All About Beijing Duck

OK so you've climbed the Great Wall, wandered through the Forbidden City, taken photos in the Temple of Heaven, walked through the gardens of the Summer Palace and completely ignored Wangfujin street. Now it is time for you to eat Beijing's most classic dish, the Beijing Duck.

Beijing Duck is famous, has a distinguished history, an exquisite taste and is a culinary icon SO before partaking in this mouth watering dish, pause your chopsticks and first develop a well deserved appreciation of the delicacy you are about to feast on.

History

The origin of roasted duck can be traced back to Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420-589) when these hapless birds where roasted in the Jinling area where modern day Nanjing is located. The Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) were gourmets and took the custom of roast duck with them when they packed their bags and set up house in Beijing.

The Inspector of the Imperial kitchen (what a job!) Hu Sihui listed roast duck among the imperial dishes in the "Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages" that he wrote in 1330. This early cookbook even included the cooking process.

Up until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) ducks were roasted in a conventional convection oven where the duck was hung from the oven ceiling and roasted over burning wood. Duck cooked this was said to be crisp and golden brown with tender and tasty meat. After the Qing came to power they changed the method of duck cooking to hanging the ducks over a flame in an open oven. These two traditional methods of cooking duck are the foundations of the two modern methods of cooking Beijing Duck.

Roast duck was so popular during this period that poets and schools where inspired to roast duck poetry. Personally I think the large quantities of alcohol consumed with the duck were the main inspiration for these wasted poems and bookworms.

Peking duck as it was first called b foreigners taste so good, it is credited with being instrumental in the rapprochement between China and the US in the 70's. All because Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon kept returning to China for more duck. Just imagine how different history would be if the Havana Cigar had the same effect on US politicians!

In summary, that juicy piece of duck you are about to eat has a royal history of over 1500 years. Chew on that!

How to eat Beijing Duck

Your Beijing Duck will be served with steamed pancakes, sweet bean or plum sauce, cucumber and spring onions.

Place one pancake on the palm of your hand, dip a slice of duck meat in the sauce then place the meat on the pancake, add several pieces of cucumber and spring onion, wrap up the pancake, close your eyes and bite. Control yourself, chew slowly and savor this ancient delicacy.

How to cook

First you need to prepare the ingredients. Here is a list of all the ingredients.

Ingredients

2.0 to 2.5 kilogram of duck

8 liters of water

1 slice of ginger

1 Spring onion

50ml of honey

20ml of white vinegar

20ml of cooking sherry

25ml of corn starch dissolved in 50ml of water

Spring affairs for garnish

Directions

1. Clean duck then wipe it dry and tie a string around its neck.

2. Hang the duck in cool and ideally windy place 4 hours.

3. Fill a large wok with water then bring to boil. Add ginger, spring onion, honey, vinegar, and sherry. Bring to boil again and pour in the dissolved cornstarch. Stir constantly during this step.

4. Place the hung duck in large strainer over a larger bowl then scoop the boiling mixture over the entire duck for about 10 minutes.

5. Hang the duck up again in cool, windy place for 6 hours until it is thoroughly dry.

6. Place the duck breast side up on a greased rack in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.

7- Place a pan filled with 6 centimeters of water in bottom of oven to collect the drippings then roast 30 minutes.

8- Turn duck and roast for 30 more minutes.

9. Turn breast side up again and roast for 10 more minutes.

10. Use a sharp knife to cut off the crispy skin then immediately serve meat and skin on a warm dish

11 Eat and enjoy.

A Holiday in Turkey – Is it the New Spain?

Some four hundred thousand Brits now own holiday homes abroad, Spain has been the most popular of destinations over the past twenty years; it has however become very expensive and more than a little over developed in recent years.

As a consequence many have begun to look elsewhere for their ´place in the sun´. Turkey has seen a huge rise in interest both as a holiday destination and a place to invest in property, people who were astute enough to recognize it as a potential ´hotspot´ as little as eight years ago could have seen their property increase in value by as much as 500% in that time; and whilst Turkey too has seen a decline in demand during 2009, property values have not dropped in the more desirable Mediterranean resorts, (one such resort being Kalkan) to the degree they have in the likes of Spain.

The possibility of Turkey´s acceptance to the European Union has also fuelled speculation in the property market there, whether they will ever achieve acceptance (or indeed actually want to) is yet to be seen. This is the account of how I became one of those ´Brits abroad´: -

I first went to Turkey, rather reluctantly, I might add, on holiday in 2000, and was very pleasantly surprised at how green the country was, I had expected to find a dusty arid country, how wrong I was! I was also very pleasantly surprised at how warm and welcoming the Turkish people were; having holidayed in Greece for some years I had always believed the Greeks would be difficult to beat in their hospitality, the Turks did just that.

My wife and I returned some five years later, having booked a holiday in a very swish hotel on the Dalyan delta, we were disappointed six weeks before being due to depart, to be told by the holiday company that we could not go there as the hotel was having work done and that they, the holiday company, would not allow their guests to have what was not the perfect holiday experience. They told us to choose something else from the brochure and regardless of cost they would honour the price we had paid and even refund us if there was a difference. My wife had seen Kalkan but dismissed it due to the transfer time from the airport feeling that it would be too long, however, given the situation we decided that we would endure the two hour transfer (it turned out to be one and a half). We chose a villa holiday instead of a hotel and hit the jackpot!

Kalkan, we decided very quickly was an idyllic place to holiday and whilst walking down one of the narrow cobbled streets one evening to enjoy a pre-dinner drink stopped to look in an estate agents window (as I´m sure many of you have), before I knew it we were making an appointment with the agent to view some properties the following evening. Meeting that particular agent was yet another amazing stroke of luck, he was a charming intelligent man who´s English was impeccable.

The following evening arrived and I have to say that I personally was not too enthusiastic, as I believed that I was wasting valuable time, I never actually expected to be buying a house. The agent who we learned was called Kemal met us at the appointed time and took us to view the first property, which he had chosen as a possibility. It was an imposing four bedroom detached property with magnificent sea views and a swimming pool; it was newly built and was being marketed at £140,000. It was without doubt a lot of house for the money, however, there was an apartment block right along side it with twelve balconies all of which looked over the swimming pool, a serious privacy issue which immediately ruled that one out.

As we drove away from that villa Kemal asked, “what are you looking for, do you want detached?” I rather facetiously said ´of course´ (remember I had little or no intention of buying) “do you want a swimming pool?” ´ Well obviously!´ He then took us to another newly built in fact not completely finished villa, at what point my attitude changed I cannot actually say, I just knew it was going to happen! This villa again was a four bedroom detached with pool and panoramic views over the bay and astonishingly £15,000 cheaper! We left Kemal that evening feeling like excited school children, a couple of days later and a couple of telephone calls back to the UK to our bank manager and we were signing on the dotted line!

From thereon Kemal did everything we gave him power of attorney (not an easy decision to make with someone you have only just met) and he completed the deal, we became the proud owners of our own piece of paradise seven months later. The piece of paradise is called Villa Katmar, a vaguely Turkish sounding word? No just a combination of parts of our names.

Becoming a property owner in Turkey for us was a very easy and stress free experience, however, a WORD OF WARNING, not everyone we know had such an easy transition into becoming a Turkish villa owner! As in any country it depends very much on the people you deal with and applying a little common sense! I have to say we were very fortunate to have had that almost accidental meeting with Kemal; it could have been a very different tale had we done ´business´ with someone else.

If you are contemplating buying in Turkey then I would urge you to consider Kalkan and if you do then again I would have no hesitation in recommending Kemal Safyurek of Mavi Estates.

Work and Study

The relationship between work and study should not be underestimated.

It is important that youngsters in general, and teenagers in particular, get real life experience of what it takes to succeed in the ‘real world’, what it takes to make money, and how hard dad or mum have to work to earn those extra few cents.

Recently a dad talked about the problems of getting his son to study; the family is wealthy and the son saw little need to make any effort to revise, do well in his forthcoming exams, and move onto a university and undergraduate subject with prospects of a rewarding career.

He saw his parents, particularly mum, as a ‘soft touch’.

The harder the concerned parents tried, the more obstinate the son became; the inverse law of proportionality seemed to be at work, or perhaps the law of diminishing returns. Necessity was definitely not the mother of invention!

‘Man he is a Lazy B…!’ complained the father.

At school, the youngster seemed to have learnt a lot about his ‘rights’ – but little about responsibility.

He didn’t realise that ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ are the same bedfellows – they both start with the letter ‘r’!

The current situation was inevitable…

Things changed, however, after our recommendation that the son spend time working in the kitchens of one his father’s famous restaurants over the summer holidays (well, what else did he expect given his parents’ gentler efforts?).

Washing plates to earn his pocket-money was no fun; it didn’t take long before the grades started to improve.

Study was clearly a better option than washing plates in the kitchen.

Take Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.

Warren has a wise head on his shoulders and drives the same old car and lives in the same old house as he did at the start of his career; his common sense has to be respected since his actions reflect his words.

He can afford to live in mansions, drive better cars but through his example has made clear that he intends to give most of his wealth to charity.

Warren believes that his children must learn to earn a living, make their own way in the real world.

The last thing he wants is to ‘handicap’ his progeny by handing over his billions.

Some of the smartest students at The University of Oxford in The Business Management School often spent their summer holidays waiting at tables before they got First Class Honours.

They are now CEOs of major companies, earning a very healthy living.

Consider another example from the world of tennis, the William sisters where Venus and Serena dominated the women’s game for many years.

Their early history is one of being introduced to the ‘Bronx’ by their dad where gang bullets were not uncommon whilst they trained.

The William sisters soon realized that working for success in tennis was a better option than living in ghettos.

Where cajoling fails, direct experience often succeeds.

If you want your children to study more effectively, let them work for it!

Mental, Emotional, and Physical Benefits of Organic Food

Organic Food eating comes with a wide array of benefits that not only include better physical health but also emotional and mental health as well. Having an all natural diet can work wonders for you emotionally and mentally. First it may provide you with the feeling of being closer with nature. It can provide peace of mind by knowing that you are not harming the planet in any way related to the food you consume. You can be at peace with the mindset that Mother Nature will not poison you because you are not poisoning her. This works in reverse with conventional food because the industrial fertilizers and pesticides used on them greatly pollute and hurt the environment. The fruits and vegetables they produce in return come with toxic residues that are very hazardous to the health especially when continuous intake begins to build up.

Growing Organic Food in your very own garden may also take you closer to nature. You will start to develop respect for nature as you make effort not to intoxicate her with chemical substances found with conventional pesticides and fertilizers. You will begin to grow more attached to the environment as you plow the soil and use natural fertilizers such as manure. And when it is finally time for harvest you will realize clearer how nature provides for those who take care of her. Some doctors and psychologists even consider gardening as an activity that is soothing to the mind and soul. This is the reason why they recommend gardening as a hobby.

The physical benefits of Organic Food are still the primary reasons why people make the change from conventional diets to the organic diet. The physical benefits can be described as originating from two things which are presence and absence. Produce grown from organic farms possess high levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants that are much higher than those found in traditional goods. They are also free of the toxic elements and chemical residues that are common in conventional produce. It can be summed up that unrefined food has more vitamins and nutrients and less heavy metals at the same time.

The superiority of the nutrient content of Organic Food is said to originate from the use of chemical free fertilizers. This is because chemicals commonly found in industrial fertilizers as well as in commercial pesticides have been found to greatly mitigate the ability of plants to produce phytochemicals as well as antioxidants. This is because these synthetic substances lower the need of plants to produce extracts that will help them absorb nutrients and fight pests and diseases. The toxic chemicals that eventually end up into the soil also kill microorganisms and disrupt the generation of nutrients. Hence as plants are grown into the soil the nutrients get used up until it is eventually depleted which can even lead to desolation in which the soil becomes unfit for farming.