Introducing Island Ducks!

12lbs of duck in a box!

Our newest addition to the bird family! Ducks!

I posted this on Facebook over a month ago when we first acquired our latest birds, but was hesitant to write a post about them until the initial “adjustment” period for our new four feathered friends. We’ve given them half of the clay floored first floor in the towered dome in progress for the past month. We were told by the lady who sold them to us to keep them penned in for a month to 5 weeks. So we provided them with all the things they could need for comfort and safety and counted the days until we could open the door for them to venture out into the wilderness again. The reason for the “captivity” period, for those unfamiliar with ducks, unlike chickens, ducks will just go back to where they were before… Especially when it’s basically across the street (mangroves in our case). We learned this the first time we left the door open on day 1 of having them here.

In order to ingratiate myself on the ducks, daily, I fed them fresh cracked oysters and mussels. Within a few days they started eating from my hand, mobbing me more like it, and quickly grew to know me as the food bringer. After about 4 weeks two adventurous birds decided to test out their ability to fly and got up to the open second floor, but just sat there, mildly perplexed it seemed. At that time we felt it would be okay to open the door of their captivity and see what they’d do. I continued feeding them as usual, several times a day and they seemed content to just stay put. Until today! Finally they climbed their wooden ramp to freedom and wandered around the island, staying close to the “nest.” Then two ran back into the safety of the first floor space when J walked by, the other two just scurried away a bit, but otherwise didn’t seem really bothered. A few moments after the girls and I came to feed them the same pair took to flight and soared out over the mangroves landing with a neat splash into canal right in front of the houseboat. They were like happy children let out to play after many days cooped up inside. It was a pure delight to watch them.

Shortly after they ventured into the mangroves and I was certain never to be heard from again, fearing they would not return. But as I called out food time a hour or so later (it was evening at this point) I saw them waddling back to the island wall, looking for a way to get back in. I continued calling and guiding them with my sounds.. And eventually both ducks successfully returned to the coop and the company of their less adventurous fellows. It was amazing and such a relief to me.

So it’s official! We’re now proud parents of a flock of ducks. Three hens/ducks and one drake! I would like you to meet…

Duckorama (J-Me’s drake, white with light grey covering head and back)

Glory – (AJM’s duck/hen, mostly black with shimmering purple and teal hue and some white underneath)

Duckstar (BAM’s duck/hen, white with medium gray covering head and back)

Calypso (My duck/hen, white with black (teal/purple hue))

What do we eat?

Pork raised and butchered by a local indigenous family. They charged us $1.50/lb and weighed it on a scale they brought with them. We purchased 7 lbs (skin and fat still intact!) Picture above is after I cleaned the pieces up. Will use fat and skin later. Cooked some fordinner in the slow cooker, froze the rest inthe chest freezer.

I thought it was about time to answer this question, which gets asked quite often…

What do you and your family eat?

The short answer is, food!

Okay, okay… I know you want to know the long answer… so here it goes!

Those of you who really know us, know that our goal is to create a self sufficient and sustainable food operation for our family. We didn’t come here with much, if any, experience growing/raising food in this environment. A lot of our food growing attempts have been unsuccessful, but when we have the successful moment, man it’s cool!

Since it’s basically just J doing all the building and me occasionally planting something here and there, it’s not really getting us to our goal quickly. It doesn’t mean we aren’t growing ANYTHING. It just means we’re only growing a few things and those things are doing pretty well. J has been working on the garden behind the workshop dome, adding, the top soil from the island when he’s bulldozing, and setting a small fire in it to create ash and charcoal. The girls and I help by collecting and throwing our compost (any biological food waste we have that our flock of birds won’t eat) out into the mix of soil. Some of the plants seem to be doing ok along the wharf, while others don’t like it. Also our chickens keep jumping the short walk around the island and getting into the garden and eating the edible green. Eventually we’ll get that all sorted.

In the meantime I thought I’d share what we DO eat and where it comes from. So without further ado…

Plantains brought to us and by a local neighbor. There were 83 total, he asked for $12 for the entire bunch.

Locally Grown/Collected

(by ourselves or our neighbors/local vilages within 3-5 miles of the island)

Yuca Root (grown here)

Coconuts (grown on one of our other islands, 3/4 mile away)

Coco Plums (same island as coconuts & here on this island)

Eggs (a flock of 8 mature hens, will be 9 once our new pullet grows up)

Red Striped Amaranth (grown here)

Katuk (grown here)

Lemon Grass (grown here)

Jamaican Sorel (grown here)

Mint, Basil, Sage & Oregano (Mexican & Panamanian varieties) (grown here)

Taro Root (grown by the river, where I wash laundry by hand, I dig it up on the way back)

Culantro (locally foraged, by me and my kids)

Pork (local neighbor)

Ñame Root (local village)

Plantains (local neighbor)

Bananas (local neighbor)

Oranges (local village)

Grapefruit (local village)

Fish (we catch it, fish trap coming soon!)

Coconut Oil (a local indigenous woman makes it by the gallon, it is amazing!)

Sugar Cane (grown here and on our farm property 1 mile away)

Pineapple (grown on our island here and a local neighbor)

Red striped amaranth grown on our wharf. This entire sand patch is a garden of them! Very prolific plant. Provides the leafy greens we eat.

Local Grocery House

(3 miles away, we go there by solar boat)

Flour

Rice

Pasta (spaghetti & macaroni, back up for when I don’t have time to make it from scratch)

Dry Red Kidney Beans

Potatos

Onions

Garlic

Chicken Quarters (sometimes it is locally raised, other times not, we plan to raise our own soon)

Eggs (whenever our chickens are on strike or I go egg crazy and use them all up)

Shelf stabilized milk (for homemade yogurt and putting on homemade granola)

Quick Oats

Sugar (for homemade ginger bug fermented carbonated juice & tea)

Salt

Yeast

Purchased from Town

(Bocastown, Almirante or Chiriquí Grande , all roughly 14-20 miles away. I generally make this trip once every 4-6 weeks. I share a ride with my neighbor in his panga.)

Meat (chicken breast, ground pork, beef and/or turkey, various cuts of beef & pork, fish)

Dry beans (black, pink, red kidney, lima, black eyed peas, pinto, navy, split green & yellow peas)

Canned meat (pork, beef, tuna & sardines)

Olive Oil (for homemade mayonnaise)

Ketchup (by the 5kg bag, then I refill the container)

Honey

Vinegar

Butter

Cheese

Various Nuts

Whole Rolled Oats

Peanut Butter

Prunes

Raisins

Fresh fruit & vegetables as needed but include the following:

  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Apples
  • Lettuc
  • Cabbage
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomato
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Limes

And last but not least various spices as needed.

I try whenever possible to buy, the few things we get, processed food items in bulk. This way I can just refill the containers and minimize trash that comes home. I take reusable net/nylon/recycled fiber shopping bags with me, bring several gallon size silicone reusable zip lock bags (for meat products and cheeses from the butcher), recycle containers and zip lock bags from the nuts we buy and the leave any excess packaging at the store for them to recycle.

Orange Lilies, Vincas and Baby Zucchini 

My friend E, who lives in The States, recently mailed me some lily bulbs and Vinca seeds! My sister SAL mailed us some black beauty zucchini seeds as well! Since both items arrived with our neighbor, who recently returned from The States, on Monday, I thought I’d get them all into the ground together.  Here is a picture of the spot in which I planted them.

I’m excited to see a few days later some green shoots are popping up from the lilies.

 Can’t wait to see the other plants pop up too!
Here are some of the other plants along the wharf:

The banana forest, herb and salad garden and flower garden area.

Our banana forest is producing another bunch of bananas 🍌! 

Here are some of the plants from the salad & herb garden:

Mint

Sweet Marjoram

Red striped amaranth (an edible salad leaf, eaten raw or cooked)

Seedlings of Red above 

Katuk (edible salad, raw or cooked)

Mexican Oregano 

Rosemary 🌹 

Acorn Squash

Lemon Guava 

Rue

Yay gardening! 

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Southwest Chicken Pie

I found this shredded chicken recipe last week and it was delicious!  I made a double batch, using the salsa chicken I made in the crockpot that same day,and ended up freezing half. I also made a few modifications and substituted/added ingredients I had on hand and needed to use up. Tonight I pulled out the pie crust I made recently from this piecrust recipe and decided to thaw out the chicken I saved to make a casserole pie!

Ingredients (prepwork in parentheses) 

  • 1 lbs Yuca Root or Potatoes (peeled, chopped and par-boiled)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (cooked and shredded) OR 3 cups Salsa Chicken (do not add tomato, pepper, onionor cilantro below, if using salsa chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 1 cup yogurt (strained thick)
  • 1/2 cup onion  (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup  bell pepper (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 cup tomato (chopped) optional – do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 1/2 lb cooked (or can) beans 
  • 1/2 can sweet whole corn 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dry (chopped) optional –do not add if using salsa chicken
  • 2 cup cheese, divided (shredded)
  • 1 pie crust (rolled out to fit casserole dish)

Directions 

  1. After doing all the prep work above, see parentheses next to each ingredient, put all items, except 1 cup cheese and pie crust, in stand mixer. Stir on lowest setting until ingredients are all incorporated making the filling for the casserole. Add a little water if it doesn’t resemble thick batter. Should be thick but sorta pourable.
  2. Put crust into lightly greased casserole dish, pierce with fork, press out air bubbles.
  3. Pour filling into prepared casserole pan with pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 1 hour, broil for last 10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden. 
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve.

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    Marshmallows

    I really wanted to test out my kitchenaid whisk attachment and some of the higher speeds today.  I decided what better way to do that than making homemade marshmallows for the FIRST. TIME. EVER!!  It was really easy only took 3 ingredients and the outcome was overall fantastic!! I am really enjoying my new Kitchenaid Pro Design 600 that I picked up refurbished by the manufacturer for $220 with the pour shield, spiral dough hook, whisk and cake paddle attachments.  It has held up to everything I’ve thrown in it and is making cooking so much more fun!

    Wanna make some marshmallows too?

    Marshmallow Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 (.25oz) packets unflavoured powder gelatin
    • 1 cup water

    Instructions

    1. Put 1/2 cup water in the botton of the mixer bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water, walk away.
    2. In a small saucepan pour remaining 1/2 cup water, honey & sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, then about 7-9 minutes later check the temp using a candy thermometer if you are lucky enough to have one, I am not, or use the cold water test discussed here.  Once you’ve reached correct temp of 240 degrees farenheit, remove from heat.
    3. Turn mixer on to lowest setting and slowly, pouring down the side of the bowl, add the honey mixture.  Once all the mixture is incorporated, time to crank up the speed.  Turn it up to highest speed setting (mine is 10) and let it do it’s thing while you wander around the house waiting so patiently for it to thicken up and resemble marshmallow fluff (or really really stiff frosting).  Roughly 10-15 minutes.
    4. Once it’s thickened to your liking scoop into a 13×9 pan lined with parchment paper…or if you are like me and too lazy to wash the ONLY pan you have that size in time…just spread it out on the piece of parchment paper and using your finger kinda spread it around into a rectangular shape that’s roughly 5cm high.
    5. Set aside in a safe place ,where no little fingers will try to lick it, to dry for approximately 12 hours (overnight is good too).  Cut into whatever shape makes you happy and store in a dry coolish place….or eat them…or do whatever you like to do with marshmallows.

    For storage: I dust the cut marshmallows in flour and put in an air tightish container. They should keep for about a month…assuming they last that long!!

    The KitchenAid in action:

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    Baked Crispy Fish & Potato Casserole

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds Potatos (peeled, chopped, parboiled) 
    • 2 pounds Fish Fillets 
    • 1 cup Homemade Mayonnaise (room temperature)
    • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
    • 1/4 stick (2 oz) Butter (cut into small cubes)
    • 4 tablespoons Oil (get fancy use something delicious…Olive, Coconut, Almond..live a little)
    • 8-10 round Butter Crackers (crushed, think Ritz crackers)
    • 1/4 cup sliced Almonds
    • 1 teaspoon Homemade Fish & Poultry Seasoning

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit. In a lightly greased 13×9 pan line bottom of pan with parboiled potatoes.  
      2. Over potatoes evenly place cubes of butter, drizzle 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of F&P Seasoning.
      3. Pour 1/2 cup mayonnaise over all of the potatoes, then sprinkly 1/2 a cup of cheddar cheese over the mayonnaise.
      4. In a single layer place fish fillets on top of the cheese ensuring full coverage of the lower layers.
      5. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of mayonnaise over fish fillets followed by remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
      6. In a small bowl mix crackers, almonds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon F&P seasoning until well incorporated. Generously cover the top of the cheese layer with cracker mixture, ensure that it is completely covered. Drizzle remaining oil evenly over the cracker mixture.
      7. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and fish is flaky and potatos are easily pierced with a fork.

      Serve with a simple side salad of fresh spring greens, tomatos, onions & shredded carrots, topped with one of these delicious homemade salad dressings (link coming soon!!)


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      Chiriqui Grande

      Today I went to Chiriqui Grande for some food and fabric. My neighbor drove me in his boat. He likes to leave early, usually he picks me up around 730a. The trip takes approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the weather and today we had totally calm water and brilliant blue sunny skies! It was HOT. Once I get into to town I usually stop at the little restaurant near the dock for a quick breakfast. This morning it was scrambled eggs and these little oval shaped meat filled potato pastries, they look like fingers. Ha! After breakfast I wander around the town with my list, returning often to the boat to drop things off, acquiring all kinds of items. Today was no different. My spoils included a variety of fruit, vegetables, chicken food, chicken for eating and fabrics for sewing. Overall it was a successful trip and I was able to return back home by 130 as planned after dropping off a friend of ours, who came along with me. image

      Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

      Bacon, Bananas & Blueberries???
      In muffin & loaf form? WHAT?!?!?

      Yes I did it. They were absolutely delicious.  Feel free to make some of your own. 

      Crunchy & Green Triple B Muffins

      This recipe makes approximately 24 muffins or 6 muffins and a 7″ loaf.

      Ingredients

      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/4 cup bacon grease with a bit of neutral flavored oil to top off the measuring cup
      • 2 large egg (can substitute 1/4 cup banana or applesauce for each egg to make egg-free)
      • 3/4 milk; dairy and non-dairy both work
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      • 6 to 8 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw frozen) (about 1 cup)
      • 1/2lb crispy bacon (reserve grease for oil in recipe), crumbled
      • 2 small ripe and soft bananas
      • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds
      • 1/4 sliced almonds
      • 1 whole kale leaf or handful of baby spinach

      Directions

      1. In a large bowl, mix until well combined, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, flaxseed and almonds. 
      2. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup put grease/oil, eggs, milk, vanilla, bananas and kale/spinach, using an immersion blender, puree until all ingredients are smooth. 
      3. Mix blueberries and then bacon into flour mixture. 
      4. Add liquid mixture and fold until just incorporated, do not overmix, you want the ingredients to all be moist, but a little lumpy is fine. 
      5. Scoop by the spoonful into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) or pour/scoop into loaf pan.
      6. Place in preheated (375 degrees F) oven for 15-20 minutes (6/12 cup muffin pan), 45 minutes for loaf pan.  Remove with you can insert knife/toothpick into center and remove clean and tops are golden brown.  

      Serve with butter and honey/maple syrup!

          Enjoy! 

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          Crochet Owl Eye Mask

          I started using an eye mask off and on lately since we live in an open floor plan houseboat and have different bedtimes. I have found it to help quite a bit actually! Anyway my first eye mask was a strip of felt stapled to a strip of 1″ wide elastic. I know super lazy.  Actually I came up with it one night on a spur of the moment and it definitely did the job! So I decided I wanted something a bit more… posh.  

          After looking around for ideas on the internet I found this

          That was a week ago…. 

          Yeah I get busy around here apparently. 

          Ha! 

          Anyway after an hour of diligently focusing… 

          Ok  more like a divided hour over a 3 hour period of my day…. 
          I completed one too! 

          Yay!  
          Alright. 

          Goodnight! 

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          ​Super Soft Lightly Sour Sourdough Bread (in the bread maker or not)/Dinner Rolls and Pizza Crust

          I was on the hunt for a sourdough sandwich bread that my kids would eat AND I could do practically all of it in my gazillion dollar bread maker.  I found this FANTASTIC recipe over at The Fresh Loaf.  After making it EXACTLY as TX farmer notes,  in her sandwich loaf recipe mentioned above, and it turning out SUPER,  I decided to tweak it to suit my lazy need to not measure things by weight unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. Here is the outcome of my “2 additional loaves made  already ” adventure.  
          Ingredients 
          Starter Dough

          26g fed Sourdough Starter

          44 g Whole Milk Milk

          82g  AP Flour

          Let sit at around 72 deg overnight (12 hours) 

          Final Dough 

          (in this order in the bread maker, or whatever order your bread maker calls for) 

          1 Starter Dough portion (this is the yeast) 

          4 1/4 cups Flour (AP or 1 cup WW for 1 cup AP) 

          1 Tbs Sugar

          2.5 Tbs Butter

          2 tsp Salt

          In a 2 cup Measuring Cup add the following:

          2 whole eggs

          fill up to 1.5 cup line with Whole Milk 

          Directions 

          Using a bread maker, select a 20 min dough cycle or stop the mixing at 20 minutes 

          or use a mixer with dough hooks… 

          or use your hands. 

          I’m all about equal opportunity baking.  

          Now remove a portion equivalent to the amount of starter dough you added (roughly 1 cup). Set that aside.  Take the main dough and form a ball, place into cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  Place container in fridge overnight (12 hours). 

          In the meantime for the extra dough you set aside:

          Roll your remaining dough into a thick even log and slice into 6 even pieces. Roll into balls and place on pan or in large 6 count muffin tin.  Cover and let rise for 6 hours or until each ball has almost doubled in size. (fills the muffin cup).  Bake at 350 for 15-20 min until golden brown. 

          Serve warm or store for later snack time. 

          Once the 12 hours has passed:

          Remove main dough from fridge.  You may divide it into two portions for baking ( 2 standard loaf pans or making 2 largish pizza crusts) or if baking in the bread maker don’t divide it (round it to fit nicely in the bread machine pan). 

          For bread loaf(ves) (not pizza crust) 
          Put main dough (whole) into pan,  cover and set aside for 6-8 hours until it has reached the top of the pan edge… maybe a tad bit higher if you are so inclined. I bake it at the pan edge measurement.

          Bread Machine Baking:

          When appropriate height is reached, using bake only function, select 45 minutes and press start. When finished remove and let cool on rack for an hour or 3.

          Oven baking:

          Place shaped loafs into pans and bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 45 minutes until tops are what ever shade of brown you desire. Approximately 45 minutes give or take.
          Pizza crust:

          Take one half or the main dough and roll out to desired shape and thickness. 

          Let rest for about 1-3 hours….basically we’re going for slightly puffy.  

          Punch it down if it gets out of hand. 

          Sourdough is slow and forgiving… 

          …  in my experience. 

          Which is why you’re reading this right?? 

          Moving… on. 

          Top with whatever you enjoy on your pizza and bake it!  

          You may bake it in a preheated oven (350 degrees) or  in a wood burning pizza oven or over a campfire on a flat stone… I won’t judge. 

          Cook it until it looks golden brown around the edges (for 20 minutes or so) … you may find it desirable to use a pizza stone or to put cornmeal on the bottom for extra fanciness. 

          I don’t…  but you might.. and that’s why we’re called INDIVIDUALS. 😂

          Whatever you do,  enjoy gobbling it up at the very least!

          You’re welcome. 

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