Thursday, January 5, 2012

Duck Season

This year we did things a bit differently and had our annual cook-off on Christmas Day. It seemed like a good idea to have it on The Day when I first thought of it weeks ahead of time. Plus I had that brilliant plan to organize it using Facebook. However, there were a few things I hadn't taken into consideration. Important things such as we are a family where the procrastinators outnumber the organizers, and that having the meal on Christmas meant it was vital that every ingredient needed for every dish was bought ahead of the day itself. There would be no possibility of a quick trip or five to the grocery store to pick up forgotten items!

I will spare you the grim details of the shopping trip that resulted from this little oversight. It can best be summed up by the following two stories. I had already scoured the shops for the two ducks Diana needed for her roast duck recipe. I found one lone duck the week before, and had since gone to three other stores but had come away empty-handed. Then, the day before the mother of all shopping trips, I managed to find one more lone duck in the store I had found the first one in. I felt so smart when I plopped that bird into my basket!

So the next day I was cruising down the aisle of that same store feeling all smug and proud of myself as I glanced over at the frozen section. Right up until the moment my eyes lit on the pile of ducks stacked to the top of the freezer, threatening to spill over into the section designated for the geese. I know it is unreasonable, and it wasn't like I was wishing a duck shortage on anybody else who needed one for their Christmas dinner, but when I saw all those ducks I was sort of mad. What had just the day before appeared to be an endangered species now looked as common as a chicken.

The next problem was I ran out out of shopping endurance before I ran out of shopping. I was so fried that when I entered that last store and saw oyster mushrooms at half the price I had just paid at the second-to-last store I thought I might weep. Then, in a moment that made everything else about that morning look pretty darn good in comparison, the cashier smiled, looked me in the eyes, and asked me if I would like the senior's discount. Which would have been a lot less insulting if their senior discount kicked in at 55 instead of 60.

It turned out procuring the duck was only the beginning of the work involved in getting it ready for Christmas dinner. Diana started two days ahead of the meal by cutting the backbones out of the birds, then salting them and letting them chill in our garage.

Every time I went into the kitchen people were chopping up something. Thankfully that didn't include any fingers!

In the end those birds turned out to be worth all the work that went into them. They were amazing! In addition to the duck we had Greek meatballs with tzatziki, mushroom soup, grape tomato and bocconcini salad, cornbread and oyster mushroom stuffing, roasted vegetables and stuffed peppers.

Of course, all that cooking meant there was a huge stack of dishes to do.

We did manage to do things other than cook and eat, although I must admit that does seem to be what we do best. There was a hike on the trail, games of crokinole and Spell Tower, a jigsaw puzzle completed, books read, naps in front of the fire, and, of course, lots of knitting.

Now I will leave you with a promise and a warning. My next post will be much shorter, and whatever you do, DO NOT download that Spell Tower Game. In fact, it might be safer to not even click on the link.


  1. I'm safe, I only have an iMac, no other i gadget to play the apps on.

    Love the picture of all the chopping, and while the food all looks amazing, my mouth truly started watering when I saw the Nanaimo Bars.

  2. I see some mocha truffles were made! :) Really, the food photos are amazing. What a great variety of unique food items. I've never had duck! We had the regular turkey, stuffing, mashers, gravy, baked brussel sprouts (yum), etc.

  3. No wonder Jenny was lonely after everyone left. It's a dog's life. CC

  4. It looks like a lovely Christmas. We didn't have duck this year, but now I want some anyway. Maybe we'll have it for Wiz's birthday this year.

  5. @kate - Be thankful yu are safe from temptation. I don't have an addictive personality, but that game has taken hours of my life from me. I have since removed it from my iPad. The Nanaimo Bars were amazing. They were also gluten free!

    @Aneta - Your truffle recipe was a hit. Kellen gave them a 10 out of 10! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    @Anon - Ha! I realized after I had done the picture collages that Jenny was in a lot of them. She loved being the holiday lap dog. :-)

    @Kate - Have you had duck before? You should post about how you prepare yours. I love duck, but am in the market for a less time intensive recipe. :-)

  6. Looks like a fabulous day was had by all :)

  7. Your holiday looks like a lot of fun! Your family looks like a warm and wonderful bunch in all the photos you post!

  8. The cashier was clearly over-worked and not thinking clearly. Don't give that a 2nd thought. I understand how you felt when the ducks appeared. I like that the universe has a sense of humor, but not when it's wicked like that. =)

    We've never cooked duck at home. I've tried it in restaurants, but haven't liked what I ordered. I thought my dad liked duck--I heard he hunted them before I was born. When he decided to spend one Christmas in Florida, I sent him a smoked duck. I considered making it an annual tradition. But thankfully he was quick to let me know he did NOT like duck.

    It's clear from the pictures that the shopping aggravations paid off. That house full of family and food looks like a perfect celebration.

  9. @pip - Yes, we had a great time together. Of course, my expectations for the holidays are quite low. As long as all the appliances keep running I count it a success!

    @Michelle - I laughed when I read your comment! We are warm and wonderful some of the time, but like every other family we have our bad moments too!

    @Ric - I don't know if it was a case of the cashier being overworked or me being on the verge of a shopping induced breakdown. :-) As for the duck, if you ever get a chance to eat at an authentic Chinese restaurant try the Peking Duck. It is wonderful! It might turn you into a duck lover. Also, wild duck is quite different than farmed duck in terms of taste.

  10. Shopping with my daughter Bobbie recently, who was carrying no ID, the cashier refused to sell her a bottle of wine as she couldn't prove she was over 21 (she's 27), but said it was okay if she put it in her Grandma's trolley, "I'm sure she won't mind paying" the girl said, turning to me (I'm 52). I share your pain!

    All that food looks delicious :D

  11. @Annie - Thank you for sharing that story! It makes me feel better to know I am not the only one that has happened to. Did you set the girl straight? When it happened to me I was in such a bad mood I knew I didn't dare say a word. :-)

  12. I love your documentation of the big dinner! Still smiling. I've actually never had duck. I've had goose once, but never duck. Never even noticed them in the store but then again, I've not looked closely. Sounds intensive!