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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Blogger’

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It’s been ages since I last posted and a lot has happened in that time. My eldest child, who left for the west coast of America last year to go to university, changed her mind and transferred colleges. My youngest has hit her teen-years like a lioness on the hunt: I’ve been hanging onto her by the tail ever since. My sweet husband continues to do his thing. And I, for my sins, have gotten involved in a side hustle {that’s American speak for side business} that has me up to my eyeballs.

But it’s all good. The new school year has started. Everyone and everything is humming along nicely and I still have my home life in sight…though not always like it used to be. On days like today, when I’ve been working, I’m thankful for the many family-tested-and-approved {the latter being the most important!} recipes I have to hand. These are the ones, like tonight’s supper of lazy roast chicken and pan seared mushrooms, that are super easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Pan seared mushrooms remind me of my mother-in-law. She loved them. Like boiled potatoes, pan seared Brussels Sprouts in soy-sauce glaze, and boiled ham, they were a regular feature at her dining table. Now, they are at mine. I wonder, someday, will they be at my daughters’ table?

Food memories are strong. They’re not just about the dish…they’re about the food and the people and the place and the occasions around them. They can whisk us back to our childhood…or to take us back to a few lovely moments gathered round the table of a woman you whole heartedly admired.

But I digress…these lovely pan seared mushrooms smell amazing. They are good enough to serve at a dinner party. You might even make them as an appetizer for a cocktail get together, with a side of crusty bread to sop up the buttery juices. They would also be perfect on top of a perfectly seared steak, served along a juicy chicken breast, nestled into an omelet or popped into a sandwich bap.

~XoK

Pan Seared Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter

12 ounces button mushrooms

fresh ground pepper/sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Rinse, dry, and chop mushrooms.

2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until butter begins to bubble.

3. Add mushrooms to the skillet in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until bottom side is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Toss mushrooms, and continue to cook, reducing heat as needed to avoid scorching, until golden brown all over, about 3-5 minutes more.

4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and give the mushrooms a good stir.

5. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Storing mushrooms in the fridge is easy…do nothing to them. I repeat…do nothing to them. Simply remove them from your carry bag and pop them into the fridge. If they come in a shrink wrap package, do not open the plastic…I know…strange for me to say so given how much I detest plastic. But, truly, leave them alone and they will last a week.

** Wash or brush clean? I’ve always rinsed and quickly dried any mushrooms I’ve ever used and done so without problem. To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered brushing each one or peeling each one either. Yes, some people peel their mushrooms!

*** To stem or not to stem? If the mushrooms you purchased have woody stems, discard them just prior to use. Otherwise, keep them and use completely.

**** According to Ireland’s Bord Bia, mushrooms are grown in Ireland in the following counties: Monaghan, Meath, Wexford, Mayo, Kildare, Cavan and Tipperary. Bord Bia’s website also says that mushrooms are a good source of fibre, low in fat, they contain more vegetable protein per 100g than almost any vegetable, and they are richer than most vegetable in some vitamins such as B1 and niacin. Mushrooms also contain certain important minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, iron and copper, and are low in salt.

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A few weeks ago, I participated in a Joy workshop. It was exactly what a full-time mom (or dad) needs heading into the holiday season.

The gathering started with a meet and greet cocktail hour on Friday evening and then, over two days, became a thoughtful consideration of:

  • what zaps us of joy?
  • are we choosing emotions other than joy?
  • how to connect with our own joy
  • rituals for creating and keeping joy

There was conversation, teachings, things to read, skill drills, time for journaling, laughing, crying; it was deep and messy and wonderful all at one time. Most importantly, it was a reminder of how and why we lose our joy and what it takes to find it again. Woven into the workshop was yoga, delicious food, and the chance to meet like-minded women who want to connect with themselves and each other.

 

What came up for me during the workshop was the profound loss I have felt the last eight years since my mother and grandmother passed away. My life changed instantly with their passings. My mother’s sudden death was particularly hard. She and I were not close, but we loved one another. When she died, I truly did not know what hit me. More importantly, I did not know how to grieve.

 

My grandmother’s passing was quite different. Her dying took place over many months. We were close and her slow exit from this life brought us closer. I am incredibly thankful for the time we had together and for the wisdom and guidance she shared with me in her life. With her last breath, she was teaching me something.

Two back-to-back deaths however, left me lost…and I didn’t even know it. What I realise now is that I was living in a haze colored by loss. I compare myself, pre and post their deaths, to being severely concussed. In my sorrow, I walked through life unable to feel, think, participate or do anything fully. That phrase “the lights are on but nobody is home” says it all. In a textural point of view, it felt like I was walking in a sticky web and could not get free.

I am a fighter, so to be sure, and I struggled against the darkness but it always pushed back hard.

 

Slowly, the stickiness of loss has lifted. Last year I noticed that I was finally coming back to myself. I was feeling joy again. In a moment of absolute “what the heck happened to me”, I saw a therapist who explained that it can take one to three years to fully process a loss. Two losses, one right after the other, may take twice as long or longer. And grief comes in waves…you’re fine and then you’re not…you’re fine again and then you’re not…again.

I have grieved for my beloved mother, grandmother and myself. I include myself because I have lost precious momentum and time: eight years to be exact. I forgive myself for not being able to see my way clearly.

Sadly, I acknowledge that I can’t get back those years. I can’t change what I did or didn’t do…did or did not say. I can only be aware of what happened, love myself, acknowledge my pain, and the hurt my emotional absence may have created in other people’s lives, and move forward.

Love

This past year, my intention has been “Love”…love of self, love of others, love of work, love of learning and travel and so much more. Love and time have brought me back to myself…brought me back to today. And the Joy workshop I did last weekend helped me to look at what has been holding me back from having as much joy as I had before my mother and grandmother died. That information I’ll save for another blog post!

When I woke up this morning the phrase “Today, I Begin Anew” popped into my mind. I wrote it down on a sticky note and put it on my mirror as a reminder of the new awakening I feel for my beautiful, complicated, messy life.

This is my journey. It is perfectly imperfect.

Maybe God, the Universe, the Powers that Be are molding me for something I do not yet know. Loss is part of being “molded”. And, with grace, I am open to the possibilities of the journey. So, today, I begin anew. Perhaps this post will help you in any loss you are experiencing. Today, please know that you are not alone.

~XoK

 

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Good morning and happy Monday! I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately. I took the last few months off to spend with my sweet family…especially my eldest daughter {photo above}, who graduated from secondary school in June and then recently left for a college on the west coast of America.

As you can imagine, the past few months have been filled with lots of emotion in our Irish home…and by that I mean way more than would normally be the case with one mother and two teenage daughters living in the same house!

With each passing day, we held on to one another a little bit tighter and squeezed as much fun out of life as we could. Here are a few snapshots of our recent memories; I’ll write about some of them in greater depth in the coming weeks.

First up, for mid-term break, we flew to Hawaii with dear friends to soak up some sunshine. This was our first trip to Kaua’i. The weather wasn’t much better than it was back in Ireland at the time, but we loved the relaxed feel of this gorgeous island.

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Then there was a sweet event at which my husband walked our daughter “down the aisle” so to speak. Oh my goodness…it was a vision of what her final “white dress” occasion might be like!

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Next up, a girls trip to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. If you haven’t visited Moab, do consider it for your bucket-list. From Ireland there is no direct flight to Salt Lake City, but don’t let that stop you. Utah has a number of state and national parks that are amazing {and if you are going that far, I suggest you check out Colorado too}. The Delicate Arch, under which we are standing, is an 18-meter, 60-foot-tall, freestanding natural arch. Hiking out to this point at sunset was just one of the highlights of this quick girls trip.

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Then there was a best-friend graduation trip to Rome. How cute are these two? They’ve been friends for twelve years!

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And the Debs…!

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And, finally, before we knew it…it was time to say goodbye.

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Letting go of this sweet girl wasn’t incredibly hard…it was just incredible AND hard. She was ready for her next adventure and we are happy she has more room to grow.

Through the tears and the hugs and the laughter and the heart-ache, we’ve had an amazing couple of months. Now each of us is adjusting to our “new normal”.

I’ll end today’s post with some wisdom passed along from both my grandmother and my mother-in-law. Their advice has served me well recently. Maybe they will be helpful to you too either now or some day. From Mama I learned, “a mother’s job is to let her children go”. Spoken like a true Irish mammy. From Gma El, I learned, “You GO Girl!

~ XoK

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* We love Utah as a destination: it’s clean, safe, and full of outdoor activities. Click here to go to the Visit Utah website.

** Moab, Utah is home to two national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Click here to jump to Visit Moab’s official website

*** Go Hawaii’s official website was really helpful to us as we planned our holiday.

**** Did you see the gorgeous meringue cake I baked for my youngest daughter’s birthday party? You can learn to make it here.

***** And last, but not least, if you’re considering a holiday to Rome, check out Rome’s official website here.

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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!

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Brown and white Irish button mushrooms on a tea towel.

Myrtle Allen's mushroom soup in a white bowl.

The lazy days of summer are well and truly over and everyone in our Irish home is moving back into life lived at warp speed.

The kids are busy with school, sports practices/games, clubs, and homework. Our eldest daughter recently added an after school job to her schedule, which brings great opportunities for personal growth and some very welcome pocket money! My husband is traveling a lot again. And, as for me, I’m holding the whole show together.

On those days when I need a meal that’s quick and easy to make, I am thankful to have Irish Mushroom Soup as one of my go-to recipes. This particular recipe, from Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House, is delicious and wholesome and takes all of about 20 minutes to make. What’s more, I don’t feel the need to make anything else to call this supper: a loaf of bread and lashings of good Irish butter make it totally complete.

I’ve adjusted Myrtle’s recipe ever so slightly, God forgive me! I use a yellow onion rather than a load of spring onions and I don’t make a roux (I just pop everything into the soup pot and give it a good, stiff, stir). This soup is absolutely no fuss but it tastes like you’ve slaved over a hot hob (stove) all day.

Enjoy!

Myrtle’s Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

4oz/1 cup onions, finely chopped

2 oz/4 tablespoons butter

8oz/2 ½ cups mushrooms, finely chopped, (I use a variety of mushrooms)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons plain flour

8oz/1 cup milk

80z/1 cup chicken stock

Directions

1. Sweat the onions in the butter until soft (5 minutes approximately).

2. Stir in the mushrooms and seasoning and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the flour and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well.

4. Remove from the heat. Blend in the milk and stock. Return to the cooker and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring all the time.

5. Adjust the seasoning (my two cents here: using a hand-held blender, blend until you have a consistency you like) and serve.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* If you have a few minutes, watch this interesting interview over at the Irish Food Channel with Myrtle Allen regarding Irish food production and why Irish food is so delicious.

** Read the Wall Street Journal’s article on how Myrtle Allen helped transform “fine Irish cuisine” into a bona fide culinary movement.

*** Here are some fab mushroom hunts in Ireland: Mushroom hunt with Bill O’Dea at Killruddery House and the Annual Mushroom Hunt & Lunch at Longueville House, Cork.

**** The Northern Ireland Fungus Group has lots of advice on which mushrooms can be eaten and organises annual fungal forays. See http://www.nifg.org.uk for details.

***** For other delicious soup recipes, check-out my Autumn Vegetable Soup, Leak and Potato Soup, Pea & Mint Soup, and, last but not least, my Good Old Fashioned Chicken Soup.

 

 

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Say the phrase “road trip” in our Irish home and you’re likely to hear “hooray” back. I’d love to think it’s because my two sweet girls enjoy spending quality time with my husband and me, but the truth is they actually equate road trips with rubbish…and lots of it. Coca Cola, chocolate, crisps…you name it…if it can be purchased in a petrol station, we’ve probably got it in our car.

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This year, however, our junk food road trips aren’t happening. Instead, I’ve been trading out the rubbish and replacing it with something a little more healthy. As you can imagine, the kids aren’t exactly thrilled with the change, but they’re being good sports and playing along nicely.

On a recent trip from Dublin to Belfast, I stocked the car with two of our favourite Irish treats: Flapjacks and Mars Bars Biscuits. I also made some trail mix.

Homemade trail mix with nuts, raisins, berries and chocolate chips

 

Now, trail mix is a relative newcomer to our snack box. Ehem…yes, we have a “snack box” in our Irish home. It’s a large plastic tub filled with food items the girls know they can dip into any time with no questions asked. It was something I started when they were teeny-tiny and it has worked really well for our family so it’s stuck. But I’ve digressed…

The trail mix I’ve been making is an absolute rip-off of a packet I bought last year while in America. I’d give full credit to the makers, if I still had the wrapper…but it’s long gone, so I can’t. Packed with fruits and nuts and just the right amount of chocolate, it is sweet and salty. I think it’s the perfect road trip food…or the perfect airplane snack for that matter.

Thankfully, everything, except the white and dark chocolate chips, is readily available in our local health food shop, so it’s not difficult to throw together. The chips I tend to pick up at Cavistons in Glasthule.

As for our recent Irish road trip…my youngest daughter, a girlfriend from Germany, my little brother, and I traveled from Dublin to Antrim to finally see Northern Ireland’s spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sight the Giant’s Causeway. The drive time took just under three hours each way and was incredibly pleasant.

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When you get to Giant’s Causeway, there are four walking trails with amazing views from each. When you’re done, there is a restaurant right next to the entrance called The Nook, call in if you’re hungry. We had a really good meal there and, though we probably shouldn’t have, we also had Irish coffees!

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Photo Credit: The Nook Restaurant

Given that we started our road trip late in the day, we didn’t have time to stop at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which is only about 12 miles away along a coastal path. If you have time, stop and see if you’ve got the nerve to cross the bridge. I have no doubt we’ll be back to test our nerves.

And, finally, if you’re interested in a wee bit of Giant Causeway folklore, it is said that Finn MacCool, the great Irish warrior, built it as a bridge to Scotland to challenge his rival, the giant Benandonner. On seeing the enormous Scotsman, Finn scurried back to Antrim, where his quick-witted wife disguised him as a child. Benandonner, hot on his heels, crossed the bridge too and upon seeing the hulking baby, decided: “If that’s the baby, I don’t want to meet the father” and turned tail back to Scotland, ripping up the highway behind him.

Fact or fiction, this wonder of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns is a road trip worthy destination. Don’t forget to pack up your healthy treats!

Homemade Trail Mix

Ingredients

2 handful raisins

2 handful cranberries

2 handful chocolate chips

2 handful white chocolate chips

2 handful goji berries

2 handful mulberries

3 handful chopped walnuts, oven toasted

3 handful pistachios, shelled and oven roasted

3 handful pumpkin seeds, oven toasted

3 handful almonds, oven roasted

Directions

Easy Peasy: mix everything in a large bowl and you’re done!

 

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Here’s a quick overview of the trip on Google map.

** Looking for help planning your trip? Checkout this website for more information.

 

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Irish lasagna in a baking dish with a green side salad

I’m sure every family has its own version of this classic Italian dish…but I promise you, you’ll want to give this recipe a try sometime.

In our Irish home, we table-tested many lasagna recipes over the years before realising we are truly, deeply, and madly in love with this Irish version dreamed up by my sister-in-law Ann. Thanks Ann!

What makes this recipe the clear winner for us is the absolute deliciousness of the dish. It’s comforting, without being too heavy, and it has lots of flavour. When paired with a side salad and a slice (or two) of homemade garlic bread, everyone leaves the table happy and satisfied. What’s more, my girls and sweet husband will take a slice in their lunch the next day. Don’t you just love it when a supper can become an easy-to-make lunch too?

Another reason Ann’s Weeknight Lasagna is a favourite in our home…it’s just so easy to make. Unlike traditional lasagna, there’s no béchamel sauce (also known as “white sauce” in Ireland) in this recipe. Instead, whole milk ricotta is added directly to the meat sauce, saving time but not scrimping on flavour. And, this recipe calls for precooked noodles, so there’s no hassle and time commitment there either. This recipe is just a win-win-win all around.

Ann’s Weeknight Lasagna can be assembled up to a day in advance and baked right before dinner (great for exam week or anytime everyone is helter skelter). It is great as a family meal, but it is also impressive enough to serve guests. Add a bottle (or two!) of vino, light some pillar candles, turn on some Italian music, and you’ve got the makings of a fun dinner party. And, you know I hate to be a Delia-Downer but I am ever-practical, if you’re looking for a meal to deliver to someone-in-need, this is the perfect, delicious, easy-to-make dish.

Oh, this weeknight lasagna, Irish-style, is good for so many reasons. It may not be your mum’s recipe, but all I can say is “try it…you’re gonna like it!”

Weeknight Lasagna à la Ann

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

450g/1 pound lean minced beef (hamburger meat)

1 pinch of dried basil, oregano and rosemary

2 x 680gram/48 ounces spaghetti sauce

8 oz whole milk ricotta

227g/80z chopped mushrooms

box of oven ready lasagne pasta

16oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.

3. Add mince, being sure to break it up into small pieces. Add oregano and rosemary to taste. When the mince is cooked thoroughly, drain off any excess fat, then add the spaghetti sauce, mushrooms and the whole milk ricotta. Mix well and remove from heat.

4. Into a 9 x 13 x2 inch-baking dish, spoon a thin layer of mince sauce. Top with a layer of lasagne noodles, do not let the noodles touch each other or the sides of the baking dish. Next add a layer of shredded mozzarella. Then top with lasagna noodles, and another layer of sauce. Repeat layers as before, until your top layer of sauce is just about even with your baking dish. Sprinkle with the last of the shredded mozzarella.

5. Cover dish with aluminum (tin foil) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. (Alternatively, refrigerate until ready to use).

6. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

7. Remove from the oven, top with some finely grated Parmesan, if desired. Let sit for five minutes before cutting.

 

 

 

 

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