Author: Caroline

One of our Rhode island Red hens 6

A celebration of Grandmothers

I am fortunate enough to still have a Granny and, until I was 12, I also had a Nana. Nana, my mother’s mother, was sick throughout my childhood so we spent a lot of time at her home in Oldcastletown. Some of my early memories revolve around her Aga-warmed kitchen – the centre of the house – where there were always a selection of queencakes in a tin or fruitcake slices to be buttered for afternoon tea. Saturday was the baking day in that house. I remember being wrapped up in an apron before being shown how to fold in flour to a sponge cake or slicing apples to fill an enormous roasting tin-sized apple tart. That was the house of mushroom gluts and energetic jam making as us grandchildren were sent down the fields to pick mushrooms or into the orchard to gather windfalls and blackcurrants. Even when Nana wasn’t able to do the work herself, she kept an eagle eye over my mother and aunts as they completed the work to her satisfaction. I pored over her old cookbooks – subsequently having to buy Maura Laverty‘s Full and Plenty in homage – learned baking skills at her kitchen table, inherited her interest in hens and now live in a cottage just the other side of the hill from Oldcastletown.

21

It’s a…

Little Missy's hand

…beautiful, solemn-eyed, unexpectedly straight-haired, long fingered little girl! Little Missy is a week old today and we’re gradually getting the hang of each other, just enough so I get to actually turn on my computer for five minutes while she sleeps for a while.

Busy days at the cottage 8

Busy days at the cottage

My latest baking project – one that even takes longer than the three-day Sourdough Bread-making event! – is almost completed. All going well, the Husband and I hope to welcome a small new inhabitant to the cottage early next month, to join our family of two humans, three hens and one cat (yes, we’re back to one again – sadly the road by the cottage claimed Large, our big tom cat earlier this week).

2

Eggs for St Patrick’s Day

Hens

It’s looking like summer has already arrived in North Cork and the hens, although their numbers were reduced to three of the original four after a run in with a fox during the winter, are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine. No matter what weather we’ve had, they’ve still managed to produce a steady source (especially after I found their secret stash!) of dark yellow-yoked eggs for baking and cooking, as well as being entertaining company in the garden.

What’s going on…. 0

What’s going on….

If you’re in the North Cork area this month, then don’t miss the Killavullen Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Saturday 14 (tomorrow!) and Saturday 28 March, from 10.30 am to 1pm at the Nano Nagle Centre.

Homemade sourdough bread 7

Your daily bread: Sourdough

Sourdough Bread

No longer having the easy access to Arbutus Bread that was one of the perks of my job in Urru Mallow, I’ve gone back to baking my own. At the moment I’m on rotation between three different breads – the Seedy Spelt Bread that I mentioned a few weeks ago, a Brown Yeast Loaf that still needs a bit of work and my old favourite, the Sourdough that I mastered while in Ballymaloe.

0

Slow Food: Meat Master Classes start tonight

With meat so easily available from the supermarket in bloodless plastic packs, we seem to be moving further and further away from knowing where our food is coming from. Going to the butcher as a child – I always loved the queues so I could watch the butchers at work for a few minutes – at least I got to see the carcasses hanging up and the hard physical work that goes into preparing them. When the Little Sister (I predate supermarkets, she’s rarely been near a butcher) caught sight of sides of beef hanging in a truck recently she almost got sick.