#burgerton at Old Farm, Redwood, Co.Tipperary

To my surprise, it wasn’t the cockcrow at dawn that woke me in Old Farm.  No, it was the rustle of an early morning breeze through the huge weeping Beech tree outside my bedroom window.  After a few moments of coming to, realizing where I was and smiling while recalling the craic of the previous evening, its cadence lulled me back to sleep.

#burgerton was the hashtag for the occasion.  Some twitter exchanges about the best burger in Ireland led to Alfie McCaffrey’s (@pigoftheday) issue of an invitation (or throwing of a gauntlet) to come to his and Margaret’s (@OLDEFARM) home for lunch last Sunday.

British Saddleback Pig in Old Farm, Redwood, Co.Tipperary

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Salad of smoked duck and pomegranate

Standing at the counter in Honest 2 Goodness market recently, I told Bríd how good the smoked duck breast had been.  I had bought some the previous week and asked her how to serve it.

-“Try a salad with some greens and a pomegranate” she said.

Another customer standing alongside me turned and asked me to post it on the blog, so here it is.

Salad of smoked duck and pomegranate

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Party Time

Every now and again there’s a reason to celebrate, to come together, eat, drink, tell stories, sing a few songs, have the craic…to have a party.

Our new grandson is having his Naming Ceremony next Saturday.  We’ll all go to the Unitarian Church in St.Stephen’s Green and after a ceremony crafted by his parents with Rev. Bridget Spain, we’ll come back home to ours for food and drink and hopefully, craic and ceol.

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A lesson in cooking Crab and Lobster….. …..long threatening comes at last

It came as a shock to me to discover that crab and lobster were considered by some to be an up-market, posh food.  I was seventeen, and had just come to college in Dublin.
All of my childhood summers had been spent at the Irish seaside where shellfish was no more than the seasonal food you ate at that time of year.  Visiting our cousins near Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry, supper came from the sea.  My uncle would row out to lift the lobster pots and remove any crabs or lobsters, or throw line of feathers into the sea to catch mackerel.  While my aunt would prepare salad and dressings in the kitchen, he would boil water on a primus stove outdoors, cook the shellfish, and then take them away to a conveniently flat-topped boulder where he’d remove the meat from the shell. He’d return with a platter of crab meat, crab claws and lobster meat. We ate these with our fingers, sitting on the grass, looking out at the Bull and Cow rocks on the horizon.    As you do.  Or did.

Lobster x3

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Story for KLCK Bloggers Network

Story.  I love that word.  Someone is telling a story.  Is anyone listening?

My friend Sally has three sons and she told me this story.  One of her sons went away to Calcutta one November with a group from his secondary school, an exercise devised to help boys grow into men.  To help open their hearts to how others live in this world, to enable them to grow in compassion for their fellow man.

Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | Tagged | Leave a comment

Blackberries at Lúnasa

We gathered our first blackberries of the season last Sunday.  Given any few rays of sunshine, this year’s crop looks promising.  And they’re free.  There they hung in the hedgerow along with sloes, rose hips and elderberries, mostly camouflaged, for now, by their forty shades of green but promising reds, purples and glossy black.

As I plucked the berries, I had Trish Deseine’s article on my mind.  “A French foodie homecoming”  in last Saturday’s Irish Times magazine is both an ode to and a lament on contemporary food culture in Ireland.  Subsequent exchanges on Twitter were disheartening.  It seems that a small minority are concerned with good diet and that, despite all the ‘foodie’ programmes on TV, the beautiful cookbooks and entertaining blogs, most people are eating an increasingly bad diet and as a nation we’re getting fatter.

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To be or not to be- the joy of the London Olympics 2012

This time last week I was in my seat in the ExCel arena, London, at Katie Taylor’s quarter final match in the Olympics.  Now that she has won a gold medal, causing the country to come to a standstill, the incredible thing is that I might have missed the experience.  My eldest daughter was lucky enough to get four tickets for the event in the Olympic ticket lottery.  She invited me and I declined, knowing nothing about boxing and feeling she’d invite someone  who would get more value out of the experience. Luckily she insisted and prevailed. 

Continue reading

Posted in Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dill Pickled Cucumbers- Home Fermentation for Beginners

The word has a magic about it. Ask any traditional baker, brewer or cheesemaker and prepare to listen all day. Simple foodstuffs are transformed. Goodness is preserved.

Dill pickled cucumbers

Healthy humans have 100,000,000,000,000 bacteria in our intestines. Altogether they weigh 1.5 Kg and they work non-stop looking after our digestion,  the absorbtion of nutrients from our food, protecting us from infection and strengthening our immunity. They even have an effect on our mood!

‘Probiotics’ is a word we’re all accustomed to as it’s printed on the packaging of live yogurt. ‘Psychobiotics’  is an even newer concept. It’s the name given to friendly bacteria whose presence in the gut increases the level of ‘happy hormones’ in some parts of the brain. How this works is still being studied, but it’s only a matter of time and rigorous clinical trials before doctors will be prescribing specific probiotics for particular conditions to do with the digestion and the emotions!

So why wait to become ill? We can boost our own ‘microbiota’ or ‘microbiome’ by increasing our consumption of traditionally fermented food.

‘Where do I get some of that?’ you may ask.

I remember my Grandad coming in from the farm, going straight into the dairy, taking a jug of buttermilk from a churn and downing it in one long gulp. His sigh of satisfaction will always stay with me- and he lived in good health to the age of 95 years. This would have been common in farms with a dairy herd up to fifty years ago, but not any more.

Living in suburban Dublin, we use live yogurt (lots of it if someone has had a routine course of antibiotics, as they kill the good bacteria along with the bad) and we buy artisan cheeses. Real sourdough bread is another fermented food on the table, and we also buy traditonally fermented craft beer.

Since summer is upon us with its bounty of vegetables, I decided to pickle some cucumbers and found a recipe  on David Leibowitz’ website- Arthur Schwarz’s Homemade Kosher Dill Pickle Recipe

  • It couldn’t be easier…
  • dissolve salt in water  to make brine
  • top and tail cucumbers
  • slice into wedges (my choice….they could have been left whole)
  • Place in a jar with crushed garlic, pickling spice, bay leaves and dill weed.
  • Wait

Over the next few days, these will ferment in the sunshine and when they taste right, they’ll be moved to the fridge. All we need then is some sunshine for a picnic or barbeque.

Jars of home-made cucumber dill pickles

If you decide to increase your intake of fermented foods, take time to observe how your digestion behaves and how you’re feeling.  After all, your internal carers and housekeepers need minding .

If they’re happy, there’s a good chance you’ll be happier too.

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry ice cream made of real, local fresh strawberries, full cream milk, cream and eggs is a rare find. In fact, you almost always have to make it yourself.

Strawberry Ice Cream with strawberries


There’s a kind of cooking that is more satisfying than any other.  On opening the fridge, while the mind is still far away, you spy provisions of quality, bought this morning or yesterday, vying for their place on this evening’s dinner table.  The brain aligns itself…Have I the time to prepare this now? Do I have all the ingredients? The simpler the food, the more likely the answer is to be yes.  Apron on, sleeves up.                                               As the slogan goes …‘Just Do It’

Continue reading

Posted in Irish food | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rumtopf; Summer Berries fit for Angela Merkel

Rumtopf is a grown-up version of jam.  Cosmopolitan, mysteriously magenta coloured.   A reward when the Troika pats us on the head.  Now’s the time to make it.

Preserves have a nice homely ring to them. In pre-industrial times, preserving the bounty of vegetable garden and orchard was a matter of survival.  Today we have refrigeration and freezers and many regard the making of jam and preserves as an old- fashioned chore. I think it’s really worthwhile, however, and a joy to do.  Memories flood back of picking, topping and tailing buckets of blackcurrants around the kitchen table.  The reward for all this work came in winter when opening a 2 lb jar of  jam released the perfumes and tastes of summer.

Continue reading

Posted in Buffet, Celebration | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment