Archive for the ‘All things food’ Category

If you follow our Twitter or Facebook pages, you’ll have seen some obscure references to a ‘secret’ earlier in the summer.  Well here is the big reveal!

Earlier this year Lidl (a German supermarket) and RTE (our national TV station) launched Taste of Success.  They sent out the call across the country for budding entrepreneurs to come up with a product that would fit into the mix of products already available in Lidl stores.

There was a magnificent prize available – €100,000, which includes marketing support, product royalties, a cash prize and the chance to see your product featured and sold on the shelves of 141 Lidl stores across Ireland.

Without any hesitation Alfie decided to enter his free-range pork burger into the competition.  There were hundreds of entries, and Alfie’s pork burger was chosen to go through to the Munster finals.

Alfie travelled to Cork in June to be interviewed by the Munster Regional Mentor, Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy.  He was only given 24 hours notice of the interview, so there was no time to prep some burgers and bring them as requested to ‘taste’.  Despite not being able to bring a sample of his product to the interview Alfie got through to the next stage.

Two days later on a scorching hot day at the Cork Summer Fair, the 8 finalists from Munster cooked and presented their products to the professional judges – Paul Flynn, Lidl Ambassador and of The Tannery, Dungarvan

; and Martin Shanahan, Fishy Fishy, Kinsale.  Then it was time for a select group of the public to vote, and make their judgements as to which four products they thought were good enough to go through to the next round.

The tension while waiting for the announcement for the four finalists was palpable.  The products were diverse and interesting, and all finalists had put their heart and soul into the competition.

RTE Interview

RTE Interview

As this was all being filmed for a TV series there were many, many takes…. and lots and lots of hanging around.  A couple of minutes of TV takes a horrendous amount of time to film!

The good news for North Tipperary is that Alfie’s free-range pork burger was one of the four finalists to go through to the next round.

We had the TV crew here for a morning during the summer too…. filming Alfie in his ‘natural’ environment.  I was perfectly happy to be the behind the camera person/catering manager that day.

The show is aired on RTE1 at 8.30 pm on Tuesday evenings, so far we’ve had the Leinster and Connacht finals.  We’ve been amazed at how many people we’ve actually known who entered.  Tonight it is the turn of the Dublin’s finalists.   Alfie’s first show will be on Tuesday 11th November.  If you’re quick-eyed you might spot Alfie on the promotional advert.

Did he get through the next round?  Sure, that would spoil the surprise… you’ll just have to watch and see.

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I don’t think we’ve ever had such a good crop of blackberries around here.  I love blackberries…. my favourite of all fruits.

I like blackberries anyway at all…. jam, jelly, crumble, cake…. anyway at all.

So I’ve been indulging lots.

Here’s such a quick and easy crumble that I made a few times recently when we had AirBnB guests… they loved it.  One guest loved it so much he requested to have another portion for breakfast!  Of course, we allowed him have dessert for breakfast… he was on holidays after all :)  And, with the inclusion of coconut oil and porridge…. sure, it’s got to be healthy, right?


Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble


  • 2 or 3 cooking apples – or more depending on the size of your apples and your dish.
  • a couple of handfuls of blackberries.
  • Sugar to taste
  • 100 g. flour
  • 50 g. butter
  • 50 g. Coconut oil
  • 100 g. Porridge oatflakes.


Grease a dish with some butter (I used my Quiche dish).  Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Mix your butter and coconut oil into the flour…. the coconut oil takes a little longer to rub in than butter.  Mix until you have no ‘gritty’ bits left.  Add in your porridge.

Peel and slice your cooking apples, filling your dish right up to the top.  Sprinkle on your blackberries, and some sugar.  Then spoon your prepared mixture on top.

Bake in oven for about 25 minutes.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Serve warm with ice-cream, custard or cream…. and make sure to save some for breakfast the next day :)



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Food tourism – what constitutes food tourism?

Wiki describes it thus : Culinary tourism or food tourism is experiencing the food of the country, region or area, and is now considered a vital component of the tourism experience.[2] Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climateaccommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists.[2]  Wikipeadia

The World Food Travel Association describes ‘food tourism’ as : “The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”    It also describes a ‘food traveller’ as someone who goes to a different neighbourhood to experience food of a different ethnicity.  I guess that means we are food travellers when we go shopping in the Asian market?

Does Ireland have a food tourism side to it?

These are questions we were asked to consider when we took part in workshops with Failte Ireland and Blue Sail.  Together with around forty producers, accommodation providers and others involved in the food industry, we had brain-storming sessions about what is ‘food tourism’.

It was an exciting and interesting exercise, as we discussed Ireland’s food provenance, what is local, what we ourselves expect when travelling, and what we look for in food when travelling?

If you take it on a very personal level…. what makes a holiday for you?  Is it the weather?  Is it the accommodation?  Is it the food?

Failte Ireland have been conducting research and have come up with 6 different ‘tourist’ categories – 3 international and 3 domestic tourist segments.

International market segments:

  • Culturally Curious – over 45 – food is very important to them – specialities, provenance, special places, good service, knowledgeable staff.
  • Social Energisers – young couples/adults – 20s/early 30s – casual eating but good food, fashionable, buzzy places, something different from home.
  • Great Escapers – young couples around 30 – authentic restaurants and pubs with good local food; flexible options – picnics and takeaway.

Domestic segments:

  • Connected Families – 25 – 44 age group – no specific mentions of food.
  • Footloose Socialisers – groups of friends, independent and confident – again no specific food requirements.
  • Indulgent Romantics – all ages but typically 25 – 34 or 55 – 64 – interested and knowledgeable about food and wine.

One of the exercises we were asked to carry out was to recommend in our locality a ‘romantic’ destination…. well folks, it is amazing, but the results were as diverse as people are.  A weekend in a hotel with a spa and beauty treatments would just not cut it for me as a ‘romantic’ break, but that’s what some folks want.  A ‘romantic’ break to me would be somewhere away from the ‘real’ world, where you can chill, sit about and read a book without being disturbed, go for long walks, and, of course, enjoy really good food (preferably seafood!) and maybe, a glass or two of wine.

We were also asked to consider where we would recommend people should go to people watch?  Any thoughts?  I chose a supermarket queue.  I always go off into daydream mode in the supermarket queue – wondering ‘why’ are people buying this, that, and the other.  I’m always shocked at how much processed food goes into shopping trolleys – but that’s another story.

And I guess the biggest question of all….. how would we describe Ireland’s food?  Again the answers were as mixed as the group…… how would you describe Irish food to a complete stranger?

Here’s the result of our brain-storming…. a great video produced by Failte Ireland.


And a funny aside to this story… we laughed so much when we saw the video… there right smack bang in the middle of it, is our friend, Daili :)



Since we started doing AirBnB we have found that without exception regardless of the nationality of those who have stayed here, the conversation invariable turns to ‘food’ and its ‘provenance’.  From our little vignette into the world of travel it would seem that people are getting more and more worried about where their food is coming from, and how their food is being treated be it in the pre-planting stage of seeds, or how food(meat) is grown.

It would seem like-minded people are drawn to each other.  People come to this green island of ours, as they perceive it as ‘green’ in every sense of the world.  They are blown away by the ‘green-ness’ of the countryside, the cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, the freshness of the fish, and the variety of ‘home’ produced food.  We are lucky to live in this country of ours with its natural larder.

We need to hold on tight to that image.






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I know I’ve told you all a million times about how I can’t do wheat.  The most restrictive thing about being wheat intolerant is the lack of breakfast cereals.

I kid you not.  Take a look at the list of ingredients on any breakfast cereal pack….. they all list wheat in there somewhere, except for porridge.

I hate porridge.  I hate it so much.  It is not even the flavour, it is the texture.  I remember being practically force-fed it as a child.  Totally yuck.

However, the totally weird thing about me, is that I’ll actually eat oat flakes ‘raw’ as in a muesli or granola…. but not cooked.

I’ve often made muesli here but after a while it gets a bit boring, so lately I decided to revisit the whole ‘granola’ concept.  When I was a kid we did not have granola.  I think I first heard of it when I went to the States, and yet, now it is everywhere.  Again, however, you have to search for a ‘wheat free’ version.

Oldfarm Granola

Oldfarm Granola

The solution for me is to make my own.  I’ve been experimenting, and I think I’ve cracked it with this recipe.

This amount lasts me a couple of weeks but I wouldn’t necessarily eat it every day. It is also really nice to just ‘snack’ on whenever you pass the jar, so it just may not last quite as long as you think.

Obviously, you can substitute whatever seeds you like – this is just the mix that works for me.


  • 140 g organic oat flakes
  • 25 g linseed
  • 20 g sunflower seeds
  • 10 g flax seeds
  • 10 g sesame seeds
  • 50 g dried fruit of your preference – I’ve used mango, apple, sultanas.
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil – melted.
  • 40 g runny honey – I used our own which is so delicious


Preheat your oven to 150 deg C/300F/Gas 2.

Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Melt your coconut oil and mix in the honey.

Add the oil and honey to your dry ingredients.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment.  Spread your mixture onto the tray.

Bake for about 23 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Store in a jar until you are ready to use.

As you can see you can vary this as much as you like by adding toasted almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds… whatever takes your fancy.

Let me know if you try it.  :)

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We’ve had a busy July of AirBnB visitors here at Oldfarm which has been wonderful and fun.  Some have asked me to share some of our recipes with them.

So here’s the first sharing – this one is for Lauren.

When Lauren and Josh stayed with us the hens were on a bit of a ‘go slow’ so I had to think up a dessert that did not involve eggs.  I hadn’t made this posset in years…. I think the original recipe came from an old book of my Mum’s.

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset


  • 450 ml cream
  • 125 gr. caster sugar
  • 1.5 lemons juiced.


Bring the cream and caster sugar slowly to the boil, stirring gently until sugar dissolves.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice.

Allow to cool slightly before pouring into glasses.  Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.

A great ‘make ahead’ dessert, and really refreshing.  This quantity made 5 portions in the glasses I was using.

Enjoy :)



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How have you been doing with your soft fruit this year?  Ours seem to have all come in a bit of a rush…. here for a few days and then gone.

We had so few strawberries this year (again).  We had a great crop of raspberries as always but battled with the birds to have them.  Both our gooseberry bushes were stripped overnight of fruit by the birds, 3 of our 4 blackcurrant bushes were also stripped bare!  So I guess I was lucky to get my 2 lbs of fruit to make our homemade ribena.

I’m not a big fan of blackcurrant jam – although I do make a mixed berry jam with a mix of red and black currants which is nice.  So over the past few years I’ve tended to use the bulk of our blackcurrants to make this cordial.  This also makes me ‘the best aunty in the world’ as my nieces love this when they come to visit :)

Blackcurrant Cordial

Blackcurrant Cordial

The original recipe I used for this is from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course with a little adaptation, as per usual I didn’t have all the ‘right’ ingredients.


  • 2 lbs blackcurrants
  • 2 lbs sugar
  • 6 pints water
  • 6 fl. oz. red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar was in the original recipe)


And this is the best part of the whole thing…. you don’t have to top and tail the fruit!  Is there anyone in the world who likes topping and tailing blackcurrants?  It has to be the most fiddly job of all.

Just put your blackcurrants into a large pot, add the water – bring to the boil, and allow to boil for 15 minutes.

Strain your liquid into a clean saucepan and add the sugar and wine vinegar.  Boil for another 3 minutes.

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.

This amount makes 4 to 5 litres, and we usually lasts us until next year’s harvest.

Serve diluted in iced water or sparkling water.

There are still a few blackcurrants left on the bush…. I think I might try a cassis with those.  What do you do with your soft fruits?

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You’ll all have been blown away by the lovely photo of Molly and her babies last week.  Well I’m glad to say they are thriving :)

She’s even taken them to the pond…. scared the living daylights out of me.  There are cattle in the field too.  She took on two of the cows who attempted to get close to babies…. and she won :)

Lifeguard on duty

Lifeguard on duty

When we had our chick born here last year I enquired locally about buying chick feed – the technical term is ‘chick crumb’ – the smallest bag I could get was huge!  And was full of gm maize and corn so I resorted to making my own.

When it came to feeding the ducklings I didn’t even try to buy stuff, I just went on the old ‘google’ and did some research.  Ducklings can tolerate a slightly different feed to chicks.  So I will share the recipe I am using.

As an aside…. I am buying the seeds and dry fruits in our local Aldi store.  I am sure when the high powered Buyers and Marketeers sat down and decided to introduce this new range of seeds…. Duck Feed was not on their list.  I would love to know their reaction :)  It makes me giggle at the thought of them sitting there in their suits… thinking healthy breads and breakfasts!  Not Duck Feed!

Seed mix for ducklings

Seed mix for ducklings


  • 200 gr  Rolled Barley
  • 200 gr Porridge Oats
  • 70 gr Sunflower Seeds
  • 70 gr Pumpkin Seeds
  • 70 gr Lentils
  • 50 gr wheatgerm
  • 50 gr sesame seeds
  • 20 gr linseed/flax seeds
  • Sprinkling of dried fruit


I know – I’m probably just being fussy – but I blitz down the first four ingredients…. the pumpkin seeds are the hardest to blitz.  Then just add in the rest of the ingredients.

When I made the first batch it lasted almost the entire week.  This week – there are 11 ducklings – I am making it every second day.  So next week I may resort to making a bigger batch at a time.

Have you guessed that I am a little besotted with these ducklings?


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