Festive Fare

Red Cabbage

Well it`s the time of the year for gifts. And I`m even happier when these gifts aren`t bought but are just thoroughly kind gestures.

So, first off, I want to thank Shaz from the bottom of my heart for posting up this recipe specially for me. I`m a pickle fiend. And I love my veggies too. So, when she mentioned she`d a red cabbage recipe that even passed her German mother-in-law`s high standards, I really wanted to try it. And Shaz posted the recipe just for me!

Well, today I made it. It`s super easy to do. And it`s delicious!

Run out and buy yourself a red cabbage now. You`ll need a cooking apple, onion, cider vinegar and brown sugar too. As you can see, it has all those pickling ingredients and so the end result is sweet, sour and scrumptious.

I managed to rescue half of it for the freezer, so one Christmas dinner veggie is done.Yay! It will add a lovely touch of colour to the Christmas dinner plates and is a change from brussel sprouts for those who are not inclined to opt for them.

And here`s that Red Cabbage recipe in Shaz`s blog.

My next recipe is from the Irish Times, via a thoughtful pal. I`d a taste of her cookies first and loved them.

I should have made these into gingerbread men but it seems all my men cutters are gone and I`m left with stars. Still, stars are a pretty good substitute for men, don`t you think?

Anyway, with a little dusting of icing sugar(only cos I was too dog lazy to whip out the icing bag…) these stars look perfectly festive too.

 Gingerbread Stars

Here`s the link to that Irish Times gingerbread recipe here. Their pic is very pretty with lots of proper gingerbread cutters and a piping bag that looks like it actually might work properly.

Dunno what it is about me and piping bags, but we never seem to get along.

Still, my sugar dusted stars were quickly gobbled up by the Teens and visitors. Infinitely simpler to make than fiddly mince pies, these stars added an easy Christmassy touch to the Chook House kitchen.

Finally, for those wondering about my Advent streak, I`ve overcome my little hiatus and am still running. Nothing spectacular, mind, just a maintenance pace, as time had pretty much got compressed in this crazy lead up to Christmas.

Actually, remind me not to sign up for Advent streak again. But maybe, to schedule a running holiday for Advent instead!

Anyway, we`re nearly there. Enjoy the last minute scramble to get things done!

Roast Chicken Bake

Overwhelmed with all the Advent shenanigans? Dreading Christmas already? Here`s the perfect recipe for a warming, nutritious and super quick dinner to see you through this most hectic time of the year. I can`t honestly say one could make it with one`s eyes closed-though that would be a fun experiment. What I can promise you is a whole lot more time for all that Christmas shopping afterwards, if that`s your thing.

Need I say it comes from Domini Kemp? If you want to read more of her wonderful recipes check out her regular column in Saturday`s Irish Times. Or go here.

Roast Chicken Bake

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 50 mins

•1 punnet cherry tomatoes
•2 red onions, peeled and quartered
•1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped (1-2-inch pieces)
•8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
•4 cloves garlic, crushed
•Few springs thyme or oregano or rosemary
•1 tsp smoked paprika
•2 tbsp olive oil
•2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
•100ml white wine
•Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas 4.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, toss them together and season well. Put into a roasting tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Simples.

In another version of this recipe, Domini suggest using chicken breast and I have to say, I personally preferred that to chicken thigh, though, of course, I`d scoff either version.

Also, the addition in the latter recipe, of rocket, and parmesan shavings would make the whole dish look prettier, along with giving it an added nutritional boost.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award


“She`ll get around to it…eventually.”  Those words will be engraved on my headstone.

Well, today and for my 100th post, ~Ta-da!~ I am finally getting around to acknowledging some of my neighbours in Blogland for their inspirational posts. And to offering them A Very Inspiring Blogger award.

Knitrun4sanity very kindly offered me this award waaaay back. Should`ve got an award for Very Procrastinating Blogger but there ya go. Didn`t your mother ever tell you that life isn`t fair?

Anyway, thank you KR4S!

Now, I could drag this on like they do in the stupid lotto programmes. Or, worse still, those nutty X-factor shows, but, luckily for you, I am not that kind of hen.

Firstly, if you`re on my award list there`s certain  award requirements:

  • Display the award logo on your blog page.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  • Notify those bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Well, I`ve done the first two. I`m leaving the third one to the end of this post in the hopes that you don`t get there. And I`m going straight on to the nominations.

This is the tough bit. Just cos you`re not there, doesn`t mean you`re not inspiring. Or even any less inspiring than anyone else on my blogroll. You wouldn`t be on it in the first place if you weren`t smart or cool or both. I just happened to pull these smart, cool people out of my blogroll hat.

And the Nominees Are…

Right… and, in no particular order….

http://swimsweatandgears.wordpress.com/  Zoe is a sportsperson extraordinare. A triathlete, she trains so hard, you`ll wonder how she finds hours in the day.

http://purlgurlknitsandruns.wordpress.com/ I don`t know how purlgurl does it all but somehow the child rearing, the day job, the running and the knitting and acts of generosity all come together in this beautifully presented blog. Enjoy!

http://shazruns.wordpress.com/ I just love reading Shaz`s posts. She`s a slogger who does a lovely job of balancing up her running passion with her passion for country living. I especially admire the fact that she shares all of it so wonderfully with her family.

http://backontherock.com/ Roy is a running coach and a terrific author. I downloaded and thoroughly enjoyed his book “Tess of Portelet Manor”. It`s about a girl living through the wartime occupation of Jersey and beyond. Roy is from Ireland, but lives in Jersey so expect insights into both on this blog. Plus running and writing too.

http://greenlegs7.wordpress.com/author/hedwigia/ Hedwigia is a floral encyclopedia. And a running one at that. She`s also a huge inspiration to her pupils. Me included!

http://moveeatcreate.com/about/  does exactly what she says on the tin. It`s hard to keep all that moving, cooking and creating going but somehow, she manages it all.

http://moorhenscampers.wordpress.com/author/mercyjm/  I could nominate her for her inspiring blog banner alone. But you`ll see lots of other stuff on there too like how she combines a love of nature, cycling and running with her working day.

http://unsportywomencanrun.wordpress.com/ This blog is inspiring for its title alone. I also love that she gives me an insight into what life is like in Tasmania and into all the work she and her husband do in training for their races.

And, lest you think I`m only all over the runners on wordpress, well, these bloggers will open your eyes to other passions in life

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

http://frenchgirlcuisine.com/ inspired me to try a myriad of new tastes on this very inspiring blog of hers. Love the presentation of the blog too. And the food, of course. The above is my take on her tarte tatin. I never expected goats cheese, sundried tomatoes and puff pastry to taste so good.

http://araneus1.wordpress.com/tag/shag-pile-carpet/  If you do nothing else in Blogland today, follow that link. It will take you into the killer humour of our man Down Under, Araneus. Lots and lots of other good stuff in there too.Mostly involving dogs, humour, photography, social commentary, fiction and usually all at once.

http://thesilvervoice.wordpress.com/ I love that this Irish lady has a lot to say about our history and it`s impact on us. If you`re interested in researching your Irish roots, this blog has a lot to offer on that theme too.

http://ayearinredwood.com/ Scroll down a little. Stop! See the ice cream in the china cup? Yep, that`s why I like this blog. Great pics,nice recipes, and a sense of what it`s like to live on a farm in Tipperary.

http://craftysorcha.wordpress.com/ An Irish girl living in France, well, what could be more inspiring than that? As an added bonus, she also happens to make beautiful things.

More great pics and wonderful insights into Irish history on http://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/

And, for a great mix on everything under the sun, and a pretty perfect blog  there`s http://campariandsofa.com/

Right, off with you then, let me on with the painful part of this award ceremony~

Seven Facts About Me

  • I can foot turf
  • It`s proven to be a more useful skill to me than trigonometry. Oh, go on, you must remember sine, cos and tan, no?
  • I came second last in a school race when I was ten. And decided then and there I`d never run again.
  • I keep learning the hard way to “Never say never”
  • I can play the piano badly. And do so regularly, to the dismay of the Teen Chooks.
  • I love my job.
  • I have running conversations with other drivers on the road. No, not that they can hear me but the Teen Chooks can. And it drives them nuts.

Now, I`m off to tell my nominees the good/bad news about their nomination. Should also install a Very Inspiring Blogger widget. I will, eventually, I`m sure…


Very Burnt Very Full Tart

Very Burnt Very Full Tart


Hauled out my Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty, on Sunday afternoon. Having a big chunk of time to hand was a huge help with this cookbook. There`s a whole ton of recipes to choose from, and each has a veritable shopping list of ingredients. Luckily, I`d just brought home supplies of squash, sweet potato, aubergine and cheeses. I was ready to roll with Very Full Tart.

You`ll find the recipe in linked in with the recipe title. And, of course, a much better photo and a properly cooked tart!

Should you be tempted to cook it though, just be warned that it`s a little fiddly to make. Lots of chopping, of course. And lots of cooking off with the various ingredients before assembling the lot on shortcrust pastry, for the final bake.

But, by golly, it`s so worth every second of that time. I tried to figure out what exact combination of ingredients appealed to me in this tart. It could be the tartness of the feta cheese with the sweet potato. Or maybe is was the caramelised onion and aubergine. Or maybe it was everything.

Anyway, it was utterly delicious.

Oh, yes, note my version is burnt. Of course. But I ate it, anyway….

Thus sated, I headed out to the beach. More of a walk than a run as I was accompanied by Teen Girl. No, she`s not totally averse to running. It`s just wiser for me to take it at her pace for now. Anyway, it`s nice to get out and not have to work so hard for a change. And I got to enjoy these…



Yes, Brent Geese, at low tide, fattening themselves up on whatever the sea had washed in. They were quite tame. Pretty much determined to chomp on despite our presence, I suspect, as their return trip to Greenland is imminent. Another sign of summer on it`s way here. At last.


And my own fattening up on Ottolenghi`s delights  must have augured well for last night`s run. I managed four miles at a pretty good pace.  Actually started out feeling tired and rubbish after a pretty hectic day but, as often happens, I got wings,(well, sort of!) after two miles, and pelted along.

So, hens can fly then…

And hens can sabotage their own running too, it seems.

The usual rubbish flying through my head, last night.  Because I was tired, and it was unusually late for my run, I`d started off on a double negative. That led to a negative pattern of thinking, on my part, which of course, affected the initial couple of miles. I`ve known for a while now, that the biggest obstacle to my running, is my mindset.  I can be my own worst enemy.

Luckily, the day job had thrown up some quandaries that made for better mind fodder. I lost myself in that lot for a while and distracted myself from my inner saboteur. That got me over the hump and onto faster times and a better run.

More good runs needed. And more good food too.

Let`s see what delights the rest of the week holds.