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Peering At Their Majesties Through An Irish Mist

20/05/2011 Comments off

 

I caught a glimpse of  Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip this week on O’Connell Bridge. Like many others I was a captive in Dublin’s south side, unable to cross the Liffey and pestering the Gardai about when the bridge would be reopening. Then Their Majesties just passed by in an armoured car, waving through the dark glass at the bystanders. The iPhone cameras went into over-drive. There were excited gasps: ‘I saw the Queen. I saw the Queen.’

The royalists were not so lucky in Achill in 1903 when Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandfather Edward VII visited. I came across this little story recently. Seemingly there was great disappointment that Edward and Queen Alexandra would not take in a visit to the island on their way from Donegal. So His Majesty acceded to a late request that the royal yacht Victoria and Albert should steam slowly between Clare Island and Achill to receive the greetings of the islanders on their way to Killary Bay.

The papers reported that large numbers gathered in the early July morning at Achillbeg. They came by boat and cart from miles around and waited in expectation for the royal yacht until noon. But the sea was running high, a thick mist prevailed, and the yacht could not approach the island shores. When all hope of was given up of seeing the yacht, a bonfire was lit and ‘God Save The King’ was sung with gusto.

I was more lucky. I saw the Queen – while a captive on Dublin’s south side. It was indeed a week of deep symbolism and great hope.

Happy Easter!

21/04/2011 Comments off

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Hope at a Moment of Social and Psychological Chaos

22/03/2011 Comments off

I was one of those who was deeply moved by the words of Bill Clinton to a New York audience over the St Patrick’s weekend. It was not just the words he spoke, but the tone of his remarks. It seems to me that he has a deep understanding of  the psychic trauma we are going through in Ireland.

He asked the question that people are asking all over the country. How to respond at ‘this moment of economic calamity and social and psychological chaos’?

We need, he said, to keep our heads straight while recovering from this ‘impacted sense of shame’ and not forget what we are at the core. ‘Scrape away the barnacles that have clouded the vision of the place we love.’

I, for one, was uplifted by Bill Clinton’s words.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

15/03/2011 4 comments

Happy Valentine

13/02/2011 Comments off

Image Credit

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Butterland

23/01/2011 Comments off

Irish Farmhouse Butter | I Married An Irish Farmer.

This blog from I married and Irish farmer on home-made butter made my mouth water with childhood tastes of runny buttery eggs, slides of soda bread and sharp butter milk drinks in hay fields. Golden nostalgic moments but have I the courage to go for the butter making in my kitchen after all those years?

One of my New Year “promises” is to become more involved in farm projects. This means less worrying about what has become of my M&M’s {Manolos and Milk Duds} and more concentrating on creating something fulfilling and worthwhile here at home in Ireland. If you follow along on Twitter you may have heard some mention of a certain sweet little thatched cottage restoration that I will be taking on in 2011. I have also been wanting to try my hand at making butter from our own fresh cream and honey. So, when I gleefully received the gift of a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into some Adventures in Butterland!

 Turns out, it’s pretty easy.

First, you’ll need to get some raw milk from your farm or local dairy. (7 litres {about 2 gallons} yields about 2 pints {4 cups} of cream) Leave it sit still long enough to form a layer of cream on top. 12-24 hours worked for me. If you want a more traditional flavour, you can leave it out instead of keeping it in the fridge the whole time.

Once you skim the cream off the top of your milk, pour it straight into an electric mixer and pop it on medium speed. After 2 minutes, it should look like this:

After a few more minutes, like this:

And after about 6-9 minutes,

the butterfat will separate from buttermilk and it should look like this:

Remove the butter from the bowl and place it into a cold sieve to strain out all of the buttermilk.

{save the buttermilk for pancakes or scones}

When you’re sure you’ve squeezed out as much buttermilk as possible,

use your hands or wooden spatulas or butter bats to form the butter,

and make sure you keep the utensils icy cold or the butter will begin to melt.

{Since I have kid-sized hands, these children’s spatulas worked perfectly!}

If you want, add some honey, like I did

or fennel, garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon…

and maybe stamp it with a special motif.

After you have it all shaped and pretty,

Serve it with a special meal

or slathered on a piece of morning toast.

Yum!

Have a rest Santa!

24/12/2010 4 comments

Happy Christmas one and all.

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