Thursday, 19 December 2013


I'm Dreaming of a White..... and all that Jazz. A heavy weather warning tells us of 100 kph winds on the coast and we are once again battening down the hatches, putting big rocks on the roofs of rabbit hutches and, if we'd followed Mrs Silverwood's advice, nailing the chickens to their perches. There was some talk of wintry showers on high ground but we normally ignore those here at our huge 76 m above sea level. Well, the wind came through all right and the trees were rocking and rolling up aloft like Noddy Holder's Granny; we even got some fence-post sized dead bits falling down onto the lawn. By the time I was locking up the house, though all was calm and the skies were clearing.

Nice surprise then this morning when we woke up to a light, but still picturesque, dusting of snow which let me nip round getting these pictures on the camera. It also reminded me to re-instate "The Porridge Season". I do like a porridge for breakfast but only when I feel like I am setting myself up for some work. The 'recipe' of choice here is the oats cooked in just semi-skim milk and a pinch of salt, but then served over a sliced banana in the bowl, with a dribble of our not very well set home made marmalade over the top, maybe a splash of cold milk too. The marmalade is nice and sharp and citrus-y. The whole goes down a treat.

The job I was "setting myself up for" was a bit more calf-muck shoveling for John Deere Bob. He has 4 big 'calves' (more like young bullocks by now) in a non-slatted barn and he likes to clean them out and bed down anew several times through the winter, rather then leaving them all through the cold, wading around in an ever deeper mix of muck and straw. He very generously allows me to take the muck for the garden and allotment, especially when I am willing to shovel it up myself. My reward is that I get to drive the tractor between his farm and our place. Big boy's toys!

Lamb stew and dumplings made with
our own lamb suet.
Meanwhile we are on the gentle run in to Christmas. We have done what we hope is our final food and drink shop today, out in Carrick on Shannon. All the Christmas presents are sorted. We do not really 'do' cards since we have been in Ireland. In Faversham we used to send 60-80 cards out, often to people with whom that had become our only 'contact'; often we didn't even write anything in them, we would grab a stack each and just sign them 'Matt and Liz' or 'Liz and Matt'. We decided that once in Ireland and now with most of our 'surviving' friends either on Facebook or reading the blog, we would no longer support the card-making industry in this rather silly way, nor spend all that money on postage to the UK. Sorry if you have missed our cards but we will honestly not be at all put out of you decide to reciprocate.

Liz has been at the baking again. A batch of mince pies has been knocked up but then eaten (it was the mice, honest!) but Liz is not 100% happy with the pastry which was 'Jusrol' brand puff pastry and puffed rather too well. She is determined to try again with some home grown pastry. Meanwhile, one of the ladies at 'Knit and Natter' club turns out to be a sufferer from Coeliac Disease (Gluten intolerance) which is, apparently, quite common in the Irish because of their history of not eating so much wheat or wheat-flour. Liz got all inspired and decided to bake them a cake for their mid-knitting-session tea-break. She has a lovely gluten-free recipe based on polenta (a cornmeal 'porridge').

The cake was a real hit with the ladies. Needless to say 'the mice' didn't get any. The Coeliac lady came back for second helpings and the girls, between them, cleared the plate. Never mind, 'the mice' have been cooked a superb banana cake as compensation, with a lovely light texture and a lovely flavour. Liz is still thoroughly enjoying being able to bake and becoming really good at it. When we lived in Kent and both worked, there was never time to start baking cakes by the time we'd got indoors. Now we have a bit more time it has all become possible. I, for one, totally approve!

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