There was a glitch which resulted in my original post being deleted, so here goes again!

 Guests often ask when we purchased Mornington or who was living here when we were in Canada.  They are often surprised to hear that the estate was in fact purchased by Warwick’s great grandfather and that Warwick’s parents were living here.  So when about a month ago I was asked to write a short article on the house and estate, I put pen to paper. Here is the result:

The Hibernia Times: Treasure-Ireland – Mornington House – reflections of Irish history

This year we will be sharing our Christmas celebrations with friends, just as we have done for almost as long as we have lived in Ireland. We take turns to cook Christmas dinner with two other families. This year is our turn. I am trying to be organised. The turkey and smoked ham are ordered from local suppliers. A great believer in the use of lists, I list the jobs to be done on a  spread sheet on my computer. It allows me to relax with a G&T once my jobs for the day are done!

Our Christmas Day menu is quite traditional:

Smoked salmon and a tossed salad

Roast turkey stuffed with a parsley and thyme stuffing  (It usually turns out to be a mixture of  whatever  herbs are still growing in the garden)

Home made bread sauce, sausage and chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce

Baked ham with Cumberland sauce

Roast potatoes, roast parsnips and baked glazed butternut squash

Carrot batons, brussel sprouts and red cabbage

Christmas pudding and brandy butter with almonds

Trifle (usually left over from supper on Christmas Eve)

Cheese  Board (we will be serving some of the cheeses we have received this month from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in Carnaross, Co Cavan. As well as a piece of ripe Stilton) served with Port

In the Garden, the bronze rocket is still being picked for salads and the leeks are being put into soups and casseroles. They may not win prizes for their size but they taste delicious when chopped and stir-fried. The nasturtiums have finally been killed by the recent frosts.

Shallots and garlic growing well in raised beds

Shallots and garlic growing well in raised beds

Garlic is beginning to appear. The heavy rain has compacted the soil.

Garlic planted in November is beginning to appear. The heavy rain has compacted the soil.

I was delighted to receive two seed catalogues this past week. One from Mr Middleton and the other from Thompson and Morgan Seeds.

In conversation the other day, a neighbour, Eamon Orme, recounted how my late mother-in-law would order two catalogues from Drummond’s Seeds. One was sent to his father, Jack, the gardener here at Mornington for over 20 years. Jack would spend many winter’s evenings planning his seed purchases for the following year.

Vegetable bed with Red cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, curly kale & white sprouting.

Vegetable bed with red cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, curly kale & white sprouting.

As we celebrate the winter solstice, the hours of daylight hours are short and the shadows are long. The helibores are in flower, a first sign that  spring is just round the corner.

Helibores at Mornington

Helibores at Mornington

Hydrangeas are still flowering in the walled garden.

Hydrangeas are still flowering in the walled garden.

Knock Eyon viewed  from the front steps at Mornington

Knock Eyon viewed from the front steps at Mornington

Blackbirds and pheasants feast on these cotoneaster berries.

Blackbirds and pheasants have been feasting on these cotoneaster berries.

Chutneys and Relishes

December 13, 2011

Vegetable marrows are grown specifically for chutney.

We grow vegetable marrows specifically for chutney.

My grandfather was a gardener and was obviously very successful in growing the most enormous marrows. As marrows only last so long before they rot and there are only so many ways to use marrow in cooking , (that the family would eat!)  my grandmother used to make masses of jars of marrow chutney. The recipe was passed onto my aunt and my mother’s cousin.

Here is Nanny Elsie’s recipe for marrow chutney.

3lb Marrow, cut fine. ( I cut marrow into dice ½”-¾”)
1oz Ground Ginger*
1½ oz Mustard Powder
½ oz Tumeric
4 oz soft brown sugar
6 red chillies**
2 dozen shallots or a few onions, chopped
3 pints malt vinegar***


  • Strain water from marrow
  • Put all ingredients into a heavy based saucepan
  • Bring to boil and cook until a thick pulp
  • Put into jars and seal
  • Store for 4 to 6 weeks before eating (if you can resist!)
*Can substitute with fresh ginger if available.
  • Peel ginger and grate into chutney or
  • Cut into slices and cook with chutney.
  • Remove ginger slices before putting chutney into jars.

** Fresh chillies can be substituted for dry but will have a stronger flavour

*** you can substitute with cider or white wine vinegar and reduce amount of vinegar if too strong
Last year,  as our marrow crop was a failure and we had over 100 gigantic courgettes we made chutney with them.  Here is a recipe I devised to make use of the crop of courgettes and apples. It is an adaptation of my grandmother’s recipe.
Pickled Onions
Shallots, peeled and sprinkled with salt in a large bowl, leave for 24 hours to allow moisture to leach out
Pickling liquid:
        1lb Muscovada sugar to 1 quart (40 fluid oz) malt vinegar
  •  Add 2-3Tbsp pickling spice, if required
  • Bring vinegar and sugar to boil, allow to cool
  • Drain shallots and put into jars
  • Cover with cold pickling liquid
Pepper relish
Pepper  just picked and ready for sweet pepper relish
Having your own peppers to use in the kitchen is special. The crop wasn’t huge but there were enough to make one batch of pepper relish.