Tuesday 1 May 2018

Palatinate Smokies

Not that smokey when I took the picture.
Carsten at the loppers.
Friends of the Blog who were with me back in the house re-build days, may recall that when we were burning the old wood ripped out of the house, 'Sparks' (Main Builder and Project Manager) used to tease us that we were a couple of Roscommon Smokies. People from outside this county, when wishing to get at us, say that we are all traveller folk (as in Romanies, Gypsies etc, not as in Divine Comedy's 'Billy Bird'), who spend all our evenings sitting round the campfire and, so, always smell of bonfire smoke. Hence "Roscommon Smokies".

Of course, we wear this badge with pride and any visiting Help-X or other person who gets involved with any of our bonfires is quickly signed up. AB, last year, went home as a Paris Smokie. Our latest Help-X-er, Carsten is now a Palatinate Smokie after helping me burn a load of trimmings from a fallen hawthorn brought down by Storm Eleanor.

I need to quickly add that these are not open bonfires like you would have in an English garden rubbish-burn. Open bonfires are illegal in this country except for on St John's Eve (23rd June). The argument for this seems to be mainly environmental and in order to try to stop wild-fires in the forestry and the turf bogs though it also contains a bit of Catholic rulers stamping down on the pagan festival celebrations.

Excelsis could not wait to get into the
It is rather odd that you are forced by this law to save all your prunings up through all the wet months where you'd be very unlikely to start a wild fire, till June when you well might. As we understand it you ARE allowed to put anything like this "up the chimney" which means burning it on the indoor fires or using a dustbin type incinerator. These latter are for sale widely and openly at hardware shops.

Carsten takes a turn at the bottle feeding.
Bábóg is 7 weeks old now.
So, we have carried on our wee visit by Carsten and got plenty done including all that cutting up of hawthorn trees. Mind you, rain stopped play today and we achieved only the shopping and a trip to the archery venue to reassemble all the club's 'stuff' which had been hidden up while the Castlerea musical theatre company took over the whole building to put on the musical show 'Titanic'. Cue all the old jokes about "I wonder how THAT ended" etc.

Elizabeth got a good rise out of this yeast bread. 
Sadly, we only have Carsten for the week. Tomorrow, all too soon, he moves on to the 2nd stage of his 3 month working tour of the Republic, heading for Achill Island (Co. Mayo) where he has a job cleaning bedrooms and making beds in a tourist-y hostel. The hostel requires he stay at least 4 weeks, so that uses up May for him. We wish him luck and have told him if he is ever passing this way again or stuck for a week's work he'd be welcome back any time. It is probably for the best if he carries on to new things and new places and gets a good look at Ireland but we will both miss him. Top bloke all together.

Under construction, Nigella's "Eggs in Purgatory". Eggs
poached in a spiced up mix of tinned tomato. Eggs have only
just gone in here, hence raw and transparent. 
On the Help-X, I now have a gap - at the moment the whole of May and June. The July and August applicants are falling over each other to get here. I am spoiled for choice. In May, though, I look like shearing my sheep single handed, or schmoozing up the Woman of the House again. Come on people. They will be good jobs and you will be excellently fed. Nobody has run off screaming yet, anyway.

Fried turkey eggs. Yes, I broke one yolk.
The Woman of the House has been enjoying the chance to try out old favourite recipes, explore some new ones and make good soup from left overs. We tried Nigella's "Eggs in Purgatory" - eggs poached in a spiced up mix of tinned tomato. Thank you recent visitor 'Toastie' (Sarah) for that tip. There was a neck of lamb stew. We had 'spanikopita' a Greek dish of spinach and Fetta cheese baked in filo pastry. I have a feeling this might normally be done with Ricotta cheese but the Head Chef is not currently around to ask. We have enjoyed roast duck.

The bottle nearly sucked flat.
The soups have included trad nettle soup (with fresh green nettle tops plus leek and potato) and then a leek, potato and bacon soup which was based on duck stock. Both delicious. There have also been, memorably a fruit-cake "tray bake" and gooey chocolate "Flump's Cake". Flump here is another excellent source of recipes who has been a friend of Elizabeth for ever.

Enough for this one, I guess. By the time I write again, Carsten will have departed. Safe journey, Buddy and enjoy the rest of your 'tour'. Perhaps we will see you again.

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