Sunday, 29 April 2012

Have got a couple of spare minutes (am about to make pancakes which is a totally brilliant bribe as in "I'm gonna make pancakes (lots of whooping and cheering from the boys), but.... they take a LONG time to make so why don't you guys do something for oh, about an hour, and I'll call you when they're ready...") Anyway things are getting a bit busy on the craft front because I'm going to take a stall/table/corner at the Rossnaree Spring Vintage Fair and I am just a bit excited!! Check out Rossnaree here I took the boys last year and it really was a very special day out- there was a fab bakery The Brown Hound from Drogheda selling the most amazing cakes (more of that to come cos Mide and I took a little trip over to have a peek and now I really want to live there). There were oysters and champagne and pony rides and an open air wood burning pizza oven as well as all the stalls selling vintage pieces. All this happens in a really magical setting overlooking Newgrange Monument on a bend in the river Boyne. I will be selling my lino-cut collages printed onto a 1940s cookbook (Come into the garden, Cook by Constance Spry) and vintage bunting made from children's science and nature books from the 70s. It's on Sunday 13th May so if you are in the Slane, Navan, Drogheda area do come and check it out! So now it's all action stations as I have to make lots to sell... here's a few pics- not very good I fear- photography not a strong point...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Today Mide and myself went to my sister-in-law's farm just outside Trim in Co. Meath where Niamh grows a wonderful selection of organic veg and fruit. She also has the rare breed Jacob sheep complete with jelly legged lambs, three mighty pigs and several chickens. We'd a wonderful morning choosing vegetables to plant in our patch back in Monaghan and came away with broad beans, purple spouting broccoli, peas, beetroot, leeks, garlic, red onions, courgettes and spring onions. Mide had a great time in the rhubarb patch and helped to pull an almighty armful which I later converted into rhubarb crumble. Thank you Niamh for all your kindness and advice! All this activity is because our lovely neighbour Mark has very kindly offered us a part share in his (already dug, thankfully!) vegetable patch and so long as we don't outdo him on the carrot front we are pretty much free to plant what we like. So just as soon as the veg are acclimatised to Co. Monaghan temperatures we will get to it!
Mide and his large armful of rhubarb!
Niamh, Mide and lamb

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

This recipe is for a nice simple fruit loaf- the fruit is definitely better if it's given the chance to have a good soak in the tea so if, like me, you have a nice cup of tea before bed then simply make an extra bit for the fruit and continue with the recipe in the morning. This loaf reminds me of one my mum makes and is lovely spread thickly with some proper Irish butter- you can pretend it's health food- in fact I pretend it is one of my five-a-day...

1 cup cold tea
1lb fruit-mixture of raisins, sultanas, currants
2 eggs- free range and organic if possible
1 cup brown sugar
Generous teaspoon mixed spice
2 ½ cups self raising flour
Level teaspoon baking powder

1.      Pop the fruit into a large bowl and pour over the cup of cold tea. Soak the fruit in the tea over night. This allows the fruit to become juicy and plump.
2.      The next day preheat the oven to 150C and line the loaf tin with baking parchment.
3.      Now get the bowl with the soaked fruit in it and give the fruit a little mix. Add the eggs, sugar and spice and give it all a good mix.
4.      Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold this in making sure all the flour is well incorporated.
5.      Using your spatula scrape the mixture out into the loaf tin and gently flatten the surface. Then into the oven for about an hour and a half or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the fruit loaf comes out clean.
6.      Allow the loaf to cool a little in the tin before moving it to cool completely on a wire rack.
Hello! I'm Claire Mulligan and I live in Co. Monaghan in Ireland. It is a rural, undulating, green county full of small hummocky hills called drumlins. Our house overlooks a drumlin (formed by retreating ice during the last Ice Age- I know this because of my Geography Degree) (this is about the most useful thing I learnt from my Geography Degree!) Anyway back to the drumlins- the view up this small hill from what is now our dining room window was one of the reasons I fell in love with this house. It is peaceful and at the moment there are cattle grazing it and in the morning, if you are lucky, you will see a hare lolloping across it... Anyway the hill might be peaceful but inside the house it rarely is because we (my husband Kevin and myself) have three boys who range from 3 years to 9 years and collectively (in fact singly too) they make a LOT of noise. I also make a lot of noise because you really have to scream to make yourself heard over the din...Because I am feeding all those tummies I am very used to cooking and baking and I'm hoping to share some things that go down well with us, with you. When I do get some quiet moments (thank goodness for loooooong DVDs and the garden) I like lino-cutting and paper-crafting which all sounds rather grand and couldn't be further from the truth because my efforts usually resort in a snort from my husband and a more diplomatic "that's nice mummy. What is it?" from the children.
Early morning view from the garden