ArchiveAugust 12, 2006

Schull Agricultural Show

I have just had a completely delightful fun afternoon at the Schull Agricultural Show. These country shows celebrate much of what I hold so dear in country life.
Many have been floundering in recent years as people flock to the glitzier Food Festivals that are springing up all over the country. (Don’t forget to put the date of the Midleton Food and Drink Fair on ?? September into your diary.) However I sense a real revival of interest. Schull show, founded in 1966, was an annual event until 1999, by then the insurance costs coupled with the animal movement costs sounded the death knell of the once vibrant show.
This year the Show Committee, linked up with Schull ICA and the Slow Food movement to revive the Show. The committee headed by Jimmy Donavan, Charlie McCarthy and Josephine Ahearne gathered a feisty band of volunteers from the local community. They worked long and hard to plan the line-up of events. They were well rewarded when over 3000 people poured into the Showgrounds. The Schull Farmer’s Market had decamped up to the Showgrounds for the day and when we arrived just after 1 o’clock the event was well underway. There were ? categories. Knowledgeable looking ? were studying form.
The mare and foal category was being judged, an adorable little piebald foal took my eye but I headed down towards the exhibits, stopping to buy an onion bhaji, a caraway seed cake and some local cheese and cured meat at the Farmers outlets.
In the ? hall the Flower, Vegetable, Craft and Bakery exhibits were proudly displayed. The judges had made their decisions so the 1st, 2nd, 3rd prize winners had red, green and ? rosettes attached. These agricultural shows acknowledge the value of the Farmer and importance of preserving and passing on the traditional skills.
The skills of the stockman, the plantsman, the honeymaker, the cook, the traditional craftsman are increasingly valuable in a world where a growing number of people are beginning to appreciate the value of what for many people are forgotten skills.
Despite the headlong embrace of the breakfast roll and fast food culture there is also a tangible revival of interest in learning forgotten skills, how to keep a few hens, how to rear poultry for the table, beekeepers report an increase in inquiries for beginners beekeeping courses, organic vegetable growing courses are oversubscribed. Several young people I know are keeping a few pigs again so they can cure their own pork and taste bacon as it used to be. Others want to know how to make home butter, cheese and yoghurt. All these skills can add value to farm produce at a time when many farmers are racking their brains to come up with ideas to supplement their income. 
The Agricultural Shows provide a platform for the top quality producers to be acknowledged and rewarded. Beside the ? members of Schull ICA, headed by Mary O’Keeffe and founder member Violet Glanville, were busy serving tea and coffee, carrot and coriander soup and cakes to the queues of people. There in the midst of them all the 93 year old Violet Glanville was judiciously filling beef, ham and salad rolls. Vi, who is one of my heroes, was overjoyed to see the revival of the Agricultural Show, an event which she feels is of the utmost importance in rural areas. She and Mary O’Keeffe, chair of the local guild, represent the indomitable spirit of the ICA.
As I queued for tea I listened as the local women discussed the cakes. They knew at a glance who had made each one. They are Jean’s scones, she always makes them for a special occasion and cuts them out with a champagne glass. I chose a delicious slice of coffee cake and then sneaked back for a slice of ? cake and another coconut cake made by the Australian Donna ?. I chased her up and she sweetly agreed to sharing the recipes with Examiner readers.
While all this was going on, a merry band of traditional dancers were dancing to the music of ? under the tutelage of ?. Catherine Jepson was carding wool and spinning it on her wheel. ? demonstrated the skill of making fishing nets. ? was making rattles to show people the craft of traditional rush weaving.
Meanwhile the dog show got underway. Over 70 dogs and every size, shape and description were entered. Nina Constance had the unenviable task of choosing the winners under the critical glare of the dog owners, each of whom was convinced that their pooch was the star of the show.
The only shadow on the day was the discovery that the carefully erected fences had been vandalised overnight, but this didn’t deter the hardworking committee who rebuilt and repaired the damage before the off.
The committee were very happy with the relaunch but are now in the process of reviewing and analysing the event with a view to creating a bigger and even better event next year.
For details of other agricultural shows this Summer check

Caraway Seed Cake

I hated Seed cake as a child and now its one of my great favourites, my father had a passion for it so it was always an option when we went to visit our Tipperary relations on Sunday afternoons.
6 ozs (170g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
3 eggs, free-range if possible
8 ozs (225g) plain white flour
1 tablespoon ground almonds, optional
2 dessertspoons caraway seeds
3 teaspoon baking powder

some caraway seeds to sprinkle on top

Round cake tin 7 inches wide x 3 inches deep (18cm x 7.5cm)

Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat until very soft and light. Whisk the eggs and gradually beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the flour and ground almonds. Add the baking powder and 2 dessertspoons of caraway seeds with the last of the flour. Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin, scatter a few caraway seeds on top and bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Keeps well in an airtight tin.

Coffee Cake with Chocolate Coffee Beans

Serves 8-10
Another splendid cake, keeps well too. This cake may be baked in a larger tin to make it look more like a gateau.

8 ozs (225g) butter
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar
8 ozs (225g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teasp. baking powder
4 eggs, preferably free range
scant 2 tablesp. coffee essence (Irel or Camp)

2" x 8" (5 x 20.5 cm) sandwich tins 

Coffee Butter Cream (see recipe)
Coffee Icing (see recipe)

Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans (see recipe)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.
Line the bottom of sandwich tins, with greaseproof paper, brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter until soft, add the castor sugar and beat until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs. Add to the mixture, bit by bit, beating well between each addition. 
Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture, finally add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes approx. in a moderate oven. When the cakes are cooked. The center will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tin. Rest in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto the wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper from the base, then reinvert so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack. Cool the cakes on the wire rack. When cold sandwich the cakes together with Coffee Butter Cream and ice the top with Coffee Glace Icing .Decorate with Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans

Coffee Butter Cream Filling
2 ozs (55g) butter
4 ozs (110g) icing sugar (sieved)
1-2 teasp. Irel Coffee essence

Whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar, add the coffee essence. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

If you would prefer to ice the cake with Coffee Butter Cream use 
8 ozs ( 225g) butter
1lb ( 450g) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of Irel Coffee

Coffee Icing

16 ozs (450g) icing sugar
scant 2 tablesp. Irel coffee essence
4 tablesp. boiling water approx.

Sieve the icing sugar and put into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make it the consistency of thick cream.

Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans
Irresistible nibbles or great decorations for cakes, mousses, and chocolate or coffee desserts.

3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate, at least 54 per cent cocoa solids
4 tablesp. medium roast coffee beans

Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate is soft add the coffee beans. Stir gently to coat the beans, then lift them out with a fork and drop them one by one onto a plate or marble slab evenly covered with non-stick silicone paper. Leave to harden. Remove the beans with a palette knife and store in an air-tight jar. Alternatively, drop the wet chocolate-coated beans on to a plate or marble slab covered thickly with sieved good quality cocoa powder. Separate as above and leave to harden.

Traditional Kerry Apple Cake

Makes 25-30 pieces
Scone mixture
450g (1lb) plain white flour
175g (6oz) butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
175g (6oz) castor sugar
3 free range eggs
225ml (8fl oz) milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

cooking apples

Baking tin 30x20cm 7.5cm deep (12x8in 3in deep)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. 

Peel, core and chop the apple into 5mm (1/4in) dice. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the baking powder, castor sugar, diced apple and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Whisk the eggs with a cup of milk in a bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be a soft texture. Pour into the greased and lined roasting tin. Bake at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top and apples are soft and golden. Dredge with soft castor sugar while hot.

Donna Higgins’s Five Star Coconut Cake

Donna who is originally from Sydney now lives in west Cork and is an enthusiastic member of the Schull ICA guild. In Australia she ran the Energy Australia Cookery School and developed recipes for food companies.
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) milk
35g (1 1/2oz/1/3 cup) coconut
340g (12oz/2¼ cups) self raising flour, sifted
75g (3oz/½ cup) custard powder
450g (1lb/2 cups) caster sugar
4 eggs
250g (9oz) butter, softened 
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 tablespoons toasted coconut (decoration)

Grease and line a 23cm deep cake pan or two 23cm x 12cm x 7cm loaf pans.
Heat the milk, pour onto coconut, and stir well. Leave aside until cold.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake in a moderate oven 180° C for 1 – 1 ¼ hours or until cooked when tested. 
Allow to sit in the tin or tins for five minutes before turning out. 
Meanwhile make the Cream Cheese Icing – see below. 
Spread the icing over the top of the cake or cakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Cream Cheese Icing

60g (2 1/2oz) cream cheese, softened
125g (4 1/2oz/1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in the icing sugar. Mix in vanilla and sufficient milk to form a smooth creamy icing.
Pipe or spread onto coconut cake.

Fool proof Food

Mary O’Keefe’s Featherlite Sponge

4 free range eggs
110g (4oz) castor sugar
110g (4oz) plain white flour

2x 20cm (8in) tins, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. 

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the whites stiffly and fold into the egg and sugar mixture, then fold in the sieved flour in batches. Add 2-3 drops water just off the boil.
Divide the mixture between the greased and floured tins. Bake at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with homemade gooseberry and raspberry jam and whipped cream. Dredge with a little icing sugar on top.


(Don’t forget to put the date of the Midleton Food and Drink Fair on 2nd & 3rd September into your diary.)

Jellies and Pickles from West Cork
I bought a delicious pot of Rose Petal Jelly at the Schull Farmer’s Market, made by Eva Johnson from Ballydehob – (Tel. 028-37956) – Eva’s jelly is sold alongside Sonia Bower’s Inner Pickle Caribbean style pickles (Tel 028-34895, 086-2209836) - available at Mahon Point, Schull, Kinsale and Bandon’s Farmers Markets – also sold at the Fuchsia Shop in Cork Airport. 

Eco Harvest is a New Shop opened by Catriona Daunt and Willie Doherty in The Village Shopping Centre (by the library) in Ballincollig, Co. Cork. Eco Harvest stocks organic fruit and veg (as much local Irish produce as possible), Gubbeen meats and cheeses, wholefoods, blueberry tonic, apple juices, a wide range of olive oils, olives and other Mediterranean delicacies, fresh lavender bunches, Arun's spice packets, Mella's fudge and Arbutus breads. It is a small, but beautiful and well stocked shop and it has a large private carpark out front where the market is held on a Wednesday. Open Monday to Saturday from 9.30 to 6.30.

Offalydelicious – The Network of local food producers in Offaly
Offaly Leader is dedicated to assisting the development of local food products and has developed a support programme tailored to meet the specific needs of the county’s small food producers. Honey, organic cheeses and soups, grass-fed beef and lamb, traditionally produced pork products, sauces, pickles and relishes, even wedding cakes – you name it and the small producers of Offaly are making it. Brochure available from Offaly Delicious, c/o Michelle O’Brien, Offaly Leader, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Tel. 057-9322850,  or 

Vincent and Catherine O’Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Inishannon road (N71 to west Cork) sell juicy sweetcorn. They are open everyday and hope to have sweetcorn for the next month or so. If you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087 248 6031.


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