Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Share the Joy’ Category

Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Read Full Post »

 

Three candles in pumpkins with autumnal leaves

With two daughters in our Irish home, there is always a craft project in the works. And, happily, these sweet little pumpkin luminaries are a doddle to make. In fact, we a had a few odd shaped and left-over candles on hand, so I didn’t even have to buy wax for this activity. Wicks are readily available, as are tiny pumpkins…so there’s no excuse not to try making these pumpkin candles in your home. Enjoy!

Candle Pumpkins

Materials & Equipment

Small pumpkins

Wax flakes or left over candles

Wicks {if you have odd-shaped or old candles you are repurposing, you may also be able to repurpose the wicks}

Aluminium

Cutting board

Knife or store-bought serrated carver {the later worked well for us}

Spoon

Paperclip

Wooden skewer

Old pot

Tape

Instructions

1. Line your countertop or work surface with aluminum. Set out all your supplies.

2. Carefully, cut out the top of the pumpkin with your knife or store-bought serrated carver. This is the trickiest part, especially for little hands. Discard the top.

3. Hollow out the pumpkin with the spoon. Scrape out all the seeds and strings. You can save the pumpkin seeds for roasting later, if you like.

4. Tie one end of the wick to a paperclip and place in the hollowed out pumpkin. If you buy wicks with the metal ring already attached, press the base of the wick into the hollowed out pumpkin.

5. If repurposing old candles, chop them into small pieces on the cutting board…again, taking care not to cut yourself.

6. Put wax into your pot and melt over very low heat on the hob {stove}. It will be clear and totally liquid when ready.

7. Pour the wax, carefully, into the pumpkin. Only fill about half-way. Hold the wick upright as you pour.

8. Tape the top part of the wick to the skewer to hold it in place.

9. Pour the rest of the wax into the pumpkin until it is completely filled.

10. Reposition the wick, if necessary, and leave to cool for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.

11. When the candle is fully set, remove the tape and the skewer. Trim the wick to about 1/2-inch in length above the wax surface.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* While it is still warm, wipe clean the pot you used to melt your wax with kitchen roll {paper towels}. Do not pour hot wax down your sink and do not pour it into your kitchen bin {trash can}.

** For a warm, autumnal smell, add crushed  cinnamon sticks to the wax and stir well before pouring into the hollowed-out pumpkins.

Read Full Post »

DSC01405

 

Today I’m trying something new here at In An Irish Home.  I am going to participate in the #weekendcoffeeshare on WordPress. These are going to be special posts going along with the theme shared by the Daily Post prompt– “Each weekend, bloggers publish posts about what they’d say to their readers if they were sitting down together over a cup of coffee. Some bloggers do it every weekend, while others dip in and out.” I’m not sure if I’ll do it more than this one time, but if feels like a good way to bring authenticity to my writing today. So…here goes…

If we were having coffee we would probably be sitting at your kitchen table or mine, as one does in Ireland {unless, of course, we’re in Avoca Handweavers looking out over a gray or possibly changing soft day!}. We’d be having tea…because that’s what most people do in Ireland. Our tea would be served from a tea pot, not in a plastic cup like you get at Starbucks. And we’d be having something wickedly sweet like a slice of lemon cake or a Mars Bar biscuit…ok, maybe I’d be having something sweet and you’d be having a healthy scone!

We’d probably talk about the simple things first and get them over quickly…just so we could delve into the nitty gritty details of our lives. You’d tell me about your kids, your job, your husband/your ex or how your dating life is going, your stresses. I’d tell you the same. I’d tell you how, just two days ago, I felt like packing it all in and running away to some beautiful beach {maybe Hawaii}…only to settle down after a good night sleep and realise how very much I love my beautiful, sometimes-make-me-crazy family, and how very much I miss my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and home (America when I’m in Ireland and Ireland when I’m in America). We’d laugh until we talked about your divorce or your ailing parent and then we’d get serious for a little while. We’d talk about our kids and how they’re coping in this crazy world…and making us crazy too. And we’d talk about how short life is and how much we’d like to slow down and spend it with the ones who really matter.

Politics would only come up if we were talking about the ridiculous American presidential candidates. Faith would only come up because we’d talk about how I saw your parents in church last week or how things are going with the plans for your son’s upcoming Confirmation. We don’t really talk politics or religion in Ireland otherwise.

We’d start talking about other friends…but in a way that is supportive…not gossipy. We’d fill each other in on what we don’t already know and we’d encourage each other to get in touch with someone we’ve let slip out of our hands. And, then, before we call it a “cuppa” we’d talk about and make plans for our next girls night out or girls weekend away. We’d whip out our mobile phones and send our other gal-pals a quick text to say, “Let’s meet up!”

And, with the world’s problems solved for another day, we’d hug each other and say our goodbyes. I’d close my hall door or walk out to my car…incredibly thankful for your friendship.

That’s what I imagine would happen if we were having coffee, what do you imagine?

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Here’s where If We Were Having Coffee… all started: Part-Time Monster

** Here’s where I learned about it.

Read Full Post »

Oh my…where has the time gone?!

It’s already 2016 in Ireland, but in sunny California, where we are visiting my husband’s extended family, there is still another hour to go.

It’s “all hands on deck” in the kitchen. Nearly everyone is cooking or baking or mixing. While I sit here typing and photographing my last post for 2015, I’m being handed small plates filled with Tomato-Jam Burrata Bruschetta, Brie with Candied Fig and Chopped Pistachio Bruschetta, and various antipasto salads to test. Each one is as good as the next. Oh joy!

On the cooker (stove) a S’mores Cake is cooling, tempting everyone with its heady scent of burnt vanilla sugar.

There is great excitement in the air.

New Year's Eve

It’s wonderful to be part of a family who love spending time together.

As the clock ticks down on the last few minutes of the “old year”, I am astounded at our many blessings: family, food, love, laughter, shelter, health, the ability to travel. All of these blessings have trumped the occasions of sadness, loss, and uncertainty we have felt.

I hope the same will be true again in 2016….for us…and for you.

From our Irish home to yours, wherever you may be, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016.

God bless and Happy New Year!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.15.53 PM

Happy October! From our little Irish home to your home (wherever it may be), we wish you a Spooktacular month ahead!

Of course there are only two months left in 2015…yikes! And this is exactly the time of year when life speeds up…no wait…can it actually get any faster?! So, instead of writing a whole article in this week’s post, I’m doing the first In an Irish Home Roundup. Yep, that’s right…a Roundup!

From decor to travel here are all the things that are on my mind or on my radar at the moment. Most of it centre’s around Ireland or has an Irish angle of some sort…some of it not. Either way, I think you’ll find it interesting.

And, so, without further ado…I give you the October Roundup…(trumpets blaring and drum roll please!):

We’re entering those rainy days of autumn now and these shiny black rain boots from Hunter and this Dusty Parka from Avoca Handweavers are perfectly matched for the weather ahead. The light-weight, knee-length parka is fitted, styled, and has a detachable hood. Great for a morning walk with friends or a wet afternoon on the pitch: super cute!

Rainy Days

Speaking of fashion…I read last month, in Elle UK, about Dublin native Oriole Cullen, the 39-year-old Acting Senior Curator of Contemporary Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has a BA in History of Art from University College Dublin and an unbelievably fascinating job (not to mention great fashion sense). Check-out this article, Oriole Cullen “How I Got There”, from The Daily Telegraph: Oriole offers sound advice for how she landed one of the coolest jobs on earth. And if, like me, you’re gently guiding your offspring about how to get ahead in this world, you might like to watch this video about Oriole from Bazaar at Work.

While I’m on the subject of strong, amazing, women…here’s a story going round that has me kicking up my Jimmy Choo heels. It seems a group of researchers from the University of Western Australia decided to take a second look at a few Viking archeological remains only to discover that what was previously considered a group of males actually turned out to be a group of males and FEMALES buried with their swords and shields. It seems Shieldmaidens are not a myth! Who knew…I certainly didn’t!?!

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 8.31.01 AM

But seriously, this Crystal Amadeo decanter recently caught my eye. I love its flawless and graceful lines. What a gorgeous addition it would be to our/your dining table this autumn. Available at Mitchell & Sons and now reduced from €475 to €380.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 7.53.27 AM

With Halloween just around the corner, our Irish home is already a buzz with conversation about costumes and decorations. Two of these spiderweb candelabra will do nicely…thank you very much Dunnes Stores. Spiderweb candelabra for €25 each.

Halloween

For year’s I’ve used an eyelash comb (namely a child’s toothbrush, clean of course) after putting on my mascara to smooth out those ugly clumps one gets from mascara. This folding eyelash comb from Tweezerman, called an Ilashcomb, is so much more ladylike. I think it will be my Favourite-Christmas-Gift-to-Give friends this year.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 8.00.01 AM

Like many Irish women, I’ve just booked my pre-Christmas flights to New York! These Plimsolls and this leather backpack from Massimo Dutti will be perfect for running around The Big Apple.

Ease and Comfort

I hear London calling too…especially now that Simone Rocha has opened her first ever boutique at 93 Mount Street, London. Simone, the Dublin raised, 28-year-old daughter of Ireland’s famous fashion designer John Rocha and his partner-wife Odette, has turned a 19th century building and its Queen Anne-style interiors into a bright, warm, two-story space. I hear it’s gorgeous! Known for her unabashedly feminine style, Roche’s shop is nothing short of dreamy! Can’t make it to London just yet? Check out her Facebook page and website.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 9.11.37 AM

Right now I’ve got foraging on the brain. Sure I could step into my own back garden and find plenty, but farther afield things look all the more interesting. That’s why I’m following Wild Food Mary and Forage Ireland for upcoming events and dates.

Blackberries

My latest food crush is on Irishman Donal Skeehan and his recipe for White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cake with blackberries has me dying to break out my food processor! Donal launched his own Youtube channel last year to great success. He recently announced that he’s got nearly 250,000 subscribers. I’m not the only one with a crush! Donal’s also got a two-part photography series with Cannon coming up…so check it out. He says anyone can take a good food photograph…so I’ll be watching in an effort to make my photos even better. Maybe I’ll even win Donals’s competition for a new Canon camera!! To be sure, I’ll be checking out his new cookbook Fresh.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.10.22 PM

And finally, The Irish Times recently ran a competition for the Best Shops in Ireland 2015. Sadly my friends Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore over at The Firehouse Bakery in Delgany, Co. Wicklow didn’t win (they’re brilliant!) but many other wonderful shops, stores, bakeries, and emporiums did. Print a copy of the article and keep it handy…it’s a great snapshot of things to do if you’re visiting Ireland and wonderful to have to hand if you have the pleasure of living here full-time.

IMG_9595

Read Full Post »

IMG_0061

For weeks I’ve been playing a game of “Watch and Wait” with mother nature. Whether on a walk in the countryside or a drive into town, I have been watching and waiting patiently for the blackberries ripening in the hedgerows near our home to be ready for picking.

Blackberries

While the berries have morphed in colour from green to red to a deep black-purple, I’ve been daydreaming about the many things I might make: scones, jam, cobbler, sorbet, ice cream, flavoured vinegar, even a blackberry whiskey concoction. It seems the list of things to do with blackberries is endless!

Finally, last weekend, I could wait no more. Truth be told…I nearly crashed my car last Thursday for looking at the berries ripening in the summer sun. I invited my friend Susan and her daughter Ellen to join my younger daughter and me for a morning of picking wild blackberries. It may not be true, but I have in my mind that it’s best to pick fruit and vegetables in the morning, when the energy of the earth is surging through a plant. So, with our bowls in hand, we four girls headed down the road to a hedgerow that was bursting with berries. When we’d picked it clean, we spotted more in a nearby field and, with the farmer’s permission, we hopped the gate and picked until our hearts’ were content. (My daughter did keep saying, “Mom we have to leave some for the birds!”)

Blackberries 2

Wild blackberries have been eaten in Ireland since Neolithic times. They come in many forms, possibly even several hundreds of micro species. Some are small and mean-looking, others fat and plump. None resemble the large, mostly tasteless, perfect triangle-shaped berries found in the supermarket. Packed with fibre and antioxidants, blackberries are a rich source of vitamin C and, best of all, when picked at their peak of ripeness, wild Irish blackberries are gorgeously delicious.

In no time at all, we girls were scraped and prickled by the thorny bushes and our fingers were stained red-pink from the sweet berry juice. We didn’t mind, however, as we were happy to have our bowls filled to the brim with nature’s bounty and countless ideas for what to do with them running through our heads.

Picking blackberries is a rite of passage in Ireland and I’m so glad to be able to share in this tradition with my daughters and our friends. I hope you and yours find time to enjoy a blackberry picking expedition of your own this year too!

IMG_9883

Classic Irish Blackberry Jam

Makes 4 x 250ml jars

Ingredients

1kg/2 lbs Sugar
1kg/2 lbs Blackberries
Juice and zest of one lemon

Directions

1. Place a salad plate in your freezer. This will be used to test whether or not your jam is ready later.

2. Place sugar, blackberries and juice and zest of one lemon in a large pot.

3. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until all the sugar dissolves.

4. If you like whole berries in your jam, stir occasionally and cook for approximately 15 minutes. If you like your jam with the berries crushed, use a potato masher to crush the berries and continue cooking as previously directed.

5. While the berries are cooking, put clean glass jars and lids into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer the jars and lids to sterilize.

5. When the 15 minutes are up, take the plate out of your freezer and drop a dollop of hot jam onto it. Let the jam cool for a few minutes on the plate and then, with your finger, push a bit of the jam up towards the middle to see if it “crinkles”. If it does, the jam has set and you are ready to bottle it. If not, continue to boil for another 5 minutes, then test again.

6. Remove from the heat and carefully transfer to hot, dry, sterilized jars. Fill them as near to the top as possible. Cover each with a disc of wax paper and seal tightly with a lid. Keep in a cool dark place for up to 12 months.

Notes:

* If the jam doesn’t set after cooling and potting, tip it all back into the pan and boil again, adding the juice of a small lemon.

* If mould develops on the surface of the jam in a jar, remove it with a spoon, along with about half an inch (1 cm) of the jam underneath…rest assured, the rest of the jam will not be affected…and place a waxed disc dipped in brandy on top.

Additional Reading:

Irish Blackberry Ripple Ice Cream over at Irish Food Guide blog.

If you’re musically inclined, visit 8Notes.com to hear The Blackberry Blossom song, an Irish folk song.

The golden rules for picking blackberries can be found here at Good Food Ireland’s website.

For a wee bit of folklore regarding Irish blackberries visit the Irish Cultures & Customs website.

Seamus Heaney, Irish poet, playwright, lecturer, and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote a poignant poem about blackberries…you can read it here.

It may be called “English’s Fruit Nursery Ltd“, but you can buy blackberry plants from this company in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford!

Check-out these gorgeous looking Blackberry and Custard Doughnuts over at Donal Skeehan’s website…I may just have to try these and report back!!

Visit here for a video on how to test jam from BBC Good Food.

Read Full Post »

Food. Glorious food. It’s everywhere: on our tellies, in the super market, at the farmer’s market, in our village shops. It’s even at the petrol station, in our cars, at the airport, in the books and magazines we read, on the radio, and in the malls we frequent. We are surrounded by food twenty-four-seven. Is it any wonder obesity is on the rise? In our parent’s and grandparent’s day, food was less readily available. It was also more cherished…particularly in Ireland.

There were no big-box supermarkets around when my in-laws were raising their twelve children. When Dada wanted a box of fruit or veg he either picked from his own back garden or he went into town (Dublin) and bought from street vendors. My husband can still remember vendors crying “Apples…six for a pound!” in their sing-song voices and “Get your chicky charlies…if you don’t wan ’em don’t mall em.” (Whatever that means!) Food was so beautifully simple then.

Today, not only is food more readily available, but we are bombarded with a multitude of food debates. Here are just a few that have been in the press recently:

Should we eat a plant-based diet or a meat based diet?

Is it better to buy organic or local?

Are grass-fed animals really healthier than corn-fed animals?

Should we drink/eat raw or pasteurised dairy products?

Is it ok to eat genetically modified foods or should we avoid them?

Which oil is best to cook with: olive, canola, vegetable or coconut?

Wild fish or farmed…other than the price, does it really matter?

Omega 3, 6, 9 and nutritional supplements…should we get our vitamins and minerals through food or pop vitamins?

Farmers market, village shop or super market…where should I do my shopping?

How much water am I supposed to drink every day?

Is your head swimming? Mine is! Food isn’t just overwhelming us, it’s exhausting us. As the mother of a busy family, I crave simplicity. I’m going to guess that you do too. So, where food is concerned, I am following these three simple rules:

Eat Real Food First.

Grow What We Can.

Eat Food in Season.

The first rule (Eat Real Food First.) involves eating a cleaner, healthier, diet before we eat rubbish. Real Food is the food our parents and grandparents gravitated towards…you know…food made with ingredients you can pronounce, food that has not been created in a laboratory. Eating Real Food means staying clear of anything “highly processed”. Real Foods are not low-fat, made with artificial sweeteners, bought in a takeaway or petrol station, bleached, or covered in sugar. They are foods made from a limited ingredient list and are found in nature. Once we’ve made a meal of Real Food, I don’t mind if we slip in some ( less wholesome) treats.

The second rule (Grow What We Can.) involves getting back to nature. In the beginning I started with just a few pots of herbs on the windowsill. When we moved to our home in the country, I created an organic culinary garden, where we grew tomatoes, potatoes, apples, pears, salads, herbs, rhubarb, berries, and other easily grown edibles. It has been a real pleasure watching my children go into the garden and pick food straight from a plant and eat it. I always know that when we take food straight from a plant and eat it we are getting all the nutrients provided by the sun and the rain and the soil.

The third rule (Eat Food in Season.) ensures we eat a large variety of food items throughout the year, which does two things: 1) increases our nutrient intake; and 2) ensures we eat a more broad range of foods. Before following this rule, my family might have eaten the same (limited) fruits, vegetables, and meats week in and week out for months on end. Now that we eat more “seasonally”, I find we eat foods we wouldn’t consider before and these “new” foods have nutrients that beautifully correspond to our body’s seasonal needs. Take, for example, Brussels Sprouts. These little cabbages are higher in Vitamin C than a glass of orange juice and are at their peak exactly when cold and flu season is at its highest and the body is looking for more Vitamin C to support the immune system. If you roast them in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper, you’ll find they become naturally sweet. In our Irish Home, I have Brussels Sprouts in the fridge all winter and the family pop them like little treats!

To help my family follow these three food rules, I keep a copy of Bord Bia’s Calendar of Availability Guide for Fruit and Vegetables taped to the inside of the cupboard where I keep my collection of cookbooks. It’s a handy reminder of what I to cook and feed my family and it helps me know what to plant in our garden throughout the year. If you have trouble distinguishing the blue from the green dots, print out a copy of the Guide: it’s easier to see the difference.

availability_guide

So, as we say goodbye to spring/summer foods and hello to autumn/winter foods, I say let’s all move toward a simpler, healthier, more varied way of eating. Join me…won’t you?… and let’s share the joy of trying new foods together.

Related Articles:

Bord Bia’s (the Irish Food Board), Best in Season article here http://www.bestinseason.ie/about-us/

Here’s another good seasonal food chart: http://www.greatfood.ie/item_display.asp?cde=3&id=521

Michael Pollan’s article Six Rules for Eating Wisely here http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/six-rules-for-eating-wisely/

Here’s a family that made Real Food a priority for 100 days and wrote a book (and successful blog) about the experience.

Follow blogger Trevor Sargent over at Trevor’s Kitchen Garden for tips about how to grow your own foods.

Darina Allen says GIY (Grow It Yourself) is one of the most important initiatives to come out of Ireland in last 20 years.

For a list of Irish Farmer’s Markets, look here: http://www.bordbia.ie/consumer/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/default.aspx

Irish Farmer’s Market website at http://irishfarmersmarkets.ie

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: