Ducks and duck eggs.

Pretty blue and white rouen duck eggs.

I have chickens that lay eggs. We’ve been eating and selling our eggs for many years now. But let me tell you about another egg that is overlooked, and underrated. The duck egg. Yes, you can eat duck eggs (I often get asked that) and they are not just for baking, though they do well in baked goods because they retain moisture better than chicken eggs. They are delicious and nutritious on their own. They have the same nutritional value as chicken eggs but because they are larger, they have more of the good things. Duck eggs are high in vitamin B12, and vitamin A, an excellent source of protein, riboflavin, iron and phosphorus, they provide us with thiamine, niacin, folate, zinc and calcium.

Scrambled duck eggs for breakfast

The flavour is richer and creamer than a chicken egg. Though you may not notice this, depending on how you cook them. To me they are richer tasting when scrambled as opposed to being cooked sunny side up. The yolks are larger and the shells thicker. Sometimes I have a problem with my chickens eating their eggs, but as far as I’m aware, I have not lost a single duck egg to them eating it because the shells are far too hard for them to crack.

I was on the fence a long time about raising ducks. Honestly I couldn’t see the purpose. I didn’t think they would offer anything I couldn’t get from a chicken. But when I finally went ahead and got some, I can say I’m glad I did because I really appreciate and value their presence on the farm. I have Rouen ducks which are considered a dual-purpose breed (egg and meat). They look similar to mallards and the males are non-aggressive. The Rouens don’t require water for mating (some breeds do) so if you have just a small pond or pool like we do, it is sufficient for them. As meat or as eggs, they provide interesting variety at the table. In the farm yard, they are a source of entertainment. If you’ve ever seen a duck in water, you know what I mean. I house them with my chickens and they do not require anything special apart from a nesting box on the floor, as they don’t roost and can’t jump up to the chickens’ nesting boxes.

If you are also on the fence about getting ducks, you have to make your decision based on what is right for your family and your farm. They have been a wonderful addition to ours!

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Culinary Bliss and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

And Fight Back Friday at Foodrenegade.

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Mash Browns

This is one of the ways I like to use up leftover mashed potatoes. I turn them into hash browns, hence the name. It’s not fancy, it’s real, simple home cookin’. You probably do this already, but if you don’t, here’s how I do it.

This makes 3 patties. Take about 3/4 to one cup of leftover mashed potatoes and put it in a small bowl. Add one egg, salt and pepper to taste or other seasonings you like (garlic is really good!) . Mix well with a fork. Add butter or duck fat to a skillet and let it get hot. Pour the potatoes in three piles and flatten with a fork to about 1/2 an inch thick.

Turn the heat to medium.  Allow to brown well before turning over.  If you flip them too early, they will fall apart.

Cook the other side until brown.  Serve hot with eggs.  I like homemade ketchup or salsa with my mash browns and eggs.  They are plain good  (or good plain), on their own too!

How do you use up leftover mashed potatoes?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Culinary Bliss and GNOWFGLINS.

My kitchen

I took on a painting project last week.  My kitchen cabinets. Nothing fancy.  Our house was built in the 50s and the cabinets are original custom built-ins.  They don’t make cabinets like this anymore.  Anyway, beige is out.  Not that I follow trends but it’s nice to not look outdated.  Ironically,  I went for the old farmhouse kitchen look. New but old.  I love beadboard so was excited to install it in the backsplash.  The counter top might look cluttered but I like my kitchen user-friendly. The less time I spend in there, the better.

Before

After

It’s nice to have the kitchen fresh and clean, since I spend 80% of my existence standing right there. 😉  Love the new faucet too. Funny how these little things can make life simpler.

Kitchen maid

Sometimes I feel like I spend 80% of my existence in the kitchen. If you’re wondering where I am, look first in the kitchen. If I’m not there, I’m probably in the barn or the garden, depending on the season.

Today is an intense kitchen day. I barely have time to tell you about it. I got way behind on cheesemaking over the holidays. The clutter of jars in the fridge is driving me crazy!

Yesterday I made mozzarella and put the curd in the fridge, so today I will do the stretching. The ricotta has been drained overnight and this morning I salted it and put it in the freezer. I put 2 1/2 gallons of milk on the stove to make cheddar and I’ve got the yogurt maker going.

That's better! sort of

Wait, there’s more. I have 5 quarts of cream warming to room temperature so I can make butter. And a pot of chicken bones simmering into broth. Today’s eggs still need to be cleaned and put away. Must get my son to empty the compost pails. I’ll have to have this all finished and cleaned up in time to start supper (which I haven’t figured out yet). Maybe if I get it all done, I can take a break from the kitchen tomorrow?

Do you ever feel like a slave to your kitchen?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Culinary Bliss, and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

Cucumber yogurt dip

Tzatziki

Looking for a dip to serve tonight? Here’s what we’re having! This cucumber yogurt dip, also known as tzatziki, is easy, simple and quick to make.

Ingredients
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 cup yogurt, drained
1 cup sour cream
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tsp. chopped fresh or frozen dill

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream with a whisk. Stir the oil/vinegar mixture into the yogurt/sour cream. Add the chopped cucumbers and dill. Refrigerate for 2 hours to blend flavours.
Serve with fresh veggies, or warm flat bread triangles.
Draining the yogurt first makes the dip less runny and thicker.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve! Stay safe.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, and GNOWFGLINS.

Simple hot cocoa

This way of making a hot cup of cocoa is so simple, my son makes it for himself often.

In a cup, mix a heaping tablespoon of cocoa and a heaping spoonful of honey. Stir well to form a paste. Warm the milk and add to the honey/cocoa mixture. Stir well. That’s it! Enjoy!

Do you eat duck?

Even if you don’t raise your own like we do, or maybe you hunt wild ones, they are a delicious alternative to chicken.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  There’s no white meat on ducks, it is all dark meat and there’s not a lot of it.  The Rouen ducks we raised dressed out at about 4 1/2 lbs which sounds big for a chicken but a duck that size feeds only 2-4 people. I stuffed it with an apple dressing and roasted it.  But it doesn’t have to end there.  I cooked up the bones to make broth for soup later.  Ducks, being waterfowl are greasier than chickens so when making broth, there’s going to be a lot of fat.  I’m all for leaving fat in most dishes for flavour and vitamins but this is a little too much.

After the broth is strained, and reserving any meat leftover, I put it in the fridge until the fat has solidified then I spoon most of it off.   I don’t throw it away, though!  Duck fat is great for frying potatoes.  Go ahead and use the broth for a good vegetable soup base.  Here’s a delicious, hearty duck soup recipe, perfect for a cold, snowy day.

Duck Soup

clear gel stock remaining from the duck, fat skimmed off
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
2 Tbsp. fermented soy sauce
1 quart of diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped raw turnip or rutabaga
3 medium sized potatoes, cubed
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
3 small, OR two large bay leaves
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup pearl or pot barley or lentils
Reserved duck meat

Simmer slowly, for 4 or 5 hours.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.
I know the vanilla extract is an odd ingredient to find in a soup recipe but it really adds an element to the soup, it just takes it up a notch.

So, do you eat duck?

 

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

What I do with “all that milk”

Our milk cow, Happy, gives us between 3 and 3 1/2 gallons of milk per day. I’ve been asked a few times what I do with “all that milk”. There’s so much I do with it (besides drinking it fresh).

I make:
1. Yogurt
2. Ice cream
3. Cultured butter
4. Cheese

I add cream to
5. My coffee
6. Recipes, such as cream soups , curried dishes and creamed cabbage

I make cheese about once a week. The different kinds I make are mozzarella, ricotta, cheddar, queso fresco.

I love, love, love cream in my coffee! To me, this is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Everyday, I share about a gallon of milk with my chickens. They love it! I don’t think the ducks do, though. I haven’t seen them touch it.

So if the words “all that milk” have crossed your mind, and you’ve wonder what I do, now you know. 🙂

What do you do with extra milk? Which way is your favourite?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Sustainable Eats and Culinary Bliss

Simple Lives Thursday blog hop

Have you ever seen a turkey this big?

He’s handsome.  Hard to tell exactly how much he weighs under all those feathers, right?  Especially when he puffs up like toms always do.  There’s a good reason why we didn’t butcher earlier.  I didn’t have freezer space.  The irony of it is the longer I waited, the more freezer space I needed.  Anyway, I got another freezer, shifted things around and went to work butchering.  About 4 weeks beyond what’s recommended.

We used an metal garbage can for blanching.  No pot big enough around here!

Everyone helped with the work.  It looks big but at this point we haven’t weighed it yet.  And there’s nothing to gauge the size by.  Let me see if it fits in the roaster…

Nope!! It weighed 38 lbs.!  I had to use the bathroom scale.

The females weren’t as big, ranging from 21 to 27 lbs.  Still big!  Note to self: butcher early! 😀

I cut it up and froze it separately.  A challenge in itself, as you can imagine, but there was no way it would fit in my oven whole. That’s pretty obvious in the picture, huh?  One boneless breast weighed 7 lbs. 😯

So, tell me, have you ever seen a turkey this big?

Makin’ Mozza

I make mozzarella cheese a few times a month from our own milk. I like it because it freezes really well and we use a lot of it on our pizza every Saturday night. Added bonus is the ricotta cheese. I haven’t found a lot of ways to use it yet but it’s so yummy.

As I’ve been told, I’m NOT making traditional mozzarella. Traditional mozzarella is made from the milk of water buffalo, it is never refrigerated, and is always eaten fresh. It’s still pretty good, though. 🙂

Checking the cheese for softness

The first few times I made it, it turned out really good but I think that was luck because after that I was having a hard time. It took some practice but I think I’ve finally figured out how to do it. I follow the general directions from fias co farm.com so I won’t repeat the whole procedure here. To get a good stretch out of mozzarella, there are a few things I found out through trial and error.

Getting a good stretch.

One thing is using fresh milk or in the least only one day old. Using milk that is 3 or 4 days old is fine for drinking or making other types of cheese but not for mozzarella.

Another thing is the curd and when it is ready. I can’t go strictly by time but I use it as a gauge.  I had to learn to identify when the curd was ready before I drained it.

Once I figured these things out, my results were a bit more predictable.
And, yes, I use a stainless steel pail as a pot. 😀