Sunday Bits

10 Aug 2015


I know, it’s Monday, not Sunday. And, that photo up there is not food, nor farm, but of our recent expedition to the rope bridge on the Northern Coast of Ireland in the blowing wind and rain. See those little people in yellow slickers? (Black Dog Martha’s Vineyard, the best!) they are Richard and Geoffrey making their valiant crossing…..yes, you can cue a little Wes Anderson film theme music now ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯.

I really wanted to try and do these posts every Sunday, and apologies, I’m finding it’s just is not working out that way. We’ve been chockablock busy here (like everyone else, right?). Fine tuning things on the farm and staycationing because we couldn’t travel to the USA this summer due to farm demands (massive sob session, followed by a good ‘ole Irish “get on with it”).

We are also now in the process of fine tuning my book; I will be getting full proofs from ROOST in the next two weeks, it’s really all happening people! (For those that are not following along on other various social media platforms where I am VERY chatty, my publishing date was pushed back to March 17th, 2016. Yes, that is St. Patrick’s Day, and 2016 also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, so will be quite a remarkable time for my book to be released) The date got pushed because of a Random House (who prints/distributes) new timeline policy with illustrated cookbooks. I have seen a few pages of the interior design and I have to say I am really proud and blown away by the creative direction. The designer also just worked on the new Vermont Country Store Cookbook (squeal!) amongst others, have a look at her work if you’re interested.

Okay, sidetracked! These posts are supposed to be less about my life and more about others, so without further adieu, here are some things that have tickled my fancy over the last couple of weeks…..


Freckle. So, we staycationed on the North Coast of Ireland (my husband’s family ancestral home is Dunluce Castle in Bushmills, crazy!) last week, and I hope to contribute a magazine piece about our AMAZING experience, but until then you’ll see a few bits here. I stumbled upon Freckle magazine while having an incredible meal at Harry’s Beach Shack in Portstewart, County Derry. Freckle is one of those totally warm and fuzzy beautifully curated thick paper matte mags, and this one focuses on visual stories of kindred people and the rugged landscapes of Northern Ireland. Worth seeking out.

The Irish brown bread at Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, County Limerick. HOLYThe Mustard Seed is a restaurant and inn housed in a former convent, so it’s only fitting that this creation is absolutely heavenly.  I popped in for tea and left with a fresh-out-of-the oven loaf of their signature brown bread thanks to the ever-charming  maître d’, John Edward. The sweet, nutty fragrance took over the jeep* on the way home and I am not ashamed to admit that I had to break off a piece halfway through the journey to nibble on because I couldn’t make it home without doing so! If you haven’t dined or stayed at the Mustard Seed, it is truly a MUST when visiting the southwest of Ireland.

Cheerz Polaroids. Pick and choose your favourite Instagram images to be printed vintage Polaroid style, in glossy or matte. I had so much fun with this! Leave a comment to be in the draw for a collection of your own, I will choose 2-3 winners who will each receive a voucher for free prints.


Pudding Row, Sligo.  Darling Dervla James, co-founder of the hugely successful Pepper Pot Café in Dublin, has returned to her hometown, the picturesque Easkey Village, to set up Pudding Row Café along with her husband Johny Conlon and daughter Edith in tow. I can’t wait to visit.

 This Char-grilled salad is the epitome of summer to me, thanks Phyllis!

Pasta with Benefits? This new Irish plant-based pasta brand sent me a sample and it was actually really quite good. Gluten-free pastas usually aren’t too great, but do give this one a go if you’re Ireland based.

Isn’t this just the prettiest dress ever?  Draper James.  (Thank you kindly Reese Witherspoon!)

We are looking at this farm management software program, does anyone have any experience with it, or would anyone like to recommend another program for us? If not, we may just have to design our own. (slim pickings)

Clandeboye Estate YoghurtFor the packaging alone, but the fresh ingredients and utter creaminess of this Northern Irish yoghurt sure measures up to that gorgeous artwork on the seal.


Our lovely friends, the Gastronomic Duo, are back in action after a move from Seattle to the wilds of Bozman, Montana. They’ll even come cook for you, here’s an example menu (WHOA).  Best of success Lori and Justin, we hope to visit one day!

Just a little reminder that myself and the little farmer will be doing our butter thang at this years’ Electric Picnic so please come along if you can get there! We are delighted to be using gorgeous Glenisk organic cream for the demonstration and you will get a voucher to go home and do a little DIY too.  If butter is not your thing, then check out all of the other incredible food “acts” at John and Sally McKenna’s brilliantly tasty brainchild, the Theatre of Food.


Naomi from Farm to Table Feasts featured my Lens & Larder partner, Cliodhna Prendergast on her blog recently, super lovely interview.

Here’s the welcoming purple pink bovine Shanid castle sunset that we came home to on our return from the North….always good to be home.  Moooooo.


Back soon,

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

(Photos by Imen McDonnell 2015. *Jeep, in Ireland every vehicle that is an SUV or pickup truck is simply referred to as a “jeep”, so despite the fact that our SUV is not a Jeep brand, it is called a jeep. There you have it!)

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17 Responses to “Sunday Bits”

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  2. Krista says:

    I’m always so glad when you blog. 🙂 I love seeing your gorgeous pictures and hearing all the bits and pieces from your life. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    Is there a recipe for the brown bread? My great grandmother had a recipe that we use and refer to as “Grandma’s brown bread” and bake every Christmas. I’m wondering if it’s at all similar. Would love to try the Irish version. Thanks!

  4. Jw says:

    We mad it to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge one day after it closed on our once in a life time trip! Glad to see your boys made it. Wow you’re husband’s ancestral home is Dunluce Castle. We Loved that Castle. Such amazing stone work.

  5. Now I have another reason to look forward to St. Patrick’s Day! I love your blog, whether about food or not. I have to live the Irish life vicariously until I can actually make it over there myself.

  6. Sara says:

    Personally, I love it when you talk about your life. Some day I hope to see Ireland up close but in the meantime, I feel like I can live vicariously through you.

  7. Katherine says:

    I have been talking about having a go on that rope bridge for years, will have to take a trip North soon. Glad to hear the Pepper Pot lady hasn’t hung up her wooden spoon, hope she is bringing the bacon, pear and cheese sandwich to Sligo!

  8. Debbie says:

    Love your blog and photos. Happy to learn via above about the Vermont Country store cookbook. I grew up going to that store every summer vacation! Very much looking forward to your beautiful book as well. I downloaded the Cheerz app and it looks like a lot of fun. With our 30th anniversary party coming up it seems the perfect way to preserve those memories. I,too, am an American “prisoner of love”, as we jokingly say, here in the Netherlands for 29 years and still going strong.
    Debbie in Den Haag

  9. Lisa Silver says:

    I was lucky to have stumbled upon your blog about 2 months ago and have enjoyed reading each post. Between the photos and the recipes, I’m enamored. Thank you for sharing.

  10. What a beautiful sunset back on the farm! Ireland is lovely. Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of it with us, your avid readers! xo

  11. Heather McLaughlin says:

    So glad you were able to try out Harry’s Shack! It’s amazing isn’t it? My husband and I live just down the street from the original Harry’s and love going there for special occasions. Sounds like you enjoyed your trip along the north coast. We just drove from Donegal and took the coastal route to Ballycastle yesterday as a little birthday trip. I love it out there 🙂

    Anyway, as a fellow American living in Ireland I’ve always loved your blog! Those instagram poloroids look so fun! I’m a photographer so would love to try them out! Xx

  12. Cheerz Imen! A lovely “printed” giveaway indeed! Better still, your jam-packed post from Wes Craven bridge walks to Cliodhna’s interview. I’m drooling. And the funny bit is that my 16-year-old son drives a 10-year-old “jeep” and when he leaves home, I dream of it becoming mine to pretend I live on a farm.

  13. Natalie says:

    We just came back from a mini-moon along the Wild Atlantic Way! Very rainy Irish summer weather but very much enjoyed our own little trip. The Polaroid instagram prints from Cheerz look brilliant and I would love to try them!

  14. lovely article, as usual!
    i’d love to try those yoghurts, they look delicious.
    and those polaroïd style images are so cool!

  15. Lucy says:

    Totally inspiring me to take a trip up north soon!!! Would love to win some free prints and send out to old friend. X lucy

  16. Peggy says:

    Oh Imen, you are a very busy bee! Hope you enjoyed your staycation. Northern Ireland is beautiful, it just needs a bit more sunshine this year!!

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