Duck Bombs

When Robb and I first started dating, one of the first things I learned about him was that he loved duck hunting. He often regaled me with tales of the duck-based goodies he created after a morning of hunting. During our first year of dating, he fixed me meals made with goose, swan, wild turkey, and deer. But no duck. I always just figured that he caught too-few ducks and that he had earned the right to enjoy them on his own. After all, he is the one getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning and sitting in a blind in the freezing cold while I’m still snuggled in bed.

We’ve been dating a little over two years now and I’ve finally been able to enjoy a few duck dishes. But nothing compared to the duck bombs (as I have dubbed them) Robb fixed a few days ago.

There is no recipe really for this. To be honest, I’m not sure if Robb even knows what he did. He cooks instinctively, which is something that impresses me. He throws this-and-that into a pot, no measurements. Sometimes the food turns out delicious, sometimes the dogs get a large dinner that night. These duck bombs were a definite win.

He used a mallard and a wood duck, breasting them out to get 4 breasts. He pounded the breasts thin and then marinated them in Allegro and garlic for 24 hours (simply because he forgot to fix them the night before). After marinating, he rolled the duck breasts up with a sliver of jalapeno, smear of cream cheese and wrapped them in bacon.

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He cooked them in a grill pan in a mixture of onions, olive oil, garlic, and jalapenos for about 10 minutes (I’m guessing) or until medium rare and tender.

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We served the duck breasts with asparagus (marinated in garlic and Allegro as well) that was oven roasted until tender.

Delicious! Hopefully he’ll snag a few more ducks this season and we can recreate this dish!

What’s your favorite, most mouth-watering way to serve (or be served) wild game?

Tips to building a minimalist cabin

Last week, I wrote about watching the Minimalist documentary. This week I bring you an article contributed by Adam Clark with tips on building a minimalist cabin. The idea of living simply, using what nature provides and living a evasive lifestyle appeals to me – though I must admit, I love my internet connection. I doubt that I will ever truly be off-the-grid or be able to live with a minimal amount of items, but at least I can make an effort to try to think about what I do.

My boyfriend actually helped a friend of his build a cabin back in the day. He said that it was a long process, but rewarding when you took a step back and realized that this is something you created with your own hands.

There are many affordable ways of constructing your own cabin. However, there’s always ways to make things even more budget-friendly. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how you can build a low-cost cabin.

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Tree selection

Only use dead-standing trees and leave the living ones in the forest. Chopping down a tree means a lot of physical labor due to trees carrying a lot of water weight. Also, a tree that has been freshly chopped down will have a tendency to split when drying and during cold seasons, can form ice inside of a heated edifice.

If you use dead-standing trees, make sure to inspect them for rotting and insects as they make logs less durable. Also, while removing tree branches, watch out for those that can be used as dowel pins.

Use alternative energy

As part of your pre-building process, consider using solar energy. Solar panel installations are cheaper now compared to 5 years ago. They also yield more electricity now thanks to advancements in solar panel technology.

However, you really need to use traditional electricity for your plumbing, you can use the Incinolet electric incinerating toilet, which uses very little energy.

Keep your finishes consistent

Cutting corners to spend more on something unnecessary should be avoided at all costs. As a general rule of thumb, never compromise something as important as a window just so you can afford extra materials for something like making a fireplace. If you want to keep the costs low, use fewer windows but never compromise on the quality.

Reinforce openings smartly

Log cabins are extensions to your home so make sure to reinforce them properly. Use interlocking logs and safety glass for your windows for added strength and security. Screwfix shows among their extensive range of log cabins that there are two industry standard types of glass commonly used: horticultural and toughened glass for doors and windows. It’s also worth using draught seals for doors and windows, as well as a wind blocking system to waterproof openings. This is the easiest and smartest way to reinforce openings in a cost-effective manner.

Before building a cabin, be aware of what works for you and what doesn’t. The best thing about building a cabin is that you get to design and construct it the way you want but that shouldn’t mean you approach it in a unpractical manner. Remember that constructing one for the first time is a learning curve and you will ultimately learn from your mistakes. However, if you undertake enough research beforehand, the chances of your making any major mistakes will be minimal.

What would miss about your current lifestyle if you went off-grid?

Minimalism and Food Choices

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

― Hippocrates

We don’t have cable at our house. We rarely have the television on so it seemed like a waste of money. We do have Netflix however (and antenna television). During the times when I feel that we would watch zero television, I cancel my subscription for the month (for example, during the summer when we are outside the majority of the time or in October when we were in Alaska). I love watching documentaries on Netflix. A few weekends ago, I ended up watching two that were thought provoking: Minimalism and Food Choices.

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Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things focuses on how life can be better with less physical possessions by exploring the lives of minimalists. One of the things that Robb and I have noticed lately is how full of clutter our home is. Not junk, necessarily, but just little things – books that we don’t want to read, paper and notepads scrawled with reminders, etc. We want to move out of this home (so we can grow our mini-homestead) so we have been taking steps to clear away some of the clutter to make the house more appealing to potential homebuyers. We went through most rooms, tossing some items, selling other pieces and it is amazing how much we still have left after our initial purge.

I once read an article that said to look at an item, see if it brings you joy. If it does not, get rid of it. While I don’t see that necessarily working for all items, it is a good theory to go by. So as the weeks go on, we will continue to purge items unnecessary items from our home. While neither of us plan to be as hardcore as some of the individuals in the documentary, I can see how being void of clutter and excess material goods could invite a sense of peace – declutter your home, declutter your mind.

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Food Choices  explores how the food choices people make affect their health, the health of our planet and on the lives of other living species. While this particular documentary focused more so on living a plant based lifestyle (and had some points I disagreed with), it made some strong points – such as the impact that sugar has on the body and how we all could probably use more healthy items in our diets. We should try away from overly processed foods and focus more on introducing a greater variety of fruits and vegetables into what we eat.

While my ideal lifestyle would be one where I didn’t have to rely on the grocery store, that is not yet possible. I confess, my greatest weakness is soft drinks. I love the taste of soda but I know that the sugar and caffeine wreck havoc on my body. It is something I can working on. Thankfully, we don’t snack a lot in our household, so I’m able to stay away from most junk foods – cookies, chips, etc. It’s noice to be able to avoid that temptation because I think a lot of people tend to fall into that trap.

That being said, I really need to focus on making sure my body gets the vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function properly.

Have you seen either of these documentaries? What did you take away from it?

Goodbye Iggy Jr.!

Iggy Jr. is gone.

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Iggy Jr. is the Barred Rock in the background. Goldie is a Buff Brahma (foreground).

Thankfully not in the way of his predecessors but instead Iggy Jr. is going to live every man’s dream – head honcho of 8 lucky ladies. 2017 is known as the “Year of the Rooster” and for our Iggy Jr., this year was truly a lucky year.

When we first got Iggy Jr., we initially thought that he was a “she”. I started to have my doubts however and it was only in the past few weeks that my doubts were confirmed. It was only a matter of time before Iggy Jr. met his destiny with the crock pot. Good roosters are hard to find and it seemed like such a waste to eat Iggy Jr.. He was handsome, good to his women, and would eat right out of my hand. I found someone online looking for a rooster as he had lost his the week before so I mentioned Iggy Jr.. Thankfully the person seemed interested.

I met a couple up at a local feed shop and delivered Iggy Jr. to them. As soon as they left, I went into the store and purchased a new hen.

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This is RB.

RB is short for Rainbow Bright (pronounced like Arby). I don’t know why we named her that. It just popped into my boyfriend’s head on our way home and stuck. RB is a Golden Comet, less than a year. Not a breed that I normally would go with but she’s sweet. She’s missing her tail feathers because her mates at the feed store bullied her. She was bullied badly here until the past few days when the temperature dropped as we had a Winter storm pass through. I left them in the coop for almost two and a half days and they seem to get along better now.

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Wellie (background) is a Welsummer and The Dark One (foreground) is a Barnvelder.
Everyone coexisting.

We are still getting used to our new flock and are looking forward to the weather warming up so that we can start getting eggs again!

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Chicken foot prints in the snow.

 

Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s Haul

Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve been working on clearing out my pantry in anticipation for my quarterly Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods excursion. My boyfriend and I almost messed up. The weekend before Christmas, we went to Moore County to visit his family for the holidays. On our way up, as we passed through Raleigh, we decided that we would stop to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Cabela’s on our way home. Monday came and it was a dreary day as we set off back to our house with a truck full (and I mean jam packed) with gifts.

We stopped to Cabela’s but decided to bail on the other two stores. We were tired, ready to get home, and most of all – our truck was FULL! So we decided to stick to our original plan of making a day date of it while I was out on break.

That same Monday night, I attacked the kitchen in a whirlwind after we arrived home. I cleaned out our pantry – putting items that have been in our pantry for months – into a bag to donate to the local food bank (I ended up with two large bags full), throwing some expired items away. Then I started on the spices. There were spices in there from back in 2011! I let Robb go through everything before I tossed it and if he said keep it, we kept it (fair trade).

When we went to Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s the day after Christmas, neither of us were feeling at our best. That may have been why we didn’t go as crazy as I had anticipated. But that’s okay. It still ended up being a good “date” day for the two of us and I enjoy spending time with Robb. Even if it’s doing something that seems as mundane as going to the grocery store!

Here’s what we purchased:

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Some of our favorite purchases were:

  • Growler of Ginger Kombucha from Barefoot Bucha (first tried at the Heritage Festival at Monticello) from Whole Foods (Me)
  • Olives from Whole Foods (Robb)
  • Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup  from Trader Joe’s (both of ours)
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Potatoes (mentioned before in this post)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina Flour from Whole Foods (Me) – this is for homemade corn tortillas using the tortilla press I got for Christmas!
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Molten Chocolate Macarons from Trader Joe’s – this thing is HUGE!

Since we went on Monday, we were able to take advantage of the Pasta Night at Whole Foods. For $12.99 we were able to get a pound of fresh cut pasta (our choice was spinach pappardelle), 16oz of Severino sauce (we went with the Fra Diavolo) and 4oz of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Our pasta night deal from Whole Foods with chorizo, mushrooms, and onions thrown in. Delicious!

A few nights ago, I was able to try out my new tortilla press. I know that a tortilla press is a weird thing to ask for but I love the idea of being able to make fresh corn tortillas. I still need to practice but I think I did okay! I paired my homemade corn tortillas with homemade pico de gallo, homemade lime crema, cilantro, coleslaw mix, and pan seared Alaskan halibut (with a adobo seasoning purchased from Whole Foods).

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Tacos?? A good first try.

I’m already looking forward to our next trip!