langoustine/ Dublin Bay Prawns


They’re really nice but

a) too expensive for what you get
b) shelling them is annoying. I was grumpy afterwards.

Plus they’re creepy to look at, though also beautiful

I just cooked them in salted water and dipped them in mayonnaise, but the big bag of farmed mussels you could pick up for the same price is better value.

So no more Dublin Bay prawns for me thank you very much. Unless of course you’ve shelled them and are paying for them in which case, yes please!

recipe sorting

I love cooking but find it hard to sort the chaff from the wheat in the old recipe books.
I’ve made stuff and forgotten that I made it, or that it tasted good.
So this morning in a very uncharacteristic fit of organisation I set about sorting the whole debacle out.
There are rough guidelines I want to try and keep to.

More vegetables.
Local and seasonal ingredients if available.
Organic/Fair Trade if possible
Using things I can grow myself
The shorter the cooking time the better
Not lots of faffing around with spices and that sort of thing.

So I went through the cookery books with sticky labels and marked those recipes that roughly fell into those categories (with room for not sticking to the rules), then wrote and indexed them under vegetables and grains (like chickpeas or lentils).

It only took my about 25.5hrs to complete this task and now that I have I can  reliably say that by Sunday the list will be forgotten about and it will be panic in the kitchen as we try to make something functional out of a can of pineapple and some pearl barley.

wild garlic pesto

Spring truly arrives in our house with the first wild garlic pesto of the year, an annual event that started back when we lived near the River Liffey and had access to a large bank of wild garlic.

It continues to this day but with the problem that I can no longer find wild garlic growing near the house and have to pick it up at St George’s Market, which means paying for it.
There are two ways to make the pesto I reckon, the expensive way and the cheap way.
If you use pine nuts and Parmesan (which is probably the right way) then you might end up with selling your kidney to fund your pesto.
However, I’m not that fussy or bothered about pine nuts or Parmesan and just used walnuts and a mature cheddar intead.
This year I also left out the clove of garlic that the recipe suggests adding as I found it a bit overpowering last year.

So  the recipe (from this book) was something like

1 Blanch 100g of wild garlic in boiling water for 10s, then run under cold water and pat dry.
2 Put garlic in big bowl with 200 ml of extra virgin olive oil and 50g of walnuts and liquidize.
3 Add 50g of mature cheddar cheese (you might need to add more to make it cheesy), add salt and pepper and mix.

Well that’s what I did and it tasted alright to me. You might have to experiment for your own taste I suppose.

reflection on peeling spuds

Our lives are so busy and ambitious that we often look down on the menial tasks such a peeling potatoes. Often peeling spuds is beneath us, something from the soil that doesn’t really engage our brain and creativity, just a dirty ball of carbohydrate that needs work done to make it useful. I don’t have time for this, I’ve places to go and more important things to do than peeling some potatoes on. Will I stick on some pasta instead?

While peeling potato number 4 I was reflecting on how much work would be involved in peeling and preparing potatoes.
I had Wee Gran in mind, a lady of over 80 who would have much of her life preparing potatoes for the 11 children she raised and my grandfather.
Saying gran took 10mins for potato preparation and had potatoes 6 times a week that would be an hour in potato preparation per week.

That would be 52hrs of potato preparation a year. Gran has been peeling spuds for well over 50 years. Someone like my gran could easily have spent a working year of her life just peeling potatoes.

I guess that while I’m peeling these potatoes I’m wondering on whether our generation has undervalued the dignity and work in household chores or if our lives are just too speedy to even consider such things.