Monday, January 31, 2011

The Moods of Monday

Two posts in one day and all before the evening? Probably looks like I'm making up for something...

After my early morning reflections upon our time here in Limerick, I got myself together to head out and run my Monday errands - Bank, food shop... you know the story.  Opened the car door, sat in the driver's seat, turned the key, and nothing... nada, not even a light acknowledging that the key was in the ignition.... The worst thing possible when you have motivated yourself to tackle your Monday with all the determination you lacked throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Before calling my mechanic, I decided that Dad's know best and called my dear Doug.  I was pleasantly surprised when my little brother answered my Dad's mobile, and was able to talk me through the A-Z of my car.  (No offense to my Father, but this was probably the better option anyhow... I just didn't think my student-partying-photographer brother would necessarily be up for a phone call before Noon.)

My brother and I weighed up all the options for repair versus selling the blessed thing, what with the move and options for public transport in a major city increasing drastically.. and then my lovely mechanic Matt came up to the house and jump-started my ford.  Matt is my only friend in Adare village itself, telling you a lot about our year here...

 So, magically, I have now managed to complete many of my Monday tasks.  I do believe just as we are about to move out of this big house, I have mastered the art of my week of systematic cleaning... downsizing should be a breeze right?

However, I thought I'd share a recipe that someday I hope to enjoy making with my kids.  There is really nothing special about this other than a moment of genius in the face of packing chaos...

Chicken Pie with Fluffy Sheep

2-4 Chicken Breasts, diced
500 mls Chicken stock
2 Tbsp Corn Flour
1/2 cup milk
Herbs & Seasoning to your own taste
4 carrots chopped to 1/2 inch sticks
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1 can sweetcorn/ 2-4 ears of fresh corn cut off cob

fluffy sheep...
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 tps salt
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 220 degrees C/ 450 degrees F

2) Pan sear diced chicken breasts in a knob of butter and approx. 2 Tbsp Oil.  Once browned but not cooked through, add 500 mls chicken stock.  Turn down heat and simmer for 5-10 mins.

3) In a separate pan, saute onions and carrots

4) Add onions and carrots to chicken, add seasoning and herbs of choice

5) In a cup, add cold milk and corn flour - mix into paste, and then add slowly to chicken.  Bring chicken back to boil until sauce thickens and then remove from stove top. Put mixture into oven dish/ caserole dish and set to one side.

6) To make fluffy sheep.... Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening.  Alternatively, use a blender or rub together shortening and dry ingredients with your hands (what fun is cooking without a little mess...)

7) One mixture looks like fine bread crumbs, slowly add milk to bring together the mix.  You should have a slightly sticky dough once finished.

8) Roll out on floury counter-top to approx 1/4 -1/2 inch thickness.  Cut into sheep!

* Now, the sheep can be substituted with any cutter you'd like.  I was trying to find my sensible biscuit/ scone cutters but they are already safely stowed ready for their move to Dublin.  I debated ripping my beautifully-taped box back open for the sole purpose of better presenting the dish than my 'option B' of making shapes with my hands, when I found my random seasonal cutters in another cupboard.  Weighing up all the options, I decided to forego the heart, easter egg, Christmas tree, stocking, and flower shapes and go with the Sheep.  Why not?  Biscuits and Sheep are both fluffy and "white."  So there you have it.  A fun, albeit slightly ridiculous alternative to a mundane Monday dish.  Get your kids to pick any of their favourite shapes and make this a true family supper... *

9) Bake in oven for 10-12 mins until Sheep have risen and are particularly fluffy.  Enjoy!

New Beginnings

Well, here we are, 2011.  Chris and I have been waiting for this week for some months.  On Friday, we move to Dublin and with that, we gain a whole host of new opportunities. 

On a morning such as this it is hard to believe we will be leaving behind the country beauty we love so much.  There is a lot to be said for watching the sun rise and fall through the trees, uninterrupted by buildings or human creation.  Still, for all the romance it offers, we discovered pretty quickly that moving to a new place and living in the deep country proved difficult for growing roots.  An American and a Northerner were forever to be "blow-ins" and always asked, "how long are you visiting for?" at the pub, no matter how many times we went in a week.. 

We will certainly miss the space for Jozy and the stunning Curraghchase National Park across the lane from our house, where Jozy and I frequently spend our afternoons.  We will miss the postman who invites himself to walk on in the back door and drop off our mail.... but we will not miss our post box with no key where our hands have to squeeze through the letter-shaped slot to reach our mail when the postman comes and we're out.  Further, we will not miss the well-water pump that cuts out half-way through a shower or late at night when you go to brush your teeth....  and yet, we will genuinely miss a few friendships we have made and know that this has been a worthwhile adventure.  There's a lot to learn when you're put in that desert place and we have grown immensely.  

So, here's a thanks to Ballinamona, Curraghchase.  Now it's off to continue packing and cleaning... 4 days till moving day, wish me luck!

I'll be seeing YOU again soon....