As published in the Irish Examiner on 2 October 2010.“They’re rather…ugly,” said Scott, aka the husband, gazing intently at the pair of awkward-looking eight-week old turkeys that he had just wrestled from the boot of my car into their new home. All long legs, ruffled feathers and indignant hissing, they huddled together in the back corner. “We’ll have no problem eating such awful looking birds!” he added with satisfaction. Eighteen-month-old Hannah, fascinated with any animal that crosses her path, wanted to join them in the house but they were having none of it. A few squawks quickly saw her off and she was easily distracted with her regular playmates: the hens and cats. Thankfully, there would be no love lost there either. It’s a little early to be getting into “the turkeys have gone to help Santa get ready for Christmas” explanations.
Tagged: of course
Barbara Kingsolver may be responsible for propagating the myth that turkeys are so suicidally dumb that they can drown just by gazing skywards as it rains but a quick online search will soon see you right. In 2003, Tom Savage, a poultry scientist at Oregon State University tried to get some respect for the turkey population by explaining that the only reason turkeys stare at the sky is because of a misunderstood genetic nervous disorder. According to his observations, the birds were no less intelligent than any similar fowl. I beg to differ.
Since the first Leon cookbook arrived at the cottage, it hasn’t been allowed to leave the kitchen. Crammed with whole food ideas and healthy, seasonal dishes, all the food is tempting and very, very tasty. The Indian Parsnip Soup is one of those recipes that is in constant rotation, Little Missy loves the Sweet Potato Falafel and there’s always a stash of smoked fish in the fridge for a Magic Mackerel salad.
In our house we really like pizza, especially when the parents aren’t about and the cottage turns into the Sunday lunch stop for the Sister, Little Sister and Small Brother. It’s easy to make the dough and sauce ahead of time, leaving the final assembly for when everybody turns up. That way they also get to choose their own toppings, which keeps everybody happy. This is how it works:
So, we didn’t win last night – but, as my producer said, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t great! An Australian show – The Main Ingredient: New Years Day which was presented by Kelli Brett and produced by ABC Radio – took the award for Best Food/Drink Radio Programme.
Sometimes, in this house, baking is not just for the bigger members of the family and, along with the Flapjacks and Shortbread, there’s even a tin marked with Little Missy’s name. It’s currently filled with these twice-baked Banana Spelt Biscotti, which I love because they are easily made, contain no sugar and it’s up to you about the kind of flour you use. These, along with LM’s favourite rice cakes, are perfect afternoon snacks – and easily portable – but she is quite happy to munch on them at any stage, and especially loves a small smear of marmite on the biscotti when we’re at home.
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.
For generations, perhaps scarred by the shared memory of starvation, Irish eating habits were simply about having enough. Food was plain, but plentiful: steaming piles of potatoes, well-boiled vegetables (often home-grown) and meat from the local butcher.