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Patience. Some say it’s a “virtue”, others say it is “a companion of wisdom”. I say, when exercised correctly, patience is an act of love. We practice patience with our children, particularly when they are young, with our spouses when they make us crazy, and sometimes…if we remember…with our parents…especially as they are aging.

My sister-in-law, Rosaleen, is a person with infinite patience. As her mum’s health slowly declined, Rosaleen’s patience exponentially increased. Everyone in our family watched in awe (and with gratitude) as she courageously stepped into the role of caregiving daughter and lived in that space for many years without complaint.

When Mama wanted to go to bed, Rosaleen was there to assist. When Mama asked the same question for the twentieth time, Rosaleen answered with kindness. When many of us thought Mama should enter a nursing home, Rosaleen resolutely disagreed. Taking Mama out of her beloved home was not an option to consider. Instead, Rosaleen got outside help to come to her and together everyone practiced patience in helping my magnificent mother-in-law leave this world.

By the grace of God, Rosaleen was near to Mama when she took her last breath…but she nearly missed the moment. The doctor, having been called to the house, examined my mother-in-law, and asked to see Rosaleen in the hall. For a few tense minutes they whispered about the inevitable and reentered the bedroom where Mama was resting. Not a second later, Rosaleen saw her mum turn to look at the sepia coloured wedding photograph of herself and Dada hanging on the wall. Mama then took one more breath and that was it. She was gone. Someone not practicing patience might have missed it, but not Rosaleen. She was there.

She was there in that moment and she was there for everything that happened in the whirlwind of a week thereafter. She made the arrangements for a celebration of life to honour Mama. She arranged the wake at home, the removal, and the sit-down lunch at the hotel after the burial. She cooked and baked and fed our large family and the many visitors that called in. She made endless cups of tea and opened more bottles of wine than any of us want to remember. Ah, sure, she’d tell us it was nothing with a wave of her hand or she’d say “many hands make light work” or give the credit to someone else. But we know…it was her. And now she quietly and patiently goes through a home filled with a lifetime of memories and cherished objects, passing things on to the next generation or recycling and giving away what she can whenever possible.

So today, on this the Month’s Mind of Mama’s passing, we not only remember the woman we called Mother, Granny, Great-grandma, admired Mother-in-law…we stop to thank the person who practiced the most loving patience we ever witnessed. Dear Rosaleen, we are so very grateful. Thank you.

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Mary Rose

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.15.08 PMIt is with great sorrow that I share with you the tremendous loss happening in our Irish home. After several months of illness, my wonderful mother-in-law, Mary Rose, passed away peacefully on the evening of 8 April 2015 surrounded by her loving family.

Mary Rose was our matriarch. Her beloved husband, Dan, passed away some time ago. She was in her ninety first year when she left this world and she is remembered with love by her twelve children, their husbands and wives, her twenty-eight grandchildren and her eight great-grandchildren.

Mama (the name her family called her by) was a woman of strong Catholic faith. She passed the tradition she felt so passionately to her children and their families. She attended mass daily until she was no longer able and for many years she participated in the Perpetual Adoration of her local church. She prayed the Rosary every day.

As those of you who have followed this blog for a long time will know, I was blessed to learn much from Mama. She gently encouraged and showed me how to cook, bake, garden, knit and sew. She was before her time in thinking about eating organically and maintaining good health ~ a passion we shared. In her quiet way, Mama also showed me how to be a good mother. Once, when I asked her how she managed to hold back her tears as she said goodbye to her children when they left Ireland, she told me a mother should never burden her children with such sorrow.

We will miss Mary Rose greatly. I leave you today with a poem that was read at her funeral mass:

Miss Me – But Let Me Go

by Edgar A. Guest

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me

I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.

Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little but not too long

And not with your head bowed low.

Remember the love that we once shared,

Miss me but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take

And each must go alone.

It’s all a part of the Master’s plan,

A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart

Go to the friends we know

And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.

Miss me but let me go.

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The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton

The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton

One of my favourite paintings in The National Gallery of Ireland is Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton.

This richly coloured watercolour painting depicts the ill-fated lovers Hellelil and Hildebrand, meeting on the stone stairway of a medieval tower. The princess and her bodyguard had fallen in love but her father regarded the young soldier as an unsuitable match for his daughter and ordered his sons to kill him.

The painting captures the couple’s poignant final embrace. Burton’s inspiration for the painting was the story of the ill-fated lovers as told in an old Danish ballad.

It seems I am not the only one smitten by this exquisite painting. Back in 2012, RTE ran a competition to find the country’s favourite piece of artwork and The Meeting on the Turret Stairs was the winner.

In 1864, Burton sold the painting to a dealer, Edward Fox White. Interestingly, in the contract they signed, Burton retained the copyright. The painting changed hands a number of times over the following 30 years but in 1898 it was bought by Miss Margaret McNair Stokes (sister of Whitley Stokes).

An article by Jeanette Stokes in the Irish Arts Review, (Vol.26, no.3, 2009) refers to the fact that there are tantalising hints in some of Margaret Stokes’s letters to her family that her interest in Burton was something more than friendship. Margaret Stokes was writing a biography of Burton when she died in 1900, in her will she bequeathed the painting, along with a number of other works by Burton, to the National Gallery of Ireland.

Sadly, the painting is only available to view at limited times each week, due to its medium and sensitivity to light. The National Gallery’s website states: “The Meeting on the Turret Stairs will be back on limited display from 2 March 2015. Viewing Times from 2nd March: Mondays and Wednesdays: 11.30am to 12.30pm. Admission is free, but a timed-ticketing system will be in operation. No advance booking. Tickets are limited and available on the day, from the Information Desk in the Millennium Wing, on a first-come, first-served basis.”

If you’re in Dublin, stop by The National Gallery of Ireland…and, if you’re lucky, you too will catch a glimpse of this exceptional Irish love painting.



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An Irish Easter

Opps…in all the hustle and bustle of the day…I forgot to hit the “Publish” button on this post yesterday!! 

Easter is finally upon us and the weather is still holding beautifully. We were meant to get showers from Wednesday onwards, but the sun has been splitting the sky and everyone is out and about in their spring finery.

Mother nature has been a bit of a show off too.

Spring in Ireland 1Spring in Ireland 2


We have a house-full coming for dinner this afternoon. Nineteen for supper (that’s the adults and the children) and another seven for the afters (tea and dessert/cheese board and port). The big debate in our Irish home has been lamb or ham?!? Yes, it’s the baa vs the oink!

My lovely husband is fed up with me asking everyone we meet, “Are you serving ham or lamb for your Easter supper?” Our Irish home is evenly divided. What about yours? To keep the peace, we’ve decided to split the difference and have both this year. Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary AND baked ham crusted with brown sugar glaze and honey.

For sides will be having roast potatoes and boiled potatoes (you can never have too many potatoes in Ireland), garden peas and a big green salad. And for our pudding (dessert) we’re serving Rhubarb Crumble, Apple Tart, Banoffee, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Meringues with fresh fruit and cream and, for the children, we have Rice Krispie Bars, Rocky Road Biscuits, and Caramel Squares. It’s an Irish desert feast!

To finish off the supper, we’re serving a selection of gorgeous Irish cheeses: Gubbeen, Cooleeney, Cashel Blue, Wexford Vintage Cheddar, along with Manchego and Saint Agur (the last two not being Irish).

It’s a huge Easter meal for a rather large crowd, but as my sister-in-law loves to say, “Many hands make light work!” We’ve got many hands cooking today: even two of the brothers-in-law are hard at work in the kitchen, each one making a leg of lamb! We can’t wait to see who makes the best one.

From our Irish home to yours, I wish you a very Happy Easter!




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I have enjoyed reading Angela’s posts at A Silver Voice from Ireland for the past two years. This one, in particular, about Little Women’s Christmas in Ireland, is so thorough that it made no sense for me to write my own post about the matter. Thank you, Angela, I’m going to put my feet up {actually, I’m going to go back to bed!}. To women everywhere, I wish you a Nollaig na mBan.


On Monday next, January 6, thousands of women across Ireland will gather to celebrate Nollaig na mBan or Womens Christmas.

All over Ireland, January 6 marks the end of the Christmas season – it is the day on which the fairy lights, the Christmas tree, the decorations and the Christmas cards are taken down and put away for another year. It is considered bad luck if decorations remain displayed after this date! January 6 has many titles – Epiphany, Little Christmas, 12th Night, Women’s Christmas,  Women’s  Little Christmas, and Nollaig na mBan. Such an important day to have 6 different names!

In Ireland, ‘Little Christmas’ is one of the traditional names for January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is a Christian celebration of the day on which the Magi arrived with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to honour the new-born baby Jesus, the day on which Jesus is revealed to the gentiles. Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian holy days that originated…

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Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

Saint Patrick’s Day 2013 came and went a few days ago and nearly 400 of you stopped by In an Irish Home to see what really goes on behind the hall door of a typical Irish family. First and foremost, let me say “go raibh maith agat” (sounds like GUR-uh muh HAG-ut and means thank you). I am overwhelmed by your support and greatly appreciate your comments, visits, and decision to “follow” the musings of our family.

Hoping not to disappoint you, we were not in Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day so I can’t tell you about the fantastic parade in Dublin city centre or the local events that took place around the country. Instead of being home, we decided to do as so many Irish government officials do every year…we headed to one of America’s capital cities…the capital city in fact…Washington, D.C.

Amongst the early blossoming Cherry trees and perfect weather, we visited The White House (albeit just the gates, garden and visitor centre thanks to the sequester), Capitol Hill, all the important historical monuments, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, National History Museum and American History Museum, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Georgetown. It was a whirlwind week!

In seven days we managed it all with near military precision. Two days were spent flying to and from D.C. and five days were spent taking in the sights {an itinerary will follow in an upcoming blog post in case you ever decide to visit Washington with your family}. When we finally made it back home we DSC00148were all more familiar with American history. We even discovered a few facts about Ireland’s influence on America’s most iconic city. For example, did you know that Irish-born-and-trained-architect James Hoban designed the White House? He did. It seems he won a competition for the job in 1792 and his inspiration for America’s First House is none other than our very own Leinster House in Dublin.

But I digress, the trip was wonderful and it left us completely shattered (exhausted). Come Paddy’s Day all I could think about was making an Irish coffee…with alcohol. I know we {my lovely husband and I} gave up drink for Lent but in Ireland, oddly enough, one gets a reprieve from their Lenten promises on the feast day of Saint Patrick!

So delicious!

So delicious!

Which takes me to the point of today’s recipe post…Irish Coffee. A perennial favourite of the Irish and visitors to Ireland alike, Irish coffee was first created by Joe Sheridan, a chef in the Port of Foyne {airport} in County Limerick, back in the mid-1940s. Legend has it a plane was turned back to Ireland while on its way to America due to bad weather conditions and the weary passengers took refuge in the airport terminal until they could once again depart. Sensing their exhaustion, Mr. Sheridan served hot coffee but made it a wee bit stronger than usual by adding whiskey. When a customer asked if it was a “Brazilian Coffee”, Joe replied “It’s an Irish Coffee”. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Irish Coffee

For One Cup


1/2 cup/4 fl. oz. strong, hot coffee

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (Demerara, Muscovado or Turbinado) or to taste

1/4 cup/2 fl. oz. Irish whisky or to taste

4 tablespoons lightly whipped fresh cream


1. Beat the whipping cream until stiff but not too firm.

2. Pre-heat a glass with freshly boiled water. Leave a metal spoon in the glass so the sudden change in temperature does not cause it to break.

3. After a minute or so, remove spoon, pour out hot water, and fill glass with hot coffee.

4. Add Tubinado sugar to the coffee and stir until completely dissolved.

5. Add Irish whiskey to the sweetened coffee and stir.

6. When the coffee has settled, top with a collar of whipped cream by carefully pouring the cream over the backside of a spoon. The trick is to not have the cream seep down into the coffee. Drink immediately.

For More interesting Irish Coffee stories and ideas, check-out these websites:






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A belated “Happy New Year” everybody.

I’d planned to write more over the Christmas break, honestly I did.

There was so much to share with you about the traditions of an Irish Christmas (midnight mass, the morning swim at the Forty Foot, tins of USA biscuits, and the making of a Christmas pudding), St. Stephen’s Day (26 December) and Little Christmas (6 January), also known as Nollaig Bheag and Woman’s Christmas. But rather than write, I took these past few weeks to spend time with family and friends.

Instead of researching, I cooked, played card games with the kids, baked, went for long walks, snuggled down and watched movies at home and, generally, had an exhausting but  great time. Thankfully the end of the world didn’t happen on 21st December so there will be other opportunities to write about Irish Christmas traditions in the years ahead. There won’t, however, always be time to create memories with the ones we love.

Yes, I know that last line sounds cliché but it’s heartfelt.

In the last month, three women I know have lost children. They have lost the potential of what could have been…what should have been…and my heart grieves for them in their loss.

An unborn child. A murdered child. A child whose wee body couldn’t go on.

It’s all so senseless.

So, when life gives us situations we can’t begin to understand what do we do?

Simple things.

After listening, praying, offering…what’s left for those of us who are the “lucky” ones is to honour the memory of the one who has passed in whatever way we can.

My way was to gather my clan together and share in simple traditions: decorating, cooking, eating, laughing, reading, etc.

Now that Christmas, New Year and all the celebrations that go with them have passed, I notice the sun is staying higher in the sky and winter is slowly, oh so slowly, shifting towards spring. Weeks have quietly gone by in this Irish Home but I have no regrets of how we spent our holiday time together.

I hope you, Dear Reader feel the same.

And, if by chance, you do not…stop right now…and take action. Pick up the phone and say “I love you”, hug your nearest and dearest tight, dust off an old board game and gather your family around the table this evening. Say “no” to your phone, your job, your social obligations and make time for the ones you love.

Please God, and with any luck, we’ll have time to get back to all the other things we think we are missing.

Slán Abhaile (safe home).

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It’s Halloween and the veil between the living and the dead is slowly drawing back! Tonight all across the land, ghosts and ghouls will roam freely.

In Ireland we have our share of strange and evil figures and haunted places. From Seaforth House to Loftus Hall, Friars Bush to Charleville Castle the spirits of the “other world” are out in force to frighten us.

Leap Castle in County Offaly is owned by the Ryan family. Built on an ancient Druid site, it has a history of murder and death.

Take care as you venture out tonight…the ghosts of Ireland are watching you. Happy Halloween!

Related Articles

More haunted places in Ireland at: http://blog.discoverireland.com/2011/10/irelands-most-haunted-places/

Ghost stories from Ireland at http://blog.discoverireland.com/2012/10/ghost-stories-ireland/

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Hoodoos in Bryce

Last month, for Easter-break, our family packed up our small-house-of-a-car and drove to southern Utah. Why southern Utah? Two reasons really: 1) we’d heard the landscape was like none other and 2) I wanted to visit a restaurant called Hell’s Backbone Grill (you knew food was going to be involved!).

The route we chose to explore was Highway 12. Nicknamed Scenic Byway 12, it was designated “All American Road” in 2002 and is considered one of America’s most beautiful drives. From its northern point to its western, it passes through Capitol Reef National Park, Anasazi State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park. It includes a white-knuckle drive through Hogsback, a section of road much like those found in the west of Ireland, a gently meandering journey through Fruita, a tiny village with its still-operating Mormon fruit orchards dating back to 1880, and breathtaking red sandstone vistas.

126-Foot Waterfall at Calf Creek Falls

For every day we drove, we hiked. Our favourite places included Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef, Calf Creek Falls in Escalante, and Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon. All three were just the right length for the children to walk comfortably and ranged from 1 1/2 hours to 4 hours in length. Most importantly, the surroundings were superbly unique. We were never bored. The highlights included fantastic sky-high hoodoos, a cascading waterfall and natural pool, and remnants of what was once an active Fremont Indian community. All three were ideal family hikes and I promise to write about each one, in-depth and with photos, in the coming weeks. For now however, I’d like to switch gears and talk about the other driving desire for our road trip…Hell’s Backbone Grill.

I stumbled across Hell’s Backbone Grill not long after coming to America. I was sitting in the hairdressers, flipping through the latest fashion rags, when With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant  surfaced from the heap.

I was captivated by the cover’s photos: a barefoot girl walking on a split rail fence, Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind, a basket of farm-fresh eggs and a lemon chiffon cake. These sweet, serene, images are in strong contrast to the name of the restaurant and I was curious to see how they fit together. As it turns out, they do so quite well but only because of the philosophy of the co-owners, Blake Spalding and Jen Castle, and the courage of the townspeople of Boulder, a quiet Mormon community of less than 200 people.

With a Measure of Grace

Their story, the photos and the recipes literally beckoned me. I had to see the place for myself. I was so captivated that I didn’t want to buy the book on Amazon. I wanted to touch Hell’s. I wanted to meet Blake and Jen. I wanted to experience it for myself. I, so desperately, wanted to have this experience that I called the restaurant as soon as I got home from the hairdressers. Be warned, Hell’s closes for the winter! I left a message to please call back when they reopened in the spring and I waited. Before they could call, my husband suggested a trip to Utah over Easter-break and I quickly bargained for a hiking/food holiday. Done!

Boulder, Utah is at the base of the Aquarius Plateau. When you see the “Welcome to Boulder” sign you can’t help but wonder “is this it?” There are no street lights, no buildings…just open land with clusters of sagebrush and some tall trees on rolling hills, dotted by what appears to be small farmsteads. It is a quiet place, just the way the locals like it. As we arrived, I felt panicked that we were in the wrong place but my lovely husband took a turn here and another turn there and then, suddenly, it was right in front of us…like an oasis in the desert.

Hell’s Backbone Grill

Hell’s Backbone Grill is a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City so the fact Jen and Blake can run a restaurant in such an incredibly isolated location is a wonder. They do so by relying on locally produced food, grown mostly on a nearby six-acre farm. The girls also avail of local ranchers, for their naturally raised meats and poultry, and orchards, for their heirloom fruits. They tend their own bees.

You’d think with all the work these two ladies do, there’d be precious little time for them to socialize. Luckily for me, that is not the case. I met Blake Spalding (and her fiancé) the night we arrived for dinner and again the next morning at breakfast. She was down-to-earth, quick with a smile, and very gracious. She allowed me to take pictures – lots of them.

The lovely Blake Spalding

She signed the book I bought, posed for a photo, and listened actively as I talked about gardening, cooking, moving from Ireland and blogging. She was even good enough to suggest I post a few recipes from With a Measure of Grace on In an Irish Home (please see tomorrow’s post on Lemon Chiffon Cake).

With the welcoming hug I got from Blake after breakfast the next morning, our trip to southern Utah was complete. Satiated, and with a packed lunch from Hell’s in the cooler, we drove back to our home on the edge of the Rockies. Our little family was well exercised, well fed, and, well, happy! I look forward to visiting Utah’s southern lands again and dining at Hell’s Backbone Grill. I hope you will too.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake at I Can Has Cook?

For anyone who has never lived in Ireland, it is hard to imagine the wonder of Irish food. Fresh, wholesome, delicious and as varied as the people who inhabit the 32 counties making up the country, there is nothing boring or bland about it. Sure, long ago, when money was tight and people didn’t travel so easily there may have been a repetitiveness to Irish food but, truthfully, even then, people were creatively whipping up simple dishes and desserts that would knock your socks off. I only have to think of my lovely mother-in-law who, while raising twelve children and running a B&B, used to make rhubarb compotes, wild berry jams, savory and sweet crepes (especially for Pancake Tuesday), loin of bacon with spring cabbage that was incredibly more-ish, brown and white soda bread, delicate meringues, ratatouille, grilled mackerel…the list was deliciously endless.

It’s a wonder then that when you Google the term “Irish Food”, you mostly find horrid-looking pictures of stews of boiled meat and potatoes and recipes for corned beef and cabbage or dishes made with Guinness. Yuk! That’s not real Irish food. That’s kitsch Irish food.

Brunch Frittata at An American in Ireland

When people visit In an Irish Home they often ask, “What is Irish Food?” In my experience, real Irish food follows the seasons and celebrates the holidays. It’s sensible and healthy. It’s mostly made from scratch, despite the fact that chain supermarkets are desperately trying to force-feed buyers preprepared meals. It is uncomplicated. It’s influenced by international cuisine. It has many artisan producers. And now, thanks to the advent of blogs, it has many outlets.

So, in answer to the question I get asked the most at In an Irish Home, “What is Irish Food?” I offer you four Irish blogs and one website to whet your appetite. In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to share with you the ever-growing list of Irish food-experts whom I like to consult. I’ll also be adding a “My Library” tab to the top of In an Irish Home so you can see what books make up my cookbook collection. For now, however, enjoy your exploration of Ireland’s amazing food landscape. I think you’ll be surprised at just how wonderful it is. Please be sure to let me know if you have your own favourite Irish food sites you like to visit.

I Can Has Cook? – Aoife started writing in 2009 as a way of becoming (in her own words) a better cook. Her journey in the past month has taken her and us from deep-fried cauliflower to chocolate peanut butter cake and everything in between, including beetroot hummus, lamb flatbreads and homemade gyoza. At I Can Has Cook?, Aoife offers an excellent list of some of her favourite Dublin food haunts under the tab “Visiting Dublin?” – well worth a review if you’re visiting Dublin any time soon.

Donal Skehan’s new book “Kitchen Hero”

Donal Skehan – Without a doubt, Donal Skehan is Ireland’s food pop star! Young, handsome and talented, he was approached by Mercier Press after only six months of blogging his food adventures and recipes. A self-taught “home-cook” (I love that term…isn’t it what we all are?) and photographer, Donal has been blogging since 2007. This year he appeared in America on NBC’s Today Show with ideas for Saint Patrick’s Day. His recipes are simple, healthy and interesting. Most recently he’s written about wild garlic pesto, rustic rhubarb tarts, ham spring rolls with ginger dipping sauce and chocolate chip, oat and raisin cookies.

An American In Ireland – This blog has me hooked. Part “personal journal”, part “food blog”, Clare writes about her experiences of moving from America to Ireland and the experiences and foods that move her. Hmmm, sounds like me in reverse! This month Clare is writing about missing America, her wedding plans, chocolate beetroot cake, buttermilk cornmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, cheesecake tart with fresh berries and stuffed Portobello mushrooms.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Maybury at www.elizabethmaybury.com

BiabeagBiabeag is Irish for “small food”. Keith Bohanna writes in celebration of entrepreneurs and businesses who are passionate producers of Irish artisan food. From local brews to food festivals, Biabeag has everything covered except recipes – there are none. If you want to know about specialty packaged and branded food products in Ireland, this is the best place on the web.

Dinner Du Jour– Kelly and Kristin are friends who live thousands of miles apart: Kelly lives in Milwaukee and Kristin lives in Ireland. As

Chicken Soup at Dinner du Jour

friends do, they’ve been swapping recipes for years. Finally, their food exchange of complete menus (think mains & sides) are available to all, with ingredient conversions (cups to grams) for foodies in both countries. The meals are tasty and easy to follow – a God-send for anyone who has to whip up a meal on a busy day! The “Browse by Category”, down along the left-hand side of the blog, is really helpful as is the “Family Favorites” tab at the top of the blog.

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