Laugh in the Sun

What’s a chortle between friends?

Duck eggs, Baby!

I promise I’m not being a smug-arse when I say that we are relatively healthy eaters here at Fivehills. Mostly, it’s because I behave like a Depression-era housewife and we eat cheap, which it turns out is quite healthy: we slow cook cheap meat cuts, grow what veg and herbs we can, bake our own bits and pieces, use up stale breads/cheeses and leftovers creatively, run our own chooks and ducks for eggs and feed them back all the scraps that cant be composted.

There was a time when I would swap excess eggs for veg with a friend, but now we rarely have excess our kids can go through a half dozen between them in a day. A day, people. That’s right. I work so that they can eat. The boys have a brunch fry up, and our daughter gets her Masterchef on and bakes treats that mysteriously disappear into her bedroom with her 15 minutes after they’ve come out of the oven and tantalised me to forget whatever it is I’m doing with their rich inevitably chocolatey fragrance. It’s just cruel plus our kitchen is a mess.

The ducks are a boon, as they take over laying when the chooks start to slow down in winter. And they are prolific….but I noticed the kids weren’t using them and asked them why. Turns out they are highly suspicious of the fact the eggs are blue, and the kid whose job it is to collect them thinks they are too dirty to use (although I do wipe off the muck on them). Funny, coming from a kid who looks at me suspiciously when I ask him why none of his socks have been near the washing machine for a while.

Duck eggs are goopier than chook eggs, by which I mean, the white is seriously thicker and more gelly like. This makes for great baking because the white has a lot more fat. In fact, according to Jamie O, duck eggs are great to use in gluten free baking because they provide some of the structure that gluten flours normally create.

My time in a rural restaurant taught me that some people (often of a certain generation) think duck eggs are a delicacy, whilst others freak out at the size and density of them sprawled on a plate. So after a year of duck eggs sitting alongside our chook eggs in the fridge, these are how we choose to use them (or if you are one of my kids reading this…the non-negotiable rules):

Duck eggs to be used for:
Impossible pies (gluten free quiche)
And other eggy bakes – like the ham and egg bake, (otherwise famous here as the hashbrown casserole)
Breads (great for brioche!)
Hard boiling for turning into egg salad/curried egg for sandwiches

Omelettes/scramble according to personal preference

Chook eggs are for poaching, soft boiling and frying.

Duck eggs seem a little hard to give away, due to their size and suspiciously pretty color, but if you can get your hands on them, give them a go. They are used one for one for a hen egg in a recipe despite their size, and their thicker shells mean they have a longer shelf life.

See that fat dog belly there? That’s full of a duck egg that ‘got away’…as in, I dropped it while collecting and she grabbed it and ran off, conveniently deaf to my scolding! Little tart! Makes me wonder how many she helps herself to through the day…could explain the obnoxious farting….

Ever tried duck eggs? Got any recipes to share?

Writer Incognito

A friend interviewed me for his podcast and introduced me as a writer. When I scoffed sheepishly, he queried it (never misses an opportunity to hold me accountable to myself this Dude). I said that it just wasn’t where I was at, at the moment. Which got me to thinking: who AM I? How did I get into this mess? No, seriously – I started wondering what I was really doing as a writer and the answer is, right now, not very bloody much.

BUT (and there’s always a big but in my experience) I don’t think I am done with it. Because I love it. I love the idea of it:

I occasionally have the opportunity to discuss and encourage writing with young people (which I enjoy way more than I imagined).

I am obeying my personal rule of always, always having a book to read especially when I’m not writing (and the kids have given me the complete series of the Game of Thrones books to read which should keep me sorted for the next 12 years – thanks very much bloody mongrels.

Because of my goldfish-like memory and under advisement of my home technogeek SH, I have about seven apps too many that each have various random bits of weirdness in them, that possibly won’t make sense to anyone but me.

I have also got another three apps with further random weirdness that either I can’t recall how to access, or I can access them and they make no sense at all…possibly as a result of in the middle of the night typing….possibly.

And I have a story fledged back from the bastard NaNoWriMo some years ago, that is sitting like a red-headed stepchild feeling alone and unloved, in the recess of the computer or the icloud just waiting for me to give it a spruce and a kiss and a cuddle, and cheeses help me, one hell of a makeover before telling it that ‘Luke. I am your father’..What mixed metaphorses? Metaphori?

I don’t feel done..

Any tips or hints to keep my finger in the pie? Anyone else have their otherness on hold? Gah!

What to Pack for Singapore

What the…? Yes, it’s me. Can you tell that I’m working full time, that we have 2.9 teenagers (with lives of their own, dammit) in the house, that my garden is growing and that the dog ate my homework?

But also, i hitched a ride to Singapore with SH, because he had a conference to attend. Wheee! Anyhoo, seeing as the last time I went to Singapore, there was a toddler at my knee and a baby on my back, and the photographic evidence shows I wore cheesecloth shorts and mens polo shirts, I decided I wanted to return somewhat more as the ‘lady’ (…I’ll just wait for the sniggering to die down…..) ahem, I’ve become. Surprisingly, googling ‘what to pack for Singapore’ didn’t turn up any advice.

My delicious sister Em asked me to write this as she will be visiting within the month on the back of a trip to Sri Lanka, and the lovely Robin asked me on FB whether I was still writing on my blog – all of which has combined with a quiet (dont say the q word out loud) Sunday morning – hence me writing the longest sentence of the year…at the start of this post.

I love Singapore – it’s clean, arty, friendly. Most people speak English, the food is fabulous, the food is open 24 hours in many places…and is cheap, and I love the way it seems like the jungle is trying to reclaim the city – or like the city is springing up in the jungle. And the key word here…is jungle. Singapore is hot and humid – and here lies the packing trick.

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but what generally happens is I will pack thoughtfully and then return from the trip having only used half of the suitcase’s contents. This trip was the same:

2 maxi dresses (one unworn)

1 maxi skirt (worn one full day)
Bathers (regrettably unworn)
Cropped black pants (worn constantly)
2 black tshirts (one worn)
A gold tank (worn for a posh dinner)
Teal tank (worn)
2 black tanks (both worn)
A very light cropped, short sleeve black cardi (worn constantly)
Gladiator sandals (worn until my ankles were too swollen to cope)
Gold sequin sandally thongs (worn see right at Marina Bay Sands)
Black ballet flats (worn once I couldn’t wear the sandals any longer and for travelling)

Plus to travel from Canberra’s chilly early morning autumn to Singapore’s balmy 32 degree evening: black cropped leggings, a black tunic, with a long sleeved layering top and a longsleeved black cardigan, and patterned cotton scarf.

All of my packing was soft, jersey type fabric that could be rolled up without side effects. And clearly the theme was black – useful for sweating freely in, not as hot as you might think, easily mixed and matched and dressed up with scarves or necklaces.


If you have generous thighs, as I may or may not have, wearing a maxi skirt or maxi dress all day can be a mistake. After a full day of walking at Gardens by the Bay, my poor upper thighs were bruised and I regretted laughing at the friend who recommended talc for chafe. A half day or going out to do the dinner walk would have been manageable.

Tanks are good: pretty ones, layering ones, posh ones, a couple per day will keep you fresh as a daisy.

A really light cardi or wrap can be handy to counteract the air-con that sometimes aggressively counteracts the humidity..after all it can easily be chucked in a bag if not required. I also layered my tanks with a short sleeve cardigan as I wasn’t certain at first about how my tattoo would be received (I didn’t see many around), also as my own respect for modesty in some cultural areas.

Leggings and tunics are great comfort wear for Singapore or any travelling – take your favorite non crushables.

I did see some chic travellin’ ladies in their fisherman pants – if you are a fan, these would be comfortable and appropriate assuming your thighs behave (see above).

Comfortable cool shoes! I was gobsmacked at the young women walking rapidly and businesslike in their spikes – I will never have that talent. Conversely, I wished I’d brought my Birkenstocks or my Dr Scholls (although they are suede and probably not recommended due to the flash rain showers) and envied other travellers who had…they would have been perfect!

Stretchy clothes…OK it might be just me, but my skin seems to swell up a bit in the humidity so constricting clothes like denim are not going to make the cut for me here. Even tight sleeves bother me once I start to get my sweat on. Sorry. The up side is that then you are more comfortable when you are eating and walking and then eating and eating.

If possible, I’d recommend a bra extra to what you think you’ll need, or a bunch of sports bras if you’re smaller like myself. If you don’t have time to wash, it can be a little gross discovering how much sweat a bra can hold. Just keeping it real.

Long summer pjs are great for frigid hotel rooms – you can always take them off if you don’t need them.

If you’re that way inclined, and I am if I am wearing variations on all black day after day, a few nice scarves are easy, useful and less irritating on a hot damp neck than chains. Having said that they also make the best personal souvenirs…I bought two Desigual scarves (squeee) as a memento of my time in Singapore. They make me happy.

Luckily, our return to our 2.9 teenagers, horse, chooks, ducks, dogs, cats and daily lives coincided with a little Indian summer – and at its warmest Murrumbateman, Australia was only 10 degrees cooler than Singapore. It did help us adjust before autumn frosts came laughing at us a lazy week and a half later. That was a gift.

But that is certainly not the last you have seen of me Singapore. Next time I’ll be better packed and prepared…oh yes. I will be back.

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