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January 18, 2010


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Mora Chartrand-Grant

Delicious photos! While the duck looks amazing, I found myself sighing over the vegetable sides, especially the pickled turnips and Tadaaki's rice. Your family and friends are indeed fortunate to have you in charge of the kitchen, Nancy.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Mora: The pickled turnips were very, very good. The turmeric and spice worked well against the figs and rich duck meat. Of course Tadaaki's brown rice made the plate complete. I use a method I read about in Saveur a few years ago. Cook the brown rice in a large pot of boiling water for 30 minutes, drain, return to pan, cover and let steam naturally (with no heat) for 20 minutes. Salt, aerate and serve. Oh, and if you don't have David Tanis' a platter of figs, I'd get it. His food stories are enough to make you jump on a plane.

Christopher's apps are done and now it's a matter of crossing our fingers. I'll keep you posted about our Portland plans. In the meantime, I keep thinking about that cappuccino at Coffeehouse Northwest. My nephew reminded me that half & half complements coffee better than whole milk (I think I switched to milk because we don't have half & half in Japan). I've been adding a dollop of the grass-fed cow cream to my milk before heating it up in the morning and the Peet's is hitting the spot (though still "jonesing" for that perfect cappuccino). Nancy

Brad Fisher

Nancy, your duck plucking story reminded me of my first (and only) plucking experience -- a home-grown (I suppose the proper term today would be 'free range') Rhode Island Red. Sadly, after all the work and fuss, it turned out to be the scrawniest bird that ever graced our table. We went back to Safeway after that. That was Kenwood, California, a couple of years before Stanford and the Eating Clubs. (Now THAT was food! Kidding, of course, except for Martha's cinnamon rolls.)

Your blog is a great discovery. I spent a year in Tokyo after college, teaching English, and I still miss Japan. Thanks for sharing.

All the best ...

Brad '76

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Brad: It's amazing how many people I come across (in various places in my life) have spent time in Japan and remember it fondly. Well, there is no reason not to. It may drive us crazy periodically, but there is a lot to love about this country. How did you find me? Sally & Craig...Heidi? Were you in Arcos? Is that Martha Hardwick who made the cinnamon rolls or one of the EC cooks? Our Johnnie May just loved to slap on the grease. Even when I was business manager junior year, I often made my own food. Though she was sick for several weeks and I had a grand old time cooking the dinners for 80 (took a few incompletes that quarter). Check out the chicken cleaning post. I bet if you tried "real" birds again and cooked them right, you'd be rethinking the Safeway route. Though perhaps you already have. I recommend Mary's chicken in the frozen section of California Sun on California Ave if you're still in PA.

Thanks for reading, I'll put you on the email announcement. --Nancy

Brad Fisher

The Internet being what it is, ditto my short-term memory, I've already forgotten how I found you ... it was either through the Alumni mag or through some auto-generated Facebook or LinkedIn thing. My long-term memory may be not so good either: I thought the Arcos cook was named Martha, but you're right. Maybe Martha was the Tigre cook, and the cinnamon rolls came from there. I managed Cuadro and cooked short order on Sundays, but made sure I was not far from the Tigre kitchen when the rolls were cooking. By the way, I am indeed in PA, but it's Pennsylvania, not Palo Alto -- Pittsburgh to be exact.


i love duck, it's definitely a special occasion food, though. yours looks delicious.


Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Naimah: I agree that duck is a special occasion food. I look forward to eating it every year at Christmas and occasionally in California if it comes up on the prix fixe menu. Otherwise, I tend not to order it. It's that anticipation that really gets you. Still don't love the plucking, but I'm going to try the kill and pluck method next year (with younger ducks). Nancy

preeva tramiel

Hi, Nancy,
Did I tell you I went to a farm, and plucked my own chickens in December?
Because of kashrut, we did not do the hot water bath, but we were cautioned to get to the chickens as soon as possible after they bled out, because when they are warm the feathers come out more easily.
We were also told to pluck the wings and legs first, as they are hardest to do, and work inward from there.

Reading about your chicken plucking experience prepared me. I caught the chickens (free range, pasture fed, but in little moveable coops I had to crawl into) myself. There were no chicken lice, which I expected. The farmer showed us how he plucked his chickens. He dunked the slaughtered chickens in a big pot of hot water, then put them in a vibrating drum with rubber fingers. The fingers cleaned the chickens completely in a few minutes.

Knowing this, I think you should either borrow time on such a gizmo, or let the duck guy use his and buy the ducks plucked.

Rodney Fong

Nancy and Brad - Martha was the cook at Cuadro, and I remember her fondly, as much as Johnnie Mae, having spent time in both Cuadro and Los Arcos. Nice to see you posting here, Brad. I still remember our trip to Yosemite with Scooter, Tim, Chuck, Amy and Becky. Somewhere I still have a photo of you juggling axes.


I feel your feather pulling pain on those Muscovy! I do believe, however, that plucking immediately and using a scalder makes the process easier - back feathers and wing feathers not withstanding.

I would really like to know how you dispatch yours. They're such strong birds that I'm unable to successfully use the cone method as I do with my chickens and mallard ducks.


Farmrgirl: This year (as it turned out) we couldn't replenish our duck population with chicks in the spring (long story), so we ended up ordering mallard ducks from the duck farmer. He killed, plucked, cleaned and butchered them for us (though in a bit of miscommunication deboned the thighs...).

But generally I agree on the plucking immediately as I can see the differences in our chickens, though do not agree on the hot water bath. I have found it does not make the feathers come off any easier, plus it makes the birds smell and the feathers slippery. So I prefer the dry pluck method. These ducks were just too old and with age they become harder and harder to pluck. Plus, I find the Muscovy ducks give up their feathers reluctantly in any case.

As for dispatching...I've done it rarely and only under my husband's watchful eye, but basically it's a quick cut right under the cheek bone or whatever bone that is called toward the top of the neck.

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