Friday, 15 February 2013

Welly Love

Getting wet feet every day is no fun. My honourable old pair of Aigle wellies had cracked and perished from too much time in the (sun) light in the shed. Sun in brackets because we seem to have had constant rain for months now.

Why did I not just go and buy a new pair?  Because I still harbour a bit of old snobbery about labels and I couldn't bear to just get a serviceable rubber pair in the local Stores.

I looked at a pair of Hunters on line, on eBay and in a hunting/shooting/fishing shop nearby and cringed at the price. I got a lecture from my son that they would be made in the same sweat shop in China where the serviceable pair in the Stores were. But I didn't care. I craved them.

I used to buy designer label jeans in BTs (Brown Thomas)  after all at €350 a pop. I loved bags and shoes and belts and coats. I loved all the designer horsey wear. But that was a previous life. That life is gone.

Now I just wanted wellies. I wanted to come back from feeding the pigs with dry feet. Yes feeding the pigs. Now my life involves feeding pigs, feeding chickens and ducks and dogs and a cat. And the surprising thing about all this is - my life is much better!

I get to bake and cook when the mood takes me. I can go for a walk when the rain stops. I can take a picture of snowdrops and a close up of a crocus. I get to write my blog. I eat better. I drink less. I have given up smoking.

But best of all, I finally got my wellies and they have given me a bigger thrill than any designer label bag or shoes.

The final straw having to wade through this twice a day!
Tags: Hunter wellies  Aigle wellies  Irish country living  Irish farming  Designer labels

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Horse these Burgers into You (Homemade pork and beefburgers)

I don't know about anyone else but all the talk about burgers recently made me really want some.  Not the ones in the news which, to put it mildly, are not anything like described on the tin.  But my own burger recipe modified from one I saw Jamie Oliver do a while back.

Normally I only get the urge to make them for a BBQ in the summer.  When you have fresh herbs in the garden they are really delicious.  But in winter they work equally as well.

Ingredients Pork and Beef Burgers

250g mince pork ( you need about 20% fat to keep the burgers moist and juicy)
250g mince beef
2 red onions
1 garlic clove (optional)
salt, pepper
fresh thyme and oregano or what ever herbs you have
1 good big teaspoon of Dijon mustard
a glug of Worcestershire sauce

This quantity should make enough for 6-8 burgers depending on how big you like them.

Sauté the red onions and garlic with salt, pepper in some good quality oil.  Add some fresh thyme at this time of year.  When they are softened remove from heat and cool.

Add to your meat mix and then if you have some fresh oregano add it.  Scoop out a good big teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce.  Add some more seasoning and mix well.

If not binding you can add a beaten egg but I rarely find it necessary. Chill for about an hour.  They can also be frozen individually wrapped in cling film.

I like all my meat cooked rare or twitching and burgers are the same.  I buy meat and mince it myself in a mincer attachment I have for my Kitchen Aid.  That way I know exactly how fresh it is and what is in it.  For this reason I have no problem cooking them rare. However, I am sure your butcher would mince your meat for you, if you ask. My mother never bought mince when we were young. She always wanted to see the butcher mince it in front of her.

To serve buy decent bread rolls not the nasty burger buns in sweaty packets full of Calcium propionate (mould inhibitor).

Tags: Irish Food Jamie Oliver  Pork and Beef Burgers  BBQ  Dijon mustard  Worcestershire sauce  Kitchen Aid 
Horseburgergate  Horse Meat  

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

No Time? (Make a few minutes to bake bread and make delicious soup and stock)

There is a pot of vegetable soup simmering on my hob.  Hardly remarkable, however, it took me less than ten minutes to prepare.

So many people say they have no time to cook.  It baffles me really.  How long does it take to chop a few vegetables and throw in some stock or water?

Here's how.

I roasted a chicken the other day. We got two days out of it. I saved the bones from the first meal and when the carcass was picked clean I threw it and the bones in a big pot with water and put it on to simmer really gently while I went in to watch tv. Hours later when a smell of chicken wafted into the room I remembered it.  I put the pot into our "walk-in-fridge" or it could also be called the lazy fridge.  It's just a small "sun" porch that is effectively freezing.

Next day I strained the homemade stock into two plastic containers and froze them. I gave the dogs the bones and carcass now softened from the long cooking time, so no sharp edges (very happy dogs).

So today I chopped my vegetables and softened them in some rape seed oil.  The vegetables I had were onion, garlic, leek, carrot, a potato and celery including some leaves.  Salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of red lentils were added in along with the 500ml chicken stock.  Add in another 500ml water and cover and gently simmer while you go off and watch tv or whatever.

So how did this take time? It took less time than it takes me to have a bath or wash my hair or clean the bathroom.  I also used up a carcass that most people throw in the bin.  I saved an outrageous amount on buying stock cubes ( calculate the price per kg if you don't believe me) for salty, fatty water.

I now have a delicious pot of homemade soup which will serve 2 people lunch for 3 days.

The Bread is also easily made in a few minutes.

Recipe Simple Soda bread

1 mug of wholemeal flour
1 mug plain flour
2 tbsp oat bran
1 level teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate)
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Buttermilk to mix to a fairly wet consistency

Mix dry ingredients sieving the bread soda.  Add buttermilk.  Remove to a floured surface and just gather lightly into a round (do not knead or be heavy handed). You can also use a pastry cutters to cut out scone shapes.  Cut a cross in the loaf (not necessary in individual) and put on a floured tray in a pre-heated oven 190 degrees for approx. 35 minutes or about 10 minutes for individual rolls. Cool on a wire rack.