Sunday Bits

05 Jul 2015


Aren’t Sundays sensational?

It’s just that Sunday is the one day of the week where we can all take a bit of time off (in between milking, of course) and simply exhale. After our commitments in the morning, I love to read the newspaper (online + paper versions), a few pages of any new magazines or books that have been stacking up on my nightstand (currently Porter, White Goats & Black Bees, Garden & Gun, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying…ahhh, too many to list!) or catch up on emails, blogs, Pinterest, make some Skype calls to the USA. As a family, we’ll do some weeding (i.e. meditation), play some American football catch (yes, me too), watch a hurling match, and I usually prepare a proper Sunday lunch for anyone who wants to drop by. From morning to evening, Sunday is my absolute favorite day of the week.

So, in the spirit of Sunday and all the bacchanalia that it brings to my attention, and in keeping with various requests to post a wee bit more, I am happy to share some people/places/things that have inspired me this week. I will make this a regular blog feature and look forward to it, the best thing in this whole business is sharing ideas and forging friendships along the way….I love this kind of thing so I hope you do too.


I realllly want to visit Sophie at Mandagery Farm and attend one of her beautiful Farm Kitchen Lunches…

My Lens & Larder partner, Cliodhna Pendergast’s incredible children’s cooking films, Breaking Eggs are currently being featured in the Irish Times online, so much fun!

Pure Green Juice delivered a 3 day detox/cleanse to me today, I will report back on the results, but how wonderful to have a new Irish raw juice company available!

Ice cream! The first photo above is my little experiment with poppyseed vanilla bean ice cream made with farm fresh cream, mooooo!….the recipe is here if you fancy trying it

The most beautiful Irish crafted cutting boards, Two Wooden Horses, have opened their online shop

The Gathered Table is a fantastic concept with loads of weekly meal inspo

We’ve been listening to the Chopped podcast lately (when I say we, I mean anyone who is trapped in the jeep or tractor with me for any extended amount of time), it’s very conversational, and also really touches on some interesting food blogging tips like how to use Snapchat as a food blogger, how to improve your SEO, creative ways to grow your audience, tips on food photography and more….including interviews with professionals like Matt Armendiaz and many top US food bloggers.

Recently I was fortunate to have dinner at Skye Gyngell’s dreamy Spring restaurant in London, which was a positively heavenly experience with regard to both food and ambience. Of course, the company wasn’t bad, Claire and Cliodhna, but the food was so remarkably fresh it felt like it was literally coming from my own kitchen garden (something about food feeling like it came from steps from your own garden is magnificent and divulging in a feast like this in such a beautifully appointed, clean, dare I say, regal dining room was really a special treat for me!) everything was absolutely in step with the season. Do nip in for lunch or dinner if you are near Somerset House. Unforgettable.

According to Andrea Gentl’s insta-feed, the great Julia Turshen has a new book coming out soon, and I for one, cannot wait!

We hosted a small dinner party here a couple of weekends ago and for pre-dinner cocktail, I prepared Susan Spungen’s Pink Sangria from her Strawberries Short Stack Edition book. It went over a storm and is one of those recipes that will be made again and again. Try it!

I’m loving 31 Chapel Lane in London, lovely purveyors of Irish linens for the home and kitchen with roots to an Irish farm.

Did you know that Ashley of Not Without Salt’s amazing salted choccy chip cookie mix is available at Sur La Table? Well, they are! I wish they shipped to Ireland! Will get some when we travel to America again later this summer.

Ooooh this is really fun, do I have to stop? I didn’t think so.

Have you ever really wanted to “unplug” and can’t resist spending time on the internet? MacFreedom will free you! Amazing for productivity; even on the farm we find it easy to get sucked into too much social media time, but it’s hard to resist when you only have a herd of cows as your supervisors. Check it out. 

In keeping with the above, we’ve recently also discovered Headspace, an amazing meditation app. Ommmm. (although weeding works remarkably well too)

My hedgerow martini photo inspired by my friends at Ballyvolane House was featured by the amazing Susan Zelouf in this week’s The Gloss. Also, that leather apron!!!!


And, last but not least, our cows with hearts on their heads make our hearts swell, and a few other snaps from the holiday weekend. 2. Geoffrey “building a lake” at Ballyheigue Beach. 3. Our annual seafood boil at the farm….featuring Kerry crabs and Cork sausages with a side of crisp Orpen cider!





I hope you enjoy, more soon!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx









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Holiday Gingerbread

08 Dec 2011

I love gingerbread at this time of the year. Not the cookies. Not the houses. The kind of gingerbread which is more like a cake or a loaf. The kind of gingerbread that you slather deep and thick with homemade butter. Sweet, but not too sweet…more like a tea cake. In my producing days, a post production house in London once sent me a holiday gift of Grasmere gingerbread and the memory of that flavour still lingers on. In fact, it has persuaded me to bake at least one batch of gingerbread for the holidays each year here at the farm.

Since I was doing a charity butter-making demo last evening in Tipperary, I decided it would be festive to bake up some gingerbread to bring along to share with the audience. Once I had the honey-rum butter made, it could be lashed onto squares of gingerbread and passed around the audience. The response was overwhelming. The recipe requested. I was going to post about mince pies today, but they will have to politely wait their turn until next week.

In other news, I am crazy thrilled to announce the first of 3 holiday giveaways that I am doing on the blog this year. Weeee, I feel like Oprah! Giving is far superior than receiving at Christmas, such a wonderful feeling.

So, first up, with a million thanks to Pat Whelan, and following on in the spirit of celebrating Tipperary Food, is a FIRST CLASS BUTCHERY COURSE at James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel, County Tipperary on 21st of February at 6:30PM.  You will join myself and 10 other students to learn all about the meat, where it comes from, how and when it is used along with a range of hands-on butchery skills. James Whelan butchers are fully trained skillful professionals, well-versed in all aspects of cutting meat and the aging process. An in-depth insight into the techniques of cutting beef, lamb, pork and bacon will be covered on the evening.

During our summer in America, I was inspired by so many brilliant artisan butchery classes on offer around the USA that I really wished I could have participated in….now here’s my chance, and yours! Leave a comment below and I will be drawing a name next week.

My Holiday Gingerbread

350g/2 1/3 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

3-4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp allspice

8 globes preserved stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

125g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

100g/ 1/2 cup light muscovado sugar (brown sugar can substitute)

50g caster sugar

225g/ 3/4 cup golden syrup {there really is no substitute for this recipe}

1 organic egg, beaten

75ml/3 oz milk

Grease and line a loaf tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320F)/fan140°C/gas 3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and allspice. Set aside. Chop 4 globes of the ginger and add to the flour mixture. Finely slice the remainder and set aside.

Melt the butter, sugar(s) and golden syrup in a small pan. Set aside to cool slightly (this should take about 15 minutes)

Beat the egg and milk together. Stir the cooled syrup into the dry ingredients, followed by the egg and milk and beat well. Spoon into the tin and arrange the remaining ginger overlapping on top. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours until just firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy warm with lashings of butter and a cup of tea, coffee or a big glass of cold milk.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell


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