Friday, 25 October 2013

A new place to bake...

We arrive off the ferry at Dublin Port. We're looking for the N4 to Sligo (Sligeach). A few twists & turns later, we're on the right route and on our way.

Driving in the dead of night is not one of my favourite things to do and less so when I'm not the one driving.
3 hours later we arrive at our destination; Derroon, Ballymote, Co. Sligo, ROI.
The night ferry crossing was a little rough and Luke didn't take kindly to that, the poor thing was sea sick, 'next time we're flying' he says to his Grandad as we pull up in front of the bungalow.

Usually the first thing to hit you is the smell of peat being burnt in the hearth, but this time there's no hearth burning.

We unload the car, pour a drink and sit ourselves down;

'Cheers, to Uncle Anthony', then it's off to bed, it's been a very long day.

8:30am Saturday - the sounds of the cows lowing wakes you.

...wake up call...

... you don't get this in Stockport...

The Picnic basket is the first port of call for breakfast, Mary serves up a Full Irish complete with soda bread and white pudding, it's delicious and sets you up for the day.

From there we wander up and down Ballymote high street, having a nosey in the toy and furniture shops and stocking up on newspapers and activity books. Well when there's no TV or internet you have to entertain yourself somehow.

We stop off at Carrownanty Cemetery. I couldn't make it to Uncle Anthony's funeral in March so it seems only right for me to pay my respects now.
It's hard at first, the hearth is cold, no peat burning in the fire, he's not sat in his chair by the hearth, there's no smiling face or cheeky school boy giggle.

 I wander around the barn and cattle shed, the sites, sounds and smells (mainly of manure) reminding me of the last time I was here;

'Eeeewww, I've got cow poo on my hand' - one of my sister's shouted as we tried to take a photo in the barn, this is back in 1997 when we all visited together. There was no chance after that, we were all doubled over laughing.

Well, our first day has been quite relaxed, we were all keen to get over our, almost, 12 hour car & ferry journey that brought us here. Take away pizza ordered, wine and ale poured & Luke sets us up for a game of Monopoly, he's keen to maintain his winning streak...and he does...3 hours later he has wiped us all's time for bed.

Sunday morning, we're up, breakfasted and ready to go. The weather is a little wet (nothing to be shocked about, we are in Ireland after all), but we're not going to let that dampen our pun intended.

'We'll drive over to Strand Hill, if it's bad over there we can just come back'.

Thankfully the weather is much calmer over at Strand Hill.

Popular with surfers. They come from all over for the best waves in Ireland.

'I'm king of the world'.

Me? I'm much happier to have a gentle walk through the long grass watching Luke run up and down the dunes. I'll leave the surfing to the professionals.

After a coffee stop on the beach front we head over to Rosses Point and take a walk along the beach.

Luke and his Grandad go crab hunting among the rocks...whilst I play with the pebbles.

...big waterfall...

Then it's back in the car and a drive over to Glencar Waterfall.

Such a contrast from the wide open space of the beach. The lush greenery of the rolling hills and lush green fields around the falls.

...little waterfall...

You can see why they call it The Emerald Isle.

All this fresh air is giving us a rather large appetite.
We drive back to Strand Hill for a lovely Sunday lunch at The Venue. An absolutely gorgeous pub with beautiful views of the beach, and the food is amazing, Luke can vouch for that...

Suitably stuffed it's time to head home...for another game of Monopoly...which Luke wins...again.

Monday morning, no alarm clocks going off, I can't tell you how nice that felt. We're off out shopping today to buy in baking utensils for this afternoon's scones bake.

I was lucky enough to be left this beautiful tea set, so thought I'd bake something to show it off.

Scones aren't exactly Irish but I thought afternoon tea was a nice idea.

Plain Scones - adapted from a recipe for Lavendar scones I nabbed from Pinterest...there's that word again.

2 cups of plain flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsps butter, cubed
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar.
In a separate bowl beat together one egg and the milk. Stir into the flour mixture until a sticky dough is formed. Handling it too much will turn the dough into a sticky I found out. Add more flour if this happens to you.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough out until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out 3" rounds. I know the flower edges are a little old fashioned but I love that side of the cutter.
Beat the remaining egg and wash the tops.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until scones have browned on top.
Serve! With lashings of jam and cream, a good cup of tea and a cheeky glass of pink champagne...


As was the end of our trip...a lovely relaxing final day of wandering round town and stocking up on soda bread and other goodies to bring home.

It was a much better ferry crossing on the Wednesday afternoon...even Luke thought so. Our next trip can't come soon enough!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Double chocolate brownies, lemon brownies & Ferry Fair

This last weekend (9th August) I was in Edinburgh. My sister (and my gorgeous nephew) live in South Queensferry. It's beautiful, such a lovely, quiet seaside town. This weekend was Ferry Fair.

This weekend was lovely. Nice and relaxed, fab weather and the sis and brother in law had a BBQ. As much of a tradition as Ferry Fair itself I'm told.

When I looked into how long Ferry Fair has been going on I found that a local fair dates from the 12th century, but the fair in it's current form dates back to the 1930's.
The fair includes a procession of floats and pipe bands (my favourite part) down the main street and 'the shows'. Fair ground rides to us down in England.

With sis being up there she rarely gets a chance to 'sample my wares', so I thought I'd bake and take some goodies up with me.

The brownie recipe is adapted from a recipe of Joy The Baker's, and the lemon brownie recipe is from I found this on Pinterest...there's the 'P' word again.

Double chocolate brownies - ingredients:
200 grams chocolate
200 grams butter
4 eggs
2 cups of caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

You can add pretty much any chocolate you like...I love chopped Mars bars and white chocolate in mine.


Melt the chocolate and butter and set aside. Whisk the eggs together with the sugar and vanilla.

Pour in the melted choc and butter mix & stir until combined. 

    Add the flour, baking powder

...and chopped chocolate.

Line a 9" brownie pan with parchment and bake the brownies on GM5 for 30 minutes.

They are done when you insert a skewer and it comes out with a bit of the gooey centre on it...not too much though.

My boy absolutely loves these...and from the look on sis's face when she had one (or should I say 3) so did she.

Now for the lemon ones...

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
115 grams unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to GM4.
Zest and juice 2 lemons, set aside.

 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I don't actually have one so I had to use my whisk attachments which worked fine), beat the flour, sugar, salt and softened butter. 

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, lemon zest and juice. Pour into the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Tart Lemon Glaze - 
1 rounded cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
8 tablespoons lemon zest

Pour into a prepared 9" baking pan and bake for 23-25 minutes.

Mix the glaze ingredients. 
When the "brownies" are cooled spread some of the glaze over the cake and leave to 'set' for a while. Spread the remaining glaze over the cake and leave to set.

I love how strong the lemon flavour is. A lovely, lively kick.

My boy is not so keen, but that's because he's a chocolate monster.

We had such a fun time up North, the boys playing together, spending quality family time with those we rarely get to see.

I would love to get up to see her more often, but in the meantime there's always Skype.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fire Places and Flowers

If there's one thing I love about our home it's the fire places, there's plenty more but this wouldn't work if I mentioned anything else.


 They're so pretty.

I've become all artsy fartsy with my photographs...well I'm trying to be anyway. I'm taking more pride and time in them more recently.

It's lovely to wake up in the morning and see such bright, beautiful flowers greeting you.

My favourite has to be the sunflowers. They make me smile every time I look at them. So warm and welcoming.

Speaking of arsty fartsy photo's I love this one...well...I love what's in the picture.

I first tried Chocolate Guinness cake at a cafe in Manchester about a year ago - Sugar Junction.

It was amazing, and so is the cafe - I love the vintage theme, the cups and saucers and the atmosphere, just lovely.

I saw a picture of their Chocolate Guinness cake on Facebook and thought 'I want to try making I did.

I got the recipe from - on Pinterest.

1 cup of Guinness
150 grams unsalted butter
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa
2 cups of caster sugar
5 tablespoons sour cream/ greek yoghurt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to GM4. Grease a 9" springform cake tin and line the bottom with parchment.

Combine the Guinness and butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar until blended.

In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Add the Guinness mixture and mix until well combined. Add the flour and baking soda, mix well until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin,and bake until risen and firm, about 45 minutes. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting:
Whisk the icing sugar to break up any lumps.

Add the cream cheese and blend until smooth.

Add the double cream and continue mixing until smooth and spreadable.

Spread over the cooled cake and's amazing!

This has to be the moistest (is that even a word??) cake I have ever made. It was a very big hit with the family.