Friday Photo

Ice patterns on the River Shannon today….

ice Patterns on River Shannon

ice Patterns on River Shannon

Since we started hosting on AirBnB we’ve come across the strangest (well to us) allergies and food dislikes.  I never knew people could be allergic to oranges?

Sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with interesting dishes that exclude ingredients that we would take for granted.  Imagine not using onions…. at all?

This past summer we had a family stay with us, where one member was allergic to dairy, egg and nuts.  Fine you say, BUT, they had a birthday during their stay.  Two adults (adult birthday), and 2 children (child allergic)…. so my challenge was to come up with a cake that everyone could eat and enjoy.

God bless ‘google’.

Dairy and egg free chocolate cake

Dairy and egg free chocolate cake

This cake then became a life saver again last week, when I was asked to bring dessert to a house with a similar allergy problem.  I think, but am not sure, that this would also actually qualify as ‘vegan’… maybe someone out there could tell me?

The amounts are a little odd, as the original recipe from Allrecipes in Australia was in cups.  So here’s my translation.


  • 375 gr organic flour
  • 440 gr sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps Bread Soda
  • 50 gr Green & Blacks cocoa
  • 190 ml Sunflower Oil
  • 2 tblsps White Vinegar
  • 2 tsps Vanilla Essence
  • 500 ml Cold Water


Heat oven to 180 deg. Centigrade.

Line a 30 cm cake tin with parchment paper

Sieve the dry ingredients together.  Make 3 wells in the mixture, adding oil, vinegar and vanilla essence into separate wells.

Add water and mix really well.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes.

I iced the finished cake with a sugar and lemon juice mix…. literally mixing icing sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice together until I had the right consistency.

We’re not big chocolate cake fans here… but this has been a hit with us and everyone we served it to.



Friday Photo

What can be said about this view from our kitchen.

View from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

Friday Photo

Have joined our local camera club… this is the result of playing with light and shadow!

Light and shadow

Light and shadow

Oldfarm Cointreau

I’ve been making our own ‘Cointreau’ style liqueur for the past couple of years, and was absolutely sure I had already shared the recipe on here…. but I hadn’t.

So here it is…. and full credit for the recipe must go to the late Paolo Tullio.

It is so simple and easy to make…. all it needs is time.

Home-made Cointreau

Home-made Cointreau

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Half litre of vodka
  • 1 orange
  • String
  • Wide necked jar – we use a Kilner jar
  • Water
  • 150 g sugar


Pour vodka into your jar.  Thread string through the orange.  We use a wooden skewer to pierce the orange, then push a straw through the hole, and then thread the string through the straw…. hope this makes sense, but you will probably device your own method.

You may need the assistance of another pair if hands for this part.

Lower the orange into the jar until it is about a centimetre above the vodka…. holding onto your string at both ends.  Now close the lid of the jar to secure the string in place.

making home-made cointreau

making home-made cointreau

Put your jar somewhere safe for 21 days.

If you watch you will see that the alcohol evaporates, hits the orange and drops down, thus infusing the alcohol with the orange flavour.

After the 21 days, dissolve 150 grams of sugar in as little water as possible, and add it to your flavoured vodka.

That’s it.

I’ve put it in pretty little bottles as Christmas gifts too.

Or save it and enjoy yourself 🙂



Friday Photo

Playing about with my new light for my photo studio (otherwise known as little table in corner of kitchen).  It simulates daylight…. not bad, eh?  And, of course, huge thanks to my friend, Mary, who brought the delicious fruit from Spain.

Dried fruit - dates and mixed peel

Dried fruit – dates and mixed peel

Rain in Ireland?

Visitors ask us all sorts of questions about the weather in Ireland, and about the ‘rain’ in particular.

When is the ‘rainy season’?

Should we bring an umbrella as well as a raincoat?

When it rains in Ireland is it all day, or just showers?

And each time I am asked I have to stop and think.  If you’re Irish I think you’ll know what I mean when I say…. we could be so rich if we could answer these questions!!!!

And, here are a couple of questions for the Irish people reading this…. do you have a raincoat? Do you use an umbrella?

I do have both, but I cannot remember the last time I used either.  Raincoats and umbrellas are generally kept for city/posh wear! Living here in North Tipperary, it is generally a jacket with a hood, or pull on a hat and destroy the hairstyle anyway :).

Rain is a coming

Rain is a coming

As for the ‘rainy season’ question….. well that does depend on how the gods are feeling, doesn’t it?  Here we are in November, it is raining a lot today, but I can’t remember when we last had rain.  So this is good.

We, Irish, love to talk about the weather.  No greeting is complete without a comment about the weather.

And there are the myriad of ways in which we can describe rain.

Torrential downpour – very heavy rain, that it’s probably best not to go out in… curl up with a book or adjourn to the fireside.

Soft Irish mist – rain is just hanging there.  This is not the prettiest of types of rain, it will soak you to the skin…. it just penetrates everything.

Spitting rain – run between the drops!

Rain, however, very seldom stops play!  We are used to it.  In fact a lot of the time we don’t even notice it.

And when you do stop to think about it …. rain is good!  Where would we be without our rain?  We wouldn’t have our 40 shades of green.  (On a side note… did you know that Johnny Cash wrote this? I did not!)

So our advice to tourists… bring layers, bring a jacket with a hood…. and let it rain, let it pour  🙂