The Carrigaline Crusty: Simple Living in Cork, Ireland
After one too many doom filled daydreams of societal breakdown, this is my quest for survivalism and self-sufficiency in the easiest ways possible. Located in a housing estate in a busy suburb of Cork City, all my gardening is done in my back-garden. You can do so much with a little land. Most of my foraging is done around the town so there is no excuse not to get out there to see what you can find.
These luscious muffins are a sticky gooey unhealthy treat, not for everyday eating. The ingredients are minimal and are common kitchen stock. These little cakes are a great way to use up over-ripe bananas. They are best served warm when the chocolate is still melted.
Ingredients makes 12
150g butter melted
225g plain white flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
150g chocolate broken into chunks
2 ripe bananas mashed
Pre heat the oven to gas mark 6\200°C\400°F
Line a muffin tin with 12 cases
In a jug, mix the eggs, milk and melted butter until thoroughly combined.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Add the sugar, chocolate and bananas to the flour mix.
Stir gently to combine, gradually stirring in the milk mixture, but do not beat it.
Spoon the mixture into the cases.
Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes and leave to cool on a wire rack.
This exciting soup is a perfect way to use up the fruits of Autumn. Don't be put off by the adventurous ingredients; my beetroot hating, cooked apple avoiding boyfriend positively loved it. It's pink, hearty and slightly sweet with a zing! to finish.
I was inspired to try this recipe as I had a bag of windfall cookers to use and wanted to do something other than baking. I wasn't fortunate to have raw beetroot to use but the cooked stuff made my job easier.
My veg garden is looking miserable. Apart from some spinach that bolted a long time ago, the only usable vegetables I have available are two Brussels sprouts plants, which in fairness to them are producing a fine amount of sprouts.
Like last year, the first sprout will be sampled on Christmas Day BUT to my delight it recently dawned on me that the sprouts are not the only part of the plant that can benefit my plate. The plant tops look like cabbage and taste like cabbage. I can't believe I wasted these fine leafy tops last year and today I sampled them for the first time in a stir fry. They are sweet and tasty, and even if you find the sprout to be bitter (although those of us in the know appreciate that if cooked properly, sprouts are delicate and sweet tasting and not in the slightest way bitter), you are sure to enjoy the bonus treat of the plant top.
Tips on growing Brussels Sprouts
Like other leafy green vegetables, sprouts like a lot of Nitrogen so plant them out in the same soil that you have grown your peas or beans, whose crops should be finished when the sprouts are ready to be planted out. The reason for this perfect partnership is that legumes have the ability to take Nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil. This year, I planted my sprouts where Broad Beans had previously stood.
They require very little attention but it is worth picking off any yellowing leaves to encourage air circulation and prevent sprouts from rotting.
Last year I planted cloves from supermarket-bought garlic, which produced small bulbs which I ate fresh. This year, I've done one better and purchased actual growing garlic in the hope of a bigger, better yield. I also intend on drying out most of the bulbs for better storage possibilities. Read more on drying garlic at the end of the post. The variety I have opted for is Iberian Wight.
Planted on 20th November
Iberian Wight is a soft-necked garlic from the Cordoba region of Spain which grows very well in Ireland.
It has good storage potential and, like other varieties of soft-neck garlic, does not produce a scape (flower stem).
Plant in Autumn for a June/July harvest.
Prefers a light, free-draining soil in full sun. Plant 2.5 inches deep as it has a tendency to push up through the soil.
Break the bulb into cloves and plant each one separately.
Space rows 25 cm apart and leave 20-25 cm between plants
Harvesting and Preserving Garlic
Garlic should be lifted when the stem starts to turn yellow. It is best to lift early than too late as the bulbs can shatter and may start sprouting.
Handle carefully as it can bruise, which leads to rot in storage.
Allow to completely dry in the sun before storing. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the outer skins are totally dry and will slip off easily - usually two-three weeks. If there is a risk of rain, hang under cover - an unheated greenhouse will suffice.
Store hanging in bunches or plaited. Before plaiting, moisten the stem to make it more flexible.
If storing in wooden boxes, cut the stem down to 2 inches.
Breakfast can be a temperamental meal for many people, especially if you have to leave the house first thing in the morning. You're sick of breakfast cereal but there's not enough time to cook something decent, it's too early to eat, you're not hungry yet... which inevitably leads to eating out which can be expensive and unhealthy. Such are the reasons I am always on the lookout for tasty, healthy, portable breakfasts and the following muffins fulfill all three requirements. They are also a good way to use up some possibly forgotten ingredients in your cupboard including honey, apple sauce and porridge oats.
200g wholemeal flour
50g porridge oats with a bit extra for topping
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
100g dried fruit [I used cranberry, sultanas, raisins and goji berries]
2 tbsp mixed seeds [I used pumpkin and sunflower]
Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C/350F
Mix the wet ingredients in a jug
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl
Pour in the wet ingredients, combine but don't overmix
Pour into twelve muffin cases and sprinkle the seeds and oats on top
Bake for 30 minutes and once baked, allow to cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
It can be done as I've just discovered today. I ordered two slings, a Didymos and a Hoppediz, to rent for two weeks from the brilliant sling library on the babywearingireland website, and they arrived today. After half an hour of playing around with the Hoppediz, and using this video [it's in Spanish but easy to follow], I managed to comfortably attach my three week old baby to me, where he has been happily feeding/snoozing for the last half hour. The slings come with instructions, and the Hoppediz supplies a great choice of holds, but none to compete with the youtube video for a hold suitable for nursing.