I swore I wouldn’t get sucked in. Ah, the promises I make to myself!This whole social networking thing can be like a black hole, whole chunks of the morning – work time for me while Little Missy sleeps – disappearing while I catch up on Kieran Murphy’s ice cream tweets and check out A Taste of Ballyhoura Country’s Facebook page. But, for a freelance journalist working from a cottage in the middle of nowhere, North Cork, this is as close to an office watercooler as I’m going to get.
Pancake Tuesday came early at the cottage this year. I always love to have friends come over to eat pancakes but with the Husband getting home from work late and a Little Missy who is decidedly not at her delightful best in the evenings, lunchtimes are a much better time to entertain. Sunday became our Pancake Tuesday so we were able to invite our three Rockmills Neighbours and, as one of the Husband’s English Engineer friends was staying with us for the weekend, he – as well as doing a lot of washing up! – also got fed.
Sweet treats for the one you love: Chocolate Caramel ShortbreadNever mind flowers and forget about going out for dinner, with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, get baking for your sweetheart with this Chocolate Caramel Shortbread. This recipe makes plenty to devour and share but it’s so good that your biggest problem will be not eating the entire thing today.
Last night I was at the launch of the Good Food Ireland Week Cork in, naturally enough, the English Market. An array of Good Food Ireland producers had teamed up with restaurant, hotel and café members to showcase their products and there was a multi-course feast lined up on the Farmgate Café balcony overlooking the fountain.
While in New Zealand, staying with the Husband’s parents, our nearest café is actually a winery called Fossil Ridge. We pass the small vineyard on our daily walk (sometimes several times a day as the Husband tries to balance lots of eating his mother’s fabulous food with regular competitive brother-in-law weigh-ins!) and the walk does occasionally get a little interrupted. An attractive wooden building, set amidst olive groves and overlooking a pond covered with water lilies, the cellar door is a relaxed setting to enjoy a selection of platters and light lunches to accompany its wines.
I’ve always been a fan of porridge. It’s one of those things that seems to fit in perfectly with a cold morning at the cottage: a steaming bowlful, topped with some stewed fruit and a dollop of natural yoghurt is just the thing to set myself and Little Missy up for the day. She eats the regular sort, which I grind up with my immersion blender (always useful but now indispensable) before cooking, but I’ve gotten hooked on Flahavan’s Pinhead Oatmeal this winter.