Apron Strings

07 Aug 2013



is a scratch-made girl who swears by using wholesome, honest ingredients. she is genuinely endearing….salt of the earth, if you will.  you want to eat and linger in her kitchen for days surrounded by sweet children soaking up every bit of tender love in the air. you want to watch butterflies and pick berries in her garden and then sit outside for tea and tart al fresco. she radiates a supreme goodness, yet has absolutely no pretense…….she’d make me a damn fine neighbour.

This is Nessa Robins.


When I opened my copy of Nessa’s beautiful new cookery book, Apron Strings, I read it through from top to tail. This was not an entirely easy task given the fact that I was in wellies mucking out a shed in between chapters. The book embraced me, much like Nessa’s personal warmth. I went into the kitchen and immediately made a comforting crock of her potato soup for everyone. Not just any Irish potato soup; a savoury + spicy white onion, potato and chorizo number. It was pure velvet heaven on a drizzly, fresh day.


I am sorry if this seems a bit heavy handed, but the truth is, I can’t say enough about how special this cookery book is…..I mean, there is a chapter called Home Nurse. Emmmm, can I move in for a weekend, Nessa?


For the record, this is not a review. We bought Nessa’s book; and will buy a few more before the holidays. However, her publisher has generously offered to give away a copy to a fortunate reader. If you are interested in being in the draw, please leave a comment below. Of course, will ship domestic or international. {If you are not chosen to win, you can buy Nessa’s book here or here}

Other quick bits of bacchanalia to share…

The very first Ballymaloe Garden Festival is on Aug 31-Sep 1st. We are hoping to attend; maybe will see you there?

Our short film, Small Green Fields, has applied for an Arthur Guinness Project grant to produce a feature length version…will the big dogs support a small dog? We will have to wait and see….you can vote here if you like.

Does anyone else use Eden knives? I recently bought two and they have changed my world in the kitchen. Would love to hear other experiences with this {new to me} brand.

Expedia recently asked me to review their new travel app. Since I don’t do formal reviews on this blog, I declined, but I will give it a mention it here as we frequently use Expedia for booking our travel to America and the app will surely come in handy.

Still going gaga over Toonsbridge Dairy water buffalo cheeses that I picked up at the Milk Market over the weekend, you can find it in the The Real Olive Oil Co. stall.

My friend, Niamh Shields, is writing a new BACON book and needs our support, here is a link to her Kickstarter campaign for Project: Bacon

Food 52’s Provisions has opened it’s virtual doors! I am coveting more than a few items in stock….

Oh, the Irish Blog Awards are coming up. They are accepting nominations from Irish diaspora this year too so if you are Irish and living abroad with a blog there is now a category for you.

Listening: Jake Bugg

Insta-loving: @dashandbella {Dash and Bella blog}

Hope you are all enjoying the summer.

Next post: An Irish Country House Tea…and a very special berry pie

Slan Abhaile,


Photos of book by Imen McDonnell 2013. Nessa Robins did all of her own photography for the book.


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221 Responses to “Apron Strings”

  1. eliza says:

    would love to get my hands on a copy!

  2. Anica Lancuski says:

    If this book impressed you that much, with all your inspirations and ever-lasting country-side recipes, I would be delighted to read it! I find it very thoughtful to add few lines for persons in illness (I have never seen it in a regular cook-book!) and her introduction is very touching…

  3. Patricia Maloney says:

    Looks like a very good book 🙂

  4. Tirabaralla says:

    Would LOVE to be able to read this 🙂
    Thank you for an interesting review!

  5. Crystal Mazzali says:

    Cookbooks are just one of those things… You cannot have enough! I will be adding this to my list for sure. Thanks for sharing a great find.

  6. Lise H says:

    The book looks gorgeous, absolutely fab!! 😀

  7. Ann MacNamara says:

    Have to have a copy of this book win or loose!!

  8. Helen Healy says:

    I love cookery book’s and would love this one to add to my collection. Going to follow your blog in future.

  9. Anne Gannon says:

    What an inviting book cover, can’t wait tp open up my own copy!

  10. Sandra Mulhall says:

    Read about Nessa in the Farmers Journal. Would love this book for my Mam 🙂

  11. I love trying out new cooking ideas and would love to win this book I have a little bit of time on my hands love the title and book cover

  12. This book looks as if it could be inspirational for me and encourage me to prepare known recipes more skilfully and try new ones more successfully!

  13. Mary-Anne Barry says:

    One for me to recommend to the book club and for me to cook with 🙂 we read and bake yummy food.

  14. Adele O'Connor says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book & go on your journey with you!

  15. Alicia says:

    Looks totally divine and its sounds like one of those books that you want to curl up with in a chair and a cuppa of tea and just read, bookmark which recipes to make…then uncurl and start cooking for everyone. Thank you for telling us about it. 🙂

  16. kim says:

    great site! throwing my name into the hat.

  17. Ann-Marie says:

    The book looks amazing!! It looks as though a ton of work went into it – it’s so beautiful. It would definitely have pride of place on my kitchen shelf!

  18. aisling says:

    your book sounds great cant wait to read it xx


    Looks amazing!!♡♥

  20. Niamh says:

    What a beautiful blog/site! Am currently living abroad and am getting a bit nostalgic here… would love the book to remind me of home and keep me on the straight and narrow in terms of good quality, comforting home-cooked food Looks like every house that can call itself a real home should have a copy!!

  21. David Waters says:

    Looks good!!!!…….In it to win it!!!!

  22. StacieJayne says:

    I would love a copy!

  23. emer says:

    Would love to try a copy of this book please – looks very interesting!

  24. Lindsay says:

    I would love a copy of the book! Thank you for sharing about it.

  25. Alison Coffey says:

    The book looks amazing. Would love a copy.

  26. Stephanie B says:

    Oh goodness! That book looks wonderful–I had to do a double take on one of the photos- The photo of the gentleman with the gray hat and the little girl in red. I could almost swear it was of my father! Now I can really see the Irish in my heritage. 🙂 I love cooking and family and friends and this book has it all. Glad to hear you’ll ship internationally too– I’d love to win. Cheers!

    • imen says:

      Oh how sweet! That is Nessa’s father. Thank you for your lovely comment, your name is in the draw! Imen x

  27. Deirdre Cloughley says:

    I have heard about Nessa’s book on twitter, and your glowing descriptions make me want to have it and to meet her. Lucky you with such sweet friends. Love stopping by your blog from time to time as I’m Irish in the US and blown away every day by the wonderful Irish food renaissance. Thanks for keeping us informed.


  28. Susan says:

    This looks to be a beautiful book and full of wonderful things to make. I especially love the preview page for “Home Nurse”. Please let us know where and how we can order a copy.

  29. CeliaB says:

    Would love a copy of that lovely book!

  30. Sarah says:

    I love the way you described the cookbook! It seems so lovely and just the kind of nuturing recipe and settings that I so enjoy seeing and creating!

  31. carol frederick says:

    You had me at potato soup! this sounds like a book i would like to add to my collection.

  32. Anne Macaulay says:

    Sounds fabulous, like a recipe book with that little bit extra. Heard lots of good things about it, but yet to get a glimpse.
    Nice post and I adore your photography!!

  33. That book sounds wonderful. If I don’t win I’ll definitely find a copy here stateside.

  34. Paula H says:

    Oh, this looks lovely!

  35. Hi Imen,

    Thanks for sharing Nessa’s wonderful book. It’s on my wishlist!

    It’s an achievement to stay sane in a busy household and anybody who can produce a book at the same time deserves all your praise and more. I hadn’t come across Nessa or her blog before today but will enjoy it from now on.

    I love the international-Irish twist in your blog. The words, images and recipes keep me going between visits back to Ireland.

    All my best

  36. Mary says:

    I would love to receive a copy of Nessa’s book. I just love her! And now I am so happy that I have found your blog too. Just delightful. 🙂

  37. Patti says:

    Nessa’s book looks lovely. I enjoyed her promotional video on YouTube. What beautiful children she has.

  38. Melissa says:

    Hi Imen!
    You have a beautiful blog and your posts never disappoint. I find your blog inspiring and practical for a regular home cook or baker (me). Thanks for sharing Nessa’s new book, I love a good cook book!
    Best wishes,

  39. Melissa says:

    Hi Imen!
    You have a beautiful blog and your posts never disappoints. I find your blog inspiring and practical to the at home cook or baker (me). Thanks for sharing Nessa’s new book, I love a good cook book!
    Best wishes,

  40. I WIlkerson says:

    What greater recommendation than a book so engrossing it can’t be left behind even “mucking out a shed!” I just had to put my name in the draw…

  41. Sammy says:

    Oh what a beautiful and enticing looking book….I can’t wait to have one on my coveted cookbook shelf!

  42. Alice says:

    Saw these gorgeous pics on your IG feed Imen. So very beautiful, as always!

  43. Krista says:

    Nessa sounds absolutely lovely. The Nurse excerpt sounds so caring and gentle and compassionate and loving. No wonder you love this book so much. 🙂

  44. Neasa says:

    Imen, I saw this book in my local bookshop yesterday and immediately thought of your blog and wholesomeireland.com (if you don’t read Catriona’s blog you should, it’s great) – It is brilliant to see so many cooks/chefs/bloggers talking about and using Irish produce and giving things a new twist. The book is out of my budget at the moment but if I am not lucky enough to win it, it will be on my Christmas wish list for sure!

  45. Joan says:

    What a lovely cookbook. I can picture myself savoring each page much the way I do each of your posts.

  46. Hannah says:

    I am quite new to your blog but am really enjoying seeing your beautiful photos and your thoughtful blogs. This new book looks SO beautiful.

  47. June says:

    Hi Imen. Gorgeous review of Apron Strings – looking forward to getting a look at it. I’ve tried several times to vote for SGF on the Guinness site but it just keeps bringing me round in circles – every time I press the “Vote” button it asks me to log in. I know my vote hasn’t been counted as the total number hasn’t gone up. Best of luck with it! June.

    • imen says:

      Hi June, thank you for trying to vote for SGF and sorry it didn’t work out =( I’ve put your name in the draw! Imen x

  48. Christine (cpc30) says:

    Hi Imen
    I have said it a few times before but I adore your blog, there are times when it has made me laugh and others when it has brought tears to my eyes. At times when I am missing Ireland so so much I open your blog and re read a few posts that always make me feel better. My Dad & Step Mum had been over here for six months but have now returned to Ireland and I miss them terribly, there are times when you write about incidents and conversations that make me laugh and cry at the same time as they are so true to Irish country folk that I can imagine myself in my parents house listening to the same conversations and watching the same recipes come to life. Nessa’s book sounds fantastic and I will be asking friends who are going back to Ireland for Christmas to bring me back a copy.
    Thanks again Imen for sharing your recipes, stories and life with us.
    Christine xx

    • imen says:

      Aww Christine, you should really get this book either way. It’s for sale on Amazon and the Book Depository too. Thank you for your lovely comment, your name is in the draw! Imen x

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