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:
Quiches
Impossible pies (gluten free quiche)
And other eggy bakes – like the ham and egg bake, (otherwise famous here as the hashbrown casserole)
Cakes
Biscuits
Slices
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?

Sugar-Free!

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Call me crazy (it wouldn’t be the first time) but I have given up sugar.  Despite what my Dad thinks, this was not on a whim…I have had various minor health issues that were bugging me and I felt like something had to change, but I didn’t know what.

Until I read David Gillespie’s book (with a cynical smirk to start with) and it ticked all the boxes.  ALL. OF. THEM.  So, I decided to take it on as a personal project and see for myself what would happen.

I asked SH to support me by not bringing home blocks of dark chocolate and packets of Wagon Wheels to woo me with anymore and he thought I was crazy.  Not for the first time.  I gave him the book to read and then the world exploded.  He found Sarah Wilson’s books, and went looking in our pantry and then SH decided not only was he coming on this voyage with me – our whole household was.

The Pantry Clean-Out

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So we cleaned out our whole pantry, throwing out anything that had more than 6g of sugar per 100g/100ml and, believe me, that was a lot of stuff.  A scary lot.  It went to my Mum and Dad’s and I think Dad has made it his mission to re-introduce it all back to our poor, deprived kids ever since.  What shocked me was that two different brands of the same food type could have such a different ingredient list: we threw a popular brand of Worcestershire out because it had 12.6 grams of sugar per 100mls, but the home-brand one had 4g (thank Baby Cheeses because I love my Woostie).

The Kids

The kids were the tricky bit…as I explained to my Dad, we were aware they had their own lives away from the house and could make their own choices, but our house would be sugar-free and I wouldn’t buy them sweet treats with my money if we were all out.  The 16 year old does Human Movement and he was on board right away because he is learning about what food does to the body and it all gels with what his (I suspect very pretty) teacher is saying.

Middle Child (14) has ADHD, so we figured this would really help him if he could give it a try – interestingly he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth – already prefers sugar free soft-drinks, and snacks on tuna with lemon pepper almost exclusively.  He complains a bit, but can still get his favorite takeaway (falls in the low category) and is aiming to get a job soon to buy the sweet crap he needs apparently, but I think it’s mostly posturing and having something to complain about (aka teenager rules)…that’s OK – if we can just reduce their use of sugar, setting them up for when they leave home so they have an awareness that will be enough.

Youngest Child (11) had a meltdown.  Interesting, because she is the biggest sugar addict you’ve ever seen.  Her birthday money/allowance etc burns a hole in her pocket until she can get a pile of Poddidly WonkaBabies….and it’s never enough.  She’s the classic example of how sugar overwhelms the ‘enough’ valve in the brain.  She spent the first half of the holidays with a face like a slapped arse, until finally we confronted her and she said the problem was we “were mean and the sugar thing was stupid! It must be dumb if I can’t even eat fruit!  Fruit’s healthy!”  SH sat with her, got David’s book out and showed her the chapter about his kids, and what food labels look like and really talked with her about it.  She’s a smart girl, and she knows she can demolish 2 kilos of mandarins in an afternoon (these kids are so expensive to feed, I tell ya!) and that is exactly how she operates if she has no lollies to graze on.  (Just so you know – of course she can have fruit, two pieces a day is plenty.)  Once again, for her, this may not be forever but if she just learns to be discerning – that will be OK, after all, as our kids grow up the sugar content of packaged food is likely to increase.

The Pros

It’s been 30 days for me, and what I’ve noticed may or may not be because of the sugar detox, but these are big differences to me from a month before and I doubt they’re coincidental:

  • We aren’t snoring. By all accounts.
  • I feel less bloated.
  • My clothes are looser.
  • My IBS-like symptoms have gone.
  • My PMT is minimal
  • In fact, I’m more even tempered all the time.
  • I can use full-fat anything (low fat products are boosted with sugar so they taste good enough to buy – check the grams per 100ml/gram on the label!).  YAY!
  • I’m more regular.  Don’t make me spell it out.
  • I’m more energetic.
  • I sleep better plus I wake up better. Cos I’m regular.
  • I don’t overeat – I ‘feel full’ in a different way, not ever getting to that uncomfortably full stage anymore.
  • I can taste food in a whole different way.
  • I found sugar-free dark chocolate at Coles for when I’ve finished the detox.
  • There are natural sugar replacements for baking and everyday use (for after the detox).
  • There are heaps of great sugar-free recipes on the internet.
  • I can still drink alcohol – just not the sweet cocktails, fortifieds or some mixers.
  • My head is clearer.  It is so.

The Cons

  • It’s disappointing to see how much sugar is in my favorite foods.
  • It’s sad looking at pancakes with maple syrup and knowing I might never eat it again.
  • Tonic water has heaps of sugar.
  • I have to think about what I’m eating when I’m out – the only two lapses I’ve had were when I’ve had mayonnaise in takeaway: once with sushi (the sweet kewpie doll mayo, I think, and it made my mouth burn!) and last night with my schnitzel roll.  Whole fat, whole egg mayonnaise generally doesn’t have much sugar.
  • I miss sweet tea.
  • I miss dessert – even though we rarely ate it.
  • Once a month I want dark chocolate.
  • I feel rude when people offer me something lovely they’ve made and I decline it.

Seriously, right now that’s all I can think of.  And most of those can be gotten around or substituted.  I’ve found Loveable Licorice Tea from Adore Tea and I’m in Heaven.  We are eating lots of nuts, which I know I should have been doing for a while.  Recipes from the popular Paleo diet dovetail nicely for sugar-free cooks and it’s making us a bit more experimental with our cooking.

Just like with my usual opinion/lifestyle disclaimer – it’s not for everyone and it might not even be forever for us (between you and me, I thought SH was crazy for dragging the kids in on this – but if they learn something from it, great – and if they go get jobs so they buy their own sugar-shit, fantastic!)

Of course it’s hard; giving up smoking was hard too – but in the meantime I feel really good and it’s driving my Dad nuts and that makes it all worthwhile.

Nan’s Mayo

My Nan never flew on a plane.  She didn’t drive, ever use a computer or live to see mobile phones.  And I don’t think she ever ate real mayonnaise.  And she had no time for any of that nonsense.  She was like that, and I loved her for it.  To that end, I don’t think I ever had real mayonnaise, not out of a jar, until I was in my 20’s.  And my impression of real egg mayonnaise?  Meh.

Don’t hate me, I’m just being honest.

The thing is my experience of mayonnaise was my Nan’s mayonnaise.  This was the stuff that taught us to enjoy salad vegetables and iceburg lettuce, and prawns…not necessarily together, like a 70’s style prawn cocktail…just a big lettuce leaf folded around a dollop of this mayonnaise, or likewise a spoonful of mayo on your plate to swish the peeled prawns through.  Mmmmmmmm.  This mayo was so good, it inspired the first piece of work I ever had published that wasn’t in a school magazine.

This mayo is pure nostalgia, too easy and made straight from the pantry cupboard.  Yes, it probably is a Depression-Era recipe, sure to have been originally written on the inside of the condensed milk label, and Nan would have been the type to peel it off and slip it into her own handwritten recipe book that was ubiquitous with all housewives back then.  No, it is not real mayonnaise, not even close.  But I love it, like I love tinned Asparagus Mornay.  I love it like I love cupboard cheese.  I love it like I love fake Lemon Meringue Pie.  I just love it.

Nan’s Mayo

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk.

1/2 to 1 cup vinegar (to taste)

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together and taste until it pleases.  Cover and chill before using so flavours meld.  Stir before using to blend.  Will keep, covered in the fridge, for quite a while.

Disclaimer:  Stepford Husband hates this (shocker!) and indeed anything else that contains vinegar as an ingrediant.  He probably decided he didn’t like it when he walked into the kitchen and saw the vinegar bottle out on the bench.  But just to safe, start cautiously adding the vinegar a bit at a time until you get the blend you like.  This is a thoroughly flexible recipe though, as long as you start with minimum amounts initially.  If, however,  you’re the type of person who likes your fish ‘n’ chips doused in vinegar, you should have no problems whatsoever.  Plus it would be perfect for 70’s style Prawn Cocktail!

This post is linking with the lovely Beach Cottage.