03 Apr

Half Size Me – Food Waste, Portion Sizes, And Dining Out

‘There’s always the children’s menu if you want a smaller portion,’ the waitress said, directing me to the short 5 item menu attached at the back of the main menu.

‘That’s great if you fancy chicken nuggets and chips, sausages (with chips), or a burger with (you’ve guessed it) chips, or a half portion of the day’s roast dinner. What if I want to order a half portion of your signature pasta?’ I asked.

‘Oh the chef only cooks full portions.’

This response from a restaurant in Dublin doesn’t surprise me but does disappoint me. I love dining out and the occasional take away, but I love ‘adult’ food, not infantilised preformed breaded chicken which has been baked or deep-fried. Read More

15 Oct

Preparing For A Power Cut

Storm Ophelia is on the way tomorrow, and some areas of Ireland are already in red alert, others are in orange alert. We know for sure now that there will be some disruption and this means that there’s a distinct possibility the electricity could be cut off. Ever since the power went one Christmas Day when I was growing up, I’ve compiled a contingency plan so that I always have particular supplies in the house, just in case.  This can apply in times of bad weather, snow or just when there are supply problems so it’s a good idea to prepare now – you never know when these tips will come in handy!

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12 Oct

How Does She Do It?

It’s a question I’m often asked.

I try to explain my weekly work schedule in the home and outside of the home and I see people’s eyes glaze over. In truth, the writing part of my life is not a hardship. I could sit at a computer and write my heart out. Some days I have to restrain myself from writing too much and ignoring all the other tasks put on pause while I write something that’s on my mind. Read More

14 Sep

Mental Load – Food For Thought

There’s a point in a recent documentary on RTÉ1, called Ireland’s Health Divide, where Dr Eva Orsmond can’t get her head around a woman from Limerick buying so much processed food. The woman says that she doesn’t buy Coke (Cola) anymore because it’s worse than the other bottles of fizzy drinks on the countertop in front of her. Then Dr Eva looks incredulously at the woman not understanding how she came to that assumption. Perhaps even with more than a little judgement. Read More

16 Aug

Leaving Cert Results Day

Being ancient (according to my children) means that I remember this day in crystal moments, not as a full day. Driving my mother mad by not collecting my results until later on in the day. Crying bitter tears as I missed my number one choice on the CAO by 5 points. Going to another school with friends to get their results. Standing in a local pub with a drink in my hand that evening not knowing how to celebrate as I felt like I’d failed. Read More

05 Aug

Learning From A Two Week Digital Detox

Originally published in October 2015.

Sure it’s only two weeks I said to myself as I mailed my essential contacts to let them know that I wouldn’t be available for a fortnight. I set up a blogpost so that readers would know what I was up to. Then I deleted social media applications from my smart phone. Yes. I deleted them so that I wouldn’t be tempted to use them. I turned off every single notification I could, after I’d made sure to take a note of all-important passwords. Yep I was ready to become disconnected.

In August 2014 I did something similar, but this time it was for a whole fortnight. It wasn’t just me though, my husband had agreed to go on a digital detox with me. When I think about it we are constantly connected to the online world. When I’m in the kitchen working I have podcasts running in the background, when I’m out and about I have the phone with me in case somebody needs to contact me and it’s irresistible not to check the phone on a busy day, particularly when I spend so much of my day outdoors. In the evening we sit down for a while to watch TV and often end up dual-browsing/observing what’s on the telly without actually taking it in. Don’t think that this is unusual, in my experience it’s a fairly normal description of an average household.

I’ve had enough with this always-on lifestyle though. It bugs me when I don’t feel present, parenting mindfully and being in the moment means that I shouldn’t have a blinking phone or camera in my hand to document it or discuss it online. Watching TV is fun with Twitter open on the phone but it’s intrusive and resting at night was becoming more difficult as the phone was in my hand until I went to bed and again first thing in the morning. Read More

20 Nov

Slow Blogging Changed My Life And My Top Tips

It seems so throwaway to say ‘Slow Blogging Changed My Life’ but actually it’s the truth (more on that later). Here are my top tips to becoming a slow blogger, although I’d hazard a guess that many bloggers already do this without actually realising it. Read More

10 Nov

Opinion: Unconscious Bias in Irish Food

Everybody has to eat. Breaking bread together, sitting down to eat at a table, it is where I believe community begins. It’s a fundamental part of what makes us human.

As I grow food, prepare meals, and eat them with my family, I’m reminded that this is a process that has been going on for millenia. Growing, preparing, cooking, and eating.

In our society, as in most societies, 71% of families report that the task of meal preparation is carried out by women in Ireland.* In fact in the majority, women make grocery decisions, prepare the food, then serve it up to the family for everyone to enjoy. I’m not saying that this is the way it should be, but it is how it is. Yes, my husband is more than capable of doing all these things, but no, he doesn’t down to the division of labour within our family. He goes out of the home to work, I work from home, and so this cycle of being a homemaker (and work at home mother) continues with us both being willing partners. Read More

15 Mar

What Is Irish Food?

What Is Irish Food_It’s the ruby juice from a ripe strawberry as it runs down my chin.

The golden sheen of a smear of butter, so yellow it could only come from grass-fed cows.

The pop of elderflower champagne, and the gentle buzz of its fizz in my glass.

Earthy, soil-like smell from roasting fresh beetroot in the oven.

Steam escaping from a pot of boiled potatoes, filling the room, fogging my glasses and making me smile. “Yum, yum, pig’s bum, cabbage and potatoes.

Sweet gur cake, washed down with strong tea, makes me think of the generations who have eaten it before, and wonder if my children will eat it in the same way.

Milk moustaches on a giggling 3-year-old.

Picking blackberries and coming home with a quarter of those we picked.

Cod so light it falls away from my fork. It tastes pure, clean and nothing like the sea.

Prawns, crab claws and mussels, cooked in that Irish butter and flavoured with tender garlic.

Bitter apples that taste sweeter for the scrumping.

It’s egg in a cup with a knob of butter and a crack of black pepper, eaten with a spoon and toast soldiers.

A ladle of coddle or stew, mopped up with a crust of soda bread.

Creamy porridge made with the finest oats in the world.

The sizzle of bacon under the grill, accompanied by the quiet pfft of the fat crisping (and sometimes the “whomp” of the grill catching fire).

Come to think of it, the crisp snap of brittle crackling followed by succulent roast pork.

Potatoes; waxy, floury, covered in butter. All the sizes, all the varying flavours.

It’s a kaleidoscope of tomatoes, hanging from the vine, sweet for the picking.

You know what it is? It’s the taste of home.

I’ve not mentioned a brand name here. We have the best of ingredients, great producers, passionate advocates of great food. What does Irish food taste like to you?

Just FYI in case you never heard about Irish food before, the following terms do not apply to Irish food:

05 Jun

Things I Don’t Buy Anymore

Last year I wrote about the things we don’t buy anymore but I just realised that it’s due an update. Although I talk a lot about what I buy, what we eat and how we live, maybe what is missing from the list might be interesting. This afternoon I was working through my shopping list and figuring out what I want to get for the week ahead and it struck me. So here’s a list of some of the things I don’t buy anymore and the reasons why (if any): Read More

03 Jan

Irish Food Predictions 2015

Well it seems that quite a number of people searching on the blog remember I made some Irish food predictions in  January last year about what I thought would be in store for Irish Food in 2014.

In 2014 said that I thought that group dining/Sunday Roasts would be making a comeback. The Exchequer has been doing it for years, but I also believe that newer establishments such as the Brookwood have started doing a roast dinner. This trend will continue to increase in 2015.

Juicing was my trend to watch and I was pretty much bang on with that too. There has been an explosion of juice bars in the Dublin area that I’ve noticed. The price of tropical fruit has remained static enough but this could be down to the slump in fuel prices, more so than lack of demand.

Increase in Ottolenghi/Middle Eastern/Lit-Fest inspired dishes across blogs in Ireland in 2014? I’ll stick a firm tick beside that one.

I mentioned how the food bank system would struggle unless the major retailers stepped up to the plate – go figure, between the Bia Food Bank & Food Cloud the amount of food that is being redistributed has increased significantly. So I’m happy to report that while food banks have increased demand, they also have more food to hand out.

I’m putting the diseases related to nutritional deficiency to one side – as I’ve not had a chance to research this thoroughly (I’m a bit laid up at the moment).

Now to 2015. Read More

14 Nov

Food Blogging Tips & Tricks That I’ve Learned

Call this post a review of sorts, in effect it is. This is a review of a year in the life of an Irish food blogger, but it also a way of sharing some food bloggingtips and tricks I picked up along the way. This blogpost was originally written in December 2012, now 2 years later I’m updating some of the information. Read More

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