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

16 Mar

Hot Potato Salad Recipe – Ad

One of the issues with my long days in work is finding time to snack. On Tuesday I went from my porridge at 6.30am at the desk with nothing until a meal at 3.30pm when I got home from work. That’s daft carry on altogether and I have nobody to blame but myself. So when Potato.ie – Potatoes More Than A Bit On The Side challenged me to come up with a new recipe I knew that it was an opportunity to make the most of my suppers in the evening and design a recipe that is perfect for an evening meal and matures into a delicious lunch that travels well.

The beauty of this recipe is that by cutting the potatoes into small cubes, you can speed up the cooking time for the tasty bites. If you’re not a fan of bacon, then switch things up by using feta cheese (or Irish cheddar) instead and add a tablespoon of decent olive oil to the dressing recipe. I don’t season this dish at all because there is enough salt from the bacon, but I do think some minced garlic would be a great addition to the salad dressing. Read More

14 Mar

Impossible Brownies Recipe

This recipe is called impossible brownies because it shouldn’t work. It really shouldn’t! Brownies are traditionally made with butter, eggs, flour, and refined sugar, but these brownies have none of this stuff and instead are packed full of fibre and vegetable protein.

The beetroot and chickpeas give the brownies a squishy texture even after they’ve been baked, and because there is no dairy or eggs, they will keep for up to 5 days in a dry sealed container. Let’s not fool ourselves here though, they’re not going to last that long. Read More

05 Mar

Accidental Lower Fat Brownie Recipe

I’ve had to test a lot of brownies in the past few weeks as I tried to refine some new recipes. To cut a long story short I ended up making a lower fat brownie mixture by accident. Little did I know how much of a hit the lower fat brownie would be!

I don’t know what it is but the cold weather we’ve been having lately has brought on the urge to bake up sweet treats. It helps when I have fantastic ingredients to work with. Just before Christmas Lily O’Brien’s got in touch and asked would I like to try out baking with their chocolate buttons which come in large bags. Let me tell you those bags are HUGE.

Read More

26 Jan

Monitoring Your Child’s Internet Access

I originally wrote this piece in 2013 and unfortunately I’m reviewing it today in the light of discussion about children’s internet access and online safety today. 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!

Read More

17 Sep

Strawberry Jam With Gin

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

19 Jul

Opinion: Food Headlines Worth Banning

Let’s ban the urgency of headlines when talking about food when talking about food

OMG if you read one thing about food today, read this, quick. Before everybody else reads it.

Does this sound familiar to you?

It certainly does to me, and I’m tired of it.

A quick trawl through articles published in Ireland by bloggers, online magazines, and newspapers in the past month reveal the following headline samples: Read More

30 Apr

Blog & Allotment Update 28 April 2017

The month of April has been a sprint from start to finish for me, and I want to explain. It’s not that I haven’t had the time to update the blog. I’ve actually sat down and started typing most days. It’s just that there is something major going on in the background that I can’t talk about quite yet. This time next month it will all be in the open and you will probably understand why I’ve been sitting on my hands. Normally I hate when people put up vague updates about ‘exciting things’ but I promise that it will be public within the next month so feel comfortable explaining that I’ve been preoccupied (understatement).

As part of this new ‘thing’ I’ve been working on I was privileged to have Cathy Dunne take some work photos of me last week. As full disclosure, Cathy is my cousin. When I heard I needed professional photos I knew I wanted to worth with her as she has incredible talent, eye, and understands what I love and do perfectly. The photos she took were taken using natural light (no flash photography at all), and with minimal editing. The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that this is not my kitchen; it’s the kitchen in my parents’ house which was perfect for us on the day.

So the allotment! I started saying I had an allotment update!

As you probably know, there were bad frosts last week and yes we did lose some of the grapes but not all. We are still hoping for a decent harvest. We had elected not to fleece because of our proximity to the coast (it’s literally 200 m away from the polytunnel). Foolhardy I know. This is variety ‘Flame’ which we got from Ken Muir in the UK 3 years ago. We are hoping for a good crop of blush seedless grapes this year.

Some of the tomatoes aren’t doing so well with the cold and I’m not sure that all the tubs are draining well either. However the tumblers in the basket are flying along despite the frost last week. There are oodles of yellow flowers which are a good sign of the crop to come.

The strawberries, which are outdoors, don’t seem to have been affected by the frost at all and there are quite a few blossoms, each of which will become individual strawberries (fingers crossed).

The shallots, onions, and garlic have ‘jumped’ over the past fortnight or so and are thriving. We don’t harvest them until the Autumn and they have a long way left to grow yet anyway.

I’m at the guilt-fest that comes with having buckets of work and not enough time to spend at the plot. Look sure it’ll all balance out in the end. I hope. I still need to plant carrots, fix raised beds, weed EVERYWHERE, and support the peas and beans. It’s been on my to-do list for at least a fortnight at this stage.

Finally the new herd of bainbh (Gaelic for bonham or piglet) have arrived and are happily wandering around the paddock looking for bits to eat. The cycle begins again.

I promise I’ll be back soon to fill you in on that ‘thing’. 😉 Have a great May Bank Holiday weekend.

Caitríona xxx

02 Apr

Allotment Update 2 April 2017 #Ad

We’re not long back from the allotment after another gloriously sunny Sunday spent in my happy place. I took the big camera down today and had great craic documenting all the new life that’s popping up all over the place. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that I’ve been sharing regular updates from the plot using Facebook Live video and I hope you’re enjoying the news.

Have you spotted this week’s Lidl brochure yet? I’m delighted to say that my homegrowing tips and advice are free for you to pick up this week to go along with the seedlings and produce that will go on special tomorrow morning (Monday 3rd April). Some of the items that will go on sale I got 10 days ago so I wanted to give you an allotment update and show you how the products have come along since I planted them at the allotment. This post is picture-heavy, you have been warned! 🙂 Read More

23 Mar

Homegrown Food 2017

Every evening when I get back from the allotment I look at my hands. They’re not as soft as they used to be, yet the children still say my touch is just as light as when they themselves were pumpkin-sized. They’re not the prettiest hands you’ll see and after a long day working at the plot there will always be a little lingering dirt even after the third soak. These are the hands that nourish my family, I grow food, and then cook it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way

This is my seventh year of growing my own food on an allotment but I grew some food at home for the year before that. Making the move to an allotment wasn’t a difficult choice to make; growing your own food is made so much easier when you have a wealth of advisors, space, and comaradery to draw upon. Read More

16 Mar

Rare Aul’ Irish Recipes for 2017

In October 2016, my grandfather, Jim, turned 100. Jim Shortall was born in Dublin’s North Inner City in 1916, a time of great turmoil for the Irish state. Last year, as we commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 rising, my family was celebrating a joyous milestone for an incredible gentleman who once cycled internationally for Ireland.

Food that would have been common at the turn of the century in working class Dublin might be viewed as unhealthy or unappealing in modern Ireland. Many of the dishes include offal, which is much loved by the newer Irish immigrants from across Eastern Europe, Asia, and beyond.

I live in an area which has a multitude of different ethnic backgrounds. There are region-specific food stores nearby, indeed my estate alone boasts more than 40 nationalities.

When I think about the food that my grandfather grew up with, and still loves to this day, I can see how it should still appeal to us all now. We have a rich culinary heritage that sometimes gets lost in the ‘corned beef and cabbage’ or ‘green food’ associated with St Patrick’s Day.

There’s no reason why we can’t continue to cook our traditional recipes, but tweak them to include newer ingredients and flavours to reflect how diverse our country is today. Read More

%d bloggers like this: