A Hot afternoon…

March 20th Beautiful Belfast (4)

June 6th front garden (1)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before..

‘It was a hot afternoon

the last day of June,

and the sun was a demon..’  – dooby-dooby-dooby-do..

If you recognise these lyrics, the tune’s going to be in your head for the rest of the day – sorry about that!

For those of you too young to remember, may I suggest that you stick ‘Bobby Goldsboro, Summer the first time’ into your search engine and have a listen – it’s alright, you can thank me later..

Anyway, it was a hot afternoon, in the last week in June, and I needed a cool drink. If I was going with the lyrics of the song, I’d be offering up a Mint Julep here – and if you have mint, a sugar syrup, bourbon and ice, you’re sorted – but I’m sticking with what I know here..

My pal Anne – for just our second socially-distanced lunch since Lockdown – had agreed to venture into my back garden to seek a little shade.

We had a non-alcoholic Hugo, http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/cocktail-hugo/

made with this year’s Elderflower Cordial http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/homemade-elderflower-cordial/

and a bunch of Apple Mint kindly given by my neighbour..making something already  cool and delicious into something perfect.

Summery drink (1)Eldeflower cordial (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But now it was mid-afternoon – ‘the last week, etc’ – and I wanted something else!

Then all of a sudden my sister-in-law’s Iced Coffee popped into my head and absolutely refused to leave.. Picture this, if you will – Cold coffee, milk, and Ice-cream, whizzed together and topped – if you like, and I do like – with another scoop of Ice Cream..

Enough said. The memory of drinking this in Australia, in 35 degree heat, in January, many years ago, was enough to send me scurrying out to the freezer, praying that I had a box of Vanilla ice-cream in there somewhere.. And hey presto, after digging around for a while, Australian Iced Coffee was back on the menu!

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/dorothys-iced-coffee/

iced coffee iced coffee 2

 

Check out the recipe for my niece Claire’s Vegan and dairy-free version at the bottom of the recipe! She used Almond milk for her version, and I suggest a dairy-free ice-cream in the recipe too..

Iced coffee made with almond milk..

I’ll be using my new eco-friendly metal straw – these are old pictures – for this afternoon’s jug of Iced Coffee!

So go on! Treat yourself! We only get one day like this every year.. :)

Robert and Pia 18.5.2018 (19) - CopyP14008676th April Antrim Castle gardens (1)

 

Posted in Blog

Birthday treats..

birthday cake (1)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Mr Saturday Night has had a fair few birthdays.. (shameless theft of one of  Jane Austen’s best lines, right there..)

However, this year’s must be the weirdest one ever – no day out in a favourite spot; no dinner in a posh restaurant; cards and presents at the mercy of the over-stretched postal service; no friends or family popping in for a chat and wee drinkies.. Of course he’s got this in common with virtually everyone who’s had a birthday in the past 7 weeks or so, and truthfully he’s not complaining – we know when we’re lucky..

Summer scenes..

Summer scenes..

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This is one of Mr Sat. Night’s own pictures, from Peatlands Park, Co Armagh

Titanic, June 2017 (7)

Our beloved Titanic..

 

The past few months have changed all our lives – I go shopping once a week; we get deliveries from local businesses, and we’ve been so lucky with the weather – we’ve been able to walk everyday, and have discovered local gems that were overlooked in the days when we travelled to various beauty spots in this lovely country of ours. Sometimes the real gems are at home..

When we were children, our birthdays were marked with presents, a cake, and our favourite dinner, and I’ve always run family birthdays like that too. This year I actually gave himself a choice of what he wanted for his Birthday tea and I thought his choices might be useful for your family Birthday teas as well..

To begin: There’s usually a bottle of fizz hanging about, and today will be no different!

Starter: Chicken Liver Parfait with toasted Sourdough

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/my-chicken-liver-pate/

Chicken liver parfait and crostini (1)

 

Main: Lizzie’s Chicken with Champ, and whatever veggies I can find..

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/lizzies-dreamy-creamy-chicken/

Lizzies chicken

Dessert: And I have to admit I was surprised at this: Rhubarb Slump – that’s the one with oven-roasted Rhubarb topped with a scone-like mixture – It’s delicious, but not the request I was expecting.. I’m hoping I’ll be able to put the candles into the crust!

 

Rhubarb slump (5) Rhubarb slump 2 (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s my humble offering for today’s Birthday Boy! For your own ‘lockdown’ event, don’t forget that there are a few great family-favourite cakes and dinners over on Eating for Ireland!

See you soon – and stay safe! :) x

Posted in Blog

Lockdown Baking – When you need a little treat!

Fluff

Fluff amongst the weeds!

Bluebells at Castleward, Co Down

The bluebells are coming!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very last thing I want to do at the moment is to spend my days in the kitchen – even if I just happen to have days to spare! The sun is shining, the weeds are taking over, and the cats are snoozing in a sheltered spot.  And yes, a little sweet something would be very nice with our afternoon cup of tea.. so I’m going to make something sweet, but it’s not going to take long – those weeds won’t wait forever you know!

Here are a few of my quick and easy, sure-fire success stories which give you that little bite of deliciousness without having to put in the hours in the kitchen..

First up:

1) Wee Buns!

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/little-lemon-cupcakes-or-wee-buns/

Buns (1)

These are the buns I make when I don’t want to cook – as you can see from the decorations,  these ones were dressed up for Easter. Perfect for entertaining the kids as well – they can make them, ice them, and eat them – what could be better?

2: Pancakes: http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/my-fluffy-american-style-pancakes/

Please remember this wise old saying – ‘Pancakes are for life, not just for Shrove Tuesday’, and repeat it to yourself when you get a bit lost.. This  Pancake batter is thrown together in a heartbeat, and I like to add things to my pancakes – think Blueberries, or Raspberries with some grated white chocolate. If you leave out the sugar from this recipe, you can make savoury pancakes, with a fried egg on top.. a little crispy bacon, and the banquet is complete!

Pancakes (3)pancakes 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pancakes allowed to cool will keep really well in a container; ready to be reheated as an unexpected treat..

3: The Best Ginger Cake! http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/preserved-ginger-cake-with-lemon-icing/

This cake is a great size – and keeps really well in a tin. This is the cake that our daughter’s God Father – a man who is not fussed on cake – would eat for breakfast, dinner and tea! I just chuck everything into the mixing bowl, fold in the Stem Ginger pieces towards the end, and it’s in and out of the oven in no time. Trust me, you’ll like this one..

Ginger cake (1)

Naked.

Ginger cake 3

Dressed up..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4: The White Cottages Soda Bread

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/the-white-cottages-soda-bread/

This has turned into the bread I make at least once a week. When you add a handful of raisins and a teaspoon of ground Cinnamon to this recipe,  you get a delicious Fruit Soda, which is as good as any cake. I’ve been making this Fruit Soda for weeks now, but decided one day last week to have ‘just’ a plain Sod. And what a revelation – I’d forgotten how delicious the unadorned version is too.. so don’t overlook it, as I did. This Soda bread takes about 5 minutes to put together, and is out of the oven in 30 minutes..

Soda bread from Skerries (4)

And finally for today:

5) My latest, quickest and easiest-to-put-together Banana Cake!

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/the-quick-and-easy-banana-bread/

A bowl, an 8″/20cm Sponge tin, a whisk – that’s it. In 10 minutes your cake will be in the oven, giving you time to put your choice of icing together – I have to admit, the Mascarpone one is my personal favourite, but I do love a simple lemony icing myself – the choice is yours!

Quick banana bread (7)

So take your pick! Let me know which is your favourite! :)

Posted in Blog

Lockdown Cookery made easy – Part 1

I was thinking about cooking the other day as I queued for my weekly shop.Let’s be honest, I think about cooking quite a lot..

I can’t be the only person who feels like they’re spending a ridiculous amount of time cooking; or if not cooking, then worrying about what to cook next. I’d got a bit tired of that, so this week I deliberately chose food which I could cook for one dinner, but which would provide several different meals on subsequent days.

Genius! Why did it take so long for me to get here?

This post is all about a joint of unsmoked Gammon. My local supermarket has these joints in several sizes, and although there’s only 2 of us at home these days, I bought a 2kg boneless joint.

You can bake or boil these, I usually boil mine as per the instructions, then bake it for 30 minutes with a dark Muscovado sugar, mustard and honey topping..

Dinner No 1: a delicious Bacon and Cabbage Irish Dinner – complete with Champ – Mr Saturday Night’s favourite.

Baked ham (2)Champ (4)

With most of a joint of cold ham leftover – what were my options?

A couple of lunches: A slice of cold ham, on toasted Sourdough, with a perfectly fried egg on top:

Ham and eggs (1)

Dinner No2:

Another of Mr SN’s favourites: Pasta Surprise

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/spaghetti-surprise/

pasta bake 1 pasta bake 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He likes reheated leftovers of this for lunch too, so happy days..

While I was making this, I cubed a bit more of the ham, and froze it, for Pasta Surprise another day.

Another day, another Lunch: Proper Ham sandwiches, with sliced tomato and a sprinkle of garlic salt – the way my dad liked them :)

Dinner No 3:

Add some Ham to your home-made Pizza. The kids will enjoy ‘helping’ to knead the dough, and decorating their own Pizzas

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/home-made-pizza-a-little-effort-but-well-worth-it/

Pizza

 

And finally, after 4 days, I added a little shredded ham to my already-delicious Vegetable and Lentil soup – it makes it much more of a meal, and the ham adds a lovely extra layer of flavour.

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/lentil-and-vegetable-soup/

veg and Red Lentil soup (3)

There are so many ways you can use up this ham – any number of pasta dishes which would benefit from this extra ingredient – Check out the recipes on Eating for Ireland, for more ham-based inspiration!

Try this great old recipe to use up the very last of the ham- or even the bits that you froze the other day!http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/spicy-mexican-gammon/

Mexican gammon (8) mexican gammon (5)

Next time, I’m going to give you several days of Chicken dinners using either a packet of Chicken breasts or  the remains of a roast Chicken dinner!

 

Posted in Blog

The Unforeseen Consequences of Lockdown..

April 2020:

March 20th Beautiful Belfast (7)

Empty streets..

We’ve all had a few weeks now to get used to our new way of living.

Weather: Good; Traffic: light; Coffee consumption: High; Ambient noise: light; Phone calls: Many

Cooking: endless; Eating: Non-stop.. :)

Shop once a week? Naturally

Queue to get into the shops? No bother.

Staying close to home? Ditto.

Birdsong: Loving it!

18th_June_2019_Mount_Stewart_(7)

As we took our local and socially-distanced walk this morning, Mr Sat Night and I remarked on unforeseen results to our lives in lockdown.

Here we go:

  • We’re much more aware of people around us – in my case, I can spot a fellow pedestrian at 100 paces and immediately consider my social distancing options. Better not step out onto the road when that articulated lorry is bearing down on me though..#lessonlearned
  • Everyone now has ‘hobbies’. Painting by numbers/ embroidery/ gardening/ *insert hobby here*
  • ‘Hobbies’ may or may not include home ‘wine-tasting’ evenings.. 😉
Summery drink (3)

Sure it’d be rude not to..

  • The art of the virtual dinner party, cocktail hour and family quiz night has been perfected.
  • No one gets a ‘Sorry we missed you’ card because, unless you’re one of the newly-minted official Heroes of the Virus, you’re home for all deliveries.
  • We all hope that we’re going to fit into that Posh Frock we bought for the postponed wedding.
  • We’re seriously cheesed off to see said Posh Frock at half price in on-line sales – and no, I didn’t keep the paperwork..
  • When you ‘see a penny’, you don’t ‘pick it up’  because – CV19. I think we’ve been lucky enough if no one belonging to us has had a brush with the virus. Leave that penny alone!
  • NHS/HSE staff may never have to buy a coffee ever again. Mr Sat Night has left a few at our local bakery for you..
  • I appear to be the only person who hasn’t made banana Bread so far.
  • Here’s a link to my Banana bread recipe http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/banana-bread/
  • Here’s a picture of Banana Bread:

Banana Bread 3 Banana Pancakes (6)

  • I cried buckets – no, seriously – buckets – listening to Saoirse Ronan speaking ‘When this will all end..’
  • There are butterflies and bees everywhere..The planet appears to have taken a deep breath – and the lack of road and air traffic has allowed us to hear the birds chirping away in the trees more clearly than ever before. A lone Magpie has adopted our back garden – fortunately our cats are so lazy they haven’t noticed yet..
Fluff

Not. A. Clue.

  • We’ve all tidied at least one box of old photographs and letters – I rediscovered my Grandfather’s letters to a teenage me – I wish he was still here to know how glad I am that I kept them.
  • A plane going overhead is a reason to take a picture..

March 28th Walking from home (4)

  • I still can’t manage Zoom.
  • And no, it’s not too soon to dig out the remains of last-year’s Aperol and Pimm’s – I mean it’s almost Summer, right?
  • ‘Stay safe’- is still the best signing-off tag of 2020. :)
Posted in Blog

The New Words of 2020..

March 20th Beautiful Belfast (4)

The Beacon of Hope – Belfast, March 2020

Just out of your broom cupboard? Welcome, and here’s what you need to know to pretend that you’ve been awake and paying attention so far..

2020:  And a Happy new year to you too. Truthfully, it’s not going so great. There’s this thing (see below) and it’s totally fecked everything you had planned this year. Daughter’s Wedding? Nope. Two weeks in sunny Spain? Nope. #AnythingElseYouCareToMention? Nope. Get over it – we’re all in the same boat, and making the best of it.

Corona Virus: This nasty little virus spreads like red wine on a new cream carpet, to even more devastating effect. People. Good people. People better and more deserving than you and me, have died. All over the world. We’ve been told to go home and stay there. Oh, and the Pubs are shut.

March 20th Beautiful Belfast (7)

Empty streets in Belfast..

COVID19: the official name of the disease which is caused by the Corona Virus. The 19 is a bit confusing, I’ll admit, but it was first identified last year, hence the 19 – it sort of makes sense when you know that..

Panic- buying:  We all know someone who panicked, right? Tell me it wasn’t you? It was all about toilet rolls and pasta apparently. And it’s left the rest of us too embarrassed to be seen buying toilet paper, which is another issue entirely..

p1200185

Pasta..

Members of your household: Anyone who normally lives in your house. If you weren’t quite clear what your relatives’ opinion of  ________________  (insert name/topic/food here) was,  you’re about to find out. Every day. ‘Til the end of time.

November 24th Stir up Sunday (2)

Member of the household!

 

 

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Another member of the household..

 

Self-isolating: If you or anyone else in your household – see above – has come home from foreign parts,  or who has a new cough or high temperature, just lock them in the smallest bedroom, and feed them through a hastily-installed cat flap for 2 weeks. You can let them out after the 2 weeks, but they still have to live in your house and might be slightly grumpy about the cat flap  business. Self-isolating with more than 1 person is responsible for large numbers of the population offering to go back to work – just saying..

P1200347

Fluff has this self-isolating thing sorted..

Social distancing: This is actually something that many of us have been trying to do for years. So if keeping away from your relatives and acquaintances has been a life-long ambition – congratulations, your day has come.

6 Feet: Now that you’re back in 2020, please acquaint yourself with what 6 feet/2metres actually looks like and stay that far away from other people. This will endear you to those who understand the reason for this distance (it’s to reduce the spread of COVID19  – see above). ‘Up-close and personal’ is so last year. Have hours of fun making a list of those who don’t observe the 6 foot rule.

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6 feet!

Home-Schooling: Did I mention that the schools are closed?

Front line: Usually refers only to staff in Healthcare facilities, but more recently has included people who work in places such as Supermarkets,  Pharmacies, and Delivery and Bin Lorries. The Front Line is where normally under-appreciated people with a wide range of skills are working to save the rest of us. You might want to say thanks  the next time you meet someone from the Front line..

‘Stay Safe’: This is the new ‘goodbye’, ‘cheerio’, ‘see you soon’..This is what you say when you’re finishing an email, or a phone conversation.  It’s suitable for use with people of all ages. The correct response is – ‘and you too’.

March 20th Beautiful Belfast (10)

Posted in Blog

The strangest days of our lives..

28th May 2018 Mount Stewart (6)
March 1st Newcastle (2)

Newcastle, Co Down, March 2020

March 19th Mount Stewart (3)

The view from Mount Stewart, Newtownards, Co Down. March 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t tell by looking at these pictures – both taken this month – that we’re living in the strangest days we’ve ever known ..

 

Things that I’ve noticed:

  • I’m embarrassed to hand over cash, and a bit scared of getting change back.
  • I’m using my contactless card for virtually everything, and was shocked to find that I couldn’t use it for sums under £1!!
  • I have to work hard to remember NOT to hug a friend or relation when we meet.
P1040339

None of that huggy-stuff…

  • We’ve all learned to gauge what 6 feet looks like – as a former Radiographer, I already had that skill (Chest x-rays are usually performed at a distance of 6 feet, or 180cms) – but the rest of the world has copped on really quickly.
22nd 23rd October Skerries (67)

Yep, he’s at least 6 feet away!

  • We’re nodding, exchanging a civil word, and smiling at people we meet in the park – while at the same time, observing the 6 foot/Social distance rule.
  • Apart from dogs – dogs don’t care about the 6 foot rule, even if their owners are mortified..
Dogs in coffee shops

Dogs – no concept of distance.. :)

  • We don’t expect to find toilet paper, tinned anything, frozen peas or paracetamol in the supermarket anymore, and are not really bothered when we’re proved right.
  • I find that I actually can spend time in the house without losing my reason.
  • I’m training myself to have several hours a day without electronic devices by my side – and loving it!
  • Events are cancelled at short notice, and we all go ‘Oh Well..
March 7th Armagh (3)

This was Armagh Cathedral doing sound-checks for the St Patrick’s Day service. I’m pretty sure it was cancelled..

  • I feel guilty that I’m not at work to lend a hand anymore, but perversely grateful that I’m not at work to lend a hand anymore..
retirement

My retirement cake!

  • Our cats are loving the company in the house. And are becoming even more spoiled..
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Ted, at his best – asleep!

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I have nothing to say about this picture..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You get dumped for a lunch date, and you’re more relieved than annoyed.
  • I feel the closure of all our usual haunts very much, and worry about the shop-keepers and small business owners who have become our friends.
March 14th (2)

At St George’s market, Belfast.

  • I had a on-line shopping spree, thankfully didn’t go overboard, but now have it out of my system. It was all stuff that I needed – honest!
  • I’m thankful that my hospital training taught me how to wash my hands properly.
  • I did a deep-clean of my kitchen, simply because I had the time to do it.
kitchen

Perfectly clean and tidy – for about 20 minutes..

  • The garden is calling, if the weather improves.
  • Standing in a queue for the Pharmacy, 6 feet away from the next person in the queue, is the new normal.
  • Parking is easier, except at the local supermarket, where it looks permanently like Christmas Eve.
  • Tearing up on Paddy’s Day – no, it wasn’t the drink – when Leo said ‘never will so much be asked by so many of so few’ .. Yes I know he was paraphrasing Churchill, but I used to be one of those few..
  • Tearing up – again – at the virtual St Patrick’s day parades on the internet..
  • Easter is only round the corner! Time for Hot-cross buns and fairy cakes! Stuff that you can do with kids, and then eat the results!

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Buns (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The weather is improving. Ok, it’s just not as dark in the evenings..
  • We can make cakes for our friends and family in isolation – www.eatingforireland.com
  • We shall get through this.
  • We will be able to hug our friends again. In the meantime, send virtual hugs..
  • We might be better people at the end of it.
  • Every call, text or conversation ends with ‘Stay well..’

Stay well…xx

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It’s time to be generous..

1st_May_2019_Minnowburn_(12)

Spring is here!

Buns (5)

This IS a Spring Chicken!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As most of you know, I’m no Spring chicken – and that may be the understatement of the year –  but I’ve never experienced anything like the present health crisis. It’s a scary time for those of us who may have friends and family with compromised health issues.

I’ve never gone into one of my local shops to find the shelves bare.

I’ve never had to think before I hugged a friend, shook hands with a stranger who might become a friend, or put out a hand to help someone in need.

It’s a scary new world at the moment, and people are genuinely frightened. However,  now is the time for us to step up and show our best sides to the world.

Take a mental run through your ‘friends’ list – who there could be self-isolating? Could they do with some fresh bread, a bunch of daffodils, or some nice home-baking to cheer their day?

scones 3

My basic scone recipe makes about 12 scones – share the love!

Do they need someone to run to the Chemist for them – and what about Wine and Chocolate? All of these might be considered essential to the vulnerable amongst us..

An hour doing a little batch-cooking means that you could feed, if not exactly the 5 thousand, then a handful of those in your community who have to distance themselves from the chance of infection. My easy Soda bread, Tea brack and Tiffin tray-bakes would be a real treat for your social- distancing friends and family.

Just be sure that you’ve check allergy status before you hand over your goodies!

The links for recipes mentioned here are at the bottom of this post..

You don’t actually have to be in someone’s space to show friendship or love  – Put your goodies on the doorstep – ring the bell, and step well back. You can talk from a distance you know! Remember also that mobile phones were originally used to actually call people :)  Call a house-bound friend for a chat!

Ginger cake (1)

My ginger cake could brighten several people’s day! Just ice it, and cut it into 4!

If you’re baking or cooking to give away, be extra careful with hygiene in the kitchen – clean all surfaces regularly, and  ensure that your hands are spotlessly clean when wrapping your goodies – that’s the problem with viruses – they stick to surfaces. I’d recommend that you suggest to your friends that they transfer your goodies to their own containers as soon as possible, and then wash their hands thoroughly.

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A carefully-wrapped Tea Brack..

Let’s resolve to make the best of this crisis – only by working together will we get over it. Look after your friends and family, especially now, when they need you most.

Stay well – get some fresh air if you can.

22nd 23rd October Skerries (48)11-12th_May_Birthday_weekend__(116)

If it’s safe for you to do so, please try to support your local businesses – they must be horribly worried too. Many of them have increased the spaces between their tables to encourage people to come in. I was impressed yesterday to see staff in my local café wiping the door handles several times during my visit – it reassures the public to see businesses taking a proactive approach.

 

This seems to have been a very serious post, so I’d like to finish with one last word – PUT THE TOILET ROLLS BACK ON THE SHELF!

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Recipe list:

Scones: http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/home-made-scones/

Ginger Cake: http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/preserved-ginger-cake-with-lemon-icing/

Cold and Flu remedy: http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/christines-recommended-pineapple-and-ginger-natural-cough-mixture/

Tiffin Traybake: http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/christmas-chocolate-tiffin-traybake/

My Posh Cottage Pie:http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/posh-cottage-pie/

Tea brack:http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/the-christmas-tea-brack/

Soda Bread:http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/the-white-cottages-soda-bread/

 

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The great Blueberry scandal…and this perfect Blueberry Sauce..

Blueberry sauce (1)

Blueberry sauce (1)

Regular readers – Hi there, you two!! – may be aware that we’ve got a couple of Blueberry bushes in our jungle of a back garden. All my Summertime efforts of swathing them in bird-resisting nets results in us having fresh Blueberries for our summery breakfasts and desserts.

http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/easy-blueberry-panna-cotta/

pannacotta

I love the colour of this so much!

 

There’s also a carefully sealed tub in the freezer for Christmas morning or First Snow pancakes.. http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/my-fluffy-american-style-pancakes/

pancakes 3

Blueberry pancakes, usually accompanied by crispy bacon and maple Syrup..

 

All this effort – ok, it’s not a huge amount of effort – results in one thing – we know how a proper Blueberry is supposed to taste.

blueberries

And perhaps I’m the world’s-worse Blueberry buyer, but does anyone else buy a punnet of crunchy-looking Blueberries in the supermarket, and come home to discover that they are soggy, tasteless mush?

I’m so careful too.. I hover, and carefully examine the sealed punnets – sealed in the name of hygiene, they probably say – but in reality so that the public have no way of giving the contents a stealty squeeze  😉  I still buy them because I’m the walking personification of ‘hope over experience’..

The truth is that there are more bad Blueberries than good ones, especially in Winter.  My friend Julie, who also gave me today’s little recipe, says that Blueberries continue to ripen after they’ve been picked. Which is why, I suppose the blueberries that we get are so soggy and awful. They’re probably weeks old.

Anyway, enough moaning – come and try this delicious sauce made from Blueberries which otherwise were going to end up on the bird table, or compose heap.. It’s absolutely fantastic!

I’m not going to embarrass myself by doing my usual recipe format, so here it is!

Blueberry Sauce:

  • Put whatever terrible inedible blueberries you have into a saucepan

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  • Add 1 small teaspoon of water
  • Put on a gentle heat until the Blueberries pop and turn themselves into a beautiful sauce.

Blueberry sauce (4)

  • Stir occasionally.
  • Serve dolloped over ice-cream or, as in these pictures, over some Greek yoghurt.

Blueberry sauce (5)

  • Unbelievably delicious.
  • No, you don’t need to add sugar.
  • If you have any leftover, put it into a clean – or even better, sterilised – jam jar, and keep in the fridge for a couple of days – no longer than that though.
  • Make this, Winter or Summer.
  • Thanks Julie! I’m never going to worry about dodgy Blueberries again!
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Christmas Afternoon Tea – for friends and family..

Afternoon Tea (2)

Christmas chocolate cake

Afternoon tea has turned into one of the most popular day-time dining events of the 21st century.We all love to go and treat ourselves to a posh afternoon tea (with or without a glass of Champagne) – it’s the perfect excuse for long uninterrupted chats amongst friends or family.

Afternoon tea

Eating for Ireland and her pal do Afternoon Tea on the 23rd Floor in the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast for our respective birthdays :)

So, what does afternoon tea consist of?

Well, the formula is virtually the same, wherever you go.  It starts with the savoury bits – usually sandwiches, and possibly a speciality bread with smoked salmon or another baked savoury. Then scones, which may or may not be warm, with cream and jam. Then cake. Then something special, usually in a shot glass. Add as much tea or Prosecco as you can drink, and there you have it.

Simple, isn’t it? And yet so expensive in many places..

With this in mind, and if you’re keen to have family or friends over without taking up their precious spare time during the run-up to Christmas, why not try a Christmas Afternoon tea at your house?

Perhaps have it as a drop-in event on a Sunday afternoon in December?

It’s a lovely way to see all those important people; to catch up with family news, and to see how much the next generation has grown since the last get-together!

I must state immediately that in our house, we rarely serve tea unless it’s specially requested.. 😉

Here’s a suggested menu for your Afternoon tea:

Drinks:                                                                         p1210142

  • Tea/ Coffee
  • Various juices/cordials for the kids
  • Non-Alcoholic Apple Punch – warm
  • Mulled Cider http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/mulled-cider/
  • Wine/Beer
  • Tasters of this year’s Sloe Gin and Blackberry Liqueur – well, in my house anyway!

Savoury:

November 29th Afternoon Tea at the Grand Central (17)

Goats cheese and red onion marmalade rollups (1)

sausage rolls (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet:

 

Cranberry Curd scones (3)

ginger cake christmas - Copy - Copy

Christmas chocolate cake

  • Mince Pies (I only remembered them very late on, so people got to take a few home!)

Mince pies (2)

Special:

Cranachan 3

These, and lots of other  recipes are on the Eating for Ireland site at www.eatingforireland.com – please feel free to check it out!

Handy Hints for a Family Afternoon Tea:

  • I think a ‘drop-in’ event is a good idea. I usually say something like 3-6pm on a Sunday afternoon, and make sure that everyone knows that the end time is not set in stone, so late-comers will still be happy to turn up.
  • Get your invitations out early! If you have a family WhatsApp group, then it is really easy. Elder family members can pass the time and date along to the next generation, or  you could send out invitations, as I did one year when I got a great deal from a photographic website!
  • Start off with the savoury stuff – slightly older children love to take part by carrying plates around and offering some goodies. It’s also a great ice-breaker if, like us, you have cousins who don’t know each other too well.
  • I tend to leave the sweet stuff out for people to help themselves. The older family members will be delighted if some kind youngster brings them something sweet later on too!
  • It’s an issue that’s become so common that it’s always a good idea to ask in advance if any of your guests have allergies – that way you can plan ahead and know exactly what is and is not suitable for them.
  • The younger kids would be thrilled to have a ‘make-their-own’ session – in other words, if you have the space, and someone willing to supervise, there’s nothing they like better than icing their own buns (have lots of sprinkles and small sweets available), rolling out increasingly-grubby pastry to make their own jam or mince tarts, or if you’re lucky enough to have  someone artistic in the family – to make their own simple Christmas decorations. Child-sized aprons and table coverings are advisable unless like me,  you’re not particularly house proud!
  • Don’t get into too much of a panic – the Afternoon Tea is really just an excuse for family who may not see each other during the year to call in, have a chat and something nice to eat with their relatives. It also gives everyone an opportunity to exclaim how much the youngsters have grown since we saw them last!
  • Remember that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like – personally, I like simple!
  • Finally, I wouldn’t dream of insisting but I do love it when people arrive in their Christmas jumpers!
P1120930

Ted stays under the tree until the coast is clear!

 

 

 

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