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.


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!!