Iron Chef Duck

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When a duck attacks you, revenge may be a dish best served cold, but as we discovered at the (pre-organised) Iron Chef Duck, it is also equally good warm, hot and straight off the bbq.  Iron Chef Duck was, as one would imagine, a day of magnificent food.

We started with James’ duck entrees on crispy wontons with plum jam, Rachel’s delicious duck wontons and fabulous smoked duck spring rolls.





From there we moved to an enormous tableau of main courses:

Jasmin’s duck salad of walnuts and red onion and pomegranate.

Duck, pork and basil ravioli with porcini mushrooms, lovingly hand-rolled by Jasmin.

Catherine and Nick’s duck pate.

Steve’s fabulous bbq-ed duck with figs accompanied by a pilaf.

Rachel’s duck breast salad.

Andrew’s duck green curry.

Jasmin’s duck fat roasted potatoes.

After all that food there was a pause for eating, palate cleansing grand marnier flavoured jelly shots and a bit of back yard soccer (in which the adults didn’t seem to understand they didn’t need to totally dominate the 4 yr olds to maintain their masculinity).





It was then time to continue with the savoury dishes.

Sadly, my black satin duck didn’t have long enough in the fridge to jelly-ify properly, but still tasted pretty yum.

And these tasty little morsels Nick whipped up of duck and grapefruit or orange also tasted just grand.

This seems like a lot of food. It was. But we made a fairly good go at devouring most of it.

We then staggered on to dessert. Pound cake which I made with half a dozen duck eggs and duck egg Portuguese tarts created by Rachel. It must be noted that duck eggs create fabulously yellow desserts.

After all of that we could eat no more, but did manage to keep drinking for some time…All in all, duck was the winner – or rather, loser – of the afternoon.

Art show

Time again for the Turner Primary School art show. Sebastian, Jude and I went alone to inspect their works of art and those of others.

As I have mentioned (a long time ago) previously, I think the way Turner do their art show is pretty cool, and the children’s work looks great. There is also a real sense of achievement in seeing their work displayed.

Sebastian’s was a picture of Uluru, done as part of their “are we there yet” unit about Australia.

Jude’s was off a space man on a planet – part of their “spinning in space” unit.

While Jude and Sebastian got to practice their “life drawing” of a grown up model dressed as a viking, I got to catch up with a couple of other parents I hadn’t seen in a while. The boys had fun and the art was lovely. It is particularly nice that the boys really appreciate the efforts and art of others – they were both quite taken with the pottery of the 5/6s.

A very enjoyable was to see the kids’ efforts appreciated.

When ducks attack…

It is spring time in Canberra. Around the lake and the creek that runs through ANU, there are ducklings and cygnets and swamp fowl chicks everywhere. Families of birds happily feeding on bugs and whatever else they finding, stomping all over the place.

Early yesterday as I walked to childcare to collect my bike-with-the-stuffed-chain (a whole other story), I wander bunch a duck family group with a bunch of duckings and the mother duck hissed at me. I thought this was rather endearing – defending its chicks and all that – so I made sure I maintained a respectful distance.

This morning I rode past the same spot on my way down to the lake. The baby ducks weren’t there. But I saw some cygnets and the black fluff balls with long legs that are the moorhen chicks as I rode along the lake foreshore and past the museum. And then, ahead next to the bike path, was a family of ducks. As I got near, the mother duck started hissing and running toward the bike. I pulled slightly off the path of the other side to avoid hitting here then BANG – she flew up and pecked my helmet. A duck launching itself at your head is a fairly weighty and rather freaky thing. I must admit that words of startlement left my mouth.

I never in a million years would have predicted that my helmet would protect me from duck attack.

James suggested that perhaps it was a representative of the Duck Mafia who are aware that tomorrow is – Iron Chef Duck! Fellow participants, beware of the ducks.

Tadpole hunters

After an afternoon of hunting bugs in the garden, the boys decided we needed to make a trip to the little wetlands near the O’Connor shops to hunt for more bugs, or possibly even tadpoles.

Dropping bread into the water led to the discovery that indeed there were tadpoles – or possibly tiny tiny fish – about. It also attracted this family, to Zachary’s delight.

The it was the patient job of trying to catch something, using a yoghurt container, a jar and bread. Mostly this involved luring a whole bunch of swimming types over, then quickly dragging the yoghurt container through the water. Alas, time and time again the creatures were faster than Sebastian.

Eventually, Zachary’s concentration on the whole catching creatures ran out and he retired to the park to play.

That is paint on Zac’s cheek, by the way.

The tadpole hunters, however, persisted. And persisted. And tried different tactics. For nearly an hour.

Finally – excitement and joy and – the yoghurt container came up with an occupant!

A tiny little fish. And there was much rejoicing.

So the boys learnt that persistence and patience pays off and the fish learnt that it really needs to be a lot faster!

Solar system mnemonics

This term at school the boys have been doing “spinning in space” as a special inquiry unit. Sebastian’s class was providing the presentation at school assembly on this, and as it was a slightly quieter day at work, I was able to slip out to go along.

Here is Jude with his friend Tessa.

Assembly was sweet as usual. We all sang the national anthem, the kids recited the school pledge thing and the junior school band played – we managed to jsut recognise When the Saints Come Marching In.

Here you can see Jude in his yellow hat doing the “Turner wave”. Instead of the noise of clapping and cheering, the children wave both their hands in the air to show their appreciation of the performance or congratulations and so forth. You can probably also spot Sebastian in that photo.

Then it was time for the solar system presentations. You have to love a live action demonstration of the sun earth and moon interacting as children turn in circles while walking around each other. And the mnemonics…

Sebastian’s was a little different to most which seemed to include”my very energetic/excited monkey…” a lot. And so, it was:

Mr Vance Edwards mixed jam soup under Neptune!

Port Douglas

So after about 6 weeks or so of non stop legislation I got to take my mind off it with five days away at Port Douglas where James was giving a paper and chairing a session at the Sports Medicine Australia conference. The conference was at the Sheraton Mirage which was where we stayed. The Mirage has certainly a little touch of faded splendour about it, and the peachy-pink baths and toilets reveal something of its period beginnings. But Pixie Skase’s monument to indulgence and opulence does still hold its charms – and the Sheraton-ness of it means the beds are enormous and comfy. The whole lagoon set up around the rooms is fabulous – and there is so much swimming space that I never felt crowded, and mostly got to enjoy the lovely solitude of floating about in a big empty pool-lagoon thing.

But the food and drinks there were shockingly over-priced, and not that impressive.

Anyway, above and below are the views from the little balcony off our room. Very nice.

So we did all the things that you are expected to do while in a tropical paradise – swam, lazed by the pools, made with the cheesy and had cocktails at the swim up bar, ate and drank at fabulous place – the best was the Nautilus. All outside, the atmosphere was lovely and the palms were lit to look beautiful, and the food was fabulous. Another good one was Finz where James and I shared their fabulous seafood tower which included bugs and lobster and seared tuna and prawns and fish and on and on.

We also went to the rainforest..








This was Mossman Gorge – we didn’t make it all the way up to the Daintree proper, but had a nice wander about at Mossman – until mosquitos started to attack James and we returned to the hotel…and the pool.

We also spent a whole day out on the reef snorkelling…

These were the sharks they fed for us before we went out into the water for the first time. Never fear, while a couple of metres long, these are reef sharks and unlikely to consider us fit for consumption.

The snorkelling was much fun – the ride out to the reef was a bit bumpy and the poor pregnant woman on the trip vomited most of the way out and then for the last half hour of the trip back. We visited three different spots on the reef which were all varied and interesting. We didn’t manage to spot a turtle, but I did have a shark swim under me, and we saw many many fish. I became one with the zebra fish who welcomed me into their school – or perhaps just thought my hair was seaweed containing something yummy…

Me in snorkelling mode and below, this is how fabulous my hair looks after at least three hours in the water and several more hours of wind. Not good.

While North Queensland at this time of the year is obviously constructed to test one’s moral resolve – beautiful beaches, warm weather, horrible life-threatening stingers to get you if you give in to temptation and go in – it was nonetheless compulsory to go for a walk on the beach.






So the break was lovely, the pool was fantastic and it was lovely for James and I to have some time to hang out after an extremely busy few months for both of us. Now it is back to the final push until Christmas, and two weeks on Kangaroo Island with small boys.

Not like other people

At the supermarket today, Jude suggested that lollies should have an additional price added to them so that people wouldn’t buy them because they are bad for you.

Thus ensued a long conversation about price motivation and behaviour and unintended consequences and the need for both education as well as price point increases in order to motivate long term behavioural change. We discussed what might happen if people continued to buy lollies when they were more expense, and that this might result in negative consequences. We examined the situation with cigarette prices and decided that clearly, to achieve effective public health outcomes, it is not possible to rely on a single approach, particularly one as crude as increased prices. Then we looked at some pictures of mangos.

This was while we were waiting for the checkout.

Sometimes I realise I am Not Like Other People.