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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Ballymaloe Balloons

07 Feb 2012

I know, I know, yet another sinfully caloric, overly indulgent, sugary, post. Yes, but this time I have an excuse: Kiddos! We made these up on a Saturday morning after a little farmer’s sleepover and they went down a storm.

While my experiments in Irish baking seem to know no bounds, I like to think they are for the greater good as the fruits of my baking are ultimately bestowed upon hungry farmer bellies. While my amazing mother-in-law, Peggy, still prefers to prepare the large daily dinner feast for the men on the farm each afternoon, I contribute by way of baked goods and puddings. A win-win for all. We get to nibble a bit and then share with others. I have become convinced that baking and sharing is the key to a happy life.

These “Ballymaloe Balloons” were originally created by legendary Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House. They have since made their way into to both Darina and Rachel Allen’s kitchens + cookery book repertoires. They are quick and easy to make as they don’t include yeast so no need to raise dough, plus you don’t need a deep fryer, you can simply use a frying pan and flip them when golden. Roll em’ in sugar & cinnamon and serve immediately.

I am super excited to announce another fun giveaway, perfectly suited for this wintery time of year. A new Irish brand that I find innovative, creative annnnnnnd practical: Slugs & Snails tights for boys! I stumbled upon these beauties a few months ago and they made me wish I had a baby boy again. Slugs & Snails are a small family run business, which started in 2008 with the birth of their son, Noah. Living in an old house, atop a cold windy hill on the west coast of Ireland, keeping Kat’s newborn baby boy warm was a priority, and tights were the obvious solution, yet she simply couldn’t find any tights designed for little boys.

No stranger to farm living either, Kat and her family bought a farm in 2007 and have raised a pig, chickens and look after their vibrant veggie patch. Couple her country living background with the fact that she has used PacMan ghosts for one of her designs, and I immediately had to order a pair for my nephew-in-law!

Simply said, they ROCK.

PS. Girls can wear em too =)

Leave a comment below to win two free pairs of Slugs & Snails tights for boys, perfect for your baby boy or for a baby shower gift. Kat will ship internationally.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen. Styling by Geoffrey McDonnell and his sweet little hand 2012.

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18 Aug 2011

Yes, we went to the Irish Fair, and yes, we had a lovely….noteworthy time {incl. a very odd introduction to “Irish Nachos”}

But, then we packed up, headed east and, as is always the case when I reach my hometown, time seems to stand still and so do we. Will be travelling back to Ireland on the 28th where I will hit the ground running with a number of events in which to attend and/or participate, if you are in Ireland or planning a trip in early September please come along!

August 30th Food Summer School feat. Alice Waters & Darina Allen, Brooklodge Hotel

September 4th Electric Picnic, Theatre of Food, {Farmhouse Butter Making + Cooking Demo}

September 5th, Outstanding in the Field, Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork

September 10th, GIY Gathering, Waterford Royal Theatre {Farmhouse Butter Making Demo}

Normal foodie posts will resume once we are back on the farm….until then, we will be dallying on the dunes.

Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen McDonnell

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