Roasting a Duck

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

On Saturday I roasted a duckling, the second time I’ve ever done that and the first time in a decade. The first duck had so much fat and was so difficult to clean up after, that I swore never again. That was back when I believed all I read about how fat is so terrible for us.

It had taken a lot to get me to the point where I could even consider roasting a duck since I’d had one for a pet as a child. My siblings and I had named him Duckess, somehow thinking he was female when he was a baby. He was the only duck we had amongst chickens and geese and he became mean when he grew up.

I love animals and believe they ought to be treated well. My physical body will not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle and I’ve learned to walk away quickly from those judgmental people who don’t know me, don’t care to know me, don’t care what happens to me or why I choose the things I choose.

Anyway, my roast duckling didn’t look as pretty as the one in the photo here. Usually I need to eat only organic food because of high-maintenance health circumstances. In this case though I chose a $13 duckling from a regular grocery store instead of a $30 plus one from Whole Foods or the local co-op.

I tossed out the orange sauce packet and partially followed the directions on the wrapping, partially following the instructions for obtaining and saving the fat from an excellent blog post I found online. I’ll use the fat for roasting root vegetables and will be making bone broth with the carcass today.

Because I research about health online quite a lot, I’d heard of the GAPS diet. It usually seemed to be presented as a diet to help children with autism. Being a grown-up with other life long health issues, I didn’t pay it much attention.

When it finally came onto my radar a few months ago, after sincerely transitioning to an extremely healthy diet and still feeling like crap, it seemed to make some sense and when I transitioned to it cautiously, I began to heal. It will take some time since I have decades of damage. I crave the cultured vegetables, coconut kefir and other probiotic foods that are part of the diet but understand I need to use caution as the detoxing and die-off of bad bacteria can be awful. While the point is to heal, it’s also important to be able to function in life with some degree of comfort while doing so.

I didn’t have any butchers twine to tie the legs together and my motor skills were such that I couldn’t really carve the duckling in any decent manner–it was more like hacking it up. There was surprising little meat on it but I got a reasonable amount of fat and have gotten through the clean-up part of the process, except for the oven.

We are all so different and the GAPS diet is not for everyone. It would have saved me decades of suffering and missed opportunities had I understood this before, but it was certainly never suggested by the health professionals I consulted with. All the information being presented was pointing me in other directions. Much of what the health food industry was offering was better for me than the standard American diet, but it too caused me challenges and suffering in the long run.

Some people do very well on raw foods, or mostly raw foods but many of us don’t have the digestive fire to deal with a raw diet in a healthy way. Others seem to do well with a vegetarian diet. We’re all different and some of us have to do quite a bit of research and take a lot of responsibility for finding what works for us. Often without support, understanding or interest from those around us.

Other people’s life journeys involve things that aren’t so focused on health and food and they can seemingly get by without giving it much thought. I’m not one of those people.

January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?

Puttering

Many things change rapidly in this age, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the sake of change. Over the last few months I haven’t been posting here and now I find myself awkwardly navigating around the dashboard with things looking unfamiliar.

In October I got a new notebook PC and I allowed a salesperson talk me into something different than my internet research had led me to choose. It has one of those sensitive mouse things that has the cursor jumping all over and sometimes freezing. I’ve looked at fixes online, experimented and am learning to type funny, avoiding the mouse area. Just one more thing I’m learning to tolerate.

Most of the Christmas cards I’ll be getting have arrived by now. Cards from people who seem to be more, have more and do more than me. So,I work with that.

Dairy foods cause trouble for me, but I like Nancy’s brand yogurt and awhile back I found that they have sour cream too. And now I’m really happy that they have cream cheese! The products have live cultures in them and are organic. I even bought out of season strawberries at an outrageous price to slice and put on nut crackers with the cream cheese and I’m not feeling deprived of holiday goodies this year.

It might rain tomorrow and I’ll likely stay in as I’ve been pushing myself a lot lately. Lots of little projects to do and I’ll just pay no attention to the news and make good choices. Maybe I’ll even show up here again.

Junk Food

I don’t eat junk food and haven’t been able to for quite awhile. I’m on a very restricted diet and feel horror at what other people eat.

There’s someone I care about who’s mentally ill. His diet is awful and I believe it’s killing him, but he’s an adult and I ought to respect his right to make choices. He has a fair amount of money and could probably get whatever he wants but he has such a need control his environment that he lives quite frugally. As in unplugging his refrigerator to keep his electric bill down and opening a can of peas and eating it cold right out of the can.

It’s good to feel that people care during the holidays and I very much like for him to get presents in the mail. But he doesn’t like things people give him. My budget is such that I really don’t want to do without things I need in order to give him things he doesn’t want. But he does like crappy food. The healthy snacks I’ve attempted to interest him in didn’t go over well. So, today I decided to finally give him what he truly seems to enjoy, junk food. So he can get a package in the mail. It isn’t like I’m giving him illegal drugs or something but I didn’t get to this place easily.

There are two places I shop for my groceries. At the local co-op where I get my organic stuff and at an employee owned store where I get what I can because the prices are more reasonable. I picked out the usual amount of items, what I could carry and was surprised that it cost more than twice what the healthier food at the employee owned store usually does. And it’s about the same amount as an equal bag full at the co-op where the price of organic meat and veggies seem quite high.

The stuff isn’t boxed up yet and I’m looking at it across the room and am not at all tempted to eat any of it. In the grand big picture, this is probably not a big deal at all. Maybe it’s nit-picky and obsessive for me to have to over-think this so. But now, at the end of this day, this is what I most remember.

Egg Nog and Naps

For health reasons I’ve been on a very specialized diet and I’m doing well with that. One of the things which I only recall its existence during this time of the year is egg nog. Plain old supermarket egg nog in a carton. So I decided to allow myself to buy and drink one and I’m doing o.k. with that too. It hasn’t lasted as long as I had hoped but I doubt if I’ll be going on a food chemical-induced binge. The once carton will be enough. Oh, and it wasn’t soy or lite either. It is the stuff I really enjoy.

I also indulged in naps today which my body seemed to really need. I’ve been pushing myself to be more productive for months in some kind of attempt to make up for the time and effort I lost when I was seriously fatigued. Before that all happened, people were making painful demands on me. Like many of us, I guess I internalized some of those expectations. It might be worth it to check it once in awhile to see if all we push ourselves to do is really all that important and if it’s truly expected of us. Maybe no one will notice if we drop some things and give ourselves a break. I’ve found that to be true. If I hadn’t written about my naps right here, no one on the planet would have known.

Post-Thanksgiving Weekend

The little indulgences I’ve had with my diet lately hasn’t seemed to be too harmful At least I don’t have weird cravings like I do with the aftermath of eating restaurant food.

My little burst of consumerism has run its course. One of the items I got (finally) is an e-book reader. My place is overflowing with books and I’d like to use it to read books from the library. Without the strain of staring at my computer screen more than I already do. What made this a bargain is that I wasn’t in that spaced-out, glazed-eyes mode that used to generally allow a salesperson to easily get a lot of add-ons in my cart by checkout time. Extended warranties, a cool looking cover, a charger when I won’t use this for travelling and can charge it through a USB cable through my computer. Nope, didn’t get them.

Most of the shopping energy I have these days goes into grocery buying–an area in which I must be careful for health reasons. These companies that began with organic ingredients and quietly down-graded into using genetically modified foods laced with toxic pesticides while charging the same–they can just go down too along with all the other groups lacking in integrity. Greedy and self-serving.

During financial times like we’re living in, marketers can play on our insecurity and manipulate our inner hoarder into buying what we don’t need and more of it. Stuff does not equate with love. Consumerism isn’t fun and being a consumer is not my identity.

I resent being cheated. Well, I won’t look back but I can certainly make different choices now.

First Farmers Market Of The Season

This year the weather was really pleasant, although there were threatening storm clouds. The farmers market is a few blocks from where I live and it’s been convenient for me to go the during the last five years I’ve lived in this city.

I got there a few hours after it began and as usual, most of the produce was gone. I did get some scallions, which I use a lot of. Also some gluten-free blueberry muffins. They were delicious. Unfortunately, the good packaging the four of them were in is wasteful but there are food safety laws.

There were lots of people there–it has become a place to see and be seen and groups of people stand right in the street aisles and talk. Today I didn’t feel grumpy about the human obstacles.

There are signs up all over by order of the health department for everyone to leave their dogs at home but there are always, always dogs there. They are well-socialized and adorable.

There were the usual overheard remarks from ex-Californians about how the markets in their former state are real farmers markets.

There was a boy who has been working at one of the produce stands I’ve purchased from the last five years. He seems to have grown a foot taller over the winter and has interesting facial hair now. He can’t be considered a boy any more and looks like a hottie—if I may say so.

The political activists were out working for a recall in the area of education. That is quite a passionate subject here.

Something new—there is a veggie valet booth where folks can have their heavy items held for awhile as they continue to shop. Parking is tricky here and I’m glad I live close by.

Seventy Degrees

A touch of spring fever today and I’ll be rambling here.

There was paperwork that needed to be done earlier and I opened my window in the living room because I had to stay in. There are no screens, which never, ever would have worked back in the Midwest. When I first moved here I marveled at the lack of flying insects. One day it came up in conversation that yeah, they ultra-spray the entire downtown area. Not good, but I won’t move because of it. The window is only open about three inches but my concern is that a bird will get in here.

When I got the work done I went out for a walk and in order to have more of a purpose I went to the grocery store. If it seems like my life revolves around food, well it kinda does. I haven’t eaten ice cream for a long time so I got a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor called Late Night Snack. I will write about how I liked it when I try it.

The online gaming I do–FooPets–yes, adults like it too–has made a lot of more changes and the members are freaking out in the forums. Admittedly the company doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing and it is chaotic and annoying. But when you read the posts about how distraught the members are and then realize what all is going on in the world, it’s kind of bizarre. I guess people need their outlets and everyone is at different stages of growth.

Another thing that has got my attention is the Bob Parsons drama. I like to read books about the changes in business, customer service, the economy and entrepreneurial stuff. I don’t blog about it because I have nothing to add and I don’t really do anything with it now. Of the books that talk about domain names, many mention GoDaddy. I don’t see the ads on t.v. but have looked at the video blogs by Bob Parsons, which actually make sense although the style is quite different.

Anyway, Mr. Parsons seems to have had quite a life and has just made a PR error. I’m not judging him at all here, my point is how things can change suddenly. It seems he used to be in the military. There are companies who take people on big game hunts and this had to do with Zimbabwe and a “problem elephant” that had been trampling the crops of a starving village–people who get little protein. Whatever the justification or not, Bob shot the elephant and posted a video blog of it. It also shows the natives slaughtering it to a soundtrack of heavy metal music. Wow. People are name-calling and also going to the trouble of moving their web-hosting and other accounts. This isn’t going away.

I guess my point with this is that it’s important to be aware and make conscious decisions. We all need to be paying attention to upgrading our perceptions and to give thought to what we’re demonstrating in the world.

Bones

There are so many things to pay attention to in this life that I don’t really think about my bones often. There’s a tendency to consider them as a petrified substance. They are actually minerals in a collagen matrix. The minerals give bones density and rigidity. When there aren’t enough minerals in the diet, the body will use heavy metals. This makes the toxic metals very challenging to remove from the body.

The collagen gives the bones flexibility. There are new things being discovered about the body all the time. There is also a lot of disagreement about facts and opinions regarding this. Who to believe? Some of the information contradicts what we were told a few years or decades ago.

The suggestion has often been to take calcium, either in supplement form or making sure there’s a lot in the diet. Calcium supplements can clog arteries, contribute to kidney stones and other health issues.

Vitamin D from sunshine and vitamin K from leafy greens and making sure there are enough minerals in our diets are what’s really needed to help build strong bones. Weight bearing exercises are important also.

In a few minutes it’s Earth Hour here. Not only will I have the lights off but I’m shutting down the electronics too.

Edwardian Farm

A few months ago, I greatly enjoyed the BBC show Victorian Farm which someone posted in videos on YouTube. The DVD’s which are available on Amazon do not play in my regions’s DVD players.

The two archeologists, Peter and Alex, and historian Ruth, lived for a year on a farm they worked as the Victorians did for a year, like a documentary/reality show. After checking back a few times, someone has now posted the episodes of Edwardian Farm which I’ve begun watching. It’s all I can do to keep from staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching more of it.

The Edwardian era in England was from about 1901 when Queen Victoria died to about 1914 while King Edward the 7th was on the throne, ending about the time of the first World War. (This was about six years before my Dad was born here in America). I’m guessing that King Edward was the grandfather of the “King’s Speech” King.

Anyway, it’s fascinating. They’ve already brought in farm animals. Ruth scrubbed the kitchen floor with a brush on her hands and knees and said that women would do that twice a day in that era. (It doesn’t sound like my ancestors would have but never mind that.)

The soil is acidic and the men hauled tons (literally) of limestone to nearby kilns to burn into quick lime to spread on the field. Much of the men’s work so far has seemed very dangerous to me. The quick lime business let off toxic carbon monoxide and if gotten wet could cause an explosion or caustic burns.

A heavy granite rock was carved into a feed trough to keep the sheep food off the ground. It was moved in a very laborious way of the times.

One of the meals that Ruth cooked was a sheep’s head soup and it was gross to see the actual head on the table and later when the soup was done. Most of the meat during the time seems to have been sold and what was left for the farmers were such as the head.

The chimney was clogged up and Alex climbed up on the roof while Peter and Ruth were helping near the stove below to unclog it. Fortunately, Alex couldn’t bring himself to use the chicken–yes, he was holding a live chicken to throw down the chimney to unclog it–and they ended up using a bunch of holly instead. Another dirty job.

Ruth spent hours out in the field cutting gorse to feed the horses. It looked rough but they stomp on it first and eat it.

This is what I remember from watching–me of the not-so-great-memory–and I will attempt to ration my enjoyment of it to make the episodes last. There’s always the chance that YouTube will shut down the account like they tend to do. While I enjoy watching, I am certain I would not want to live that lifestyle after living as I do now.

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