Goodbye January by Trish Deseine
Goodbye January and good riddance. It was a month which took too many of our childhood idols from us, a month with too many scary storms and a month which left us all in food overload.
An actual, physical overload of course, in the form of a few extra kilos from our end of year festivities, but also from the massive tide of dietary and lifestyle advice and counter advice. Healthy has become the new buzzword, and that can only be a good thing as long as we don’t start considering all food as medicine, or as either “clean” or “dirty” with nothing in between and consider what we are buy, cook and eat solely through those filters.
In a recent Irish Times Women’s Podcast, Darina Allen remarked that we had all become “terrified” of our food and it does seem that, in an attempt to highlight all sorts of healing properties in our food, most of which are unproven scientifically, we have gone way past nerdism and are swiftly moving towards neurosis.
I am not going to (literally) weigh in with my regime or advice here, (mostly because I think that my own current embonpoint would reduce its credibility and I do think you should practice what you preach, wherever possible) and I will not use the four lean and fit children I have reared as examples of my good mantra. For what will their habits and lifestyles be when they are my age? Who knows what they will have absorbed from their years growing up in one of the world’s greatest food cultures, being fed by an Irish mother? And above all, what will the food on offer to them be like? Will they really be eating insects and lab-made meat? We are living in a time of such change and turmoil that no science fiction scenario seems too outlandish.
With another storm roaring outside my window, but with a cosy wood fire inside, I prefer not to think about the future and ease myself slowly back into normal kitchen life after the polarized cooking months of December and January. This month’s recipes are wholesome, forgiving, meat-free and, above all, require very little actual cooking.
Delicious convenience from the best producers is something Ardkeen does very well indeed and allows all sorts of experimentation and invention. My freezer is always stocked now with Mairead Finnegan’s shortcrust pastries, one sweet, one plain. They’re made in Co. Meath with no additives, colourings or preservatives and are a godsend when space and time are in short supply. If you have a small kitchen, and you’re in a rush, it’s not always an attractive proposition to clear the day’s debris from your worktop and then cover it with flour and butter at the same time as your hands. You really need to chill your pastry for a good result - otherwise what is the point of making your own? - and if you are not having a relaxed afternoon’s baking with your favourite music in the background, but rather need to get dinner on the table within the next hour, home made pastry can be a bit of a palaver. Seriously, when the ready-made stuff tastes this good (way better than any I have used in France, see also Da Piero pizza bases below), let yourself off the hook from time to time.
The same goes for the ingredients in the other recipes. There’s Mrs. Mullally's Pavlova bases with a mix of fresh berries, frozen blackcurrants and the gorgeous Mr Jeffares blackcurrant cordial, now a permanent fixture in my kitchen. The pure taste of blackcurrant, slightly sweetened by all-natural Stevia, is out of this world. I use a dash of it on my morning granola and yoghurt when I have no berries to hand, or as diluted in water when I want to rehydrate fast.
When my three boys were at home, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to stock the freezer with “gourmet” frozen pizza and leave them alone with the oven! But I got them into the way of making their own pizzas from un-fancy but good quality kit ingredients (tomatoes, good mozzarella and other cheeses, nice hams and fresh mushrooms…) I would always keep in the kitchen. This way they got to choose their own toppings and lend a hand in the kitchen. The only sub-par part of these home made creations was the base. Ready made and frankly, not wonderful. I wish my local Monoprix had stocked a product like Dublin made Da Piero pizza bases. Now they are also a permanent fixture in my Irish freezer, and alongside all the other groovy and delicious semi-homemade treasures I keep finding in Ardkeen, well, the world is my pizza.
I’ve kept these down to a glorious 5 ingredients which give a mix of creamy, crispy, salty, juicy and aromatic. All you could ever want on your pizza, really. But of course you are free to play around and add to your heart’s content
This is the best little cheat’s trick to have up your sleeve. It’s great for impromptu drinks and a good addition to the kids’ weekday supper – especially if you have not-so-fresh bread which you need to use up. The dipping can also be done with oatcakes, raw celery, cauliflower and tomatoes.
Deise Honey 340g
Deise is a family run Apiary in beautiful Co. Waterford, Ireland. We produce the sweetest tasting honey, a safe and wholesome Irish food for…
Killowen Natural Yoghurt 450g
An indulgent creamy Irish yoghurt. Killowen Farm yoghurt is from one farm, one family. It's unique taste is produced using the smooth, rich,…
Glenilen Farm Probiotic Natural Yoghurt 500g
It all starts with our milk…And as you can imagine, this makes our cows very important to us. We treat them kindly, allowing them to roam,…
Abernethy Butter 125g
Abernethy Butter is made by hand using traditional methods.
The cream is bought from a local farmer, who lets his cows graze on the green…
Glenilen Farmhouse Country Butter 180g
Grass fed cows from Glenilen Farm give us the cream to make this rich and flavoursome butter, widely served in Ireland's top hotels and…
Pizza da Piero 3 Stonebaked Pizza Bases 420g
Three stonebaked pizza bases. We take pride in making the most delicious pizza bases for the growning number of consumers who now know how…
The Happy Pear Lovely Basil Pesto 180g
Lovely basil pesto, this fella is made fresh with toatsed cashews for a sweet nutty taste, delicious with pasta, epic in sandwich- actually…
Prunotto Organic Basil Pesto 130g
Produced by Prunotto Organic Farm in Alba(Italy) in the Piemontese hills. Great for Pasta or Bruschette.
Prunotto Organic Pumpkin Pesto 130g
Organic Pumpkin Pesto great for Pasta or Bruschette. Made by Organic Prunotto farm in the Piemontese Hills of Northern Italy
Sheridans Prunotto Organic Red Pesto 130g
Organic Red Pesto great for Pasta or Bruschette.Made by Prunotto Organic Farm in the Piemontese Hills.
Pure Food Company Sundried Tomato & Basil Pesto 180g
A pure, rich pesto made with sweet sundried tomatoes & flavoursome basil leaves.
Pure Food Company Spinach & Basil Pesto 180g
A pure, vibrant pesto made with fresh fragrant basil, spinach and lemon juice.
Mr Jeffares Irish Blackcurrant Cordial
Awarded 2 Stars at the Great Taste Awards 2016
The Jeffares family have been growing blackcurrants in Wexford for three generations. Des…
Ardkeen Quality Food Store Organic Omega 3 Four Seeds Mix 250g
Organic Omega 3 Four Seeds Mix. Sourced and packed for Ardkeen Quality Food Stores by independant Irish Health Foods Ltd, Farranfore Co. Kerry