As I’ve said before, when you travel off the main roads in Ireland, taking your time getting from one place to another, you encounter a lot of sheep. In Ireland, you mostly see the black faced variety, although they are not exclusive. This lady was munching away on grass at the side of the road, so I stopped and took a photo!
I used this photo of my grandmother (on the right) in an earlier post but thought I would post the original picture since it has her sister, Nannie Lea Ferrier, in another wonderful and stylish hat! I am sure Nannie’s given name was Nancy, but she was called Nannie all her life.
My grandmother was Dulcie Ferrier Marlin and her parents were Charles Oliver Ferrier and Sarah Evelyn Forkner Ferrier. I posted earlier showing their original log house and then the larger house they built after their family grew. Check it out in the archives!
This is a recipe worth reposting. It gets a lot of consistent hits.
Starbuck’s came out with their own Banana Bread about four years ago. At least that’s when I first saw it in the bakery section. A few weeks after I first saw it there, they started distributing the recipe, so here it is. It’s easy to make and very tasty and it gets walnuts into the diet.
BANANA WALNUT BREAD
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/8 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe medium-large bananas
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan and dust with flour. Blend together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Mix together the egg, sugar and vegetable oil until combined. Add the flour mixture and when blended, add the buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas and mix until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Top batter with remaining 1/3 cup chopped wlanuts. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan. Makes one loaf.
County Sligo is another coastal county in Ireland. The mountains in the county run right through its center, so the coastline tends to be more like the photo above, rolling hills and inlets. This photo was taken in September, 2006, and it’s not the most spectacular photo I’ve ever taken, but it shows you how the Irish manage to farm every bit of land! If it’s not arable, they put sheep and cows on it!
On my way to Sligo in 2006, I stopped at a tourist attraction of sorts…it was a recreation of an early Irish farm, complete with replica buildings and a real farmyard. I had never seen such a big and beautiful turkey before!
Below are some geese (or maybe large white ducks).
It has gotten so hot here in Pasadena in the past week, I have not turned the oven on, even late at night. On days when it’s 105 degrees or more, we are lucky if it gets down under 95 degrees by sundown and it’s still 90 degrees at bedtime. Today I ran the A/C on 86 degrees and it felt almost frigid inside compared to the outside temperature! So all cooking has been taking place on the stove top, in the slow cooker, or in the Sharper Image convection air cooker.
Before the heat wave set in, however, I did try one recipe from the recently released book The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen. It contains fifty “deliciously twisted treats from the sweetest little food cart on the planet.” Ms. Jensen operates a pink food cart (aka truck) in Portland and it apparently is such a hit that she decided to write the cookery book. For a food truck, I was amazed at the complexity of some of the recipes but they do appear to be out of this world. The following is the recipe for Apple-Apricot Crostatas and they are WONDERFUL!
For the dough:
2 cups unbleached flour
1 rounded tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (one stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
2 tablespoons very cold rendered leaf lard, cut into small pieces.
1/4 cup ice water
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt and pulse a few times. Add butter and lard and pulse until pea-size pieces are formed. While pulsing, slowly drizzle the ice water through the feed tube. Continue pulsing until the dough comes together (it starts to ball up). If dough seems dry, add one teaspoon very cold water at a time, but be careful not to get dough too sticky. Turn the dough out onto a clean, dry, lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball, kneading a few times. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigertor and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes to soften a bit. With a lightly floured rolling pin on lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 15 inch circle that is 1/8 inch thick. Make sure to turn the dough frequently as you roll it to prevent sticking. Use a scraper to dislodge any areas that stick to the work surface and dust the area lightly with flour. If there is excess flour on your dough when you are done rolling, be sure to brush it off.
Line a baking sheet with parchmen paper. Use a 5 inch round cutter to cut out six 5 inch rounds and place them on the prepared sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and chill while you make the caramelized apples.
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter cut into pieces.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 vanilla bean
3 medium to large Granny Smith apples, about 1 pound 9 oz, peeled, halved and cored
1/4 cup apricot preserves
heavy cream for brushing
superfine or vanilla sugar for sprinkling
vanilla bean ice cream for serving
In a 10 inch saute pan that is at least 2 inches deep, stir the butter, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise and scrpe out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add to the pan along with the pod and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is bubbly and turns a light nut brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the apple halves, cut side down, and cook for 5 minutes, spooning the caramel over the apples to promote even cooking. Lower the heat a bit if the caramel is getting too dark. Turn the apples over and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, spooning more caramel on top. You want the apples to be cooked but still hold their shape and be slightly firm to the touch. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the caramelized apple halves to a clean plate. Let cool. You can discard the leftover caramel in the pan or use it to top the crostatas. Just add a little cream and whisk until smooth. Make sure to strain out the apple bits and vanilla bean pod.
When cool enough to handle, cut the apples into 1/2 inch slices, four to six slices per half. Do not fan the slices or mix them up, keep in the half apple shape. They should be easy to cut yet slightly firm since they are going to bake for another 20 minutes.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Drop 1 rounded teaspoon of apricot preserves in the center and spread it out a bit, leaving a one inch border. Place a caramelized apple half, cut side down, on top. Fold the edges of the dough up against the apple, pressing the seams together where the dough overlaps. The center of each crostata will be open (see photo below). If the dough seems too firm to fold, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes until slightly softened but no longer than 5 minutes or it will be too soft to work with. Freeze the crostatas until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degreees F. Lightly brush the edges of the chilled crostatas with cream and generously sprinkle the dough and fruit with superfine sugar. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through.
Melt the remaining apricot preserves in a small bowl in a microwave for about 25 seconds, or in a small saucepan over low heat. Thin with a teaspoon of water if necessary. Let the crostatas cool slightly before brushing the tops of the apples with the melted preserves for added tartness and a pretty shine. Serve warm with ice cream.
NOTES: You can, of course, start with store bought dough, but the pastry recipe here is a good one. She recommends freezing the lard and/or butter in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before mixing. You can make the dough by hand, but she cautions not to over mix, especially after adding water. Also, be sure to let the dough rest in the fridge after mixing. She also cautions not to skip the freezing step before putting the crostatas in the oven.
I can’t wait to try the Breakfast Clafoutis, Shortbread Bars, Hazelnibbies, Coffee Mallow Meringue Pie and the Raspberry Brown Butter Creme Fraiche Tart…just as soon as the weather cools down!
Photos by Lisa Warninger.
I posted a similar photo in my second or third post back in April, I think. The other photo showed the high tide right after a storm had blown through. This was on a cloudy, muggy June day in 1998. Sandycove is a tiny little place near the village of Glasthule, between Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey. This is where I usually stay with friends when I am in Dublin. I don’t like Ireland much in the summer. It’s not hot, it’s not cold, it’s just humid and sticky! Give me a brisk autumn day anytime!
The round tower in the center of the photo is a Martello Tower, of which there are several still in existence along the Irish coast. It now houses the James Joyce Museum. This famous Irish writer stayed there for six nights with his “friend” Oliver St. John Gogarty, until Gogarty shot a gun in his direction and Joyce left!
Here is another recipe that was a favorite of my Aunt Laura (Shank) McGrew.
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raw apple, chopped
Sift dry ingredients together. Add well beaten eggs, add sugar, beat till creamy. Stir in flour and blend well. Add apples and nuts.
Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees F in greased pan (size 8 x 12 x 4, which must have been a large loaf pan).
This is a very old photograph that I found on eBay of Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland. Written on the back is “Dalkey Bay near Kingstown 1901″.
Dalkey is about ten miles south of Dublin city, and it was once a main port during the middle ages. The town still has the remains of the town castle (in Castle Street) as well as the remains of Bullock Castle, which is shown at the right of this image. In the middle of the photo above the rocks but in front of the buildings is the Bullock Harbor breakwater, and at the middle right at the skyline, you can see the outline of the Anglican Church.
Today this view looks a little different because there are modern apartment buildings behind the harbor and other buildings have changed. And of course, Kingstown is now called Dun Laoghaire, this since the time the country gained independence from the British Crown. I don’t think I have a photo of this view that I’ve taken in recent years, but maybe next time I am in Ireland I will try to get one so the two views can be contrasted.
This is a photo I took in 1998 at Roundwood House near Mountrath, County Laois, Ireland. I have a lot more to say about Roundwood House and lots of photos I will post in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to put this one up because it looks out onto the remodeled carriage house behind the main house and contrasts the shape of the window against the building outside. The lovely thing about Georgian houses, besides the plaster work inside, is that they have tall shuttered windows of all shapes and variations. Great for photos like this one.
Roundwood House is part of the Hidden Ireland group of B & B’s, and I have stayed there many times. Hidden Ireland is a group of exclusive historic houses throughout Ireland where you can be assured of having a great room, a great breakfast, and sometimes even dinner, too!
My Aunt Laura was my mother’s oldest sister. Born in 1901, she was the first child to survive for Eli and Inez (McMenus) Shank. A baby boy had been born the year before and died at birth from arriving too prematurely. Laura was also born prematurely, and the country doctor who delivered her told her mother and grandmother (Lydia Margaret Massie Shank) that the baby would not survive. He advised that there was no point in trying to feed her due to her size and early arrival. Paying no heed to the doctor, they wrapped her warmly and put her in a shoebox in front of the fireplace for additional warmth. They then proceeded to feed her with a medicine dropper. That was 1901. Not ony did Laura Leona Shank (McGrew) survive, she grew to be the largest of her siblings (brothers included) and lived to be 97 years of age!
The following recipe came from her 1928 recipe book and was sent to me by her daughter, Eleanor McGrew Brumm. Laura called it Julia’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, so it must have come from someone named Julia! Might have been one of the aunts or neighbors, as there were several Julia’s in the area.
JULIA’s SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE
Mix together 2 tablespoons powdered cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs beaten lightly, 1 cup thick sour cream mixed with 1 tsp soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Bake at 350 about 25 minute or until a toothpick comes out clean. Square 9 x 9 pan. The baking time and temperature are approximate since Laura lived on her husband’s family farm (once the farm of Morton McGrew) until well into her 90’s, and she had no temperature gauge on her wood cook stove. Everything was done by “feel”.
Here is a shot of the long drive up to the house. This is where I encountered all the donkeys and sheep. See my earlier posts for more information on Temple House in County Sligo or go to their website.
Below is a close up view from the back of the house of the ruins of the castle built by the Knights Templar.
Almost everyone loves Banana Bread. I think people make it so often because we almost always have ripening or over ripe bananas on hand that we don’t want to throw away! Here is a recipe I came across recently in Cooking Light magazine which is a little different from the more typical recipes. The bread itself is a little lighter than most (fewer calories) but the flavor is fantastic!
CARAMELIZED BANANA BREAD with BROWNED BUTTER GLAZE
4 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 medium ripe bananas, sliced
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons amber or gold rum
2 large eggs
9 ounces all purpose flour (about 2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Baking spray with flour such as Baker’s Joy
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons half-and-half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and bananas; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool ten minutes. Place banana mixture in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Combine buttermilk with oil, rum and eggs. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Scrape batter into a 9 x 5 inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool for ten minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan and cool on wire rack.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 3 minutes or until butter begins to brown; remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and half-and-half, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bread. Let stand until glaze sets.
NOTE: I gave up using Baker’s Joy quite some time ago because I find it hard to clean off many of my baking pans. For this recipe, I used a loaf shaped parchment paper type liner. I bought these at Ballymaloe in Ireland but am sure they must be available here in the US as well. The loaf slides right out of the pan and the paper liner looks like the loaf came from the bakery!
I have written about Temple House in County Sligo before. I stayed there in 2006, and it was the photo of their two donkeys that appeared in the Travel section of the LA Times last weekend.
You can learn everything you wanted to know and more about Temple House at their website. The house itself is Georgian, set on 1,000 acres that includes the ruins of a castle built by the Knights Templar and a lake. It’s an inviting spot for a weekend, a wedding or just about anything you can think of. The bedrooms are amazing, furnished with period antiques, and dinner is served each night in the main dining room with ingredients produced locally, some from the Temple House farm kitchen.
This view is from the back of the house, taken late in the day and looking out over the ruins on the left and the lake on the right. There were three dogs in residence who were friendly and made themselves at home both indoors and out.
The last image here is of the other dogs. The basset hound was especially friendly!
This is a post from 2012. Norman has now gone to another law firm, but his blog is alive and well. See below.
========================================================================================Aside from being an attorney and an astronomer/astronomical photographer, Norman Van Treeck is also a good cook and baker! He works in the same office as I do, and he gave me this recipe about two years ago and these biscuits are REALLY good and so simple to make. There are only three ingredients and you measure by weight, so get out your cooking scale. If you would like to see more about Norman’s interests , his blog is astronomyandlaw.com, linked here.
SOUR CREAM BISCUITS
By WEIGHT, not measure:
1 part butter or margarine
1 part sour cream
2 parts self rising flour
1 stick butter or margarine (4 ounces)
4 ounces sour cream (1/2 cup)
8 ounces self rising flour.
Stir until blended, but don’t over mix. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with mixture, and bake in 375 degree oven till golden brown.
NOTE: Parmesan or cheddar cheese can be added (shredded). Crisp bacon or chopped chives make another nice addition. For rolled biscuits, you can add a touch more flour and combine till mixed completely, and then gently roll out on a floured surface using plenty of flour for rolling. But the non-rolled method is best for flakier biscuits!
It is amazing how some of the monastic ruins in Ireland are still in such remarkable condition when you stop to think how old they are and how long they have been abanadoned. This photo was taken inside the ruins at Jerpoint Abbey, which is near Thomastown in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Jerpoint Abbey was built in the second half of the 12th century and had additions throughout the ages, including Norman stone carvings which are considered to be some of the best in the world. It was a Cistercian abbey where monks lived and worked. It thrived until the time the monasteries were destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII.
The ruins are quite large and this is just one little alcove off the nave where someone of importance was buried. Many of the tombs are still in tact and there are carvings (and modern signs) telling you who is buried where. The burial alcove did not get much sunlight during the day and the moss was growing around the ceiling, I assume because moisture was trapped there. It made for an interesting photo.
We’ve had a couple of days where it almost seems possible that I will want to turn the oven on again….here is a recipe to try when the weather cools off a bit.
The above photo was taken in Oakland, California in September, 1940. On the left is my oldest brother, Larry, and our cousin, Judy. Larry was just past three years and Judy was about 15 months. Note the vitnage cars parked at the curb behind them. I think that could be my parents’ brand new 1940 Chevy.
Judy’s mother, Marguerite, was my mother’s older sister, and I did not really get to know Judy well until I was in my 30’s as there was more than a ten year age gap between us. Both being only daughters (and in her case an only child), we got to know each other well in the early 1980’s and became more like sisters than cousins as well as great friends. Larry passed away in 1988 at the age of 51 from a rare form of cancer, probably caused by radiation treatment he was given as a baby to save his life in 1937. Judy passed away in 2005 at the age of 66 from pulmonary fibrosis. Both gone too soon.
I was reminded this week about a trip to the Napa Valley in 1985 by a friend who is here visiting from Ireland. Judy had just married a second time and we all had dinner in the restaurant at Domaine Chandon. Lovely memories.
Photo below is also Larry and Judy taken several months earlier in Taft, California. You can see Judy’s infectious smile and happy personality in this photo!
While in Salt Lake City, we went to a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Tabernacle was being remodeled, so they performed in the conference center, and I really liked the way this photo turned out with the new digital camera!
The northwest coast of Ireland is not unlike the northern coast of California. I took these photos on a drive from Sligo to Donegal. It was an overcast day and the light kept changing. These are the two best shots that I got that day.
When most people think of Ireland, they think of green rolling hills. Well, there is plenty of that type of landscape, but there are also mountains and dramatic coastlines. In 2006 I spent a few days driving around County Donegal, and I was amazed at the number of mountains and the beautiful cliffs and old fortifications along the coast. Donegal is a funny shaped place and you no more than drive through a mountain than you hit a valley filled with sheep and old ruins. Then you drive a little further and hit the coast again. There are several bays and “loughs” (lakes) in Donegal, and no matter where you go in this county, water is never far away!
The photo above was taken along the northern coast and what you don’t see is the Atlantic Ocean that was between the cliff and the jutting rock in front of it where the old fort or castle stood. It appeared to have been there for centuries, so I wondered how people got across from one to the other. Perhaps they took a boat from some other location and then scaled the jutting rock formation to stand guard in that tower. I don’t know, but obviously the people who lived here during the Middle Ages did not have easy transportation getting from one place to another.
In 2005, we went to Salt Lake City for a few days. We drove the long way around to Sundance, and it was a beautiful route because the cottonwoods were still dropping their leaves. I took this with what was then a new SONY digital camera.
I have posted the above photo before, but I am repeating it so you can see the contrast between the day I was in Tramore, County Waterford, on 5 April 2012, and 15 August, 2012. They had a dreary, wet summer in Ireland in 2012, but the storm that hit the Waterford Coast was worse than any winter storm in local memory. That’s the thing about Ireland…you just never know about the weather, and in April I heard more than one person comment about the beautiful “summer” weather (all of 65 degrees and no wind). They hoped “that this is not the only summer we get!” These balmy dry days lasted about ten days, and that was it. They had some sunshine here and there that summer, but not much. See photos below for another look at the Tramore coastline!
There is nothing like English or Irish sausages, and this recipe is a great way to use them in a breakfast dish. The author was using up Austrian sausages, but you get the idea. The batter is a basic Yorkshire pudding batter but just about any light batter will work. Have a look!
This photo was taken in January, 2004, on the road between Kilkenny and Dublin. It had been raining off and on all day and this rainbow appeared as we headed back to the capitol. It was starting to fade by the time I parked the car and jumped out, but it’s interesting the way the base of the rainbow appears to be sprouting from the top of the trees in the distance.