On-call evenings

January 27, 2011

I can pinpoint my favorite moment of all time.

It was when I turned in my pager at the end of my residency.

I was thrilled to be finished with my on-call time. True, I was still in the beginning of my PhD research. I had lots of long days and late nights ahead of me. Put planned long days and late nights.

No more 2 am phone calls with cows in labor or colicky horses! Hooray!

Then I got married.

To a veterinarian.

To a large animal vet.

Who takes emergency calls.

(In case you forgot, my residency was in large animal medicine.)

Can you guess what this means? It means that I often get asked to help with emergencies. Small and large.

Hm. I meant small animal and large animal emergencies. But I suppose there are also emergencies that are small or large as well.  I help with them all!

One night I helped with a Labrador puppy who was playing too rough with siblings and got his eyes proptosed. (Kind of gross. It was before I was blogging, and have no photo. Know what a pug looks like all the time – kind of surprised? It’s like that, but more pronounced.)

I have helped with a few emergency C-sections on dogs.

I have helped with an emergency C-section on our own cows, and emergency care of our sick calves.

Last night I helped with a Pygmy goat C-section. On the tailgate of the vet truck. At 10:00pm. (At least it wasn’t 2:00 am!)

Although I do not have a pager, I still have a husband!

Bring on the emergencies!!

Before midnight, please.


Mighty Duck

January 21, 2011


It didn’t take me too long to decide what recipe to use for Ott, A’s Iron Chef Duck Challenge. Of course, I would use a recipe from Alton Brown! I give you… Mighty Duck!

First, start with a freshly quartered duck.quarter duck

Gather your brine ingredients…brine ingredients 2

And combine 2 cups of orange-pineapple juice, 1/2 cup salt, 15 black peppercorns, and 4 smashed garlic cloves. Stir like crazy to dissolve the salt. (AB recommends a bunch of fresh thyme as well. I didn’t have fresh, but I added some dried thyme instead.)

Put the duck quarters in a zip-top bag…duck in bag

And pour the brine over the duck. Press the air out of the bag, and seal. Brine in the refrigerator for 2 – 2.5 hours.

duck in brineBoil 1.5-2 inches of water in a large pot.boil water

Put a colander on top of the boiling water, and lay the duck pieces in the colander. AB says to not overlap the duck pieces. I was just able to get everything to fit.duck in colander

Cover, and steam the duck for 45 minutes.steaming duck

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Put a cast iron skillet in the oven to heat. (My oven takes almost 20 minutes to get to 475. Don’t forget to turn this on well ahead of time!)cast iron

Oh, I don’t have a cast iron skillet. And our cookware is only rated to 450 degrees. So I pulled out the cast iron Dutch oven. It worked, just slip the legs between the grates!

Okay, so when the duck is done steaming…finished steaming

Put the legs, skin side down, in the hot cast iron skillet Dutch oven and roast at 475 degrees for 10 minutes.legs in oven

Then, add the breasts, skin side down, and roast for another 7 minutes.breast in oven

You’re looking for the meat to be a mahogany-brown color, and the skin to be nice a crispy.done duck

I could have cooked this for a few minutes longer, but it was late and we were hungry. So the skin wasn’t as crispy as it could have been. But it was good!

AB recommends cooking some shallots and chard in the duck fat for a few minutes. I didn’t have any chard, but I did have some kale, so I threw that in with the shallots, over low heat, tossing frequently, just until the kale turned bright green and tender. Well, as tender as kale gets, anyway.

We ate the duck with kale, brown rice, mango slices, and citrus-glazed parsnips. We had so much food, it was like Thanksgiving!

Printable recipe card:mighty duck recipe card

Now I have these extra duck bones…  From Mess Hall To Bistro has a recipe for Duck Soup I just might have to try!

Go, try some duck!

Oh, Duck.

January 21, 2011

This is one of those things I never thought I would do. I quartered a duck. I intended to buy duck breasts, but my grocery store only had whole duck. So I bought one. And I found a new recipe. And I broke it down.

The story follows…

First, buy a duck. Mine is a 6-pound beauty.Maple Leaf Farm duck

Take it out of the package, take out the giblets, rinse it off, yada yada. You know this drill. (Alton Brown also says to take out the pop-up timer. No pop-up timer in Maple Leaf Farms duck! Yay, Maple Leaf!)

Assemble your tools. Mine included: cutting board, kitchen shears, really big knife, and my cheat sheet.whole duck

Using your kitchen shears, cut off the wings.no wings

Pull that big flap of neck skin out of the way. I just cut it off. Then, with your kitchen shears, cut down either side of the backbone, starting from the neck and working your way back. Take out the backbone.no backbone

Flip the duck over, breast side up.flat duck

Cut right down the middle of the breast bone, which gives you two halves of a duck.half duck

Separate the leg from the breast by making a cut between the top of the leg and the bottom of the breast. (The division is pretty easy to see.)separate leg

Voila, quartered duck!quarter duck

This duck is getting ready to go into a brine, and my buddy Alton Brown says to make some slits in the skin before it goes in the brine. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure AB knows what he’s talking about. So I did it. (I think it has to do with how thick the skin is, compared with a chicken or a turkey.)slit skin

Then I put the duck in a brine in a bag. Come back later to see what that’s all about!DSCN1479

Uh oh…

January 20, 2011

Martin stole my chair ages ago.DSC_0015

There was no sitting on this chair until I cleaned it off.martin chair 3

Today, I decided to reclaim my chair.  So I busted out the vacuum and went to work.martin chair after 2

While I was vacuuming, I noticed this. water stain 3

Oh yeah, there’s a “water” stain on the cushions.water stain 4

Anyone who has a cat in the house, specifically a male cat in the house, specifically four cats in the house, knows what I thought this stain was at first.

Looking carefully, there are at least 3 different overlapping stains.  Even a worse omen for the furry boys.

But, it didn’t smell like male cat pee. Or old cat pee. Or cat pee in general.

So I looked up.

Damn.ceiling 1 

Oh yes. A wet spot on the ceiling.ceiling 3

Not cat pee. Roof pee.ceiling 4 

Water, leaking through our roof.ceiling 6

It’s an area about 7 feet by 2 feet. And yes, it’s still damp.

Good thing it’s snowing instead of raining today! Honey, please come home soon!

It’s Baby Time!

January 17, 2011

No, not for me.  For our cows.calf 1F01-1We had our first calf born on Friday!  This cow actually wasn’t due until 1/22, based on her artificial insemination breeding date, but the calf is happy, so we’re not complaining!

I could swear that I blogged about doing AI on 15 cows at midnight once, but I can’t find that post for the life of me.  I’ll just have to try again this year.

Anyway.  New babies!  We leave our Angus cows to have their babies (calve) outside in their pasture, as long as their are no problems.  Once the calves are born, we bring them inside for a few days, especially when it’s cold and rainy.  The newborn kiddos (and their moms) appreciate the clean, dry barn.

While John was setting up the gates so we could move the momma cow, I set up their new bed.  If there’s one farm chore I know how to do, it’s make fluffy beds for babies!  calf bed Um, that’s animal babies.  Specifically, large animal babies.  You know, like horse and cow babies.calf 1F01-3Right.

So, we got our scale set up to weigh the little rug rat (and tested it out on John).John scaleWe checked to see if baby is a boy or a girl (girl, heifer), and to make sure her umbilicus (belly button) looked good (it did), and we weighed the monster (60 pounds).  Then she got ear tags before we gave her back to momma.calf 1F01-4Feisty little thing!  She threw me to the ground at one point!  I am out of practice wrestling with 60 pound calves.  But we like them feisty – means they’re healthy!

And I’ll have a lot of practice…  we had our second calf on Saturday (61 pound heifer), have four more due on 1/22, and 3 more about a month later!

Babies are way fun and super cute.  Animal babies.  Cow babies.  Adorable.


January 14, 2011

One of the many things I saw (that I never expected to see) in Atlanta last week was duck on the menu!  Not just once, but at most restaurants I went to.  Now, maybe I’ve lived in Southern Indiana too long, but duck is just not something I expect to see on menus!


I met up with two blogging buddies, Leah and Katie.  As much as it’s great keeping up on the blogs, there’s just something about some actual face-to-face time that is so much better!

We met for a late dinner at Prime Meridian in the Omni Hotel in Atlanta.  Way fancier than the places I usually go. 

I did not cook this duck.  I take no credit.  But I did eat it.  And it was good.


I also could not find exactly what this dish was called.  Suffice to say, it was GOOD.  Sliced duck breast with a sweet/tangy sauce, served over brown and wild rice with sliced mango.  Yum.

The duck, although the cell-phone picture doesn’t show it very well, was cooked to about how I would expect a medium steak.  A bit pink in the center, but warm and tender all the way through.  In fact, it tasted more like steak than like chicken.  (But really, it tasted like duck.)

Divine.  And I will have more soon.  I made a duck for Thanksgiving once, instead of a turkey…  Who says duck is only for special occasions?