Succulent braised duck legs with crisp skin and tender vegetables. This might be one of my favourite meals of all time! Low carb and paleo.
Today I am supposed to impart to you some wisdom on being a mother and how to strike that family/work balance. This is a little movement spear-headed by my friend Katie of Healthy Seasonal Recipes and I think it’s a lovely one. The problem is, however, that I don’t feel particularly wise on this subject. In fact much of the time I feel downright stupid. I am a very smart woman and so it bothers me not to have a good handle on this matter. If I could just get more organized, if I could just get more done while they were at school, if I could just learn to say no to some of the great projects and opportunities coming my way. Or if I could just manage to create 6 more hour in a day or clone myself and be in two places once. Then I might feel like I had something wise to share with you.
I am terrible at striking a good balance between my family life and my work life and I often feel so overwhelmed, I don’t think I am living either life particularly well. But ask just about any working mother and she will say the same. Ask just about any non-working mother and she will say the same as well. I am beginning to understand that it comes with the territory. Being a mother is fraught with guilt and what-ifs. We all feel like we could be doing a little bit better, a little bit more for our kids. And the truth is, we could. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing after all. Hear me out. To be always striving to be a little bit better, even if we fail to live up to the ideal in our heads – perhaps it’s the striving, the constant working toward an unachievable goal, that makes us a little better as it is. Maybe it’s the constant desire to improve that makes us good mothers. God forbid we should ever fall into complacency in parenting.
So here is my little bit of wisdom: ditch the guilt but don’t ever stop striving. Keep carving out that few minutes here and there, but don’t beat yourself up for the days that it’s impossible to find. Because yes, your kids deserve your time. But they also deserve your happy self, the self that knows you are trying and and will forever keep on trying. So forgive yourself for not always being the parent you want to be. But never, ever lose that desire to be better, because it’s what makes you such a good parent after all.
Brilliant, or what?
The other day, my littlest peeked her head around the door of my room when I was already running through the to-do list in my head. She just looked up at me with those huge, beautiful blue eyes and said “Mummy, can you play with me?”. And that to-do list simply melted away. I spent the next half hour letting her play “makeover”, dabbing my lips with a various assortment of flavoured lip balms, her sweet little mouth puckered in concentration. And for that space of time, I didn’t think about what I needed to do. I was present, I was all hers in a way that’s usually very hard for me to do. I eventually had to go back to my to-do list and my work, but I held those sweet images in my head all day long.
This recipe has nothing to do with work/family balance. This is actually one I wouldn’t make for my kids at all. Why waste lovely delicious duck legs and slow-braised veggies on kids who will inevitably turn up their noses at it? This is a meal for you and your spouse or significant other to eat, after the kids are in bed and you can open a bottle of wine and enjoy the flavours without the chaos of your offspring. Because another part of being a good mother is knowing how to take time for yourself and connect with your partner.
This recipe is beyond amazing. It is my low carb adaptation of a Mark Bittman recipe I found a few months ago, and I have made it over and over again. I keep duck legs in my freezer at all times now so I can whip this up for us any time we want it. It’s really easy to make but it tastes like a high end restaurant meal. I didn’t change much about Bittman’s recipe. I swapped in some lower carb vegetables, and I refused to trim my duck of excess skin and fat (oh Mark, don’t be afraid of all that good fat!). The skin stays unbelievably crispy and the veggies braise in the duck fat and soak up all the flavour.
Make this as soon as you can. And remind yourself that you are a good parent, because you try.
Please check out the other great recipes and thoughts on motherhood:
Crispy Duck Legs with Braised Vegetables
- 2 duck legs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 cup cubed rutabaga
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts trimmed and quartered
- ½ onion diced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Put duck legs, skin-side down, in a large skillet (cast iron works really well here) and set over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until skin is brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
- Flip legs and cook for another minute or two, then remove to a plate (they will not be cooked through).
- Add vegetables to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until beginning to brown.
- Nestle duck legs back into vegetables, skin side up. Add enough stock to the pan to come about halfway up legs.
- Turn heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then place the whole skillet into the oven.
- Bake 30 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F and continue to bake another 30 minutes.
- Remove and divide between two plates.