Nana Glen Mum

Wood Fired Duck…. April 16, 2010

A few weeks ago, my brother and his girlfriend Eloise popped down to visit for 2 nights on their way through to Canberra.  We had promised them, that in their honour, we would slaughter one of our birds for dinner.  Being as they are somewhat partial to duck, and we had 2 drakes, we decided duck it is!  Steve and I are both members of a food forum and are quite passionate not only about what we eat, but the preparation as well, so we decided to document the process from duck pen to plate.  There are some photos of a beheaded duck, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, now would be a good time to click to another page.  If you truly love good honest food, and appreciate where it comes from, then read on!

The duck of choice was Frank, the one in the foreground.  Why you say?  Well, for one, the other drake is much larger and better looking, so if we ever want to sell or swap, he would be a better choice.  Also, poor old Frank hurt his leg 2 days earlier and was hobbling around, so we may have had to put him down anyway.

Hubby is in charge of “Catch and Dispatch“, so he took Steve outside as his trusty assistant.  I’m not sure how much help he was though, because he managed to take quite a few photos during the process!

Once the “deed” was done, they brought the duck inside where I had filled one sink with boiling water and a few drops of detergent.  We dunked the duck a couple of times (the hot water and detergent help dissolve the fat that holds the feathers in and keeps the duck waterproof),

then Eloise and I set about plucking the duck (and yes I must admit, the old Hey Hey It’s Saturday Plucka Duck song was going through my head at the time) while Steve took some more photos.

I was beginning to notice that our city boy was taking lots of photos of EVERYONE ELSE doing all the work, and so far had managed to avoid getting his hands dirty all together!  Ha ha says I to myself, I know just the job for him!

When we had finished plucking, I handed the duck and a sharp knife to Steve and said “here you go, you’re turn to do something.”  I figured he could get the gizzards out (at this stage I knew how much they smell, but he didn’t).

He was pretty keen to get in to the action, to be fair, until that waft came out and went straight up his nose.  “Oh, don’t they smell like that when you buy them from the shop” I giggle!

Anyway to be fair, he did a good job (despite the wrinkled up nose and funny look on his face – where was the camera then eh???), we kept the liver for the sauce and gave the remainder of the giblets to Chloe our trusty dog.

Waste not want not!  Next job was to clean out the cavity and rinse the bird thoroughly.

Back inside, and the duck was plunged into a large pot of boiling water, this is to open all the pores to allow the fat to ooze out during the cooking process and provide maximum crispiness to the skin.

After a few minutes, we took it out, and dried it off thoroughly with the hair dryer (and people reckon I never use it!  Meh!  Although I must admit I did send the hair dryer photo to my hairdresser!  Hee hee hee!!!)

Next stage was to season the duck with salt and pepper, drizzle it with a bit of olive oil, and place it on a bed of chopped veggies, whole garlic cloves and various herbs from the garden.

Then in to the oven it went.  No, not your standard gas or electric oven, in to the wood fired oven!  Yum yum yum!

When the duck was cooked, we put some bread rolls in to cook while the meat rested (and yes, a few smirky comments were made about me having “buns in the oven”), and quickly made up the liver sauce to pour on top, eh voila…..

Roast Duck Nana Glen style!  Is Yumalicious a word?  If not, it should be, because that is what this dinner was!

If you liked these photos, you can see more of Steve’s awesome pics on his Flickr page here.

 

Dessert in a flash! October 5, 2009

Here in NSW, Australia, yesterday was Rugby League Grandfinal Day.  Sorry, but that’s about as excited as I get about it.  Sub intelligence blokes with chunky thighs running forwards down a paddock, but throwing the ball backwards???? Go figure!

Anyway, my friend over the road is a mad keen fan and decided to put on a barbie late lunch/early dinner to celebrate and suggested I join her and her kids with my kids as her hubby was away and mine was at work.  Sounded like a good idea to me, so I asked what I could bring along in the way of food.  It was pretty much all organised, but I always like to take something along (plus any chance to have a play in the kitchen of course!), so I decided to try out something that had caught my eye a while ago made by Helene of Tartelette fame.  I highly suggest you check out her blog.  To call it awesome is a MASSIVE understatement!  She is my culinary idol!  My gastronomic hero!  Now I do have one small favour to ask.  Please don’t look at her magnificent masterpiece and my pitiful, meagre attempt on the same day.  Please???

Chopped Berries

Chopped Berries

Anyway, back to lunch at Liz’s.  I had a few mulberries left over that my friend Tomoko gave me the other day when we went to scab some wood from their fire pile to use as garden borders for my new herb patch, along with some strawberries I had bought for the girls.  My stash of sweet tartlette cases are still surviving in the freezer, so all I needed was some fresh cream.  A quick trip to the general store (didn’t have time to go into town for more complex ingredients) sorted that out and I was well on my way.

As the mulberries were a little tart, I decided on Chantilly cream rather than just plain cream, especially as vanilla goes so well with fresh fruit, so I whipped that up, pulled some tart cases out of the freezer, chopped the berries roughly and put it all in a box to take over the road.  Now for the fun part!!  The stained glass toffee – or rainbow toffee as my girls dubbed it.

It is actually a really easy process.  Line a baking tray with baking paper (I

Tray with drops of food colouring

Tray with drops of food colouring

also sprayed it lightly with oil first to make the paper stick to the tray and in case any toffee spread off the paper on to the tray).  Put a few drops of food colouring around the place.  I used gel colours as they are much more intense than the liquid ones from the supermarket.  Then you make the toffee.  It is really easy.  Just 1 part water to 4 parts sugar,

Toffee

Toffee

heat it gently till all the sugar is dissolved, then let it boil away WITHOUT STIRRING ONCE IT IS ON THE BOIL.  Brush the sides down with a pastry brush dipped in water every now and then to prevent crystals forming on the sides of the pan as they will ruin the toffee.  After a while, (the actual time will depend on how much you are making and how fast you are boiling it down), the syrup will have thickened and look a bit plasticy.  If you have a sugar thermometer, use it.  You want the syrup to reach soft crack stage which is around 140 celcius.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just drop a teaspoonful of syrup into a glass of cold water and it should immediately form a hard solid ball.  I try to take my time bringing the temperature up because I have found in the past that boiling it too rapidly makes bigger boiling bubbles which then pop and splatter syrup up the sides of the pan which then crystallise, fall in to the syrup and make the whole lot crystallise before it’s ready.  Ruined.  Here is a video of how fast I like to boil it and the consistency when it is ready:

Once it has reached temperature and before it begins to colour, take it off the heat and let the bubbles subside.  Then, VERY carefully, pour the syrup onto the prepared pan.  Tilt the pan around to spread the toffee across all the dollops of colouring and voila!

Stained Glass Toffee

Stained Glass Toffee

Aint it purty!!  When it is completely cold, you can snap it into shards of whatever size you like.

After dinner, all I had to do was fold the berries into the cream, dollop it into the cases and top with a shard of toffee.  Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  Oh yeah, and I added a couple of borage flowers because they are running rampant in my veggie garden at the moment!

Strawberry and Mulberry Tartlettes with Rainbow Toffee and Borage Blossoms

Strawberry and Mulberry Tartlettes with Rainbow Toffee and Borage Blossoms

Just quickly while I’m here, I want to share 2 more photos of things I’ve made in the past week or two.  One is Ange’s new favourite dessert….Chiffon Cheesecake (Printable Recipe here).  It is heavenly.  It is a baked cheesecake, but with a texture half way between cheesecake and sponge cake.  It is lovely and light and luscious and just wonderful with chocolate, cream and fresh strawberries.

Chiffon Cheesecake

Chiffon Cheesecake

and finally, here is what we had for brekkie the other day:

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style.

The eggs had only been laid by our chooks that morning (in fact they were still warm from the chook’s bum!), the salad greens had been out of the ground for minutes only, the beetroot was from our garden and home pickled, and the tomatoes had been collected from the farm gate down the road only half an hour before.  Seriously people, can you think of a better way to start the day?

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style

 

And with a new day, we have new babies!!

Chicks, chicks and more chicks!  I love baby chicks!

Chicks, chicks and more chicks! I love baby chicks!

Yep, the babies have arrived at last!  Twenty of them in fact!!!

Arent they gorgeous!!!

Aren't they gorgeous!!!

And here are some more…

Whitey the White White with some of her new chicks...

Whitey the White White with some of her new chicks...

I know they aren’t the best pics, but we had to move Whitey the White White as it was (her nesting box was too high and we were worried the chicks might fall and get hurt), and Pecky lived up to her name and decided to have a go at Whitey’s chicks.

We’ve put up a temporary barrier now though so they both have their own space with their individual broods.   Inside, we are up to day 22 with the incubator, so all things going well, we stop turning the eggs in 3 days time, and hopefully the ducklings and turkey will start to hatch in 6!  Exciting times!

Out in the garden, spring is in full swing.  If only we could get some decent rain, actually any rain would be nice!  I’m starting to worry the tank is going to run dry again, and I am so sick of having to drink town water!  We had 2mm rain this morning, just enough to dampen the soil, but I may have to get out there with the hose again this afternoon and water the seedlings.  The new

Baby Peaches

Baby Peaches

fruit trees all seem to be establishing themselves well.  We have 5 baby peaches growing beautifully, and both lime trees are heavily laden with tiny little limes the size of a ladybug!  So cute!  The cumquat is throwing heaps of new leaves and the grape must have quadrupled in size in the few weeks we

Kaffir Limes budding

Kaffir Limes budding

have had it.  It’s going to be fantastic when it reaches up to the verandah and we have shade from the hot summer morning sun, not to mentions the luscious fruit!  The dragonfruit is growing well, and if anyone has any suggestions on how to trellis it, I am all ears!  It is supposed to be a climber of

Yep, these were nothing but a single raspberry cane this time last year!

Yep, these were nothing but a single raspberry cane this time last year!

sorts, but it doesn’t throw out tendrils!?!?!?  We have finally put the 2 kiwi fruit in the ground now.  Matthew put up 3 star pickets and some chook wire down the front of the block for them, and they seem to be settling in well.  The grapefruit has dropped its “bridal bouquet” as Ange called it and replaced it

My u-beaut home made worm farm

My u-beaut home made worm farm

with more fruit than you would find at a greengrocer!  For such a small tree that has been in the ground for such a small time, I can’t believe it!  I think I will be having to cull quite a few of the fruit so they don’t snap the branches.  Mind you, if it fruits like that every year, I’ll be making heaps of marmalade and grapefruit pate de fruits!  Yummy!

Freshly picked peas and a little visitor

Freshly picked peas and a little visitor

All the seedlings I had been raising in the broccoli boxes are now in the ground too.  We have 5 varieties of tomato and tomatillo, beetroot, daikon, jicama, sweet corn, 3 varieties of eggplant, golden zucchini and lebanese cucumbers and on and on goes the list.  Now that they are all in the ground, I’m hoping they’ll take off for a bumper summer harvest!  The most exciting thing in the garden at the moment though, is my new herb garden.  It is huge!  I’ve put it smack bang in the middle of the front yard so I can gaze upon it as I wash the dishes.

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

It’s right at the bottom of the front steps, so nice and convenient access to both the kitchen and the wood fired ovens.  It has 16 different herbs and about a dozen or so different lettuces and salad greens.  I’m really looking forward to when the growth takes off in there.  It is going to look spectacular as well as taste divine!  Seriously, how could you not love fresh food?  I did have a chuckle to myself the other day as I pottered about the garden.  My how my wardrobe has changed in 18 months!  Gone are the Dianna Ferrari frocks, Whittner shoes and handbags, makeup and high heels!  Now I get about in either gumboots or riding boots with old faded jeans, a long sleeved cotton check shirt (gotta be sun smart!!), and an akubra! Laughed my backside off at myself!

 

Spring Veggie Seeds Are Planted! August 25, 2009

Filed under: Garden — nanaglenmum @ 5:53 am
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Well the calendar may say we still have another week of winter left, but Mother Nature has over-ruled.  Spring is definately here!  The thermometer hit 35C yesterday, and I reckon was probably nudging 30C today around lunch time.  I had been putting off planting my “sow in spring” veggies in case we got a late frost, but having not really had anything we could call a frost since winter last year, I figured I’d take the plunge.  I’ve decided to reserve the top veggie patch for berries, so I need to pull my finger out and order the rest of them this week.  The bottom veggie patch however is still full of my winter veg.  There is about 8 varieties of “pick and come again” lettuce, snow peas, sugar snap peas, shelling peas, 3 varieties of broccoli, bok choy, wombok, purple cabbage, leeks, loads of spinach, daikon and a few other things popping up around the place.  Since there is no room there at the moment, I picked up 5 broccoli boxes and some potting mix when I was in town the other day. (Fitting the 5 boxes plus shopping plus 3 super sized bags of potting mix plus 2 kids car seats in the little Pajero was a story unto itself!!)  I know styrofoam is not exactly the eco choice, but at least they are getting recycled.  Right??  I cut them down to

Broccoli Boxes make great seed raising trays

Broccoli Boxes make great seed raising trays

about 15cm high and then filled them with the potting mix before planting my veggie seeds.  Here is what I put in:  Beetroot (Chioggia – I love the pink and white rings – they looks so pretty thinly sliced in salad), Cabbage (Bok Choy & Wombok), Capsicum (Lipstick & California Wonder), Carrot (Nantes & a Colour Mix), Sweet Corn (Gladiator F1), Cucumber (Mideast Prolific – a lebanese style cucumber), Daikon (Japanese Radish), Eggplant (Lebanese, Rosa Bianca & Black Beauty), Jicama, Lettuce (Great Lakes, Baby Cos & Buttercrunch), Onion (Mini Purplette & Red Stem Welsh), Pumpkin (an unknown variety from friends & Butternut), Rhubarb (Sydney Crimson), Tomatillo (Purple), Tomatoes (Cherry Yellow Pear, Roma San Marzano, Tommy Toe & Thai Pink Egg), Japanese Turnip, Watermelon (Sugarbaby) and finally Zucchini (Golden).  I covered them all with a light layer of soil and put a piece of cardboard over the carrot seeds to hopefully get a better success rate with germination.  It will be interesting to see how they all go as I haven’t had much luck with carrots or onions yet.  I’m really looking forward to the cucumbers and

Kaffir Lime and its yummy double leaves

Kaffir Lime and its yummy double leaves

zucchini though.  Last year we had only 6 cucumber vines and were picking 10kg of cucumber every week!  They were so sweet and succulent too.  The zucchini fared really well also.  We were picking them at about 10-15cm in length while the flower was still intact and stuffing the flower before cooking the whole thing – zucchini and flower attached.  They were delicious!  There are a few things there that I haven’t grown before either – these last 12 months being my first foray into gardening, so it will be interesting to see how they all go.  The fruit trees all look happy enough since planting them in last week.  We have Grapefruit, Kumquat, Dragonfruit, a Green Grape, Pear, Peach, Starfruit, Granny Smith Apple, Kaffir Lime, Tahitian Lime, Meyer Lemon, and Mulberry.  We also have 2 tiny blueberry bushes (twigs really) that are both covered in fruit and the raspberry bush that began as a single small cane last year is huge now and has new runners popping up everywhere.  I think I read you can dig the new runners up and replant them so I might pass a few on to friends.  The passionfruit vine we put in last year is looking lovely and lush so I am hoping for fruit from it this year and we were given another one 2 weeks ago from Monica – the lovely lady who gave us the Naked Neck Chickens.  Speaking of chickens, if the eggs she gave us were fertile, they should be hatching this weekend!!  Very exciting!  I am going to try and make an egg incubator this week with the help of a neighbour who has built one previously just in case they hatch as we will need to incubate the duck eggs that the chooks are sitting on.  Fingers crossed eh?!?

My herbs are all coming along nicely.

Bay Tree

Bay Tree

The bay tree FINALLY has more than one leaf on it after about 8 months of sitting idle, so it is nice to be able to use it at last … even if somewhat sparingly!  I am thinking of making a feature herb garden in the middle of the front yard and putting the bay in a nice big terracotta pot smack bang in the middle of all the herbs.  If it ever grows, I think it would look good as a central focus.  All the herbs that I planted 2 weeks ago are coming along nicely.  Most of them (Oregano, Zaatar, Orach, Chamomile, Marjoram, Nasturtium, Lemon Balm, Anaheim Chilli, Garlic chives, basil, Thyme, Parsley, Coriander & Dill) have germinated now and are starting to form their true leaves.  I’ll have to get on to Matthew to dig the new garden bed for them.  The Rosella and Pomegranate have also popped up

Baby Herbs

Baby Herbs

through the soil so I will have to figure out where I am going to put them!  My Borage is looking amazing at the moment as all the flowers have started coming out.  I am going to make some cupcakes this week to celebrate and use the flowers to decorate them.  Might have to have some friends come over for morning tea to share them!

Finally before I go, here are some pretty flower pics from our garden.  Matthew grows the most beautiful Australian Natives.  I really don’t understand why people don’t put them in because “they want flowers” (as one lady said to us!!)  We have gorgeous flowers all year round.  What more could a girl ask for?  I’d take them over roses any day – plus they bring in all the lovely wild birds too.

Well, that’s about all the news from the garden for today, so stay tuned as i will post pics as they (hopefully) grow.

 

Spring is on the way! August 12, 2009

Kaffir Lime leaves and their knobbly fruit

Kaffir Lime leaves and their knobbly fruit

We may only be 2 weeks into the final month of winter, but spring can’t be too far away. The horse has begun to shed and 2 of our chickens…Pecky – on the left – (she likes to peck at food) and Specky – on the right – (a speckled brown)

Pecky

Pecky

have both gone broody. We popped a few of Daisy’s (our female Indian Runner

Specky

Specky

Duck) eggs under them when they first went broody as all she want to do is run around, eat, splash and “play” with the drake!! A few days later, we were given ten naked neck eggs believed to be fertile from lovely Monica who gave us the chickens. (No they don’t have mange, they are Transylvanian Naked Neck Chickens – also known as Turkens in the US) So, we have popped them under the chooks also. Hopefully in the next week either Daisy or one of the other chickens will go broody also so we can separate out the duck eggs, otherwise we will just have to take them out and try for ducklings later on. We figure it’s not really fair to expect mamma hens to raise clutches of half chicks, half ducklings!

Blueberry Flowers

Blueberry Flowers

Out in the garden are other signs of spring. One blueberry bush is covered in flowers while the

Blueberry Fruit Forming

Blueberry Fruit Forming

other is actually starting to form fruit! Very exciting for us as this will be our first ever crop of blueberries. On the subject of berries, the mulberry tree

Mulberry beginning to bud

Mulberry beginning to bud

is sprouting leaves and also budding flowers. Hopefully we will get our first crop of them also this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a nice abundant spring and summer as this is the first year the plants will have been in long enough as they only went in last year. We
have a single lonely Chinese Bell chilli left on the bush after I had picked all the red ones to make curried chilli with (super yum – I’ll post the recipe), but hopefully with the onset of spring, we will get some more. Up in my green house, I have planted about 18 different varieties of herbs and a couple of fruit trees, all from seed. The first few are beginning to pop their heads out of the soil, so far the thyme, marjoram, chamomile and zaatar have all popped up to say hello, as have some of the sunflowers. I am really excited as they are not your standard yellow sunflowers, but will flower in a range from yellow to orange, through to a crimson red!

The lonely Chinese Bell Chillie

They almost look like gerberas. The peas are all giving us pods daily now and we have planted a second lot, and the bok choy is enormous – much to the delight of the chooks and ducks who tuck in to it for their green fodder each day. My first 3 purple cabbages are forming heads and the daikon are growing quickly too! Our mixed lettuce are probably nearing the end of their run, but I do have some new lettuces on their way up. I am really looking forward to giving some baby cos to my friend over the road who has promised me a big bowl of her delicious Caesar Salad in return!

 

First Pizza in the Wood Fired Oven August 11, 2009

Well, there could be only one thing more exciting than the previous post…the first meal in the oven!!  So, here it is…
Late afternoon Matthew fired up the oven as the sun set over the hills of Nana Glen.  I know, it sounds a little cliche, but it was really the perfect setting.  We turned on the fairy lights as we stood under the gazebo watching the thermometer steadily climb to 350oC.  Time for me to go inside and get the bases and toppings ready.  I had been down to Coffs Catering earlier in the day and bought our first 4 pizza trays.  2 big ones for the grown ups and 2 small ones for the girls.  We like to have everyone make their own as we all like different toppings, and I think it is important to involve the kids in preparing their own food.  They tend to eat better if they have ownership of the meal, and it teaches them about nutrition also.
I squished (my technical term) out all the bases on the tray, using my regular recipe for pizza dough and chopped all the ingredients to put on top then everyone came inside and made their pizzas.  The four of us marched outside in procession, all with our trays in our hands to the oven and one by one, passed them to Matthew who put them into the oven.  Within minutes it smelled wonderful!  I don’t know what it is, but there is definately something special about food cooked by wood rather than electricity or gas.  That wonderful earthy aroma and taste…mmmm…I’m starting to drool just recollecting!  Before we knew it, the peel was back in the oven and the pizzas were ready.  Nothing left to do but sit and eat.  We were so excited about tucking in, I forgot all about photos and just managed one quick snap of Matthew’s plate – sorry bout the lack of composition in the pic but we were dying to tuck in!  And the result?  Delicious!  So good in fact, we are going back for round two tonight.  For a bit of variety though, we are going to have Turkish Pide instead of Pizza.  Hey, why restrict ourselves!

Bring on dinner time!
 

First Fire in the Pizza Oven!! August 9, 2009

Woohoo!  It has finally happened, the last brick is in and the dome is complete!  Friday night DH lit the first small test fire inside the oven to see how it would go.  Went great – only a small fire, but reached 250oC easily.  We had friends come over for a feed and to watch (of course) and rang the neighbours over the road to come and check it out.  Lots of oohs and aahs and “how long til we get a pizza”.  We even turned on the fairy lights around the gazebo next to it for a bit of ambience.  Gorgeous!  He has done a fantastic job, especially for someone with no brick laying experience.  Our friend’s uncle even thought he was a brickie!!
August 7Last night we lit the second fire, a bit bigger this time and it went up to 340oC.  He is a clever  boy – even installing a probe thermometer through the wall during construction so we can keep an eye on the temperature.  He is now going to put 3 layers of render over the top with vermiculite in the second layer as extra insulation, and will tint the final layer an earthy reddish brown – think Uluru at sunset.  Once that is all finished, I get to have my turn with the decorating.  Originally I was going to do a mural…but, as we live in a little hamlet called Nana Glen, named after the 2 tailed lizard (a naturally occurring mutation of a very common lizard that the local Aboriginal tribe call Nana), I am going to attempt to make a large 3d sculpture of a August 7 (3)2 tailed lizard draped over the dome of the oven.  Come on, since when did I ever go for an easy, subdued option – it has to be over the top or not at all!!  (Kinda like my cakes lol).  Hopefully I’ll figure out how to do it as I go along as I have never attempted sculpture before except for a mammoth head out of foam rubber for a play in high school (and even then I had an art teacher helping!!)  I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and post them up as I go.  I am also thinking I might do a bit of a write up on DH and how he built the oven as we took lots of photos along the way, right from the laying of the slab and the kids imprinting their handprints!!  It even has wood stowage underneath!
So, Tuesday night is our very first

pizza night!  I am going to try out a new recipe for the dough to celebrate, and now I have to start thinking about what toppings – they have to be special as occasions don’t come much more special than this!  I am SOOOOOO excited!!