Monday, 27 January 2014

Banana bread and more

I need my backside smacked for being such a bad blogger of late... Finding the time to fit everything into my schedule is a challenge to say the least but sure, anyone who knows me, knows I love a challenge. But blogging seems to get lost in the midst of things but I promise to become better!!!
I spent a bit of time out in the garden this morning in between the downpours... the weather has not been kind at all so far this year but I did manage to dig out the last of my potatoes and dug out some more parsnips for a mid-week beef stew.
My glass house has taken a fair battering from the winds during January with me losing half the glass out of it, hopefully that will be all the damage and I will leave fixing it until mid February until Mother Nature cools herself a bit!!
Potatoes roughly washed and dried


Battered glass house

I will give you this recipe for Banana bead that I make, it also features in the the book Calso Cooks: Real Food Made Easy

Basic Banana Bread
I have called this ‘Basic Banana Bread’ because there are lots of things you can add into the recipe like nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc. but this is plain, however the taste is far from ‘basic’ or ‘plain’. Banana bread, whilst in the oven, fills the kitchen with a warming sweet smell, then fresh out of the oven with a cup of tea… well, I’ll let you decide!
(Tip: If you have no buttermilk for the recipe, use ordinary milk with a teaspoon and a half of lemon juice or vinegar whisked in to curdle it… works a treat.)
Makes 1 loaf:
285g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
225g caster sugar
110g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas
85ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Grease an 8x5 (or similar) loaf tin with some butter. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl cream together the sugar and butter using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy looking. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, butter milk and vanilla and mix well. Fold the flour mix into the wet ingredients until just incorporated and pour the mix into the greased tin.
Place in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few mins in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack.

And in other news....
I have started back training again last week. I hadn't really kept up with much during autumn or winter so it is great to be back to it. I designed a new workout that see's very little weight training but more body-weight being used. Between the pull up bar, old plastering tressils and then push ups, roll outs etc. I can feel such a change in my body after just one week so that is motivation to keep at it. I even done my first 4 mile run last week in easily 9 months so if the winds calm tomorrow I will be out in the morning to do another one.

That's all from me for now.... toodles!! :)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Calso Cooks: Real Food Made Easy

So.. My debut cookbook finally hit the shelves on Jan 6th and I am thrilled to bits with the media and public response to it so far.
My publishers Mercier Press had told me the book would be hitting the shelves on Monday the 6th and I assumed that there might be a bit of hype in a week or twos time... Monday morning I slept in, I am normally a very early riser, but Monday I was out for the count until 9.30am. What I woke up to I was not expecting, the notification feed on my phone was jammed. I had facebook notifications, tweets, texts and missed calls. Amy had messaged me a few times wondering why the hell I wasn't up and seeing what was going on...

My friend Claire Gorman (the legend who is), a journalist living in Berlin had wrote an article that was published in The Independent newspaper on Monday morning and it sparked quite a bit of interest around. I had a missed call from Ian Dempsey Breakfast show (but who later told me the ship had sailed) BBC Radio Ulster had me on their show Wendy Talks Back, and Spin 1038 had me on their Afternoon show. Radio Nova also got in touch to say they wanted to have me on their breakfast show the following morning. I had calls from Newstalk in Dublin and RTE to come to Dublin on Thursday morning, which I gratefully accepted.
And then Michelle Fleming, a reporter from the Irish Daily Mail called and arranged to come out to the house on Wednesday to do an interview with me.
That was Monday..

On Tuesday morning I was up bright and early and done my interview with Radio Nova. I took confirmation calls about my trip to Dublin on Thursday, which I was really looking forward to. Amy suggested we go up Wednesday night and stay over so we wouldn't have to be leaving home at 6am... super idea!!
I was in process of putting my Christmas decorations and crib into the attic when a text came through on the phone... Lesley-Ann, a researcher from the Midday Show on TV3 wanting to know would I like to be on the show that week... would I???!!! So I told her I was in Dublin on Thursday and would love to come to the studios.

Wednesday morning I spent with Michelle from the Daily Mail, we made Red Velvet Cupcakes and chatted away for 3 hours, I explained my story of coming from Plasterer to cookbook author and cake maker. She said I looked very like the Hollywood actor Ryan Gosling,
it has been said before to me but I don't see it myself.. maybe its the quiff and beard, but that's about it. And lets face it if I looked like Ryan Gosling I'd be in Hollywood, not Barntick!! Then a local photographer came out and took some snaps of what we where doing and of some of my sugarcraft creations. Michelle's article would be in Saturdays Daily Mail.
That evening Myself and Amy headed off to Dublin, I was armed with the red velvet cupcakes as treats for the 3 different studios... don't get me wrong, I wasn't the apple giving guy to the teacher at school, but I also don't like going anywhere empty handed.

Thursday Morning had us hitting Dublin City on the Luas and straight to Newstalk studios for 9am, we where greeted with smiles and they where greeted with cupcakes, My interview was around 9.30 and I was slipped quietly into the studio during a telephone interview about gay footballers. then it was on to me and Ivan asked me to go through my story, I loved this interview as it was relaxed but he hit on all the appropriate questions. After the interview, they both shook my hand and genuinely wished me all the best. There was a taxi waiting outside to take us to the RTE studios... I had assumed that my RTE interview was for radio all along, but the taxi dropped us at the radio side of RTE and when I approached the receptionist she informed me it was TV... GULP!!
So over we trotted to the TV side and ushered upstairs where a makeup artist was slapping the brown stuff on my face. I didn't have too much time to think about it, which was a great thing in hindsight. News man Angus Mac Grianna was looking for me and when he caught up with me just before I went on air, he flicked through the book and told me it looked great and wished me all the best. In the studio, presenter Keelin Shanley was super impressed with the book saying she loved it and it was the best cook book she had seen, her genuine admiration for it was the highlight of the day for me. After the interview she urged me to seek producers and that I had to get spotted... see the interview below.
Then it was a rushed taxi ride over to TV3. We where made to feel really welcome and next thing I was whisked off out to the garden to be interviewed my Sybil Mulcahy, again she seemed really impressed with the book and my story.We got to chill out for a while after in the couch and watch the celebs walk by in the studios.
After a taxi ride back in to the City center we went for lunch and then off to see my book in the shops for the very first time... Amy said the colour just drained from me... I thing it was that moment that it finally hit home.

What an amazing day out it was and spent with Amy made it even more fantastic!

Friday seen me tackle 2 birthday cakes, one of which was for a 12 year old lad Paudy who has always followed my work, so I gave him a signed copy as a birthday present, his mum Carmel put this picture up later on Facebook...

Then Saturday seen the article in the Daily Mail.. and what a spread it was, A fantastic write up by Michelle

The week was rounded off very well with a lovely dinner on Saturday night at my sister Louise's house and a lovely lazy Sunday spent with Amy and the 2 pups... then my sister Michelle sent me this picture that she made up for my mum..

Fantastic week all round and the support from everyone, in life, social media life etc has been overwhelming to say the least so a huge thank you to all that have shared in this so far... It' only beginning!!!

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