Tis true. I am writing a book! Umm. Rewind and playback: “Imen, you are writing a book.” Sorry, but I have to do that at least once a day for it to really sink in. At least that was formerly true until my lovely and amazing editor, Rochelle Bourgault, assigned my first deadline last week.


I guess we are all aware that I have been on one helluva(n?) epic journey, both culturally and gastronomically since moving to Ireland. However, I have only been able to reveal small snippets via this blog, insta-love, FB, and the twittaverse.

Now, I get to share, no-holds-barred, all the nitty-gritty, slurrifically soaked bits about life on this Irish farm and the pantry of pretty remarkable food that goes along with it. Perhaps my beginner’s step-by-step guide to milking your first cow? How-to pluck-n-process a chook? Dressing tripe 101? Or, new recipes like Farm Fresh Buttermilk Beignets, Lobsta Blaas and Peggy’s Potato Stuffing? There is so much to share, and I am thrilled and honoured to do so.

With the generous assistance of my patience-of-a-saint literary agent, Sharon Bowers, my book will be published in the USA and Ireland/UK by ROOST in autumn 2015, is provisionally titled FARMETTE: Adventures and Recipes From Life on an Irish Farm, and will be an illustrated cookbook/food memoir chock full of modern recipes, stories, and vibrant imagery from our kitchen and farm.


Since leaving urban America for my Irish farm(er), I have tackled the task of building a foundation of kitchen skills and time-honoured cookery traditions, gaining wisdom from my dear mother-in-law, and other amazing connoisseurs of cooking both in Ireland and abroad.  Building that base, has been for me, an absolute essential requirement of my lifestyle change. I have become a home cook and baker in my own right, first by necessity, and now as one of my life’s greatest (and most creative) passions.

If I do it right, Farmette will become an absolute devilishly delicious + stunning diary of my expat journey into Irish country cooking, following my five-year culinary home/farm schooling—or as I like to think of it, a charming confusion of cake and cream and all things in between.  

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to visit here and hold my hand on this journey. I only began blogging to record the crazy happenings of my new life to share with friends and family overseas. Over time, this journal has healed homesickness and forged some fantastic new friendships. And now, it will create a book. (rewind and playback) I am astonished and so very grateful.

But hey, it’s not all about me! I don’t know about you, but I was taught that it is not courteous to applaud when others are celebrating your achievements. So, in keeping with that mantra, I would like to share a extraordinary new book authored by a very dear friend. The Irish Beef Book by 5th generation master butcher, Pat Whelan (with Katy McGuinness) is the consummate guide to Irish beef (and beef in general!) As the doyenne of Irish cookery, Darina Allen says, “This book is filled with recipes that use every scrap of meat from nose to tail, and provide a noble end for the animals Pat rears and butchers.” I am giving away one copy to one lucky reader. If you want to be in with the draw, please leave a reply below telling me your favourite cut of beef. Will announce/ship on my next post!


Now, a toast to new books, good friends, and plenty of plum pudding…..cheers!


Wild Sloe Gin Rickey

Since moving to the farm, we have made a ritual of searching for sloes in our hedgerows each autumn. They are usually put to use in a gin or vodka infusion. But, I have also made sloe jelly, which is a lovely compliment to game dishes as well. The Gin Rickey is a classic American cocktail, and since citrus pairs so well with the sweet, tangy sloe, why not call it a Sloe Gin Rickey? Slurrrp. 

Makes One Serving.

1.5 oz Wild Sloe Gin (here is link to my somewhat science experimental-esque step-by-step recipe for lavender + sloe gin)

1 squeeze of  1/2 lime

carbonated water (or tonic), depending on strength/taste preferred


Pour juice of lime and gin into a highball glass over ice cubes. Fill with carbonated water and stir. Add the wedge of lime and serve. You can also shake gin and lime juice and pour over cubes in a highball or lowball glass.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos & Styling by Imen McDonnell 2013. 

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137 Responses to “Holy Sloes. I am Writing a Book.”

  1. Pat Whelan says:

    Congratulations Imen I am looking forward to your book.I have long since been an admirer of your food styling and great photographer as you know and your book will be outstanding.Continued success
    Pat Whelan

    • imen says:

      Thank you Pat!!!!! I keep having fond memories of working on your book as I lead up to my shoot in May!!! Hopefully see you soon, all best to you! xx

  2. Congrats Imen!!! How wonderful, I can’t wait to read your book. You know what, we can swap our books! Best of luck x

  3. Sheila says:

    Yours and your friend’s book both sound amazing! I’ll absolutely have to check them out. I have a few friends that interned at Ballymaloe and I’m feeling more and more drawn to Ireland. Can’t wait to see the nitty gritty of farm life in your photos & stories!

  4. Megan says:

    Imen – all of the best congrats on the BOOK!! Let’s celebrate with some bubbles and Sloes!!

  5. Judi says:

    I am going to pre-order the shit out of this book. Congrats!!!

  6. Alia says:

    I just discovered your blog and it is just lovely! I can’t wait to go back and read the older posts. My favorite cut of beef is that big one that you use to make roasts (rump?). See how much I need this book, I don’t even know the names!

  7. Justine says:

    congratulations! can’t wait to order your book as soon as it is available. 🙂 by the way, Imen, you’re such a talented photographer! what camera are you using?

  8. Susan says:

    This will be a great read and recipes, beautifully bookscaped with your food styling. I look forward!
    Being from the States, I love cooking with the roast cuts. With large families you can feed many inexpensively. I’ve come up with some great bar-b-que dishes as well.

  9. Evie says:

    Hi Imen, Just stumbled across your site while researching for my new novel (it’s a bit foodie!) and I just had to say that your blogs are so endearing and best of luck with the book 🙂

  10. Linda says:

    Whoa!! Congrats Imen! I’m sure it will be an amazing book!

  11. Oonagh says:

    Does bone marrow count as a cut? I love it on toast and my dogs love the bones!

  12. michelle says:

    have long been a fan of both your writing and photography – eagerly awaiting the book for a prolonged treat! favourite cut of beef – good fillet. needs nothing except a hot pan and some butter. maybe some mushrooms and onions. and a side of champ. and a nice bordeaux. and….

  13. Róisín says:

    Congratulations on the book — will be sure to order!
    The favourite cut would have to be shin — lovely braised.

  14. congrats my dear.
    if anyone should write a book tis you!

  15. Nan says:

    Congratulations! I’ll look forward to your book signing…in Seattle!

  16. Veronica says:

    Congratulations on the newest adventure! I look forward to reading not only the book, but also about your writing process.

    I would also love to enter the drawing for the book. My favorite cut is a T-bone steak, simply cooked in a pan with pepper, salt, and butter. Occasionally this spare luxury will be the only thing for dinner.

  17. jerilynn says:

    Imen, although I knew you eons ago. I am very proud of you. Write that book! I am sure you have some amazing stories to tell. Share them with us. I can’t wait…I hope you will make it available to your friends in Wisconsin.
    I love all your pictures and posts. Keep it up.!!!

    • imen says:

      Hi Jerilynn, it’s been a million years! Of course, the book will be sold throughout the USA and I’d love to come to Two Rivers/Manitowoc and do a signing!!!! Thank you for reading the blog and leaving this kind comment. Hope all is well with you xoxo

  18. Krista says:

    I am absolutely overjoyed for you, Imen!!! 🙂 Yours is one book that I will not only buy but treasure. 🙂 My favorite cut of beef would have to be tri-tip – how I love it slow cooked with spices and liquid smoke. 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thank you Krista! When is your book coming my dear???? I love what you are doing in your life. Tri-tip is in the for the draw!! Imen xx

  19. Emer Tomasko says:

    Congratulations on your book deal! Long time lurker but breaking cover as I have been coveting the beef book since first reviews came out. Family favourite cut is brisket- I love meat cooked on the bone to improve flavour and keep moisture. It is a great cut for home-smoking should you ever feel so inclined – do so outside overnight with the barbeque and cedar or oak shavings. Alternatively I cook with the round blade which is incredibly lean and one of the underused cuts that is fab in stews and becomes beautifully tender when cooked low and slow!

  20. Ash says:

    Oh wow oh wow oh wow!! Congrats!! That’s amazing news!!

  21. WoWzA!

    So exciting, Imen, congrats a plenty to you! I fell in love with your “charming confusion of cake and cream and all things in between” (such a sweet turn of phrase!) within minutes of finding Farmette. You share such dear stories, gorgeous photographs, lovely ideas and sweet memories with us—can’t wait to read it between two hardcovers in 2015! Congrats again!

    PS. Roost Books, besides having an utterly adorable name, seems to publish the absolute most delightful books!

  22. Peggy says:

    Imen, congratulations I can’t wait to see your book as I love your blog!
    As for my favourite cut it would have to be the rump as I love to make a fondue vignerrone with it! Meat cooked in wine! Fabulous

  23. obryan worley says:

    I found your website after a visit to Ireland and now Feedly keeps me informed when you post. Have made many of your recipes and Pinned more. Can’t wait for the book – 2015 seems like a lifetime away. I eagerly await.

  24. Roisin says:

    Now that’s a book I’ll enjoy….your story of coming to Ireland is brilliant!
    Beef cheek, slow cooked, rich red wine sauce 😉
    Good luck with the writing.

  25. Jonena says:

    Congratulations!!! Enjoy every moment!

  26. Shaina says:

    I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of your book. I’ll be counting the days until I can hold it in my hands and let your life seep out from the pages, and I’m certain it will quickly become a favorite in my collection. Congratulations, Imen! May the months of writing and editing be filled with joy and wonder.

  27. Caitriona says:

    Congratulations Imen, delighted to hear of your new venture, I love your writing and style and your book is bound to be a big hit.
    Enjoy the journey too x

  28. Imen! I am so excited for you! You are such an incredible, incredible talent, and I cannot wait to read & cherish your book. Congratulations, darling girl!

    • imen says:

      Rosie, you are the BEST! Thank you sweetie. I adore everything you do so this is a big compliment for me. Looking forward to your book soon too sweetie!!!Imen xx

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