Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Our morning in pictures

Baked a coffee cake using the last of the frozen berries from the yard; a mix of blueberries, black raspberries and currants.

This is one of my favorites to bake. It's so simple and good.

My little man helped me find the berries in the freezer. He will play in there as long as I let him; holding up bag after bag and asking "What's this? Hm.. What's this?" This of course led to him finding my stash of ice cream bars which we ate. Oh and he also likes to say "sorry ducks" while holding a package of frozen quail which is hilarious. 

He learned to use the flour sifter and immediately showed Mickey how to use it. 

He has been doing this super cute thing this week: completely out of nowhere he has started calling me Mama Duck. As in "Mama Duck? Play Cat in the Hat?" or "Mama Duck! I stuck!" when he's hiding under a pillow. It's adorable. Of course I have started calling him Baby Duck which he loves. His morning chores consist of helping make the beds, feeding his fish and giving Bee treats. He was unloading the dishwasher but it's been broken this week which is pretty much my version of housewife hell.

Our amaryllis bloomed overnight.  I thought it was going to be pink but I did get it on clearance so who knows. It's beautiful. 

Yesterday we were playing in the yard and today the world looks lile this. I caught one of the female ducks and held her while little man petted her and named each part. He was beside himself 
 "Duck's ears! Duck's toes! Duck's nose!" I don't think the duck appreciated it as much as we did.

Elyse is doing an impression of a slipper this morning. Bee smells vaguely but undeniably like skunk. Don't know what to do about that except ignore it. I draw the line at bathing a cat.

Well that's it so far. Sincerely hoping baby duck takes a nap so mama duck can too. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Canning jar trick

John over at Going Gently has a fun post this morning asking people to share real or made up household hints (check out Going Gently on the blog roll side bar - I love reading about John's adventures).

Anyhoo, I thought I'd share mine here too, with a picture.

If you use mason jars for canning or storage, the red lids from peanut butter jars fit them perfectly. So after you open your jar of jam you don't have to muck around with a sticky lid and band. It's only the red lids but seems to work for any brand I've saved them from.

I learned this from my grandpa who would not have called it a "life-changing canning hack!" He would have found that term totally asinine. He would have called it common sense. Of course I think he saved every single jar lid that ever entered that house, so sooner or later one was bound to fit.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cooking goose with Hank Shaw

I've professed my crush for Hank Shaw on here a couple of times.  We own all of his books and I was a recipe tester for his new book Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail which comes out this spring.  He's one of those people who make our lives better on a regular basis not only from the recipes contained in the books but also by the vast store of knowledge and techniques that he shares with readers.  You can read my thoughts on his book Duck, Duck, Goose and my experience cooking Duck Bigarade by clicking here.

It's time to start eating the Embden gander we parted up and put in the freezer last fall so I pulled out one of the breasts and the wings and got out my copy of Duck, Duck Goose.  I wanted to try something completely new to me that wouldn't be too involved time-wise since I was cooking this on a Tuesday night.

I chose the Goose Breast with Orange-Ouzo Sauce.  I hadn't cooked with fennel for years and this used the bulb, which I'd never done and also called for anise liquor, orange and thai peppers.  Interesting.

Prep and go, people.

We are out of Thai peppers so I pulled a Jalapeno out of the freezer.  We also live in the sticks so for the anise liquor I purchased a cheap bottle of Sambuca. 

The breast is scored to release fat as it cooks - this is a good technique for duck as well.  It also called for duck/goose stock so first thing in the morning I tossed a pair of goose wings into the crock pot along with celery, carrot, onion and bay to make the stock.

He shares a brilliant technique for crisping the skin - the breast is cooked skin side down the entire time. I spooned the fat off and into a jar as it was released from the skin.  Goose/duck fat is heaven when added to anything.  He has a recipe in the book for a duck fat pie crust which I haven't tried yet.

Bee stood like this and made her sad face.  Didn't work.

Here it is, served with mashed potato:

Perfectly crisped skin, perfectly medium-rare.  Directions in the book followed to the letter.

Oh my goodness.  Remember when I said pickled eggs were the reason to keep quail?  I will kill a goose each fall for no other reason but to make this recipe.  It was pure heaven.  This is one of those dishes that you would happily pay $40 a plate in a fancy restaurant to celebrate a special occasion and then not shut up about it to anyone who would listen.  The sauce is absolutely amazing; sweet with the liquor and orange but hot with the pepper.  The meat was delicious.  My husband said it reminded him of well-aged venison and I thought it was a bit like quail. Like a wonderful, expensive indulgence.

The best part is that this happened in my kitchen, on a Tuesday evening, in under 45 minutes.

I think next up in the kitchen will be Cajun Dirty Rice with the duck, goose and quail giblets I've been hording.  And when the ducks start laying I'll try his Salt Cured Egg Yolks; apparently you shave them over pasta once they're dried.

If you hunt, fish, forage, keep waterfowl or just love to cook please visit his wonderful website Hunter Angler Gardener.  It's so beautiful and inspiring.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Vintage linens for sale

Some pictures so that someday I can look back and say "oh, WHY did I sell that?"  Also I think it's fun to see what other people are selling on Ebay, it gives me ideas of things to look for when I'm out second-hand shopping.  These are just a handful of the things currently listed.  Clicking on any of the captions will take you to the auction.

There are over 50 things listed currently; mostly linens, feedsacks, fabrics and video games.  A handful of books.  If you're curious you can click here to see everything I have for sale.  Vintage fabrics and linens have been good to me over the years and are relatively easy to come by living in a rural area.  They're also easy to ship. If you do any selling  on Ebay or Etsy it's a good niche to look into.

Does anyone sell on Ebay or Etsy?  I know a couple people reading this do.  Please comment with a link!  I'd love to see what you're up to.

P.S.  The hatchery is sending me a sexed pair of geese as replacements.  I chose to get those two and a refund for the third.  I wonder how long I can keep all 5 before anyone notices? Just kidding, sort of.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Was sent the wrong birds. A choice to make.

So I've suspected for a couple of months now that the hatchery sent me the wrong kind of geese last spring. I had ordered a breed called Super Africans. Mine just didn't look like they were developing properly so this week I sent off some pictures to the hatchery. I was hoping that I still had the right birds but maybe they just weren't fully mature.

They got back to me yesterday confirming that they sent me the wrong geese. Shit.

Pinterest photo of Super Africans.

My geese. A production standard goose.

See the difference in the posture? And the dewlap (the loose skin under the chin)? Mine also are significantly smaller than they should be.  It's my understanding that in this country most geese sold as "Africans" are actually a mixed goose that have Chinese goose genes somewhere in their background.  It results in a lighter weight goose that lays more eggs.  It may not seem like a big deal but it means that I've spent the last year raising birds that don't meet the breed standard. At all.

They've offered to send me replacement geese or refund my money. The birds I paid for cost significantly more than the ones I recieved plus they're just not what I ordered. 

I have no idea what to do here. I like my geese. I don't have room for six geese. I don't want to butcher these three. I could try to sell the group.  They are friendly and sweet.  

Geese have a long lifespan. Truth be told, if I'm going to be looking at these birds for a long time I really would like the Super Africans. I keep going back and forth.  Going to give myself the weekend to think on it.

What to do? 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow geese

We are all SO over winter and it's only the middle of January.  Long, long sigh.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A lovely day

What's going on with the weather, honestly. Last week it was single digits and today it is 59 degrees... the kind of weather for planting peas and potatoes and lettuce. Oh well. We'll take what we can get, gladly.

Out for a walk. The snow has mostly melted off leaving the yard a soggy mess.

Bee and the little man are on the major deer trail that goes along the orchard.

Look what we found. I wonder if it's from the big buck that hangs around or if we have a new visitor.

This is the ugliest time of year for our property.  The grass is brown and muddy, nothing is growing and the snow has melted to reveal all of the crap I have littering our yard. Add the feral chickens running around and you can practically hear the banjos twanging.

I'm honestly feeling badly for our neighbors lately. Between the roosters, geese and the female ducks the only way this property could be louder is if we had a kennel full of dogs. Seriously, it's embrassing. Mostly they only go crazy when we're out in the yard.  Although late last night I could hear the geese (me inside the house with all the windows shut) going nuts about something, a skunk I think. I knew they would be loud but I didn't know they would be *that* loud.  Whoops.

After the little guy gets up from his nap we're going to head back outside. It's supposed to be back down to 15 by Saturday. Crazy weather.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The great freeze

It's been in the single digits all week here. Currently it is 3 degrees outside = damn cold. Everyone is pretty much hunkered down.

The whole world looks like this.

The quail have been burrowing in straw and I wrapped the pen in feedsacks to cut down on drafts.

Nigel looking amazing as always.  I am shocked that no one has frostbite.

I think my geese are mating? The ladies tails are starting to look ragged. Does that mean anything?

Elf village needs put away. There are 20 paperboard houses and about the same number of elves now.

The cats are charging their batteries.

Too cold to go outside so we brought the snow in.

Turning the rest of the holiday cheese into loaves of cheesy bread.

Trying to stay warm and happy while we wait the winter out.