For Maine Apple Beaver Meatloaf, think warmed-up beaver, sliced, in a sandwich.

No appeal? No problem. Kate Krukowski Gooding has 48 more recipes to chew on.

The Maine author’s fourth cookbook is all beaver recipes.

In “50 Ways to Eat a Beaver,” there’s a recipe for beaver tail as well as the dish she served Andrew Zimmern on an episode of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” several years back: Bean Hole Beaver Baked Beans.

Gooding, 60, had what she describes as the “sweet, lean, red meat” for the first time in her 20s. It was served by a boyfriend’s mother in Jackman.

“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “She made it with this barbecue sauce and these buttered egg noodles. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, what is this delicious meat?’ They said, ‘Oh, beaver.’ I was like, ‘Really? Can I have more?’ I’m always open to trying something at least once.”

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Gooding, who now lives in Scarborough, grew up in a family of five children plus foster kids. Both parents worked. To pitch in, she got comfortable cooking early on but didn’t get adventurous until she was out of the house.

Her brother bought her a gun at age 19.

“I started skeet shooting, and then hunting — and it just accelerated,” she said.

Her wild game recipe repertoire covers beaver, bear, moose, raccoon, partridge, pheasant, pigeon and, in the ranks of very tiny game, black fly.

So far, she’s only drawn the line at bobcat (it looks too much like her own cats) and muskrats (the meat’s too grainy). 

“Raccoon is very good,” Gooding said. But fair warning: Your system might not handle it well. 

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“It’s delicious, but it just goes through you,” she said.

But frankly, who knows what they’ve eaten?

In “50 Ways to Eat a Beaver,” most recipes call for beaver leg meat. Gooding’s brother, Chris Krukowski, a registered Maine Guide, traps them for her. The season in Maine, depending on the wildlife management district, stretches from late fall to the end of either March or April.

For those would-be chefs with the same trouble as one Amazon reviewer — “This is great, except for the fact I did not anticipate my inability to purchase beaver meat in my local area” — Gooding recommends contacting the local municipality’s animal control officer for the names of local trappers.

She released the first cookbook in her Black Fly Stew series in 2006, “Wild Maine Recipes,” after hearing too many complaints about the lack of flavorful game recipes. “Simple Gourmet Lamb” and “Free Range Fish & Lobster” followed.

“50 Ways to Eat a Beaver” was inspired by the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and what seemed to Gooding like an increase in nuisance beaver stories around the country.

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Gooding has received, “How can you eat that cute beaver?” backlash. 

“I say, ‘Oh, look at that cute cow,'” she said. “It’s just your perspective. People don’t think about what they’re seeing is alive and that they’re eating it later.”

Gooding, at work now on “Buy Local, Spice Global,” appeared on “Bizarre Foods” after a bookstore owner who went to school with Zimmern recommended that she appear as a guest. On the episode, Bean Hole Beaver Baked Beans made the cut, but Lemon Black Fly Muffins didn’t. Once cooked up, she said, it’s hard to visually appreciate that they’re riddled with black flies.

“I spent a lot of time catching them; it took me a while,” she said. Her recipe calls for a quarter-cup of black flies.

Gooding will be cooking beaver and talking about some of the stories behind her recipes during demonstrations in May at the Home Garden Flower Show in Fryeburg and the Taste of Bar Harbor food festival.

Would-be guests to her home know that she uses her own cookbooks pretty regularly.

“Some friends will say, ‘Don’t tell us (what we’re eating) until we’re done.’ So they know better,” she joked. “Other friends will say, ‘OK, what are we having, what kind of wine should we bring?’ and they understand.”

Weird Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send, photos, ideas and beaver-free beaver jam to [email protected]


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