Balllymaloe Cookery Course: Week 5: Tuesday

I’ve just got the first three weeks-worth of notes filed and already the first folder is bulging. That’s not too much of a problem – the stationary list we were sent before the start of the course specified four lever-arch files – much more of an issue is the actual filing system. In our house, now comprising of three students plus one Husband, there have been several debates over the best way of doing it. Does Tapenade fit under starters or dressings? Or, as I was asked when I called round to our round-the-corner neighbours, three fellow students, should Poppadums be put with their appropriate dish in the Main section or be filed under Bread?

Our welcome notes from the school included a page on how to file the stacks of recipes that we get every day. After long evenings trying to juggle and justify my filing choices, I gave up and started again. All the recipes that we get for the course are drawn directly from The Grey Book aka Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course. I’ve now re-categorised everything according to the sections in that book. It certainly makes life easier; if I’m not sure where to put a recipe, I just refer to the book’s index. It also means that I’ll be able to find the recipes at some stage in the future.

Theoretically we should be keeping on top of the filing, getting the at-least 20 pages a day into their appropriate sections, while writing our time-plans for the next morning’s cooking. Theoretically. In practice, myself and the North Cork Classmate do try to sit down a couple of times a week and go through things. She writes her time-plan at night time; I often get it done in the car in the mornings, while en route to school. The Ranelagh Classmate leaves the house early to write it while in a quiet school. He and the Husband have a great laugh at our attempts to try and make sense of the filing. That’s all fine, until he starts struggling under sheaves of paper himself – although he is undoubtedly learning from our mistakes!

Filing aside, we have little interest in cooking in the evenings. A three-course lunch plus samples of the afternoon’s cooking before we leave doesn’t make for an enormous appetite after school. The Husband, the only person in this house not doing the course, caters for himself while we nibble on loaves of bread baked that day, critically assessing the texture and crust. Some nights, nourishment comes later, in the form of pints of Beamish at the Blackbird in Ballycotton. But, with a practical exam coming up on Friday week, there’s already a new intensity to evening study. Dictionaries of ingredients and gardening books are making their way from the cottage to Ballycotton as we try to figure out the difference between fennel and dill or swot up on boning chickens!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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