[From the Kitchen]: Granny McB’s Soda Bread

DSC_3751-WEBI had hoped to make this bread last weekend since returning from my trip to Ireland but with work taking over I just never got round to doing so! That being said, it turns out this weekend is actually quite apt for this particular type of bread which is why I am keen to share it with you all. My father-in-law makes some lovely breads and the most famous one being the Irish Soda bread which he learnt from his mother – a recipe that was passed down through many generations. I’ve had it on many occasions while over to visit them so I told myself that I just had to learn it from him…..and so I did! :)

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread-WEBThis is the first EVER bread I’ve made (yes, shocking I know!) so understandably I was quite nervous about making this (albeit excited too!) and not wanting to disappoint my father-in-law by ruining their family’s recipe! :P Now, I know there are different variations of the Soda Bread recipe available online but this one has been in the family for many years and I soon learnt, while eagerly taking notes, that the measurements were all done by eye! So while my father-in-law made it look so easy that Sunday afternoon, I took my time making sure I adhered to all the notes I took down and this is how it turned out….

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread2-WEBTo make this bread all you need is roughly 500g self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1tsp of baking soda), 250ml of Buttermilk (I didn’t have this so mixed 1tbsp/15ml Lime Juice to the whole milk), a pinch of salt, 1tsp of sugar and some sultanas (I used dried berries & cherries). You then mix all the dried ingredients together, pouring in the buttermilk a bit at a time until you knead it into a smooth dough. Make sure the dough isn’t too wet. Then butter a loaf tin on all sides and add a bit of flour to it too just to ensure that the bread doesn’t stick to the tin. Then place the dough into the tin so it roughly fits the shape of the tin. Keep a slight gap around the edges so there’s room for expansion! I added a bit of oat grains on the top for texture and then using a knife I added a cut lengthways along the top. Bung this into the preheated over for 30-45mins or until it goes golden brown and then leave it out to cool. And voila!  It goes sooooo well with homemade jam and tea!! :)

BLOG_STRIP_my-irish-soda-bread3-WEBI must say I was pretty delighted to find that I hadn’t burnt the bread!! And then I let my husband be the guinea pig to test my bread……and after roughly 10 seconds of quietly chewing away at the bread he gave me the biggest smile! I got the thumbs up – yess!! I tucked in to it myself and was super pleased at the way it turned out!! I totally feel proud as punch!! :D Lets hope my father-in-law agrees when he sees this post come through! ;) So anyway, this is dedicated to my wonderful father-in-law for taking the time out to share this recipe with me (especially after taking me on as a daughter last year – you have no idea what you’re in for haha!). I look forward to many more occasions to bake, break and eat more bread with you!! ;) Happy Father’s Day!! xx

[Behind the scenes]: Handmade by Maeve

Yoga Bag WEB

Well, I’ve had the delightful opportunity to be the recipient to not one, but two of Maeve’s lovely creations – her whimsical plush monster toy (you’ll spot him in one of my earlier blogpost here) and her felt shamrock brooches (that travelled across sea and land to many St. Patrick’s Day revellers – see image below)…..so I just knew I had to interview her! :) Maeve Murphy is not only a lovely mutual friend of ours but also the creative brains behind Handmade by Maeve. After graduating in Textiles from GMIT, Galway she went on to study a masters in Cultural Policy & Arts Management at UCD, Dublin and like several of us, she busied herself in making textile creations on the side, many of them being personalised gifts for friends and family. Having received a lot of praise and interest in her work, she finally went about setting up Handmade by Maeve and began selling her wonderful and fun creations across the globe; from Bunting to Yoga Mat Bags to bespoke plush critters! So anyway, here’s what she had to say………..

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? Growing up in the West of Ireland I wanted to be everything, from a Pathologist to a Musician. My Mother was very creative and let me use her sewing machine from a very young age. She also painted so I think I got the creative bug from her.
  2. How did you come about setting up Handmade by Maeve? I did textiles in College so I was always creating things. My boyfriend saw the little creatures I was making for friends and family and encouraged me to start making more and selling to strangers.
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Quirky, electric, caring, genuine, and bright!handmadebymaeve critters WEB
  4. I’m a huge fan of your whimsical little creatures (proud owner of one!) so, what’s the main source of inspiration for these creations? I literally tap into the inner child in me and let that come to the surface when I start sketching. My last creature (Theodore the Moon Bug) was inspired from lyrics of a Sufjan Stevens song where he mentioned the word space.
  5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? I like brainstorming in my notebook. I love looking back at all my scribbles, they can sometimes inspire new ideas if I look at them at a later stage. It’s nearly like a visual diary of the creative chaos that goes on inside my head! notebook WEBamara2 WEBamara1 WEB
  6. Is there any craft/art medium besides sewing that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? Having attended Art College I was lucky enough to taste all the disciplines. But I’d love to bring more print into my work.
  7. There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years. Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? I’m still working full-time in the Music Industry while working on Handmade by Maeve on the side, so to be honest, I feel I’m still threading on the side of this competitive world!
  8. What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? With a  full-time day job, Handmade by Maeve work is usually done during my evenings and weekends. All the pieces I make, I love. I love how there are parts of me, something I’ve created that’s dotted around the world and that people like them enough to buy them.pair WEB
  9. Of your current range of work, what piece would you say is your favourite? Everything I make, I love and I’m proud to put my name to it. I’d say my Cloud range – I think they speak a thousand words just sitting there on a shelf. I feel they are a gift for any occasion be it for new babies, girlfriends or just friends.
  10. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? I honestly don’t feel like I can answer this question yet. I feel it’s early days for me and I’m not really in a position to be giving people advise just yet if that make sense? I would however say that you have to be pretty hard-working, willing to put in the hours and only make and sell products you’re proud to carry your name on them.
  11. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? My boyfriend, myself and our miniature Jack Russell, Winne have a VW Camper Van called Amadeus. I’ve made everything from curtains to cushions for it and we try to take it out whenever we can….. rain, hail or shine……mainly rain in this Irish weather! Con and Winnie in the Van
  12. What are your favourite book/s or blog/s at the moment? I’m not reading any books at the moment but I do usually read fantasy. Blogs wise, my favourite ones are yours (Made by Molu) and Bazaar.
  13. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I find Aisling, the magic fingers behind Bazaar really inspiring (you can find her on Facebook too). I love following her progress as she carves out a new life for herself in establishing Bazaar in another country.
  14. What would we expect from Handmade by Maeve in the future? I’ve got SO many ideas in the pipeline, I just don’t have the time at the moment. But I hope to have more time in the future so definitely keep an eye on my Facebook page or twitter for news and updates.
    sham6 WEBhandmadebymaeve quote
  15. Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? Will you be at any craft + design markets or events this year? I’ve nothing lined up at the moment but if I’m appearing at anything I always keep my followers updated on my Facebook page or twitter, otherwise you’ll find all my work on my Etsy shop!

A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Maeve for taking the time out to answer all my questions and for providing me with lots of lovely photos to pick from! There’s a bright future for this talented gal from County Mayo and I for one cannot wait to keep an eye out for that! Good luck missus and I look forward to many more of your creations!! :) xx

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[From the Kitchen] St.Patrick’s Day Irish Stew

BLOG_irish stew 1Here’s the recipe of the Irish Stew we made using lamb courtesy of BBC Good Food which was so simple to make with such great results. And the best part is that it went a long way (believe me, we actually had to transfer all the ingredients out of our casserole dish into a paella pan!) and tasted even better the next couple of days!! :) The lamb is so succulent and soaks up all the lovely flavours well! Wish we still had more left over!! Oh, we couldn’t get hold of any pearl barley so substituted it with Arborio Rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g smoked streaky bacon (cut into chunks)  **The next time I may use chorizo for a smokier flavour!
  • 900g stewing lamb , cut into large chunks
  • 5 medium onions , sliced
  • 5 carrots , sliced into chunks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • small bunch thyme
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 850ml lamb stock
  • 6 medium potatoes , cut into chunks
  • small knob of butter
  • spring onions , finely sliced

BLOG_irish stew 2 WEB

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole. Sizzle the bacon for 4 mins until crisp. Turn up the heat, then cook the lamb for 6 mins until brown. Remove the meats with a slotted spoon. Add the onions, carrots and herbs to the pan, then cook for about 5 mins until softened. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the pearl barley, pour over the stock, then bring to a simmer.
  2. Sit the chunks of potato on top of the stew, cover, then braise in the oven, undisturbed, for about 1½ hrs until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. The stew can now be chilled and kept in the fridge for 2 days, then reheated in a low oven or on top of the stove. Remove from the oven, dot the potatoes with butter, scatter with the spring onions and serve scooped straight from the dish.

Enjoy!!! xx

[Inspiration]: 10 creative and fun D.I.Y.s to try for St.Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Ohh am I pleased to see the end of the week! The weekend has officially begun and I couldn’t be happier! Well we’re only a day and half before the St.Patrick’s Day celebrations begin! So have any of you got anything planned for the weekend? I’m definitely jotting down a few ideas to try/do over the weekend which includes cooking up a nice Irish Stew, along with some baked green-coloured goodies  tomorrow (still not decided what that is yet but definitely some baking involved! Just stewing on whether to do something traditional or be a bit more experimental). And on Sunday I will of course be kicking off the celebrations with the traditional ritual of sporting something green with shamrocks a plenty and head out to check out the parade! No doubt squeeze in a few cheeky drinks too!

Anyway, here are a few things I thought could be something you and I could try this weekend? A little inspiration for your creative juices to flow! If you have other ideas, I’d be delighted to hear them in the comments section. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend folks and if you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – hope it’s a mighty good one!!! :) Oh, I’ll be posting pics from my shenanigans so watch this space! xxxBLOG_STRIP st paddys day

  1. Shamrock Wreath what a fabulous idea and one that can be made easily i’m sure!
  2. Shamrock Boutonnaires  by Martha Stewart
  3. Fabric Clover Art  by Flamingo Toes
  4. Shamrock Streamers by Kelly on Studio D.I.Y.
  5. Homemade Leprechaun Spirits by Design Sponge
  6. Irish Soda Bread by the Melangery
  7. Shamrock Cut-out Cupcakes by Glory of Glorious Treats
  8. Green Velvet Pop Cakes by Love From The Oven which are cute and fun alternative to the traditional cake
  9. Shamrock Tortilla Chips by Courtney on Spiced Blog make a brilliant St. Paddy’s Day themed snack to team up with your drinks!
  10. Guinness and Bailey’s jello shots by Jaimee Sire