September is closer to New Year in my mind. I have been invigorated by the summer sunshine or certainly the summer light but there is a change in the air. A few tiny leaves waft to the ground. It’s not warm in the morning. There is a tinge of golden appearing on the trees. The smells are damper, edged with decay.
I freaking LOVE Autumn. I am full of the joys of Autumn. I love the excessively bright days where skies seem crazy blue when contrasted to the oranges, yellows and browns of the trees. I love blackberry picking.
With all this joy I feel I should channel some energy back into my blog. Kicking it off with an easy one but I hope it will help you get organised for the first full week back at school. This week’s menu includes lots of comfort meals and also freezer meals. Hopefully it will make the transition easier while we get used to the new old routine.
A couple of the recipes this week are doubled (or sometimes even tripled!) so I can put extra dinners in the freezer. I immediately add these to dates in our AnyList app so I don’t forget about them. They are always scaled to feed 6: the sixth dinner usually being lunch for Himself the next day.
As a reminder we have three children aged 14, 12 and 8. Two in primary and one just started Junior Cert year.
I haven’t written up a weekly menu in ages. I got bored doing it and wondered if you all got bored reading them? (Comments below!) However I also started using a new app to write my weekly menus which made it difficult to copy and paste as I previously did. I am totally in love with this app, AnyList, and it has saved time and trouble a-plenty in our gaff. I have tried numerous grocery/ meal planning apps and this is the only one that has worked well for this household. The app is called AnyList and I’m sorry to report Androids that it is only available for iOS.
These are the reasons I love it:
Both of the adults in our household can see shared lists, add to them and striking things off. Fingers crossed they will bring out an Android app soon so we can include younger family members in the listmaking fun.
Also works beautifully on the iPad. And importantly for my battered old iPad, works really well without Wifi.
In a recent-ish update the ability to import or add recipes and organise them into a weekly calendar was added. This has made this app indispensable to me.
You can then scroll through the ingredients, marking which ones you want to add to your grocery list.
It then goes out and does the shopping for you.
Guess which of those reasons is total wishful thinking? Sigh.
So just over a week ago I posted my recipe for Campfire Cones. They didn’t get much of a look in on our holiday which we should still be enjoying. Thanks to the torrential rain in the North West of Ireland, we gave up and came home last Friday. We have one nice day on Keem Beach in Achill which is truly one of the most lovely beaches in Ireland. There are many lovely beaches in Ireland; it’s only a pity there aren’t as many lovely days…
So we are home and trying to maintain the holiday vibe. We’ve had family staying with us for the last couple of days which helped keep up the pretence and the fun factor. A trip to the market in Bushy Park on a fine sunny afternoon helped a lot. I would recommend a wander up there some Saturday: I had a most excellent coffee from the Saltpeter Coffee Truck, I shared a pizza with Nipper 2.0 and 3.0 and Nipper 1.0 and cousins had delicious burgers. There was also a Twink sighting but we were all too shy to talk to her. My sister in law also bought some Brie from the Little Milk Company which I am looking forward to trying out.
One meal taken care of, then I shopped for the following with the much appreciated help of my sister in law – I wish I could have a sister in law along to relieve the boredom of every shop.
I suppose one advantage to being at home is that we could go all out on recipes for holidays, no more one-pot wonders on the Trangia! However we knew we were going to get out and about so we needed some dishes that would be easy to put together. The only new one on the menu is the Chipotle Bean Chilli and it went down a treat with all.
Baked Sausages in a Spicy Tomato Sauce from Nessa’s Family Kitchen by Nessa Robbins. This is a great recipe when having a family with small kids to visit: there is something for everyone in it. Keep your eyes peeled for Nessa’s book – it’s a good family all rounder with some added home nurse tips.
Chicken Tikka from VinnieMeyler.com, spices by Green Saffron (highly recommended). Chicken curry when our French family are visiting has become a bit of a running joke. We accidentally served it to them two visits in a row, only realising when we got a strong sense of deja vu when someone objected to a particular aspect of the meal. As we had them for two meals this time we served this up for old time’s sake.
Chipotle Bean Chilli with Baked Eggs. This was added to the menu so I could have a go of my new chipotle paste which I picked up from Picado Mexican on South Richmond St. here in Dublin. I’ve been eyeing this shop up for some time, but always from the bus or car so I snatched a moment to pop in (when I was buying Tilda Basmati rice in bulk in a nearby Asian market!) I have since been adding the paste to lots of different sauces – it is delicious. I also picked up a pack of these corn tortillas which had a great flavour and the novelty of their smallness was appreciated by the kids.
Spaghetti Bolognese by Rachel Allen. I have started making this half and half beef and pork mince as per an option in her recipe. Not only is it more cost effective it adds an extra dimension to the flavour.
A bilingual blog post so skim on through if you have no Irish as there is more for the Anglophile below. There will be a touch more Irish on this site in future as my gig with Beo.ie has fallen by the wayside due to the loss of their funding. I need somewhere to keep it going! In this post I muse on the burgeoning pride in making and on how the Internet allows us to take pride and share the creative process.
Bhí mé ag súil nach mbeadh anseo ach blagmhír scioptha faoi rudaí a chríochnaigh mé le déanaí. Ach tá mé díreach tagtha ar ais ó pháirt a ghlacadh ar an gclár cainte Róisín ar TG4 agus cuir an ábhar cainte ag smaoineamh mé. Ní bhíonn am a dhóthain ar teilifís nó ar raidió ceisteanna móra an lae a phlé in iomlán. Nílim ag cur an milleán ar an dteilifís ach sin mar atá an foirmeád. Is iomaí uair a shéan mé ábhar dom’ phíosa ar Splanc Newstalk toisc go raibh sé ró-chasta nó fealsúnach in ionad ceann le níos mó siamsaíocht ag baint leis.
Mar sin is ar éigean go raibh an triúir againn ar an gclár abalta leath den mhéad a bhí againn le rá a chlúdach ar an gcéad clár den tsraith úr. I ndáiríre is dócha go raibh an triúir againn ar an leathanach céanna faoi síneadh scileanna tís ó ghlúin go glúin. Tá ghá leis agus gheobhaidh roinnt páistí na scileanna sa bhaile, roinnt ar scoil agus roinnt ó leabhair agus ar ndóigh ón Idirlíon mar a dúirt mé ar an gclár. I ndáiríre is meascán de na foinsí a mbeidh i gceist: d’fhoghlaim mise conas crochet ó leabhar agus ansin thug aintín liom nodanna breise dom. D’fhoghlaim mé conas fúáil ó mo mháthair agus anois faighim nodanna breise ó leabhair nó blaganna pearsanta.
“A woman’s work is never done.
Maybe that’s why they are paid less.”
– Seán Lock, comedian.
I laughed when I heard Lock throwing out this one-liner in a repeat of an ancient Live at the Apollo that he was hosting. Yes, I know some might take offence at this but I see it more along the lines of so-funny-because-it’s-true. I got to thinking about finding worth in the unpaid work of making a home, be it for yourself, your and a partner or for a family whatever shape that might take. If this work is unpaid how else can it be given value? Kudos, appreciation, applause, feedback can go a long way to making a person feel like they have acheived something. This doesn’t even have to come from outside: I’ve noticed online a few folk talking about journals where they plan what they hope to achieve each week, month, year and then review accordingly. Patting yourself on the back isn’t only physically difficult, yoga babes excepted.
Ach an rud a rith liom is mé ag teacht abhaile ná gur tháinig meath ar luach na scileanna seo mar ní raibh aon stádas ag baint leo i sochaí caiptlíoch. Ní raibh aon brabus i mbacáil cáca nó dearnáil poll i ngeansaí. Fiú ba chur amú ama a leithéid nuair a bhítear inann cáca i measc na ceadta a cheannach sa siopa nó nuair a bhí sé níos saoire geansaí nua a cheannach.
Ach píosa ar píosa, le leathnú an Idirlíne, tá athrú ag tarlúint. Dar liom is athrú tábhachtach é i sochaí. Tá borradh mór tagtha ar an mbród a léiríonn déantóirí as an obair atá á dhéanamh acu. Don chuid is mó is obair gan phá atá i gceist: caitheamh aimsire nó obair tí. Tugann lucht na fógraíochta “mummy bloggers” ar roinnt dóibh, i mbealach dímheasúil, “makers” ar chuid eile dóibh. Aithnítear, i réimse na fógraíochta, go bhfuil cumhacht ar leith ag baint leis na mummy bloggers: nuair a mholann na blagadóirí is ráthúla ina measc tairge ar leith, bíonn tóir air. Ach rud a rith liom ná go bhfuil níos mó i gceist anseo ná mioneolas don earnáil fógraíochta. Tá neart de na blagadóirí seo atá ag séanadh fógraíocht nó formhuiniú tairge. Cinnte, b’fhéidir go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh a dtairgí féin a chur chun cinn ach táthar ann nach bhfuil “agenda” ar bith acu seachas eolas a roinnt.
Ach sé mo thuairim féin ná go bhfuil snáithe amháin fite fuaite tríd na suíomhanna seo ar fad. Is é sin an bród. Nílim ag caint ar mórtas ná ar mórchúiseacht ach an píosín beag bród a bhraitheann tú ionat féin nuair atá rud curtha i gcrích agat agus jab maith déanta agat. Bhraithim sin óna blagadóirí seo mar tá siad sásta, don chuid is mó, a sprioc, a gníomh agus an toradh a roinnt linn. Muna roinneoidh ach an toradh ní bheadh deas againne, na léitheoirí, an saibhreas céanna a chur lenár saol féin.
Lena chois sin seo cúpla rud a chur mé féin i gcrích thar an tsamhraidh. Gheobhaidh sibh naisc chuig na hoideas is na patrún fite tríd, ó blagadóirí is gnólachtaí beaga a bhí bródúil as a gcuid oibre agus sásta ligint dúinn ar fad cuid den bród céanna a bhraith.
Nuair a bhí mé níos óige ba mhinic a rinne mé éadaí dom féin, go háirithe fá choinne ócáidí speisialta. Táim beag agus cé go glacaim leis le gnáth éadaí laethúla b’fhearr i bhfad liom go luífeadh gúna liom d’ocáid speisialta. Mar sin rinne mé (le cabhair agus treoir mo mháthair foighdeach) mo ghúna féin do mo “Debs”, don Trinity Ball ach faraor ní raibh an muinín agam mo ghúna bainise féin a dhéanamh. Is dócha go ndéarfadh mo mháthair go dtagann ciall le haois! An uair dheireanach a rinne mé iarracht gúna a dhéanamh fá choinne ócáid speisialta rinne mé praiseach iomlán de (agus b’éigean dom mo ghúna bainise a chaitheamh ina áit – an-aisteach ar fad). Ó shin i leith ba bheag ní a fúáil mé.
But after lining a few crochet bags and purses earlier this year and rustling up a few small things on the machine my confidence began to return and I decided to make Nipper 3.0 a dress. That was in July. I finished it early September. I used the Sally Dress Pattern from VeryShannon.com, a cute Russian Doll Cotton Print by Rose & Hubble that I picked up in Murphy Sheehy in town one day.
I can’t begin to describe the little sparkles of joy I get in seeing Nipper 3.0 wearing the finished dress. There were 2 false starts, mainly down to Americans’ ridiculous use of non-standard paper sizes (shakes fist) but I have requested some Letter sized paper to be brought home from Yankland to avoid this problem in future.
I finished this little blanket below for my latest grandniece. If I have rabbited on before that I am great aunt to five, forgive me. But also believe me: it deserves this level of rabbiting on as it is a perennial shock to me.
This is my own pattern and I hope to post it soon. I can’t say that it was quick to hook but it required that extra time to ensure it was safe for a baby. It is soft and light but tight enough to avoid entangling tiny baby fingers.
As to food we have tried some new and interesting things. I love this tomato salsa recipe from Smitten Kitchen and I far prefer her photos. I’m going for the photo-realism look here. A great recipe to use up your glut of tomatoes and I would definitely recommend adding the lime juice that she wavers on in her blog post. Fingers crossed next year I will be using my own tomatoes in this recipe!
Another big hit at home and at a few other family events this summer were campfire cones. Here you can see Himself looking very summery, enjoying one hot off the barbeque at home. As I synthesised a few recipes to make the most of Irish ingredients I will shortly post this recipe here so keep your eyes peeled. I can’t believe it’s still warm enough on the eve of October to think that some of you might be able to try these still! Otherwise file (Pin it!) for next summer.
A new BBQ favourite that I have made successfully under the grill are these delicious salmon skewers which I found on Epicurious.com. In this pic they are on our barbeque with just the marinade and thinly slice lemon wedges. However the second time I made them I added courgette and red pepper and mixed these three ingredients in the marinade, rather then trying to coat skewers once, eh, skewered. Consider adding chunks of feta because Feta and Salmon are just fabulous together.
I’ve also designed a new pair of crochet baby booties after much trial and error. I think they are a really cute and unique present to give on the arrival of a newborn but I was not happy with all of any of the patterns that I tried so I decided to design my own. I will post this pattern soon. It will get cold soon and you will be glad of it! I am also working on a pair of fingerless mittens which I hope to share soon too, once I’ve gotten over my bootie obsession.
Well how did you all cope? We’ve had tears and recriminations but this was from the child heading into Ranga 5. Nipper 3.0 sailed into Naíonán Bheaga gan stró ar bith uirthi. So that’s it all my children are now “in the system” Our job now is feeding and watering and damage limitation (especially as Nipper 2.0 is in communion year.)
I’ve really noticed in the last couple of years, where I have been with them in the afternoons, that the boys EAT ALL THE TIME. I thought this was some sort of gender stereotyping but so far, so true, the older boy in particular. We feed them porridge everyday. They have a full on lunch at school and then come home expecting a meal circa 3pm and then dinner around 7pm. It’s my imagination that is mostly sapped by this experience. How do I feed them, keeping it healthy AND varied. When I experiment one of them is bound to turn their nose up (“Rocket Pesto? I don’t care that you grew, picked and made it yourself, it’s yuck!”) and I tend to fall back on those childhood staples of fish fingers and waffles or baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast. Soup, if I’m careful about its ingredients and consistency can sometimes gain their royal highnesses’ approval. This tomato and courgette soup was a surprising hit. With tomatoes and courgettes in season around about now I would recommend you give it a whirl.
Not only do my darling children demand lunch they usually expect a dessert with it. I blame the parents. Having a sweet tooth myself I understand the hankering so I was quite happy when I found this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies on SkinnyTaste.com. This site is one of my favourite sites for family friendly, health conscious recipes although at times the recipes rely a little too much on products that can only be found in the US.
These bites are great and never last jig time in our gaff. They are NOT flapjacks and are a squishy consistency but are a great energy booster on long days when the kids are rushing hither and yon to after school activities. I have substituted the chocolate chips for raisins and they are still delicious so experiment with dried cranberries, blueberries or chopped dried apricot. While I’m not a big fan of what chocolate they are gorgeous with White Chocolate Chips. Here’s the recipe, Europeanised 🙂
Banana Porridge Bites
Makes 12.(So consider making a double batch!)
2 ripe bananas (I always keep a couple of bananas in the freezer for ripe banana recipes)
80g oat flakes
40g chocolate chips (dark, milk or white or a mixture)
Preheat oven to 180C/ GM4.
Lay a sheet of silicon or baking paper on your tray. These do NOT spread so don’t need a huge amount of space between the cookies. Note in the pics below my silicon paper is completely crumpled. This was an excellent tip I picked up from some TV show to stop your paper rolling up and off your baking tray. Works when lining tins too.
Mash your banana and stir in oats and chocolate chips.
Take bite size portions or tablespoons full, create small balls and flatten onto your prepared baking tray.
Pop them in the over for 12 – 15 mins or until golden brown.
Allow to cool on trays.
Store in an airtight container. I have no idea how long they keep because the Nippers have them shnarfed in no time.