Posted by: marthabernie | February 13, 2017 or the perfect loaf of Irish brown bread…Part One – Updated

A close friend of mine in Ireland recommended a website a few years ago……written by an American woman who married an Irish dairy farmer and moved to a fairly remote part of County Limerick.  I remember signing up to get her blog posts and going back through all the previous posts and printing out recipes.  I also thought at the time that there had to be a wonderful cookbook in the making here because of her story about adapting to farm life and learning so much about cooking and baking from her mother-in-law.  So much of what she shared was based on traditional Irish country cooking and baking, and if I was fascinated by her modern twists to old recipes, I figured a lot of other bakers and cooks would  be, too.

The website was subsequently changed to but it has lost none of its charm.   Each blog post is a bit of an adventure, and even though I live in an urban area, I enjoy her stories of foraging for fresh ingredients, planting a vegetable garden, adapting traditional Irish dishes, and inventing others.   And yes, a cookbook has just come out in the last month or two in the U.S.,  “The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm” by Imen McDonnell (Roost Books).  (Available on Amazon).

I don’t specifically remember entering a contest, but must have done as a couple of months ago, I got an email from Imen herself, telling me I had won a copy of her new book and asking for my mailing address.  The book arrived from the publisher a short time later.

I read plenty of cookbooks, but I rarely take them to bed for bedtime reading.   Imen’s book is a combination of her personal story and life on an Irish dairy farm, complete with gorgeous photographs and recipes, and I had a hard time putting it down.  The recipes are not difficult, and they are traditional as well as modern variations of old Irish favorites.  There are a few exceptions, however, such as Potato, Rasher and Rosemary Pizza or Lavonda’s Buttermilk Pie (a gorgeous pie from the American south) and Wild Garlic and Soft Irish Cheese Tamales.  There is also a complete section on making your own butter, buttermilk, farmer’s cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche etc etc.  If you happen to have access to fresh whole milk straight from the dairy, these recipes are a snap.  If not, Imen suggests that whole organic milk will work just as well.  But even if (like me) you have no desire to practice traditional Irish dairy skills, there are dozens more recipes that will interest you.  Everything from bread and sweets to roasts and veggies, with the traditional boxty, colcannon, champ, brack and many more included.

The editors of Martha Stewart Living recommend this book highly saying, “The Farmette Cookbook, by Imen McDonnell (Roost Books), tells a story as delicious as its recipes: The American broadcast journalist adjusts to life in the country after marrying an Irish farmer and moving to rural County Limerick.  Follow her journey dish by dish, from learning classics like bangers and mash to creating her own twists such as bacon and cabbage pot stickers (a take on corned beef and cabbage).”

Darina Allen, founder of the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and award winning cookbook author said, “A joyful celebration of life on an Irish farm.  A super, chic book written with the appreciative eye of an outsider who reminds us of the sheer pleasure of living on a dairy farm–rearing a few table fowl, planting a vegetable garden and an orchard, rediscovering the satisfaction of using homegrown Irish produce to make truly delicious and creative food for family and friends.”

Images of the front and back covers below.  If you are into Irish cooking and baking, or if you just want to add a really lovely book to your cookbook collection, I can really recommend this book as being a cut above.  Can’t wait for Imen to come out with another book!

P.S.  Come back in the next couple of days for Part Two and the run down on my recent experiments with “The Best (Irish) Brown Bread.”




  1. This is SO lovely! I have just seen it now, thank you! xoxo


    • You are very welcome! Part 2 will post tomorrow, Friday.


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