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What A Great Day!

Jake is in remission and no longer needs any diabetes medication. It was a terrific surprise. Here he’s giving Maddie the once over as she wanders by.

I love my vet – Dr. Steve has an entire mobile van and is as reasonable as our old vet clinic – and today I had him not only do a routine check on Jake, but everyone else in the tribe (well not the ducks, but more on that later).  My credit card is still smoking, but everyone is healthy and happy and the whole visit was stress free. And of course the great Jake news made the whole day.

This was Bailey’s first full vet check since she came to live here (the rescue group vet did one before I adopted, so I didn’t see a reason to stress her anymore those first few months). And she is as beautiful as her photos would indicate. Dr. Steve says her bone and muscle structure are good and she doesn’t look like she’ll have any structural issues down the road.

Bixby is not so lucky – he broke a toe early on and it’s going to continue to give him issues going forward that we’ll address as needed. He also, because he’s so rough and tumble, has a continued strained muscle along his shoulder and rib cage. Not that any of this stops him from anything. Just things I’ll keep an eye on as he ages.

Right to left: Emma, Mabel and Maddie

Emma is doing well, but a little arthritis, so she got some supplements, but for being the oldest member of the family, she’s doing excellent. She and the ducks seem to get along together.

Zander is oh-so photogenic. He didn’t need a visit today, but he did get weighed and his share of treats, so he’s all good.

Dr. Steve is looking for a family for the Ladies and I have to tell you, I felt a real twinge as we discussed it. We’ll see what he comes up with before I go all to pieces.

Now that I’ve lived here a year (!!) I’ve finally felt comfortable letting the cats out for backyard time. So far we just spend time together while I drink my coffee in the morning and they get to wander around. They are really enjoying it. Still limited because there are dogs on all sides and I don’t trust them not to try and jump the fence, Zander already tried, so supervision for the near future.

Emma seems fine with that….



Roasted Duck

DSC_4946 [1600x1200]I had already started the duck in a 375 oven when the thought to look for sides struck me.  I wandered into this post and looked at the recipe for “gastrique” sauce and saw the honey roasted veggies and thought that they were something I could pull off.  I used what veggies I had on hand for the honey roasted side – parsnips and carrots.  I had no idea what a gastrique was.  Studying up after the fact shows such sauces to be made from fruits, usually.  Tons of recipes out there for those.DSC_4941 [1600x1200]If I do this again I will be more patient.  The sauce should have reduced more, and the honey roasted veggies needed more color.  The parsnips look like boiled French fries.  It all tasted pretty good but my technique really sucked.


Duck and Tasso Gumbo


We had some duck meat left over from yesterday so I looked around for something to do with it and ran across this recipe.  It looked fine and all but I didn’t use it.  Thanks for the idea though!  I went my usual route with a brown roux (made with duck fat!) and the trinity of green peppers, celery, onion, and a half a bag of frozen okra.  I did have tasso in the freezer, my last, so it went in with the diced duck meat.  I made a stock from the duck carcass and I could taste just a hint of the sweet orange glaze that still clung to the bits of skin that went into the stock pot.  Didn’t hurt a thing.  Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning flavored the dish.  At the table I added hot sauce to mine – recommended if you are more tolerant than Mrs J!

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies

nom nom nom

First off, I am still in denial that Thanksgiving is next week. I’ve done a test turkey and JeffreyW has done a test duck. I may use his orange glaze recipe for my next turkey, which I’ll stuff with sliced oranges and spices. And that reminds me, there will be no recipe exchange next Thursday. I did make some excellent turkey soup from my test turkey leftovers, I’ll try and post that recipe sometime next week so you’ll have it if you’re looking for something to do with your leftovers.

For tonight, we’re going to chocolate heaven. I’ve had these on my list to try for months and finally decided it was time. They did not disappoint and were very easy and quite addictive. The original recipe (here: François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies) was suggested to me by fellow blogger Glutenvygirl ages ago. I looked over the original recipe and a couple of similar recipes and then tweaked this one just enough to suit my own tastes.

Fair warning, this recipe is a little messy. Or maybe it’s just me. Cocoa powder and powdered sugar are preternaturally attracted to me. By the time I was done cooking, my Laura Petrie inspired black-kick-around-the-house-outfit looked like there’d been an assassination attempt on it by a snowman and his cooler ninja brother. Although, I should have known better after that disastrous visit to Café De Monde in New Orleans while wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans. C’est la vie.

Next time I try this recipe there will be an apron.

Now I have a challenge for you. Because of various recipes, I have egg yolks and about 14 oz of pumpkin puree leftover in my refrigerator that I need to use up before they go bad. Anyone have any good ideas that aren’t pumpkin pie? Heck, I’d even take a pumpkin pie recipe if it is out of the ordinary.

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner this year? Staying home or going to grandma’s house (or equivalent)? Anyone trying something new and daring?

Okay, tonight’s featured recipe, which by the way is gluten-free:

Notes: To separate eggs, the easiest way I’ve found is the Nigella Lawson method of using your hand. It is quick and easy. The original recipe called for regular cocoa and 3 cups of powdered sugar, that sounded much too sweet, so I reduced that first thing and since I love dark chocolate I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 regular cocoa. Next time I think I would go full dark chocolate. It was still very sweet, but I’d be afraid of reducing the sugar more because I think you need the volume. That doesn’t mean I won’t give it try sometime. You need to let them cool completely otherwise they stick to the parchment. They were still warm when I pulled the first one off, and it left crumbs and wasn’t as structurally sound as the completely cooled ones ended up being. You’ll need parchment paper for this recipe or a silpat.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

  • 2 cups walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Bowl, baking sheet, parchment, wire cooking rack

Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, cool and rough chop. Reduce oven temperature to 320 degrees.

While walnuts are cooling, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well mixed. Add walnuts and mix well. Add vanilla and then egg whites one at a time. Whisk to combine, but do not over mix. You want the batter to be about brownie mixture consistency. A bit moister than regular cookie dough, but not too moist, like cake batter (is that helpful?). Three egg whites might be the perfect, or may need to add one more. Drop mixture by the spoonful on parchment paper and bake at 320 degrees for 14 minutes. Move PARCHMENT paper AND cookies to a wire rack to cool. Do not remove until cooled completely. Makes 2 doz.

Test Duck


This duck spent all day outside in my small electric smoker (12 hours!) and only managed an internal temp of 155 degrees so I moved it to my 350 oven to finish.  When the thermometer beeped 165 I took it out and brushed the glaze on and put it back in after boosting the oven past 400.  Just a few minutes set the orange/honey/ molasses mixture.  Now what do I do with it?

I started out just wanting the fat to cook potatoes with, duck fat being all the foodie rage some years ago.  News tends to filter slowly into the Heartland.  There are a few places to order duck fat online but they seemed uniformly too expensive – and I’m Cheap.  I did get a cup of fat out of this, a cup and a half , max.  This web site has good info, and lots of pictures, it gave me some good ideas for how to go about cooking this thing.  Not that I followed the instructions, of course.  I did see the utility of crosshatching the skin so I did that.  Cut my thumb, too, but I didn’t get much blood on the bird.I think I’ll dismember it and serve it along with rice and a roasted veggie or two.  I can picture thinly sliced breast atop a bowl of noodles, or in an upscale taco.

Guest Recipe: Squab in a Coffin

This intriguingly named recipe is from Kirk Spencer.  I couldn’t wait to try it after he mentioned he was making it for dinner one night.

Squab in a Coffin:

You’ll need a baking potato and a cut up chicken OR cut up duck OR half squab (pigeon). Seasoning is wildly variable – start with simple salt and pepper and experiment later to your particular taste. You might need a bit of bacon.

Bake the potato. Cut it lengthwise, off-center by 1/3 to 1/4. Scoop out the larger potato leaving a wall. Rough chop what you removed, seasoning if desired, and add to within 1/2 inch of top of the larger potato.

Place meat – classically half a dressed squab, but I use  a chicken or duck thigh, drumstick, or breast with the skin on – in that depression, and finish filling around the meat. The chicken can be seasoned any way you want. You want to leave the skin on OR add some additional juiciness – as noted above when I use a breast without skin for my wife I wrap it in some bacon.

Place a lid over the bird to close the coffin (grin), and bake again in a medium oven till the bird is done – about 30 minutes for me, your mileage may vary.

The juices drizzle into the potato while baking, making it moist and flavorful.

You will have potato left over. What you do with it is up to you – I mix it into the next day’s potato pancakes.


When I tested this, I tried several different variations.  I stuck with chicken, since it was handy.  I used boneless and found it easy to work with.  I tried one with skin on and one skinless with bacon.  I preferred the bacon.  I blew out the side on one baked potato, so had to wrap it in foil.  It worked well, but the unwrapped one was crispier.   I used salt, pepper and garlic.

I also suggest, in the interest of time, you cook your potatoes the night before, while cooking your regular dinner and refrigerate.  That will make your ‘coffin’ dinner quicker to prepare and cook. 

I served it with a spinach salad.  A nice simple meal.