Monthly Archive: October 2013

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Thursday jamborees: Damson Amaretto Jam

This time two years ago, we had a four-week-old baby, an obstreperous two-and-a-half-year-old, a newly renovated – but not entirely finished – cottage and a six-month-old brewery. There was no time, no money, and precious little peace.

So I made jam.

Actually, to be entirely precise, after morning naps on Thursdays, I grabbed a box of jam jars, a pair of girls and drove over to my mother’s house for lunch. In contrast to the chaos at home, the table would be laid, kettle boiling, floor swept – and an extra pair of hands ready to dandle a baby.

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Bibliocook: best blog of a journalist

Saturday night was supposed to be quiet. It was a work weekend for me, the day spent talking at and attending Jim Carroll’s Banter in Kinsale, with a side trip to check out an Ummera smoked chicken sandwich at the book-lined Poet’s Corner. I came home to two post-bath, pj-clad little girls sitting up at the table to have their favourite “Daddy’s dinner” – baked beans (not homemade!) on toast.

Car packed with beer for Sunday tastings at Cloughtoberfest and our smallies in bed, it was time to curl up on the couch in front of the fire and get stuck into the Saturday papers.

That didn’t last long.

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Bibliocook.com - Rory O'Connell & Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School 30th birthday celebrations 31

30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen

In 2007 I did the 12-week cookery course at Ballymaloe. I only had to come down the road for it; many of my classmates had travelled much further, coming from England, Spain, Sweden, Australia and America to study in this internationally known Irish cookery school. It was an intense, hard-working, food-filled transition time for me, a hiatus between full-time work in Dublin and freelancing from a country cottage.

It was also pure luxury, three months spent immersed in a kitchen. We cooked all morning, ate the results for lunch, watched demos in the afternoons and – hungry again – queued eagerly to devour what had been produced. Just as well there was some time spent hoovering the demo room, carrying buckets of scraps to the hens (two of the students’ chores) and walking to the pub (not such a chore!) to balance it all out.

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Bibliocook.com - Irish oysters 0

Culture File: Seaweed and oysters

It was all a bit Caroline-goes-down-to-the-sea this week for Culture File.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to scramble about on a beach in West Cork with Sally McKenna, author of Extreme Greens, a fascinating and accessible look at foraging for, cooking with and using seaweed in a matter-of-fact everyday manner.

It doesn’t have to be all about eating it with seafood either. You can use the umami of seaweed to highlight the flavour in a simple loaf of bread, a bowl of popcorn, homemade lemonade or some crackers.

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