Once again I found myself with a surplus of rapidly blackening bananas and a need to bake. Actually that’s not quite true. I’ve gotten into the habit of peeling bananas and then popping them into a box in the freezer as soon as they are past their best. Which is working very well in terms of the ripe bananas in the kitchen. However, the box has to be managed so that it doesn’t take over the freezer.
I need space for other items like berries. Gooseberries top and tail marvellously directly from the freezer so there is a wonderful bounty waiting for me to have the time on the right day. There’s also a couple of kilos of raspberries yet to be preserved. As you can guess, there are plenty of berry recipes to appear on the blog in the near future! Read More →
I’ve got a bit a lot of a strawberry jam glut here. Imagine that! I ran out of jam jars and space to store them in, leaving me with the jam in the bottom of the pan. It’s my moral obligation to make sure that the jam doesn’t go to waste so it might as well go to waist.
Daft puns aside.
If you’re going to eat something with sugar in it, eat a bun, not a cupcake. Based on my own expert (cough) visual inspections, a bun is about half the size of a cupcake. Meaning they are easier to portion and just eat the one. Cupcakes are lovely but flipping huge and a bun is just the right size. Read More →
Last Thursday in celebration of the 1st Birthday of the North Fingal Women in Business Group, Clarke’s Fresh Fruit hosted an educational evening. I’m a member of the group, albeit not that frequent attendee as the meetings tend to be in the mornings which isn’t great when I’ve a gaggle of kids to get out to school. On this occasion though it was in the evening and as soon as the invitation arrived I accepted without hesitation.
I made my way home with quite a fruit bounty and it was only fitting that I made the most of the strawberries that ended up on my kitchen counter. Read More →
When 6th year started last September it seemed like June was a lifetime away. We’ve had many a battle of wills about the 17-year-old’s eating habits. She leaves early in the morning which means I get to see exactly what she’s taken (or not) for lunch before I head out to work. There’s been a couple quite a few early morning phone calls to make sure she has enough food to get her through the day in school. She isn’t a fan of breakfast, and truthfully would skip it only for her Dad makes sure she eats every morning before going to school.
I can’t make her study, harder or otherwise. I can’t sit beside her helping her with her spellings or reading anymore. I can’t lead her by the hand to school, although somedays I wish I could.
In the evening, when she gets home from school, I’m here with dinner and a cup of tea. There’s a hug and a chat; a debrief of the day in school, discussions about all girls’ schools being full of wagons (it’s a Dublin term), answering technical questions about pie charts and languages, etc. Left to her own devices she would happily drink a vat of sugary coffee or minerals, with a side of doughnuts. That’s pretty much her ultimate study food. I’m at a point where I pick my battles, I am not going to tell her what to eat or not. We’ve had the chat about managing sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. The easiest way to combat the rollercoaster that is parenting a Leaving Cert teenager is to make sure there is plenty of food available when she needs it, and that there’s a more convenient healthier option than convenience food.
That’s where energy balls come in. I’m not going to go on and on about the health benefits because I’m not a dietician. These include oats for slow release energy, peanut butter and seeds for fats and protein, dried fruit for fibre, and cocoa powder for flavour. I use honey as a sweetener here but you can use maple syrup or agave, or another sweetener of your choice. The key thing is to smush it all together in a bowl (technical term I know) and roll them into balls which will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
2 handfuls seeds (I use sesame seeds but use pumpkin, flaxseeds, or sunflower seeds if you like)
2 handfuls dried fruit (I use raisins)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy whichever you prefer, why not try almond butter either?)
50ml hot water
2 tablespoons runny honey
Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir well until the ingredients are combined. Take a ping-pong ball sized amount into your hands and roll until you have a compact ball. You can store these energy balls in the fridge for up to 5 days because there is no dairy in the mixture. For extra texture, roll the balls in dessicated coconut or even cover them in dark chocolate.
The verdict from the teenager? “They’d be lovely if you hadn’t ruined them with raisins.” Mind you, despite the fact that she detests raisins she still eats them. Just saying…
By special request, I’ve collated some of my best apple recipes, along with a new recipe for an open apple pie, in the one spot. This will make it easy for that somebody who has a glut and there are a couple of savoury options as well as sweet. My big secret with apples is that I use them instead of a sweetener such as sugar or even honey in recipes. They boost the flavour in a sauce or a soup and I even use the peel to make my jams and marmalades set. It’s no wonder they are one of my favourite seasonal and Irish fruits!
*Cough* It is World Pi Day after all… ;)If you’re wondering what to do with your apples, here are some ideas for you to consider:
It’s Pancake Tuesday tomorrow, or as the boys call it; Lá Féile Pancóga. When I was growing up there was a rule that we had to eat our dinner before we got pancakes which was clearly a clever ruse to stop us from having our parents at the stovetop for hours on end churning out the pancakes. There were 6 of us in the house (4 girls, my poor Dad), plus if we were lucky, Ma (my Grandmother) and my Aunt. Pancakes were always dredged with sugar and fresh lemon juice and sometimes with a drizzle of runny golden syrup from the Lyle’s tin. They were cooked in a little bit of oil with a knob of butter and our bellies would ache for hours afterward. Oh wow, the memories! Read More →
I love a regular Victoria Sponge but I’ve recently started to make buttermilk cake as an alternative. Buttermilk cake has a lighter texture than an all butter cake and just as simple to make. With the addition of this warm white chocolate ganache, the buttermilk cake becomes a serious treat. As the ganache is sweet, I’ve lowered the sugar in the cake mix. I also used this basic cake mix to make some banana cake last week. It was more bread-ish than cake-ish if you get what I mean. Still it was the perfect snack for my elevenses – a time when I find I’m dipping in energy during the day.
Meanwhile over here at my desk I’m finalising the arrangements to speak at a special conference for International Women’s Day on a topic close to my heart. I’m very excited to take part and as soon as the details are published I’ll let you know in case you’d like to come along! Read More →
Did I ever tell you the story of the crate of bananas? Well actually it was two crates of bananas, but what’s a couple of hundred ripe bananas between friends, eh?
Trips to the slaughterhouse happen twice a year, and they are normally 3 days apart. In Ireland the slaughterhouse can have a food market to one side where some meat and other produce is sold on the premises. It’s often sold at wholesale prices. This is where we get our beef in bulk; it’s all in large cuts. I break the large cuts of beef down and fill the freezer. We rarely buy minced beef anymore, I simply take a piece out of the freezer and chop it on demand.
Anyway, on this particular day my husband spotted a crate of bananas. They were practically all black. Read More →
If, like me, you sometimes like to stealthily sneak extra fruit and vegetables into your diet then this loaf will be right up your street. By adding grated apple to the mixture, you not only add natural sweetness, and use less refined sugar, but it also stops the loaf from drying out over time. This loaf will last up to 3 days in a sealed container but I doubt it’ll last that long in my house! Read More →
As the elder lemon in the family (who is studying for her Leaving Cert this year) started back to school over a week ago, it doesn’t feel like the 1st of September at all. It feels like we are already hurtling through the school year towards Hallowe’en! Still today marked the start of term for many Irish students and I’m back with a recipe for blueberry muffins that all my family love.
Wholemeal flour gives these blueberry muffins a lovely crunchy texture. The blueberries, paired with the crumbly oats on top make for snack perfection. Don’t be limited by blueberries though, use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have to hand. My kids love these muffins made with over-ripe bananas, which is a great way to use up fruit that might seem past its best. Read More →
This is the best recipe for rhubarb crumble that I’ve ever made. I was brought up to make crumble the classic way using white flour, with the addition of wholemeal flour sometimes, then every now and again adding in oats. This is radically different because this rhubarb crumble recipe ditches the classic flour altogether and uses a different type of flour altogether.
Yes, it is very simple and uses the bare minimum of ingredients. You can add more flavours/ingredients if you like, but rather than overloading your palate with so much, why not dial it back a bit and enjoy the simplicity? Also, there is sugar in the recipe; if you’re watching your sugar content then you will want to take a smaller portion. Use sugar replacements if you like, but rhubarb works best with plain sugar or honey I’ve found. There is a slight duplication in the ingredients but that’s because they’re listed in the order of use. Read on to get the recipe, advice on how to prepare rhubarb and notes on this naturally gluten free bake. Read More →
My frying pan gets used at least every second day, pancakes on a Sunday are a regular treat, and I like to use it to add colour (and flavour) to meat before cooking in the oven. The beauty of this pancake recipe is that it doesn’t take long to put together, you don’t need to wait for the batter to get smooth, it contains very few ingredients, and it becomes a balanced meal once we have some fruit on the side. Mind you there’s nothing stopping you making this a savoury dish. I suppose we’ve become used to this as a sweet treat. The sweetness is all in the extras, not from the ingredients.
I’ve been asked a few times recently for instructions on how to make pancakes – the quick and easy way. Nothing too stressful, that requires very little skill in the kitchen.
To me, fast food is a meal that I can get to the table in less than 30 minutes. These pancakes start making their way to the table in the first 15 minutes of whipping up the batter, then it’s a rhythm of spooning, flipping, and serving to make sure that everybody is satisfied. The ingredients that I use are always in my store cupboard, so I always have a fast food option to cook. This is a budget recipe; the ingredients for these pancakes (that feed 5) come to just over 82c, which is a cost of just under 17c per portion; fruit and any other spreads/syrups are extra.*Read More →