Food From An Irish Garden
|Posted by Fiona on June 17, 2013 at 9:00 AM||comments (6)|
The lovely people at Brand Social know that I'm a sucker for a kid's movie and I must say I am really thrilled to be attending the Irish Premiére of Universal Picture's Despicable Me2 next Saturday. I am bringing Ellie and Ruth as my guests and we are going to have some fun!
In the meantime, I have three super Despicable Me2 merchandising packs to give away to a few lucky children. These packs contain a kid's cap, kid's t-shirt, a minnion keyring, stationery, stickers, a towel and more.
If you know a little person that would love these goodies all you have to do is put their name and age in the comment box below. Simple!
And now for the smallprint..
The competition closes on Friday June 28th at 6pm.
The winner will be chosen at random (by Miss Ruth).
Prizes can only be posted to ROI addresses.
The winners will be notified by email (your email address is not published when you comment). The winner will be asked to supply their name and phone number to Brand Social so that their prize can be delivered.
There is no cash alternative to this prize.
Sorry family and friends, I am excluding you!
|Posted by Fiona on June 9, 2013 at 5:50 AM||comments (2)|
I wonder do I have the only child in Ireland who dashed home from school the other day and raced to put on their swimming togs? Probably not. I wonder did many children then proceed to don their wellies before running to the garden to turn on the hose?
I suspect Ruthie might be on her own when it comes to swimsuits and wellies - but what fun she had...
|Posted by Fiona on May 23, 2013 at 1:45 PM||comments (1)|
I got a lovely email from Glenisk recently inviting me to spend a night at Cloughjordan House, with the added attraction of a cookery class the following morning. Glenisk have recently partnered up with Sarah Baker’s cookery school at Cloughjordan House to create recipes and recipe videos with a focus on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. I was delighted to accept this lovely invitation for I’m not one to ever pass an opportunity to improve my cooking skills.
My plus one was Mr Dillon and we set off on our journey to Tipperary in glorious sunshine last Friday. Before leaving Hunters Lodge, I tweeted that I was looking for somewhere to eat near Cloughjordan on Friday night. The replies came tumbling in with one recommendation appearing over and over again – The Fairways & Orchard Bar in Kilruane. When I called to make a reservation, I got chatting with the proprietor/head chef Geoff, who promptly arranged for the resident Daimler Limo to bring us to and from Cloughjordan House on Friday evening. Now that’s what I call service. And as for the food at the Fairways, folks put it on your list. My photos do not do it justice. The staff were excellent and the ambience just right. The Fairways truly is in the middle of nowhere but I wasn’t one bit surprised to hear that people travels for miles to eat there. If you’re heading in this direction, be sure to check it out.
Anyway, back to Cloughjordan House where on Saturday morning we joined fellow guests in the dining room for breakfast. Four couples who had won the competition you have probably seen on some Glenisk products at the moment. Their prize was an overnight stay at Cloughjordan House followed by a cookery class the next day (check out the link below to enter, it’s a fab prize). Let me tell you a couple of the men looked a little nervous about the prospect of cooking, but our hosts Peter and Sarah Baker soon put them at ease. And they got us in fine form with a wonderful breakfast (the bread was freshly baked, the rashers from their own pigs and, my particular favourite, the juice was freshly squeezed). The vegetarian option was a beautifully presented Eggs Florentine.
And then we toddled off to the cookery school which is right beside the centuries old main house. There we were, ten little soldiers lined up in our white aprons, ready to take on the world…
Sarah is a wonderful teacher. We worked in pairs and cooked our lunch under Sarah’s expert eye. And this is what we cooked...
Caramelised onion and crème fraiche tart
Slow cooked belly of pork with rhubarb sauce
Cavolo nero (kale) with garlic and parmesan
Lemon Posset and ginger biscuits
We had such incredible fun, and not just Eamonn and I. The whole group seemed to really enjoy the learning process and we sat down hours later and tucked into a supremely tasty lunch with lots and lots of chat.
After lunch we said our goodbyes, armed with Sarah’s recipes and individual goody bags from Glenisk.
Before leaving Cloughjordan though we accepted an invitation from Bruce Darrell to visit his RED gardens in the Eco Village right beside Cloughjordan House. If you have an interest in growing your own, then this is yet another reason to visit Cloughjordan. He is doing some really amazing work there and I can’t wait to return later in the Summer to see how the gardens are progressing.
And then it was time to return to Hunters Lodge. Already I can’t wait to return to Cloughjordan and yes, you know what I’m going to say…
It’s really not a long way to Tipperary…..
Glenisk customers can win one of 10 monthly overnight B&B stays at Cloughjordan, with a cookery masterclass for two on special packs of GLENISK ORGANIC WHOLEMILK - 1 litre carton for €1.65, FRESH CREAM - 500ml tub for €3.69, GREEK STYLE YOGURT - 500g tub for €2.38 and CRÉME FRAICHE - 250g tub for €1.59. All available to purchase from leading supermarkets and independent retailers.
Details of the prizes and entry forms can also be found on
Note: Eamonn and I were guests of Glenisk at Cloughjordan House. I was under no obligation to write about my visit. This is my own personal review and many thanks to Peter and Sarah Baker for their hospitality.
Dinner at the Fairways cost €104 for 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 desserts, 2 teas, 2 G&Ts and 1 bottle of house red. The Daimler service is available for customers on Fri/Sat nights by arrangement. This service was complimentary.
|Posted by Fiona on May 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM||comments (2)|
Last Saturday morning we headed to Stradbally near Waterford City where Ruth was filming on location for Kerrygold. It was a lovely opportunity for Ruth to catch up with director Rachael Moriarty whom she has worked with before, as well as cameramen and crew that we knew from filming Ear To The Ground last year. So lots of old faces and plenty of new ones were met on the day.
Filming was in two locations and we were treated to a wonderful homecooked lunch and plenty of delicious scones and pots of tea throughout the day. The weather was typically Irish – sunshine one minute and rain the next.
At the end of the day when all the goodbyes were said, we decided to detour through Waterford City in search of some good food. When Eamonn and I were guests at Waterford Harvest Festival last year we were treated, along with fellow bloggers, to a fantastic tasting menu at Bodego in Waterford City. We made a beeline to Bodego last Saturday evening and the staff were most accommodating in fitting in three last-minute hungry travellers. The restaurant was alive and bustling but what I really loved was, in spite of how full Bodega was, there was no need to shout to be heard (a bugbear of mine). So we kicked back and enjoyed scrumptious food – I had a supremely succulent breast of free-range chicken while Eamonn enjoyed one of the night’s specials – lemon sole stuffed with prawn mousse. Ruth had a great children’s menu from which to choose. Main courses were followed by chocolate soufflé and panna cotta for the adults while Ruthie made short work of her bowl of berry ice-cream. Two coffees later and we were ready to hit the road. But not before Eamonn declared his chocolate soufflé to be the best he’d ever eaten (thankfully I’m not easily offended!).
You can’t beat good hospitality and service and our waitress Siobhan epitomised both on Saturday evening. So if you’re in Waterford, check out Bodega on John St – so much of the food is locally sourced and there’s a huge range of craft beers on offer too. I’m looking forward to returning already.
This is not a sponsored post. Our bill for two main courses, two desserts, two coffees, a children's menu, two soft drinks and a carafe of house red was €81.
|Posted by Fiona on May 3, 2013 at 9:15 AM||comments (0)|
For the past three months I have been learning to improve my photography techniques under the guidance of Kilkenny photographer Pat Shortall. Every Monday, without fail, I take myself and my camera (now held together with blutac!) to Pat's studio in Kilkenny, and there he shares his vast knowledge with a group of dedicated students. While I'd be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn, the learning journey so far has been great. This week we had our first official outing and we headed off to the beautiful Inistiogue.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that we are surrounded by such beauty in this country.
And wasn't there a real feeling of spring in the air this week? The grass is growing and the cherry blossom is finally making an appearance - here's to a few weeks of sunshine while I take the photos for "Food From An Irish Garden".
Our produce is going down a treat at the gate - this week we had large eggs, bantam eggs, quail eggs, rhubarb and tomato plants. I'm thinking of adding a few goose eggs this weekend, so be on the lookout..
If you would like to take part in a class here at Hunters Lodge here are the upcoming dates..
Keeping Chickens Saturday June 15th 11am
Self-Sufficiency Sunday June 16th 2pm
Phone: 085 2894556 Email: email@example.com for bookings
Have a great bank holiday weekend folks.
And if you're in the Kilkenny area, be sure to pick up a copy of Kilkenny magazine - you'll find me there too....
|Posted by Fiona on April 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM||comments (2)|
With my book deadline looming, I knuckled down this week and did some serious writing. Housework was abandoned (like I need an excuse) and “Food From An Irish Garden” really started to take shape.
I guess over the past month or so with writing the book, studying photography and generally being a mother of four, I haven’t been as focused on our food budget as I would usually be. Instead of looking in the freezer and planning dinners, I would pop into the butcher for fresh meat after the school run. Nothing wrong with that but next month we will be getting our pigs as usual, so it’s time to start making headway in my beloved freezer to make some space..
Oh and these little guys are keeping me occupied too.
Without spending one cent on meat this week, this is what we ate for dinner.
Chicken fillets stuffed with Boursin from the fridge that was in danger of being neglected. I really must do this one more often. Quick and tasty.
Our own centre-cut ham with leeks from the vegetable garden. I add blue cheese and cream to my leeks – oh my!
Homemade burgers made with Piemontese beef, fresh from the oven poppy seed rolls, cucumber pickle from the larder and twice cooked chips. The nice people at Piemontese Beef had given me delicious samples some time ago and I was delighted to find some of their lean mince in the freezer (their steaks are fabulous by the way).
Wild partridge, flavoured with pontack – honestly, I’m not as gamey as I thought (don't say it!) and Eamonn finished most of mine. I got these from the Wild Irish Game company and had frozen them for a special occasion – well the sun was shining, that’s special enough for me.
Pasta with our hand-made garlic sausages with shallots, herbs and beetroot from the garden. A quick and easy to put together dinner, perfect when we are all rushing out again to the launch of Edward Hayden's new book.
So there you have it..
Chicken, ham, beef, game and pork – and I didn’t spend a cent. I’m heading back to the freezer to organise next weeks dinners….
Before I head off, can I urge you to pick up a packet of seeds over the weekend? Go on! Have a look in the Grow Your Own Forum – I hope you might be tempted to grow something lovely over the next couple of days...
And the best news of all - regulars readers know that I dyed my hair purple to raise a few bob for the Irish Cancer Society after hearing that a young mother I know got the news that nobody wants to hear. Well guess what? She got the ALL CLEAR today! Isn't that fantastic?
Have a great weekend folks - and let's continue to celebrate life's simple pleasures...
Take care..... xx
Next classes at Hunters Lodge
Saturday June 15th 11am Keeping Chickens
Sunday June 16th 2pm Self-Sufficiency in your garden
Phone: 085 2894556 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
EGGS AND RHUBARB FOR SALE AT THE GATE EVERY DAY
|Posted by Fiona on April 19, 2013 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
I’ve had a very productive week due in no small part to the wonderful time I had at the West Waterford Food Festival in Dungarvan last weekend. There is surely nothing like a weekend of good food and great company to set you up for the week. Food Festival or not, I plan to visit Dungarvan again in the very near future. There’s certainly no shortage of accommodation and really good food. Our get-together last Saturday night was at The Moorings situated on the quays in Dungarvan. For €25 per person we were spoiled for choice – I’m salivating right now thinking of those crab claws dripping in garlic butter. I must admit I’m usually drawn to a steak on a menu, but I couldn’t resist trying the chicken with a smoky bacon and mushroom sauce. I’m a sauce girl for sure and this was right up my street, and the chicken was really succulent. Three varieties of potatoes, oodles of veg (the root mash was to die for) and it was time for my home-made meringue made just the way I like it. The service was excellent and I’d like to wish proprietor Marie the best of luck as she is due to have a baby in the next few weeks (yes, she was on her feet for the entire evening bringing back many memories for me I might add!.).
The Sunday market was excellent and after picking up some sushi for lunch it was time to head back to Hunters Lodge with great gusto.
In spite of the storms we had this week, there were also pockets of glorious sunshine so I took full advantage and started sowing seeds in earnest (more details in the Grow Your Own forum). Tomatoes were transplanted, and at last the Tomato House is coming to life after a long long winter.
The fine weather meant that we were finally able to go visit our beehives. Read all about how we got on in the Beekeeping Forum.
Of course I’m still writing away and I can confirm that I think I am actually happy with ONE photograph for the book. I’ll keep snapping away and I’ll get there eventually!
Oh and in the spirit of the organized week that I had, I have set up dates for my classes..
Keeping Chickens takes place on Saturday June 15th at 11am here at Hunters Lodge
Self-Sufficiency takes place on Sunday June 16th at 2pm here at Hunters Lodge
If you would like to book a class, please call 085 2894556 or email email@example.com
To hear more about life at Hunters Lodge, check out this PODCAST from my recent appearance on Todayfm’s Ray Darcy Show.
Now keep your fingers crossed for good weather this weekend – if the light is good, who knows, I might just even get the second perfect photo for Food From An Irish Garden……
|Posted by Fiona on April 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM||comments (0)|
Did you ever have one of those weeks where you think you are going to meet yourself coming back? Well that was my week – but it was all good. For the past couple of months I have been spending Monday mornings in Kilkenny working on my photography skills, and I finally think I am getting somewhere. I shared some of my work with my tutor and class this week and the feedback was pretty good – and with my book deadline fast approaching, let me tell you I’m quite relieved that I have mastered at least the most basic of photography skills (feel free to give me your opinion when the book is out in November – but be kind!)
On Monday evening I was delighted to be one of three bloggers to talk to the KLCK group of bloggers who, this month, held their monthly meeting in Portlaoise. KLCK is a fantastic group made up of bloggers from Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny, and once a month they get together and share ideas. If you are a blogger and would like to get involved, you’ll find them on Facebook.
By Wednesday morning I was winging my way to the TodayFM studios to talk to Ray Darcy about living the “Good Life” in Co Carlow. The response to my interview has been incredible – if the response is half as good when my book comes out I’ll be delighted! Check out the Podcast if you missed it..
AND THEN yesterday, my little nephew was born. All 6lbs 15oz of pure perfection. Congratulations to my brother Gary and sister in law Tracy on the birth of their fourth child - I'm so proud.
In between all the running around I’m finding some time to write and now with the temperatures rising, I do believe it’s time to get going in the garden. Very shortly we’ll be able to open the beehives. And the rhubarb is just shooting out of the ground.
The little bit of extra light in the day was all that was needed for the quail to start laying again, so from goose eggs to quail eggs, we’ve all shapes and sizes here at the moment.
After I present the Breakfast Show on Community Radio Kilkenny City (CRKC88.7fm) in the morning, I shall be hightailing it to Dungarvan to immerse myself in the West Waterford Food Festival this weekend. Good friends, great company and wonderful food - I can't wait....
In the meantime if you would like to learn more about Keeping Chickens, classes resume here on Saturday June 15th, so do get in touch if you would like to take part.
The lady with the Purple Hair wishes you a Happy Weekend xx
|Posted by Fiona on April 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
“Sure God is good and the goose is laying”
I’ve no idea where I heard this expression, but I'm reminded of it every time I see Willow Goose in the garden because our beautiful Willow is laying once again. When Ruth was younger we used make up stories about our goose laying a golden egg, but alas this wasn’t to happen. But we’ll settle for a few goslings any day. The magpies are circling to take those massive goose eggs but I’m being just as vigilant, so hopefully it won’t be long before she settles on her nest and goes into broody mode. She’s never had much luck at hatching (remember last year) but fingers crossed this will be her year.
We are well and truly in broody season here with two Golden Phoenix hens sitting on clutches of eggs and I have a Light Sussex who is so broody I’m almost afraid to go near her for fear of a good pecking. Spring has definitely arrived. Those that aren’t broody are laying like there’s no tomorrow and we’re selling eggs at the gate once again. If you are in the Wexford Rd area of Carlow, you can pick up a dozen fresh eggs at the gate for the princely sum of €2. Great value and even better flavour…
With the temperatures still dipping to minus one at night, I have held off on putting out my seed potatoes. Another week or two and I’ll be happy to put them out. I’m taking my time with all the seedlings this year because of the weather.
We are still waiting to reach that elusive 10 degrees so we can open up the beehives, but I’m hopeful that the next week or two will see the sowing, growing and beekeeping kick up a gear.
In the meantime I’m writing away and so far so good, so we’re still on course to be in the shops in November with “Food From An Irish Garden”. I do hope you will find it an enjoyable read.
Now before I go, can I mention that my hair is still purple? I’m over halfway there on my fundraising for Shave or Dye 2013, and if you’d like to help me along the way with a few bob click HERE. Every cent is gratefully received..
Stay well folks xx
|Posted by Fiona on March 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM||comments (4)|
I’m not a serious or solemn person by nature. I look at the bright side of everything and my glass is without doubt always half full. I try to see the funny side of any situation. But life throws stuff at you sometimes and it’s hard to see the positives...
On Christmas Eve just gone, I heard the news that someone I know was about to start chemotherapy after Christmas. A young woman, with a husband and three small children. There she was on Christmas Eve facing God only knew what, while her little ones almost burst with excitement about Santa Claus.
I cried a lot of tears for her.
But the tears dry and you get on with life. Three of six chemo sessions later things are going well for my young friend, but I wanted to help. So here’s what I’ve done.
I’ve Dyed My Hair Purple
I’ve set up a page on www.mycharity.ie
And I hope to raise €500.
It’s not much I know, but it’s something.
I was terrified walking into the hairdressers to dye my hair a ridiculous shade of purple. I can’t begin to imagine walking into a hospital for chemotherapy.
If you can spare a few bob, could you click HERE and make a donation? I would be so grateful.
Thank you xx
Many thanks to the wonderful girls in Hairdressing by CBH, Dublin St, Carlow who gave their time and experience free of charge.