Monthly Archives: June 2011

Shades of green…

I went into the garden to take some photographs of our ever-growing jungle yesterday. The garden is really coming into itself. There are many shades of green throughout. I am pleased with how the photographs turned out. Have a look!

It's a jungle in there.

The above photo is looking through the potato plants. We planted rocket in between the rows. It’s about done now and I am planning to make pesto with it this weekend. Yum!

Fuzzy fennel

The fennel towers above the herb bed and acts as a focal point in the garden. It is great to be able to just throw some on salmon and poach it.

Golden oregano and lemon balm

I love the contrast in the shades of the oregano and the crispy green lemon balm. I have used the lemon balm in vinaigrettes. It adds a zingy flavour. The oregano goes into pretty much every dish! The great thing is that it grows back so quickly.

Raspberry flower

The bumblebees are out in force now that the raspberry blossoms are out. Isn’t nature amazing. Look at those red thorns.

Lone soldier.

The lavender is just about to bloom and explode into a purple cloud.

Geranium "Ann Thomson"

This geranium is planted under the tree and the magenta flowers really add character to that corner, which before was void of colour.

You know, as much as we like to complain about the rain, I kind of really yearn for a good rainy day, because the garden just flourishes the next day.

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Filed under food, Garden, Herbs

The sloth and the snail.

Today started off at 5.20 am with Olwyn crying to get up due to those troublesome canines bothering her. They have bothered her now for near on three months and they are still a no-show! Poor thing. Olwyn goes around with her fingers permanently stuck in her mouth and leaves puddles of saliva in her trail. Anyway, I settled Olwyn and put her back to bed at 6am. I hopped back into bed and fell  into my slumber only to be woken by the bright-eyed Seren sitting beside me at 6.20 am, proudly announcing “I had a really nice dream! It was about lions!”.

Needless to say,  my good intentions in writing my research paper today were not fulfilled. There was a major dose of fatigue today! It is seven weeks until I give my first “professional” paper. The attendance to the week-long conference is in excess of 500 people. Gulp! No pressure. However, I was no closer to a finished product today than I was a week ago. The thoughts of sitting down and poring over books seemed torturous. I had to give a tutorial in the early afternoon though so I had no choice but to go into the office.

To add to that, it was actually a beautiful sunny day and all I wanted to do was stay home with the family and enjoy the garden. I called it quits after the tutorial and headed home. Alas, the sun was now hiding (Murphy’s Law) but we still got to enjoy the garden. Seren and Olwyn found a little snail and were intrigued at this little creature, who carried his house on his back. We sat on the bench in the reappearing sun for about ten minutes marvelling over the snail, touching his tentacles, watching him crawl. It was the moment of the day! I am so happy to have witnessed this.

Meet Sammy the Snail

Sammy snail is never worried

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Filed under Family, Motherhood, research

the first strawberries picked by little hands.

For the past few months, the girls have been casting their eyes with eager anticipation at the strawberries growing in the garden. It was great to see their excitement growing with the changing colours of the fruit. It was Seren and Olwyn’s job to scare away any magpies who swooped down to feast on the strawberries. So every once in a while you would hear fierce knocking at the window ” Shoo magpie, those are our stwawbewwies!” The strawberries were lovingly watered and minded. I got so much enjoyment watching my children learn about the things we have growing in the garden.

Here are photographs of the momentous occasion!

Daddy lends a helping hand.

A joyous moment!

Following in her big sister's footsteps.

Seren and Olwyn on their favourite seat (beside the strawberries naturally).

Sumptuous strawberry.

Look Mami, I'm going to make it disappear :)

The poet William Allen Butler sums the strawberry up the best when he wrote “Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.”

 

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Filed under Family, food, Motherhood

Velvety sin.

I made this for dessert for our Easter Sunday feast. Yes, it has taken me a month and a half to post it, but better late than never! It was to die for. The chocolate was so rich.  I used O’Connaill’s organic chocolate, which is made in Co. Cork. The smell of the chocolate alone was enough to send me into a cocoa coma.

The chocolate really acted as a launch pad for the floral-citrus flavours of the cardamom. This spice changed the mousse into a luxury, which was sinfully delicious. I loved crushing the cardamom pods in the mortar, releasing the smell throughout the kitchen. The kids loved sticking their noses in to experience this new smell.

I poured the mousse into little Moroccan tea glasses. It was great because I could prepare it and put them in the fridge the day before. This saved on time the next day amidst the frenzy of cooking three other courses.

Chocolate & cardamom mousse, amaretti and coffee

Chocolate & Cardamom Mousse

2oog good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

100ml single cream

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon caster sugar

half teaspoon cardamom seeds

(this serves 4 people)

Method

Break the chocolate into a glass bowel suspended over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir often to make sure that no lumps form.

Ready for action!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, egg yolks, sugar and cardamom seeds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the whisked eggs into the chocolate mixture.

Fold in gently to allow air into the mixture

Pour the chocolate mixture into individual glasses and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Pour into cups or glasses, even espresso cups will do

This recipe is taken from Homemade: Irresistible recipes for every occasion by Clodagh McKenna, 2010

Of course this would not have achieved without the help of my two trusty tasters helpers.

Olwyn's gobstopper

Seren's chocolate beard

Then it was seriously a case of death by chocolate…

I don't need instructions on how to eat this!

See! I am an expert at it.

I think Babi and Olwyn approve.

And the award for the biggest chocaholic goes to...

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Filed under food, Recipes

Bloomin’ marvellous

This Bank Holiday weekend saw Bloom 2011 take place in Phoenix Park, Dublin. So we packed up the kids, snacks and teddies and went along on the last day. After getting the train, tram and shuttle bus, we arrived to the buzz of thousands of people attending. We were not alone!

Arriving at Bloom

Upon arrival we quickly made a bee-line through the Victorian walled kitchen garden and were made jealous of their perfect crops of potatoes, strawberries, onions etc.

Seren climbing up to the sky

The first port of call was the massive playground to tire out the kids. We were lucky to get there early on in the day before the crowds came so the kids got a turn on the swings and had plenty of fun running around, climbing, jumping without bumping into other little ones. Olwyn loved the bug slide and went down it about fifty times and in the end was just as happy climbing up and down the step. Seren had a blast joining in with the big kids on the climbing frames. 

Olwyn loved the bug slide

Once we had sufficiently ran the legs off the girls, we grabbed two sausages from the nearest vendor and sat in the walled garden to eat them. We were a bit dismayed not to have brought a proper picnic. The sausages cost 6 euro each and to be honest were not worth it. Peter’s could have done a few minutes extra on the grill.Oh well, it gave us sustenance and the girls enjoyed the bread! Now that we had full tummies we were ready for the madness of the show gardens…
 
It was difficult to tackle the crowds with a double buggy! But nothing  that a little patience helped with. Although some people seemed to fail to notice the giant buggy and tried to plough straight through it! Some of the gardens were really inspirational and a real delight to look at.
Foxgloves galore!
I loved this garden for the shere amount of foxgloves dotted throughout the garden. It was magical and the photograph doesn’t do it any justice. I think foxgloves were highly fashionable this year as we saw lots of people carrying these plants around, after having bought them. However I thought to myself “would they actually survive the trip home”? My favourite garden was designed by Anú Green and Hortisculptures, but unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to take a photograph of it. This garden was aiming to promote conservation of Ireland’s unique boglands and incorporated moss and lichens into the sculptures. We even got talking to one of the designers, who was very cool and a pleasure to chat to.
 While Peter went to help out a friend who had an exhibition stand, I took the kids to Hamley’s kids corner. This was such a huge hit with Seren and Olwyn. Seren got to pet a real snake and she didn’t blink an eye in fright. There were two baby dinosaurs too and their keepers were brilliant with the children.

The dinosaur keeper!

 Next it was down to some serious business doing colouring in!

Do not disturb!

There was great excitement in the area when the Hamley bear appeared out of thin air. He was surrounded by children. The girls were real lucky though as they got story time with the bear and they got to sit right on front of him. It was so much fun observing them. Olwyn was nearly beside herself with excitement. Here are some photographs of their joyous moments.

Story time with Hamley bear

Big bear hug!

Next it was off to make some bird feeders out of peanuts, which I ended up making myself. But it was nice to just sit down in the sun for a minute, hee hee.

Clearly enthralled in the art of making a bird feeder - not!

Then it was off to the chill out zone where the kids got to laze on gigantic bean bags and listen to someone read stories aloud. Seren was enthralled.

My little bookworm

 Seren had been going on about having an ice-cream for about two hours now. Not only that but it had to be a vanilla ice-cream, not chocolate! So we eventually gave in and got her a cone. Pure bliss and …silence!

Happiness is....eating ice-cream

 and coffee for mum and dad – phew

A bit of r&r

So now that the kids were happy, we went to the artisan food stalls and got to pick on lots of yummy samples. We couldn’t resist and bought some Bluebell goat’s cheese and a jar of ginger and chili jelly, which we devoured once we got home. The trip home was a mammoth task in itself. The women’s mini-marathon was on that day also. So all the public transport was packed. But we made it without the kids having a meltdown! We were so happy to be at home at last after a great family day out for all the kids (big and small).

 
 

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