Monday, December 26, 2011


For 10 Bonus points, what is this???

Answer: An egg piercer (or Salmonella carrier, as mom called it this morning). It is used to pierce the bottom of a raw egg before boiling it to prevent the egg from cracking while being boiled

The Obscure Kitchen Utensil Quiz

My visits home are wonderful. They always include spending time with my much missed family and friends, lounging on my super comfy couch watching recorded episodes of Ace of Cakes, making up for lost time with comfort foods and ALWAYS involves my mother trying to convince me to take home some of her obscure kitchen utensils.

My mother has the best stocked kitchen that ever was. She has collected a myriad of wooden spoons, kitchen tongs and spatulas over the years (Note: kitchen utensils is not even her official collection. That's confined to Swarovski crystal figurines, chopsticks and straws) and now has drawers overflowing with kitchen loot that she wants to bestow unto me. She wants to pass the obscure kitchen utensil torch.

It usually goes something like this-
I'll be eating my breakfast at the kitchen table and she'll be innocently working at something at the kitchen counter, when her arm juts upwards with something shiny in her hand and she asks loudly and hopefully, "do you need a cherry pitter?" A Yes means triumph. It means the utensil is deemed worthy enough to be shlepped across the atlantic, taking up a portion of my limited luggage allowance. A No means the utensil retreats to the drawer until my next visit, when she will try again. Her persistence sometimes works.

Here is a selection of some random utensils from my mother's kitchen drawer. Can you guess what these are used for?

Answer: 1) sticky rice spoon 2) falafel press 3) chestnut piercer 4) soda bottle gasser 5) ice pick 6) courgette corer 7) tablecloth crumb collector 8) citrus wedge squeezer 9) citrus thick zester 10) crinkle cut vegetable blade 11) crab meat pick 12) egg wedge segmenter 13) walnut pick
14) garlic crusher cleaner 15) olive spoon 16) cheese slicer 17) cherry pitter

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stuffed Courgettes, Co-op style

I cook. I clean. I host dinner parties. I sell cake. I cater. I know how to use a chef knife. Kinda. I like inventing menus. Good food is important to me. I like people. I am able to stand for hours and hours on end. So running a cafe once a week should be easy, right? Well, no. It certainly is not.

The Dublin Food Co-op is housed in 12 Newmarket Square, nestled within the parameters of Cork Street, Blackpitts and the Liberties. On Saturdays it is an excellent and rare Organic food market where the people selling food are the producers of that food. There are growers, bakers, dairy farmers and olive oil pressers. There are herbalists, crafters and chefs. There is also a Cafe managed and run by the talented Luca and Aisling who are also behind the ever popular Dublin Flea, For Food Sake events and Chow street food (straight up yummiest falafel in town).

I have been given the exciting opportunity of managing the cafe in the Dublin Food Co-op on Thursdays  for the past 6 weeks, and will continue to do so until then end of the year. I have tendered my proposal to stay on in the new year and have my fingers crossed that I am chosen for the job. So far it had been a rewarding experience and I have learned so much. My Thursdays are long and they are filled with on-the-job self taught lessons. I have refined my menus and plan of attack every week since I started. So far I have learned:

1. Always have soup on the menu. Chili as a main does not satiate the soup yearner's appetite. Although it is soupy, it is not soup.

2.  A flat grill is not a hob. It is very difficult to bring a huge pot to boil on a flat grill. Therefore potatoes must be baked or roasted, not mashed. Learn to work within the limitations of the equipment you've got.

3. Baristas have difficult, skilled jobs. It is really frikin hard to get the milk heated to a perfect foam that has some lift but isn't dry. The day I am finally able to get that milk to the perfect consistency, allowing me to create that milky heart on the top of a cappuccino, is a day I will celebrate. Annually.

4. Make sure the menu is varied. There are lots of vegetables in this world. Make lunch colorful. Some customers are coeliac. Some customers are vegan. Some customers have allergies that were previously unimaginable to me, like broccoli intolerance. For real. Try to have something for everyone.

5. People are hungry at noon. If lunch isn't ready by noon be prepared to pay the price by absorbing grumpiness and attitude. People should not be held responsible for what they do when they are suffering from the hunger grump. I have to make sure that food is ready at noon. I must be in the kitchen as early as needed to ensure this.

6. People love potatoes. I'm not talking exclusively people of Ireland. I'm talking people of the world.

All of the ingredients I use for this cafe are organic and I cook dishes that I love. I might not have ever cooked them before, but I make darn sure before the meal is served that it is tasty and healthy enough to make me happy.

I cook with ingredients mostly purchased from within the Co-op community. They are seasonal, fresh and local. The dry goods are bought from the Co-op shop, the produce is bought from Christy Stapelton's Organic Produce, the cheese and milk are from Moonshine Organic dairy and the coffee, chocolate and olive oil is bought from Lino Olivieri, whose family has made olive oil for so long that his surname is Olivieri.

Here is a well received recipe from last week's menu. It is fast, requires no boiling and contains no broccoli:

Stuffed Courgettes with couscous

Serves 2

Ingredients (all organic):

2 courgettes
100g wholegrain couscous
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried basil (or fresh if you have it)
1 vegetable stock cube
1 leek, cleaned and chopped (using only the white part)
100g emmental cheese, grated (vegans and lactose intolerants can omit this)
olive oil
Salt and pepper
sprig of thyme
1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Heat some oil in a pan. Sauté the garlic until just fragrant. Add the tin of tomatoes and leeks. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce reduces by 1/3. If the sauce reduces too quickly you can add 1/2 cup water.

Place the raw couscous in a bowl. Boil 200ml water and dissolve 1 stock cube. Pour over the couscous, cover with cling film and set aside until the water has been absorbed.

Fluff the couscous with a fork. Pour the prepared tomato sauce over top and mix in.

Half the courgettes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds

Arrange the courgettes in a roasting pan

Fill the courgettes with couscous. 

Top with grated cheese. Bake until the courgettes are just tender but still vibrantly green, about 20 minutes.
This cheese is cubed instead of grated, as you can see. No big deal

Enjoy these Stuffed Courgettes warm with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice, served with a fresh left side salad

Monday, October 24, 2011

Classic donuts

Sometimes in life you have to answer some tough questions. "Would you like to make donuts for the Twin Peaks 21st Anniversary party?" is not one of them. The answer is yes. 1,000 times yes!

I'm not the most experienced donut maker out there, but I have fried a ball of dough or two in my life as a baker. Actually, make that 100, counting last Hannukah's donut fry-o-thon for Dublin's candle lighting ceremony. If you can make 1 you can make 100. And you can make 1 if you try. This time round I made 3 types: Glazed, jelly filled and chocolate glazed. Now you try!

Sheriff Truman: Jelly donuts?
Dale Cooper: Harry, that goes without saying.

Donuts are not difficult to make. But just to help get you over your initial apprehensions I'll clear up some misconceptions for you right here, right now:
1. Donuts are fried. If you're a pessimist you might say that they are fattening and unhealthy, and are likely to give you snack remorse. If you're an optimist you might say they are the perfect combination of sugar and fried, and are likely to make you feel happy while eating them.  Live in the now! 

2. You do not need special equipment to make donuts. You do not need pans shaped like donuts. This is an  example of items designed by the Man to distract you from donut success, making you feel like an inferior donut maker, thereby putting you under pressure to purchase more "donut making equipment" to increase the probability of donut success. Can you see the inescapable loop?! Don't be a sucker. Plant your own garden, be your own donut maker! 

3. Donuts are not made the same way as bagels. You do not roll the dough like a snake and connect the ends. In fact, you roll out the dough, cut out a big circle and a little circle in the middle. This results in 1 donut + 1 donut hole. Dukin' Donuts calls donut holes Munchkins. That's just insulting and un-PC. Tim Horton's calls them Timbits. That's just rude. A fellow baker Devyn calls them donut poop. 

4. Donuts and doughnuts are both acceptable spellings

The Double RR Diner at the Twin Peaks 21st Anniversary party

Here is some around the house equipment that would be helpful in your donut making endeavor:
  • A deep fryer or a big pot
  • A 3" round cookie cutter or a glass, and a 1" round cookie cutter or a shot glass
  • A rolling pin
  • A candy thermometer, or not
  • A slotted spoon or chopsticks if your handy with them
  • Lots of paper towels
  • Some clean tea towels 
Caryna's Cakes Donut Recipe (Makes 12)

250g whole milk
30g sugar
5g salt
7g dry yeast
25g lukewarm water
540g cream flour
2 eggs beaten (choose nice, happily laid eggs)
Juice of 2 mandarins / 1 orange
25g corn oil + 3L for frying


Simmer the milk. When small even bubbles can be seen, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, mandarin juice and salt to dissolve. Cool the mixture to about 90 degrees F, or until it feels warm (but not hot) to the touch.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let it stand until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine the milk mixture, yeast, flour, eggs and 25g oil. Stir together until combined and knead until the dough feels elastic. I used a mixer with the dough hook for 2 minutes on slow speed and 7 minutes on medium speed. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Dust the dough with flour, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm corner of the kitchen for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes your dough should have increased in size to about double. Roll out your dough to about 3/4" thick. Cut out your donuts/holes and set aside on a floured surface. If you are making jelly filled donuts, don't cut out the centre hole. You can re-roll your scrap dough, but only once. Cover your raw donuts with a tea towel and leave them for 30 minutes. After that your dough is ready for frying. It won't look as thick as a donut but don't fret. The heat of the oil fried the outside while cooking the inside by steam pressure, which puffs them up too.

Meanwhile, heat your oil. If you have a thermometer, you want the oil to be at 350 degrees F. That's firkin hot oil so be very careful. Remember water makes oil spatter, and hot oil on long sleeves is a bad idea. Make sure your pot and utensils are dry, and wear short sleeves. If you have flame retardant gear and safety goggles, even better. if you don't have a thermometer, you can test the oil by frying a piece of scrap dough. It should take no longer than 1 minute to brown. 

When your oil is ready, fry 2 donuts at a time (this is to maintain your oil temperature) or 4 donut holes (more than that is a lot to handle organization-wise). Fry one side for 1 minute, flip them and fry for 2 minutes, turn back over and fry for a final minute. remove the donuts on to paper towels. I find chopsticks the easiest tool for the job but a slotted spoon will do fine. As long as you don't burn your donut making self.


Jelly filled: Fit a round nozzle to a piping bag and fill the bag with jam (jam with no bits is preferable to prevent clogging). When the donuts are cool enough to handle, inject a dollop of jam into the donut by sticking the piping nozzle into the side seam. Not too much, or the jam will spill out. Toss the donut in a mixture of 1 part caster sugar to 4 parts icing sugar.

Glazed: Warm 65g whole milk and 1 tsp vanilla. remove from heat. Stir in 500g icing sugar. Dip your donuts flat in there and set aside. the glazey goodness will drip down the sides to coat most of the rest of the donut. If you'd prefer a more thorough job, cool then turn over and dip the other side.

Chocolate Glazed: Warm 125g butter, 65g whole milk, 15g golden syrup and 2 tsp vanilla until the butter is melted. Add 4oz good quality chocolate and melt. Remove from heat and stir in 500g icing sugar. Dip your donuts flat, give them a little twist and lift. The glaze will smooth itself out. While still warm, sprinkle some sugar strands or Hundreds & Thousands on top. If the glaze starts to harden, warm back up and continue your good work. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brown Hounds

Of the garbillion things that fly around my brain all the time, there were 2 prominent thoughts this morning. 1) Nick and his partner had a baby. I should bake him some cookies and 2) My trip to Brown Hound Bakery sure was beautiful and delicious. I should write about it. (Right now the loudest thought in my brain is: These BBQ Casava Chips are savage but I think the crunching might be annoying my co-workers)

Brown Hound Bakery. What a delight. If ever there was a bakery to show up all the other Irish bakeries, this is it. Brown Hound knows how to treat a lady.

It's a perfect mingling of gorgeous design and gastronomic art. The effect is something to behold. The chilled displays present precious treasures, both of the vintage and edible persuasion. They have beautiful fresh cakes finished with luscious icing, delicate toasted coconut or a fun stripey string bow. They have melt-in-your mouth cookies displayed under glass bells.

How do I know the goods are delicious? Because I tasted them. Because I was gifted a box filled with a perfect selection of yummy-happy dance inducing treats. Because when I ate that hunk of banana bread I was taken right back to my home kitchen in Montreal - it tasted like mommy used to make.

Looking at this pictures takes me right back to the time when I ate  all of these in one sitting myself. Good times.

Back to Nick and his new baby, Louis. Nick is the very Nick that owns and operates Nick's Coffee Company in Ranelagh and on Tara Street. We have come to know each other over the years through a mutual love of cake and coffee (come to think of it, that's how I make most of my friends). And so to celebrate baby Louis, I made these American-style chocolate cookies hugged by flaked almonds and tickled by dark Belgian chocolate. I am calling them Brown Hounds, dedicated to Jeni and Reuven's Drogheda bakery. These cookies are a love-fest. Some went on sale at Nick's in Ranelagh and they sold out faster than New Kids on the Block tickets in 1988

Brown Hounds

Brown Hounds Recipe (makes 16 cookies)


Bowl 1
125g butter at room temperature
125g granulated sugar
90g demerera sugar

Bowl 2
1 free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
45g whole milk

Bowl 3
200g cream flour
70g good quality cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Bowl 4
50g chocolate chips

Bowl 5
100g flaked almonds

Bowl 6
50g chocolate chips (I used 70% Callebault)

1. Preheat oven to 180
2. Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
3. Stream in the egg, milk and vanilla
4. Sieve the flour, soda and salt together. Mix in to your batter until just combined
5. Mix in chocolate chips
6. Using an ice cream scoop (I used size 18) make a ball of dough and roll it gently in the flaked almonds. Place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Cool the Brown Hounds. Melt you final bit of chocolate and drizzle over your cookies.
8. Enjoy

You can read more about Brown Hound Bakery at these fine blogs:

An American in Ireland
Gracie's Bakes
The Katz Miaow

and you can read more about delicious food at these fine blogs:

The Daily Spud
I Can Has Cook

Happy Baking,


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spiced Pumkin Apricot Cake

Co-operation makes it happen. I borrowed that line from Sesame Street. In my case this week, co-operation makes a spiced pumpkin apricot cake.

At the Honest 2 Goodness Market in Glasnevin co-operation is the general sentiment. It's a lovely spot to spend a Saturday because it is frequented by people (customers and fellow stall holders) that are great fun to shoot the breeze with. And the food.... nom nom nom... the food. I am typing one handed right now because the other hand is occupied by a slice of Anaconda bread from the H2G stall, smothered in Sicilian pesto from the Real Olive Co. stall.

My neighbour here is a wonderful organic grower, Rosie. Last week Rosie gifted me a gigantor green pumpkin. "See if you can do something with it," she said. Rosie grew the pumpkin, I cooked it down to a puree and baked it with some apricot, butter, sugar, eggs, flour and spices...we made a collaborative cake.

Did you know that pumpkins have 33% more potassium than bananas? Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. I borrowed that line from G.I. Joe.

Other interesting pumpkin facts:
  • eating pumpkins helps reduce your risk of stroke
  • eating pumpkins help maintain bone density
  • pumpkins are chock full of beta carotene and Vitamin A
  • Pumpkin Chucking is a sport where teams build various mechanical devices (i.e. catapults and cannons) designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. If you can get yourself to Delaware for the American Thanksgiving World Pumpkin Chucking Championship, I would guess you would be in for the best night of your life.
I started with this pumpkin
It was pretty pulpy, but I saved the seeds for drying out and snacking on later
I peeled and chunked up the pupmkin, layed the pieces on a single layer on a baking tray, drizzled some honey on top and baked them at 180 for an hour

Rosie tasting the fruit of our combined labour

Recipe for Spiced Pumpkin and Apricot Cake
  • 360g cream flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 100g apricots
  • 50g cooked pumpkin
  • 70g buttermilk
  • 180g butter
  • 300g granulated sugar sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the cooked pumpkin, apricots and buttermilk in the food processor and blend until the mixture is a smooth puree. 

Sieve the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

Beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix.

Fold in the flour mixture alternating with the pumpkin mixture.

Pour the batter into a lined 10" tin and bake at 180 for 1 hour.

Recipe for Cream Cheese frosting

100g butter
600g icing sugar, sieved
250g cream cheese


Beat the butter and icing sugar at low speed until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add in the cream cheese. Beat at low speed until combined, then bring up the speed to high and let the machine run for 3 minutes.

When the cake is completely cooled, slice in half and frost the middle & top. I sprinkled some toasted chopped hazelnuts on top for decoration.

 A bientot,

Caryna, of Caryna's Cakes

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I created a Monster!

Here are some examples of dangerous combinations --
  • tongues and icy metal poles
  • orange juice and toothpaste
  • hungry lions and an injured gazelle
  • me alone with any amount of cheese
  • red wine and a white jacket
  • me alone with a spatula of cheesecake batter
  • delirium and sugar. This one gets me every time
I am in a business where early starts are commonplace. The problem is that my brain doesn't want to sleep at bedtime so I often end up in a situation where I'm baking after only a few hours of rest, armed with sugar, butter and flour. This is what my 5am brain thinks is a good idea: Brownie cookie monster cake. When my brain woke up later in the day I asked myself: Can you take baking too far? If someone suffers a health condition after eating this, can they sue me? Should I start thinking about waivers?

BROWNIE COOKIE MONSTER CAKE  2 layers of brownie with chocolate chip cookies baked on top, sandwiched with Nutella and garnished with mini chocolate chip cookies

Step 1: Line 2 8" round baking tins and divide brownie batter equally between them. This should fill them 1/2 way. Bake for 15 minutes

Step 2: Carefully remove the brownie cakes from the oven. Gently drop balls of cookie batter all over both cakes. the cookie dough will spread slightly. Bake for a further 15 minutes

Let your brownie cookie cakes cool completely in the tins
Although you love your layers equally, choose the uglier layer to be on the bottom.

Smother it with delicious Nutella

Place your 2nd layer on top and smear Nutella all around that puppy
While the Nutella is still fresh and sticky, adhere your mini chocolate chip cookies along the perimeter of your giant cake
And there you have it. The Brownie Cookie Monster Cake that causes people to question your sanity

Recipe for the Brownie: 

125g butter, melted 125g granulated sugar
125 demerera sugar
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g (1 egg plus 1 yolk) lightly beaten egg
90g cream flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 8" round baking tins with silicone paper.

- Mix the sugars, cocoa powder, vanilla and egg. Slowly add the melted butter until well mixed.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the mixture and fold until blended.
- Pour into prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Recipe for the Cookies:

190g butter
250g brown sugar
60g granulated sugar
1 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
360g cream flour
2tsp cornflour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g 55% chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone paper.

- Beat the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cornflour and salt together. Add to the mixture and fold until blended.
- Add in the chocolate chips and stir until combined.

- Use an ice cream scooper to drop Tablespoon size balls of cookie dough on your prepared tray, leaving them space to spread in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Please bake responsibly,

Caryna Camerino

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Friday, August 5, 2011


Let's talk about serendipity. Let's talk about those days when it looks like nothing good will happen but you end up learning a life lesson. Today's lesson: the universe will look after you.

In moments of panic I try and tell myself that everything will be fine. Amazing even. Well today that resolve to be optimistic was challenged. I was meeting a friend for brunch (my most favourite meal of the day) and wore a really cute button down dress. I drive a Vespa scooter and everyone who knows me knows that I don't do motorcycle gear. It's not lady like. Cool breezes and icy rain doesn't deter me from wearing a dress like a lady. This particular dress was a gift from my aunt who pre-loved it in the 80s. Sitting on the scooter I was only showing some above the knee action. That's G rated. No big deal.

If I'm going to be so dang insistent on being a lady I ought to learn how to ride my Vespa side saddle because after brunch, on the way to the shop to buy ingredients, my bottom button popped off. Eek. I was now showing some mid thigh and an undetermined amount of underwear if looking at me from the right angle. I was PG 13. I thought to myself, "I'm just going to walk into that Tesco like nothing is wrong, with my head held high with confidence. Nobody will notice. And if they do, it's their fault for looking." That was until the next bottom button popped off. Gosh darn stitching from the 1980s... I was now exposed from crotch level down. Now THAT's not lady like. I was no longer willing to walk into Tesco looking confident. I was rated R and ashamed. There was no way I could scoot home without contracting at least a really bad cold.

I ran into the charity shop next door and was immediately greeted by an adorable Cynthia Rowley dress in my size, brand new with tags still on for €10. It's as if the universe's plan all along was for me to find this cute dress. Either that or as the innocent looking Golden Girl lookalike shop woman said, "You might have met your future husband that way!"

That's a lesson in taking the lemons life gives you and making lemonade. I'm going to show you how I took a banana the farmer's market sold me, and made the most delicious ice cream of life.

This is a little something i like to call "Naturally healthy banana ice cream with no cream, so it's not really ice cream. It just tastes like it"

There is no recipe. Just 1 step

I was gifted this amazing Magimix from Jeannie. We met because her pregnancy cravings were often brownies. That girl is a legend.
I peeled a banana, tore it in to rough chunks and put it in the freezer this morning.

This is a self-explanatory before and after picture of my banana

This afternoon I put it in the Magimix with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a Tablespoon of raw coconut oil. I let the food processor run for about 1 minute and ended up with my new favourite snack.

Step 1 - Process 1 frozen banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a Tablespoon of raw coconut oil because you're healthy and you're trendy

Your mixture will look bitty like this at first. Don't panic. Just keep calm and keep the processor running

Eventually your mixture will come together like this. Blissful.

Give it a go! It's low fat, it's mostly fruit, it's delicious, it's full of potassium and electrolytes, it's 1 of your 5 a day, it's refreshing and it's scientifically amazing.


Peace out,


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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cupcake kebabs, strawberry vodka and mix tapes from 1999

When you're a 70 year old housewife trapped in a 30 year old's body you don't travel like most people. You don't camp like most people. You don't drink like most people. You do it classier. 

That's me. Classy. You won't find me drinking Dutch Gold. No way Jose. I'll go for the cheapest vodka I can find but with a little inspiration from people with a lot more free time to think up these things, I undertook to make the prettiest vodka there ever was (in this case I was inspired by Strawberry Vodka. Here's how it goes: 

Step 1: Remove the stems of 2 punnets of strawberries and plonk them in a glass jar.

Step 2: Bathe those strawberries in a bottle of vodka.

Keep the jar in a shady spot and gently agitate the mixture twice a day for 3 days

After 3 days you will have pretty pink vodka that tastes like strawberries. And less pretty strawberries that have been sapped of their life force and colour, and taste like a shot of vodka. Add a dash of Coke and, in the words of one manly man who took a sip, "Well THAT is delightful. It tastes like an ice pop!"

So I had my bags all packed (busting, as per uje) the couch cushions in the car for sleeping on in the tent, the car entertainment sorted (we would be playing random cassette tapes, not knowing what embarrassing mixes would come up because when was the last time you listened to those cassettes? Or labeled them properly?) and I was already panicking about the prospect of possibly maybe feeling hungry during the drive to festival in Mayo (as per uje). I went for 2 categories of car snacks that could be eaten one handed: Healthy (carrot sticks, strawberries, apples, bla bla) and Cupcake Kebabs.

Did she just say cupcake kebabs?

Yes. Yes I did. Cupcake Kebabs. You can't peel cupcake cases while driving and you can't be constantly checking your face for frosting. The solution is to stack a variety of mini cupcakes on a skewer.

Start with mini cupcakes. I had vanilla, lemon, carrot cake and chocolate. When they're cool, remove the paper cases

Frost your mini cupcakes. This was a handy way to use up bits of frosting I already had made up for other orders. I believe I have previously mentioned how I find my life of cake quite wonderful. This is a prime example of why. I have random bits of frosting prepared in my home. All. The. Time. I used fluffy vanilla cream cheese frosting on the vanilla cupcakes with some sugar strands for crunch, lemon on the lemon (which happened to be purple) with alphabet sprinkles because...I don't know, fluffy vanilla cream cheese frosting with butterscotch chips on the carrot cake and chocolate frosting or crunchy peanut butter frosting on the chocolate cupcakes

Skewer the cupcakes in whimsical combination and voila. You are a domestic goddess in the car, which is probably the opposite of domestic. The lemon tartlets in the background were intended as another one handed road trip snack, but got sold instead. It's probably better for my pants that way.

Happiness on a stick

Until we meet again,


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disrupting Alzheimer's - Ingredients for the brain

Now that's a mess! Notice the carpet of brownie crumbs...
Tuesday was the end of a massive work week. All of that hard work culminated in an extensive cleanup of cupcake cottage. I'm talking a major dish washing, floor mopping, laundry doing and car cleaning effort. I was even wearing a sweat band. On my head. It was necessary. So there I was, listening to the Joy the Baker podcast, scrubbing tiles in my industrial black rubber gloves, thinking about the week gone by and how lucky I am that this is my life.

On Monday I was in Kiltegan, County Wicklow at a respite center called Sli an Chroi. This was where the latest residential programme of the Disrupting Alzheimer's project was taking place. 

Disrupting Alzheimer's is a project developed by Christy Fleming; a loving and talented man whose brother Paddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008. Paddy is only 57 years old. Paddy was a strong believer in holistic therapies and Christy and his family have been challenging Paddy's Alzeimer's by a holistic approach. Everyone was invited to participate in activities like Falun Gong and Circle Dancing, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique - this is a very interesting tapping technique that stimulates meridian points), singing and dancing and meditation. To be honest, the energy about the place was just electric. And the more responsive Paddy was to the activities, the more motivated everybody became to give that much more. 

Paddy, Christy and Lorraine on their morning walk
I was hired to cater for the group. The food was to be nutritious vegetarian with an emphasis on brain healthy ingredients such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, coconut and raw produce. There is a very interesting study being undertaken by Dr. Mary T. Newport, whose husband suffers from Alzheimer's. She has been tracking his progress on a high keytone diet, rich in raw coconut oil and the results seem to show promise. The menu was developed by the previous chef and adjusted by me in order to put less of an emphasis on specialist Greek recipes (of which the previous chef is an expert). 

Here are some facts about the week. I made up most of what I cooked. I had the courage to do this thanks to my new iPhone which allowed me to quickly access helpful websites like when the need arose.I also took photos and texted them to my father at regular intervals for approval. I love to cook to music and I got through a lot of Beatles material that week. Whenever Paddy passed by the kitchen he stopped in to join my in singing along for a little while. I was channeling Irish mammy and Jewish mommy, who are very similar, and found joy in building my day around preparing 3 square meals for the troops. And washing dishes with a view overlooking a field of cows. That's about the only good thing I can ever say about washing dishes. Washing dishes is otherwise the bane of my very existence.

My workspace

The menu:

Monday Dinner
Tagliatelle with mushrooms and Bechamel
Bruschette with tomato and rocket
Green salad

Tuesday Lunch
Baked potatoes with lemon, olive oil and toasted hazelnuts
Green veggie burgers with quinoa

Green veggie burgers with quinoa
Greek salad

Tuesday Dinner

Bean & Roast veg pie with basil mash
Bean & Roast veg pie with basil mash, tzatziki and black eye bean salad

Tzatziki sauce
Black eye bean salad with ginger dressing

Wednesday Lunch

Spaghetti al pesto
Caprese Salad
Caprese salad
Garlic bread
Super healthy apple, berry and hazelnut crumble with sesame seeds

Wednesday Dinner 
Roast vegetables
cabbage, celery and carrot salad
hummus and pita chips
High fibre breakfast muffins, baked sans muffin tins

Thursday Lunch

Spanish chickpea casserole
Basmati Rice
The gorgeous scenery at Sli An Chroi

Thursday Dinner

Italian Fresh vegetable fritata
Lentil soup
Apple and carrot salad

Friday Lunch 

Squash and coconut soup
Vegetable and potato salad

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