Menu week commencing 22 August

I’m very late posting this week’s menu. I should be working on next week’s at this stage! However it’s been a crazy week getting ready for La Rentrée and fitting in all those last minute activities we didn’t manage to make time for earlier this summer.
Quick and easy meals today as we headed up north for the afternoon to visit our newest grandniece. Yes I am officially ancient.
From the freezer: Jamaican me crazy chili with tortillas etc.
Picnic pot luck: tabbouleh,potato salad, and red currant muffins. We were invited to the gorgeous Avondale by family for a picnic and we all brought a few bits and bobs to picnic on. I made muffins with the last of the red currants from the garden.
Poached eggs on brown bread – an easy but delicious tea. Still didn’t manage to mop the floor afterwards. I blame the aftereffects of the wasp sting. My first ever (and hopefully last ever) wasp sting.
Beans on toast – turned into wholewheat pasta and pesto due to little visitors’ dietary requirements and the fact that I had no bread. Still blaming that wasp sting.
Macaroni cheese with all the trimmings by request from Nipper 3.0 who started in the Naíonra today. All the trimmings means with a tin of chopped tomatoes in the cheese sauce and bacon lardons on the top. Oh me heart! This was requested because I’ve been experimenting with healthier options that haven’t gone down too well at all.
Beetroot soup for me and Nipper 2.0 and I can’t remember what the other two had. Toasted sandwiches from the George Foreman grill.
Linguine with mint and almond pesto and tomatoes from River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall which was a massive hit. Nipper 1.0 who isn’t madly keen on cooked tomatoes and usually ferrets them out. However as they are raw in this dish he gobbled them all down. I am definitely going to cultivate some mint in the garden for future use in this dinner. Yum!
Lunch in Joburger with family after swimming as it is the last day of the holidays.
Chicken pie a la Jamie Oliver which Himself made as I ironed 35 labels onto school uniforms. Why on earth do two boys need 35 items of clothes just for school. Snooze.

Packed lunches because they were back to school. Disgracefully uninspired on their first day but we’ll get better! I had garlicky mushrooms with granny smith apple and philadelphia on toasted vienna roll.
Salmon with potatoes and corn on the cob by request from the schoolgoers. As usual I made a mess of the salmon by getting all fancy with the salmon. The fishmonger was very happy to see us back after the holidays. I avoid shopping with the children so hadn’t visited while I had three in tow.
Packed lunches: Turkey slices and cranberry sauce – a marginal improvement. They also get cherry tomatoes, pistachio nuts and raisins.
Pizza (of course)
The list
Mint * 2 (could have done with at least one more)
Parsley (ditto)
Leeks * 2
Spring onions
Low fat mature cheddar (Dubliner or Kilmeaden)
Cherry tomatoes
Chicken breasts
Nat yog
Creme fraiche
Almond slivers
Blanched almonds
Strong white
Plain flour
Self raising flour
Juice tropicana
Tinned tomatoes
Cat food
Kids’ toothpaste
Buy Thursday
Corn on cob

Talking turkey

While visiting my cousin and her new babba recently I picked up her copy of Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. I had heard a couple of my friends talking about this chap: who forgets a name that is so nice to roll around your mouth especially when associated with memories of delicious nibbles with friends? So I was intrigued and flicked through a few pages. The recipe below caught my eye (Turkey & Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion & Cumin p.200) and I found it online after a little googling. I have yet to find sumac so first time I made this I just left it out and it was still divine. The second time I made them they had no turkey mince left in Superquinn so I went for lamb instead which I added to the turkey from my freezer. Still they had no sumac in Superquinn (which I wouldn’t hold against them having only become aware of its existence myself in the very recent past) but I picked up a jar of Epicure Lebanese Paste which was nommy. All the family loved these wee burgers which we served with couscous with pine nuts and sultanas or chopped apricots. (I’ll add a picture next time we have them which will be soon no doubt.


1 lb/500g turkey mince
1 large courgette, coarsely grated about 8oz/200g
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 6 tablespoons sunflower oil, for searing

Sour cream & sumac sauce
Approx 80ml sour cream
Approx 160ml Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the sour cream sauce first by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the burgers except the sunflower oil.
  3. Mix with your hands and then shape into about 18 rounded burgers of about 1½ ounces each.
  4. Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16-inch thick.
  5. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the burgers, in batches, on all sides. Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.
  6. Carefully transfer the seared burgers to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side. We served them in pitta pockets with optional tomatoes and lettuce/ rocket.

Short post on Shortbread

I’ve never had much luck with shortbread so when I overheard one of the bloggers on Saturday talking about making shortbread for her father on Father’s Day, my ears pricked up.

Joanna of Smorgasblog shared her shortbread recipe with me on Twitter yesterday and I rustled up a batch while making the dinner and putting the nippers to bed. Yes it IS that easy.

The result: AMAZEBALLS. Go and make some right now. Recipe here.

Oh my WOW! This tastes even better than it looks! Thanks @JoannaSchaff

1 picture = 1k words+

Also the thought of writing a thousand words is exhausting in my present “condition”.


All going to plan Nipper 3.0 will be out of beta testing mode and into full release in the New Year. Now you know why I was yawning in your company. Really you are scintillating; I was just tired.

Reasons to be fruitful

Just because we are in a recession doesn’t mean you should put your dynasty building plans on hold. Here are my reasons to be fruitful in reverse order.

Fruit basket
Photo owned by IMAGINE!NATION (cc)

I’ve been thinking about this for some time and my recent reading of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell made me realise I’m probably not the only one. It’s an easy read; you’d probably get through it in a weekend. His thesis is that success is not so much a result of genius and/ or hard work but a result of circumstance; being in the right place at the right time. One of the stories he recounts to illustrate is how a father and son, even though they went into similar businesses, the Great Depression got the better of the father. The son on the other hand being only one of a relative handful of babies born during the Depression enjoyed more attention in school and easier access to public services because there was less competition for those resources due to the fallen birth rate.

And that is the first reason that you shouldn’t put your progeny plans on hold just because of a recession. The theory goes that this bust comes after a boom when money was spent on creating fabulous educational establishments that nurture and develop our children to their best potential. Maybe in other countries. However at least the (temporary) classrooms of your little twinkle may not be quite so overcrowded. They’ll still be sioctha fuar sa gheimhridh and rósta te sa samhradh but spacious.

But that’s the very least of them and may not come to fruition if you all take my other points to heart and go forth and multiply. It is a scary time at the moment as people are losing their jobs and having their hours cut and generally having to keep your head down and not rock the boat. For women in particular this throws into even starker contrast, the eternal question of whether she should ahem “take time off” to have children. (Like it’s a bleeding holiday or summat!) Regardless of the conditions your employer finds themselves in you will still receive your maternity payments. If your employer had a policy of topping up maternity leave and they suddenly changed this policy and no other staff were forced to take a pay cut you might even consider discussing this with the Equality Authority because it is a change in the contract that you have with your employer. But I’m no employment expert so check your facts before you raise your blood pressure.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I have two nippers. So when I say that children in their first five years are not a huge drain on your resources, I know what I’m talking about. True there is some specialised equipment involved but there are some great deals online (I got our Phil&Teds stroller for EUR100.00 cheaper online than it was being sold in Dublin baby shops and delivered to the door.) Why do children save you money? Firstly there’s the 40 week detox which saves you a fortune on your social life. Mind you Himself went with the attitude when we did go out that he was drinking for three (Only kidding!) Now I’m not saying, “Say bye bye to your social life.” but you will find that your priorities change and as your ankles swell standing in a crowded pub stone cold sober becomes less glamorous as the minutes tick by. Once the pregnancy is over, of course, you can reclaim your party animal mantle, if you can afford to pay a babysitter between EUR7.00 and EUR12.00 an hour. Yes it does take the shine off going out a bit doesn’t it? We’re very luck that we have lots of generous family members nearby who are often happy to babysit for us. However I frequently remember a bit of advice from an acquaintance when I was expecting Nipper 1.0, “Don’t rely on your parents to babysit because then your social life revolves around theirs.” I cannot complain at all but a good stash of unrelated babysitters is a must. So apart from the added cost of a babysitter, you tend to splash out on a babysitter for special occasions only. Okay that’s not probably selling the kid thing to you but I swear I really enjoy going out so much more now than I did when I did it every week, every Friday and Saturday. You don’t see the same crowd over and over again so when you do go out it’s all new and there’s loads to catch up on. It works for me.

They also save you money because your priorities change. I’m not saying I don’t hanker after fancy shoes and bags or the latest gadget. I’m not even saying that I don’t occasionally indulge those hankerings (see soon hopefully my upcoming post about my iPhone.) but I put a little more thought into those indulgences. This means that I tend to have less cognitive dissonance about my purchases and I get more out of them. Well that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

But I’m saving the best til last. Having the two boys from the moment I knew they were definitely on their way to right now as I listen to their little sleepy shnuffles on the monitor is the most life-affirming experience I have ever had. Being a parent and having that responsibility adds meaning to the most meaninglesss, menial and even meaningful tasks. Money doesn’t come into it. I would do any job to provide for them and I believe if times get tougher it will be character forming for us all. I know that might sound naive but I will always be their mum; I will always have them to brighten up the horizon and to keep me going.

My main point is, in five years time or even further down the line, will you look back at this recession and think “Wow, I saved a few quids by not having kids!” If you do and you never wanted kids, good for you. If you do and you did want kids I hope you still have time.

Go on, go for it. It’s great craic.

Lots of fun with all the family
Lots of fun with all the family