A NEW YEAR, A NEW BABY AND A NICE BIT OF DUCK

Xmas 2012 kitchen small

Dear Amelia,
Welcome to 2013 and your very own bubblegum pink kitchen, which you were supposed to get for your birthday in September but it didn’t arrive in time.
When it did arrive in October – flat-packed in a cardboard box – it occurred to us for the first time that it would have to be built from scratch.
And that it would be like assembling your portable cot (aka thatstupidfuckingthing) but multiplied by a million.
This realisation was so traumatic, we decided not to think about it again until Christmas.
Long story short: If you had any doubts about your Grandpa’s devotion to you, this kiddy kitchen and its 147 individual screws should dispel them once and for all.
It took him four and a half hours to assemble the damn thing and he didn’t swear once – an incredible indicator of personal growth if you ask me.

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The fact that you kept jumping up and down and clapping your hands and shouting, “Wow! Look Nanna! Wow!” certainly helped things along.
So did the hugs when times got tough.

Ella the Wonderdog asserting ownership of your Grandpa via the time-honoured dog practice of putting a paw on his testicles

You’ll notice that Ella the Wonderdog is asserting ownership of your Grandpa via the time-honoured dog practice of putting a paw on his testicles

Uncle Paul pitched in as well, letting you eat his T-shirt until you were able to cook something more substantial on your new stovetop.

Amelia2
Here are some pictures of the lovely Christmas table your Mum set.
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Finally, here’s a picture of your Mum getting dinner ready while your Dad attends to the important business of opening a six-pack of beer.
You’ll notice your Mum is a slightly different shape.
That’s because of your baby brother, who is due to enter this world in May.
I KNOW! It’s so exciting.

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We had a wonderful Christmas with you all but we were very glad to get back to the cool weather of Albany.
Perth had its longest December heatwave in 70 years while we were staying up there: 39.6C on Christmas Day, 40.5C the following Saturday, bloody awful in between.
When we were driving home on Boxing Day, the temperature as we passed through Williams was 39C. By the time we got to Albany it was 22C. Bliss.
On New Year’s Eve we partied like it was 1999, your Grandpa and I, 1999 being the year after 1998, which was the last time we actually went out to a NYE party.
Our tradition now is to stay at home, eat good food, drink French champagne, sing very badly and loudly, dance around the lounge room, then pass out at half past ten.
We had beautiful Albany oysters with the first bottle of Veuve, then a really delicious duck dish, then ice cream with home-made strawberry topping (I was supposed to make berry clafoutis but I was too buggered).
The duck recipe looks like major work but it’s actually very simple.
Just grind your spices and make your sauce beforehand.
The rest comes together really quickly.
You’ll find the original recipe for this dish here.
It requires you to perform surgery on two whole ducks (no thanks) and add cornflour to the sauce (no need).
It also adds cinnamon and salt to the spice rub but I forgot to put it in (no great loss – it was still delicious).
I served this with sauteed potatoes and a salad that included homegrown rocket, mizuna, parsley and chives.

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SPICED DUCK WITH GINGER GLAZE
From a recipe by JeanMarie Brownson, Chicago Tribune

Serves 4


4 duck breasts
Spice rub, see recipe below
Ginger glazing sauce, heated, see below

handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped 



Pat the duck breasts dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle the spice rub on a big dinner plate and coat the duck breasts lightly on each side.
Put the breasts on a rack set over a plate or baking dish (this will catch any drips of blood), cover and put in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Make the Ginger Glazing Sauce before you cook the duck breasts. Reheat it when the duck breasts are in the oven.
Pre-heat oven to 200C. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan (see note) over low heat until hot.
Add breasts, skin side down, in a single layer.
Cook over low heat without turning until skin is crisp and brown, about 10 minutes.
Turn breasts over, put them in the oven and cook until medium rare, about 10 minutes.
To serve, slice the duck breasts, pour over some of the ginger sauce and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve the rest of the sauce separately.
Note: You don’t need to use an ovenproof frying pan. I used an ordinary non-stick frying pan and then transferred the duck breasts to a hot baking dish (I put the baking dish in the oven when it was pre-heating).
Even though I cooked this for two instead of four, I still made the full amount of sauce. Because we’re greedy pigs. And because the ginger marmalade was on special at Woolies.

SPICE RUB
1 heaped tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 tsp whole cloves

Grind everything in an electric spice mill/coffee grinder or mortar and pestle until you have a fine-ish powder.

GINGER GLAZING SAUCE
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
½ cup dry white wine
1½ cups low-salt chicken stock
4 tbsp (1/3 cup) ginger marmalade
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
freshly ground salt and pepper

Cook shallots in butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the wine and boil until it’s reduced to a glaze, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the stock and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
Add the ginger marmalade, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and stir until the marmalade is incorporated and the sauce is hot.

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2 Comments on “A NEW YEAR, A NEW BABY AND A NICE BIT OF DUCK”

  1. Donna Cobban says:

    Happy New Year. Congratulations on soon becoming a Nanna for the second time, Grandpa’s Christmases will be filled with preparations for Grandson’s toys such as bloody racetracks, transformers and tripping on Leggo which will remind all how painful Leggo can be! We had our niece and nephew here and the joy of little kids in the house is fantastic enjoying the Chrissie presents is wonderful learned about micro-racers and was reminded how much little girls love fairy costumes and bubbles; I absolutely loved! If the heat continues like it has in Perth all menopausal women (including myself) will be moving to Albany. A Happy and prosperous New Year to you and yours.

    • Michele Phillips says:

      Happy New Year to you too, Donna. I’m so excited about this new baby I practically hyperventilate every time I think about him. I’m with you on the little-girl stuff – I just bought Amelia an Angelina Ballerina-type costume (basically pink bathers with a tutu arrangement at bum level) and she’s going to be beside herself when she sees it. Three words on the heat situation: move here now. It’s bloody brilliant.


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