BBQs work: Cooking squirrel with blowtorch to cost Michigan tenant $2M after complex gutted

A woman whose boyfriend sparked a 2012 apartment fire using a blowtorch on a squirrel is on the hook for $2 million in damages to the Holland Township complex, the Court of Appeals ruled.

grey.squirrel.eatWednesday’s ruling reverses a lower court decision that held Barbara Pellow responsible for only $15,400 in damages caused by the Oct. 10 blaze that consumed 32 units at ClearView Apartments.

The woman’s boyfriend, Khek Chanthalavong, had been using a blowtorch to remove fur from the squirrel on a wooden deck. Owners of the complex claimed cooking a squirrel on the deck violated her rental agreement.

Even though her boyfriend caused the fire, Pellow is still liable under a lease agreement for what justices described as a “fur-burning escapade.”

“Because defendant signed the lease agreement, she is presumed to have read and understood its contents,” the three-judge panel wrote.

Dozens of people at ClearView Apartments in Holland Township lost everything in the fire. Insurance carrier Travelers Indemnity Co. paid out more than $2 million to repair the damage.

The boyfriend left the torch on the deck and went into the apartment. When he returned 15 minutes later, he discovered the fire.

Squirrel sells out at Edinburgh restaurant

The owner of an Edinburgh restaurant which has put grey squirrel on the menu has described it as the "ultimate ethical food."

Spoon cafe bistro in the capital said the grey squirrels were being killed to protect Scotland’s native red squirrel so it "made sense" to eat them.

But animal welfare charities are divided about eating squirrel.

Owner Richard Alexander told the BBC the squirrel meat was free range, low fat and low on air miles.

Mr Alexander said since it went on the menu on Friday it has sold out every day.

Some say squirrel tastes like wild boar. Others think it is more a cross between duck and lamb.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.

UK supermarket sells squirrel meat

In Jan. 2010, Michelle blogged about the popularity of squirrel meat in the U.K. and someone commented,

“I live in the U.K. and have never ever seen squirrel being sold in any supermarket or shop and would be quite surprised if I ever did! As far as I’m aware its not popular at all.”

The Daily Mail reports this morning that a British supermarket has started selling squirrel, and is reporting "huge interest" in the cheap and healthy meat.

Grey squirrel meat is high in protein and low in fat, and is selling for just £3 ($5.25) at budget supermarket Budgens, reports.

Once a staple of English cooking, squirrel is said to have a nutty flavour and can be cooked in soups, pies and casseroles.

The North London branch of the supermarket selling the meat said there had been "huge interest" but admitted that more customers were looking rather than buying so far.

Animal welfare group Viva has accused Budgens of cashing in on a "massacre" by putting grey squirrel back on the menu, with founder Juliet Gellatley saying,

"If this store is attempting to stand out from the crowd by selling squirrel, the only message they are giving out is that they are happy to have the blood of a beautiful wild animal on their hands for the sake of a few quid.”

How to control squirrels in the UK? Eat ’em.

I’m always open to trying new foods, but I don’t know if I’m all that interested in eating squirrel.  Sure they’re terribly cute with their little hands and bright eyes, but I can’t help but wonder what kinds of diseases they carry.  In terms of food I’ve always thought squirrel was more of a roadkill dish.

The Brtis sure don’t agree with my opinion of the squirrel.  There is a booming industry for squirrel meat in the UK, and the public cannot get enough of it.  In farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs and elegant restaurants, squirrel is selling as fast as gamekeepers and hunters can bring it in.  It’s not just a matter of eating something trendy, culling squirrels has become a necessity with the red squirrel population being pushed out by the gray squirrels.

“The situation is more than simply a matter of having too many squirrels. In fact, there is a war raging in Squirreltown: invading interlopers (gray squirrels introduced from North America over the past century or more) are crowding out a British icon, the indigenous red squirrel immortalized by Beatrix Potter and cherished by generations since. The grays take over the reds’ habitat, eat voraciously and harbor a virus named squirrel parapox (harmless to humans) that does not harm grays but can devastate reds. (Reports indicate, though, that the reds are developing resistance.)

The “Save Our Squirrels” campaign began in 2006 to rescue Britain’s red squirrels by piquing the nation’s appetite for their marauding North American cousins. With a rallying motto of “Save a red, eat a gray!” the campaign created a market for culled squirrel meat.”

Though squirrel has been promoted as a low-fat food, discrepancies have been found in meat quality.  Nichola Fletcher, a food writer and co-owner of a venison farm, said that in her experience, “the quality and amount of fat varied from no visible fat to about 30 percent, depending on the season, their age and, especially, diet.”  I guess there’s no USDA grading system for squirrels. Though there don’t seem to be written standards in preparing a squirrel dish, food safety standards, such as handwashing and cooking meat thoroughly, should always be a top priority when preparing a meal.

“If you want to grab your shotgun, make sure you have very good aim — squirrels must be shot in the head; a body shot renders them impossible to skin or eat. (You want to get rid of the head in any event, as squirrel brains have been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease.)”

For those interested in trying squirrel, recipes can be found here and here.

Squirrel melts for lunch – like tuna melts, but with squirrel

A friend sent along this year-old video of “Huntress” Heidi Wilson, a redneck Rachel Ray with a heavy dose of Martha Stewart-inspired soft lens on the camera.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife describes squirrel as "good table fare," offering recipes for squirrel chowder, stew and barbecue.

In Aug., 1997, Joseph Berger, Erick Weisman and Beverly Weisman of the University of Kentucky reported in The Lancet, they may have found a link between the consumption of squirrel brains, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The scientists reported on five patients, aged between 56 and 78, who had been diagnosed as having Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. All of them reported that they had eaten squirrel brains.

Weisman told the N.Y. Times  squirrels were a popular food in rural Kentucky, where people eat either the meat or the brains but generally not both.

Families tend to prefer one or the other depending on tradition. Those who eat only squirrel meat chop up the carcass and prepare it with vegetables in a stew called burgoo. Squirrels recently killed on the road are often thrown into the pot.

Families that eat brains follow only certain rituals.

"Someone comes by the house with just the head of a squirrel," said Weisman "and gives it to the matriarch of the family. She shaves the fur off the top of the head and fries the head whole. The skull is cracked open at the dinner table and the brains are sucked out."  It is a gift-giving ritual.

The second most popular way to prepare squirrel brains is to scramble them in white gravy, he said, or to scramble them with eggs. In each case, the walnut-sized skull is cracked open and the brains are scooped out for cooking.

These practices are not related to poverty, Berger was cited as saying. People of all income levels eat squirrel brains in rural Kentucky and in other parts of the South.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.

UK foodies going nuts about squirrel — tastes like chicken

Low in fat, low in food kilometres and completely free range, the grey squirrel is, to some UK diners, about as ethical a dish as it is possible to serve on a dinner plate.

At Ridley’s Fish and Game shop in Corbridge, Northumberland, owner David Ridley said he has sold 1000 – at 3.50 ($8.89) a squirrel – since the beginning of the year.

"I wasn’t sure at first, and wondered would people really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on. I’ve had days when I have managed to get 60 and they’ve all sold straight away."

Some say squirrel tastes like wild boar. Others think it is more a cross between duck and lamb.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.

Good eats: New Jersey squirrels

Agence France Press reports today that squirrel eaters in the U.S. state of New Jersey have been told that the bushy-tailed rodents are likely safe to eat, after earlier being advised the unlikely delicacies could contain toxic metals.

The Environmental Protection Agency said earlier this year it had discovered high levels of lead in a squirrel taken from near a waste dump in the Ringwood area and advised people to eat the rodents no more than twice a week.

Officials have now said the test results were an error.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife describes squirrel as "good table fare," offering recipes for squirrel chowder, stew and barbecue.