Duck Stock


When we processed our last round of ducks we decided to piece them out (breasts, legs, wings) and save the carcasses for stock. Today was the Detroit Lions bye week, so I took the opportunity to make duck stock.


The first step was to coat the bones with canola oil and salt. I then roasted them for an hour at 400 degrees. I used 6 the bodies and necks of 6 ducks.

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After roasting, I put the bones in a very large stock pot and covered them with water. I simmered the bones for about 3 hours.


While the bones were simmering, I tossed chopped onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the duck fat and roasted the veggies in the oven for 45 minutes. After roasting, I added a few cups of water to scrape up the bits stuck to the pan.


Next, I stirred everything together, along with sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and pepper. I cooked this for another 2 hours.


Once cooked, I removed the bones and strained out the veggies and herbs. I used paper towels in a sieve, replacing the paper towels several times.

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After straining, I simmered the stock for a while longer, concentrating the flavor.


Finally, I put the stock in canning jars, let them cool a bit, and put them in the freezer. I don’t have a pressure canner, which is why I did not can the stock. I ended up with 10 pints!

I used the recipe from Hank Shaw’s “Duck Duck Goose” as a guideline.




The Other Muhly


In Austin, Gulf Muhly gets all the love, and for good reason. The waves of fuchsia seed heads are our best attempt at fall color. They are planted in groupings all around town, and you can’t help but take notice.

A few years ago, I purchased several Gulf Muhlys, and picked up a Big Muhly at the same time. This is an absolutely stunning grass as well, and shouldn’t be forgotten for its more popular sibling.

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Big Muhly Seedheads

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Gulf Muhly Seedheads


In Austin, Hatch Chiles have their own season. Each August our main grocery store, HEB, is filled with the smell of roasting chiles. I always buy several pound, use a bunch right away and freeze the rest to get me through the year. One of my favorite dishes is Hatch Chile Walnut Pesto.


I start with walnuts and garlic.


In go the chiles, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan.


Blend it all together in the food processor.


We roast several ducks at a time and then freeze them in small packages for easy use. I just took a package of frozen smoked duck and heated it in the water as it came to a boil.


Boil the pasta, making sure to reserve a small amount of the boiling water to add to the pesto when mixing in with the pasta.



Bloom Day 9/16


Oxblood Lily


Ruby Crystal Grass


Ruby Crystal Grass


Tropical Sage




Carl … just because

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This garden was something to behold. It was our last garden on the tour, and we drove all well into Wisconsin for this beauty. After arriving the gardener and artist, DeRaad, insisted that we all take a tour. We split into two groups and I chose to DeRaad’s group and stayed close to the front, very interested to hear her story and the inspiration behind her art.


This one-armed sculpture was DeRaad’s first. She said that you could easily tell her early figures by the hand-drawn face, since the self-taught sculptor had not yet learned how to craft facial features. At some point a branch fell and broke snapped the arm from this fellow. She creatively dealt with the problem.

I then asked the artist what inspired her to begin mosaics and sculpting. She said that potters previously resided in the 1800 farmhouse and flawed pottery had been broken against the trees. When she found the broken pieces she decided to do something with them, and her mosaic work began.

The garden was a walk through time, marked by these incredible arches, the last one I managed to catch my friend Diana (from SharingNaturesGarden).

DeRaad also had an assortment of colorful benches. She showed us how to make benches, specifically how to make them strong enough to support 20 people. She insisted that it is so easy, and we all can do it. I’m a little skeptical!

The artist clearly is fascinated with birds. Avian sculptures from flamingos to chickens to woodpeckers dotted the landscape.


These birds are in the early stage. She is planning to add them to a bench she’s working on.


This very personal sculpture was created in honor of her son. DeRaad said her son has always been a bit of a daredevil and has been near death several times. On one of these occasions, when she wasn’t sure if he’d pull through, she poured her heart into her work.


This stunning farmhouse actually belongs to the neighbors. How lucky to have such an incredible backdrop.

Finishing off with a few more favorites.





Living in Austin and growing up in Phoenix, I had never been exposed to hostas. My first introduction was the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, OR two years ago. I immediately fell in love. If I didn’t have several Austinites convincing me that they just won’t grow here, I would have wasted countless dollars by now, purchasing and repurchasing these lush, leafy beauties.


I had the pleasure of attending the 9th Annual Garden Bloggers Fling this month. Although I suffered with a stomach bug for a good chunk of the trip , I was still able to enjoy some  beautiful gardens, visit with some incredible people, and take a ton of photos. I missed one day and had to take it easy the other two, but I’ll still post about some of my favorite gardens.


The first garden we visited was Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Eloise Butler was a teacher near the turn of the century and upon her death donated this beautiful garden. Those caring for the garden have done a great job of making it look completely natural and native.

Many of the wildflowers in the prairie garden were similar to what we have in Austin. The big difference was the height. Where our plants struggle with our lack of rain, and exist as small shrubs, in Minneapolis these same flowers towered over us. There were times you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of you.

After the prairie garden, we had the chance to stroll through the woodland garden. Here they let fallen trees lie in place, providing habitats for wildlife. I also couldn’t help but snap a picture of the geometric structure on this bridge.