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A Taste of Home | Barnbrack [Recipe]

I longed for a taste of home. Something simple, wholesome, comforting – something my mother used to make. Halloween was coming and I longed for a bowl of colcannon, that dreamy combination of creamy mashed potato and deep green curly kale. Mam always made colcannon for Halloween and always took the trouble to hide a coin, a ring and a rag for us to find. We always knew what was coming but there was something safe and soothing about the familiarity. I longed for that feeling.* Read more

Refraction

The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;

Not loath to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.

(From “Going for water” by Robert Frost)

Travelling round Europe in our camper van, much of our time was spent in search of clean drinking water. Sometimes our quest brought us to the most beautiful places – mountains, woods, fountains, streams. We found so much more than water. Read more

A bit about writing

“It’s all a bit beige”, Mrs Weaver concluded as she surveyed my plate. “We eat with our eyes”, she said over her shoulder as she walked on to the next student having barely tasted a bite. It was our end-of-term exam and I had been practising each element of this dish for weeks. I had proudly served a crisp vol-au-vent (made from scratch) filled with chunky morsels of monkfish and prawn smothered in a creamy velouté sauce, gently spiced roasted cauliflower and duchess potatoes, impeccably piped and toasted to perfection. Every element looked and tasted as it should but, now that I reviewed it as a whole, I had to agree with Mrs Weaver that the colours were all a bit similar and, well, beige. We eat with our eyes and this dish looked distinctly unappetising, despite the expensive ingredients and the care that had gone into the making. Mrs Weaver had 18 plates to get through and if I wanted her to stop and pay attention to mine I needed to make it beautiful as well as delicious. Lesson learned. Read more

Dreamy

The evenings are getting shorter, there is a distinct chill in the air and golden trees are rapidly giving way to bare branches. After a mild and sunny September winter is suddenly closing in here in Lithuania. Much as I love warmth and sunshine I am very much looking forward to winter. We have a warm and cosy home. We have a wonderful new kitchen where I will make comforting stews and slow roasts. We have a stock of homemade wine and beer which we will sip curled up in our panoramic conservatory, looking out at the dreamy winter landscape. We will read, write, savour, enjoy. We are ready. Bring it on. Read more

Help! My chickens are sick!

My poor girls. They’re just not well. A few weeks back we noticed that one of our grey marans had started to develop a bit of a cough. None of the other birds seemed to be affected so I wasn’t overly worried. Not wanting to rush to the vet with every little sneeze I googled to see if there was a natural remedy I could administer. Read more

House Hunters

We were the talk of the town. Probably still are. I mean, who do we think we are? Adakavas is about the size of a teaspoon and very little out of the ordinary happens here, so when TV cameras roll into town it gets everyone’s attention. It wasn’t enough that we bought a house out from under a poor 94-year-old woman, then tore it down to remodel, but now we were making a TV programme about it – sacrébleu! Read more

Signs

Signs. That life on earth has existed for a very, very long time. While on tour last summer we visited my cousin in Antequera, Spain. He brought us to see the stunning limestone landscape at El Torcal de Antequera. El Torcal is over 150 million years old and is home to some fascinating records of marine life during the Jurassic period. The chubby little finger belongs to my cousin’s young son – a sign that human life is set to continue for at least one more generation. Read more

Nighttime

Before we set off on our great adventure around Europe we lived in a top floor apartment in suburban Dublin. Our high vantage point gave us a glorious view. The apartment buildings were set around a courtyard and the fact that you could see into the lives of others in their apartments always reminded me of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. Beyond our complex we could see the ruins of an old castle and the glittering city lights, and all with the calming and imposing backdrop of the Dublin Mountains. I loved it. Read more

Zucchini Bread/Muffins [Recipe]

It’s feast or famine with this self-sufficiency malarkey. For months on end you produce hardly any food at all, then come the end of August you have fruit and veg coming at you from all angles. There are wild mushrooms to be foraged, apples and damsons to be picked and vegetables to be harvested. Read more

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