Another arrival – Easter Sunday Morning

We will be going for lunch soon to The Good Thing’s Café and we are settling in on Easter Sunday morning.

It made a good change arriving at Dublin Port in daylight. The last three times it has been late at night and the place has been shrouded in dark and we have managed to get lost driving out of the city to the extent on one occasion we managed to end up in Dun Laoghaire and we had to find our way out from there on more familiar territory.

On Saturday evening the sun was still out and the sky blue and the Wicklow Mountains hung grey and high above the city as we drove out into and the across the middle of the country.

Fifteen years ago it took up to seven hours to do the drive from Dublin to Ahakista. The road went through every small town and village and there would be hold ups for tractors and bent out of shape cars making their way back from the pub. Now a dual carriageway has been carved out across the country and all those towns and villages just pass in a blur of signs that count down the kilometres to Cork City.

Last night we did the journey in slightly less than four hours and the pub was still open as we pulled in so a pint could be bought to slake the thirst after that time cooped up in the car.

Sunday morning and the sun is high in the sky which is blue and clear. The lawn is still marked with fine patches of sand thrown up by the January storm and there are shifts in the pattern of the garden where it has been scarred and marked by the wind and water. Great hefts of stone have been shifted and knocked over like so many plastic bricks thrown around a play room. The pier patch looks like a drunk giant down from the pub as been at it pulling apart the wall and dropping the pieces of rock back into the sea looking for loose change so he had enough to buy itself one last pint as the storm raged behind.

We have sat outside the split yellow door and drunk coffee and eaten our bacon sandwiches for breakfast.

There are boats out on the water and two women in black wetsuits are out swimming across to Owen Island their voices carrying across the water as they talk.

The hills look chiselled and sharp against the blue sky as if the winter weather has scoured them clean of all their softness and light.

We will be going for lunch soon to The Good Thing’s Café and we are settling in on Easter Sunday morning.



Good Friday

I have clearly been investing in too much new music recently.

There I was in Probe Records trying to decide what to buy after spending my Good Friday morning in work trying to get up to date before going away for a week and some toe tapping music comes on. There are elements of The Velvet Underground and it is all in French so I ask what it is? Transpires I bought it a couple of months ago on the strength of the cover and name and being French. Now I will have to try and find it. At least I didn’t buy it twice!

The sun has been out all day so this afternoon I planted out the rest of the potatoes into three bags that are now lined up at the end of the garden.

Cora and I then planted out all the beetroot seedlings and then planted some more seeds into pods so we will be able to plant out some more in a month or so’s time.

I then lit the barbeque. Yesterday I was presented with a large piece of beef. I could have put it in the freezer to be had another day but it looked so good that I thought we should be eating it sooner. So that has been rubbed with olive oil and covered in pepper and is now sitting a few inches over what I hope a some red hot coals developing a good crusty exterior while the inside stays bloody and melting.

Thank you Matthew for that.

We will eat with some of the horseradish I pulled out of the garden last week.

The rest of the family will be eating veggie burgers and chicken wings.

We have been listening to bonkers flamenco music from the 1960’s and early 70’s and the the French Velvet Underground soundalikes The Limiñanas who you need to get into your life.


Medina Kitchen

As promised this evening we ate out of a book called Medina Kitchen.

It is by Fiona Dunlop who also wrote a book called New Tapas which is a tour around Spain and its more modern Tapas bars and the food that they serve there. It has at least two recipes that I like to cook on a fairly regular basis being slow cooked squid in a red wine and tomato sauce and salt cod paella. The squid has featured here in the past and the salt cod paella should be on here soon.

Medina Kitchen follows a similar format as it spends time in the kitchens of various women in Marrakech, Fez, Tunis, Carthage, La Goulette and Tripoli. For some reason I have not cooked from it before but I picked it up yesterday when thinking about something new to do with the chicken I had bought from The Farmer’s Market. My eye was caught by a recipe for steamed stuffed chicken from Fez and then I saw recipes for chickpeas in a tomato snd herb sauce, sweet potato with raisins and an aubergine salad. All that sounded as it had the makings of a good lunch so we were on.

I had only been able to buy a small chicken but it was just the right size to squeeze into the steamer. I stuffed it with a mixture couscous, onion, chicken liver, garlic and coriander. It cooked in just over an hour and I was careful to make sure the water didn’t dry out.

The sweet potato was made by sweating a couple of onions in oil and then adding saffron and water and cooking the mixture down before adding the sweep potato cut into chunks and the mixture being cooked through until done and then at the last minute I stirred in a good hand-full of golden sultanas. Some chopped parsley was stirred through before it went onto the table.

To keep the kids happy we also had some roast potatoes although I sprinkled them with some crushed coriander seeds and cumin as they cooked.

The potatoes went down best. We will have the rest cold tomorrow evening.

Listening now to the wind and Miles Davis in almost full on electric mode looking to run some voodoo down.

Waiting for the sun to come out

Although it is starting to get warmer there is still a coolness in the air and then the sun comes out from behind one of the grey clouds and suddenly there is a lightness to the air and heat against the skin.

I have been in the garden this afternoon. The first job was to put up some netting around the few remaining onion shoots in the hope that they can pull though after the fat bastard chicken got most of them.

Then I pulled up the remaining calvolo nero from last year which as all gone to seed and tidied up a couple of the beds ready to plant out the beetroot next weekend. It took me thirty years to develop a taste for beetroot and now I find myself looking forward to when it will be ready to eat. Particularly the yellow ones that seem to be doing very well in the greenhouse.

Tidying up the beds involved pulling up some thick shanks of horseradish.

Then it was time to repot the dahlias.The tubers have spent the winter in an old Sayer’s  tray in the basement. They are starting to shoot so they are now all in pots ready to be planted out in a month or so’s time when the bluebells and daffodils are done.

Finally I planted out some of the potatoes which have been chitting in the basement. They have gone into a bag made from old fish meal sacks.

This evening we are going to eat a variety of dishes out of book called Medina Kitchen. It is a book of North African cooking I was given a few years ago. I am not sure I have cooked out of it before but it should be good.

Last night we ate pizza and this morning I delved into the freezer to finish of the Gubbeen bacon I bough last summer. It made a particularly good bacon sandwich. We are back in Cork next week ans I will be able to stock up on some fresh supplies.