Slow Food International Grandmothers Day


This weekend, I’m heading to Sandbrook in Co Carlow to celebrate International Slow Food Grandmother’s Day. Grannies, grandpas, nanas, mamas, dadas and children of every age can come along to Ballon have fun, learn and share their experience on Sunday 22nd April, 2012.

Food producers, chefs, farmers and artisans will come together to celebrate good clean and fair food, the Slow Food way, with almost 30 different exhibitors, terrific treats to sample, interesting stories to hear, talents to admire and skills to learn.

There will be lots of workshops, cookery demonstrations, talks on passing skills, everything from how to make homemade butter, Ballymaloe Balloons,  to lemonade to raspberry buns, the first thing I ever learned how to cook. Auntie Florence will show us how to crystallise flowers and the secret of her crumpets. You can learn how to knit, sew and plant and grow how to hatch out chicks, keep hens, forage for wild food, weave willows, make candles, keep bees…

Bring along your favourite recipe that you would like to pass onto your children or grandchildren and we’ll make a scrap book and publish them on the Slow Food Ireland website . So many family recipes are lost because we forget to ask or to record them until it’s too late so why not bring a copy book today and write the favourite family recipes for your children.

There are also fun things for children of all ages to do – from face painting to arts and crafts competitions, petting zoo and a games area.

Charismatic Dublin pork butcher, Ed Hicks will do a two hour sausage making class for kids on a first come first served basis.

Slow Food International Grandmothers Day at Sandbrook House, Ballon, Co Carlow is from 11am to 6pm on Sunday 22nd April – Tel: 0599159247 –


Myrtle Allen’s Balloons


Children’s tea at Ballymaloe House is a jolly carefree affair which holds happy memories for generations of children. Myrtle Allen whips up these balloons in a matter of minutes, they taste just like doughnuts – the problem is to stop the grown-ups stealing them from the children!


5 ozs (140g) plain white flour

2 teasp. castor sugar

pinch of salt

1 level teaspoon baking powder


extra caster sugar and a little ground cinnamon


Makes 10 balloons.


Heat good quality oil in a deep fry to 190C/375F. Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix the batter to a thick dropping consistency with milk. Take a dessertspoonful of the mixture and push it gently off with your finger so that it drops in a round ball into the fat. Repeat. Fry until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Roll the balloons in castor sugar or castor sugar and cinnamon mixed. Serve at once.


Raspberry Buns


As far as I can remember, these buns were the very first thing I helped my Auntie Florence to bake. My grandchildren love filling the holes with jam, just as I did.


Makes about 10


200g (7oz) self-raising flour and 25g (1oz) ground rice


225g (8oz) self-raising flour

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75g (3oz) butter diced

1 organic egg

1 tablespoon full cream milk

homemade raspberry jam

egg wash

caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

Put the flour and ground rice, if using, into a bowl and add the caster sugar. Add in the diced butter and toss it in the flour. Then rub it into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the milk and then use a fork to mix it with the dry ingredients until you have a softish dough.

Divide the mixture in two, roll each half into a thick rope and then divide each into five pieces. Form each piece into a round, dip your thumb in flour and make an indentation in the centre of each bun.

Drop a little spoonful of raspberry jam into the hole, and then pinch the edges of dough together to cover the jam.

Transfer to a baking tray, brush the top of each raspberry bun with egg wash and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, sprinkle with caster sugar and eat while nice and fresh.



Great Grandmother’s Victoria Sponge


A buttery sponge cake was standard fare to serve with afternoon tea in my Grandmother’s house at Donoghmore. When it was taken out of the oven of the Aga it was cooled on a wire rack by the window in the back kitchens. Thick yellow cream spooned off the top of the milk in the dairy was whipped and as soon as the cake was cool it was sandwiched together with homemade jam from the raspberries picked at the top of the haggard.


6 ozs (170g) flour

6 ozs (170g) castor sugar

3 eggs

4½ ozs (125g/1 stick, plus 1 level tablesp.) butter

14g/1 tablesp. milk

1 teasp. (5g) baking powder


4 ozs (225g) home-made raspberry jam (see recipe)

10 fl ozs (285g) whipped cream


castor sugar to sprinkle

2 x 7 inch (18cm) sponge cake tins


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Grease and flour the tins and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and gradually add the castor sugar, beat until soft and light and quite pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. (If the butter and sugar are not creamed properly and if you add the eggs too fast, the mixture will curdle, resulting in a cake with a heavier texture). Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in gradually. Mix all together lightly and add 1 tablespoon of milk to moisten.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre. bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Turn out onto a wire tray and allow to cool.

Sandwich together with homemade Raspberry Jam and whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved castor sugar. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley.


Aunt Alice’s Raspberry Jam



Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) pots


Raspberry jam is the easiest and quickest of all jams to make, and one of the most delicious.  Loganberries, Boysenberries or Tayberries may also be used in this recipe.


2 lbs (900g) fresh raspberries

2 lbs (900g) white sugar (use 1/4 lb (110g) less if fruit is very sweet)


Wash, dry and sterilise the jars in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, for 15 minutes. Heat the sugar in a moderate oven for 5-10 minutes.


Put the raspberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the juice begins to run, then add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until fully dissolved. Increase the heat and boil steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. It should wrinkle when pressed with a finger. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.

Hide the jam in a cool place or else put on a shelf in your kitchen so you can feel great every time you look at it! Anyway, it will be so delicious it won’t last long!

Hot Tips

On the Wild Side – Oliver Beaujouan – well known artisan food producer from Kilcoummin near Castle Gregory in Co Kerry has been exciting us about the possibilities of the variety of sea weeds around our coasts for many years. Look out for his kelp pickled a la Provencal and Sea Spaghetti pickled with fresh chilli – delicious with stir fried pork fillet or in salads and bouncing with nutrients. Available at the Little Cheese Shop in Dingle, the Limerick Milk Market and at the Cheese Stall at the Midleton Farmers Market every Saturday. Tel: 0877922468


Robbie Fitzsimmon’s 75 day old chickens grow slowly, range freely and have twice the flavour and are twice the size of their intensively farmed cousins – one chicken will feed the entire family with left overs for next day’s sandwiches and carcass and giblets for chicken broth – at €10.00each they are a genuine bargain. East Ferry Free Range – 0862056020 –


Farmers Market Lunch – Chef owner Kevin Aherne of Sage Restaurant in Midleton is one the first customers into Midleton Farmers Market each Saturday to source the pick of the produce from the stalls to showcase on his lunch menu, a brilliant example of a business supporting local farmers and fishermen and serving local food proudly to his eager and appreciative customers. Tel: 021 4639682 –



About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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