Yip, I’ll admit it.  I was once a bona fide corned beef-n-cabbage, green beer sipping girl. Each St. Patrick’s Day, without fail, me and a posse of friends would head out to at least one Irish pub each year on the 17th of March, and happily belly up to a hot paper plate of corned beef and watery cabbage with a side order of green tainted lager…or two {hic}.

It was a ritual, never gave much thought as to why we would do such a thing, we just did….and ohhh, was it fun. Fast forward to life in Ireland where the closest thing to corned beef is that chunk of spiced beef found in the supermarkets at Christmas time or another option resembling something very close to SPAM. My first truly Irish St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the farm probably confirmed my father in law’s suspicions that I was mad when I asked if he had ever eaten corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day. And, while I have come to grips with no longer enjoying corned beef served out of a Nesco on the Day, I have yet to work through the 5 stages of grieving my beloved corned beef and swiss on rye for lunch.

Nowadays, Paddy’s parties are a bit more civilized for myself and our family. We tend to go to the local afternoon parade and then come home and have our “tea” (tea = supper on the farm); a picnic of whatever cold cuts, cheeses, spreads, vegetables I’ve picked up from the farmer’s market along with a quick baked loaf of brown soda bread and a little dessert. I’ve written a piece for the Dean & Deluca Gourmet Food Blog about that first St. Patrick’s Day experience and also what delicious Irish eats we’ll have this year, have a look and see.

This weekend we also celebrate another holiday in Ireland: Mother’s Day! Yes, Mother’s Day is in March, not May on the craggy green isle. Therefore, I am entitled to two special days, in theory. Not so much on paper or in real life, but the option is there if ever a certain farmer would like to be generous {cough cough}.

One of the best parts about Spring in Ireland has to be fresh rhubarb. Rhubarb compote, rhubarb ice cream, rhubarb clafoutis, rhubarb cake, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb crumble and a personal favourite, my very special rhubarb pudding. This recipe for rhubarb pudding came about by happenstance a few years back when I realized I didn’t have oatmeal for my spring rhubarb-berry crumble to bring to the farm for Easter dinner. I had made the oaty version for Mother’s Day the first year I was here and everyone really loved it, especially Grandma whose compliments were ever so heartwarming. I was asked to bring it again for Easter that year, but that morning I suddenly realized we didn’t have the oats to make the crumbly part so I sub’d flour and came out with a cakey, cobbly, crispy on top, cray cray good rhubarb…umm, pudding.  I brought it to dinner and we ate it for dessert with dollops of vanilla yogurt and everyone said it was even better than the crumble. {yippee!}

I submitted my recipe which I named “Farmhouse Spring Pudding” to Sweet Paul magazine’s “Happy Dish” competition last month and he chose it for his Spring 2012 issue, which is online now! I am still pinching myself. I love, love, love reading Sweet Paul; his motto is “ chasing the sweet things in life” and the magazine always lives up to that….beautifully designed and filled with easy + elegant recipes, fun + stylish crafts, entertaining ideas, shopping tips and more.  Pour yourself a cup of tea and give it a good browse when you have some time. Here is a link to the recipe (mag photo and styling by Sweet Paul) and another link to the NY Times Diner’s Journal who also enjoyed reading about my “rhubarb cake”! Give it a go when your rhubarb roosts and let me know how you like it =)

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s & Mother’s Day!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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Baked Irish Porridge

03 Jan 2012

Happy New Year! You might have noticed a few wee changes here….what better time for new beginnings than the first week of the year, right?

In the spirit of fresh new starts, I’ve decided to make a small change to the title of this blog and from this day forward she will now be emblazoned: “farmette” {at I Married An Irish Farmer}. The farmer and I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it was time for a change…and in his words “We all know you married an Irish farmer now….isn’t that old news?” He’s right.

So, here’s the new news…

1. I have basically (umm, finally) settled into my role as ‘chief farmette’ here at the farm.


2. The little weekly column that I write is entitled “Tales of A Modern Farmette” and @ModernFarmette is also my handle on the ‘ould Twitterbox, so now everything will be all nice and tidy.  We likey nice-y and tidy.


3. The word “farmette” makes me smile. Nuff said.

For now, the web address will stay the same so you don’t have to remember a new one, eventually it will move to a new address and I will make sure that process is seamless.

I have also added two new pages on the right hand side:  “Settling In” and “Traditional Skills”. Both quick links to past blog posts with “Settling In” being a sort of pre-food round up of funny posts about adapting to my new life in the countryside, and “Traditional Skills”, a place for all those time-honoured skills that I have learned over the past 2 years, such as butter and cheese making, apple pressing, jam, bread, and honeybee posts. I will be adding new material to both pages as time goes on.

Roight. Enough with the housekeeping, swiftly moving on…

I had planned on starting off the year with theeee most wickedly decadent cake + pudding post, inspired by one too many viewings of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette over the holiday break, but decided to go with a healthier start…for a week or so anyway.

Baked porridge oats for brekky is one of the little farmer’s firm favourites. He loves it with brown sugar + massive amounts of cinnamon and Grandad’s honey. This morning we used Highbank Orchard Syrup, a boiled down apple syrup in place of the honey. Let’s just say it went over better than a new Phineas and Ferb episode. I discovered this gorgeous new product at Savour Kilkenny in October, and we will definitely keep a stock of it in the larder from here on out as it is perfect in porridge on a cold winter’s morning.

My {Quick and Easy} Baked Irish Porridge Oats


1 cup of Irish porridge oats (We love Kilbeggan Organic* best, now also available in the USA at Dean & Deluca in store and online)

2 cups of water or milk + 2-3 tablespoons milk

1 tsp boiled apple syrup or 2 tsp of honey

1-3 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp brown sugar


Bring the porridge oats and water or milk to a boil in a saucepan. Turn down heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Mix in a few tablespoons of milk, a teaspoon of Highbank Orchard Syrup (or any boiled apple syrup) and cinnamon to taste. Pour into an ovenproof ceramic baking dish, sprinkle top with 2 tbsp of brown sugar and place into 425f/210c oven* for 20 minutes or until brown sugar has bubbled and hardened on top slightly. Serve immediately.

*alternatively, if you have an oven with an overhead grill place under at 200c for 10-15 minutes

*Since posting, I rec’d an email that Kilbeggan Oats are now available in Stateside at Dean & DeLuca!

You can also use the coarser steel cut oats; just soak them in water overnight beforehand so they get nice and soft when cooked/baked in the morning.

Cheers to a wonderful 2012! If you have a spare moment, would love to hear your thoughts on “farmette” and other changes to the blog…you can leave a reply below.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

Photo and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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