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Read: Farming in the heart of Dublin in Irish Country Living

The idea of farm to fork is all very well but, if you live in Dublin city or suburbs, it’s not so easy to see it in action. Unless you head to Dundrum, that is. A recent visit to Airfield, a 38-acre farm in the shadow of Dundrum Town Centre, was a lesson in that concept. The farm and gardens supply a rather lovely on-site café called Overends. It is named after the sisters who decided, in the 1970s, that their home and farm was to become a charitable organisation, focusing on education and recreation. So the milk from the Jersey cows in the farmyard appears in milk jugs on the tables; the clucking hens lay eggs for lunchtime salads; the gardeners push wheelbarrow-loads of vegetables and fruit to the kitchen door. Read more about farming in the city in my piece on the Irish Country Living blog: Farming in the heart of Dublin Clementine and Cinnamon Shortbread Makes 24 fingers. 200g butter, cubed and at room temperature 100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling 225g plain flour 75g cornflour 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon Zest of a clementine Preheat the oven to 180C/150C fan. Put the butter into a deep bowl, add...

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Read: Pumpkin Revenge in Irish Country Living

If you have children, you’re also undoubtedly surrounded by pumpkins as they demand their yearly, personal jack o’lantern. At the moment we have three in the cottage. One was carved by us together, Little Missy and the Small Girl taking it in turns to ghoulishly drag out the stringy “guts” with shrieks and squawks soundtracking the experience. The other two were done at Halloween camp and carefully hugged all the way home, only falling off a couple of times. At least they bounce.   Now they sit on the kitchen table, awaiting their nightly lighting so that we can eat dinner by jack o’lantern-light, accompanied by a vague smell of roasting pumpkin. When you too get sick of the sight of these grinning orange heads, read my piece about pumpkin revenge on the Irish Country Living website, complete with a recipe for Smoky Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup. Irish Country Living: Pumpkin revenge by Caroline Hennessy Don’t forget that the seeds, when cleaned of their guts, make a great snack. Toss in olive oil and salt, roast in a hot oven (around 180C or whatever temperature your dinner is cooking at) for 7-10 minutes and eat while still warm. Revenge can be salty, as well...

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Irish Examiner: Top tips for long haul travel with small children

Long haul travel with kids – does it get any easier? Not really, but at least experience helps you to be better prepared! I recently wrote a piece for the Irish Examiner on last year’s trip to New Zealand: Five flights in 45 hours via five countries with two kids under four… In February, we headed back for a family wedding. Although it was just four flights this time, it took us 52 hours  door-to-door but at least the girls had an extra year under their belts. We flew with Malaysia Airlines and paid full price for everyone over 2 years of age. Yep, that’s four full price tickets. On the plus side, we did get four seats which becomes a lifesaver when you’re trapped in close proximity to your family for 12 hours at a time. See below for my survival tips – I’ve included things that we learned this year in italics. Last year the girls were 3 and 15 months; this time round they were 4 and 2. We also travelled to NZ and Vietnam when Little Missy was just eight months. Read about our Hanoi visit here: Taking baby steps through Hanoi FIVE TOP TIPS FOR...

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Irish Examiner | Taking baby steps through Hanoi

In 2010, while coming back from Little Missy’s first NZ visit, the Husband and I were fortunate enough to get an invitation from a friend based in Hanoi. Take a 10-month-old baby to Vietnam? Why not! LM’s first year was spent travelling – an impromptu trip to London to meet her Kiwi grandparents at just two months; ferry-and-car to the Lake District on a camping expedition for our friends’ wedding a month later; then 10 days in Berlin when she was almost half a year old while the Husband studied brewing. A family wedding took us to New Zealand for Christmas and we were lucky enough to be able to combine that with nights in Kuala Lumpur and the trip to Hanoi. It was an incredible first year for her – and for us, figuring out our way as new parents and determined to grab all opportunities that came our way. Fortunately, she was a very laid back baby, loved all the new experiences and, to make it easier, I basically breastfed her around the world. From the London Underground, a busy Lake District pub, the back seat of a Hanoi taxi, at the dinner table of more than a few weddings,...

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Food writing in the digital age: Irish Examiner feature

My feature article on food writing in the digital age for Irish Examiner is now online from this link: Developing a taste for digital delights Putting things online is never an exact science! The panel, with extra links and reading, which  accompanied the feature in print didn’t make it to the website so I’ve reproduced it below. More reading Five food blogs to check out basketcasetheblog.blogspot.ie Keep updated about the latest food issues with Suzanne Campbell’s news reports on what we’re eating. farmette.ie An American TV producer turned Irish farmer’s wife, Imen McDonnell mixes her distinctive take on from-the-farm recipes with gorgeous photography, styling and news about Small Green Fields, her recent film on Irish food. ijackod.blogspot.ie Having set up his mother’s food blog (nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.com ) when he was seven, 11-year-old Jack O’Dea now has his own space with recipes, photos and a list of cures for hiccups. trishdeseine.wordpress.com This Irishwoman lives near Paris and has a refreshingly no-nonsense Irish-French perspective on good food. whatkatieate.com Inspiring photography and creative recipes from Katie Quinn Davies, a Dublin native now based in Sydney, Australia. Useful food websites michaelpollan.com guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/food-and-drink nytimes.com/pages/dining ft.com/arts-leisure/food-drink bbcgoodfood.com Food apps Follow fellow food obsessed people on Instagram and...

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Food writing in the digital age: Aoife McElwain, I Can Has Cook

Part three of a three-part series of interviews on inspiration, trends and recommended reading that I did with Irish food writers and bloggers for a recent Irish Examiner feature. Food writer Aoife McElwain has used the ICanHasCook blog as a way of documenting her efforts at learning how to cook, from M&S sourced snacks in 2009 to catering for a recent hen party dinner for 23 people. As well as it being a springboard to professional writing work, she celebrates the community aspect of blogging and is, in fact, one of the best people to organise a food-orientated knees-up. Those have happened online – loved The Godfather Fat Clemenza’s meatballs cookalong – and in real life (remember the Dingle Invasion?) and she’s a person that it is always a true pleasure to share a table with. She must have been reading John McKenna’s email as it arrived in my inbox for just a couple of days later she launched a video series on her blog. Forkful is a beautifully styled series of video recipes. Just Aoife’s hands, making the food, filmed by Mark Duggan and edited by Killian Broderick. It goes to show that you don’t need  a whole lot of people to make something that’s...

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Food writing in the digital age: David Kiernan, Kitchen 72

Part two of a three-part series of interviews on inspiration, trends and recommended reading that I did with Irish food writers and bloggers for last weekend’s Irish Examiner feature. David Kiernan of Kitchen72.com and a former Daily Mail food columnist, has his own distinctive take on blogging. He painstakingly recreates dishes from restaurants in New York and London in his small Dublin kitchen, looking abroad for inspiration and cherry picking “ideas, ingredients and techniques.” I especially loved his version of Daniel Humm’s luxuriously OTT roast chicken: the stylishly photographed bird, complete with bouquet of herbs, is a ringer for the just-written-about original in the New York Times. With food trends changing so rapidly, it’s the lack of a filter and the immediacy of blogs that appeals to David – it’s easy to get information on the food you want to cook, even if it happens to be a new dish at a must-try restaurant in NYC. When we did this online interview, he was in New York, eating his way through the city and giving a mouth-watering meal-by-meal pictorial account on Instagram. It was not the sort of thing that you want to look if you were hungry and I’m looking forward to seeing...

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Food writing in the digital age: John McKenna, The McKennas’ Guides

For the feature I wrote in last Saturday’s Irish Examiner, several food writers and bloggers spoke to me about digital media, multimedia in a food writing world and their top picks for online food information and inspiration. There’s a limit on the amount of quotes that you can fit into a newspaper article so I’ll be featuring the text of my interviews with John McKenna, David Kiernan and Aoife McElwain on the blog this week. *** John and Sally McKenna of the McKennas’ Guides, who have been publishing guide books to Irish food since 1989, are firmly entrenched in the digital world. Along with the books, the guides.ie website, their lively Twitter presence and Megabites blog, they have been making a series of short artisan food videos, starting with an elegiac portrait of Ballymaloe matriarch Myrtle Allen. John spoke on the evolution of food writing with Matthew Fort at the Ballymaloe LitFest; as it turned out I was interviewing Sandor Katz at the time. Fortunately I managed to track him down in West Cork and he was good enough to give me some very thoughtful answers on the topic. Make sure to check out his wide-ranging list of informative websites.   How you think the evolution of digital media has...

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