Why do I even bother cleaning my house? Seriously? I can meticulously scrub/dust/vacuum/mop/organize, and within seconds, the house is a nasty, sticky, furry, cluttered den of clusterfuckery. Sometimes, this happens WHILE I’m physically cleaning. Like I’ll clean the entertainment center, and as I am putting the last Xbox controller in its place, I’ll notice fresh smears of banana on the television screen. With dog hair stuck to it. And all of the toys are scattered hither and thither throughout the downstairs, even though Emmett has an ENTIRE PLAYROOM to himself. With brightly colored foam flooring, paintings of robots, wall transfers of fun shapes and clouds, and brightly colored plexiglass toy boxes filled to the brim with all of the puzzle pieces that the dog hasn’t eaten and/or regurgitated.
And why is all of his stuff so friggin sticky?? I have searched that playroom, with its sweet, wooden Melissa and Doug playthings, and nowhere have I located his Little Tykes My First Maple Syrup Refinery. And yet, everything he owns is sticky. And most of it smells like maple syrup. It’s like he’s starring in his own version of the hit Broadway play “Emmett and the Canadian Whorehouse Mystery.”
FML. I just want cleanliness and order. A little bit of it. For more then 11 minutes at a time. Failing that, I want to turn our house into a duplex. The pets and kid can have one half of it, and they can shed fur and crumbs and viscous liquids wherever they please and clean it up only when one of them gets old enough to be embarrassed by it. Meanwhile, I’ll live in the sparsely furnished, but perfectly clean half. And there will be a one-way intercom so I can occasionally still bark “Eat your vegetables, there are starving children in parts of Iowa!” and “Pull up your pants, this isn’t a prison!” whenever I need to feel parenty.
When it all just gets to be too much, and I cannot wash one more dish, fold one more tiny pair of overalls, pluck one more cat whisker off of Emmett’s half-eaten, petrified-then-found-again-mmm-delicious granola bar…well, I turn to clean eating and aesthetically pleasing foods.
Last night’s dinner shows how near I am to making them all live in the backyard.
- 1 full duck breast (it’s worth it to get good duck from Hudson Valley Foie Gras)
- 2 C wild rice mix (I use the mix from Costco that is organic and contains wild rice, brown basmati, etc)
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, diced (I used red because it was $.99 at WhoFo, and I include the stems)
- 0.5 C shelled pistachios
- .5 C orange juice (fresh is best, but I didn’t have it so I used the stuff we keep on hand for mixers)
- .25 C decent balsamic vinager
- 2 T honey
- 1 T dijon mustard
- 1 T olive oil
- In a rice cooker, or stovetop, prepare your wild rice mix according to package directions
- Allow it to cool to a warm-ish temperature while you cook your duck
- Score the fat on the duck breast in a crosshatch pattern and season both sides with kosher salt
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, place the duck breasts fat-side down
- Cook (gently) until the fat has rendered. There will be about 1.5 C of it.
- Turn the duck over and sear the meaty side until medium rare (the center temp will be around 130F)
- Remove the duck from the pan and set on a cutting board to rest.
- Drain the fat into a metal bowl and save it for making duck fat fries or confit or ANYTHING
- In the same pan from which you just drained the fat, saute the chard for a minute or two to wilt it.
- Season the chard and rice with salt and pepper
- Toss the rice, chard, and pistachios with orange vinaigrette and top with sliced duck breast
- Whisk it all together and season with salt and pepper. Whatever you don’t use on the duck salad can be saved for future use or to marinate some chicken
The redeeming qualities of this salad are innumerable. It’s delicious, first and foremost. The duck just tastes like a really good, ducky steak, except that the crispy, scored fat on top is more like really good bacon. The wild rice is nutty and earthy and chewy, and marries wonderfully with the duck. The chard is a superfood and so healthy and seasonally appropriate, plus it’s pretty and adds a balancing bitterness to the sweet tang of the vinaigrette.
The whole dish is a winner, and once all of that duck fat is rendered out, the whole dish is also chock full of lean protein, whole grains, and green vegetables. With pistachios for crunch and heart-healthy fats.
Isn’t it awesome when really nutritious food is also delicious and pretty and clean and not sticky and served on a plate instead of your television screen?