Hello from Northern California. Where the oak trees dot the golden hills. This blog is a portal for me to share with you what is going on in my little part of the world. I love to garden, craft and use my imagination in every way possible. Please visit me often and stay tuned for tutorials of different crafts you can do at home. I hope to inspire creativity in others.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
This takes 3 days to make. You will cook and serve on day 3. This can be a finicky dish to prepare, it is really best to make a dry run before you try to impress guests. Read all the instruction thoroughly before starting and do not skip any of the steps.
5-6 Lb Muscovy duck ( each duck serves about 4 ) make as many as you need
¼ cup salt per gallon water used to brine.
1 orange cleaned and cut into quarters
1 onion quartered
one large rosemary sprig per bird
fresh thyme, marjoram, garlic
Adobo seasoning ( a seasoning mixture of salt, garlic and oregano, wing it if you can't locate it)
hickory smoke chips
Thaw bird at least 4 days in advance of serving.
remove from package, pull out any pin feathers, trim off the neck flap, and all excess fat from around cavity. Rinse clean. Often ducks found at supermarkets are pre-brined but continue as though it was not. If your duck is still a little frozen that will be ok, it will thaw.
If the bird you have has not had the skin pricked all over then you must do it. You need to prick the skin many times but only prick the skin and fat, do not pierce the flesh if you can manage. Often the pre-brined ducks are also pierced if this is the case skip this step.
Brine the bird. In a large tub or food safe bucket mix together ¼ cup salt per gallon water to cover the bird or birds. Before adding raw bird taste water, you want a pleasant saltiness, not overly saturated, make the brine to your taste. Add bird or birds. Keep cold , and brine for one day.
after 24 hour brine, remove birds from brine drain pull the necks, livers, hearts and whatever else is in there out.
Stuff cavity with the orange and onion quarters as well as a rosemary sprig. Tie the legs together and fold the wings back and over themselves.
Mix your herbs, garlic, pepper and Adobo in a bowl then liberally apply to the surface of the ducks. Place ducks on a roasting rack in the roasting pan you plan to cook them in. Do the back side first then the breast ( so the herbs don't fall off the side you will see.
This is a dry marinade stage, if you have a safe refrigerator that you can leave the ducks uncovered for 24 hours in do that. If not cover ducks keeping them elevated off the floor of the container so the juices do not soak the back let rest over night. You want the duck skin to dry out.
Day 3 -Day of Serving
soak the smoke chips or make 2 foil packs with the dry chips, pierce a few times and set aside.
About 7 hours before you serve your duck remove and let stand on counter. Light your smoker. We use a standard Weber BBQ to do this. I have cut a coffee can down to 2 inches tall and drilled out 1” holes in the bottom. This is the smoke pan. You need to light 8-10 coals Use a bricket chimney and NOT LIGHTER FLUID you do not want the ducks to taste like lighter fluid.
When the coals are ready pour them into the coffee can pan pull to the side in a location that you can access to add smoke chips as needed.
Place the rack right from your roasting pan in the smoker if it fits. If not place the duck directly on the rack. add a few chips cover tightly, open a vent a little to keep the air flow.
At this stage you are not cooking the duck you are adding the smoked flavor. So keep only enough coals in the smoke pan to create smoke not create heat. Add coals as needed. Add wood chips as needed.
Smoke duck for 2 hours.
Heat oven to 225 F remove the ducks from smoker and cover with a lid or with foil as tightly as you can. The duck will now slowly cook for 3.5 hours steaming off some of the fat. The more tightly covered the more fat will drain. Check them after 2 hours and drain the fat if it begins to accumulate in bottom. You don't want the ducks to touch it after it has rendered off. Keep tightly covered and remove from oven at 3.5 hours.
Let the duck rest for 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F uncover ducks and place in the hot oven for another 40 min. This is the stage when you are crisping up the skin.
Carve the duck tossing out the fatty parts of the skin.
Serve with Mango Cranberry Chutney or a sauce of your choice.
Cranberry Mango Chutney
1 bag fresh cranberries picked through and cleaned
2 large mangoes peeled and chopped
1 medium apple peeled cored and chopped
1 whole sweet red pepper
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ cup white vinegar
2 TB finely chopped ginger root
1 TB lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Combine everything in a large stainless or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 40 min or until fruits are tender and mixture is thickened. Stir occasionally.
To can, ladle the hot mixture into sterilized jars fill to within ½” of rim to allow for head space. Process 10 min for ½ pint jars and 15min for pint jars.
Excellent as an accompaniment with poultry.
Grilled Lamb Rack with a Wild Mushroom Cabernet reduction sauce
This is dry marinated 1 day in advance of serving
though if you had to you could do it a few hours in advance.
Frenched lamb racks- (purchase enough for the amount you wish to serve. ) Frenched lamb racks have the rib bones protruding from the meat. You want to look for lamb racks that are somewhat trimmed down. You do not want or need the fat so don't pay for something you have to throw out.
Trim the lamb up. Turn them curved side down, carefully slice off the layer of fat along the bones and the silver from the meat. Careful trimming off the silver, you do not want to mangle the meat nor loos much of the meat in the trimming.
Wrap bone end in foil to protect it on the BBQ.
This herb marinade is caked onto the lamb you will be using very generous and equal amounts of seasonings. Just mix this into a paste and cake onto the lamb, it should be a thick layer
fresh crushed garlic
Cake this herb mixture onto lamb, place in a refrigerator over night.
BBQ over direct heat
BBQ your lamb in the center of the grill over the coals. Throw smoke chips in to add a wonderful smoky flavor. About 8-9 minutes per side until they are medium rare.
Serve with the mushroom Cabernet sauce
Wild Mushroom Cabernet Sauce
you can double this recipe it is excellent over mashed potatoes.
Can be made in advance and reheated.
1 ounce dried wild mushrooms or about 1 cup fresh. We used a mixture of morel, porcini, oyster and crimini
½ cup beef broth
½ cup Cabernet wine ( not to cheap, you want a decent flavor)
corsage of fresh thyme, bay, and marjoram tied into a bundle
3 peppercorns (I place these in a metal tea ball so they don't end up in the final dish.)
1 TB olive oil
2 TB flour, use gluten free if you need to. This is to thicken the sauce
salt to taste at the end
If you are using dried mushrooms rehydrate them 20 min prior and then rinse them 3-4 times to remove any unwanted bits of sand or dirt. Drain and squeeze dry.
In a small saucepan heat oil and sauté mushrooms until mostly browned and crispy add flour stir until the flour is a bit browned. Add the herb bundle, the peppercorns, wine and broth. Bring to a low simmer and simmer for 20 min or longer to reduce and thicken sauce. Adjust seasonings and add salt if you wish.
Our dog and Emily... Look how worn out he is after all the begging he had to do.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
I have always secretly habored the notion of being a cobbler... I want to make shoes.
So yesterday I woke up and I was shot through with inspiration. I would use my nice brown sweater that tragically was washed in hot water and make a pair of moccasins to use as slippers.
So I gathered my moccasins to examine, scoured the net for ideas or patterns. I still had not found a shoe that was what I wanted to make. So I gathered my slippers, my uggs and any other shoe around the house that I thought I could make. I set about to make a shoe. I drafted a pattern, it looked like it was going to work, and I sewed one up. I made slip on boots.
Yikes! I should have taken a photo... in my husbands words "thats hidious"
The boot I created was somehow twisted, so when it was on there was a large ill fitting area and the fabric twisted over the foot.It was also HUGE! I guess I added plenty of seam allowance. Definatly not what I wanted. But I could see the potential and I could see the mistakes. So I used a razorblade to dissassemble my creation, made some changes. Added a front zipper, took in the back...
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
So I thought I'd try Kool-aid, I have heard of this method it can be used with any protein based cloth such as cotton wool, linen etc. I choose silk/rayon velvet because I want the lush texture for my plans. I also wanted cheap and easy in case I hate the results. So Kool-aid is the answer, all you need is vinegar, water and the color of your choice. Plus it smells very good.
Here is where I got my instructions
Here is a color chart for those of you who want to try this yourselves.
I think this is a very affordable alternative to expensive dyes for when the kids want to Tie Dye.
Anyhow the process is very simple, soak your fabric in hot water, lay it on a large saran wrap in a pyrex. Paint, pour, drip your dye over the fabric and then secure the saran wrap. Microwave in two minute increments until the liquid in your item is clear.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Happy Halloween, today is my 16Th anniversary... its been a crazy, sometimes rocky often smooth ride. Somehow we have managed to raise a really sweet and wonderful daughter. We found a way to work together at the same business for 13.5 years. There were times when it was difficult but I love him and he loves me and we have found a path that works for the both of us. A toast to another 16 years...
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Why is it I need rain and dreary skies to get me in my crafty state of mind. It would not be so bad if I did not live in a place that is warm and sunny all but 3 months a year. Okay so maybe its not warm , but the sun always shines in California. October is kind to my creative self, the weather is cooling off and it even has rained!
Sneak preview of Lexi's Alice in Wonderland dress, It is made from sheer blue fabric with a good drape. It hangs and spins beautifully. I cut the apron from a play dress we have had around here since she was just a little girl. I just need to finish the neck and the apron and this costume is ready!
She found some darling black shoes to go with this. Wait till you see it on her.
Here is most of what I bought, aren't the owls cute? I also found cotton rickrack that is in good natural colors not the horrid primary colors you find at Jo-Ann's. I wish you could really see the patterns on these. I need a new camera, mine has had a little humidity damage and every picture is poopy and I cannot focus up close. What a drag.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Unfortunately I have no camera batteries so no pictures.
We are also so close to haveing a down payment for a house... YES!!!
Monday, September 14, 2009
I recently visited my dear friend and while I was there we visited a fabulous quilt shop. In this den of beautiful fabric Amanda found a cute panel of fabric with a vintage style apron printed on it. The pattern was called Antique Treasure Patt# 9861 for those of you who want to try to find it.
Anyhow I decided to make it reversible and I recycled my old skirt for the printed details on the neck and the pockets. I also used a bit of the lace I have been hoarding.
The pocket details.
I really like it, I think I might be giving these out for Christmas.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
My mother recently showed off some of her amazing quilts she has been working on and it kindled a spark of creativity in me. ( A new spark... anyone who knows me I have no lack of creative inspiration )
Here is the center of my future quilt, my plan is that it will fade to maroons on the top and greens on the bottom. I was thinking of appliqueing a flower motif in the center, but am still undecided.
Here are my color selections, pretty safe spectrum to work from .
It is Harvest time here in the Central Valley... never ending harvest it feels like. So I canned and cooked up a feast this weekend. Strung my chili peppers up and hung them to dry, planted much of the fall garden. I also discovered I have a nasty cutworm infestation . I'll have to go get something to stop the little critters.
After a very busy Saturday we were up at the crack of dawn for a fabulous breakfast made by Steve. We were served California style Eggs Benedict, with avocado, fresh tomato and bacon. It was sooo delicious! We were off to the city of San Fransisco by 8:00 am, where we explored and shopped the Haight Ashbury area. Lexi hit many a thrift store and scored a sweet striped shirt and a couple of pins for her backpack. Steve found a patch for his backpack that says " FUCK WAR" . I agree ... F it.
We met up with our cousins and explored the very beautiful and very humid Conservatory of Flowers. This purple one was called a bat flower... very exotic.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
As any gardener knows rich organic soil is the perfect place to grow tasty veggies. In this new more aware green era I think even more folks are trying to grow their own "Victory Gardens". To make it sustainable and prolific for years to come you should most defiantly have a nice compost heap. The added nutrients you will be putting in the soil will replenish what your garden took and save you money next season from having to buy additives.
It is not hard to find materials to start a heap, we use all our kitchen wast, dog hair clippings, some grass clippings, coffee grounds.. just about anything except meat products, NO BONES!
I use two metal garbage cans both are drilled on the bottom with holes to allow for drainage and ventilation.
I began my first compost can in the beginning of the summer. The first thing I added was a bowl of kitchen scraps, some newspaper, some grass clipping, a bit of doggie poo ( activates your compost very well) a container of night crawlers leftover from a fishing adventure and a scoop of garden dirt.
Let the rotting begin! It is now three months later, I have a lovely black and rotted matter that I can now add into the soil around my plants.
My first can turned to compost so quickly I wanted a second can to add new fresh scraps too. You can see the sort of stuff that goes in. In this second can I used a large shovel of the compost I had already made. Instantly it became active with the creepy crawly bug life that a healthy compost will have.
See the grubs below? They are in paradise.
I love the garbage cans as a composter, first off they are affordable I think I paid $17 each. They have lids that aid in heating up the cans, they also keep the smells contained. Trust me compost has a very prolific odor... kind of gross and kind of good in a deep earthy way. They are also clean and you don't have some giant rotting pile of food waste bugging your neighbors or cluttering the scenery.
I use a pitch fork to turn the pile about once a week, or I roll the can around on its side. Rolling is not to easy if the can is full and heavy though. My first can filled up really fast before the rotting began, but after the rotting began it is reduced to 1/3 of the original volume. There is plenty of books to buy in regards to composting, but really you don't need one. Just throw all your organic materials in if your pile is to wet and soupy, remove the lid add some dry leaves or dry materials.. even paper waste will work. If it is dry add more wet materials or even a bit of water.
Nature knows what to do, so let nature take it's course.. be happy if you see grubs and bug life they aid in the decomposition.
I wanted to share this photo of my winter squash, I grow mine in the ground but I string it up in the air. I love this little trick, my plant id huge and is not taking up almost any space. The fruits are very strong and they don't need any sort of support as they grow heavy and ripe. This method also helps shade my house, and I can see the plant from my office window.
Summer is quickly passing and It is nearing the fall growing season.
The average date of my first yearly frost is November 14th. Luckily I was able to plan ahead and I have began my winter veggies in little homemade pots.
The pots are newspaper that I cut into about
4 1/2" x 7" strips. I glue them into tubes, then pinch the bottoms as I fill with dirt. Wa-La a growing pot for nothing more that a few min of cutting gluing and recycling.
I have my starts in a wagon so I can move then to and from the sun. It gets so blasted hot here I cannot start the seedling in the garden directly they would just burn up.
So far following the planting guide listed below I have begun growing artichokes, swiss chard, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and broccoli .
While the page below is for my growing season, and zone those of you in other cooler zones should adjust the plant dates.
I found lots of good garden info online, but so far my favorite page is : http://www.sacramentogardening.com/edible_gardening.html
Happy gardening, my your plants grow large and your compost rot fast!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The garden was prolific in the three days we were gone, I made a Mexican dinner with the Passilla peppers, squash blossoms and cilantro.
Monday, July 13, 2009
We so needed this, we used to go camping every weekend of the summer, we just don't have time to camp like that anymore. It is so refreshing to just enjoy the fresh air, get up when its cold and damp, make coffee outside, you understand.
We took the our daughter, kayaks, the dog, a map and some crafts.. No, I can't leave home without them.
We drove all around the area, and found this old cabin. This is near Loney Meadow, where a family has had cattle grazing since the 1860's. The meadow was named for a family named Loney, so I'm guessing this may have been theirs.