Sunday, November 20, 2011

Food for thought ...

"Since the 1950s farmers and food producers have been encouraged to produce the maximum amount of food for the minimum amount of cost. Bakers have been no exception, for they, too, have been under pressure to produce a cheaper, more long-lasting loaf. The result has been disastrous both in health and socio-economic terms.
Up to the end of 1960, bakers made bread in the traditional way. The turning point came in 1961, when the British Baking Industries Research Association at Chorleywood in Herefordshire invented a bread making method using low-protein wheat, a mesmerising assortment of additives and high-speed mixing. From the time flour went in at one end of the machine until the baked loaf emerged from the oven, it took less than two hours - as opposed to the five hours or more it took to make in the traditional way. This new method was enthusiastically embraced by industrial bakers.
More than 80% of the bread we buy is now being made by the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) method - or a similar process called ADD which stands for Activated Dough Development. Apart from the methods used by a few traditional and artisan bakers, this is the only option available. The fast production methods tick all the the boxes for efficiency and cheapness. They produce impressively light voluminous bread, soft and squishy with a long shelf life - in fact, a scarily long shelf life. I came across a sliced bread that was still soft, spongy and fresh after five weeks; how spooky is that - a technological marvel.
During the last 50 years the sales of bread have plummeted and the number of people with wheat allergies and full-blown coeliac disease has skyrocketed. Once the CDP was universally adopted all research was dedicated to producing varieties of short-stem wheat, strains of yeast and additives to facilitate this fast production method. Nourishment just simply wasn't a factor. Advances in functional properties of wheat have come at the expense of nutritional quality. Several research projects have shown that modern wheat varieties have less than half the mineral and trace element content of traditional wheat varieties.
The enzymes of 'processing aids'  that are added in the bread-making process are the modern baking industry's bid secret - a major cause for concern and mostly unidentified on the label. "

Taken from 'Forgotten Skills of Cooking' by Darina Allen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Literary Death Match, Dublin.

Time, again, for the wonderful Literary Death Match Dublin style. As always the night promises fun, laughter and ironic hob nobbing with literary and non literary stars alike. Produced by the cheeky chappy Brian Martin and hosted by the ever dapper Todd Zuniga, creator of ldm.  I'll be there ...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Celebrating Italy


“Happy Birthday Italy!” - 150th Anniversary of the Unity of Italy  IRELAND 17 - 28 October 2011

The Week of the Italian Language in the World is an international cultural event that takes place annually in the month of October promoted by the Accademia della Crusca in co-operation with the Directorate General for the Promotion of the “Country System” of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Multicultural Event Thursday 20th October Day dedicated to Bocconi Alumni Association

With the participation of the chef Luca Mazza; readings of extracts from the works of contemporary Italian authors by emerging writers Niamh MacAlister, June Caldwell, Monica Strina, Naoimh O’Connor, and Brian Kirk;  theatrical performance by Fabio Bussotti.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Written by Italian poet Mario Luzi and published in 'After Many Years Selected poems of Mario Luzi' by Dedalus in 1990.

The republic dies shamefully

The republic dies shamefully.

It is spied on shamefully

by its many bastards in its final torments.

Shamefully the crows sharpen their beak in the nearby room.

Its orphans quarrel shamefully,

shamefully its jackals tear each other asunder.

Everything happens shamefully, everything

except death itself - I try to explain myself

before some type of court

of longed-for justice. And the hearing is abandoned.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Majella Cullinane 'Guarding the Flame'.

Last weekend I took a little trip to Galway to celebrate the launch of my friend Majella's fantastic first poetry collection 'Guarding the Flame'. It was launched at the popular Charlie Byrne's bookshop. Myself and Majella were both neighbours and class mates during our Masters in Creative Writing at St. Andrews. We supported each other with copious amounts of tea and shortbread biscuits (not to mention whiskey and fish and chips!). At the launch I bumped into fellow scribe Damian Cunniffe who found himself on the longlist for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year.
Majella's books is available to buy direct from Salmon
publishers. So get buying and support great Irish writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Italy visits the Irish Writers' Centre

I am honoured to be a part of the Italian Writers at the Irish Writers' Centre event as hosted by Catherine Dunne , on the 3rd of September. The event itself will showcase the work of both Irish and Italian writers. Here is the exciting roll call on the Irish end :

Catherine Dunne, Célia de Fréine, Lia Mills, June Considine, John Lynch, Evelyn Conlon, Maggie O’Dwyer, Kevin Power, Jack Harte, Nuala Ni Conchuir, Anthony Glavin, Conor Kostick, Alan Jude Moore, Leo Cullen, John Mac Kenna, Gerry Smyth, Nessa O’Mahony, Monica Strina, Mark Kilroy, Niamh MacAlister, Orla Fay.

Check out this blog for all the info.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pasta Day

So it took me a while but I eventually persuaded my Mam to show me how to make pasta from scratch. Given that I grew up in the eightes its not surprising that nearly everything was made at home but I have particular memories of pasta being dried out on tea towels, pillow slips and hanging over the back of every available chair and press door. Pasta was almost always made for the parentals 'dinner of eight', which was eight friends having dinner every few weeks at 8pm. The dinner of eight pasta nearly always went into a lasagne and there was never any left-overs.
I've always found the idea of making pasta a bit daunting. While it is time consuming its not diffucult and the results are definetly worth the effort! We made Raviolli, which incidentially, Mam had never made either. The pasta was made with 1/2 pound of plain flour, 2 eggs and some water to get the right consistancy. It made enough pasta for 4 people (but consumed by 3).

There was a lot of rolling and checking and rerolling ...

Taking a break with a glass of Greco.

We filled it with spinach (1 bag: wilted & squeezed) and ricotto (1/2 tub) with a pinch of nutmeg.

Leaving it to dry for a while ... (note the extremely uneven and ungeometric nature of my effort-nothing at all to do with the decreasing volume in my wine glass!)

Enjoying it all with homemade pesto, roast pepper salad and fennel. Washed down with a glass of Barbera D'Asti. (We got the wines from Wines Direct in Mullingar.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A lil trip to Belfast

Upon finding a pretty fantastic deal, Sarah and myself headed to the home of Stormont and the farl; Belfast. As these things turn out, its much of the same stuff but in a different location, in other words we passed the time walking, eating, drinking and talking. Ok I can fudge no longer, the focus of the day was food. And so you will find below pictures of a nice cafe and a restaurant and of me in front of city hall which incidentally was taken just before a marks and spencer picnic on
the stoop.

Cafe Conor, which we visited post Starstruck exhibition in the Ulster Museum. We had Prosecco with bread, olives and tapenade, which was brought to us by a waitress who couldn't understand why I would want olive oil for my bread as there was already tapenade on the plate. But a fellow waiter redeemed our afternoon when he pointed us in the direction of the Duke of York bar.

Very stylish indeed. We stumbled upon the newly opened Potted Hen in the Cathedral Quarter post Duke. Calamari to die for and a truffle infused risotto, all washed down with a NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

Oh and there I am!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lonely Voice

I'll be doing a reading in the Irish Writer's Centre, Parnell Square, at 7pm Wednesday 27th July, as part of the Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions Series. All Welcome! There will be drinkies from 6.30pm :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Does happiness write white?

BBC Radio 4 show produced by my good friend Faith Lawrence

Everyone's talking about happiness: politicians want to measure it, and self-help books explaining how to become ever happier are two-a-penny. So why have literary folk been reluctant to depict this emotion, when many philosophers and politicians see it as the very point of human existence? The French poet Montherlant may have the answer- he claimed that 'Happiness writes white', that it is too boring to depict or even unrepresentable. Presenter Catherine Blyth explores the challenges facing award-winning writers, including Helen Simpson, novelist Ann Patchett, and poet Don Paterson when they try to put something as elusive and subjective as 'happiness' onto the page.

Have a listen!

Whats hot ... so says The Guardian ....

Guardian List of first book award 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Glór Sessions-Free Event!

I'm reading at the Glór Sessions tonight in the International Bar at 9pm. I'll be sharing the hot seat with poet Sarah Griff, musicians Sive, Eoin Glackin and Myles Manley.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Literary Death Match

I will be partaking in the upcoming Literary Death Match Event in Dublin. For those of you not familiar with it have a read (taken from the website).

otherwise get your purchase on : Literary Death Match Dublin, 24th June 2011.

About Literary Death Match “Literary Death Match is the magic mushroom of Planet Lit.”
--Alan Black, author of Kick the Balls

Curated by Todd Zuniga, Alia Volz & M.G. Martin (SF),
Suzanne Azzopardi (London) and Ann Heatherington (NYC).
Contact us to participate, sponsor, co-curate in your city, or simply opine.

Literary Death Match, co-created by Opium’s founding editor, Todd Zuniga (pictured above), marries the literary and performative aspects of Def Poetry Jam, rapier-witted quips of American Idol’s judging (without any meanness), and the ridiculousness and hilarity of Double Dare.

Each episode of this competitive, humor-centric reading series features a thrilling mix of four famous and emerging authors (all representing a literary publication, press or concern — online, in print or live) who perform their most electric writing in seven minutes or less before a lively audience and a panel of three all-star judges. After each pair of readings, the judges — focused on literary merit, performance and intangibles — take turns spouting hilarious, off-the-wall commentary about each story, then select their favorite to advance to the finals.

The two finalists then compete in the Literary Death Match finale, which trades in the show’s literary sensibility for an absurd and comical climax to determine who takes home the Literary Death Match crown.

It may sound like a circus — and that's half the point. Literary Death Match is passionate about inspecting new and innovative ways to present text off the page, and the most fascinating part about the LDM is how seriously attentive the audience is during each reading. We've called this the great literary ruse: an audacious and inviting title, a harebrained finale, but in-between the judging creates a relationship with the viewer as a judge themselves.

Our ultimate goal is to perform the Literary Death Match all over the world, and to continue to showcase literature as a brilliant, unstoppable medium.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Peter Kline on writing


Posted on 01 Jun 11 by Peter Kline on Ploughshares Literary Magazine Blog

When does a poem become real? When does it cease to be a scribble, fragment, scheme, or intention, and assert its own particular vision of completeness? If it’s a poem when it’s printed in Ploughshares, it must have been a poem when it was still scrawled in a notebook. But there’s a difference between the two. When a poem exists only in a notebook, it’s free from criticism, but, lacking a reader, it remains wholly constrained by the mind of its creator. The poem in this form can never transcend the self that produced it, because it exists only in the self. Its provisionalities are absolutes. If it lies to itself, the lies are true.

To share a poem with others is to attempt to communicate – that is, to establish commonalities. Are the things that are true for me true for you? But even if the reader hates what she reads, this revulsion is an affirmation of the premises that allowed the poem to exist. Bad art implies good art. As an object of hatred, the poem takes shape in the reader’s mind, and lives. The true enemy of art is apathy – as poets are well aware.

Just submitting my poems to journals has seldom done much to combat the strange insubstantiality I feel in my notebook poems, despite the fact that I only send out work that seems completely finished. Paper-cuttered rectangles printed with the platitudes of rejection imply a human being when they arrive in the mail, but do not prove it. The disconnection of this exchange makes it impossible to feel that the poem has ever existed in another person’s mind or heart. And of course the overwhelming volume of slush makes any individual snow-crystal that much more difficult to see. But when I read poems to an audience, I never doubt.

Poetry readings are a strange paradox, both intensely private and thoroughly public. The intimacy of poetry, made urgent by the poet’s voice, stands naked for public judgment. Yet the public setting reinforces the intimacy as well, as each member of the audience privately commits an act of the imagination shared by all in attendance – or at least everyone who’s listening! For a reading I gave at the Peninsula Reading Series in Palo Alto a few weeks ago, I chose my newest work, most of which hasn’t appeared yet in print. Notebook poems – and poems, too, in a new mode I’ve been attempting, poems with a glint of menace. Not the obvious choice for a reading in genteel Palo Alto, but the poems had been playing bully in the kiddie pool for long enough.

In the aftermath of a reading I feel delicately post-coital, adrenalized, prickle-skinned, billowy, hypersensitive. These feelings seem to occur independently of any reaction I get from audience members; they arise from within. I’m always thrilled – overwhelmed with gratitude – when people come up to me to tell me what they Heard in my poems, but these reactions seem abstracted from me personally. I receive them as compliments for another that I’ll pass on. Joyce talked about a kind of artistic objectivity, an attitude towards subject matter, captured in a famous line from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: “The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.” Joyce was talking about the process of creation, but the idea is applicable to the life of a work of art as well. This objectification seems to me at last complete when the poem is released into the world, passes before readers’ eyes in a café, enters their ears in an art gallery in Palo Alto. It took all I was to make the poem, but when it’s finished, it’s none of mine. Every reading, then, is a relinquishment, an uncaging. And there the poems go, running off into the world, causing trouble, straying into traffic, breaking hearts, getting a smile, bearing my name as a badge of their origin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Poem

I have a poem in The Moth, out now!!!

The Moth

Issue 5 Summer 2011


The world’s equilibrium by Ginés Cutillas
Like Ships by Elizabeth Barrett
Do Not Swim Near Rocks by Cherry Smyth
A Microchip Translates from the Portuguese the Story of a Novel by Anne Haverty
Mr Wrong by Alan McMonagle
A Kind of Love by MacDonald Harris
A Dissolution by Peter Sirr
In the Dream of the Room your Mouth by Ailbhe Darcy
Crossroads, Bras de Venus by Augustus Young
Lifting Off by Morgan Harlow
As God Is My Witness by Alan Garvey
All Marcel Marceau: an interview with Colette Bryce
Charles Brady, Painter by Paul Durcan
Her Months Mind by Niamh Mac Alister
Love and the Seasons by Aamer Hussein
Five Tanka by Matthew Caley
From Margaret of Antioch by Gill Andrews
Eighteen by Dympna Dreyer
Country Girl: an interview with Fiona Maria Fitzpatrick
I Am Not Here by Mark Hanks
First Memory: Portmarnock Strand by Daragh Bradish
On Returning by Paul Adrian
White Fences Make Good Neighbours by Eileen Casey
Arnos Vale by Melanie Marshall
Odd Man Out by Gerard Smyth
Handover by Emily Hinshelwood
The judge, his horse and my sisters by Judy Kravis
The Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize

Tea Party

Victoria Sponge

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Carlo Gébler on Writing

Exerpt from Gébler's 'A life in literature, or, what you may lose by becoming a writer' in Some Blind Alleys.

I am also bitter. I hope it doesn’t show, but I am. I am so fucked off with how the world has gone to the dogs and in particular that little bit of the world I think I care about most, which is the Kingdom of Literature: for on top of the abolition of the Net Book Agreement, all sorts of other deleterious developments have worsened the lot of writers (at least in these islands) over the last fifteen years, among which, and in no particular order, are the following: the rise of branding; the enslavement of publishers to media endorsement by celebrity presenters; the obsession with the physical appearance of writers which in turn has meant publishers demand ever younger, ever more photogenic authors; the decline of the editor in publishing houses in order to save money; the abandonment by publishers of the idea that writers have lifelong careers and that given the right support over a lengthy period they can develop; the failure of payment for literary endeavour either to keep pace with inflation or to reflect the actual amount of labour involved in literary production; the atrophy of community (writers have never been more marginal and their enterprise more quixotic and ridiculous); and, finally, the eclipse of literary forms that once helped writers to survive, such as the short story, especially the short story broadcast on radio.

I know this is just the way things go. I also know others have it worse than me, and their reasons for embitterment are more convincing than mine. Perhaps the greatest loss I have experienced by becoming a professional writer is that I no longer care about others, that I no longer want to hear their reasons. I give very little time (actually, no time) to those who are in trouble like me, whether fellow writers or fellow citizens: I’m blind to them: no, all that I see are the writers in front of me, the writers more successful than I am, those being reviewed and rewarded, féted and praised, loved and stroked, fluffed and fellated, and so on and so forth. I am filled with covetousness. I am enraged by their success. I watch these success stories obsessively and I judge myself against them; I measure myself against them. I do this all day, every day. I can’t stop. It is pointless and harmful: what I learn with monotonous regularity from these comparisons is always this: they are doing better, and I am doing worse.

I tell myself that these writers are competitors, and I try to reassure myself that while they may be successful – some of them, of course, deserve success; I have not lost all common sense – they are not as good as I am. But the reassurance is meaningless because no matter how often I assert this, it won’t and doesn’t change anything: they’re still ahead and I’m still behind. Nothing is going to change. No one is listening. There is no god listening to me and offering to pluck me from the rear of the field and pop me down at the front. That isn’t going happen. I am where I am and there I stay.

A Book

O'MACHINE O'MACHINE Part One: 'Three thousand and nine'.
This 96 page pocket size book is a revisualisation of the future in the year three thousand and nine. It contains new commissioned fiction by the artist and three new writers, Daniel Boland, Niamh MacAlister, and Pauline O'Hare. These stories were selected from an open call and selected by the artist, the arts office and John Banville. The book also contains an afterword by Francis McKee curator and director of the CAA Glasgow which accounts a short contemporary history of the origins of science fiction in Ireland.
This is published by Fingal Arts office and can be obtained through

or you can buy and ship direct from Blurb

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Bacon and Barley stuffed Peppers

2 Peppers, halved,
2 Streaky Rashers, chopped,
1/2 Courgette, grated,
Handful of Barley,
A few Olives, chopped,
1/2 teaspoon Harissa,
1/2 an Onion, chopped,
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed.

- Put the Barley in a pot with water and bring to the boil-simmer until cooked.
- Meanwhile saute the onion, garlic and bacon until nice and golden. Then add the courgette, olives and Harissa. Cook and stir, cook and stir.
- When everything is cooked combine and spoon into the peppers. Cook at 180 for about 30 minutes. And that's another week done.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Have been reading a lot of prose of late. Am enjoying all of it but because of it my poetry reading has come to a bit of a halt and is in serious need of a reboost-so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I need something to encourage me to put my poetry pen back to paper. My prose pen has been basking in the joy of my favouritism this last while so its time to adress the balance!


The sunset from the South Wall while fishing last week. We didn't catch anything but we did eat cake!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Cake

Having seen and learned all of that it would have been imprudent to arrive at the family home on Easter Sunday with anything other that a cake with some serious wow factor. So I went all out. I started making the Orange Peel on Friday afternoon ....
It was an Orange and Almond cake with Chocolate Ganache frosting and Juicy Orange Peel.

Ballymaloe Cookery School

With a few days off work in the pre-Easter week I headed off to Ballymaloe Cookery School to get my bake on. Had it booked for a while and was feeling non-plussed in the extended run up to it. But when the day finally rolled around I was really excited. I was so excited I even had my car serviced to make sure I got down to Cork in one piece. Luckily punty got me there in spite of there being a very distinct smell of burning oil which started in the hinterland of Portlaoise and persisted until the N25 in Cork. I opened the window and sailed forth. I would like to be able to wax lyrical about driving through the rolling hills and soaking up the Irish countryside but let's be honest motor way driving in boring beyond belief and by hour three my threshold was being severly tested.

Thankfully it was worth the wait. The sun shone pretty much the whole time I was there making sure I was able to eat breakfast on the terrace every morning, not bad for Cork in April!

Darina and Pamela demonstrated on day one; simple cakes, biscuits and tarts. Note the cons!

Then it was into the kitchen to try our own hand at it. I made Raspberry jam, Anzac Biscuits and a Roast Pepper and Wild Garlic Pesto tart.

Day two we looked at more comlpex cakes and treaty things! I tried my hand at Ottolenghi Hazelnut and Cinnamon meringues, Lemon Curd, Lemon Polenta Cake and Guyere and Chive Scones.

While I was there I even treated myself to a 7 course meal in the House. 7 courses you may wonder...well wonder no more 1: Salad with wild leaves and edible floweres, Mascarpone (which had a fancy name that I now forget) with Asparagus, Monkfish with Champ and Spinach, Cheese board (Gubeen and Cashel Blue), Desert (Lemon Drizzle cake and Chocolate Rum Roulade), Coffee and Petit Fours (Truffle and Marshmallow). All in all a belt busting meal.

My view from the window of the drawing room where I enjoyed a glass of wine pre dinner. It was at this point that I rang people to gloat.

The drive home was equally boring and also not entirely comfortable due to a case of the severly shrinking jeans. Ahem.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Made this originally for the Mammy Day feast and it was yummier than expected so here it appears for lunches. If your feeling decedent it would be really good with any blue cheese of your choice crumbled over it. Again I used my slow cooker for this (it’s just so handy) but it can also be done on the hob; just bring the stock to the boil with the rice and stuff and keep an eye on it, adding more water if needed until the rice is cooked. This could be made with any combination of nuts and fruit; whatever your favourite is, or for me, whatever is in the press!

Pistachio and Apricot Pilaf with Roasted Squash

½ Squash,
1 Leek, sliced finely,
2 Handfuls roasted and salted Pistachios,
1 Handful toasted sunflower seeds,
5oz Easy-cook Brown Rice,
1 Handful Dried Apricots, chopped,
¾ Litre Vegtable Stock,
3 Cloves,
1 Bay leaf,
1 Small Cinnamon stick,
1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree.

- Get the squash into the oven first. Peel and slice, drizzle over a little olive oil and roast until cooked, about 20 minutes at 180. Once done, remove and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile saute the leeks, until soft. Stir in the rice, spices, nuts, seeds and apricots then the puree and the stock, bring to the boil and transfer to the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 2 ½ hours.
- When the rice is done add in the squash and remove the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick (feel free to try and fish out the cloves too but I never bother). Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Notelet

So I have this very cheesey calender in work that has little notes printed on each day and I can't decide whether todays vignette is very optimisitc or very sad :
"You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


When I was making the fancy Mother's Day feast I was counting on there being plenty of left overs to see me through at least a half a week of lunches and dinners. I don't know why it surprised me that there was barely enough for two dinners! So it was back into the kitchen last night ....

Broccoli Salad

1 Head Broccoli,
1 Tin Chick Peas, drained,
2 Tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced,
2 Spring onions, sliced,
1 small packet Pancetta,
1 block Feta Cheese,
1 Bunch Coriander, roughly chopped,
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika.

- Fry off the Pancetta and Chick Peas with the Smoked Paprika until nice and brown, leave to cool.
- Meanwhile cut up the Broccoli into bite sized florets and steam for a few minutes, or just long enough to take the bit out of them, leave to cool.
- Then just combine everything-it's that straightforward! Well, I like to keep the Feta separate and curmble it over the salad as I need it-just to keep everything fresh.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mother's Day

Here is the woman herself surveying the feast.

The low down:
48 hour marinated Achiote Pork Tenderloin with Red Apple and Salad,
Apricot and Pistachio Pilaf,
Honey Roasted Squash with Red Grapes, Walnuts and Tipperary Blue Cheese,
Sage Corn Bread,
Peach Cobbler.

The wash down:
Guigal Croze Hermitage, '08.
Whitehaven Pinot Noir, '08.
Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene.

Mini Road Trippin'!

On Saturday we took to the road on the long trek to Drawwwwwwwhadah; to any non Irish citizens read that as Drogheda. Neither Andy nor Ollie had seen the Oliver Plunkett head so we figured there was no better reason to go there. Well that and a newly opened Traders Coffee House that got a rave review in The Irish Times. And well if I'm honest it's any excuse really to drink coffee, chat and eat cake. This place is fantastic. The coffee is to die for; strong and smooth with no bitterness. And the gingerbread cake and scones get many thumbs up. All served up by a rather dishy young man. What better way to spend a morning!

Andy and Ollie in action

Oh what a beautiful morning ...

The macabre specter

It's all in the name

The Goodies

Impromptu picnic and papers
(Andy treated us to Parma Ham, Comte cheese and crackers washed down by his secret recipe iced coffee.)

And homeward bound ...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sharon Olds

"Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think. Out of memory—a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors."
Sharon Olds

Monday, March 28, 2011


So the clocks have gone forward and I left the house on Sunday without a jacket. Spring is finally in the air. The chances to enjoy hearty, warming vegtable soup are almost gone so this is my last hurrah. It's vegtable soup; also known as clear the bottom of the fridge soup. I love making soup because its just do darned easy and quick, and nothing is more comforting. To be enjoyed with my cheats brown bread: I used the ready mix brown bread and added in a handful of toasted seeds and a handful of walnuts; hand crushed just before adding to the mixture, leaving nice big chunks to be crunched under melting butter.

Vegtable Soup

3 Cloves Garlic, sliced.
1 Onion, chopped roughly.
1 Pepper, deseeded, chopped.
1 Courgette, chopped.
1 Potato, peeled and chopped.
Handful of Red Lentils
Vegtable Stock
Glug of Olive Oil and knob of butter.
Any herbs you like. I used a generous amount of Oregano and Basil.

- Saute the onion and garlic in the Olive Oil and Butter (even a small amount makes a huge difference to the final taste; it imparts a richness that oil lacks). When these start to soften add the vegtables and saute for another minute or two.
- Pour over the stock; enough to cover the vegtables. Add the lentils and herbs and bring to the boil.
- I prefer smooth soups so once all the vegtables are cooked, blend it. Do a little taste test and amend the seasoning if you need to. Yum.
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