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!

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Horses

The Summer Show Season in Ireland has arrived. From show jumping and dog jumping to  heavy weight hunters, prize bulls, and cake competitions country shows in Ireland have it all! -The Summer Showing Season in Ireland has arrived. Mullingar International Horse Show is being held 30th May – 2nd June, June Bank Holiday at Mullingar Equestrian Centre.

We still have  accommodation available for next weekend’s events.

Phone us at:044 9372191

Fill Mornington for the night!

 

Bring your family or group of friends to Mornington and fill the house for a night or two! For Special Group Rate * (8-9 people)

Call us at 044-9372191 or email us at stay@mornington.ie

Cost € 99 per person per night. This offer includes bed and full Irish breakfast and three course dinner.

Later in the month,    

                   The National Road Race and Time Trial Championships                                                    are being held in the village of  MULTYFARNHAM.

http://www.lakesidewheelers.ie/national-championships-2014

Country shows in Ireland are an important part of the country person’s year. Dates are marked in calendars months ahead. Mullingar, Tullamore,  The Dublin Horse Show, The Ploughing Championships each has its own place in the cycle of rural life. Just as are Pony Club, Irish College and the Exchange student’s arrival dates are all part of the Irish student’s summer vacation.

The Next Generation

Our neighbour’s twin daughters, are following in their father’s footsteps as show-jumpers, so we will make a point of texting them to wish them well. Robert who was here for The Irish Donkey Society Training Day last year, competed successfully at Mullingar Show in 2013.

 

Donkey Training Day-2013 014

Look out for Robert  and his team at a show you visit and tell us you saw him.

 

 

 

Hens cleaning up in greenhouse.

Hens cleaning up in greenhouse.

 

Bumble bee drying out after being caught sleeping igreenhouse

Bumble bee drying out after being caught sleeping in greenhouse when plants were being watered.

 

Tree peony in full flower

Tree peony in full flower

Old Country Cure

Comfrey will be dried and use in foot-bath to sooth aching feet.

Comfrey will be dried and use in foot-bath to sooth aching feet.

Old country cure

My grandmother’s cure for ‘tired’ feet was to take a generous bunch of dried comfrey and pour boiling water over it to make an infusion or ‘comfrey tea’.

Cut comfrey as it finishes flowering. Tie in bunches.

Hang over the kitchen stove or in a warm dry space until dry as a bone.

Use as needed

Then to allow liquid to cool until cool enough to insert feet

 

Bluebells and Apple blossom

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets May is upon us

Coming to Ireland? Plan to include s visit to a Food Fair or Farmer’s Markets.  The season of Food Fairs  May is ‘High Season’ for food fairs in Ireland. From The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine to be held 16th-18th May 2014; to

The Sheridan’s Food Festival http://tinyurl.com/lfx3ram From Ballymaloe to Cavan http://tinyurl.com/n9xwvy2

From Multyfarnham to Mayo  Irish food is celebrated. Our recommendation to any person visiting or living in Ireland is to include at least one Food Fair in your itinerary. Celebrate Irish Food and go to a Food Fair in May where Irish food is being celebrated. It is a great way of meeting some of Ireland’s best known or top chef’s.

Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant is appearing both in Ballymaloe and at Sheridan’s Food Fair in Co. Cavan

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

For lists of Food fairs and farmers Markets For links to sites http://goodfoodireland.ie/markets irishvillagemarkets.ie http://www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/guidetofoodmarkets.aspx The season began at Easter here in Multyfarnham with their Country Fair.By all accounts it was a great sale.

Multyfarnham Country Fair

The next Multyfarnham Country Fair is to be held on 28th & 29thJune 2014 at the time the National Cycling Championships which are to be held in Tyrellspass and Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

Bumper Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14 

Parish Flower Sale- Apr'14

Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14

Bumper Cake  and Plant Sale is to be held Saturday,  17th May’14, at All Saint’s Church, Mullingar,

A Busy Garden 

Taking a moment to perch on the patio wall and watch the many birds finding food for their young. It is non stop activity. Nests are well hidden, though as you walk around the garden you may hear the calls of fledglings as you pass by. The  blackbird nesting in one of the yew arches is seemngly oblivious to our passing. Whilst we ignore any noises and resist the temptation of taking a peek! Occasionally a break is taken and you are stopped in your tracks by a bird in full song. This morning, I stopped and had difficulty identifying the bird.

Bluebells have survived-May'14 008

Lawns mowed, edges shaggy, need clipping!

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 020

Is this a chaffinch?

 

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Asparagus , elephant garlic and artichokes share a bed!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 019

Garlic and shallots were planted last autumn

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Apple blossom and Bbubells

Bluebells have survived-May'14 007

Overgrown grass laughing now mower belt needs replacing!

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Off to pick flowers

Pear tree buds beginning  to opento open

Conference pear tree buds beginning to open

 

The April sunshine and occasional showers have brought on the ‘greening of Ireland’  as buds burst open on trees and hedgerows in the countryside. The palate of colours is changing as last years stubble has been ploughed, seeded and sown with this year’s crops. At Mornington the lawns have been cut and daffodils are in full bloom. Seeds sown in the last month are slow to emerge, but the onions, shallots and garlic are growing well.

The lettuce sown last autumn are growing well in the greenhouse. Fuchsia, penstemons and geraniums overwintered in the greenhouse have survived and were ”potted on’ last week, they will be planted out in the flower beds when the night-time temperatures improve.

 


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Stable Block Studios

The stable block conversion into art studios is progressing apace. A little slower than we had hoped, but nevertheless is moving ahead. The studios will be available to rent by artists, sculpters, photographers, writers. They are available to be used by guests staying in bed and breakfast accommodation, either here at Mornington or with other providers in the area.

 

Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.

Arch leading into the stable-yard has been re-built.

 X

Stonework being realigned. new windows will be installed.

 

Anne O’Hara’s Fruit Cake ( Gluten free)

The fruit cake recipe we have used for years was adapted  to be suitable for family members who are gluten intolerant. It has more ground almonds and may need more liquid than regular flour. The cake improves with ‘keeping’  for at least 3-4 weeks before cutting. We were very pleased with the result. Not a crumb was left!

 

Makes 1x 7.5” diameter cake Makes      2x 10” diameter cakes
6 24 A Gluten free flour Available from most food stores.
½ 2 tsp A Mixed spice Sieve together with flour
5 20 oz B Butter Needs to room temperature
5 20 oz B Soft brown sugar We use soft dark moist brown sugar
8 32 oz C Currants
8 20 oz C Sultanas
5 20 oz C Raisons
4 16 oz C Glacé cherries Put into sieve, rinse with cool water to remove syrup. Dry on paper towel. Cut into quarters. When dry coat with a little flour
3 12 oz C Chopped mixed peel
1 4 oz C Lemon Rind Zest only
8 24 oz C Ground Almonds I used additional ground almonds
1 4 oz C Whole Almonds Skinned and cut into quarters lengthways.
4 16 D Eggs Large, at room temperature
Milk

*Read recipe and make sure that you have everything to ready and to hand before you begin.

 

Oven Temperature

Convector /Fan Oven

150°C (Celsius) for 20

125°C (Celsius) for 2 hours 40minutes ** The cake takes roughly 3 hours to cook, depending on oven, tins, etc. etc.

 Method

  1. Line tin with double layer of parchment. Allow paper to stand 2½”-3”above edge of tin.
  2. Mix fruit (C) together in a very large bowl.
  3. Using either a wooden spoon, hand held mixer or food processor cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

 

  1. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl. Add a little beaten egg into sugar/butter mix. Beat in very well after each addition of egg.
  2. If mixture begins to separate start adding flour a little at a time.                                                                         Otherwise when all egg has been added
  3. Foldi n flour a little at a time, alternate with mixing in milk.

NB. Do not beat or cake will have a shiny crust.

  1. Add egg/ sugar/flour mixture to bowl of prepared dried fruit and chopped and ground almonds.
  2. Fold in and mix well.
  3. NB. It may be necessary to add additional liquid. (For the 2 x 10” cakes I use ¼ to ½ cup milk.)1 cup = 8fl.oz.
  4. The mixture needs to be soft enough to allow the fruit moves around in the mixture. Not sloppy.
  5. We wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin.
  • Cut to the same height as the parchment lining the tin.
  • Secure with masking tape by overlapping the tape. Some tapes will become ’unstuck’ in the oven.
  • Add whiskey or brandy when cake is cold after baking.Make holes into bottom of cake with a fine skewer and using a teaspoon pour in brandy or whiskey.

 

The saga of  Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

Holly and Noddy waiting expectantly for carrots

”Are you busy on the 1st of March?” A simple question which elicited another simple question “why?” Our daughter and fiancé had decided to get married! In such a simple way, the advent of a wonderful day was announced. Ferry tickets booked, wedding cake made,  house sitters arranged, an alarm call booked and the morning of departure arrived.

Katy on the way to her wedding

Katy on the way to her wedding

So on the 1st March, St. David’s Day, we waited to take Katy to her wedding. On the way out of the hotel, she was serenaded by the Flint Male Voice choir who were also staying in the hotel. I do not think any bride could have received a more rousing send off. Particularly appropriate as her great grandfather, Evan Evans, was Welsh. As the young couple are living and working in England, they opted for a small family wedding near to their new home in Cumbria. It gave Warwick and I the opportunity to visit an area that we have visited a number of times in the past.

Katy and John in Cartmel

Katy and John in Cartmel

1238120_10152058124626220_679439364_n Walking to reception

Walking to the reception

1798616_10152058134926220_606723512_n Wedding Cake

Katy and John’s Wedding cake with shamrocks and roses

 

Portion of wedding cake

Portion of wedding cake served to guests

* I am including the recipe for the gluten free cake later in the blog.

Another Great Celebration

Last Saturday, nerves jangling and kept sitting on the edge of our seats as the Irish rugby team edged towards a win against France and at the same time winning this year’s  Six Nations Championship. For Brian O’Driscoll, it was his last match in an Irish Jersey so we were already in great spirits on St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, St. Patrick’s Day was an occasion to pack up the car and travel either to the local parade with uniforms and tin whistles or to Pony Club hunter Trials. This year, it was spent in the garden cutting shrubs back as we get ready for the opening of our season and the arrival of our first guests. All day long, we were serenaded by a robin, who hopped from branch to branch, occasionally, dropping down onto the freshly turned soil to hunt for worms or other tasty morsels. At one point, there was a quick scuffle in one bush as two cock robins ‘squared off ‘ against each other. Fighting for territory, no doubt. Dispute over and the hunt for food continued.

Cock Robin, the entertainer in the 'Sheep'snose' apple tree.

Cock Robin, the entertainer,  in the ‘Sheep’snose’ apple tree.

Potato Plantinag and St. Patrick’s Day

Country people traditionally begin planting potatoes about the time of St. Patrick’s Day, beginning with  ‘first earlies’,  Main crop potatoes are planted later. However, the  seed potatoes, we had ‘ chitted’ in February had developed good shoots, so they were planted last week. We laid the potatoes out in tray and covered them with newspapers to keep out the light. In Warwick’s father’s time the men on the farm would sit in the harness room or the coach-house and cut some of the previous year’s potatoes into pieces, ensuring that each piece had shoot buds.This would usually be done in February and was dirty, cold work.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

Chitted potatoes ready for planting.

The Renovation takes shape.

Faced with a semi derelict stable block apparently in terminal decline we took a big step in deciding to convert it into Studios and Exhibition spaces. In partnership with Leader, we started to halt that decline which we began by emptying the stable block last autumn. (see November’s Blog). Now re-roofed with some of the original and other salvaged slates; new floors have been poured  and the plumbing and electrical systems are going in. The project is heading towards completion.  The plan is to  provide facilities for guests staying in the house and other similar accommodation operators in the area.  For small business meetings, family events, possibly even small weddings.

Clumps of daffodils moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Clumps of daffodils and snowdrops  moved from side lawn during landscaping.

Daffodils in Lady's walk wood

Daffodils in Lady’s walk wood

Saffodils 005

Next landscaping project is to conceal lids of tanks!

February Filldyke, once the old name for the month of  February, has been particularly apt this year as dykes or ditches are not only full but overflowing. Poets have written many poems linking weather to months of the year. The Loughan or Pond at Mornington Cottage empty at Christmas is now is filling up.

Baked Lemon Souffle

Baked Lemon Soufflé Recipe is at Bottom of page.

Living in the Midlands of Ireland, we have been spared the storms and resulting high tides that have occurred in the much of the coastal areas of the country.

Builders replacing the roof on the stable block have been blessed to escape the worst of the weather. It is wonderful to see the old building being restored. Old slates have been recycled  for the roof. Old blocked up window spaces have been opened and we are waiting for windows to go in. The plan is to create four studios or exhibition spaces which can be rented out to artists, craft workers or small business meetings. We hope to have the project completed by St. Patrick’s Day. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

South side of Stable Block-Feb'14

South side of Stable Block-Feb’14

Vegetable Gardening 2014

In the last few years growing our own vegetables has become rewarding; it has provided the kitchen with a variety of fresh vegetables for family and guests. Frustratingly, success cannot be guaranteed and can vary from year to year. In 2011 the parsnips were gigantic, whilst in 2013, the crop was disappointingly stunted. This was probably due to the lack of rain in the winter of 2012-2013.

Can you have too much garlic or too many onions?

Onions in Raised bed.

Onions in Raised bed.

I have just been told that we have planted too many garlic and onion sets! So as our crop rotation plan needs to be changed. Now we must work out where the rest of the vegetables can be grown. It may be necessary to plough a patch of ground outside the garden for potatoes and root crops.In the ‘old days’ a patch of ground would be ploughed for oats and barley and for ridges* of potatoes and root crops for the ‘house’**

Pepper and tomato seeds need to be planted this month so we have already purchased and planted same.
Seed potatoes need to be ‘chitted’ this month. Tired of loosing potatoes to blight we have used a variety of ‘blight-resistant’ potatoes for the past three years with great success. Most garden centres and some traditional hardware stores will be carrying them at the moment. Interestingly the main seed companies appear to have an increased selection of such varieties this year.
Shallots and onion sets should be available from the end of the month.
Seeds can be expensive so share your seedlings with friends. Do you really need 40 chilli pepper plants? If not pass on or ‘swop’ the extras on with friends.
It is not too late to split herbaceous plants.
Do check the roots of exchanged plants for weevils and other pests before planting out.
Only a few of the broad bean plants planted out in November have survived this winter, so I plan to start some more in pots in the greenhouse.
We enjoy the sweet early broad beans cooked in very little water with a little butter, salt and pepper and a handful golden oregano leaves.Herb bed needs weeding.

Herb bed needs weeding.

The herb bed with parsley, thyme, rosemary and fennel showing between the weeds.The soil in the new herb bed has sunk down so more top soil will be needed to be added.

Perpetual spinach and Ruby Chard

Perpetual Spinach and Ruby Chard

Perpetual spinach and ruby chard are still being cut for use in the kitchen as are the red cabbage and leeks. We still have parsnips to dig which will probably be served to the donkeys as they are too small for kitchen use.

Globe artichokes have survived thus far!

Globe artichokes have survived thus far!

Globe artichokes appear to have wintered well, so hope there are no late frosts to kill the leaves.

Remains of a pigeon

Remains of a pigeon

“Nature is red in tooth and claw” The remains of a pigeon killed by a hawk lie on the grass between two of the raised beds.

A cock robin sings his heart out from the top of an apple tree.

A cock robin sings his heart out from the top of an apple tree.

A cock Robin singing his heart out in the Worcester Pearman apple tree. The apple trees will need to be pruned in the next week or two; before the sap starts to rise. They also need to be sprayed with dormant spray to prevent codling moths.

Be ready for Shrove Tuesday this year (pancake day)

Shrove Tuesday will be upon us in a couple of weeks.  Here is a contribution to your recipe file.

Lemon soufflé filled crêpes

Lemon soufflé filled crêpes

Lemon Souffle filled pancakes
Lemon Souffle filled pancakes

Do you have a cupboard under your stairs? Is it a cloakroom, a storeroom, a darkroom  or do you, like “Mrs Brown” of ”Mrs Brown’s Boys,” have a loo in it? Ours is used a store for the ‘children’s ‘ toys and Christmas decorations, as well as those things that we need to get ‘out of sight’ of visitors. Each year, as we put away the collection of Christmas tree decorations, we try to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ to be stored. Our children are kids no longer, however, the toys are sorted, washed or cleaned and put away so that young visitors can play with them. The Fisher-Price castle is a great favourite, so is the old toy garage. Spring cleaning has begun and more ‘stuff’ is heading out for recycling and charity shops!

Early Morning at Mornington

Early Morning from front steps at Mornington 

The winter solstice has passed, days are stretching. Shadows are shortening and it’s time to think about gardening.

Yesterday, we made a trip to Dublin; to Mr Middleton’s store on Mary Street. Chatting to John, a fellow peruser of the racks of seeds; I was looking for chilli pepper seeds, he was about to purchase parsnip seeds. Telling us that he was planning to grow them in a tube. Living in North Dublin and is lucky to have deep soil  but prefers to grow them in a tube. A brief chat and we went about our separate ways. Gardeners always compare notes. Certainly our guests delight in telling us about their gardens and inevitably we compare notes on the difficulties we each face. Whether it is ‘disappearing soil’ the area just south of the great lakes in the U.S., the invading deer, or the neighbours cattle, wandering donkeys, gardeners are eternal optimists. So in spite of difficulties, we still plan, purchase, sow, nurture, harvest and give away much of our crop.

Rhubarb and onions

Rhubarb and onions

The onions and garlic had a good start. Planted November, they benefited from the relatively mild weather in November and December. At least this year, they got sufficient rain!

A new year and a new start. I was full of good intentions for 2014. My new year resolution is to keep up with my fellow bloggers. However, we have been somewhat overtaken by family events with both offspring announcing their engagements! Whilst much of the country has been battling gales, fallen trees and flooding we are playing catch-up to get on with the regular (perhaps boring?) but important chores in garden and house.

So it looks as if 2014 is going to be a monumental year for the O’Haras. as both our young have announced their engagements and will be married before the year is out. We celebrated Christmas with family and close friends. The house is quiet again. So spring cleaning has begun.

January sunset

January sun on Knock Eyon

The rock wood on the side of Knockbody in full autumn colour.

The rock wood on the side of Knockbody in full autumn colour.

We have been blessed with an an ‘Indian Summer’; a period of bright clear days of milder weather. One night of frost and the trees in the Rock Wood have donned their autumn colours. It has been an opportunity to catch up in the garden Work had been delayed by a massive clear-out of the old stable block as we began it’s restoration.Old farm machinery, tractor parts, bedsteads, incubators, horsehair mattresses, butter churn, and a 1961 Vauxhall Victor ‘One Owner’ car.(Warwick’s mother’s car)

Granny's Old Car

Granny’s Old Car

Renovation of the stable block long planned was finally beginning.

Fortunately and coincidentally, our local Community Centre in Multyfarnham held a Scrap Saturday so several trailer loads of old drainpipes, tractor parts, feed bins, paint tins, barbed wire and even Warwick’s old pram headed off to Multy. More trailer loads of recyclables were taken to the Recycling Centre in Mullingar.

Warwick's old pram

Warwick’s old pram

Work has continued steadily. Old slates which had already fallen into one section of the stables were rescued and other parts of the roof taken down. Removal of the panelling in the Harness Room revealed a mass of wheat and oat bran left by the mice which had obviously taken up residence there.The loft above the stables was used to store the bags of wheat, oats and barley after ‘threshing’. The hoist used for lifting the bags of grain into the loft was removed several years ago and stored in the garage. It is still in working order and we plan to install it in the stables once renovated.

Harness Room clearout

Spaces between the batons behind the panelling were full of bran.

Bran left by generations of mice beneath the panelling in the harness room

Bran left by generations of mice beneath the panelling in the harness room

1st Nov;13 010

The stable roof has been removed. Slates saved will be reused in the on the new roof.

Scaffolding on the southside of stableblock

Scaffolding on the southside of stableblock

Halloween

Young callers on Halloween had us completely foxed as to their identity.

Halloween guests whosev completely fooled us as to thir identity

Halloween guests whosev completely fooled us as to their identity

Updating the Septic Tank

Last year Ireland implemented an inspection system for septic tanks. The existing tank installed in 1896 and updated in 1987,  has been deemed unsuitable, so a new sophisticated tank is being installed. Indeed the team are currently working under floodlights!

The project has involved creating a massive percolation field as well as digging a massive hole. Several young trees, roses and shrubs have needed moving and branches cut, to allow access for the digger.

So no doubt we will be left with piles of soil to move and landscaping to be done.

Digging to Australia? No, only hole for new septic tank.

Digging to Australia? No, only hole for new septic tank.

Tank being lowered into ground

Tank being lowered into ground

Christmas Mincemeat

Ingredients for mincemeat

As children, the approach of Christmas was announced not by a massive television advertising campaign but by bowls of dried fruit being stirred as we each made a wish. Steam filled kitchens as the Christmas puddings were boiled seemingly for days. Always with the instruction not to let the pot go dry! These days we continue making our pudding and mincemeat for mince pies. Indeed we have a cookie jar from Canada which is used for storage when deemed the mix has been stirred enough. It is veritably’ pickled’ with  a drop of ‘the hard stuff”

The following recipe is one we have been using for years. Each year we make a batch of our own mincemeat

Mincemeat

(Makes 6-8lb)

1 ½ lb. stoned raisins

1 ½ lb. currants

1 ½ lb  suet*

3 large  lemons (rind and juice)

2lb       soft brown or muscovada sugar

8oz.      mixed peel

2lb       large apples peeled and grated

3Tbsp orange marmalade

8 floz.  Brandy or whiskey

Method

  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir every day for a week.
  3. Put into jars and store for at least a month to ensure development of flavour.

*Vegetable suet is available from Atora

Harvesting is well under way so roads have been busy with tractors, trailers and combine harvesters.  Moving From field to field and farm to farm as farmers and contractors race to bring in crops. So different from late spring when farmers were bringing in straw and hay from England and France to feed their stock. In the walled garden, seeds initially slow to germinate, saw growth ‘take off’ as the hot weather arrived in June. In July and August growth accelerated at a rate not seen for several years.The garden has raced through summer resulting in an early harvest of onions, shallots,  beans and peas. Jam and chutney making has been going on alongside our main priority, welcoming guests.

Runner beans and leeks in the walled garden.

Runner beans, red cabbages and leeks in the walled garden.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

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Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Preparing for the Fair

Warwick picking peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick picking tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Multyfarnham Country Fair

Multyfarnham Country Fair was held this past weekend.This year it was a two-day event, with Talent and Cake Competitions running alongside the sale. The stall-holders were very grateful for the cover provided by the new marquees, as on Saturday, it was very wet. Musicians and dancers entertained the crowd under cover, and sales were brisk.

Sunday by contrast dawned sunny and warm. We were up before the dawn chorus. It  wakes us later these mornings as we are over the cusp of summer. The crowds came and were certainly prepared to buy our jams, chutneys and beans. The advertising campaign had featured scarecrows at strategic locations beside the roads of Co. Westmeath. Some were on display at the fair itself. The hard-working committee members are certainly to be congratulated for the success of the fair.

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 010

competion

Taking a break at Multyfarnham Country Fair.

Sales force ready for action

Sales force ready for action.

Toadstools for sale at the fair.Taste before you purchase is a good motto!

ot sure who this is meant to be. Do you know?

Not sure who this is meant to be.                   Do you know?

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 014

Our own 'Best customers?'

Our own ‘Best customers’?

Runner beans'13 003                   Red admiral and peacock butterflies taking advantage of late summer sun.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

We use peppers and other vegetables in the a dish of  couscous. It is very tasty and goes down well with guests, friends and family. A useful dish for entertaining.

Cous cous Mornington style

Cous Cous – Mornington style

Cous Cous Allow 250gm / 1 cup for two people

Water 375ml/ 1 ½ Boiling water and other liquid*

1-2                     Shallots-finely chopped

1-2                     Cloves of garlic-crushed

1                         Chilli Peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 Centre of head of celery-Remove outer stalks from head.(retain for stock or other uses)

1-2 Tbsp            Turmeric ground

Olive Oil

Butter

1                         Orange rind and juice*

1                         Lemon rind and juice*

1                         Lime rind and juice*

Small bunch Coriander fresh -snipped

½ Red Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

½ Green Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

Dried Apricots  ½ cup cut into strips

Dried cranberries ¼ cup

Dried blueberries ¼ cup

Salt & black pepper

Cashew nuts toasted or browned in a little butter and olive oil, then chopped.

Method

  1. In a small sauté pan sauté shallots and garlic in a little olive oil and butter, until golden brown.
  2. Add turmeric and continue to fry for 3-5 min. until raw taste has gone.

.*May need a little more oil.

  1. Add orange juice, lime juice and lemon juice to make a smooth paste.
  2. Add boiling water to couscous a little at a time until ½ the amount has been absorbed.
  3. Add turmeric / juice mix and stir into cous cous until well combined.
  4. Add remaining water.
  5. Add chopped vegetables, dried fruit and herbs.
  6. Adjust seasoning as needed