Friday, February 18, 2011

Still sick... Thought I was all better, but woke up feeling really bad today. I'm going to get some fresh air and walk to Henry's to get some flour though. Time to make Ian's much- belated Valentine's M&M cookies.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vitamix is in the mix

I am a man who likes to use a blender, it makes me feel like, well, a man. So when I was reading my daily run of blogs I stumbled upon my girl, Chocolate Covered Katie, and low and behold she is giving away a VITAMIX BLENDER!! Drooool. I hate that I'm even telling you this, but if you want a chance to win this miracle of modern science please click on the link below.

But don't stop there! If this is your first time scratching the cake bowl's surface, which is Chocolate covered Katie's site, dig a little deeper. You will be amazed at the scrum-didli-ocious recipes she has. My personal favorite is

With a fist full of spices you can turn this dish into whatever direction your mind can conjure up. I prefer a spicy garlic and cummin feel, but that is because I AM A MAN.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

dingle, tralee and the cliffs of moher

Ian and I took our first break from farm- life in the form of a trip to County Kerry.  Our first stop was a town called Dingle.  

From there we had planned on visiting the Blasket Islands but the sea was too rough so we had to postpone.  Instead, we took walking tours of the area and took in the nightlife scene, getting to partake in some of the local craic (pronounced crack- it means the sounds of the bar or a good time).  We heard traditional jigs and reels at O'Murphy's and then woke up early the next day for a sobering Gallic mass.  The intonation of the language was different than we expected from seeing it in writing.  Hard and gutteral, which we were told was because it is from Germanic origins. 
After mass we caught the bus to Tralee where we stayed in a gorgeous hostel in a converted Georgian home.  Each of the rooms were named for famous Irish authors and we were set up in the James Joyce dormitory.  The area is famous for the Rose of Tralee, a beauty pageant held annually in August.  The lights were up for the ceremony which was to take place the week after our departure.  
In Tralee we rented a car, which made us feel very grown up.  

Some of the areas we had wanted to see in our mini- break were beyond the domain of Bus Eireann.  Ian gave me a quick lesson in driving on the other side of the road before I got behind the wheel.   Almost immediately, despite his constant cries of "Hug the right! Hug the right!" I tapped a rubber tube hanging from a truck and came within two inches of hitting the truck itself.  Since we had decided not to get the extended insurance I was no longer allowed to drive.
Ian then took us to see the Cliffs of Moher, amazing sea cliffs amidst the backdrop of the Burren.  

The cliffs are half on private territory, half a public park.  The private land is well- frequented by tourists but doesn't have the safety railings of the park. 

 Each year the wind blows a tourist or two over the side.  The wind was so extreme that when the waves crash against the cliffs the wind pulls the foam up the side, 2,100 feet, and over onto the land.  With white foam dispersing everywhere it looks like you are caught in a snowfall.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Myrtleville Seaside Orchard

We took a short bus from the farmers market to the city of Cork and then lugged all our bags 2 miles to the train station where our second farm's owner, Mark, picked us up. His house was a 25 acre house that was cut up into allotments, which are spaces of farm land that can be rented out to people for a small fee. 
 This is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular during the recession. The farm use to be run by the mom, but after her passing six years ago the place hadn't been touched. The place was in complete disrepair.  When we arrived Mark informed us that we would not be sleeping in the house, but rather in the barn that was renovated into a luxury apartment. 
Even Mark was jealous of the living arrangement, he seemed like he would have been happy to switch us for the house. No deal. Work arrangement was lax in comparison to our previous farm. We took to undoing six years of farm neglect. This included fighting through thorn woven brambles and braving thick patches of stinging nettle. During our breaks Katy and I would pick through the sea side orchard and rummage through the gardens for our salads. 
A short walk from the farm would bring us to Ireland's most southern coast. Rocks stuck out like razor blades amongst an angry surf, as the mist from the sea kept alive outbreaks of green, orange, and purple algae. On one weekend Katy and I went to a Folk Festival, which consisted of two tents, one where a 10 yr. old girl sold her most prized possessions with a frown and another where a man stood alone with his guitar and an entranced boy.
We decided to walk along the coast from the festival back. This proved to be more time consuming and challenging than we thought. The serrated edged of the coast made for a grueling trek. Along the way we found abandoned buildings, families fishing, huge scraps of metal, and incredible scenery. 

We abandoned the coast line for higher ground and ran right into an abandoned church that was overgrown with vegetation and had a graveyard that was littered with statued tombstones. 

There was another "woofer" who stayed with us, Natalie from Kaui, a true American hippy. She was made famous with her luxurious armpit hair and seemed to flaunt it in everyones faces. Different folk different stroke. She was an artist whose best friend was Bethany Hamilton, the girl surfer who had her arm bit off by a tiger shark in Hawaii and her Mom was the creator/owner of redline wetsuits. She was infatuated with mermaids and had even toted her harp with her, which she played every morning. She ended her stay by giving Katy some dresses, Katy politely refused due to the immense size of the pit stains. 
The orchard also kept two horses and a fat pony named Jack. 
Unfortunately the six years of farm neglect fell upon the livestock as well as the landscape. Jack was barely mobile due to the state of her hooves being so overgrown that blood vessels now ran thick where her original hoof size should be. 

Mark proved to be an incredible host and nothing more could have been asked. From here Katy and I would have to decide how to spend a week before our next farm.
Here Katy models Wellington's, "Wellies" for short. They're basically Ireland's version of the sandal. They are way off. 

One night Katy and I made Guiness porter cake. 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rupert's Farm

After our stay in Tramore we made our way to County Cork to a small town called Midleton.  This is where we were picked up for our first farm and where the Jameson Distillery is.  

We quickly learned that despite the modest size of our first organic farm the owners were well known in Ireland.  Well, to be more exact Rupert's wife was well known.  She is the daughter of Darina Allen, the Martha Stewart of the United Kingdom.  She runs the Ballymaloe Cookery Course which is an internationally recognized cooking institution situated on a 100- acre organic farm.  It is also connected to the Ballymaloe House, a famous hotel and restaurant owned by her mother- in- law.  Darina has several cookbooks sold internationally, a relish that is stocked in every grocery store and restaurant in Ireland and England and has revived the practice of farmer's markets in Ireland.  The students are not allowed to take home the food that they make to their dorms so Lydia, our host and farmer, would go and pick up boxes of gourmet food for us to eat.  I have never eaten such delicious food before; Indian mussel soup, gooseberry consomme, chocolate mousse and meats and cheeses from the Ballymaloe Cookery animals. 
Rupert, the husband on our farm was hostile to us from the first day we arrived.  He seemed to enjoy the fact that he had figured out how to get free labor but was annoyed that we were still
 there at the end of the work day.  One of our projects was laying hardcore and gravel around his house and driveway with small buckets.  He and Lydia used their connections at Ballymaloe
 Cookery to sell the Cookery school's surplus vegetables as their own.  In fact, Rupert's own farm had not grown anything but a few heads of lettuce.  They also sold Ballymaloe Jams, Relishes, and Salad Dressings as their own, without the label.  Customers at the Farmer's Market would constantly ask us if the products were from Ballymaloe.  

The above picture is from the Ballymaloe glasshouse.  Tommy the duck eats the slugs rather than using slug pellets or pesticides.  They've had some trouble lately with Tommy dipping into the lettuce stock, though.

One major highlight of the farm was that kittens had been born just a short time before we got there.  One kitten we grew particularly attached to and brought him into our caravan to sleep at night.  The kitten got very attached to Ian and would fall asleep in his lap.  

During the weekends we took day trips to other areas.  One day we spent at the Distillery, getting the historical tour and a sampling.  Another day we went and explored some abandoned places a few miles from the farm and found a graveyard and an old stone estate.  

During our two- week stay we grew quite attached to Rupert and Lydia's daughter, Amelia.  She is turning two this November and has quite a personality.  She calls all volunteers on the farm "people."  So, she would call us over to her going "The people, the people!!"  She loved to wander to our caravan and the only way we could get her back to her home was to offer a fistful of nutella.  You can see the evidence of the bribery on her lips in the picture above.

We left our first farm on  a Thursday after working the Farmer's Market in Mahon Point, Cork a second time.  

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Our last stop before our first farm would land us in the ocean front city of Tramore. We spent our days hiking against the sea cliffs and looking for chances to jump in the water. There were so many spots along the cliffs where you could stop for lunch and be completely by yourself amid unbelievable scenery. 
On one hike we found the Guillameine Swimming Cove.
 Ouch!! Sorry Katy, but rules are rules. At one point along the cliff we found a diving board that led right into the Atlantic, with a stair case that crawled out of the ocean. 
During the week, with overcast skies, we were the only ones around. We wasted no time jumping in and no time jumping out because I didn't know water could get that cold! 

On our last night in Tramore we wandered over to the amusement park that was set up on the beach. Here Katy tried to conquer her fear of heights with little success. We packed our things and got ready for our first farm in Ballycotton, and took the first bus the next morning.