Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck
Roosting on the gate

2011 - My second year of blogging in Brittany

I felt I would like to share some of the photographs I have taken so far this year and some from other years. I live in a beautiful part of Brittany and just love being here. It's a lovely place to photograph and enjoy being in through all the seasons and hopefully this blog will show you where I live my life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Autumn weather, duck and fungi

The supermarket had prepacked duck joints this week for just over €5/£4 a pack.  This is the recipe I made up to cook them.
Preheat oven to 220°C – fan oven temperature.

Cut excess pieces of fat from the duck pieces and render down in small frying pan.
Place thick slices from a large onion in the base of a roasting tin.  Rest the duck pieces on the onions so they don’t touch the bottom of the tin.
Pour the rendered down duck fat  over the duck pieces and squeeze the juice of an orange over them too.  Tuck sprigs of thyme between the duck pieces and then season with salt and pepper.  Drape the duck with streaky bacon.
Into the roasting pan pour boiling water to depth of about 1½”/3.75cm.
Cover with lid or foil and cook in oven for 40 minutes.  Reduce heat to 160°C and continue to cook for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Remove lid or foil and the bacon from top of the duck pieces and cook for a further 40 minutes to crisp the skin.
Remove duck pieces, keep warm while resting them for ten minutes and make the sauce.  Discard onions and reduce pan juices.  Then add a tablespoon or two of redcurrant jelly, some freshly squeezed orange juice and, optionally, a pinch of Chinese five spice powder.  I had some reduced rabbit stock from the pies I made so added some of that too.  It was a scrummy sauce.
I like to serve the meat off the bone so I stripped off the crispy skin, cut it into strips and ate that - cook's perks - then plated up the about a quarter of the meat with sauce, buttery mashed potato, and two home grown vegetables; courgettes in garlic butter and roasted pumpkin.  
I'm not sure yet what I shall do with the other three meals worth of duck, but I shall do some recipe research and meantime fridge/freeze the meat.
There were long periods of sunny weather inbetween the showers today.  I sat in the garden with a coffee in 23°C sunshine and then went walking with a camera.  Each day brings more and more fungi in the lane.  The first photo is of fungi growing on the old oak beams which form the edge of some of my raised veggie beds.
These two photos show two fungi in a neighbour's field.  They are about 8"/20cm across and about 10"/25cm high.  I took off one of my wellie shoes and balanced on one leg to give an example of scale.

Here are some of my chickens enjoying the warm weather in the duck field along the lane and some of my ducks enjoying the weather once the shower started about three minutes later.

Why are there catkins on the hazel on 3 November?  Is this another sign of global warming?

Back home because of the rain after visiting my neighbour who's still on bedrest with her broken leg.  Purrdy was curled up in the corner of the settee, Claude was very much awake and Daisy was woken by the camera beeping - I must put it on mute.

At the moment, one of the small roundabouts in St Nicolas du Pélem is surrounded by very large pumpkins and chrysanthemums.  The huge pumpkins make mine look like oranges! The cemetary is behind the wall in the left background and that will be full of chrysanthemums too, as they are the flowers that the French leave on the graves on All Saints Day, 1 November.  Prior to that date the supermarkets and florists are full of chrysanthemums which is a flower associated with death and is never used as a gift plant here.  Strangely, when my father died in England in 1981, the wreath I ordered for him was of deep raspberry coloured chrysanthemums.
Three things I like:
1.   Eating comforting cold weather foods now that Autumn is well established.
2.   My neighbour's grandchildren visiting me - well my rabbits really - but me too.
3.   Having an extra day of playing Short Mat Bowls this week. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kittens, fungi, diminutive horses and rabbit pie

I can't believe it's the last day of October - where has this month gone?

Daisy and Claude, the kittens have been outside for the first time.  It was such a sunny and warm afternoon  yesterday after the damp, grey days we've had recently so Andrea and I sat on the terrace catching the rays and watching their antics.  They can't yet manage the cat flap and because it is fitted into a 2ft/60cm thick wall I can't actually push them through from the inside, only from the outside.  In the end I propped the cat flap open with a broom and then later with wood stacked to brace it so they could come and go as they wish.
It's tiring though having new experiences in the fresh air and after an hour or so of running around and pouncing on leaves and each other they finally came back in and collapsed in a tangle of limbs.
I went for a bit of a walk with a friend on Monday afternoon and started taking photos of fungi growing in the lane. 

I think the last one is a shaggy parasol and edible but, with no-one to verify it, I left it growing on the verge.
Coming home from taking Andrea to Guingamp station at the beginning of the afternoon I passed, and then went back to take photos of, a little horse event in Kerien.

The little carts were attached to diminutive horses, I don't know the breed, and as I was taking photos a coach filled with small children arrived and after a little song the horses pulled the carts round for them to have a ride.

 I bought a quantity of rabbit meat on Saturday and having cooked it up like a casserole I then squeezed half a fresh orange into it and added mushrooms cooked in garlic butter and some finely chopped sage and parsley before dividing it between two small casserole dishes and topping them with puff pastry.
I know I shouldn't say it myself, but I had half of one for supper this evening and it was gorgeous - I don't think I've had rabbit for years and I really enjoyed it.  There was a little bit of puff pastry left over so I filled it with raspberry jam and had a little tart for pudding with cream poured over - mmm - scrumptious!
Three things I like:
1.   My daughter called me this evening to say she'd got the job she was interviewed for yesterday - well done, darling!
2.   One of my young Light Sussex hens has started laying eggs - I didn't think they would start laying until the Spring.
3.   We just managed, by the skin of our teeth, to get to the station in time for Andrea's train, at least she wasn't on the platform when the train went out so I guess she got on