Author: Caroline

Peter Ward speaks up for small producers 1

Peter Ward speaks up for small producers

Not having a television, I missed Peter Ward of Nenagh’s Country Choice on the Late Late Show but fortunately was able to catch it online here. Peter is a passionate man – passionate about the food he sells, the quality of produce available in Ireland and passionate when talking about how he sees the supermarkets driving farmers away from the land. His idea of a national online farmers’ market, linking the producer directly with the consumer, makes a lot of sense, but there will have to be some rethinking about the barriers of regulation first.

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Gardening at the Glebe

The raised gardens at Glebe Gardens, Baltimore

After a relaxing, sunny weekend in Baltimore we’ve returned home with headfuls of ideas, lots of notes, a handful of mail order catalogues and lots of inspiration for our garden in 2009. Jean Perry, who owns the five acres and house at Glebe Gardens with her artist husband Peter, was our teacher for the two day course. They run a popular café on site, producing most of the organic vegetables, fruit and herbs that they use there from the raised beds and polytunnels in the gardens.

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Gardening for Valentine’s weekend

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Look at these, just waiting for something nice to be cooked in them! This Le Creuset set has to be one of the coolest wedding presents that you could ever get – very appropriate for this time of the year too. I have to say, though, that there’s not going to be any cooking, romantic or otherwise, done around here this weekend as we’re off in Baltimore, staying at Rolf’s for a couple of nights while doing a two-day gardening course in the Glebe Gardens. Having visited the gardens while on honeymoon in the area in 2007, I fell in love with their potager-style layout, vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit all mixed in together. I’m hoping to get lots of inspiration from these two days!

Cookery demonstration at the Killavullen Farmer’s Market 0

Cookery demonstration at the Killavullen Farmer’s Market

In yesterday’s newsletter from the North Cork Organic Group one of the events flagged was a cookery demonstration. It will take place at the Killavullen Farmers’ Market in the Nano Nagle Centre tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, between 10.30 am and 1pm, using produce from the market itself. Geraldine Bass’ Old Millbank Smokehouse smoked fish, quality organic meat from Knockatullera Farm Produce, a range of cheeses from Gudrun Shinnick of the Fermoy Natural Cheese Company, great vegetables and eggs from the Nano Nagle Centre itself are just a few of the foodstuffs that you should see represented. The entry fee for the demonstration is €5 and the market will be taking place at the same time.

Mike Hanrahan: from Stockton’s Wing to Ballymaloe and beyond 0

Mike Hanrahan: from Stockton’s Wing to Ballymaloe and beyond

One of my former Ballymaloe classmates, Mike Hanrahan, a great cook and a seriously talented musician (ex Stockton’s Wing) was featured in the Irish Times earlier this week. Not only did we get to appreciate his food in the kitchens (and wit in the classroom!), but Sunday nights in the Blackbird was one of the high points of the week, Mike playing at the regular sessions and ensuring that the pub was always packed with students.

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Your daily bread: Seedy Spelt Loaf

Seedy Spelt Bread

I miss Arbutus bread. One of the great advantages of working in URRU Mallow was having regular access to good quality bread – I used to eat the sesame seed-encrusted brown crusts for work breakfast (you can’t sell them but I think they’re the nicest piece of the whole loaf), regularly bringing home spelt or rye loaves or, for a particular treat, one of the tomato and basil breads or a couple of croissants, to be heated up for the following morning’s breakfast.

bibliocook.com - lamb shanks prep 0

Winning ways with winter veg: Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables

I was never a vegetable fan as a child. Potatoes? Well, they were a totally foreign land to me – as were, to my poor mother’s despair – carrots, cabbage, peas, parsnips and turnips. I did (sometimes) like Cauliflower Cheese, though. Broccoli was just making inroads into rural Ireland but as it was cooked like all the other vegetables, ie boiled to within an inch of its life to be served limp and tasteless, I didn’t bother with it. The first time I had carrots that arrived at the table with some texture was a revelation and, gradually, I started to explore the mysteries of the vegetable world.

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Jerusalem Artichoke, Parsnip and Bacon Soup

Jerusalem Artichoke

A quick trip to the first Killavullen Farmers’ Market of the year last weekend produced an unexpected treasure. I pounced on a pile of just-scrubbed nobbly tubers on the Nano Nagle stand – Jerusalem artichokes. Also known as fartichokes (in my house anyway) they’re not vegetables that you come across too often. We tried to grow them last year but, as with so many of the things that we planted, the rabbits thought otherwise. Having read a lot about how they are a virtual weed in many gardens, I have high hopes of them turning up again but, until now, it has been an artichoke-free winter.