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Looking for a delicious recipe for a busy mid-week supper? This Oven-Roasted Salmon may be your answer. It’s so easy to prepare, a child can do it. In fact, both my daughters learned to make this dish over the summer.

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A quick wash of the salmon, a squeeze of lemon, a pad of butter, a dash of salt and pepper, pop it into the oven for 15 minutes and you’re done. If you have the time or energy to jazz it up, play with the herb and fat combinations: sometimes I replace the butter with olive oil {or use both!} or I sprinkle some parsley, dill, tarragon, or lemon zest on top.

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If you need another reason to make this recipe, consider this: salmon is a superfood. In our busy Irish home, I’ll take every opportunity to get good nutrition into my family. Salmon contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids {which support heart and eye healthy}, and it is an excellent source of vitamin B-12, vitamin D and Selenium.

Oven-Roasted Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 x 3oz salmon fillets

1/2 lemon

4 pads of butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with aluminium and top with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Rinse the salmon, pat dry with kitchen roll (paper towel), and, if needed, remove any bones.

3. Put the salmon fillets on the parchment paper, skin-side down, and squeeze lemon juice over them.

4. Top each with a small pad of butter.

5. Salt and pepper, as desired.

6. Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked all the way through. Roasting times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the salmon.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Most nights, we serve boiled potatoes and a simple green salad with our salmon dinners.

** Wild or Farmed Salmon? See what the Time.com experts say here.

*** If you’re interested, here’s an article on how Norway avoids antibiotics in fish farming from the World Health Organization.

**** Invasive pink salmon are found on Irish shores recently. Learn more in this Irish Times article.

***** Two more salmon recipes from In an Irish Home: Salmon Fillets with Pesto & Pecorino and Salmon Pesto Pasta.

 

 

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My girls are growing up fast. So fast {sigh}.

In no time at all they’ll be leaving secondary school {high school} and heading to university.

Where they will go to college is anyone’s guess. Being Irish and American, and practically having been born with a suitcase in their hand, they think globally. Ireland…America…the U.K….or even farther afield..are all options.

And, so, with mixed emotions, I am opening my heart, mind, and our hall door to allow them the freedom to chose what feels best for them. Yes, like generations of Irish mothers before me, I am steeling myself for the eventual immigration of my children.

“But why now?”, I hear you ask. The answer is sweet and simple. Not too long ago, while I was making dinner, my eldest daughter walked into our kitchen and said, “Mom, I’ve got to learn how to cook.”

Even today, as I write this blog post, I can see her, plain as day, standing in our kitchen, hands folded across her chest, earnestly running through the list of things she needs to learn to do before she graduates next year. “And, I need to learn how to clean, do laundry, shop, and drive too! Maybe I won’t be ready for college!!”, she said.

In that moment, I realised, she’s a planner…a worrier…and already thinking about leaving.

With regard to food, she was very specific: “I only want to make easy things…not microwaveable ones…I’ll only eat microwaved food sometimes!”. And then just to be sure I was listening, she repeated, “I just want easy food mom”.

So, in the coming year, starting with today, I will be posting recipes that even a sixth-year student {senior in high school} can make while living under our roof, studying for exams, applying to university, making us crazy, and waiting for their lives to begin.

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First up…Maple Vanilla Whipped Cream. It’s a Cooking 101 recipe. For those of us with more than basic cooking skills, it seems a bit ridiculous to write a blog post about whipping cream. And yet, there is science and creativity to making whipped cream {as anyone who has accidentally turned their cream into butter can attest to}.

And, yes, I know it’s a crime to add anything to Irish whipping cream. Unlike cream in my native country, Irish cream is gorgeous. It has real flavour and needs no embellishment whatsoever. But, since my girls may not end up in Ireland one day {and because, on occasion, we all like to try something new} I’m starting my College Bound Girls blog posts with this incredibly delicious recipe. If you’ve got university bound kids, please share your recipes with us.

And, finally, a side note: the Victoria Sponge pictured above was made by my youngest daughter last week. The recipe will be posted soon!

Maple Vanilla Freshly Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 pints/4 cups

Ingredients

1 pint/2 cups cream

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Directions

1. Pour cream into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add maple syrup and vanilla and beat until soft, billowy, peaks form. You may use a balloon whisk, an electric hand mixer, or a stand mixer…whichever you prefer.

3. To test: lift the whisk out of the bowl and turn upside down. If the cream peak holds its shape and falls slightly to one side, you’re done.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* A ballon whisk is very easy to use…and I think the most satisfying. I used a balloon whisk for years, until my sister-in-law, Rosaleen, bought me an electric hand mixer for Christmas. Now I alternate, depending on how much time I have.

**If you use an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed, being careful not to over beat. You will recognise over beaten whipped cream instantly by its grainy  texture. To rescue, add a few extra tablespoons of cream from the carton and, using a hand whisk, gently mix it together.

***If you’re out to really have fun, continue beating your cream until it becomes butter!

****You can make whipped cream ahead of time and refrigerate it, covered, for up to four hours before serving.

***** In this video, one Irish dad gets very creative while helping his wife in the kitchen make cream. And, yes, that’s a drill he’s using!

******And, finally, here’s a video of life hacks one of my daughters downloaded to my phone. Just one more example of how they are preparing for adulthood. Be warned this video is addictive.

 

 

 

 

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IMG_4192As we round out week three on our epic road trip across North-West America, our foursome has become a threesome. My wonderfully gifted, beautiful, sweet, funny, eldest daughter is staying at Concordia for an extra immersion experience. She loves languages and has proficiency in three of them, including Irish. We’ll pick her up in less than ten days and return home to Ireland, but it was with a heavy heart that I kissed her today and said good-bye.

She’s growing up fast…this baby girl of mine…faster than I expected. Not yet a real teen, she is looking beyond the safety of our home and wondering about the world around her.  Secondary school, boys, make up, fashion, parties, dating…I can hardly believe it’s time for us to address these issues in depth. Heck, what I mean to say is it’s hard to believe we’re actually having to LIVE these issues in depth. We’ve talked about them plenty. The dress rehearsal is over and the real show is just beginning. Where has the time gone?

DSC_0100I remember her Baptism day like it was just yesterday. She wasn’t even a month old. I was doing up the pearl buttons on the back of her Irish Christening gown, while my husband held her to his chest. “Why are you crying?”, he asked. “Are you ok?” My lovely husband…so concerned and so bewildered at the same time. “No, Love. Don’t you know? This is the first of her five white dresses.”, I choked out between sobs. “Her what?!”

Her five white dresses.

Growing up a Catholic girl, I can define my life in a series of dresses…all of them white. There’s the Baptism gown, followed by the Communion, Confirmation, graduation, and, finally, the wedding gown. On that special day so many years ago, I realised that our daughter’s Baptism day was the beginning of the end. The first time I understood that precious babies, placed carefully in our arms, are only ours on loan for a {brief} period of time. These amazing children we so desperately want and love are ours by the grace of God and we don’t get to keep them. He gives them to us and then demands we let them go.

We’re only two dresses into her life right now, but I am already struggling with the idea of letting go. Three dresses remain. Most likely she’ll leave our Irish home long before she dons the final dress. It makes me sad and I can hardly bear thinking about it. But, I must…for her sake…and for mine.

Little by little, I let the sadness escape. I liken it to fiddling with a balloon. Because you don’t want to let all the air out at once, you pull back on the sides of the mouth piece and let a little out at a time.  Today was one of those times. We hugged. We kissed. I imparted a few gems of wisdom and then turned completely on my heels {with a glance or two back}, got in the car, waved, and drove away. Through tears, I could see her in my rear view mirror, standing in the gravel car park, waving back.

IMG_4142The last few weeks have been tough. Four of us, strong personalities, in a car traveling the highways of North-West America. Those roads are pretty dull, yet our experience has been anything but. We’ve argued. We’ve cried. We’ve shouted. We’ve smelled bad. We’ve been sick. Through it all…we’ve been together. I know it has not always been easy but it has been special. There’s still several hundred miles ahead of us. I don’t have to wonder any more whether this adventure has been worth it. I already know that it has.

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DSC_0428When you live in a home with three women, no day is complete until something a little sweet is served. It doesn’t have to be a fancy treat – like a slice of roulade or carrot cake. It just has to be satisfying.

I love the ease with which today’s recipe, Mars Bars Biscuits, can be made. Four ingredients, one pot on the hob (stove), and a tin for pressing these absolutely delicious bars into…that’s all it takes. There’s no baking and no fuss. In fact, this recipe is so simple, it’s ideal for making with children.

Technically these could be classified as an Irish tray bake. Interestingly, I’ve learned the term “tray bake” is more often used in Northern Ireland than in the Republic (the rest of Ireland). Biscuits, bars, tray bake…whatever you call them…they’ve been made famous in my neck of the woods by the very fashionable style emporium that is known as Avoca Handweavers. Any time I come home from Avoca my girls greet me at the door with “Did you bring home Rice Krispie treats?”.

DSC_0411These may seem a lot like Rice Krispie Squares, made with marshmallows, or Rice Krispie buns, made with chocolate, but they are entirely different. The Mars Bars (or Milky Way bars, if you live in America) give this treat the perfect chewiness and crunch that the other two lack. Assuming you like chocolate, I have no doubt you will enjoy these.

Mars Bar Biscuits

Makes about 12 large biscuits

Ingredients

390g/6-7 Mars Bars (Milky Way bars)

200g/13 tablespoons butter

200g/6 cups Rice Krispie cereal

300g good quality milk chocolate (or a combination of milk and dark chocolate)

Recipe

1. Line a 9″x 13″ or a 30cm x 20cm baking tin with parchment paper.

2. Cut the Mars Bars and butter into small pieces and place in a saucepan. Put over low heat and stir with a small balloon whisk until melted and well mixed.

3. Add the Mars Bars and butter mixture to the Rice Krispie cereal in a large bowl. Stir until ingredients are combined.

4. Spoon into the lined baking tin and press mixture with the back of the spoon to firm up shape.

5. Melt good quality chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water. Pour over the rice cereal, spread evenly with a palate knife, and allow to set.

6. When chocolate has set, and rice cereal has cooled, lift the content of the tin to a cutting board and slice into squares.

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As the mother of two daughters, this topic is close to my heart. I regularly give my girls the “parental once over” to be sure they don’t head out the door looking like “hoochie coochie” girls. Sometimes my emphatic “upstairs…change!” is met with an “ahh, mom, but this is what all the girls are wearing!” but I pay that no mind.

In Ireland, however, it’s not so much what girls wear to school that is the problem: most students have to wear long skirts. The greater concern comes with what they wear to the local discos (dances) and in Dublin that means The Old Wesley Disco (Wezz). High heels, short-shorts or mini-skirts are de rigueur and what kids get up to makes the girl in the super market look positively tame.

In part, the problem is role models. Why are we letting the likes of Rhianna and the Kardashians show our daughters how to behave or rather mis-behave? And, since I’m on a roll, when was the last time we looked at our own behaviour? I can’t tell you how many times I see a “yummy mummy” flashing her thong when she bends over to pick something up.

I agree with Stephany (who commented on this post) that the ultimate goal is to raise daughters who feel empowered by their ability to be smart, funny, kind. Turning heads by baring it all cheapens not only the girls we love but girls and women the world over. I really like this blog post because it gets us talking and thinking about our daughters…and our sons…no matter where they are living.

Thanks for writing Campari and Sofa!

Related Articles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/rihanna-goes-topless-shocks-farmer_n_982766.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/family/ask-the-expert-have-you-a-query-is-my-daughter-too-young-for-teenage-kicks-1.961447

http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/teen-disco-advice-769819-Apr2013/

Campari and Sofa

vagendaskirtI was standing in line at my local supermarket the other day when the man behind me gasped. I looked up from the mag I was browsing, to see what had got his goat.

At the check-out till ahead of us was a young girl – bending over her groceries. Her dress had hoiked up so far, we could see where her sun doth shine.

I just shook my head – thinking, “Seriously girlfriend – at the supermarket” but then I realised she was her school uniform – and she was definitely not wearing regulation panties.

The girl was gorgeous in a Jerry Hall kind of way. Long, lean legs, tousled blonde mane, heavily mascara’d eyes. She would have looked fantastic in a flour sack. Yet here she was a sliver of a school dress. Buying chips and dip and coca cola. And flashing the shoppers.

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The Family Circle magazine cover that inspired a day of baking.

I know…I know, it’s not ideal to take long breaks from writing posts but {oh my} our summer has been such fun and I haven’t had a moment to write. From cruising to camping, and even some stand up paddle boarding in the Irish Sea, it’s been go…go…go. Finally the kids have just gone back to school which means things are finally slowing down. My head is screaming, “write girl, write”! So I guess that’s what I have to do…hold on folks, it’s back to life in the Irish fast lane!

This weekend my eldest decided she wanted to have a friend sleep over. Check. Then she and her friend decided they wanted to do some baking. Check, check! Whenever my eldest is willing to step into the kitchen, for something other than dinner, I get a little thrill. She’s not the “cooking” type (not yet anyway) and I want to encourage her as much as possible, even if afterwards it means my kitchen looks like a bomb struck.

The homemade version!

The baking challenge the girls took on was recreating adorable cupcakes inspired by those on the cover of Family Circle magazine in April 2008. Yes, I keep magazines forever but THIS is exactly why…you just never know when a picture or article will inspire a moment. The girls saw these playful cupcakes and knew they had to make them.

Being kids, the girls dispensed with the directions immediately. First and foremost, they wanted to have fun. Second, I was told making cupcakes from scratch would take too long. Third, they just wanted to “do their own thing”! Check, check, check. The girls wrote their shopping list, got some cash from Dad, jumped on their bikes and cycled to the local supermarket for some ingredients. An hour-and-a-half later, they made it home with smiles on their faces (remember when grocery shopping used to make you happy?!) and started baking.

Recipe from Family Circle 2008

The afternoon passed with the smell of vanilla wafting through the air and the sound of laughter and “girl-talk” flowing easily. It didn’t matter that a quarter of the cupcakes looked more like messy mutts than pretty pupcakes. What was most important was two young friends spent time in the kitchen and had a ball. I think you’ll agree the results were pretty sweet.

Recipe – The picture (left) is from Family Circle magazine. If you click on the image, you can read it more clearly. The article was inspired by the book Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. If the recipe seems long, by all means “wing it” as my daughter did and use the photos from the article for inspiration.

Related Bits & Bobs to Inspire You:

Website and idea extravaganza from Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, creators of The New York Times bestseller Hello Cupcake – http://www.hellocupcakebook.com/Hello_Cupcake_Book.html

Hello, Cupake!…The App – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hello-cupcake!/id463891492?mt=8

Video Interview with Karen Tack, author or Hello Cupcake!, What’s New Cupcake?, and Cupcake, Cookies and Pie, Oh My! –http://www.marthastewart.com/search/apachesolr_search/hello%20cupcake

Cupcakes in Dublin, Ireland at A Cupcake Review (greenseggsandhamstrings.wordpress.com)

How to Frost Cupcakes http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/03/frosting-cupcakes_n_1846665.html

Nutella Cupcakes http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/05/06/nutella-cupcakes-with-nutella-buttercream/

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