Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Quacking like a duck.

Sunday dinner this week was a case of mistaken identity, having removed from the freezer what we thought was a chicken, after we had defrosted it,  turned out to be a duck, normally this would have been fine, duck is our favourite roast dinner, but not for seven days running.
Last week was not a 'normal ' week for us, having gone to the Christmas party at the local school on the Sunday we missed out on our normal Sunday roast, Thursday became our Sunday, roast on Sunday, well in this case Thursday, cold the next day and stir fry the third day, this brought us round to Sunday again, the real one, not a weekday one. Once again the meat was taken out to defrost, this week we were having chicken, wrong! The chicken turned out to be duck. We are now on day six of duck for dinner, you really can have too much of a good thing. We must try to do better with labelling things that go into the freezer.
Once again we find ourselves with a glut of eggs, it's too early to start setting eggs in the incubator, and we are still lacking room in the freezers for ice cream. Having sold a few doz. and made a sponge cake I decided it was time to make éclairs. The plan was to make some for eating and some for the freezer.
Freshly baked cream Eclairs.
They turned out so well that none got frozen. Oh well, it's a good excuse to make more.
One of our local shop keepers is a keen hunter, he  kept us supplied with trout throughout the season last year.
Food for free.
Yesterday he presented us with two lovely cock Pheasants, he will only shoot game or catch and kill fish if he has someone who will eat his kills. We are only to pleased to receive such things. He refuses to take money, all he asks in exchange are the neck feathers from any birds that we might be slaughtering. He makes all his own fishing flies,  apparently neck feathers are best for this craft as they lay correctly in the water. We always feel that we are getting the best end of this deal, but as he said, he wouldn't do it just for sport, there has to be someone who will appreciate his generosity and skill. We certainly do. So many thanks Bernard.
The weather is still very mild but far too damp to be able to do anything to the garden. Soil is a very fragile thing and does not like being worked when wet. There's not even stuff to do in the tunnel. The garlic and onions are well up and the over wintering cauliflower is coming on. Last  year we did not plant broad beans in the tunnel neither have we planted them outside for over wintering, we found that it made little if any difference to the crop. Instead we have now planted the seeds into root trainers. When the plants are four inches high they will then get planted into their bed, if the weather is cold at this point the plants can safely be left in the trainers until more suitable weather arrives. As the roots will not have been disturbed the plants will not suffer any set backs.
A touch of spring.

                                                 A few Primroses are now in bloom
A shy Anemone bursting forth.
and one very brave Anemone has shown it's head,  a little early, but a welcome  splash  of colour.
We are at last coming to the end of our Marmalade making, we have one more batch to make after the one that is bubbling away and that will be it for another year.
 The house is perfumed with the smell of orange, lovely. I just hope we don't run out as we did last year.


  1. Mmmm....those eclairs (and are those two loaves of freshly baked bread behind the eclairs?) look sooooo good, Anne. :) I've always wanted to make them, but they always seem on the difficult side of pastry making.

    It's wonderful to see a bit more daylight these past couple of weeks. As much as I like the inner reflection time that accompanies winter, seeing the first signs of spring and even a little bit of colour can instantly cheer me up. And the weather's been so spring-like lately, as well. - June

    1. I would say that choux pastry is far easier than shortcrust pastry and much easier than puff pastry.
      5 oz water. 2 oz unsalted butter, pinch of salt , teaspoon of sugar. heated all together bring to boil, remove from heat and beat in 4oz. plain flour, return to heat, stirring all the time until the dough leaves the side of pan, about 1 minute, remove from heat, allow to cool slightly then add 4 well beaten eggs a little at a time, stirring all the time, you can't over beat. Then place mixture into piping bag 3/4 inch nozzle you will probably wont use a nozzle just the screw end that goes onto the piping bag ,line a flat tray with grease proof paper and pipe mixture onto the paper about 5 inch lengths. bake in pre- heated oven 180 c. 360f gas mark 3 for 25 minutes, remove from oven and make small hole in the side of each pastry to let out steam, pop back into oven for a couple of minutes, allow to cool and fill with beaten cream and top with melted chocolate.
      Have a go June, you will be surprised how easy they are.
      Yes, that was freshly baked bread you could see, we eat far too much of it, I have to bake every third day, but it's great with marmalade for breakfast.!!

    2. Sounds and seems easy enough the way you've explained it...I think it was the type of pastry (puff pastry as opposed to choux or shortcrust) that scared me off in the past :) I'm wondering if my 'mini kitchen' (aka, a cooker probably best suited for galleys on boats or camper vans) would be up for the challenge. The oven temp can/supposedly does go up to 250 C, but with this contraption I've been suffering with the last few months (still checking out the sales for a decent and proper oven, but money's a bit on the tight side) sometimes just making more than one fried egg on the hob is a challenge (I'm not exaggerating!).

      When we finally get a proper oven, I can start baking properly again, to my heart's content. I miss making my own bread, truth be told. I'll buy from the farmers' markets or health food shops, but even then, it's just not the same as making your own bread, popping fresh and warm from your own oven at home. And ohhhh....with homemade marmalade or raspberry jam...heaven in a glass jar. Thanks, Anne. I will indeed give it a go, hopefully sooner rather than later. :) - June

  2. OOOh yum, I would love to eat duck seven days in a row!!! Though, you might be right that you can have too much of a good thing. Those Eclairs look incredible, I can see why none ended up frozen! We've got a pestiña festival tomorrow, pestiñas are a sweet cinnamon bread dessert. Deep fried and not too healthy. On Sunday there's la ostionada and la erizada. Oyster and sea urchin festival...I'm much more excited about that one! xxx

  3. Hope you enjoyed the festival, right up my street I love my sea food.