Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"Riabhach" Days

A Rachel Toll watercolour -
hare and full moon. 
"Out like a lamb". Isn't that supposed to be the deal? March. In like a lion and all that. Well, I don't think I've known a less lamb-like 31st March; we've had yellow weather warnings from Met Éireann and a blasting NW gale rattling the outbuilding roofs and stinging our faces with hail stones and driving wintry showers. Then John Deere Bob told us a bit of local folklore which was, I have to admit, completely new to me. The last three days of March and the first three of April are traditionally the last, mean and miserable days of cold and wet, the "Riabhach" Days (pronounce it 'rear-buch' or there-abouts).

I love this superb Rachel Toll fox-face.
Bob was not even sure he was pronouncing it correctly; he has no Gaelic and this is an Irish name for the 6 days, but even in these cases, Wikipedia is your friend and Liz quickly nailed it on the internet. The story goes (says Wiki) that "In the Irish Calendar The Old Cows Days/The Days of the Brindled Cow are the last days of March and the first three days of April; in Irish: Laethanta na Bó Riabhaí.

Rachel Toll owl
The term comes from a folk tale, illustrating the unpredictability of the weather at this time of year in Ireland. The tale relates how the bó riabhach, "the brindled cow", complained at the beginning of April to her companions in the herd of the terrible harshness of the previous month of March. As the grumbling of the cow continued, the at first uninterested March began to take umbrage and decided to teach the speckled cow a lesson she would never forget. So March "borrowed" the first three days of April but made them so bitterly cold and miserable that before they were ended the unlucky bó riabhach had died. These "days of the brindled cow" are still with us, or so the story goes, to remind us that we complain about the harshness of the weather at our peril.

The same story can be found in different versions all over Ireland and Europe in General."

So, now you know.

Rachel Toll fox face. 
My first four pics in this post are a lovely find I was passed on Facebook. The artist is Rachel Toll and she does these superb watercolour pictures. She has, of course, a website where you can see more pictures and buy the prints if you fancy a flutter. She is on.


I particularly like the fox faces; the eyes in particular look very convincing with the well done reflected light from the eye.

Ottolenghi's Guardian recipe for Califlower Cake
Also from the internet, borrowing like crazy for this post, a superb answer to our need to use up lots of eggs but also giving us a chance to use some of the lovely mature cheddar cheese which Liz grabbed while she was recently in the UK. This a recipe, new to us but handed to us by the foodies on Liz's internet chat groups comes from famous (again, new to me) chef Yotam Ottolenghi who writes for the Guardian. It is a very cheesy Cauliflower Cake which uses ten medium eggs (that was the first thing that attracted us!)  but then more cheese (220g) than flour (180g). It was one of those foods that when you taste it you just KNOW you have a 'keeper' for the house repertoire and the recipe gets saved down to the cookery files, printed off and filed. It is on


should you fancy a dabble. Some of our non-meat-eating friends have already mopped it up as being a welcome addition to the menu.

Well, enjoy your Riabhach Days and maybe we'll get some lamb-like weather from the 4th April.

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