Author: Caroline

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Rainy days and revisited recipes: Spicy Lentil Soup

Spicy Lentil Soup Although we had at least a week of summertime flip-flop days, May seems to have regressed to the cold and damp of early April. Weather like this – today it rained for the afternoon and just didn’t stop – means a return to cold weather soup recipes, warming comfort food for wintery-feeling evenings. This lentil soup recipe – for I believe that you can never have too many lentil recipes in your repertoire – is from Domini Kemp, of Itsabagel fame (all time favourite bagel? Definitely a Mountaineer), and was published in one of her Irish Times pieces a few weeks ago. I made it that very week and we loved it but then finer weather (and PSB) came on the scene so I put away my soup recipes – but not for too long, as it turned out.

Sunny birth days 0

Sunny birth days

The perfect birthday? Take a day off work – this is always nicest if done midweek! – and book a night away in Gort na Nain, a vegetarian guesthouse near Nohoval outside Cork city, run by the welcoming Lucy Stewart and Ultan Walsh, vegetable growers and suppliers of vegetables to Café Paradiso, amongst other Cork restaurants. Drive there after work the day before your birthday, picking up the Husband en route, and arrive just in time for your pre-booked three-course dinner. Relax and savour Lucy’s fabulous cooking, using fresh-picked vegetables and fruit grown by Ultan, with the other (very entertaining) couple that happen to be staying there that night. Take a long walk to see the sea before tucking yourself into a large, comfortable bed in an bright and spacious room.

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Old china

My latest purchases One of the things I love about living in an old cottage is the excuse to furnish it in alternative ways. When I lived in New Zealand, I was an habitué of the op shops (charity shops) in Christchurch, always picking up old cake tins or nutcrackers, battered but usable cutlery, my old dining table and an odd assortment of small stools, used about the house as bedside tables, wee seats and useful steps. Space being limited in Ireland, I’ve avoided my worst NZ excesses, much to the Husband’s relief: there was once Words by the side of the street when one of my op shop chairs didn’t fit into the car. One thing I do watch out for, however, is old china. No trip to New Zealand is complete without a few items being secreted in the luggage for the journey home; last time I even managed to fit a collection of old fashioned spoons (to match the bone-handled knives and forks that I had picked up at the Bantry market last summer).

Site upgrade – hopefully 0

Site upgrade – hopefully

Working on a site upgrade at the moment – please bear with me while I wander around the back end of things and figure out what goes where.

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Just in season…

Irish strawberries There was great excitement in Urru, Mallow on Wednesday when the first of the Irish-grown strawberries arrived from Rosscarbery amidst glorious sunshine. We stacked boxes of ruddy fruit on the shelves of the fridge, inhaling their fragrance all the while, until it was decided that we needed to open one – just for quality testing, of course. That punnet wasn’t long in being devoured, and – before they all disappeared with customers – I grabbed one for myself, to sit in the evening sunshine and eat, all tumbled on great scoops of Murphy’s Vanilla Ice Cream. The first real taste of summer.

The Glebe Gardens, Baltimore 0

The Glebe Gardens, Baltimore

Just heard from a reader that the café at The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore is well worth a visit. Liz writes:”Just wanted to let you know of a café I happened upon last weekend. It is the Glebe Café, in Baltimore, West Cork, and it is one to rave about. The produce comes straight from their garden on to the plate and it is just spectacular. The website is www.glebegardens.com. I think they are only open at weekends right now but I think they start a weekly thing in the summer. I had Organic Beef Stew….yummy simple great food, it just excited me so much that I had to tell someone.”Last June, while the new Husband and I were honeymooning in West Cork (along with eight of his family, six English Engineers and an Irish terrier called Bridie) we visited the Glebe Gardens and loved it. Unfortunately the café wasn’t opened while we were there – although the Husband did meet the owner of the house and almost secured me a job while talking to him about me doing the course at Ballymaloe – but all the ingredients were present in the garden, just waiting to be used. Great to hear that it’s doing well – I’ll have to plan a trip back to the West this summer!

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James Beard Foundation Awards nominees

Nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award Just been checking out the James Beard Foundation Awards nominees and I see that congratulations are in order for Heidi Swanson for her nomination in the Healthy Focus category. Her book – Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking – is a constant source of ideas and inspiration these days as I try out her ideas and experiment with new ingredients.

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Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig Priebe with Dianne Jacob

A new way of cooking pizzaI love experimenting with and learning different cooking techniques, especially if they involve playing with yeast. No Knead Bread? Yes please! Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Made that. Sourdough from my own starter? Still bubbling quietly away in the fridge. But grilled or barbequed pizza? Not yet – that was until I got my hands on a copy of Craig Priebe’s Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas. Craig developed his grilling technique, using a barbeque, when he ran his own pizza restaurant in Atlanta and this book explains it in detail. When we did the pizza day in Ballymaloe, Darina cooked one of her creations on the barbeque outside the demo theatre door but, more fascinated by the wood-fired oven, I didn’t hang around in the rain, instead directing my attentions indoors so I never got to investigate the barbequed pizza properly.