Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Town Where I Live

Millmount Fort, c 1808
OK, I don't actually live IN Drogheda, but it's the main town to where we actually live.

Drogheda is full of history and interesting things to see and places to visit. Yesterday, a bank holiday in Ireland, the sun was shining and we decided to take in one of the town's tourist attractions...aka Millmount Fort. We drive past the fort one or two times a week and always said we should stop in and see the place. So we finally did.

According to history, there has been a fortification on this site since pre-12th century. However, it's thought that beneath the first fortification is a Neolithic Passage Tomb, most of which date back to sometime between 4300-2000BC! To visualize what a passage tomb looks like, consider the Newgrange tomb.

It was in the 12th century that a motte was constructed and upon it a timber fortification.

A motte, for those who don't know, is a tall earthen mound, vs a moat, which is a ditch dug around a structure and often filled with water or effluent to deter marauders. It's a little confusing, like raise (to lift/build) and raze (to level/destroy).

But who is buried in the tomb? No one knows for sure, but Irish legend says it's the burial place of Amhairgin mac Míled (Amergin, whose name in Irish is: "Amhair" = singing; "gin" = give birth...Or literally, the one who gave birth to singing). In ancient Irish mythology, he was regarded as the creator of the arts: song, poetry, and music. How cool is that? Ireland has long been known for her arty types :)

Check out The Song of Amhairgin. Here are some lyrics and translation, and some info on Amhairgin.

In more modern times, Hugh de Lacy, who came to Ireland on the foot of Richard 'Strongbow' de Clare, in 1272 and was granted the Kingdom of Meath by Henry II. By this time, de Clare had been in Ireland for three years, having secured the Leinster kingdom for its king and subsequently marrying his daughter, Aoife/Eve. And Henry had laid claim to the rebellious Celtic nation.

At that time, Meath was the fifth province in Ireland, and called the Royal County because the High Kings sat at Tara in the heart of the region. Meath has now been incorporated into the province of Leinster...the other three being Ulster (Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan, including all of Northern Ireland), Munster and Connacht.

Hugh de Lacy became the Lord of Meath, which was the most extensive liberty in Ireland...a very high honor indeed. Henry II allowed de Clare to remain south of Dublin in Leinster, but directed de Lacy to begin constructing stone castles in Meath and north Leinster. This includes the amazing Trim Castle (used in the filming of Braveheart).

It was while Hugh was in Drogheda that he saw to the fortifications, which included the walls, towers, and gates* on both sides of the River Boyne. Here's a map of what Drogheda probably looked like by 1649, according to Ravell's Map, c. 1749.

de Lacy went back to his holdings in England after leaving Hugh Tyrrel in charge of the construction, but returned in 1177 as Procurator General of all Ireland...essentially a lawyer of sorts who represented others in court...and as Irish governor.

It wasn't all rosy for Hugh though. He was eventually recalled to England where he faced charges against him by the Irish for his cruel and unjust treatment. In 1181, he was recalled again for marrying the deposed King of Connacht's daughter without Henry'ls permission! And so his life went...going against his king who lived in another land...until he was finally killed in Durrow, County Offaly, while supervising the building of a motte and bailey similar to Millmount Fort.

It wasn't until September 1649 that Drogheda really made the history books with the now historical battle, the Siege of Drogheda, also called the Rape of Drogheda, led by Oliver Cromwell. You can follow the links to read up on this battle and the subsequent Cromwellian War in Ireland, but I'll say that Drogheda was the first major battle on Cromwell's landing in Ireland, where his troops ransacked and murdered over 3000 people who inhabited the barracks, and untold numbers of civilians, before taking the next several years to do the same throughout Ireland.

367 years later, the people of Drogheda still well-remember this atrocity and have their own stories to tell...whether it be stories passed down through the family or personal grudges against those who committed the murders.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked ;) Back to Millmount.
Millmount Fort, c 1808
Governor's House, c. 1810

After the massive destruction around Drogheda at Cromwell's orders, Millmount rebuilds itself, as soldiers are now carrying gunpowder weapons rather than axes and pikes. The Drogheda Militia is formed to fight the 1798 Irish Rebellion.

But until the early 18th century, the motte was all that remained, as the timber structure had been part of Cromwell's destruction, which included soldier billets, and most of the walls and gatehouses*.

There had always been some military occupation on the site, known as Richmond Barracks, as the Duleek Gate was just one hundred yards behind this area along the western wall, and had a line of site to both the Butler Gate and Dublin Gate, north and south gates, respectively, on the south side of the river. But also as the highest point in the town, the barracks here had a commanding view of the entire town, so a very strategic location. So by the 1700s, it was time to rebuild.

Some of the structures already on this site before the stone tower construction were mainly billeting quarters for the soldiers who protected the gates and the connecting walls.

It was in 1808 that the Martello Tower that we see today was completed. These towers, aka Martellos, were built around Irish, and British, coastal areas as protection against French forced during the French Revolutionary Wars. While the wars officially ended in 1802, many of these towers still went up around the Irish coastline for continued defensive purposes.

Courtyard at Richdmond Barracks
overlooked by Millmount Fort
Today, many Martellos are either museums or private homes, including Joyce's Tower in Sandycove, south County Dublin, which was home to the writer and now a museum.

Along with the tower construction, new billeting buildings were constructed.

Then in 1831, the stone arch and iron gate were erected, to replace the timber ones.

And finally in 1850, the Governor's House was built at the foot of the tower, as well as the officer's mess.

Richmond Barracks remained a barracks for another seventy years until 1922 when the barracks and fort saw more action during the Irish Civil War/War for Independence.

Millmount Fort, Drogheda
Irish Free State Forces
c. 1922
On 4 July 1922, the fort had been occupied by Anti-Treaty Forces...until Collins was forced to negotiate for the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Irish largely remained on the same side as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, fighting for independence from England.

When Collins came back to Ireland with only 26 of the 32 counties, the Brotherhood split between pro-treatyists and anti-treatyists. That is to say, for anyone with a little knowledge of the time, that Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins had a falling out. de Valera and his followers became Anti-Treatyists, and Collins and his followers became Pro-Treatyists, aka the Free State Forces.

Under the command of Michael Collins, with the backing of Winston Churchill, the fort, occupied by de Valera soldiers, underwent many hours of shelling until it fell into Free State hands.

While the fort had been 'put back together', it did not undergo proper restoration until the 1990s, and eventually reopened as a museum in 2000, part of the country's millennium celebrations.

What visitors will find on the site today includes the restoration of all buildings and rooms. Some have been rented out in the past to special interest groups, such as the Drogheda Photographic Club, and at one time a cafe in a glassed in atrium room at the back of a billeting house, overlooking the Boyne River.

Dueling Pistols
Millmount Fort, Drogheda, Co Louth
The Millmount Museum is open, with three floors of artifacts on display. Some of the current exhibitions include the Guild and Trade Banners display, the Industrial Exhibition, the folk kitchen, archaeological and geological exhibitions, and the post office exhibition.

The tower itself contains some of the original and reconstructed artifacts from the Cromwellian War, the 1798 Louth Militia, and a large cache of weapons, including a small collection of dueling pistols.

Outside the tower are two canon reconstructions, both of which are fully operational and are fired in August during Heritage Week for the Drogheda Festival.

Below are some of the other photos taken during our visit, including some views from the tower overlooking Drogheda.

Millmount Fort
new interior roof, c 2000
O'Neill and Cromwell Sieges, 1641-1649
Soldier kitted out as a Cromwellian Roundhead,
a term given to Presbyterian Puritan cavaliers
for the short hair they wore, not the shape of the helmets.
Irish Free State Forces
general infantry uniform, c 1922
Millmount Fort
Dueling weapons
Millmount Museum
Original Irish phone box
Where would you like to make your call?
Millmount Fort
one of two working canons
directly ahead, St Peter's Cathedral
St Peter's Cathedral, rose window
keepers of the head of St Oliver Plunkett
martyred July 1681
Drogheda, County Louth
toward the medieval quarter
St Mary's Cathedral, the viaduct rail bridge
St Laurence's Gate, c 13th century
last remaining barbican in Drogheda
originally the Great East Gate
the last portion of the city wall remains nearby
Enjoying the River Boyne
on a sunny June bank holiday Monday

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of Millount Fort and learning something about the history of Drogheda. There's SO much about the place to learn, if you look beneath the surface.

The area surrounding the town is rich in history as well, as Trim Castle is about 30-40 minutes drive, Newgrange/Nowth/Dowth are 15 minutes from town center, the Battle of the Boyne (c 1690) and Oldtown House is 5 minutes drive, and more, including amazingly scenic drives.

Here's view of Drogheda from Millmount Fort...the beautiful River Boyne, the cathedral spires, and the medieval quarter. Please ignore McDonald's, the ugly modern buildings, and the haze. ;)


If you've ever been to Drogheda, drop me a note and share your experiences! You can email me from the handydandy, emailer on the side bar :-)



Thursday, May 05, 2016

We're all Mexican on Cinco de Mayo!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!!!


Wow! Can you believe it's May already? I can't. We're nearly half way into the 'new year'. But what a great way to spend it today.

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Many would say it's the day of Mexican independence, but that's untrue. The official date of Mexican Independence Day is actually 16 September and known as Grito de Dolores, the Cry of Dolores?

Why Dolores?

On 16 Sept 1810, it was in the Mexican town of Dolores that the battle cry for Mexican independence was shouted. The ensuing battle marks Mexico's break from Spain and the beginning of Mexican independence as it's own nation.

Batalla de Puebla.png
The Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862
This goes back to what, exactly, is Cinco de Mayo? Why is 5 May so important?

Today marks another battle in Mexican history. This battle was between Mexico and France! 5 May is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862...nearly 50 years *after* Mexican independence. The French troops were in greater number, better quipped, and better trained, than the Mexican forces. Yet, it was Mexico who prevailed in this battle.

Why is Cinco de Mayo more widely celebrated than Grito de Dolores?

Well, you can thank the American drinks industry for this. Seriously. While Mexicans in Dolores do host an annual feast to commemorate winning the Battle of Puebla, the event is much larger in the US. Immigrant Mexican's are often surprised how big the feast day is in the US compared to their home country...because of the American drinks industry, who took the Mexican holiday to start promoting Mexican alcohol on this day, such as Corona, Dos XX, Modelo, Sol, Tecate, and other beers, as well as tequila.

Once the drinks companies started promoting alcohol on this Mexican holiday, the holiday grew exponentially to the massive event we have today...a day when everyone is Mexican! It's grown to the proportion of the Irish St Patrick's Day...again, thanks to the American drinks industry.

How do we celebrate?

Putting up traditional decorations, preparing many Mexican and Mexican style dishes, and playing games. And of course, Mariachi's and dancing!

One of the most popular games is the piñata (pronounced pin-ya-ta), which is a cardboard figure covered in crepe paper and filled with sweets. The most popular design is of the donkey or burro, but today you can even get them in the shape of popular, and not so popular, political figures ;-)

How does one play?

This is a fun children's game where each child gets three whacks before handing the stick over to the next child. Players are blindfolded, given a stick, spun around to disorient them, then they try whacking the piñata with a stick until the treats fall out. The one who breaks open the piñata wins.

What kind of decorations?

All kinds of bunting, streamers, lanterns, etc. Decorating tables with little piñatas, tables covered with the traditional Mexican blankets and sombreros, little potted flowering cactus, etc. Really, anything colorful and bright. Some even fly a Mexican flag.



What are Mariachi's?

The origin of the word mariachi stems from many translations, but essentially, this is a type of regional music that has come to symbolize all of Mexican traditional Music. The band can have anywhere from five to fifteen members, several playing violins and guitars, horns, and the guitarrón, which is a bass guitar...seen here above in the center of the picture.

Mariachis are expected to know hundreds of songs, as one of the primary functions at events is taking requests.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán is recognized as the oldest and most famous mariachi ensemble, founded by Gaspar Vargas in the late 1890s.



And Mexican dancing?

Mexican Folk Dancing is performed by well-trained dancers wearing colorful dresses with huge skirts that are spun and swirled through many dances. Mexico’s modern folk dance tradition is a blending of elements from its Indigenous, African and European heritage. But was recognize today is known as Jarabe dancing which has its roots in Jalisco, and became a political tool to evoke feelings of patriotism and “liberty.” And today symbolizes freedom and joy during many Mexican events. These folk dances also include fandangos, huapangos, jotas, boleros, zambras and zapateados, and are performed by men as well.



And what about the food?

I know you've been waiting for this section :-)

Mexican foods are as diverse and exciting as the Mexican culture and heritage. With such a large country, every region has it's own influences, ingredients, spices, and versions of so many traditional dishes we know and love...enchiladas, tacos, burritos, flautas, menudo, frijoles, quesadillas, mole pablano, tamales, tostadas, and so much more. {drool}

For a full list of traditional Mexican dishes, check out this list on Wikipedia.



One of my favorite ways to start my Cinco de Mayo day is with Huevos Rancheros, which literally translated to ranchers eggs...aka Mexicanos. The basic dish is composed of fried eggs served on lightly fried/softened corn tortillas which are topped with a type tomato-chili sauce, or enchilada sauce or salsa. Common additions include frijoles, Mexican rice, and either slices of avocado or guacamole.

When I was growing up, we feasted on what we just knew as egg and tortilla. The corn tortillas was dipped in hot oil for just a moment on both sides to soften, then patted dry and a fried egg was put on top. It depended on taste whether the eater wanted their eggs sunny side up, mashed yolk, or scrambled egg, but traditionally, this dish is served sunny side up. The egg was then rolled into the tortilla and gobbled down. Having these as an adult reminds me of my childhood, and kind of helps alleviate some homesickness now that I live so far away.

For the bigger Cinco de Mayo meal, I normally serve either tacos, enchiladas, tamale pie, or even a Mexican lasagna. Tonight, it's looking like tacos, or nachos. But those huevo rancheros are looking mighty good too!

Recently, another California expat, Lisa, joined me for a great Mexican meal in our home.

What was on our menu?


Here are a few easy recipes you can try at home:

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Please note: Easy means using some premade ingredients. If you want to be a traditional Mexican mama, you can make your own individual ingredients before assembling ;-) :

Ingredients

Filling:

1 tin of black beans
1 tin of spicy frijoles
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional mozzarella if you can't get Jack)
Mexican rice
Black olives, pitted, sliced
Green onions, aka scallions or salad onions, sliced

Also:

Note: I use Blanco Niño authentic Mexican style corn tortillas here in Ireland. They're based in Clonmel, Co Tipperary and deliver to your door, fresh frozen! These tortillas are made with lime treated fresh corn masa, a little salt and water...no flour or other ingredients. Look for this type of tortilla wherever you are for the most authentic taste. If they have flour in them, send them back!

6-8 authentic corn tortillas
Monterey Jack, or mozzarella
Black Olives, pitted and sliced
Green onions
Enchilada sauce

Method

Preheat the oven to around 375F/190C

Start by putting a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a rectangle baking dish to prevent the enchiladas from sticking during cooking.

Then, fill each tortilla by hand. For me, the easiest way is by cupping the tortilla in the palm of one hand, and using a spoon to add ingredients to the tortilla. Add the beans, rice, olives, onions, and cheese to the tortilla, then gently roll it together. Place in the baking dish, seam side down.

Fill all of your tortillas until the dish is full (you can usually squeeze in one more if you think it's full but don't sardine them.

Pour over the enchiladas your sauce of choice. Be generous. You want the tortillas to really soften when you bake them. Cover the tortillas well, and be sure you get some down the edges of the dish to prevent sticking.

Top with a generous amount of cheese, then add the olives and onions before covering with foil and putting into the oven.

Bake for about half an hour then remove the foil and cook until the cheese is browning and the sauce is bubbling.

Let the enchiladas rest on the sideboard for a short time (or open the oven door and turn off the heat, to let the cheese set up a little. Then serve with the following side dishes which you can prepare while the enchiladas are cooking.

Note: Start by putting the rice onto cook first, about the time you remove the foil from the enchladas. You can then prepare the salsa while it's cooking, which you will use in the Mexican rice and the guacamole.


Mexican Rice

Ingredients

1 cup of rice - long grain or basmati
2 cups of water
Salsa Fresca
Tomato sauce

Method

Bring two cups of water to the boil, then add your rice. Bring back to the boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Leave it on the burner while you prepare the guacamole, recipe below.

Just before the rice is done, use a fork to loosen the rice in the pot. Then spoon in some salsa until you have the desired rice to salsa ratio. Add a little at a time but start with about 1/2 cup. Then spoon in a little tomato sauce and let it soak into the rice. Turn on the heat to low, cover the pot and continue cooking until the rice is tender.


Salsa Fresca

My friend Lisa brought this to our meal, as she did the Mexican rice. Her recipe is an old family recipe which she's not sharing ;-) But I have a great recipe of my own.

Ingredients

2 medium ripe tomatoes, deseeded, skinned and chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 medium garlic clove, finely diced
1/2 small jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely diced (can use Ortega roasted chilies if you can get them, about 1 tbsp or to taste)
cilantro, a small bunch, finely chop the leafy parts, discard the stems
splash lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix with a spoon. Easy!

Note: Double this recipe if you will be using it to make your rice and guacamole.


Chunky (or smooth) Guacamole

An important note on avocados: Do not use salad avocados, aka Fuerte avocados, as they're too watery. Look for a thick, dark green, pebbly skins which will tell you the fruit is suitable for mashing.

Hass avocados are usually best for guacamole...Hass and the larger Lamb Hass.

Ingredients

2 large Hass Avocados, skinned, pitted, and roughly chopped
Salsa Fresca
Pinch of sea salt (optional)

Method

Lightly fork mash the avocados. When you have the texture you want, chunky or smooth, spoon in the salsa to your desired taste. Also add salt to taste, if you think it's needed.

How easy is that?!




To Serve

Be sure everything is hot, of course, but put out bowls for each of the side dishes...Mexican rice, frijoles, guacamole, salsa, and even some sour cream or creme fresh.

And don't forget the chips!!











Tuesday, March 15, 2016

We're all Irish on St Patrick's Day!

With St Patrick's Day looming before us, there are a few things you'll need to know to celebrate:

First - It's called Paddy's Day or St Paddy's Day if you're going to give the saint a nickname. Patty is a girl's name and does not stem from Patrick. Paddy comes from the Irish for Patrick...Padraig, which is pronounced pawd-rig.

Also - Corned beef is an American creation. It's not been until recent years you'd see it in Ireland. In Ireland, it has always bacon, which is a special cut of ham, or from the loin, that was cured for preserving and brought out for holidays.

When the Irish went to America, pork wasn't a great commodity so it was very expensive. They turned to a cheaper alternative of cured beef which was suggested by their Jewish neighbors who'd been curing beef for centuries!

As it turns out, Patrick was probably Welsh. He was taken prisoner as a very young man but escaped and came to Ireland to spread Christianity. Ireland's true patron saint should have been Brigit, aka Brigit of Kildare. She founded a monastery there (much of which still stands), and worked beside Patrick and guides him around parts of Ireland where they both spread the word of God.


Ireland has THREE patron saints -- Patrick, Brigit, and Columcille, all of whom are interred in Downpatrick. County Down.

Coat of arms of Ireland.svgGreen...everyone's wearing green on St Patrick's Day. But did you know that green is NOT the national color of Ireland? The official color is *blue*.

Here's the official Irish Coat of Arms which appears on all Irish government documents.

Swilling Guinness...These days, St Patrick's Day isn't complete without a pint or three of the black stuff. But did you know, that as a holy day, St Patrick's Day was originally dry? Just like Good Friday and Christmas.

St Patrick's Day was originally a holy day, where people visited churches for masses and prayers. Today's famous parades held all over the world are an American invention, boosted by the Irish expats as a way to remember the auld sod.

This practice dates back to the very first St Patrick's Day Parade in 1732 in Boston, then again in New York City by a growing Irish population nearly 30 years later, in 1762.

Ireland started hosting parades for American tourists who started coming to Ireland on holidays around the 1970s, and festivities grew exponentially to what we see today, with city center Dublin closed for several days around the 17th, including street entertainment, food, music, carnival rides, and throngs of people gathering from all over the world. And of course, the massive parade on the 17th.

Did Patrick banish snakes from Ireland? Well, it depends on your interpretation of 'snakes.' Ireland has never had those cute little slithery creatures called snakes. It's simply too cold, and they never made it over the ice bridge before the thaw. While there are domestic snakes today, which have been brought in through pet stores, Ireland has never had a native population of wild snake.

However, if you consider the word 'snake' can also mean someone or something you consider honest and sincere but is really lying or is a scam, then it could be interpreted that Patrick banished Paganism from Ireland when he converted Pagans to Christianity, saying their faith was a lie.

How did he do that? With the shamrock, of course. The shamrock is recognized as a holy plant in Ireland because Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to those he sought to convert, each leaf representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Note: It was *St Nicholas* who created the Holy Trinity! Patrick just used the shamrock to explain it to the old Irish, and probably telling them that if the Holy Trinity wasn't in Ireland, why were their blankets of these special plants all over Ireland? Great marketing!


Ireland tries creating the festival so many have come to expect. This includes offering green lager in the pubs, selling green souvenirs, and dying the River Liffey green. However, the year they tried this, officials got the tide wrong and ended up dying Dublin Bay!

There are loads of facts and traditions associated with St Patrick and the 17th of March. One I bet you didn't know is credited to farmers. They aim to have their seed potatoes in the ground before St Patrick's Day. It's kind of superstitious that if they're not in the ground by the 17th, St Patrick won't bless the planting for a healthy crop, which in turn means a prosperous year.

So whatever you're doing to celebrated St Patrick's Day where you are, don't forget to put a few potato eyes into the ground, or even a big pot of dirt, if you want St Patrick to bless your year. And if you keep them watered, you may just have a few spuds for your dinner table in a few months!





Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heart Shaped Eggy Toast and Other Goodies

Who doesn't like eggs and toast? They're one of the ultimate comfort foods. And what a wonderful thing to share with your sweetheart on a lazy Sunday morning!

Here's a great recipe for eggs and toast, which was made famous from the 1941 classic film, Moon Over Miami.

After the movie aired, this dish became very popular and took on names such as Egg in a Basket, Moon Over Miami Eggs, and Betty Grable Eggs.

While the basic recipe simply involved cutting a hole in a slice of bread, cracking an egg into the middle (hence egg in a basket), and frying both together, there are simple ways of making this preparation more aesthetically pleasing . . . especially if you're trying to please your sweetheart!

There's a great recipe in today's Irish Independent eNewspaper for Betty Grable Eggs.

2016-02-13_lif_16601978_I3.JPG
Image courtesy of the Irish Independent

My personal comments about making these eggs are simple:

Use really good, fresh bread, and cut thick slices . . . not sandwich width, but something generous to hold the eggs and that will take slightly longer cooking time so your egg has a chance to cook.

Use good quality, fresh, room temperature eggs. They'll cook faster and have a better flavor, the fresher they are.

Use good quality butter, and butter both sides of your bread so the bread and egg don't stick to the pan, and when it's done, all you really need is a little fresh, cracked pepper. Lovely!

Use the part of the bread you cut out to make toast. Butter and fry alongside your egg and bread. You can use these piece for some great jam, or as 'soldiers' for your yolk (I like mine runny)

Are you a bit more health conscious? You can still make Betty Grable Eggs by making some simple changes:

Toast your bread

Use a cookie cutter to cut out the whole

Poaching your eggs and place into the toasted bread

Simples!

As the original name implies, Egg in a Basket, you can use anything for your basket. Check out some of these nifty ideas:



Eggs in poblano pepper
Bell peppers would also work


Eggs in an avocado
Cooked avocados are wonderful!
Bake these in the oven.

Eggs in a bagel
Simply cut your bagel in half, enlarge the center hole,
and crack your egg into the middle.
Use flavored bagels for added zing!

OR grab a muffin tin and go to town filling those baskets!


Eggs in a toast basket
Butter your bread on one side, then push the buttered
side down into the muffin tin. Crack your egg into the well,
and bake until the egg is done. 

Line your muffin tin with bacon, crack in your egg, and
bake until the egg and bacon are done.


Use quality deli ham.
Push into your tin, crack an egg into the well,
and bake until done.

Eggs and hash browns
Use freshly grated potatoes, pressed free of excess liquid.
Press into your buttered muffin tin, then crack an egg
into the well, and bake until the egg is done and the
hash brown is crispy.

The possibilities are endless for how you basket your eggs. How will you do yours? Please share your images and suggestions with me in the comments.



Friday, February 05, 2016

Valentine's Day Heart Cake

OK this is something a little different for your Valentine's Day, but a pretty cool addition to the site...a heart shaped . . . well . . . heart!

Will you make one? I'd love to see the photos :-) Share in the comments.

Happy Valentine's Day, however you celebrate!



For more recipes for unusual cake design: How To Cake It



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Shima Ding

SHIMA
Arrival day - 20 November
Has it really been since September that I posted last? Well, I have some catching up to do!

ON 20 November, we took in a small collie-cocker mix to foster -- Shima. The poor little thing had been kicked by a horse and his rear femur was snapped in two. Because it was the holidays, the local rescue (Drogheda Animal Rescue) couldn't find a quiet home for him to recuperate in. So we volunteered. He arrived with a fold down cage and wearing the cone of shame because his leg had been surgically repaired with a pin in the bones to keep them together while the leg healed. 8 weeks cage rest was ordered. Of course, once the painkillers were stopped after a couple weeks, keeping him down was like trying to contain a cyclone in a paper cup!

End of December 2015
By 10 December, he was allowed out of the cage for longer periods of time (other than his business in the grass out back) so he was leashed to my desk in the afternoon. You can see his poor but cute little shaved bottom.

Surprisingly, Shima was healing pretty well, so by the end of December, he was allowed out of the cage and off the lead in the house for short periods.

Now, 8 weeks later, Shima is hell on wheels. He's had his pin removed and all wounds are heeled. His hair is growing back. And he wants to run! And so he does. Like the wind.

Belly rub!!
Oh, and if you're reading this, Shima is ready for a new home! While Drogheda Animal Rescue is actively posting rehoming notices for Shima, we still need more help in finding a forever home for this little scamp. He's currently living with us in County Meath, but any good home will be considered.

Here are some vitals...

Name: Shima (we've been calling him Shima Ding, Ding Dong, and Dingaling...he answers to it all. He'll answer to anything as long as you have food in your hand!)

Weight: about 10kg/20lbs

Age: 18 months-ish

Breed: Cocker/Collie mix

Healthy: All vaccines and recent worming, microchipped, and health certified.

Looks like an ice cream kissed him on the face!
Pros:

Shima knows basic commands in the house...come, sit, down/lie down, shake (he's a left pawed dog!), get in your bed, wait*, heel (on lead), find water, potty time...And he'll catch treats in the air...and toys, and balls, and basically anything.

*At feeding time, he will sit down and wait for you to tell him OK and then will eat. He will also wait at the back door while you open it. Say OK and he'll run out to do his business.

So YES. Shima is potty trained! And once he knows which door you take him out to do his business, he'll go there when he needs to go out. If you don't see him, he will come to you and spin circles in front of you, as if to say, "Take me out, cuz I gotta go!"

At the river on a long lead
for a little runaround.
Basically, Shima is a lover. He *loves* to be loved and will cuddle with you at the drop of a hat. Once on his back with his tummy rubbed, he'll be like jelly in your hands.

Shima is mostly a quiet dog. He spends the afternoon and evening under my desk when he's not playing with his toys. First hint of action and he's up like a shot! He. Wants. To. Play. Or run! Maybe his name should have been Joy because he's certainly the embodiment of it. Or maybe he's just giddy!

Cons:

Really, his only fault is no recall. Keep him on a lead, or a long lead, out in public and he's a fabulous boy.

Shima wants to *run*. Not to run away, but because he loves the wind in his face. Or he wants to run to where the action is. He's fixated on fun, which can be a good thing. Keep him on a lead until he's been trained properly and this trait will disappear.
Shima will play for hours. He loves toys!

When he's rehomed, he will come with his own bed and toys, treats and food, new collar and lead.

Contact DAR for more info on adopting Shima. Of course, you can message me for more details.

His time is coming to an end with us so it's urgent we actively ask around for anyone interested in taking in a wonderful little dog.

So please ask around. No one will come to you and ask if you know of anyone with a dog needing a home. Ask around and show his picture. Share this blog.

There is a perfect home in Ireland for Shima. We just have to find it.

Sshhh . . . Shima is sleeping!