Back to school with bangers

Blackberries and green beans from our own garden

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. 

Continue reading “Back to school with bangers”

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.

Minecraft agus Imní Tuismitheora

My most recent article for looks at some of the issues that I as a parent am experiencing as my children get more involved in technology. Can I keep up with them? The latest game to cause some concern is Minecraft. Read on or contact me for a rough translation 🙂

Thugamar cuairt ar an deartháir is sine liom faoi Nollaig. Tá beirt chailíní aige agus le linn na cuairte thaispeáin siad Minecraft, cluiche ar an iPad nua s’acu, don bheirt gasúir is sine linne. Ó shin i leith tá na buachaillí s’againne go huile is go hiomlán gafa leis. D’insealbhaigh m’fhear chéile an leagan in aisce ar an iPad s’aige, ag ceapadh nach mairfeadh an leannán seo acu.

Thug m’fhear chéile a iPad leis ar turas coicíse agus go ceann trí lá d’ímpigh siad is d’impigh siad orm Minecraft a insealbhú ar an iPad s’agamsa. Dhiúltaigh mé. Thairg an duine is sine a chuid airgid féin chun íoc as: dar leis, thuill sé an t-airgead timpeall an tí agus is faoi féin conas a chaitheann sé é. Sa deireadh tháinig muid ar réiteach agus fuair mé an leagan nua de Lego Harry Potter. Tá dífríocht amháin idir Minecraft agus Lego Harry Potter a thuigfidh aon tuismitheoir eile le ‘crafters’ sa teach: tá críoch le Lego Harry Potter; leanfaidh Minecraft go deo.

Ach nach ionann cluiche amháin leictreonach agus ceann eile? Is ea, go pointe áirithe, ach tá difríochtaí móra idir gnáthchluichí agus Minecraft agus ní ormsa amháin atá imní faoin mbealach a imríonn na gasúir an cluiche seo. Ní gá ach cuardach a dhéanamh ar Google ar nós “kids playing too much minecraft” agus tiocfaidh tú ar neart cláracha plé agus blagmhíreanna ag tuismitheoirí imníoch ag lorg freagra ar an gceist.

Seoladh Minecraft don PC déanach i 2011 agus bronnadh duaiseanna láithreach air: “best downloadable game”, “best indie game”, srl. Tugtar cluiche bosca gainimh nó domhan oscailte ar a leitheid de cluiche. Seard atá i gceist leis seo ná nach bhfuil scéal ar leith i gceist leis an gcluiche: fágtar faoin imreoir taiscéal a dhéanamh sa domhan iad féin.

So proud - my nippers made this... :-/
So proud – my nippers made this… :-/

Tú Féin atá ar an Maide Eolais

De ghnáth, ó thaobh ríomhaireachta de, ciallaíonn sé seo nach bhfuil gá ach rialacha a leagan síos faoin mbealach gur féidir leis an imreoir gabháil i ngleic leis an timpeallacht. Mar sin is féidir a leithéid de chluichí a sheoladh go sciobtha de ghnáth freisin. Míbhuntáiste, ar ndóigh, is ea go bhfuil gá leis na rialacha ó nach bhfuil sé dodhéanta gach uile féidearacht insinte a shamhlú ar an gcéad dul síos agus a chruthú. In alt i 2005 (tá fhios agam – ársa go maith!) scríobh forbróir cluiche amháin, David Braben, go bhfuil ardchaighdeán léiriúcháin sroichte: tá samhail an tsaoil réadúil cruthaithe ach “The Holy Grail we are looking for in fifth generation gaming is the ability to have freedom, and to have truly open ended stories.”

An rud is aistí faoi Minecraft ansin ná go bhfuil na graificí bunúsach. An-bhunúsach. Tá siad blocach, tá an pailéad srianta go maith ach is cuma don imreoir mar má shocraíonn sé nó sí ar teaichín deich n-urlár le díon tuí a chruthú, thig leis. Níl srian ar bith leis an tsamhlaíocht ann. Sin an rud a tharraingíonn ar ais arís is arís eile iad. Sin an fáth go bhfuil an-spéis ag oideachasóirí sa chluiche seo.

Inár dteach tá neart uirlísí aibhléise idir uirlísí iOS agus ríomhairí. Tá Wii agus tá PSP againn agus d’éirígh leis na gasúir am a chur isteach ag imirt cluiche ar an meaisín DVD fiú! B’fhearr i bhfad leo suí siar le cluiche in ionad clár teilifíse agus go dtí seo tá níos mó spéis acu i gcluichí ina bhfuil fadhbanna le réiteach iontu nó sprioc ar leith in ionad cluichí “shoot-em-up”. Is é am ríomhaireachta an duais is fearr is féidir thabhairt dóibh agus tuilleann siad dearbháin timpeall an tí gur féidir leo trádáil ar son 15 nóiméad anseo is ansiúd.

Sách Buartha

Sa dara áit don duine is sine tá leitheoireacht agus dá dhearthair, tá teilifís mar chaitheamh aimsire. Nil mórán speise ag ceachtar acu i spórt, idir rannpháirteacht nó féachaint air. Mar sin, cosúil le híomhá choitinn na máthar, táim buartha go bhfuil siad ag foghlaim drochnósanna a mbeidh tionchar acu ar a sláinte anois agus amach anseo. Scríobh mé cheana (féach an nasc ‘is fearr an tsláinte’) faoin mbealach ina bhfuil cruthaitheoirí teicneolaíochtaí sláinte ag iarraidh “gamification” a shníomh tríd a gcuid earraí agus léigh mé alt amháin a leagann síos gurb iad na tréithe aigneolaíochta céanna a chruthaíonn cluichirí dírithe is a chruthaíonn “gym rats” dírithe. Nílim róchinnte ach feicim tréith na hiomaíochta sna gasúir. Le Minecraft feicim gur féidir leo díriú isteach ar thionscnamh agus fanacht leis go dtí go mbeidh sé curtha i gcrích acu. Caithfidh na himreoirí na hábhair thart timpeall orthu a úsáid chun an timpeallacht a mhúnlú. Tá dhá modh imeartha sa chluiche: cruthaitheacht nó modh an mharthanais. Ligeann an chéad cheann don imreoir leanúint leis an tógáil gan tionchar ó ocras, caitheamh an lae nó ó ionsaitheoirí cosúil le ainmhithe, damháin alla nó zombies. Sa mhodh marthanais, caithfidh an t-imreoir gabhail i ngleic leis seo go léir chun teacht slán. Is féidir leo imirt leo féin nó is féidir imirt thar an idirlíon le cairde agus stráinséirí.

STRÁINSÉIRÍ?? Coimthígh!

Bíonn tuismitheoirí buartha go minic faoi choimhthigh ar líne agus ar ndóigh ní cabhraíonn a leithéid de scéal is “Man jailed for having sex with 13 year old”  ina bhfuil an suíomh Bebo lárnach. Mar thuismitheoir briseann an scéal seo mo chroí. Is léir go dtuigeann cruthaitheoirí Minecraft deacrachtaí tuismitheoirí le hoscailteacht córas ar líne. Tuigeann siad an eagla. Ach is creatúir sóisialta muid agus giorraíonn beirt bóthair go háirithe nuair ortsa atá an fhreagracht an bóthar sin a thógáil cloch mhéarach i ndiaidh na cloiche méaraí. Tá modh sa chluiche mar sin gur féidir leat freastálaí priobháideach a shocrú agus na sonraí a roinnt le do chairde amháin. An buntáiste is mó atá leis seo ná gur le cuireadh amháin a ligeann tú imreoirí teacht isteach; an míbhuntáiste ná is faoin tuismitheoir, de ghnáth, an freastalaí a riaradh. Deis iontach foghlamtha, nach ea?!

D’fhógair Mojang, cruthaitheoirí Minecraft, le déanaí go mbeidh siad ag cur seirbhís freastalaí príobháideacha ar fáil, Minecraft Realms, ar costas $10 – $15 in aghaidh na míosa. Go dtí seo níl mórán spéise ag an mbeirt s’againne imirt lena gcairde agus faoin am a mbeidh, b’fhéidir go mbeidh riarachán freastálaí ar mo thoil agam…!

First day in the new job

Started the new job yesterday – did this. Jealous much?


However do also note the travelling laundry basket to the right. Not all fun and games eh? But at least I no longer have to do this on Saturday mornings or at 9 o’clock at night.

Happy New Year!