Category: Food


Making movies for ‘Woodlands TV’!

Dear friend and fellow forager Fraser Simpson explains how to identify the AMMONITE mushrooms – namely the most deadly series in the UK.

Fraser Simpson – a ‘Happy Haptic’ and Wild Food Forager – has also been making movies with the ultra talented Claudia Nye.

Amanita_muscariaUnfortunately there is no golden rule when it comes to identifying unfamiliar mushrooms, edible or otherwise. Deadly poisonous toadstools can share the same characteristics as many edible fungi.  It helps to have an expert on hand….

See the pilot film here!

 

Apart from being a very knowledgeable forager Fraser is also an incredibly talented professional artist.  He 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”.

fraser Simpson - The Happy HapticHe 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.

To contact Fraser email at:

fraser@alittlebitontheside.co.uk

info@alittlebitontheside.co.uk

 .

 

claudia nye mugshotOriginally from Argentina, Claudia is a Scarborough based, award winning BAFTA nominated documentary film maker with 21 years experience in the field of media.

Her work ranges from broadcast (BBC/Channel Four) to private and public Commissions (Film Council/European Fund), through facilitating community based projects with the youth, and teaching in FE and HE sectors.

These movies are for Woodlands.TV and should all be ready to view online in a few months.

Will post the links ASAP. X

.

*******************

woodlands_TV         films for web claudia nye                   woodlands_Master logo

.

.

.

Orientation Travel Productions and Dutch host Thomas Acda go on a “Roadkill Road Trip” around North Yorkshire with yours truly!

.

orientationSpent a wonderfully full day on a warm and sunny Summer Solstice filming a pilot episode with the Orientation Production team of five wonderfully funny folk from the Netherlands.

The host, Thomas Acda, is a well known rock star, song writer, actor and comedian.  He is making a series very similar to that of Anthony Bourdain; traveling the world, meeting new and interesting people and having epiphanies through culinary experiences.

The day was spent foraging, exploring the beautiful countryside, looking for roadkill, cooking it, chatting and having a fun time.  We ended around a camp fire with some fantastic friends/ local musicians.  We certainly showed them some good old Yorkshire hospitality.

Sorry, not allowed to post anything else until the program is aired on mainstream Dutch TV this year.  Will post links ASAP.

.

*******************

.

Making a “How To…” film for the ‘MUNCHIES’ food Channel!

.

IMG_1042“How To Cook Roadkill” for the MUNCHIES food Channel.

I spent a very pleasurable half day with two guys from VICE / Freemantle Media UK making a show for their “How to…” series.

MUNCHIES chronicles the wide spectrum of the global culinary experience. They liked how I combine roadkill with various forms of cookery styles and ingredients and asked if I would cook for the show. I enjoyed links to the other episodes so said yes!

I made two of my “Feral Fusion” recipes using squirrel - “Southern Fried Squirrel” & “Squirrel Pot-Stickers Dumplings”.  They were very tasty and the show promises to be pretty funny, lol.

It should be ready to view online in a few months with a working title of “From Tarmac to Table!”.

freemantlemedia ukCan’t disclose anything else because it hasn’t aired yet but will post the link ASAP. X

.

*******************

.

DISCLAIMER… Before I start I have to say that I hold NO responsibility for anyone getting sick from eating Roadkill.  I offer my experiences and knowledge here freely, I do not make myself accountable for anyone else.  YOU make a choice, YOU take responsibility.  If in doubt, ask someone else’s advice who knows what they are doing, or just leave it well alone!  With that said….

.

“Don’t Eat Flat Furry Roadside Snacks Before Last Diagnostic Smell Check”

.

Is it still fresh?

What most people visualise when they think of roadkill.

.

I get asked many questions, one of the most common is “How do you know it is safe to eat?”

I have in the past written plenty of long-winded explanations but I felt it was time to create an “Easy to Remember” ROAD-SIDE ROAD-KILL HEALTH & SAFETY CULINARY CHECKLIST! 

.

Okay, at this point there may be some eyebrow twitching or full-on belly laughs…. “Health and Culinary you say? In the same sentence as Roadkill???   Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!”…. but seriously, you will be surprised at how healthy roadkill can be.

Wild food foraging isn’t about being poor or desperate, its about being in tune with nature and our bodies.  Some of its benefits are that it uses less packaging, less chemicals, less food miles and contains less pollution; it is cruelty free; it fosters biodiversity; our bodies ‘understand’ these natural foods, therefore cancer and other physical ailments are minimized because our immune systems are boosted naturally.

.

Fresh Wild Rabbit Dumplings with Nettle and Sorrel Stuffing!

Fresh Wild Rabbit Dumplings with Nettle and Sorrel Stuffing!

.

I asked some “wordsmithy” friends if they wanted to help me to create a  humourous mnemonic.  Mnemonics are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information, especially in the form of lists like characteristics, steps, stages, parts, phases, etc.  For the list I had in mind this was the perfect tool.

My dear old friend Mark “BUZZ” Busby did me, and all you fellow “Splatter Spotters”, very proud indeed with this…

Don’t Eat Flat Furry Roadside Snacks Before Last Diagnostic Smell Check”

Thank You Buzz!  You’re a genius! 

.

Soooo!  That is the quick and easy way to remember the essential pointers:

‘Damage’, ‘Eyes’, ‘Fleas & Flies’, ‘Rigor Mortis’, ‘Skin’, ‘Blood’, ‘Law’, ‘Diseases’, Smell’ and last but not least ‘Climate & Cooking’.

.

Damage

roadkill20n-1-webAvoid animals that have been badly damaged or ruptured internally.  Check the animal carefully before stuffing it in the boot of the car (gloves are recommended and a plastic bag or tarp).  If you saw the accident happen then you know it is definitely fresh.  If you didn’t, only pick up those that have ‘bounced’ from being hit cleanly once, preferably to the side of the road, and with someone else’s car, lol.  Obviously, don’t pick up something that’s been run over a couple or ten times, looks sick or abnormal!!

Eyes

black rabbit eyeWhat do the eyes look like?  Are there any eyes at all?

Carrion birds arrive at the scene of a road traffic accident quickly and especially first thing in the morning.  Eyes are soft, succulent and easy to pluck!  If there is still an eye left on the underside check  it to see if it is still clear.  Cloudy eyes can indicate that it isn’t fresh anymore.

 

Fleas & Flies

flies on foxThis is easy to remember – “FLEAS GOOD!  FLIES BAD!”.  Living & active fleas are a good sign of freshness – fleas will soon evacuate a cold dead body.  If you feel squeamish about fleas a 24 hour spell in the deep freeze will finish them off.

Flies will find a carcass quickly, especially in warm weather.  You may find tiny clusters of fresh long, white, oblong shaped eggs around the eyes, mouth, or other orifices.  This is not so bad if you don’t intend to eat these bits and the eggs have only just been laid.  If you are not sure about this or anything else mentioned so far, leave it be.

Do do not pick anything up that is old enough to be crawling with beetles, maggots or other larvae.  be wary of ticks that may carry Lymes Disease.  Contain ticks on a deer carcass whilst in the car using a sheet or plastic tarp.

 

Rigor Mortis

rigor mortisA stiff animal could just be in Rigor which means it’s still fresh, but keep in mind the previous tips when judging time of death.

The rate at which Rigor Mortis sets in will depend on several factors such as the animals physique, cause of death and the climate.  Different sources give different figures, but very broadly and in ‘average’ circumstances with roadkill it begins from 1/2 hr (bird) – 24 hrs (deer).   It becomes complete in about 12 hours or more.

Then the body relaxes again, this time as a result of decomposition. This is known as resolution of rigor.  The stiffness in the muscle tissues begins to decrease owing to the enzymatic breakdown of collagen that hold muscle fibers together. This phenomenon is also referred to as “Aging of Meat”.  This aging effect produces meats that are more tender and palatable, hence the ‘hanging of game’!

 

Skin

Rabbit-FurDoes the skin have fur or feathers attached to it?  Give fur a gentle tug to see if it is still firmly rooted in the skin.  You don’t want chunks of hair falling out easily.   Alopecia could be a sure sign that the carcass is too old or that the animal was suffering from a disease.

The skin will move freely across the muscles if the carcass is fresh.  Black or purple marks can indicate where the animal has been hit, these are okay, but you may want to cut the severely bruised bits of meat away before cooking.

 

Blood

roadkill badgerThere shouldn’t be that much blood on a carcass suitable for eating.  A bloody mouth or nose is fairly normal.

Ideally any blood needs to be fresh, wet and bright red.  Blood or no, you should use gloves to handle dead animals, you still have to get back in the car and touch the steering wheel, your passengers, packed lunch, etc.  Always keep a stash of wet wipes handy!

 

Law

The-LawGenerally, the UK is pretty good at allowing folk to dine from the road.  Farmed animals like sheep and pigs belong to someone so they should be reported.  Wild animals aren’t classified as ‘owned’ unless they’re specifically being farmed, in which case they need to be on land secured by fencing, so you’d not be likely to hit them.  If found on the road they are “Fair Game”.  Domestic animals like cats and dogs should also be reported.

I am no expert on the laws of other countries, so check yourself if you really need to know specifics.

 

Diseases

Tuberculosis-virusDo Your “Zoonotic” Disease Homework!  It is essential to research the kinds of diseases certain wild animals can catch or carry and what signs to look for.  Very rarely do they transfer to humans if proper procedures are followed.  Avoid giving anything you are NOT unquestionably sure about to YOUNG CHILDREN, the ENFEEBLED or PREGNANT WOMEN, just to be on the safe side.

Cooking the animal thoroughly above 70 degrees centigrade is highly recommended and boiling point will kill practically all nasties!  That includes ToxoplasmosisBovine TB, Myxomatosis and even Rabies!!

I would be wary of eating badger from the road at the moment…. farmers who view badgers as health threats are putting their poisoned animals by the roadside to make them ‘look’ like roadkill… so be warned.  I am not touching badgers for a while.

 

Smell

sniffing the deadListen to your nose… if it smells rotten, don’t take it!

You can tell a lot by smell before you start to butcher.  Smell and flavour in all meat is a combination of age, exercise, species, breed and diet.  Wild animal meat can smell quite strong and ‘gamey’.

Fat is also the home of any weird or odd smell you might find in wild game; and because of its unsaturated nature also meas it goes rancid faster.   Don’t ditch good wild fat though, it is very high in important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

The varied diet of a game animal means that any fat-soluble ester or terpene or other flavour molecule that critter has metabolized will end up on your dinner plate.

If it smells okay on the outside but when you open it up it smells much more than just gamey don’t eat it.  Intestines have their own unique scent which you get used to and can judge accordingly.  Mild gas, urine and a bit of poop may be normal too, so use your instincts on all this until experience tells you otherwise.

Male animals in rutting season can be very ‘musky’ and not palatable.  No surprise there!  lol.

 

Climate & Cooking

snow roadkill deer warningCold and dry climates are better for freshness; nature makes a great fridge and freezer sometimes.  Be careful in warm and hot weather – bugs find the dead quickly and meat spoils easily.

Consider how long the animal will be stored in a warm vehicle after you have claimed it.  Use the cooler parts of the car, for example NOT in the passenger foot-well with the floor heater on full.  I have put a small animal in a plastic bag before now and secured it tightly on the outside of a wound-up window!  Looked weird but it worked wonderfully!

When you get to your final destination prepare or preserve your carcass ASAP.

As mentioned earlier, cooking the animal thoroughly above 70 degrees centigrade is highly recommended and boiling point will kill practically everything!

.

.

As you can see, you need to know what you’re doing, but it’s not rocket science!! 

If in doubt, ask someone else’s advice who knows what they are doing, or just leave it well alone!

.

.

close up curious pigeonsSooooo!  Should you try it?

If you can stomach the thought of eating roadkill, and are confident you can pick out the animals safe for consumption, then I’d urge you to give it a try.

If you’ve ever eaten pheasant, hare or rabbit in a restaurant, paid a small fortune for the privilege and almost broken your teeth on the buckshot, you’d probably relish the chance to eat your gamey goodness without the fear of fillings afterwards!

Eating properly examined and prepared roadkill is definitely healthier than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants, as most supermarket meat is today.

Road traffic casualties never knew what hit ‘em – if you pardon the pun!  They did not experience what it was like to be factory farmed, castrated, de-horned, or de-beaked without anaesthetics, they did not suffer the traumatic and miserable experience of being transported long distances in a crowded truck, and did not hear the screams and smell the fear of the animals ahead of them on the slaughter line.

.

Ethically, I know what I would rather eat!

.

oh deer

.

To see other of my blogs relating to this subject follow the links…

 

“WILD MEAT” – Wild Food & Roadkill Preparation & Preservation Workshops

.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Roadkill Recycling, Eating and Artwork…

.

TB – “TOTAL BOLLOCKS!” – My Rant on the Plan to Unnecessarily Cull British Badgers.

.

TUFTY-TASTIC “Red” Squirrel Sausages – Casting lessons from the “Roadkill-Sausage Queen”.

.

.

.

 

 

“From Bitumen to Banquet”

Wild Food and Roadkill Preparation and Preservation Workshops
.
.
I am a Roadkill Recycler, Cook and Wild Food Forager. 
.
I often hold workshops at camps and small festivals teaching the joys of Roadkill Preparation and Preservation. I also give private tuition and present on cookery “How to…” short films, consult for TV, radio and other media producers.
.
I AM AVAILABLE TO FACILITATE AND TAILOR INDIVIDUAL WORKSHOPS AND DEMONSTRATIONS UPON REQUEST
.
I love what I do.
.
I am a very happy scavenger and I dislike waste.
.
true story of a roadkill cook
.

Wild Meat!

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

.

“The interest in eating wild food which includes ‘accidental meat’ as a healthy supplementary food source is becoming increasing popular. Many are realizing that what goes into our seemingly harmless supermarket and shop bought food items are more suspicious than nutritious. Wild plants are very different now from chemically cultivated foods and farm animals taste nothing like game animals.
Most people however view roadkill as ‘flat, furry, diseased and totally disgusting’.

.

Eating roadkill has its own very special sociocultural taboos and hurdles to over-come. The first one is that animals falling into the above category are exactly that and not to be touched with someone else’s barge-pole, lol. Traffic casualties fit for human consumption are normally hit once and killed instantly, completely intact with minimum damage.

.
Wild food foraging isn’t about being poor or desperate; it’s about being in tune with nature and our bodies. Some of its benefits are that it uses less packaging, less chemicals, less food miles and contains less pollution; it is cruelty free; it fosters biodiversity; our bodies ‘understand’ these natural foods, therefore cancer and other physical ailments are minimized because our immune systems are boosted naturally.”

 ..

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.

.

These sessions always include a practical workshop imparting some of the knowledge required for the preparation of dead animals for food, art and taxidermy.  With regard to eating ‘roadkill’ full instruction on how to identify and prepare road traffic accidents fit for human consumption is gone through step by step using

THE “Easy to Remember” ROAD-SIDE ROAD-KILL CULINARY CHECKLIST

.

.

.

“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.”

.

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.

.

Is it still fresh?

Is it still fresh?

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Roadkill Recycling, Eating and Artwork…

.

“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?”

.

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

.

Come and learn a Survival/Life Skill, and maybe even challenge your own perceptions and concepts of “weird”, “disgust”, and fears of death, the unknown and unusual.  You can participate on whatever level you choose be that culinary, survival, spiritual, political or environmental.

.

fell edge workshop.

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

.

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

These are not your average workshops!

.

Please contact me to discuss your thoughts and requirements.

.

.

.

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

.

First step, seperated breast milk into curds and whey

- “MAMA MOOLI” -

.

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‘.

.

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!

.

We did the research.

.

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

.

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

.

surprised goat

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

.

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”!

.

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”

.

happy mad cow

.

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

.

.

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)

.

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.

.

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.

.

However…. the story does not stop there!

.

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.

.

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,

 ‘

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

………………..O………………..

.

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.

.

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

.

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

.

.

.

………………..O………………..

.

.

.

“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!”

…………………. O ………………..

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.                           

              ………………….oOo………………..  

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

………………….oOo………………..

 

“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/

………………….oOo……………….. 

  

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.

………………….oOo……………….. 

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.

………………….oOo……………….. 

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

 ………………….oOo……………….. 

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

………………….oOo……………….. 

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

 ………………….oOo……………….. 

 

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

………………….oOo………………..

 

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

 ………………….oOo……………….. 
 

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

………………….oOo……………….. 

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

………………….oOo……………….. 

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

………………….oOo……………….. 

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!”

………………….oOo………………..

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!
 

………………….oOo……………….. 

 …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!!  

………………….oOo………………..     

    

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

RECIPES TO FOLLOW… you won’t be disappointed!

.

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.

.

carol and me sausage making for discovery channel.

Beyond Productions logo     Discovery Channel logo

.

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!”

…………………. O ………………..

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 780 other followers

%d bloggers like this: