Tag Archive: pheasant road kill pies


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….

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

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Is it still fresh?

What most people visualise when they think of roadkill.

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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! 

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Okay, at this point there may be some eyebrow twitching or full-on belly laughs…. “Health & Safety you say? In the same sentence as Culinary 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.

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Fresh Wild Rabbit Dumplings with Nettle and Sorrel Stuffing!

Fresh Wild Rabbit Dumplings with Nettle and Sorrel Stuffing!

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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!

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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’.

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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 mortisRigor mortis sets in within a few hours, then the body will relax again maybe days later, so if it is stiff it could be 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.

After about 72 hours, 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 fibres 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!

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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!

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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 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.

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Ethically, I know what I would rather eat!

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oh deer

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

 

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

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Roadkill Recycling, Eating and Artwork…

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

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

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I get so many questions…

Is it safe to do what you do?

How do you know what to look for?

‘WHY’ do you do what you do?

There are others of course, so I have compiled a page dedicated to the most ‘frequently asked questions’ copied and pasted from various interviews and emails.  I hope you find them useful, informative, or just plain entertaining!

Just scroll down to find one that best fits your curiosity.

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(DISCLAIMER… Before I start I have to say that I hold NO responsibility for anyone getting sick eating roadkill.  I offer my experiences and knowledge freely, I do not make myself accountable for anyone else.  YOU make a choice, YOU take responsibility.  Thank you. )

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These questions were asked by writer and journalist Louise Tilloston, who was doing an article on ‘Extreme Frugality’.

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Q.1 – Roadkill.  How we do we know it is still fresh? 

Is it still fresh?

Is it still fresh?

Most people think of dirty pancake looking flat red mush  – what I call “Tarmac Jam” – when they think of roadkill and this is far from the truth.  But, how do you really know how fresh it is?

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  • 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 from the side of the road.

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  • Avoid 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).

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  • Good basic indicators of optimal freshness are:
  1. Clear eyes & both eyes are still there.  Birds peck the eyes soon after death or first thing in the morning.
  2. Living & active fleas – fleas will only live on a living body.
  3. Fresh, red un-clotted blood – if any, but a bloody nose is common.
  4. Fur that doesn’t come loose when you pull it – alopecia is a sure sign of age or disease.
  5. Smell – if it smells revolting don’t pick it up.

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  • Rigor mortis sets in within a few hours, then the body will relax again maybe days later, so if it is stiff it could be 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.  After about 72 hours, 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 fibres 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’!

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  • The skin will move much more freely across the muscles if the carcass is fresh.

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  • Listen to your nose… if it smells rotten, don’t take it.  If it smells ok on the outside, but when you open it up it smells very iffy don’t eat it.  Mild stomach gas is usually ok and a bit of poop may be normal too, so use your instincts on this until experience tells you otherwise.

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  • Cold climates are better for freshness; nature makes a great fridge sometimes.  Be careful in hot weather - bugs find the dead quickly.  Do do not pick anything up with maggots or eggs all over it.

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  •  Obviously, don’t pick up something that’s been run over a couple of times!!

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  • It is also essential to research the kinds of diseases certain wild animals can catch or carry and what signs to look for.

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  • Cooking the animal at boiling point thoroughly will kill practically all nasties!  That includes Toxoplasmosis,  Myxomatosis and even Rabies!!  But do your homework!

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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.

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Q.2 – 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 and almost broken your teeth on the buckshot, you’d probably relish the chance to eat the gamey goodness without the fear of fillings afterwards!

Eating 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!

Wild food foraging is about more to do with 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 fosters biodiversity; our bodies ‘understand’ these natural foods, therefore cancer and other physical ailments are minimized because our immune systems are boosted naturally.

To view the article online click here.

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These Questions and Answers were taken from an interview with Dr. Daniel Allen

To see the blog in relation to this follow this link

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Q.3 -  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.

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Q.4 –  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.

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Q.5 -  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 find it sad. 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 quickly and respectfully dispatched the bird ourselves had we known that the wing was not repairable and then we could have eaten it, and recycled the rest of it. Instead it was injected by humans with poisons in an artificially lit bright room.  It must have been afraid.

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?

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Q.6 -  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.

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Q.7 - 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.

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Q.8 -  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.

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Q.9 - 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, ‘Chinese/ Japanese Dumplings’, ‘Terrine’ or a ‘Pate’.

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Q.10 - 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.

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Q.11 - 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

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These question & Answers were taken from an interview with http://www.takepart.com/article/2011/12/28/true-story-roadkill-cook

The True Story of the Roadkill Cook

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Yes, she eats animals killed by cars, but extreme forager Alison Brierley says her lifestyle is healthy—and good for the planet.
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Q.12 - TakePart: We have to know—how did you start eating roadkill?

Alison Brierley: I first ate a piece of roadkill when a car in front hit it about eight years ago on the way home from work. It just bounced off the car and it landed. I thought, “I’m going to check that.” When I went out, it was dead, luckily. I just thought, “I’m going to eat it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s exactly the same bird you’d get at the butcher’s minus all the lead shot.” So I took it home, prepared it, and it was fantastic. Then five years ago I started eating roadkill regularly and experimenting more and learning more of the taxidermy side of things for my artwork.

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Q.13 - TakePart: And what was that first animal?

Alison Brierley: A pheasant.

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Q.14 - TakePart: Who taught you to cook?

Alison Brierley: The cooking side of things I’ve just learned as I’ve gone along. As I’ve grown up I’ve really been interested in food and because I’m a meat eater I think it’s my responsibility to actually be acquainted with the animal I’m eating, which means butchering it and learning from scratch, instead of finding some sanitized package on the supermarket shelf already done for me.

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Q.15 - TakePart: Was there something that prompted you to start eating roadkill regularly?

Alison Brierley: Because I was using more animals in my artwork, I was handling a lot of meat, and what was going through my mind was, “Why can’t I eat this?” So when something was really fresh I actually decided to eat it. I learned about the animal first, like any diseases that it might carry. I got in touch with people who used to eat it themselves, asked them their opinions, and just gathered as much knowledge as I could before I actually started eating the roadkill. Before then, I just used to dispose of the carcasses to nature and keep the skins and feathers and whatever I was using [for my art], but now I try to go tip to tail. I try to eat and use everything.

Alison uses roadkill in her art too. Here, squirrel testicle earrings custom made for a bride.
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Q.16 - TakePart: What kind of roadkill have you eaten so far?

Alison Brierley: Staple roadkill in the U.K. are rabbits, pheasants, hares, deer, squirrels. Foxes, badgers, those kinds of things, I’ve processed and worked with, but their meat has never been in great enough condition to eat, which was a shame. Badgers especially can carry bovine TB, so you have to be very careful.  Occasionally, although illegal, farmers kill badgers with poisons and leave them at the side of the road to look like roadkill.

(Abroad is much trickier, due to different climates, but when it is cool and dry deer, kangaroo, rhea and penguin have been firm favourites!)

Q.17 - TakePart: You mention that you got advice from people who’ve eaten these animals themselves. Is there a community of people who eat roadkill?

Alison Brierley: There’s not quite a community. It’s still quite a quirky, eccentric thing to do because we’ve just been so socially conditioned that it’s dirty food. When people think of roadkill, they instantly think of this flat thing on the road that’s been run over 10 times by a tractor or something and that is totally inedible. Then people realize, “Hang on, what she’s preparing looks like it’s just gone to sleep—there’s hardly any injury on it whatsoever.” That’s the kind of roadkill that you look for, stuff that hasn’t been ruptured.

As far as friends go, we do have a community of people who love to go camping and be outdoors in nature, and that’s where you tend to skill share and find out a lot about country ways and cookery, like cooking whole pigs in earth ovens.

(Just recently I took part in a programme filmed by Beyond Productions’.  I gathered an elite group of foragers, hunters and craftsmen and women, all familiar with roadkill in one form or another.  The list of Roadkill Collaborators id here

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Q.17 - TakePart: I heard that you’re a nomad, is that true?

Alison Brierley: Me and my partner are both nomadic. We’ve been traveling for a long time. The last time I had a permanent home was five years ago. I owned an art gallery in Harrogate. It was very normal, apart from that it was all to do with tribal art. Me and my partner are both avid backpackers, so we do a lot of traveling into remote places like the Amazon and Papua New Guinea. We stay with tribes. I’ve got a keen interest in anthropology and I just love different cultures and how they cook and what they eat and their relationship to their food as well.

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Q.18 - TakePart: Is that how your interest in foraging, recycling and ecology grew?

Alison Brierley: Yeah. I think when you’re traveling and you don’t have a lot of possessions and you’re not surrounded by bills and house and possessions and clutter, you have more of a chance to interact with the environment. So we’ve decided to stay nomadic until we find a piece of land where we actually want to put down roots and build an eco-home and start a small community of our own, where like-minded people can come and skill share and learn off the land. That’s the plan—to be totally off-grid and eco.

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Q.19 - TakePart: Right now are you staying with friends or camping?

Alison Brierley: We have a motorhome, so we actually live in our motorhome and we drive it wherever we like. If we don’t like the view one morning, we can change it. It’s quite nice. When we visit friends, we take our house with us. We love it. It’s a great lifestyle. It suits us very, very much. Although, we will be renting in a beautiful little village up on the moors in Yorkshire to have a baby and nest-build for a little while.

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Q.20 - TakePart: What’s your favorite roadkill to cook?

Alison Brierley: I love eating hare. Hare is very special to me. Pheasant is a staple food. We eat lots of pheasants and lots of rabbits in springtime [laughing]. There are sort of seasons for different types of roadkill, and my fellow loves venison. We actually both love venison because you can get a huge amount of meat off one animal and it lasts for ages, but my favourite delicacy is the really weird stuff, like insects and the stuff you get in foreign countries that nobody else dares to try. I like to shock myself.

Q.21 - TakePart: What’s the most shocking insect you’ve eaten?

Alison Brierley: A live bamboo worm. It popped in my mouth and it was just like a big sack of milk, and that kind of freaked me out. But it didn’t taste bad at all.

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Q.22 - TakePart: What’s your least favorite food?

Alison Brierley: There’s only one thing I really dislike. I can eat anything apart from Marmite. I hate Marmite, and Vegemite as well. I keep trying it, thinking “This is the only thing I don’t like, so I’m going to keep trying it.” And I still really don’t like it.

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Last but not least…

Q.23 – What is the law on taking roadkill?

Finally, a few quick notes about the law…. but I am no expert, so check yourself if you really need to know specifics.  Generally, the UK is pretty good at allowing folk to dine from the road.

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

“The ownership of wild game is determined by where it dies and not who bred it or released it. For example, a pheasant killed on a public road cannot be claimed by anyone, nor can anyone be prosecuted for claiming it. The rumour about picking up a bird that has been killed by the car in front was an explanation as to how to kill a pheasant and not be charged with trespass in pursuit of game. As the bird died in a public place a charge of trespass cannot be brought to bare”.

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(The following is borrowed from a thread on a forum about the roadkill law in the UK which I think is really useful)

“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.

However, you have a limited sense of ‘ownership’ to wild animals while they happen to be on your land – thus if you wander onto an estate and kill one, that’s theft/poaching, but if it leaves the estate of its own free will and wanders onto a road, then it becomes property of the owner of that land – i.e the roads department.

Legally, you could now be prosecuted for theft by the roads dept, but since they don’t generally mind folk tidying the roads for free, they probably never would.

The ‘don’t take it if you hit it’ rule comes about from the explicit offence of ‘driving deer’ with a motorised vehicle – i.e chasing/killing deer with a motor vehicle is automatically an offence unless express permission has been sought from the land owner.

So, legally you are likely to be ok to take anything you hit (apart from deer, or protected animals like badgers), if you seek permission from the roads department to take their property away.

However, the one major issue in all of this is that only people holding public liability insurance are allowed to deliberately kill animals on public highways, in case they get it wrong and the injured animal runs under /another/ car and injures the passengers.  Thus you’re definitely breaking the law if you find an injured deer in the middle of the road, and decide to dispatch it.  You /could/ drag it onto private land next to the road and dispatch it there, but then of course you’re killing an animal on private land without the owners consent which is poaching!

For the specifics on deer, see:

Deer Act 1991 (England & Wales)

Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 (Scotland)

Humane Dispatch -  Deer-Vehicle Collisions (UK Government Guidelines)

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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

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.

 

Wild Food Foraging and Roadkill!  BBC Radio York 12th January 2012

Had a very entertaining discussion LIVE on air with DJ Jonathan Cowap and fellow guests yesterday.

The topic was about wild food foraging and public attitudes toward it.   I covered the Roadkill side of things!!

There were two other guest speakers;

Chris Bax who is a wild food forager and expert in edible and useful plants (www.tastethewild.co.uk)

Stephanie Moon who is a well known chef and food consultant who resides at Rudding Park, Harrogate. (www.stephaniemoon.co.uk).

It was very informative and funny and the team were great fun!

The full show is 3 hours long, so start the sliding bar at 1.08.28. Click here & Enjoy!!

Just before the New Year, I spoke on a couple of other radio stations, same topic, just different countries -

A lively discussion on a radio station in South Africa, just after Christmas day.  Was a bit strange being introduced in Afrikaans, but luckily the interview was in English!  We discussed alternative eating habits and variations on the traditional Christmas dinner.  Was a really informative and funny show.

Another radio show but this time in Atlanta, on the B98.5FM Morning Show With Vikki and Kelly!   You can hear the unedited version when I can figure out how to upload the damn thing, lol!

There was also a lovely interview with Sarah, a food producer with TakePart.com, from Beverly Hills, California.  We chatted about extreme foraging, roadkill recipes and taxidermy art.  She did really nice follow-up piece called…

The True Story of the Roadkill Cook…

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………………..

 

A recent story in the press about me has gone ballistic all over the internet! 

Pregnant Woman Develops Bizarre Craving for Roadkill 

There are many variations to this headline and unfortunately some of the content is inaccurate, over-sensationalised and full of deliberate misquotes made by the media in order to sell more news.  Surprise Surprise! 

As a result there have been many comments relating to these stories that have been quite abusive and unpleasant – mostly by people who do not question the media, believe everything they read and have a tendency to react before thinking. 

An appetite for Feral Fusion - all good food if you know what you are doing!!

Now… I don’t mind the odd slating for being who I am, or doing what I do, and if being willing to put up with the odd verbal bashing means I get a chance to spark a reaction that can change the way people interact with the world… then I’ll keep doing it!  

….but it does hurts a little when huge waves of hate and anger roll up on my shore due to deliberate misquoting and poor reporting in general – especially when aimed at my unborn child or my ability to be a good mother.  These individuals don’t know me, or where I am coming from, or how careful I REALLY am!

Japanese Gyoza - Roadkill Dumplings!

I know, I know, “If you dance with the devil…” and all that, I’ll get what I deserve…  Whatever!!  I’ll continue to be the authentic me and take on the chin whatever comes at me!  After all, it is only the ego that gets bruised by words.  I will live my life as I see fit, hopefully inspire and encourage others to do the same.  Let’s see where this dance with the media takes me – I have to question, ” is it all happening for a reason??”  I hope so.  Maybe lots of ‘good’ will come out of this – whatever ‘good’ is – question everything my friends. 

 

The actual story goes kinda like this…

Burning Man, Aug/Sept 2011, Nevada, our performance as Mr & Mrs Mud

I was originally contacted by a UK news agency by email while I was doing a two month road trip in America recently.  They saw me on “Come Dine With Me” (A UK TV show) and they wanted to do a follow up story.  I said I would speak to them upon my return late October.  It was an amazing 6000 mile road trip in an old VW camper. As always a culinary trip – although trying to avoid sugar and refined carbs was a bit tough.  We love being in the States.  Our trip included the iconic Burning Man Festival and eleven National Parks.  Beautiful country and amazingly friendly people.   God bless America!

Rocky Mountain Oysters - Bulls Testicles - Wyoming

It just happened that I was 5 months pregnant upon my return and extremely happy and the reporter jumped on that opportunity for a sensational story, despite my ‘very’ verbal reservations.  The headlines have been along the lines of, “I have suddenly got cravings for roadkill”. In truth, many people know that I have been eating roadkill for years and I love it. Obviously they wanted to elaborate and say that my eating of traffic casualties was caused by pregnancy cravings!  What tosh!  Lol. …but it certainly made a great story - it has almost gone ‘viral’.  Such a big reaction to little ol’ me and my little life!

I think I'm going to need a bigger BBQ! Roadkill Mule deer, Utah.

 
 
I have certainly craved more red meat and spinach (iron for baby) … and some other ‘normal’ stuff like fries and pizza (which is certainly odd for me as I do not normally eat refined sugar, carbs or processed food), but this cravings claim is their creation! 
 
However, we did have some mighty fine deer in the States and bloody good it was too!
 

What exactly is in our meat... supermarket or otherwise?

My roadside culinary habits have been filled with much more caution if anything (of course the reporter knew that, but that’s boring news!) and my partner does the roadside examinations and butchery at the mo.  I have been trying to conceive for some time and being an ‘older’ mum, taking every step I can to be super healthy – especially with regards to my diet.  I’ve driven my friends nuts by being so fussy, lol.  I do not take chances with my unborn child and despite other people’s ignorance in this matter, claiming that I am harming him, the truth is quite the contrary. Well chosen, roadkill is, without doubt, better than most supermarket meat and equal to the very best of (very expensive) meat in the shops.

Butchering a deer at the side of the road in Yorkshire. What an amazing lesson I had from a professional.

When I can afford it, I only eat organic meat.  Yes, that includes roadkill as I consider this free range food to be pesticide, growth hormone, antibiotic and cruelty free!  Unlike most supermarket meat.   I was misquoted in a way that made it sound like eating roadkill was unhealthy – which of course it isn’t, so long as know what you’re doing and have a good working knowledge of the animal you’re eating and any possible diseases it may carry.  I have years of experience and if there is the slightest doubt as to whether it is not fresh or free of disease…I will not touch it!  I am never too proud to refuse the advice and knowledge offered by someone who knows more than me!

(The proof of the pudding is that I’ve been doing this regularly for over five years and I’ve never had a funny tummy from any of the food from the road – and neither have my dinner party guests!). 

The contestants on CDWM - Harrogate

Also, I would hardly have appeared on a UK TV show serving up gourmet roadkill to random dinner guests in front of six million viewers (first broadcasting)  had I not had the confidence in what I was doing.  My eating roadkill has hardly been a secret, however, I got much slating because the article didn’t mention that either. They just made it out to be a sudden thing – which made me sound like a silly ‘15 minutes of fame’ thrill seeker to the people who had already seen me on the telly!  Pah!!   

COME DINE WITH ME – ROAD-KILL THRILLS in HAIRY HARROGATE – 3 min clip!

 

Soooo…how do you know if a carcass is fresh and edible?

 

Is it still fresh?

It is not only about how the animal looks and smells, whether the eyes are still in, how rigid the flesh is, whether the skin moves freely or whether its fleas have not yet abandoned a sinking ship!  Body and touch temperature are not always a great indicator, because different global regions have different climates. Also, changes in weather can make a difference to what bugs are around and the speed of decomposition.  Only pick up ‘clean’ hits that have ‘bounced’ to the side of the road. Then cut any bruised bits out – if any.  Rupturing of the animal’s organs and any broken bones have to be taken into consideration too as these can taint / poison the meat. 

Obviously, don’t pick up something thats been run over a couple of times!!  It is essential to research the kinds of diseases certain wild animals can catch and what signs to look for.

… As you can see, you need to know what you’re doing, but it’s not rocket science!!  If in doubt, ask someone else or leave it for something else to chow down on.  Hopefully it will be eaten before numerous passing cars turn it into tarmac-jam! 

Off Road Cookery by the Waterfalls - Morton Bay Bugs - New Zealand

I love my nomadic lifestyle.  I am one of the freest people I know and eating wild food makes me feel more at one with the environment and not separate from it.  I will share my knowledge with anyone who genuinely wants to learn more about living a simple life, appreciative of, and connected to, nature.  I am very open and honest about my life choices. And here’s the bonus, if you’ve yet to recognise it – You don’t have to work nearly as hard in life to make so much taxable money to have a cosy home, clothe and entertain yourself and eat well and healthily – Now with the state of the world economy as it is – surely this is appealing to many of you!

 

Maybe, one day, those angry people out there who live sanitary lives, too afraid to eat anything unless it has been pumped full of antibiotics, steroids and preservatives then shrink-wrapped in plastic will look to hunter/gatherers like us for survival tips when the world economy goes even more tits-up.

… or as one reader quoted “if there is a zombie apocalypse or something” lol! 

Who knows eh?

...in a supermarket near you?

Hairy Harrogate & Road Kill Thrills – Come Dine With Me  Series 20 Episode 29….program synopsis.

What a funny episode, we all loved it and loved making it!  It was edited pretty well and got a lot of laughs at our expense, but we expected that and are fine with it - why else set yourself up and go on the show?  lol.

Watch the episode now  – using Channel 4 link or or Seesaw link.

I would like to make a few points as I feel the editing left some important bits out.  I am aware that what people think of me is none of my business, but it doesn’t hurt to get a few important facts right now does it?  Some people do tend to believe everything they see on TV!  I also want to praise a few people who were wonderful and supported my menu, but didn’t get a look in.

In order of appearance….

The Motor home - I borrowed the motor home from a friend of a friend.  The idea was to show an alternative option to living in bricks and mortar.  It was meant to be a visual-aid, while still shopping for my own motor home on ‘ebay’ (which I now live in).  Unfortunately the borrowed van did not reflect my personality and no real filming of it or explanation of it took place.  I hope ‘As Seen On TV’ will help it sell as it was for sale at the time.  Many thanks anyway Clive.

Butchering the Road Kill Dear  – I had help from a wonderful man who stopped and offered to help.  He happened to be a local deer stalker and gave me the most amazing butchery lesson.  Thank you!  I wish I could find the card you gave me with your email address on it.

My Nomadic Lifestyle - After returning from a long trip abroad last summer my partner and I decided we were not going to settle in the UK, and wanted instead to buy a bit of land elsewhere to build an eco home, grow organically, raise our own animals and accommodate our friends.  The way the program went gave the impression that I lived my entire life ‘dossing’ from place to place  and taking advantage of my friends.  This isn’t true.  I was going through a transitional period only, meant to last about six months and only until we found our new motor home - which we did a few weeks after filming.  All stays with friends were wonderful and of mutual benefit.  Also, I do not coin it in with my little rented house, it pays the mortgage and that’s that!  lol.

Matt and his attitude - Matt is actually a really nice bloke and ‘hams it up!’ a lot.  We have kept in touch since and had a great laugh, he’s a great sport and a big softy really. 

Water Buffalo Bourguignon - On the show it makes out that the buffalo I used was not local.  It was!  The buffalo are reared in North Allerton, also in North Yorkshire.  Langhorne’s Buffalo Produce visit all the local farmers markets.   The buffalo was not called ‘James’.

The Dessert - The Bailey’s was not mentioned in the desert, and the recipe my dear friend Nick gave me was not used because of it.  Shame, it was a great recipe.

Extremely Exotic Petit Fours - The show did not use the clips of the Civet Coffee that I served, or the Scorpion Lollies that I gave as gift bags.  Many thanks and also apologies to Fenwicks and The Food Company Anglia for donating those, but not seeing them on TV.

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.

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