the last day of filming and include like-minded friends, all eating our foraged foods. I liked the sound of that.  I didn’t feel precious about the whole filming thing anyway, and very nearly sacked the whole thing off a couple of times - it’s a lot of work!!  What was important though was the ‘message’ and it needed to be voiced by friends of sound knowledge, credibility and experience, so we didn’t look like a bunch of redneck, hippy dippy nutters!!

Stereotypical Redneck Nutters

The Media can’t helping being slaves to sensationalism – we don’t have to be.  Despite the odds, I believe one can be authentic in media, depending on the production company, and get a very important point across as to how we are wrecking our planet and what we can do about it. For us, this is to live as peaceably, gently, non-materialistically on our beloved planet which invariably means not conforming to the norm – The norm being, in my opinion, drastically sick and, without change, terminal – for the myopic human race at least, probably taking half the other species with it!

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -  J. Krishnamurti

As it happened… serendipity cast her magic wand over this band of would-be collaborators.  Instinctively, late one night, alone in those magical early hours sat by a crackling fire, I looked at my list of dear friends and kindred spirits and wondered if I could add a few more to it – a bit of ‘fresh blood’, lol.  I boldly emailed a few people whom I had either met briefly in the past, facebooked or messaged occasionally.  All of these people I admired and respected for what they do.  I was becoming very excited about an opportunity for us all to meet, learn and grow in the hope that one day in the future we may help and support each other, as part of a community/collective with common goals, all hoping for a better and more sustainable existence!  I felt invigorated, instinctual, inspired – and everyone accepted my invitation.

Special Thanks

I know we can’t talk much about it now, however, I hope everyone agreed that we were a band of individuals who felt a personal connection with each other and blessed to be part of a Wee Scottish Adventure!  An inner and outer journey! This was a chance to be close to nature and each other, to respect, inspire, include, share, care and co-create.  We attended with open hearts, mindfulness and responsibility for our own experiences, our effect on the group and the spirit of our gathering.  We had huge fun, some of it totally bonkers as you might imagine!!  In the words of our dear Ebony…

“…you just couldn’t make this shit up!!”

 Special thanks go to the following people  who very generously gave themselves up to make our weekend a truly wonderful and authentic experience.   I would also like to thank the film crew.  They were very professional, open, honest and made the experience lots of fun! 

                                     Thank you.                           

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Above all…

Marcus and Max

I want to thank the most amazing man I have ever known – Marcus!!  Without him NONE of this would have happened.  Thank you for your strength, your support, wisdom and belief in me.   You make me feel excited about life, love and the future - about what we can create together (and I’m not just talking about  ‘Mooster’, lol).

Thank you for being an incredible man and deep, open-hearted father.  I love you so much.  xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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“THE ROADKILL COLLABORATORS”

or, maybe preferably

“THE ACCIDENTAL MEAT COLLECTIVE”

 In alphabetical order, first names first…  

 Alison Brierley – Nomadic Shamanic Artist, Road Kill Recycler & Life Skill Liberator

Using roadkill bones to make jewellery - BoliviaAlison works with organic materials in an often shamanic nature, a resourceful recycler she transforms wildlife and dead animals such as road kill in an attempt to use everything, she dislikes waste.  She harnesses these methods to honour birth, life, sex, death and renewal, her practice also involves wild foraging, creating a deep connection with the environment by surviving from the land.  Themes in her work stem from nature as well as anthropological and ethnological studies of tribal cultures, these are informed by her extensive travelling.

Alison often works with schools and the wider community on projects, working alongside others to push boundaries and challenge preconceptions.

“During filming for EXTREME WORLDS I will be exploring ideas of survival and self-sufficiently, especially in a nomadic context.  I will recycle road kill (and Max’s placenta, lol) to prepare food, create useful and artistic objects, encouraging interaction, participation, education and activism.   I will share my knowledge with anyone who genuinely wants to learn more about living a simple life, appreciative of each others gifts, and connected to, nature”.

Ali, her partner and child are nomadic and their home is on wheels.  They practice ‘simple living’.

“Our long-term goal is to live off-grid, ever evolving and be totally self-sufficient”.

http://alisonbrierley.wordpress.com/

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Bill Wiseman – Our Acting Spokesman for the Revival of Ancient Crafts

Bill has a lifelong interest in ancient crafts and several years’ involvement in experimental archaeology.

Bill acted as a ‘volunteer villager’ in the early days of WestStowAnglo-SaxonVillage in Suffolk, demonstrating ancient crafts to visitors.  He has recreated artefacts from various ancient civilisations for both ornament and practical use.  He has built and used an Iron Age loom (still has it), can spin using drop spindle, weave and make pots using Iron Age methods.

He has made several flat and longbows, and is an excellent archer.  Bill is a true craftsman and passionately enjoys passing on his knowledge and skills to younger folk, as he firmly believes these are things that should not be lost.

Thank you dear Bill for your patience, kindness, calmness and wealth of knowledge. It is an honour to learn from you.

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Ebony Andrews: Postgraduate Researcher and Natural Science Enthusiast

Ebony Andrews - Postgraduate researcher and natural science enthusiast.Ebony is currently undertaking PhD research into the interpretation of museum taxidermy collections at museums located in the North of England. She is also a seminar tutor at the University of Leeds.

Formerly a taxidermy assistant for National Museums Scotland, Ebony is trained in the preparation and tanning of animal skins for museological purposes. She has worked with a diverse range of species, from large and charismatic exotics to more common native species and everything in between. In addition, as a volunteer at various museums over the years, Ebony has gained experience in the conservation and restoration of natural science specimens which has contributed to her developing knowledge of taxidermy and taxidermic techniques.

As a Fine Art graduate and self-confessed ‘craftsperson and maker’ rather than ‘artist’, Ebony has exhibited at a number of venues across the UK including the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, and at various sites across London amongst others. Her practice, both in art and research, is strongly influenced by her interest in the political and ethical discourses on the relationship between humans, nature and the natural environment. Working closely with animals has led her on an interesting, and at times emotional journey which is in a constant state of renewal and re-evaluation:

‘How I feel about animals and their habitats has shifted dramatically over the decade in which I have been working both with, and on them. Today issues relating to animals and their environments can provoke strong ethical and moral questions, as indeed they should, and I think it’s crucial that we reflect upon our relationship with the natural world to investigate why’. 

Along with her enthusiasm for nature and the natural world, particularly its preservation, Ebony is also interested in how cultural institutions construct and perpetuate notions of individual and collective identity through the interpretation of history, heritage and memory.

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Fergus Drennan – The Roadkill Chef, Wild Man & Wild Food Experimentalist and Inspiration Engineer

Sten - The Suburban BushwackerFergus Drennan is a broadcaster, writer and educator on the delights of food foraged from the wild.

Best-known for his BBC programme “The Roadkill Chef”, Fergus runs courses for schools and clients on foraging and preparing wild food.

An enthusiastic and experienced forager, working with wild plants as a gateway for exploring issues connected with sustainability, ecology, mental and physical health, spirituality, creativity and life purpose. He is an evangelist for the promotion of wild foods, with the ability to connect you directly with nature - and help provide a rooted sense of place and belonging.

Fergus, on the 1st of May, will be embarking on an incredible journey – to spend an entire year in the UK living 100% entirely on foods foraged himself!  His supporting website will be a resource packed full of free information on Wild Food, what you can do with it, and free videos regardless of whether or not you wish to donate, but please support and sponsor him.  This is knowledge we need to preserve and re-learn.

http://www.indiegogo.com/one-year-total-wild-food
http://www.wildmanwildfood.co.uk/index.html
http://wildmanwildfood.blogspot.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/fergustheforage
https://www.facebook.com/fergus.drennan

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Fraser Simpson – The Happy Haptic – Bone Carver, Wild Food Forager & Chef 

 

fraser Simpson - The Happy HapticFraser is enthralled with the haptic .  Taking what is intrinsically a valueless, readily available material, bone, he sculpts beautiful objects using a few basic hand tools most of which are to be found in “granddad’s shed”.

He draws his inspiration from a broad range of interests but his main influences are anthropological, symbolic and the mathematical structures of nature.  His work is inspired by the many anonymous artists working in bone since, archaeologists maintain, art began, including:

The Original Cave Man, Many Tribal artisans around the world, Scrimshanders, French Prisoners of War, Netsuke Makers.

Fraser is currently working on building interest in bone carving through a series of workshops, exhibitions and lectures.  He is also making the first tentative steps in collating a book on the subject matter.

Fraser’s art harks back to a life more simple when time itself seemed slower and more readily available. A time that can be recreated, he has found, through the practice of bone carving.  He is currently working on a project using the bones from the Ox Roast in Windsor which was held to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

He is also a director of Artists.ltd.

http://www.artists.ltd.uk/content.asp?id=4&doc=5

http://www.artists.ltd.uk/content.asp?id=11&doc=17

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Jonathan McGee - Professional Photographer

 

Jonathan Mcgee - Professional PhotographerJonathan is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and was invited along to join the Roadkill Group to document the process and provide coverage for Beyond.  Jonathan has a good working knowledge of the environment and foraging having grown up in the countryside.  He has a passion for cooking and helped the team prepare and assemble the great feast that marked the end of this gathering.

Jonathan is very skilled and extremely passionate about his photography and this comes across in his work.  He has a talent for connecting to his subject and is able to provide unseen coverage in an artistic and documentary style regardless of subject matter.  He was great to watch at work, so energetic and enthusiastic, his process was unobtrusive but still very exciting to be part of.  He is passionate about his art and it shows in the images he captures.

@: jonathan.m.mcgee@btinternet.com

www.jonathanmmcgee.com

www.shootingphotography.co.uk

facebook: jonathan m mcgee photography

facebook: shooting photography and countryside pursuits

T: 07805575547

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Kathryn Libby – Natural Therapist & Shamanic Facilitator

Kathryn Libby – Natural Therapist & Shamanic Facilitator Kathryn is a professional Natural Therapist who is additionally well practiced in creating and running Sweat Lodges.  She also runs workshops in drum making using ancient and traditional methods.

It was when she moved to Northumberland in 2002 that she first encountered usable roadkill initially just picking recently dead pheasants from the road and taking them home to prepare for dinner. A few years later, having hit a deer by accident, she then had to have it dispatched due to the injuries it sustained. She took it home, gutted it in the bath and, due to a lack of space had the local butcher cut it up.  All the meat was used and the hide was used to re-cover her djembe.

Never wanting to be wasteful, she enjoys creating beautiful objects from what nature puts her way.  She also enjoys the health benefits of natural food such as roadkill compared to factory style farmed meat.  A strong and amazing woman, passionate about being respectful of all living things.

kathryn.libby@live.co.uk

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Linda king – Mother, lover, daughter, sister, healer, friend, facilitator and member of the Human Race.

 

Linda king – Mother, lover, daughter, sister, healer, friend, facilitator,

“These different aspects of who I am and what I can offer and share in the world continue to rebalance and integrate as I flow through and live my Life …. I enjoy making things happen particularly in collaboration with others”. 

Linda draws from her rich and varied background as an artist and therapist having trained in deep tissue bodywork, humanistic psychology, counseling and art therapy alongside a life-long interest in natural medicines and the healing arts.

She is constantly exploring different ways of working with energy whether that be through hands-on healing work, the visual arts or exploring Labyrinths, Land Energies and the Elements to promote curiosity, peace and personal transformation.

Her artwork is an emotional and intuitive enquiry – drawing from, and fulfilling, a deep answering and longing - which provides a map of her psyche.  At those times when she gets the image just right, something deeply satisfying happens – a bit more of her fits into place.

As intuitive healer, she offers individual sessions of intuitive massage and bodywork to help maintain balance and well-being, allowing greater energetic flow within all our systems and promoting greater self understanding.

A dear friend and sensual wild woman - I can vouch for her ‘magic’ hands!!  lol.

www.lindaking.org.uk

www.celebratewomen.org.uk

lindaking3@btinternet.com

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Mother Malarky – Shamanic Taxidermist, Drum Maker  and Forager

Mother Malarky - Shamanic Taxidermist, Drum Maker and ForagerAfter 30 years as a “veggie”, Mother Malarky decided to change and live according to her beliefs.  She became committed to using whatever the Universe puts in her path.

Her respect for living animals means only killing to eat, not for sport, and respect for a dead animal means utilising every bit of it, and doing so with gratitude.  She has a strong sense of community and skill sharing.

She is experienced in the entire process of butchering, skinning, cooking & eating roadkill.  She has an immense knowledge of flavours and recipes.  A Wild and Witchy Woman!  ‘Magic’ happens in her kitchen!

http://www.wildshamanicdrums.blogspot.co.uk/

http://alisonbrierley.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/tufty-tastic-sausage-making-lessons-from-the-roadkill-sausage-queen/

mothermalarky@hotmail.co.uk

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Sten  – The Suburban Bushwacker: Hunter, Forager and Adventurer

Sten - The Suburban Bushwacker.A tubby suburban dad (his words, lol) watching hunting and adventure shows on TV and wondering “Could I do that?”… 

… Well, YES! He can!

Well known for his TV appearance with Paul Merton, amongst others.  A prolific blogger and adventurer.  He chronicles his life whilst learning how to Forage, Hunt and Fish for food that has…

“lived a life I would wish for myself – Wild and Free!”

His blog is the story of the journey between fat-dad to bushwhacker-dude, how and why he collects kit, learns skills and gets inspired by adventure storytelling.  When suburban life doesn’t get in the way, he has a few adventures of his own.

http://suburbanbushwacker.blogspot.co.uk/

suburbanbushwacker@gmail.com

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Serena Hodgson – Willow and Craft Worker and Living Historian

Serena Hodgson – Willow and Craft Worker and Living Historian

Serena is a passionate environmentalist, educator and historian who achieved a Certificate in Permaculture in 2006 and graduated from the Open University in 2008 with a BSc(Hons) Environmental Studies.

After many years working as a psychiatric nurse and primary school teacher she decided to follow her heart and start a business working with willow, recycled materials and as a living historian.

Serena is a multi-skilled crafts-woman and an amazing cook.  Thank you for showing me how to drop spindle and use a peg loom…. and for the cakes!!  Nom! Nom! Nom!

www.serenahodgson.com

serena@serenahodgson.com

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Tina Langshaw – Creator of Beautiful Things

Tina Langshaw - Creator of Beautiful ThingsTina is an amazingly warm, creative and generous woman.  A natural healer and nurturer, she is knowledgable in alternative therapies and traditions.

She’s an experienced performer and organiser of large events and arts and crafts workshops.  She also enjoys foraging, preserving, and making her own household products and cosmetics.  She is deeply connected with nature and the art of recycling.

Tina is an amazing cook and inspirational cake maker.  She is a dear friend and a privilege to know.

A quiet and private person who shows her ‘cheeky’ side in small groups.

“Loves hugs, wine and cake!”

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Simon Wray – 3D Digital Artist

Simon Wray - 3D Digital ArtistSimon Wray graduated from Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 2005 and has worked as a 3D Digital Artist since that time.
 
Concentrating in the fields of animation, visual effects and motion graphics, he uses cutting edge technologies to bring ideas to life.  Simon has a strong admiration for nature and the environment and enjoys spending time in the countryside, particularly in his native Yorkshire Dales and further afield in Scotland. As a keen photographer he enjoys spending time outdoors photographing all types of animals, insects, plants and fungi. Through his nature photography Simon unites his digital skills with his interest in animals and their habitats.
 
Simon is open-minded when it comes to food and is always keen to try new things: “Eating animals that have been accidentally killed makes rational sense to me. In life they live a happier, healthier existence than the vast majority of animals reared for food today. They are often organic, not to mention free. We are making use of animals that would otherwise be left to decay, while reducing our reliance on big supermarket chains, not to mention our carbon footprint”.
 
In his spare time Simon enjoys mounting biking across challenging terrains and is currently planning a coast to coast ride for later in the year. As a seasoned cyclist he is rarely phased by a snowy cycle to work on a cold winter’s morning!
 

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 …and last but not least – our beautiful baby boy – who is an absolute joy!  We have been truly blessed by a child who is soooo happy to be born.  He lights up our life!  We knew it would be good, but we never realised just how intensely wonderful and amazing being a parent can be.

“Thank you Mooster”!

 Maximus Vladimir Speer - The Mooster!

Well, that’s it for now!   -  Hope you enjoy the show!!  

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During our last venture around Mainland Scotland, Skye and The Orkneys, we called in to see a dear friend of ours – Mother Malarky.

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Mother Malarky - Shamanic Taxidermist, Drum Maker and ForagerMother Malarky was one of my very first roadkill mentors and we always look forward to playing with dead things whenever we get together, be it learning how to taxidermy in her kitchen, skinning moles on the beach or holding impromptu roadkill workshops in a field somewhere!

It was at her house one evening in front of the fire that my beaver-fur bikini-bottom performance art piece “Nice Beaver” was re-named “Kali’s Pants” after it took on a greater spiritual and emotional meaning - and the addition of a pikes jaw bone from the Malarky mantelpiece and a handmade red velvet vulva, lol.  Ahhhh, some friends you just know you can be yourself with. lol.

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Ahhhhhh, Roadkill Squirrel Sausages - TUFTY-TASTIC!Well, one fine day back in October we descended on Ms.Malarky and her beloved fella.  We have always managed to make magic in her kitchen and this time was going to be no different.  Amongst other things, Mother Malarky is a fantastic cook, shamanic drum maker, wild food forager and roadkill recycler.  I have learned many things from her, and on this day, she taught me the fine art of sausage casting!  Yayyyyyy!  I had always wanted to do this, ever since I was a kid watching random folk on the ‘Generation Game’ totally fluffing it up.  Many a time since then I had wanted to make sausages but never had the equipment.  I often make terrines or pie and dumpling fillings out of small random bits of roadkill, but you can just about put ‘anything’ in a sausage.   Ahhhh, happy days, and Ma Malarky has just the tool for the job.

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carol cooking pike sausagesMalarky has now been dubbed The Queen of Roadkill Sausage Making.  Since purchasing her wonderful sausage machine she has just about ‘sausaged’ everything she can get her hands on!  Even Ozzy the cat and her beloved fella have stayed well out of the way!  lol.

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Now…first we had to decide what kind of sausages we wanted to make so we had a rummage in Pandora’s Ice Box.  A mammoth task!  This is a freezer I wish I had, it has more surprises than a ‘Forest Gump’ box of chocolates, everything but the mammoth.  It feels like Christmas opening the lid… well, it does to a dead thing lover like me, lol.  Every time she finds something on the road, and if the law allows, it goes straight into her ‘special’ freezer.   On this day she decided we will make squirrel sausages and she dug three out of the freezer. Two greys and one red.

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A word about Squirrels and the Law….

red+squirrel The red squirrel is a protected species in the UK and is included in Schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) (amended by the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000). It is an offence to intentionally kill or injure a red squirrel or intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy any structure or place a red squirrel uses for shelter or protection, or disturb a red squirrel while it occupies such a place.
Therefore you must be very careful about when and where you fell any trees. See the section on felling advice for more detail.

grey-squirrelThe grey squirrel is regarded as an invasive non-native species following its inclusion under Schedule 9 of the WCA. Grey squirrels are also listed in the IUCN international list of 100 worst invasive non-native species. This highlights the damage that grey squirrels cause to our native flora and fauna; a problem severe enough to be recognised at a level of global significance. As such, the grey squirrel is regarded as a pest species and is afforded no protection under the WCA. Under Schedule 9 of the WCA, it is illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild, or allow one to escape.

This means if you trap one, you are obliged to humanely dispatch it. You must not let it go as this act would be illegal.

Anyone who carries out, or knowingly causes or permits any of the above acts to occur could be committing an offence.

NOTE: ALL THREE OF THESE WERE ROAD TRAFFIC CASUALTIES.  IF THAT WERE NOT THE CASE WITH THE RED SQUIRRELS I WOULD NOT BE SO STUPID AS TO WRITE THIS BLOG!!

Of course we would rather see these sweet creatures hopping around quite happily alive and kicking, we would rather eat veggies than see them dead, but  this was an exercise in ‘Waste Not Want Not’ guided by our moral code and ethical stance on foraging.  We respect Nature’s delicate balance and Natural Law.  The eating of Red Squirrel could be a controversial issue, but we do “controversial” very well and are both up-to-date on the latest conservation and foraging laws in England and the UK.  We support the various efforts to save the Red.  We still love th grey though, he is still a beautiful creature and can’t help what colour he is.  Ultimately, they both taste pretty much the same!  Life and Nature is all about change at the end of the day!

Here is a well-informed page relating to Foraging and the Law by ‘Roadkill Chef’ and friend - Fergus Drennan – Wild Man Wild Food.

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Okay, that said, let’s get on with some sausage making!! Yayyyyyy!!!

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me and malarky making squirrel sausagesIt was hard and cold work de-fleshing the tiny squirrel bones, but the meat is easier to work and mince when frozen, so prepping took a while. We added ‘red’ things (smoked paprika & sundried tomatoes) seeing as there was a tiny amount of Red Tufty in the mix, and to give the finished bangers a red colour.  Eventually we got to putting all the mixture through the machine and into the castings, which were actually made of Collagen and pretty easy to work with. This bit was fun and I found it hard in the midst of my enthusiasm to work slowly, lol. I wanted full speed and maximum comedy – just like the old days watching the Generation Game! Anyhow, Ms. Malarky reined me in and we produced a huge amount of wonderful sausages that were absolutely TUFTY TASTIC!  Hence, the name was born.

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close up pike sausage in the panThe following morning we were treated to some of her POACHED PIKE sausage for breakfast with homemade chestnut bread and damson sauce. They were absolutely delicious. If you don’t know already, a pike is a predatory fish found in the UK and is not eaten much these days. Sometimes, it can be a bit ‘bottom-of-the-river’ tasting and has bones as vicious as its teeth! But, these sausages were soooo delicate in texture and flavour, poached to perfection.

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One day, when I have the kitchen space, I will definitely acquire a sausage machine!

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RECIPES TO FOLLOW… you won’t be disappointed!

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Not long after we made Roadkill Sausages for the Beyond Production team whilst filming the ‘Food’ episode for ‘FORBIDDEN’ on the Discovery Channel.

The photographer Jonathan Mcgee has an eye for capturing the moment and a fab sense of humour, lol.

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carol and me sausage making for discovery channel.

Beyond Productions logo     Discovery Channel logo

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TUFTY-TASTIC RED SQUIRREL SAUSAGES – Sun-dried Tomato and Smoked Paprika.  (Gluten Free)

PRE-POACHED PIKE SAUSAGES – With Methy Leaf and Thyme.  (Gluten Free)

PHOTO GALLERY

On our recent trip to Scotland and beyond!   Preparing black birds in Malarkys kitchen for the artwork "Till Death Do Us Part"   "Kali's Pants" - aka - "Nice Beaver" Performance art piece   Scraping a snakeskin - Taxidermy workshop in a field somewhere   Outdoor Roadkill bunny workshop

“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

PLACENTA ART & COOKERY

       

  A series of experiments completed during my artist’s residency at the NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

During my time at the Nomadic Village 2012 I just happened to have a 13 week old placenta sat in the freezer.  An odd thing to have in the freezer?  Maybe – if you weren’t me, I guess.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.  I wanted to create as many beautiful things from it as possible – before I ate it.

Eating placenta was something I found to be incredibly natural.  It is called Placentophagy and most mammals do it – are we really that different? Even herbivores eat theirs!  Apparently camels are the exception to the rule – perhaps they don’t like theirs covered in sand.

From a cruelty-free, veggie perspective – it’s the only piece of meat (save eating a surgically chopped-off bit) whose owner didn’t have to die first for it to be eaten!

The way we treat the placenta in the West is to incinerate it (and hospital maternity units don’t offer mothers the option to keep it), but there are other cultures in which it has a special place in rituals following a birth. It is common to use them in symbolic burials and tree planting.

The Chinese use it in traditional medicine and it’s growing in popularity to have it dried and encapsulated.  ‘Potential’ benefits of eating your placenta are:

  • Warding off postpartum depression.
  • Improving breast milk supply
  • Stimulating involution of the uterus
  • Increasing energy and even preventing aging
  • Postpartum hemorrhage

I could blab on and on about what I have read and learned about placentas, but I reckon I’ll save that for another blog!

I was too preoccupied after the birth to dig out and defrost my carefully stored placenta and cook it.  As I briefly mentioned, you can hire someone to dry it out and reform it into easy-to-swallow capsules, but I wanted to do more with it than that, so I left it there, among the bags of liquidized kale, yellow-label Tesco bargains and Suma nuts and seeds.

The opportunity arose when I was chosen to participate as a resident artist in the Nomadic Village project – ahhhh, enforced creativity time… I would never have prioritized this idea otherwise.

 

mobile exhibition space      

 

On one of those amazing hot sunny days, under our snow-cam, lean-to in the shade of our motor home I prepped a workspace for my, now defrosted, placenta.  Fellow nomadic sound artist Marek Gabrsych, recorded and documented the entire process from printing to fine-dining.

 

I did the following things on a large roll of wallpaper liner…

  1. Placenta Printing
  2. Painted Sheela-Na-Gig images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. Lino Prints
  4. Cured the Amniotic Sac that contained Max and stretched the skin
  5. Made the artistic piece, “A Womb With A View”
  6. Cooked the rest and shared the meal with my partner and four adventurous others!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism
  8. Retained the rest of the skin to make other things at a later date – including a pair of baby booties! I tried to crotchet a pair, but the pattern flummoxed me!

1.  Placenta Prints

Printing onto wallpaper lining using the blood in the amniotic sac. Nomadic Village 2012

 Without really doing much with the organ, I blotted it using the wallpaper liner spread before me.  I repeated the process, experimenting with positioning.  It was an amazing thing to play with.  The veins running through the skin made patterns like a road map, palm print and tree roots.  The flesh inside the bag was just like a sponge, in texture and function… it just kept on blotting!!

2.  Sheela-Na-Gig

Painting Sheela-Na-Gig using blood mixed with black food colouring. Nomadic Village 2012.

The bowl within which the placenta had been defrosting was full of blood!  I experimented by painting with this blood and then mixing it with black food colouring – it applied like ink!  I repeatedly painted a stylized self portrait based on a Sheela-Na-Gig – an ancient and archetypal pre-Christian image of fertility.  I had a picture of this on the wall near my birthing pool to assist me through the first and second stages of labour.  It reminded me that women have been doing this for millennia and it ‘does stretch that much’!

Black/White  Earth  Air  Fire  Water

 Self portrait of the archetypal image of Sheela-Na-Gig in B/W, Earth, Air, Fire & Water.

3.  Lino Prints

Block printing using a lino tile and placenta blood. Nomadic Village 2012.

I then made some block prints using a lino tile I had cut just days before the birth.  The image was that of the Sheela-Na-Gig image that helped me through labour.  I made pencil rubbings of the tile and created thank-you cards for my ‘Blessingway Sisters’ who had nurtured me beautifully.

4.  Placenta Rawhide

Scraping the amniotic sac in prearation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

I skinned the placenta to remove the bag Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!  Failing that, I could make a shamanic baby’s rattle!  And I could attach the rattlesnake’s tail I had brought back from the States during last year’s ‘Burning Man’ trip.

The skin was beautiful and heavily veined near the umbilical cord.  I could not seperate it in one large unbroken piece so ended up with three medium sized bits.  The skin wasn’t a single thickness either – it seemed to be made up of two layers.  It reminded me of the construction of ply-wood.  I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits in salt, stretched them on the wallpaper and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum or baby’s rattle.

The umbilical cord had gone pink in colour, as opposed to the beautiful white colour with a royal blue vein spiraling around it.  An umbilical cord has two arteries and a vein, known as a three vessel cord.  We would have liked to have had it cryogenically stored for possible future stem cell use… but it just didn’t happen.

I still have some of the cord in the freezer, part of it I will bury under a tree…but the rest?  Suggestions anybody?

5.  A Womb with a View

Using whatever bits I could find in the van, I made a light box, backlit with the LED innards of my broken head torch, a  plastic version of a 12-week-old fetus that was given to me last year, tissue-paper and a placenta skin window.  I named it,  “A Womb with a View”.  I have a little skin left so I am going to also make a pair of booties to hang like fluffy dice, lol.

         

Recycled mixed media and placenta skin  (Nomadic Village UK 2012)

6.  Placenta Bourguignon

    Placenta cookery, dining in the communal kitchen, Nomadic Village 2012  

We did get around to eating it eventually that day.  In fact… four adventurous others tried it too… it was delicious!  We first tried a small piece lightly fried in olive oil just to see how it tasted before the addition of onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of tomato paste, red wine and seasoning.  It was really tastey! I thought it tasted like lamb with the texture of heart, another thought it tasted more akin to beefy liver.  Asked what the umbilical cord tasted like and ‘parilla’ was the answer – ‘intestine’ to the uninitiated, lol.

It was amusing to see the looks on the faces of those who had tried it in a moment of curious spontaneity, after they had had a while to mentally process the occasion.  They would give me a skewed look of “Did I really just eat that?” or “OMG!!  That fell out of your vagina!” lol. One of the funniest comments was when Austrian Captain Klaus tried some – he said

“It iz very nice in zee mouth, but very weird in zee head”. 

The moment of ‘fine dining’ was recorded as a live performance, albeit quite private in one corner of the kitchen tent.  The table was decorated with beautiful orchids (unbeknown to everyone, they had decorated the lid of a coffin recently and we wanted to recycle them).

Later we had a discussion on cannibalism.

7.  Cordon bleu or Cannibalism?

Now then, I keep saying ‘my’ placenta, but in actual fact, it isn’t mine, it is Max’s!  It carries his genome.  So… despite me growing it, and giving birth to it, it belonged to Max.  This meant that eating it was actually a form of ‘cannibalism’!  This sparked a couple of interesting conversations on the subject which will have to be saved for a different blog.  In the meantime, here is someone elses blog that pretty much covers it…

Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?

As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the experiencer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Great!!  I get to tackle ‘another’ taboo!  I also get to playfully threaten Max later on with…

“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

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COMING UP!!    – Placenta skin Booties!  WATCH THIS SPACE!!

Look out for blogs on my other projects created at Nomadic Village– SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE   &   JAPANESE INSPIRED WISHING TREE

I always welcome intelligent discussion regarding various aspects of my life, especially ones relating to Sustainable Living.  So, when I was asked if I could be interviewed by Dr. Daniel Allen (a renowned lecturer, writer and editor) for his paper -  Squirrel Meat and Roadkill: Geographies of Alternative Meat-Eating in the UK , I said yes!

Dan has an editorial role with Reaktion Books and he created the new “Earth” series.  He identified and commissioned over 30 expert authors from across the world.

Dan is also a leading expert on the behaviour of Otters and has published many books and academic papers.

I look forward to reading “Squirrel Meat and Roadkill: Geographies of Alternative Meat-Eating in the UK”  in its entirety…

Paper will be presented at the RGS-IBG 2012.
Session: ‘Wanted, Dead or Alive: Biogeographies of Non-Human Animals’

“Squirrel Meat and Roadkill: Geographies of Alternative Meat-Eating in the UK”

by Daniel Allen

The acceptance, or indeed rejection, of carnivorous cuisines is determined by the practices, representations and perceptions associated with the way in which food is produced and consumed. Today, the ethics of eating has become increasingly tied to an animal’s experience of life and mode of death. It is the perceived edibility of an embodied carcass which sanctions its role as meat. Yet, as Bell and Valentine (1997:45) recognize: ‘Transgressions of these cultural norms are considered revolting, sometimes inducing the body to vomit in disgust at what it has consumed.’ In the UK, the meat of grey squirrels and roadkill-as-food are two such transgressions.

When the Save Our Squirrels project started in the UK, their 2006 slogan ‘Eat a grey, save the red!’ was not to everyone’s taste. Suggestions that this invasive species provided an alternative sustainable meat product was met with criticism by animal rights groups and nature enthusiasts alike. Roadkill-as-food is consumed far less openly (Michael, 2004). However, there are individuals who consider it as ethical and organic meat, without the moral dilemma of intentional killing. Despite this, the majority of the public seem disgusted at the thought. This paper examines the unsavoury animal geographies of alternative meat in the UK. By considering the debates surrounding squirrel meat and roadkill, this paper explores the competing material, symbolic, cultural, moral and ethical meanings and values placed upon these embodied animals in the twenty-first century.

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… to be continued, I look forward to it!  Best wishes Dan.

These Questions and Answers were taken from the interview with Dr. Daniel Allen.   I have recently created a blog called “Frequently Asked Questions” seeing as I tend to repeat myself a lot, lol.  Obviously, Dan is the one asking the questions…

1. What was it that made roadkill initially appealing as a source of food?

I remember long ago my father preparing game  in the kitchen, so I wasn’t fazed by seeing dead animals and was used to eating rabbits and pheasants from an early age. I was fascinated by the butchering process and tried to make things from the bit of fur, feet and feathers that were left over (my Dad found it amusing, but my Mum thought it was dirty, lol).

For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed collecting bits of nature and turning them into something else.  As a young adult and an artist who enjoys working with organic and animal materials, I would stop and inspect dead things at the side of the road (UK and abroad) to see if I could learn something about the animal and to see if I could salvage anything… often this is the closest you can get to truly wild animals.  The encounters were always a mix of sadness and fascination.  When an animal was only recently killed, I was curious about eating it, as it seemed a shame not to waste it, however, popular ‘roadkill’ taboo and worry about disease prevented me from doing so.

Eight years ago I saw the car driving in front of me hit a pheasant.  It bounced to the side of the road.  I stopped to pick it up.  “Why couldn’t I eat this?”, I thought.  It was exactly the same bird you would buy in a country butchers, but minus the lead shot! Butchers tend to ‘hang’ pheasants for about a week, so this was definitely fresher than those.  It was perfectly intact so I took it home, and prepared and ate it.  It was delicious and I derived a huge amount of pride and satisfaction from what I had done.  I was living in the country, but still felt like a ‘townie, and this simple act made me feel more in tune with where I was living.  I felt more akin with my environment.  And it was a free meal! Bonus!

Five years ago I began to learn and practice taxidermy using roadkill.  I was in contact with lots of dead animals and the same question kept popping up – why can’t I eat this?  In most cases the meat was inedible, or my lack of knowledge about the animal and any diseases it may carry prevented me from eating it.  Again, it seemed like such a waste!  This was an organic, free-range, pesticide-free, growth hormone-free and cruelty-free piece of meat – this is better than what you would buy in a supermarket!!  It was also something I hadn’t tried before and it had the element of the ‘exotic’.  I have always had an adventurous culinary curiosity and tried all sorts of street food in far-flung places around the world.

So I educated myself and began eating roadkill on a regular basis.

2. What is your opinion of pre-packaged meat?

When I see a tray of pre-packaged meat I often wonder how the animal had been fed, looked after, respected and finally slaughtered.  Did the animal suffer?  What has been pumped into it?  Is it full of antibiotics and growth hormones?  What food had it been eating?  Do I want this piece of meat in my body?

If I could afford it, I would only buy organic meat, always.  Ideally I would prefer to eat only animals that I had reared, slaughtered and prepared myself, and this is my long term goal.  Unfortunately, I still have to rely on shops and supermarkets, and occasionally I buy the odd piece of meat that isn’t organic, especially if it looks very good and has been reduced heavily in price – better to eat it than see it go into the landfill.  It seems such a waste of a life.

I would not however buy ‘cheap’ anaemic looking pieces of flesh that have obviously been pumped full of water and synthetic additives to hide the fact that it was raised in battery conditions.

3. Have you ever found injured animals and had to dispatch them?

Occasionally I have had to do this with rabbits and pheasants at the side of the road, but luckily not very often.  I do not like to see animals suffer.  If I can not save its life, I will dispatch it and it always makes me weep. I find it hypocritical if I am not able to do this, when I am more than willing to eat meat.  Your average carnivorous human would eat far less meat if they had to participate in the entire process from beginning to end, and that isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, environmentally and ethically.

Just two days ago my partner found an injured owl.  It had a broken wing.  We called around and took it to a local vet.  They couldn’t save its wing, so had to put it down.  It was a huge shame and a beautiful bird.  We really wanted to save it.  We asked if we could have the bird for taxidermy reasons, but the vet said no.  The bird went to be incinerated.  What a waste!  We questioned if what we had done was the right thing.  We could have dispatched the bird ourselves had we known that the wing was unfixable and then we could have eaten it, and recycled the rest of it. In most States in the USA, it is illegal to take roadkill, and often, by the time it is collected by the authorities, the meat is unfit for human consumption – What sort of ridiculous laws do we have in the West that allows good meat to go to waste, when there are so many undernourished people in our own countries, let alone in poorer countries?

4. What have you eaten, and is there any meat you wouldn’t eat?

I have eaten all meat that has been put before me that is fit for human consumption (Japan and the Far East in general is a great place to try out new and exotic foods and if the locals eat it, then I will.)  I will try most animals I have found dead if I am confident that it wouldn’t poison me.  (My only close shave was eating a dead penguin in Patagonia).  I travel extensively and to remote places – culinary experimentation is a passion of mine.  I have eaten many kinds of insects.  I like different textures and flavours.  I would not kill-to-eat someone’s domestic pet, but have probably been served it without my knowledge in various countries and accepted it graciously.  However, I would eat anything in a survival situation – including your grandma!  Lol.  I do not, and can not, eat Marmite though.

5. Can you describe a normal days foraging?

Most finds are opportunistic, especially when they are animal.  I always have plastic bags, rubber gloves, a sharp knife or my ‘skinning kit’ in the back of the vehicle.  The places where certain fish, crustaceans, molluscs, plants or fungi are to be found, are often recommended by a friend or similar enthusiast. More often than not, these are closely guarded secrets!  On foraging trips such as these, I go deliberately and thoughtfully armed with what tools I need to collect and contain what I hope to find.  If  I were to plan a day’s hike that included opportunistic wild food foraging, I would first pick a scenic and interesting spot, armed with a plastic and paper bag (paper for fungi), a sharp knife, gloves, my mini pocket foraging books and a camera.  If my partner is with me and carrying a big backpack we will take the tent equipment, cooking apparatus and sleep and dine al-fresco.

6. Why not buy meat from a supermarket, or raise your own livestock?

As I mentioned before….

Unfortunately, at this time I cannot avoid having to shop at the supermarket and local farm shops and butchers, so do buy the occasional and preferably organic item from there.  I prefer not to encourage factory farming so I promote local farm shops and friends who grow their own to sell or barter.

Our long term goal, and one we are actively researching, is to purchase a large plot of land, probably not in this country.  We plan to develop our own organic garden and vegetable patch and breed, raise, butcher and process our own livestock.  We plan to produce our own self sustainable energy, and be totally ‘off-grid’.  We hope to include like minded people and those who want to learn all about self sustainability and living simply with nature.

On a political note:

Apart from this country’s weather, we don’t want to settle in this country as Central and Local Government clearly do not want to encourage this lifestyle, as they would not be able to take their 30-50% fee (in taxes) on our efforts – to fund their greedy, environmentally unfriendly and dangerous schemes of imperialism and manipulation and exploitation of us wage slaves and poorer countries.  (ooops, lol, bit of a rant there!!)   Most people who run our country, be they politicians or captains of industry are morally corrupt or just plain ignorant of their actions that are leading to the destruction of our planet and unnecessary suffering of millions of people around the world. I do not wish to support such people and so living off-grid in a country that will allow this lifestyle is our goal – and we wish to share this and support others around the world in similar ventures.

7. What is your favourite roadkill recipe? 

I do not have a favourite as such; I love to experiment all the time.  If I were to choose a versatile dish that could accommodate any kind of meat no matter how small then it would have to be ‘Terrine’ or a ‘Pate’.

8. When did you first use roadkill in your art, and why?

I first used roadkill bird feathers to make a brooch when I was a child; I found them beautiful and wanted to recycle them. I felt an almost spiritual connection with that animal.  Later in life I discovered what shamanism and animism meant, so began to understand why I had always felt this way.

After a trip to Australia in 2001 I made a necklace from roadkill kangaroo claws.  Roadkill was all over the place in the outback – I had my partner at the time stop at the side of the road every time I saw a bleached white skeleton.  He thought I was mad sawing off the claws - he didn’t understand my art or curiosity with death.  I saw a rare resource and an opportunity to create something beautiful out of something that had passed away and was decomposing.  I see beauty in the whole cycle of life.  Death is so taboo in many societies and the fear of death makes it ugly.  I strongly disagree.  It can be a beautiful transformation, like the changing of the seasons.

9. How does the public generally respond to your art?

Until recently I owned an art gallery in Harrogate that specialized in authentic Tribal artefacts and ethnographic curiosities.  The response from the public was mixed.  A lot of people didn’t understand it, but many had the nerve to come in and browse and ask questions.  They were snared by the stories of these beautiful and sometimes eerie looking objects and fetishes, which were anthropologically fascinating, tapping into the myth and magic of other cultures in remote far away places.  Kids especially loved it, and I went to schools with an armful of artefacts and taught a kind of ‘anthropology for kids’.  Afterwards, we would make masks and other tribal objects.

The gallery was a success, but unfortunately my relationship with my partner and co-owner was not and it closed down in 2007.

Whenever I have a studio to work from, I make sure that at times it is open to anyone curious enough to question what I do.  My last studio was in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.  Once every 2 months, me and the other artists in the building had an ‘Open Studio’ evening for members of the public.  My studio room (which I practically lived in) was quite different to everyone else’s and very weird to the uninitiated.  The walls were covered in old tribal masks and animal skins, pictures of female gladiators and goddesses, and scarified and tattooed faces.  I had a glass case full of interesting tribal jewelry from all over the world and an extensive specialized library.  There were taxidermy projects in progress on the tables and I was more than happy to explain and chat about anything they saw.

After meeting me and listening to my stories about how and why I think the way I do, they left my studio with a deeper respect for, and understanding of, the objects I transform.

 

I have been asked to put up some of my ROADKILL recipes.   There are lots so I will start with one of my favourites… TERRINE!!

It has humble beginnings as a hearty meal for French labourers, but is now served in upscale restaurants as a starter.

Wild Game Terrine was one of the dishes I served up on Come Dine With Me earlier this year, alongside Curried Pheasant & Quinoa Roadkill Pies.  I served two dishes as I wanted to spark a debate if my guests wouldn’t eat the roadkill, but would eat the butcher bought meat.  My question was – so whats the difference?  It was the same wild animal, the difference being one had been delliberatly shot with a gun, the other had been accidentally hit by a car!  If it was a question of ethics, which one was the most humane?  If it was a question of freshness, one had been hit by a car within a few hours, the other had been hung for over a week in the butchers shop…. which one would you eat? 

As it happened they devoured them, and loved it all!    Phewwww!! 

I hope you enjoy the following recipes!

 

Wild Game Terrine with Foraged Fruit Chutney & Toasted Brioche

Since the meat mixture is best marinated and left in the fridge for a day, then cooked and cooled the next day and then left up to two days for proper pressing to occur, terrine is a time-consuming dish.

Roadkill/ Meat Ingredients 

  • 1 pheasant
  • 1 rabbit
  • 1 organic (if possible) pigs trotter 

 

(Or whatever nature provides when using road-kill – however, the trotters are hard to find on the road!! LOL.) Use the breasts of pheasant, pigeon (or other bird) and saddles of rabbit or hare for the terrine; throw the rest of the game meat and bones into the stock pan, cook, cool and pick clean the bones, you can freeze the meat bits for later to use in another recipe – or, include them in this dish). 

Also think about including… 

  • Herbs and fruits of your choice – for example; parsley, lovage, thyme and Autumnal fruits such as plums, apple or apricots!  Be creative!!

 

For the forcemeat  – This is a cold pressed terrine!

  • Chosen cuts of cooked meat, or/ and cold meat picked off the carcasses of pre-boiled game
  • livers from all the game (optional) fry off/ cook first 
  • 1 handful fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (lemon) thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs red wine or brandy
  • salt and pepper
  • trotter jelly
  • coriander leaves
  • 6 juniper berries

(My own special touch…If I don’t use bacon to line the tin, and use a jelly, say, from a pigs head, ham hock or trotters, I occasionally like to decorate the top (first layer in the tin) with a few foraged edible leaves, like lovage.  I love using offal, I once tried a terrine using a pig’s uterus and trotters, it was incredible!  I called it the ‘Foot & Fadge’ – opposite.)

 

Method 

Day One…

  1. Marinate the choice cuts of the game (saddles, breasts and thighs) in a generous splash of red wine (you could also throw in a few teaspoons of soft brown sugar if you want).
  2. Make a pork ‘binding’ jelly.  This can be made a day in advance by boiling the trotter or hock in a sauce pan, then simmering on a low heat for 3 hours, until the skin dissolves and the knuckles separate. 

The gelatine removed from the meat is used as a preserving & jellying agent (as in the making of pork pies).  Nowadays artificial gelatine is often added, but I prefer the traditional method.

Day Two…

  1. Mix (in a blender) the cooked meat, cooked livers, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, thyme, juniper berries, wine/ brandy, season with the salt and pepper and mix together thoroughly with 4 or 5 tbsp of melted trotter jelly.  This is the forcemeat.
  2. Cut the marinated game meat into long strips about 2 fingers thick.
  3. Fry the game in oil/ butter until nicely browned, do not overcook the meat.
  4. Grease a 1lb loaf tin or glazed earthenware terrine dish with the butter. 
  5. Press some herb leaves to the buttered base for decoration.  Be creative!!  Pour on a little of the warm, liquid jelly to bind the first layer!  Allow to cool and set.
  6. When set, add a layer of forcemeat followed by a layer of game meat, and repeat this action until the game is gone.  Again, when layout of the meat strips, be mindful, think about the finished pattern when it is cut into slices.  Finish with a layer of the forcemeat.
  7. Terrines must be pressed as they cool to release trapped air.  This makes for a smooth texture and they’re easier to slice.  Find a piece of wood or plastic that fits snugly inside the terrine dish and weigh it down with a house brick (wrap in cling-film or foil in case it is a bit dirty).  If you have a spare loaf tin the same size, use that with a brick inside it.  Put the terrine in the fridge for 24 hours.

Day Three…

  1. To serve, remove from the tin, guide the knife around the edges and tap upside down on a chopping board to release.  If it doesn’t come out, pour some boiling water into a baking tin and warm the terrine for 10 seconds at a time, so the jelly begins to melt inside, but not so much that it melts the bulk of the terrine. When released, chill again and slice thickly while cold with a very sharp knife, clean the blade between slices.  Arrange on a plate with the chutney and warm brioche.

 

For the Foraged Fruit Chutney: 

Gathering the fruits, jars, and the time consuming job of peeling, stoning and chopping is often made easier and more fun by working as a team.  We all then get to share the end product. This was originally my amazing friend Tina’s recipe.  She doesn’t really use weights and measures, but to make it easy she gave a ‘guess-timation’. 

 

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb small yellow wild plums
  • 10 fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • ½ tspn pepper
  • 3 whole dried chillies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black pepper corns
  • ½ tspn cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp celery seeds
  • Honey to taste

 Method 

  1. Wash, slice and de-stone your chosen foraged fruits.
  2. Put all the spices in a muslin bag.  You can make one by cutting a large circle of muslin, putting all the ingredients in the middle and tying securely with a piece of uncoloured/ clean/ unbleached cotton or string. 
  3. Gently soften the chopped onions in a little butter.
  4. Put the vinegar in the pan and add the plums and spice-bag.  Bring to the boil, and then simmer until soft – about 15 mins is okay.
  5. Add honey to taste.
  6. Pour into hot, sterilised jars if preserving.  Try not to use the dishwasher to sterilise your jars, it makes them smell.

…serve with lightly toasted slices of Brioche or toast

 

You can experiment with all of this in your own way of course…nothing is carved in stone when it comes to these kinds of recipes!  It depends on what nature offers you at the time and your personal tastes!   This terrine was made out of a pigs ear and a trotter!  It was a beautiful thing to look at, and tasted damn good too, dipped in a chinese style sauce made from soy with ginger, garlic and spring onions…. mmmmmm!  It was called “The Silk Purse Terrine”!

Enjoy!!

 

………………….oOo………………..

Ali cooking
Ali cooking road kill on Come Dine With Me

I am a road kill recycler, cook and wild food forager. I love being creative and injecting humour into what I ‘rustle up’!  I enjoy the challenge of using the body parts other cooks don’t like to use!
This is one of many creations - the ‘Foot & Fadge’ terrine made from an organic pig’s trotter and uterus with goji berries!   I didn’t serve this pork terrine on Come Dine With Me though… maybe I should have!  lol.
I often hold impromptu workshops at camps and small festivals, teaching the joys of Road Kill Preparation.  It always amazes me how squeamish your average carnivore is!  I love what I do. I am a very happy scavenger and I dislike waste.

Soooo, take a look at my latest ROAD KILL cookery adventure …  COME DINE WITH ME – ROAD KILL THRILLS

Watch me make some road kill pies by following this link or clicking on the large pic above: Series 20 Episode 29 – HARROGATE »

To watch the full  hour long programme click here: Hairy harrogate & Road Kill Thrills – Come Dine With Me.

Come Dine With Me

Come Dine With Me Harrogate 2011
Come Dine With Me Harrogate 2011

Earlier this year, after encouragement from friends, I put myself forward as a contestant on Come Dine With Me.  “Nutter!!”  I hear myself say. lol.  They must have thought so too … nomadic, shamanic artist and road kill recycler???  Hmmmmm.  “We’ll have her!”

I grew up in Leeds, but moved to Harrogate (in North Yorkshire) in 2003 and made a life there.  Since 2007 I have been nomadic, using Harrogate as a base, so I can confidently say my home is there… even if it is on wheels! I spend the warmer months on the festival scene, back and forth, and travelling abroad to live and learn with various tribes.  I arrived back in Harrogate last summer, having spent time in remote regions of South America (Andes, Patagonia and the Amazon jungle), Papua New Guinea and Japan, learning about tribal life, cultural diversity and FOOD of course!!  I enjoy my life immensely and I feel I am one of the freest people I know!!  I had to borrow a home and kitchen for the show as I am currently nomadic (by choice, I hasten to add). Possessions are albatrosses around our necks, and to be quite frank, I’d rather eat the albatross (but would never shoot one out of the sky!). Possessions own us as much as we own them.

I love food!!  All food! (except Marmite. lol).  I love traditional food, exotic food, raw food and rich food, Michelin star quality food and the opposite of that — street food and jungle food. My education has been vast, from one end of the spectrum to the other. I love really basic food and preferably organic — all vegetables and animals, including the ones lower down the food chain like bugs and worms etc.   I have a passion for strange unidentifiable things on sticks and the cuts of meat we Brits have turned our back on such as offal, lights and lungs etc.

Over recent years, the way I see food and our relationship to it has changed. I now eat much more ethically and healthily. I love cooking outdoors over real wood fires while camping, in earth ovens at festivals, or in the passenger footwell of a car on a mini gas stove while wandering (I cooked Penguin breast and Rhea thigh in Patagonia this way washed down with a beautiful Mendoza Malbec).

I am a wild food forager and love anything free of pesticides and growth hormones.  I especially enjoy preparing traffic casualties — proper free range meat that has only had one bad day in its wonderfully organic life!!  My passion for being a road kill chef has shocked and delighted many a friend.  Lol.   I use the fur, feathers, teeth and claws in my art — nothing gets wasted — I use it all!

Now, I don’t have a television — haven’t had one for over four years, but I occasionally watch CDWM with friends or family.  I played with the idea of being totally straight, dumbing myself down, so as not to offend others and go for the thousand quid, but instead I chose to be ME — totally true to myself and authentic, risking crucifixion, but making bloody good telly!!

Enjoy… 3 minute clip – Come Dine With Me | Road Kill Thrills

Full episode -  Channel 4 – Series 20  Episode 29: 17th June 2011 — “Hairy Harrogate & Road Kill Thrills”

Check out the ROAD KILL category on my HOME page!

Big love….

Ali (aka Tribal Ali) Brierley

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