Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Busy Bee

Its one week into October... Where has the year gone to? It has been the strangest year too, so many good things and unfortunately so many bad too. I don't really want to dwell on the bad so we will push forward on a more positive note.

I am blogging now for both Pat the Baker and Super Valu and gotta say I'm really enjoying it, it has rekindled my love for cooking again. I think that the push to get the book finishes and all that came with it made me take a step back from it all, but now when I get the time I'm in the kitchen again working on new recipes. I was cooking at The Taste of Monaghan last weekend and had a blast, I have conquered the stage nerves and become relaxed about cooking in front of a crowd as well as holding their attention with speaking. I loved every minute of it and looking forward to doing it again!!

Otherwise I have been busy making celebration cakes, something I have a great passion about. Here are some of my latest creations:

Figurines are my niche but I really want to dive into the world of stunning wedding cakes, making cakes for anyone's special day is a buzz but when I do wedding cakes you know you are really adding to the occasion. So I guess I may get practicing some flowers!!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Joan Callaghan

I debated whether or not to write a post on the passing of my mother, I suppose some things should be kept in... but then on the other hand she was a huge supporter of my blog, of what I do and about how open I can be through this and she always told me to pray to the holy spirit for guidance and to follow with what I felt was right. Going by that basis I feel it is fitting to mark the saddening event but at the same time celebrate my mothers life.

In my book, in the thank you section I wrote to mum... "Being youngest of nine I always say in jest that you kept going until you reached perfection, where in reality, the truth is, you had nine of us because your heart was big enough to love us all unconditionally". That statement couldn't be more true! As the youngest of nine, most people say to me "oh, you're the baby, you must have been spoiled?!" and I would always think... No, definitely not... I would always get the 'hand-me-down clothes, the hand-me-down toys etc but when I think about it, I was spoiled. I would not have wanted anyone else's childhood, anyone else's upbringing, I was spoiled, we all where, we had more love, caring, affection and comfort than you could ever wish for. My parents dedicated their lives to loving us. There was times where we didn't have a lot, but never wanted for anything.

My mother was the worrier in the family, whether it be about bills coming in or siblings going out, she would have worried and stressed hugely... my father would always keep a strong head on him and ease her worry even if there was just cause for it. He would always somehow find a way or a solution. I remember years ago we had one of our last holidays in Donegal before my father took sick, we where staying in the usual chalets on the beach (we went there annually mo matter what else was going on) money had started to run dry for them a few days early and we where told we would have to go home 2 days early. on the eve of or new home date we went into the local town Dungloe, filled the car with petrol for the trip home, dad who was not a gambler by any means went into the bookies and put the last of his change on a total outsider on the last race of the day and won enough money to stay the planned duration... as I say, he always found a way!

So when my father passed in October 1997 we where all very concerned as to how mum-the worrier- would deal with it all, but he must have left her his strength because she was amazing... it was heart breaking for her to lose her husband and best friend but she found strength from where the was no strength before. And it was fitting because they shared everything before, so why not his strength! (she got his strength, I got his dodgy back).

When my mother and father met, they had only started courting when my mother had to go to Cambridge in England to get work, my father patiently waited her return for 2 years, writing her everyday and phoning her once a week from the local post office... he waited 2 years then and now since his passing in '97 he waited nearly 17 years, and an hour into what would have been his 80th birthday he was reunited with her after a very hard fought battle of 11 weeks in ICU in both Craigavon hospital and The Royal Hospital in Belfast.

My mother was my biggest supporter and encouraged me to keep pushing my dreams no matter what, she will be sorely missed and there will be forever a void left in my heart for her, but I do know she and my dad will always be with me and always guide me on my path through life. Nothing will ever be the same again without her, I won't get to call her and she can tell me she seen my cakes and loved them, I wont get to visit home to her and for her to make me an awful cup of tea (God love her but it was the only thing she didnt do well) I will forever miss her xx

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My garden

I guess I have had recently lost my way, I allowed narrow minded people put me down, hold me back and keep me there.. I allowed some 'bullies' try to get the better off me by sending me abuse etc. it is easy to let them win, knock your confidence and distance your dreams from your sights. But this past week I have been coming back and it is only now that I am able to put this into words, I am no longer letting that happen, no longer worrying and stressing about what people, who don't matter, think about what I put up or say. There are always gonna be small minded people and bullies who will be waiting to pounce on any small thing we say or do, people who will just be waiting to belittle us or knock us... but that says a lot more about them than it does us!! Anyway, I won't give the fools anymore airtime...

In other news I have been in talks with a very well know and famous national food product provider and will be a huge part of their new re-launch later in the summer so I am well excited about that.
I have also joined the team at Decobake which is an Irish family run cake decorating supplier and is a huge success... I have joined the new Limerick branch as a part-time sales assistant but will also be teaching classes and doing demonstrations very soon.

I have been busy out in the garden lately, I had let the garden get away from me last year but am well on top of things this year so far and a grand spell of weather always helps!
I will have 2 large beds to double dig soon as they haven't been dug well in a few years now... not exactly cherishing the thoughts of it but such is the life of a kitchen gardener.

Here are some recent shots from the garden:

Onion sets sprouting

Strawberry plants starting to flourish

Raspberries spreading

An old water tank from my loft provides the perfect carrot/parsnip bed

Chives starting to flower

Lemon Thyme

my rustic Herb sign

Rosemary bush

My Kitchen Garden

My gate needs a clean up

Cabbage plants

Carrot seedlings

Pear blossom

cutting the grass makes a world of difference

Tenants Required... apply within

I will have a brand new recipe next week... bye :)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Beef and Guinness Pie

Keeping it short and sweet... Happy St Patrick's Day to one and all.

Beef and Guinness Pie

There is a deep richness in flavour that comes from the Guinness and enriches everything else without overpowering it.

Serves 4

500g steak pieces
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 large onion
2 carrots
2 parsnips
3 sticks celery
Rapeseed oil
1 500ml can of Guinness
1 pack of puff pastry
1 egg beaten


Pat-dry the steak pieces with kitchen paper. On a side plate add the flour and season it with a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper, roll the steak pieces in the seasoned flour until fully covered in a good coating, shake of any access flour.

Peel and chop the onion, carrots and parsnips and wash and chop the celery, set aside.

In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over a high heat, add the steak pieces in small batches to brown them all over before removing with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. When all the neat is browned carefully give the saucepan a wipe down with kitchen paper and return to a medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil and add the onion. Fry the onion until softened but not coloured then add in the carrots, parsnips and celery. Fry these off for 8-10 mins then add the beef back in along with all the Guinness.

Bring the saucepan to the boil then reduce down to a steady simmer for 45 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Carefully pour the contents of the saucepan into an oven proof dish. Roll out the puff pastry and cover the dish with it, pressing around the edges and trimming off the access. Pierce a few times with a sharp knife and brush over the beaten egg to give it colour.

Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 mins until the pastry is golden and delicious.

Serve with some mashed potatoes of your choice for a warm hearty meal.

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