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. It looks like an absolutely delightful book, beautiful photography as well. I found your blog during a search for Irish bloggers; I’m planning a trip to Ireland…so exciting for me.

  2. Suzie B says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Imen…I have just found your wonderful site&what a surprise it’s been….loved reading about Nessa’s book having cared for my mum who’s sadly passed, I would have found ‘home nurse’ invaluable,its lovely to find a beautifull cook book full of nurturing tips&advice, the elderly&sick are often forgotten!…

  3. Kim says:

    Thanks for sharing and the cookbook offer! Enjoy your site

  4. Aoife says:

    The cookbook sounds absolutely go hálainn (more or less irish for ‘lovely’). I want one!

  5. Tracy Dowds says:

    Looks like such a lovely book!

  6. What a lovely book. So REAL!

  7. Laura says:

    Have never heard of this book–it sounds lovely. I am going to add to my wish list–and then wait to see if I win it! Thanks!

  8. e g bryant says:

    Lovely as always. Enjoyed all the newsy bits.

  9. Marilou says:

    Would loved copy of Apron Strings! Imen, I love your blog….always interesting!

  10. Evangeline says:

    Would love to enter for this, please–it sounds like just my sort of book, if you don’t mind shipping as far as Kathmandu!

    By the way, I just discovered your blog and am so in love!

  11. ellen townson says:

    Well, Imen, you always have great taste, so I went out and had the book delivered to me here in Boston, and I love it! The beef and potato lasagna was a big hit in my house. and the honey roasted fruit parcels were amazing on the grill during this hot summer! I never would have found this book were it not for your blog posting, so thank you very much for discovering it for your readers!

  12. Janet says:

    I hope this is still open to win. I would love to be entered. Thanks. Looks like a beauty of a book 🙂

  13. Amanda says:

    Imen, your description won me over – – – I especially like that the author included meals for convalescing. Sounds like a wonderful book – – – please add me to the draw!

  14. Caitlin says:

    Looks like a book I need.

  15. Julie says:

    Looks lovely, particularly like the design and use of graph paper for the ginger bread recipe. A throwback to my leaving certificate student days!

  16. All that going on about how wonderful you’ve made this book sounds & I didn’t even throw my name in the hat. *throws name in hat* Ok, name officially in hat.

  17. Jennifer O'R says:

    Sounds like a true gem of a book to be handed down to the next generation! Thanks for featuring it on your blog as I don’t think I would have come across it otherwise. Really enjoy your blog!! God bless.

  18. Maura says:

    Hi, Please count me in to win a copy of this lovely book, love reading your blog, it gets my Irish roots tingling! My family came fron Mayo.

  19. Lisa M. says:

    That book looks wonderful and would really add some heart to my growing, post-university collection. Thanks for sharing!

  20. elizabeyta says:

    I do believe I am going searching for this cookbook. And because of the link from Local Milk, I may have found an interesting new blog! 🙂

  21. Just discovered your blog today – really look forward to dipping into your archive and following your blog and trying some recipes. A copy of Nessa’s book would be an added bonus!

  22. staci says:

    Looks like a great cookbook. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Jennifer says:

    Have been following Nessas blog etc for a long time,big fan.would love to win a copy!

  24. Jenny Keane says:

    This book looks magical * * * It would make me so happy to have a copy. Love reading about stuff like this on your blog!

  25. Oooops! How came I did not see this before? Of course, I’ll love to have a copy of the book. Looks amazing.
    Have a lovely summer.

  26. Orla O'Brien says:

    Hey Imen,

    This looks so fab – the perfect book to get me re-excited about cooking!
    I’d love to own it,
    Orla. 🙂

  27. Tasneem says:

    This book looks lovely. I will probably end up buying it even if I do win as a gift for my mother.

  28. Betsy says:

    Would love to have a copy of this beautiful book!

  29. Roisin Hickey says:

    Looks wonderful!

  30. Tom A says:

    Another great read – the blog that is, and hopefully the book too!

  31. Looks lovely, having spent the last ten days at home, with wonderful fruit and vegetables in the garden, and a kitchen full of appliances and spices, I know I am really going to miss Ireland this time. (Of course I always miss the people!) But I am looking forward to being in a house with my own appliances and, most excitingly, my Kenwood chef which has been sitting in a box for three years and is finally joining.
    The book looks lovely too!

  32. Sinead O'Callaghan says:

    What a great book and what wonderful photos on your blog xx

  33. Wow Imen what a wonderful description of Nessa’s book. Definitely another must have for my collection. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

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