Winter at Mornington

December 23, 2014

Sweetpeas for a wedding

Winter has come to Mornington and it is a time to take stock of the last twelve months. I cannot believe that my last post was written in August and, even then, not completed and posted. What could possibly have got in the way? A simple answer, a baby and a wedding.

Our daughter gave birth to our first grandson on 4th July and our son married his sweetheart on 2nd August. All this activity was followed by a pick up in the tourist tourist season; and we were kept busy ironing piles of sheets, pillowcases, and napkins; together will preparing the many meals for our guests. Country fairs, chutney and jam managed to squeeze into the Mornington calendar.

Thinking that I was handling everything very well  I then fell off a cliff, so to speak, and ended up in hospital for a couple of weeks. I am gradually trying to recover my mobility. I can still drive, though getting in and out of the car can be a challenge. Preparations for Christmas have been somewhat muted. However, a ‘small’ bronze turkey was delivered this afternoon and I am told that our son and daughter in law will be preparing  the meal for us all. Not on Christmas day but the following week.

Donkeys at Mornington 

Hooves newly trimmed by blacksmith Anthony Holly and Noddy were in great form.

Hooves newly trimmed by blacksmith, Anthony. Holly and Noddy were in great form.

Out to visit the donkeys, Holly and Noddy trotted over to me, apparently pleased to see me. Although it may have been in anticipation of carrot and apple peelings in the bucket I was carrying. Anthony our blacksmith had come and trimmed their hooves. I have been astonished how quickly the horn of the hooves grows.

Garden in winter -not quite asleep, just snoozing

We  took a few pics on a typical overcast Westmeath winter’s day. Each view reminds us of what was harvested or creates anticipation of what next year will bring.

Artichokes weeded and mulched.

Artichokes weeded and mulched  are still producing new growth.

 Winter Chores

Winter at Mornington is always the time to make endless lists. of winter chores in the garden, which variety of seeds to order. snag lists of repairs needed in the house; sheets, towels and delft to be ordered, on top of which updating our website is crucial.

One friend would keep her lists on each separate shorthand notebooks. There is one problem in that of making sure that you pick up the appropriate notebook. mine are an absolute tangle. The solution is to burn the lot and start afresh!

In anticipation of next summer I have accquired some loose sweet-pea seeds.

We will start them in the new year. In anticipation of good weather.

Penstemon sheltering behind the box hedges of the celtic cross.

Penstemon sheltering behind the box hedges of the celtic cross.

Asparagus bed Full of promise of next year's succulent harvest.

Asparagus bed Full of promise of next year’s succulent harvest.

Rhubarb patch snuggled under cover of straw. I can taste the fresh poached taste even as I type.

Rhubarb patch snuggled under cover of straw. I can taste the fresh poached taste even as I type.

A raised bed on it's last legs needing a little tlc

A raised bed on its last legs needing a little tlc

Pol na gorth Overlooks all we do.

Pol na gorth overlooks all wePots of May flowering Tulip bulbs. Purchased from Blomsbulbs

Weddings and Marquees on the lawn at Mornington House. It had always been a ‘lovely idea’ to hold a family wedding on the front lawn at Mornington. Once, we had thought it would be our daughter’s wedding… However, it was our son, Patrick, and his fiancée who chose to hold their nuptials in the Parish church in Multyfarnham and the reception was held at Mornington. Patrick and Sarah are back to their to their new life as Mr & Mrs O’Hara. Sarah is the ‘young’ Mrs O’Hara whilst I have acquired the venerable title as the ‘old’ Mrs O’Hara.

Plans made earlier in the year came to fruition. Fitting a family occasion in between guests’ bookings took a little organisation! Once family members began to arrive the pace stepped up until almost as soon as it had started everything was over and all that was left were memories.

Sweet peas at Mornington

Sweet peas at Mornington

We had grown sweet peas, so many, that it took a friend two hours tp pick those used on the day. Bags of gladioli corns had been purchased from Lidle in March. There was a limited choice of colours.  In the end, few were used were purchase

An armful of gladiolis

An armful of gladiolis

In the days after the wedding we were able enjoy the flowers before they were put on the compost heap! Our daughter came over with her husband and, infant son, Owen. It was a joy to welcome the little fellow to Mornington. Once family members arrived, the whole event took on a life of its own. Thankfully, we had planned ahead, by preparing and cooking dishes to be put in the freezer. It certainly made feeding the nineteen people staying here much easier. Particularly as we have family members who are either coeliac or gluten intolerant.

Tip: Where bread crumbs and white sauce were called for we used crumbs made from gluten free bread or cornflour or rice flour to thicken the sauce.Tht way we were able to serve the dish to everyone     The following recipe is one I have used for many years, with many variations depending which meats I have to hand.     Terrine Maison   8oz Lamb or Calves’ Liver 12oz Chicken Livers 1lb Lean pork, ground* 1lb Pork fat, ground* ½ lean ground veal, ground 5 Tbsp 4 Chicken fillets, skinned ¼ cup Brandy 3 Tbsp heavy cream 2tsp lemon juice 2Tbsp flour ½ tsp spice Parisienne** or Allspice 1 ½ Tbsp salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large Bay leaf or ¼ lb cooked smoked beef tongue or baked ham cut into ¼ʺ cubes Freshly chopped mixed herbs including parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and sage. Streaky bacon rashers (to line terrine) *For Ground read Minced **Spice Parisienne is a spice and herb blend which includes white pepper, allspice, mace, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, bayleaves, sage, marjoram and rosemary. This is often made by French cooks and varies according to the individual making the blend.   Method

  1. Combine the ground meats in a large mixing bowl. In a heavy frying pan melt 3Tbsp over moderate heat. When the foam subsides sauté the shallots and garlic until softened but not brown. Add to bowl of meat.
  2. In the same frying pan, melt 2Tbsp butter and fry the chicken livers until that have stiffened but are still pink inside. Remove the livers with a slotted spoon and seat them aside on a plate.
  3. De-glaze frying pan using brandy and simmer until reduced to about 2Tbs. Making sure that any brown bits clinging to sides and bottom of pan are included in this liquid. Add to meat mix.
  4. Add cream, lemon juice, flour, egg, spices and herbs to meat mixture. Add generous grinding of black pepper to mix.
  5. Knead vigorously with both hands, then beat with a wooden spoon, (or in an electric mixer with a pastry arm), until all the ingredients are well blended and the mixture is smooth an fluffy.
  6. Fold in the cubes of tongue or ham if they are being used. Remove a spoonful of the mix and cook it to check the seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 350◦ C.

I had intended to include some more of the recipes we used. However, Events overtook my ambition. So I am afraid that we will have to wait for another post Or the cookbook!