ArchiveJanuary 2005

Stunningly beautiful New Zealand

I never quite got camping out of my system in my teens, so for at least 25 years I’ve been fantasising about hiring a camper van and disappearing into the sunset to wander, potter and cook over a camp fire. I had a little taste of this kind of lifestyle in the mid eighties when I filmed my Simply Delicious television series on location in France and Italy. The crew and I piled into a Dormobile as it was then called, for a two week stint. It was a wonderful adventure, visiting markets, food producers and restaurants. In Provence we called in to see Roger Vergé at Moulin des Mougins near Cannes, he obligingly showed me his vegetable garden and walked up the garden path with a wheelbarrow full of vegetables for the cameras. In Burgundy we encountered the full force of the mistral as we tried to make our way to Paul Avril’s vineyard in Chateauneuf – des – Papes, his lovely wife Monique showed us how to cook a succulent shoulder of lamb, stuffed with Tapenade and a delicious fresh apricot tart. On to Venice where Marcella Hazan, the doyenne of Italian food, showed us around the Rialto market on the edge of the grand canal and then brought us back to her apartment to make a tagliatelle bolognaise in her own kitchen. We cooked delicious breakfasts and pots of pasta on the little gas stove in the Dormobile.
Almost twenty years later I again took the plunge and hired a camper van for a couple of weeks. I searched in vain for a company that provided a cook’s camper – one that had an oven – no such thing – all the companies thought it was hilarious. Eventually I settled for a four berth with a four ring cooker, grill and microwave oven. No doubt you’re wondering what’s the problem – well, I’ve always been hopeless and not a little scared of microwaves. I used it to store food and concentrated on stove top dishes using the most basic equipment. It was a delicious challenge and I loved it.
Driving through the stunningly beautiful New Zealand countryside from Christchurch to Dunedin, it was a cook’s paradise, every second farm had a roadside sign offering produce for sale, free range eggs, freshly picked fruit and vegetables, bacon, and occasionally we found Jane’s organic beef and lamb.
Bread was a problem. Once or twice we found a local bakery with mediocre to passable bread – mostly it was soft and squidgy , the kind of bread with a long list of additives that really spooks me.
Then we found buttermilk and baking soda, so I had lots of fun and considerable success making griddle bread on the frying pan. Along the coast it is still very possible to catch your supper without too much effort. A little chat to the locals always resulted in a tip as to where to forage for lots of mussels and pipis. It was the whitebait season so we bought bags of them from local fishermen, we tossed them in seasoned flour and cooked them crispy in New Zealand olive oil. Locals make them into whitebait patties, a kind of whitebait pancake or flat omelette.
The back to front seasons take a bit of getting used to – we picked elderflowers to flavour a syrup for poached apricots and green gooseberries and ‘shelled peas on Christmas Day – weird to have apricots and new potatoes and fresh asparagus in December. 
Now its back to business again, our new batch of students have arrived for the January 12 week course – seven nationalities all eager to learn to cook – life goes on.

Roast Shoulder of Lamb Stuffed with Tapenade

Serves 16-20
1 shoulder of lamb (82 lbs/3.6kg with bones and 7 lbs/3.2kg without bones
Tapenade stuffing
170g (6oz) black olives, stoned
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 anchovies
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

cotton string

900ml (12 pint) Home-made lamb or chicken stock 

Ask your butcher to bone the shoulder of lamb for you or do it yourself if you are handy with a knife. Use the bones to make stock for the gravy.
Put the olives, garlic, anchovies and olive oil into a food processor and whizz for a few seconds - just long enough to chop the olives fairly coarsely it shouldn't be a puree. Score the fat of the lamb lightly then put the meat skin side down on your worktop remove surplus fat from the inside, spread the olive mixture over the lamb and roll lengthways, tying at regular intervals with the string. Sprinkle lightly with salt and roast in a preheated moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 13 hours approx. This will produce lamb with a faint pink tinge. Remove to a carving dish and allow to rest while you make the gravy in the usual way. Carve at the table and serve with a little gravy, some roast vegetables and Rustic Potatoes.
1 pint (600ml) stock (preferably homemade beef stock)
roux, optional

To make the gravy. Spoon the fat off the roasting tin. Pour the stock into the cooking juices remaining in the tin. Boil for a few minutes, stirring and scraping the pan well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices (I find a small whisk ideal for this). Thicken
very slightly with a little roux if you like, (years ago flour would have been sprinkled over the fat in the tin but I prefer to use roux). Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary. Strain and serve in a warm gravy boat.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

(Tagliatelle with Bolognese Sauce)
Serves 6

Italians wince when we talk about Spaghetti Bolognese. They say there=s no such thing - that Bolognese sauce should not be served with spaghetti but with tagliatelle instead.

450g (1lb) Tagliatelle or noodles – preferably homemade
Ragu, (see recipe)
25g (1oz) butter
45-50g (12-2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano is best)

Bring 4.5L (8pints) of water to a fast rolling boil. Heat the ragu, adding a little water if it is too thick. Add a generous tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and then add in the homemade tagliatelle or noodles. The pasta should be cooked within 30 seconds after the water comes back to the boil -taste a strand and as soon as it is al dente, strain immediately.
Put a little sauce in a warm serving dish, top with the hot tagliatelle or noodles and pour the remainder of the sauce on top. Dot with butter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, toss well, and serve immediately with an extra bowl of Parmesan.

Bolognese Sauce

I've been told that if you want to make your way to an Italian man's heart it is essential to be able to make a good ragu.

It is a wonderfully versatile sauce – the classic bolognese sauce for Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, indispensable for lasagne, and also delicious with polenta and gnocchi. I have been making Marcella Hazan’s version for many years from her Classic Italian Cookbook. It is the most delicious and concentrated one I know. Marcella says it should be cooked for at least 32 hours at the merest simmer and that 5 hours would be better, but I find you get a very good result with even 12 hours cooking on a diffuser mat. Ragu can be made ahead and freezes very well.

Serves 6

12 ozs (45g) butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped carrot
12 ozs (340g) minced lean beef, preferably chuck or neck
2 pint (300ml) dry white wine
4 fl ozs (120ml) milk
One-eight teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 x 14 oz (400g) tin Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped with their own juice.

Small casserole

In Italy they sometimes use an earthenware pot for making ragu, but I find that a heavy enamelled cast-iron casserole with high sides works very well. Heat the butter with the oil and saute the onion briefly over medium heat until just translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes. Next add the minced beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add salt to taste, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw red colour (Marcella says that if it browns it will lose its delicacy.
Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium, add in the milk and the freshly grated nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated, stirring every now and then. Next add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down to the very lowest so that the sauce cooks at the gentlest simmer – just an occasional bubble. I use a heat diffuser mat for this.
Cook uncovered for a minimum of 12 hours (better still 2 or even 3), depending on how concentrated you like it, stirring occasionally. If it reduces too much add a little water and continue to cook. When it is finally cooked, taste and correct seasoning. Because of the length of time involved in cooking this, I feel it would be worthwhile to make at least twice the recipe.

Griddle Bread

You don’t need an oven to bake this bread, a frying pan works perfectly.
Serves 4-8

½ lb (225g) plain white flour
½ level teaspoon salt
½ level teaspoon bread soda
6-7 fl ozs (175ml) buttermilk

1 non-stick griddle or iron frying pan (10 inch diameter) on medium heat

Preheat the griddle or a non stick pan. Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in together. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, add more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Roll out the bread to about 1 inch (2.5cm) thickness, put onto a hot griddle and cook on a medium heat for about 15 minutes on one side then turn over and continue to cook on the other side for a further 15 minutes until nicely browned and cooked through. Serve warm with butter and jam or local honey.

Plum, or Apricot Tart

Serves 10-12
Makes 1 x 11 inch (28cm) or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tarts

8 ozs (225g) flour
4 ozs (110g) butter
2 tablesp. icing sugar
1 large egg, preferably free range
1 tablesp. approx. water
18-20 plums, greengages or apricots depending on size
1 oz (25g) butter
3-4 tablesp. castor sugar
redcurrant jelly or apricot glaze –optional 

Make the pastry in the usual way. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes in a refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4. Roll out the pastry, line the tart tin or tins, fill with kitchen paper and dried beans and bake blind for 15-20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper. 
Cut the plums or apricots in half, (discard the stones) and arrange cut side up on the tart, packing them in quite tightly at an angle because they will shrink in cooking. Sprinkle with castor sugar and dot with butter. Cook in a moderate oven for 30-45 minutes until the fruit is really soft and slightly scorched. Serve the tart warm just as it is with some softly whipped cream or paint with redcurrant jelly or apricot glaze thinned out with some of the juices.
Apricot Glaze

350g (12 ozs) apricot jam
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tablespoons water.

Makes 1/2 pint approx.

In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the apricot jam with 1 - 2 tablespoons of juice or water. Push the hot jam through a nylon sieve and store in a sterilized airtight jar. 
Melt and stir the glaze before use of necessary. 

Foolproof Food

Oven-Roasted Winter Root vegetables

About equal volume of:
Swede Turnips
Onions, red or white, quarters
Pumpkin, optional
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, whole
a few cloves of garlic, optional
freshly chopped winter herbs - Thyme, Rosemary, Chives and Parsley

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.

Peel the vegetables and cut into similar sized pieces - 1½ inch (4cm) cubes are a good size. Put all the vegetables into a large bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread them in a single layer on one or several roasting tins. Roast, uncovered, stirring occasionally until they are fully cooked and just beginning to caramelize. Be careful, a little colour makes them sweeter, but there is a narrow line between caramelizing and burning. If they become too dark they will be bitter.
Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped Winter herbs, eg. Thyme, Rosemary, Chives and Parsley.

Hot Tips

Cookery Demonstration by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School, in aid of Tsunami Disaster Fund at Garryvoe Hotel on Thursday 3rd February at 8pm. Tickets €20 on sale at Ballymaloe Cookery School (Tel 021-4646785) Garryvoe Hotel (Tel 021-4646718) and the following outlets – Cork – The Crawford Art Gallery Café, Midleton – Hurleys Newsagents, Main St. Midleton, Shanagarry- Brodericks Supermarket, Garryvoe – Murray’s Shop, Castlemartyr – The Village Greengrocer.

What’s in season–
Savoy Cabbage – delicious and full of vitamins – cook buttered cabbage, use in stir-fries or finely shredded into a crunchy green salad.
Seville Oranges – now in the shops – time to get out the marmalade recipes or freeze for use later.
Root Vegetables – see recipe for oven-roasted Winter Vegetables in Foolproof food – or make delicious economical comforting soups and serve with freshly made soda bread for a nutritious lunch or supper on cold evenings.

The Irish Food Market Traders Association is hosting a Conference in conjunction with the Farmers Journal – ‘Farmers Markets – a Positive Story’ at the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork on Monday 14th February 2005. Contact Caroline Robinson for further information –  

The enhanced nutritional benefits of organic milk

Regular readers of this column will know that I am deeply concerned about the deterioration in the national diet – the results of this rapid decline are evident to see in our ever-expanding waistlines and associated health problems. Consequently, I am an avid follower of research into the nutritive value of food. I firmly believe that the root of the problem is the dramatic change in how the majority of our food is being produced. Farmers are being forced to produce the maximum amount of food at the minimum cost and those who question this mantra are often made to feel like luddites by the agri-business sector.
The resulting food is less flavorful and less nutritionally complex.
However, a growing number of people are voting with their feet, flocking to the farmers markets to buy naturally produced local food in season.
Study after study now shows that vegetables, fruit and meat are substantially lower in vitamins, minerals and trace elements than they were 20-30 years ago, so its nice to have some positive news for a change.
At the recent Soil Association Conference in Newcastle , details of new research were announced highlighting that organic milk has higher levels of Vitamin E, antioxidants and Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Organically reared cows, which eat high levels of grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produced milk which is on average 50% higher in Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), 75% higher in beta carotene (which our bodies convert to Vitamin A) and two to three times higher in the anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than non-organic milk. The data supports the higher anti-oxidant levels reported by an Italian Research Council Study. In addition, the research team found higher levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids, confirming earlier research into raised omega 3 levels by the University of Aberdeen and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.

Drinking a pint of organic milk a day provides 17.5% of the required intake of Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) for women and 14% of that for men, and as much beta carotene as some vegetables such as Brussels Sprouts.
The enhanced nutritional benefits of organic milk which costs about fifty cents a litre more than conventional, are due to the more natural diets of organic cows.
So what does Vitamin E, commonly known as the healing vitamin do, it is a group of compounds called tocopherols,of which alpha tocopherol is the most active. It acts as an antioxidant and protects against damage caused by free radicals, which also cause ageing.

Beta Carotene is also a powerful antioxidant which may help reduce the risk of developing cancer. A major study demonstrated that in order to enjoy its benefits, beta carotene must be obtained from food – if it is taken in supplement form it has no benefit.

Lutein and zeaxanthine are vitamins in the vitamin A family, which are also found in dark leafy green vegetables and eggs. It is thought that they help reduce the chance of getting cataracts, macular degeneration (deteriorating eyesight as we age) and atherosclerosis (when the blood vessels block up).

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association commented on the research ‘This new research adds to the growing body of evidence proving the health benefits of organic food. A number of pioneering schools are serving organic milk, and there is now a strong case for the Government to ensure that such initiatives are extended across the country.’

These findings will confound those who argue that organic farming is based on wishful thinking rather than sound science. This research was announced just days after a study in the New Scientist revealed that organic tomato ketchup has three times as many cancer fighting components as the traditional variety.

Creme Caramel with Caramel Shards

Serves 6
8oz (225g) sugar
5 fl ozs (150ml) water

Caramel Sauce
22 fl ozs (60ml) water

1 pint (600ml) milk * or 2 pint (300ml) milk and 2 pint (300ml) cream
4 eggs, preferably free range
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
vanilla pod or 2 teasp. Pure vanilla essence (optional)

Caramel Shards

1 x 5 inch (12.5) charlotte mould or 6 x 3 inch (7.5cm) souffle dishes
First make the caramel. Put the sugar and water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Bring to the boil, remove the spoon and cook until the caramel becomes golden brown or what we call A chestnut@ colour. Do not stir and do not shake the pan. If sugar crystals form around the side of t1he pan, brush them down with cold water. When the caramel is ready for lining the moulds, it must be used immediately or it will become hard and cold. Coat the bottom of the charlotte mould or souffle dishes with the hot caramel. Dilute the remainder of the caramel with the 22 fl ozs of the water, return to the heat to dissolve and keep aside to serve around the caramel custard.

Next make the custard. Whisk the eggs, castor sugar and vanilla essence (if used) until thoroughly mixed but not too fluffy. Infuse the vanilla pod if using in the milk, bring to just under boiling point,-A cool @.Whether you are using a vanilla pod or vanilla essence, the milk must be brought to just under boiling point first. Pour the slightly cooled milk onto the egg mixture, whisking gently as you pour. Strain and pour into the prepared moulds, filling them to the top. 

Place the moulds in a Bain - Marie of simmering water, cover with a paper lid and bake in a moderate oven 160C/350F/regulo 4, for 35 minutes approx., for individual dishes, 1 hour approx. for a charlotte mould. Test the custard by putting a skewer in the centre ,it will come out clean when the custard are fully cooked.

Cool and turn out onto a round, flat dish or individual plates, put the remaining caramel around. Serve with a little softly whipped cream. Decorate with caramel shards (see below).

* Milk gives a smoother texture, cook in conventional oven rather than convection.
** Please remember to allow the custard to cool before whisking onto the egg yolks otherwise the eggs will curdle.

Caramel Shards

Boil sugar and water to the caramel stage - chestnut colour, cool slighty spoon on an oiled baking sheet or onto silicone paper. When cold and crisp use to decorate the creme caramels. Bigger pieces may be splintered into shards. 

Alternatively, put 4-6 ozs. Sugar either granulated or castor into a low sided stainless steel saucepan. Stir continuously over a medium heat until the sugar melts and caramelizes. When it has almost reached the “chestnut “ stage turn off the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes. 

Then spoon into shapes as above.

Macaroni with Mature Imokilly Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Macaroni cheese is one of my children's favourite supper dishes. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham to the sauce with the cooked macaroni.
Serves 6

8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4L) water
2 teaspoons salt
2 ozs (55g) butter
2 ozs (55g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1½ - 1¾ pints (900-1050 ml) boiling milk
3 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (145g) grated mature Cheddar cheese (We use our local Cheddar which is made at Mitchelstown and matured at Imokilly Creamery, Old Charleville is also excellent).

1 x 2 pint (1.1L) capacity pie dish

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn't stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.
Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes, remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually, bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add back in the cooked macaroni, bring back to the boil and serve immediately. 

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place, it is very good served with cold meat, particularly ham.

NB: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce. Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Salmon
Add 4 ozs (110 g) of smoked salmon pieces to the macaroni cheese.

Macaroni Cheese with Mushrooms and Courgettes
Add 8 ozs (225 g) sliced sautéed mushrooms and 8 ozs (225 g) sliced courgettes cooked in olive oil with a little garlic and marjoram or basil and add to the Macaroni cheese. Toss gently, turn into a hot serving dish and scatter with grated cheese.

Parsley Sauce

Serve with boiled bacon or ham.
600ml (1pint) milk (not low fat)
50g (2oz) Roux – see below
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few slices of carrot, optional
a few slices of onion, optional
bouquet garni
25-50g (1-2oz) freshly chopped parsley

If using herbs and vegetables, put them in the cold milk and bring to simmering point, season and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Strain out the herbs and vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil, whisk in the roux until the sauce is a light coating consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add chopped parsley and simmer on a very low heat for 4-5 minutes.

110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) flour

Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

A creamy rice pudding is one of the greatest treats on a cold Winter's day.
2 ozs (50g) pearl rice (short grain rice)
1 oz (25g) sugar
1 pint (600ml) milk
knob of butter

1 x 1 pint (600ml) capacity pie dish

Put the rice, sugar and a little knob of butter into a pie dish. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over. Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 1-12 hours. Its quite tricky to catch it at exactly the right stage. The skin on top should be golden, the rice underneath should be cooked through and have soaked up the milk but still be soft and creamy underneath. Time it, so that its ready just in time for dessert. Serve with cream and soft brown sugar. If it has to wait in the oven for ages it will be dry and dull and you'll wonder why you bothered.

Foolproof Food

Milk Shake

Serves 2
4 tablesp. jam – good quality apricot, strawberry or raspberry or fruit puree*
8-10 fl.oz milk

Whizz the jam and milk together in a blender. Taste.
Sweetened fresh fruit puree is best, but jam is probably more accessible.

Hot Tips

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – first meeting for 2005 on 27th January
In the Crawford Gallery Café at 7.30pm – topic Italian Food
Admission €5 including tea, coffee and tastings

McGee on Food & Cooking- New edition now available of this invaluable cook’s reference book – a highly readable and fascinating guide, a must for anyone interested in food and the science, history and culture of cooking. McGee on Food and Cooking – an Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture published by Hodder and Stoughton, €30

Cookery Demonstration by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School, in aid of Tsunami Disaster Fund at Garryvoe Hotel on Thursday 3rd February at 8pm. Tickets €20 on sale at Ballymaloe Cookery School (Tel 021-4646785) Garryvoe Hotel (Tel 021-4646718) and the following outlets – Cork – The Crawford Art Gallery Café, Midleton – Hurleys Newsagents, Main St. Midleton, Shanagarry- Brodericks Supermarket, Garryvoe – Murray’s Shop, Castlemartyr – The Village Greengrocer.

Garden writer Joy Larkcom and her husband Don Pollard are opening their garden at Donaghmore Farmhouse, Lislevane, Bandon, Co Cork. in aid of The Hollies Fund Sunday January 23rd 2.00pm to 4.00pm Tel 023-40010

Obesity is rising at an alarming rate

As we ease our way gently into 2005 and ponder New Year resolutions, it’s a good time to reflect on a fast growing pan-European epidemic that is already affecting our lives. 
Obesity is rising at an alarming rate, not only in Europe but also in every other ‘developed’ country in the world. Already obesity accounts for 2,500 deaths in Ireland every year, according to the Slán Report 2003. One in eight Irish people are obese and every second person is overweight. Rather than diminishing, the epidemic is expected to continue to rise. 
Obesity in Europe as a whole is five times more common now than it was after the second world war, and statistics indicate that the number of obese is doubling every 10 years and becoming increasingly prevalent among younger people with as many as 1 in 4 affected in some countries. At least 135 million EU citizens are affected and an estimated 70 million more in the countries seeking to join. 
A parallel increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has occurred. Although there are powerful genetic factors in some cases, the overwhelming influence for 99% of the population is environmental. It is no longer acceptable to blame the individual for their obesity, the causes are clearly societal.
Virtually every government in Europe is beginning to galvanise itself into action as their citizens become increasingly aware of the health consequences and costs to society arising from inappropriate diets and lack of physical exercise. The costs are at least on a par with those of tobacco and are of concern to all Finance Ministers.
The reasons are many and diverse but my gut feeling is that the principal cause is the way the majority of our food is being produced, which has resulted in an abundance of ‘cheap food’, lacking in flavour, often less complex nutritionally and therefore less satisfying and health giving.
This is infinitely more serious and difficult to tackle because of the agricultural policies which encourage maximum production at minimum cost. It is universally recognised that obesity is primarily diet induced, the result of a sustained excess of energy-dense food, high in fat and refined carbohydrates, as well as an insufficient intake of vegetables and fruit. Constant snacking has become a way of life, particularly in urban areas. This problem is exacerbated by increasingly sedentary lifestyles and changing environments which in reality curtail and discourage physical activity. However, physical inactivity alone does not explain the epidemic – there’s a bit of the jigsaw missing. 
At present, huge business interests are involved in both promoting sedentary behaviour and the passive over-consumption of food. Analysis of marketing strategies clearly shows a targeting of the young, particularly pre-school children, to establish brand preference of energy-dense food and drinks. Companies also lobby governments intensively and understandably feel under threat by proposals to hold them accountable, which may threaten their profits. 
This coincides with fewer people being able to cook which results in a growing reliance and dependence on convenience food.

What to do?
It is clear that there is a global epidemic on a scale which health services will be unable to cope with, the costs to us as tax payers and society in general is inestimable. Already it is estimated that 8% of overall health budgets in the EU is spent on obesity related problems, the most significant of which include hypertension, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, certain types of cancer, and psycho-social problems. Obesity also increases the risk of dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, breathlessness, sleep apnoea, asthma, osteo-arthritis, hyperuricaemia and gout, reproductive hormone abnormalities, polycystic ovarian syndrome, impaired fertility and lower back pain.
Time for action. Former Health Minister Michael Martin set up a Task Force in February 2004 – its time for radical thinking.
Education is a key factor.
1. Maternal nutrition has a major impact on the unborn child.
2. Breast feeding reduces the risk of obesity (Scandinavian countries have demonstrated how to dramatically increase breast feeding rates.)
3. Marketing of fast foods and sugar laden drinks, particularly to children, needs to be banned, or at least curtailed.
4. Vending machines selling soft drinks and fast food and confectionery should be banned in schools.
5. Teaching adults and children cooking skills should be a priority.
6. Fast food outlets should be required to supply comprehensive food and meat labelling.
7. Follow the Finnish approach which trebled national vegetable consumption over a 20- year period.
8. Encourage organic food production on a larger scale, develop local food links.
9. There is a dramatic reduction in the number of adults walking or cycling to school or work for a variety of obvious reasons. A network of cycle tracks and foot paths in tandem with a public awareness campaign, would provide enormous benefits. Both school and workplace would need to provide facilities. Pioneering work in these areas has also been done in Scandinavia, Spain and the Netherlands. 
10. Last, but not least, do an ad campaign to show how dumb and uncool it is to shove any kind of old rubbish into yourself, after all, in the worlds of Lady Eve Balfour ‘Our food should be our medicine’. So perhaps its time for the Departments pf Agriculture and Health to work hand in hand for the sake of the health of the nation. Clever television and bill board advertising to make people connect the food they eat with how they feel – ‘If you are what you eat I’m fast and cheap’ – a slogan seen on the T-shirt of a very large lady.

Ballymaloe Nut and Grain Muesli

This muesli bursting with goodness keeps in a screw top jar for several weeks. Measure the ingredients in cups for speed.
Serves 12

8 Weetabix
7 ozs (200g/2 cups) oatmeal (Quaker oats or Speedicook oatflakes)
1½ ozs (45g/½ cup) bran
2¼ ozs (62g/¾ cup) fresh wheatgerm
2¼ ozs (62g/½ cup) raisins
2½ ozs (62g/½ cup) sliced hazelnuts or a mixture of cashews and hazelnuts 
2½ ozs (62g/½ cup) soft brown sugar - Barbados sugar
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) Lecithin* - optional

Crumble Weetabix in a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Keeps for 2-3 weeks in a cool place.
Serve with fresh fruit and fresh creamy milk.
*Available from Chemist or Health food shops - Lecithin comes from soya beans, it is rich in phosphatidyl Choline - an important nutrient in the control of dietary fat, it helps the body to convert fats into energy rather than storing them as body fat.
Back to Top
Cruditees with Garlic Mayonnaise 

Cruditees with Aoili is one of my favourite starters. It fulfills all my criteria for a first course: small helpings of very crisp vegetables with a good garlicky home-made Mayonnaise. The plates of Cruditees look tempting, taste delicious and, provided you keep the helpings small, are not too filling. Better still, it’s actually good for you - so you can feel very virtuous instead of feeling pangs of guilt!
Another great plus for this recipe I’ve discovered is that children love Cruditees. They even love Aoili provided they don’t hear some grown up saying how much they dislike garlic, and you can feel happy to see your children polishing off plates of raw vegetables for their supper, really quick to prepare and full of wonderful vitamins and minerals. 
Cruditees are a perfect first course for Winter or Summer, but to be really delicious one must choose very crisp and fresh vegetables. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized bits so they can be picked up easily. You don’t need knives and forks because they are usually eaten with fingers. 

Use as many of the following vegetables as are in season:
Very fresh button mushrooms, quartered
Tomatoes quartered, or let whole with the calyx on if they are freshly picked
Purple sprouting broccoli, broken (not cut) into florettes
Calabrese (green sprouting broccoli), broken into florettes
Cauliflower, broken into florettes
French beans or mange tout
Baby carrots, or larger carrots cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long, approx.
Cucumber, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Tiny spring onions, trimmed
Red cabbage, cut into strips
Celery, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Chicory, in leaves
Red, green or yellow pepper, cut into strips 5 cm/2 inches long approx., seeds removed
Very fresh Brussels sprouts, cut into halves or quarters
Whole radishes, with green tops left on
Parsley, finely chopped
Thyme, finely chopped
Chives, finely chopped
Sprigs of watercress

A typical plate of Cruditees might include the following: 4 sticks of carrot, 2 or 3 sticks of red and green pepper, 2 or 3 sticks of celery, 2 or 3 sticks of cucumber, 1 mushroom cut in quarters, 1 whole radish with a little green leaf left on, 1 tiny tomato or 2 quarters, 1 Brussels sprout cut in quarters, and a little pile of chopped fresh herbs.
Wash and prepare the vegetables. Arrange on individual white side plates in contrasting colours, with a little bowl of aoili in the centre. Alternatively, do a large dish or basket for the centre of the table. Arrange little heaps of each vegetable in contrasting colours. Put a bowl of aoili in the centre and then guests can help themselves. 
Instead of serving the aoili in a bowl one could make an edible container by cutting a slice off the top of a tomato and hollowing out the seeds. Alternatively, cut a 4 cm/1½ inch round of cucumber and hollow out the centre with a melon baller or a teaspoon. Then fill or pipe the aoili into the tomato or cucumber. Arrange the centre of the plate of Cruditees.
Note: All vegetables must be raw.


To your basic mayonnaise add the following.
1-4 clove of garlic, depending on size
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Crush the garlic and add to the egg yolks just as you start to make the Mayonnaise. Finally add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

Black-eyed Bean and Chick Pea Stew

Serves 6
½ lb (225g) dried black-eyed beans
½ lb (225g) chick peas
½ lb (225g) fresh mushrooms
6 tablespoons sunflower or arachide oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick 
5 oz (140g) onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
14 oz (400g) fresh or tinned tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch of sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 good teaspooon salt (it needs it, so don’t cut down)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander (fresh parsley may be subsituted though the flavour is not at all the same)
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves

Steamed Rice – see recipe

Soak the beans and chick peas separately, in plenty of cold water overnight. Next day cover each with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes approx or until just cooked.
Cut the mushrooms intoc inch (3 mm) thick slices. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the whole cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick. Let them sizzle for 5-6 seconds. Now put in the onions and garlic. Stir and fry until the onion is just beginning to colour at the edge. Put in the mushrooms. Stir and fry until the mushrooms wilt. Now put in the tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, pinch of sugar and cayenne. Stir and cook for a minute. Cover, and let this mixture cook on a gentle heat in its own juices for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat under the sauté pan. Drain the beans and chick peas, reserving the cooking liquid. Add to the mushroom base mixture, add salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 tablespoons of the fresh coriander and ¼ pint (150 ml) of bean cooking liquid and ¼ pt chick pea liquid.
Bring the beans and chick peas to boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the beans and chick peas are tender. Stir occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander and mint. 
Serve with steamed rice and a good green salad.

Steamed Rice

Serves 4-6
18 fl ozs (510ml/2¼ cups) Basmati rice 
18 fl ozs (510ml/2¼ cups) water
½-1 teaspoon salt 

Measure the rice in a measuring jug. Wash gently in 2 or 3 changes of cold water. The final water should almost be clear. Drain the rice well in a sieve or fine strainer then tip it into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add equal volume of water and the salt. Stir to mix. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to the absolute minimum, use a heat diffuser mat if available. Cover with a tight fitting lid - no steam must escape (use tin foil under the lid if necessary). 
Steam the rice for 15-20 minutes, take off the heat and rest for 5 minutes. The rice will now be dry and fluffy but will keep warm for up to 30 minutes. 

Citrus fruit Salad

In the winter when many fruits have abysmal flavour the citrus fruit are at their best, this delicious fresh tasting salad uses a wide variety of that ever expanding family. Its particularly good with blood oranges which appear in the shops for only a few weeks, so make the most of them. Ugli fruit, Pomelo, Tangelos, Sweeties or any other members of the citrus family may be used in season.
Serves 6 approx.

½lb (225g) Kumquats
12 fl ozs (350ml) water
7 ozs (200g) sugar
1 lime
½ lb (225g) Clementines
¼-½ lb (110g-225g) Tangerines or Mandarins
2 blood oranges
1 pink grapefruit
lemon juice to taste if necessary

Slice the kumquats into ¼ inch (5mm) rounds, remove pips. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat, add the sliced kumquats. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool. Remove the zest from the lime with a zester and add with the juice to the kumquats. Meanwhile peel the tangerines and clementines and remove as much of the white pith and strings as possible. Slice into rounds of ¼ inch (5mm) thickness, add to the syrup. Segment the pink grapefruit and blood oranges and add to the syrup also. Leave to macerate for at least an hour. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary. Serve chilled. 

Foolproof Food

Apple and Raisin Squares

These would make a delicious lunch box treat
8 ozs (225 g) self raising flour
8 ozs (225 g) oats
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
8 ozs (225 g) butter
8 ozs (225 g) sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 eating apples
4 ozs (110 g) raisins

Mix the flour, oats and bicarbonate of soda together. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together over a gentle heat and add. Line a tin with greaseproof paper. Press half the mixture into a lightly greased 92 inch square tin. Peel, core and chop the apple finely, mix with the raisins and sprinkle over, then spread the remaining oat mixture on top. 
Bake for 30 minutes 180C/350F/regulo 4, leave to cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares and transfer to a wire rack.
Back to Top
Hot Tips

If you would like to improve your cooking skills watch out for the night classes starting in your local community college or school. 

An Grianan Adult Education College in Termonfeckin, near Drogheda, Co Louth, runs cooking classes taught by Marie McGuirk, as well of lots of other courses – a wonderful break. Tel. 041-9822119  for details,  

Good Things in Durrus – Carmel Somers will be starting classes again soon – Tel. 027-61426

Ballymaloe Cookery School – new brochure on line  

Dunbrody Abbey Cookery Centre- Campile, Co Wexford.  Tel 051-388933  

Ghan House Cooking School, Carlingford, Co Louth – Tel 042-937 3682

The new Belle Isle School of Cookery  Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh  

Island cottage John Desmond & Ellmary Fenton, Island Cottage, Heir Island, Skibbereen,
West Cork, Ireland Tel: (353) (28) 38102 

For specialist cooking schools, cooking holidays and tours all over the world check out The Shaw Guide to Cooking Schools
Essential travelling companions - Georgina Campbell Ireland – the Guide 2005 – the best places to eat, drink and stay. 
Bridgestone Irish Food Guides – best places to stay, best restaurants, best places to eat, shop and stay.  
The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 

Congratulations to Cully & Sully – on being runners up in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards – stock up on some of their delicious ready meals.

The Horror of the tsunami

The shocking news of the tsunami came as a sobering wake-up call in the midst of all the jollity of the festive season.
The horror of recent terrorist atrocities seemed to pale in comparison to the death toll in this natural disaster of epic proportions – we may never know exactly how many perished along the shores of the Indian Ocean but we all saw in horrifying detail the death, destruction, and heartbreak of those whose lives were shattered in just a few seconds.
Like September 11th, many people know or will know people who were affected.
We were all heartbroken to discover that one of our much-loved students who did a 12 week course with us in January 2000 perished – her sister is desperately badly injured and is fighting for her life in a hospital in Bangkok. Other acquaintances of our daughter were more fortunate, they had been camping on a beach in Phuket and decided to go rock-climbing that morning. They heard the commotion and looked down in horror to see the wave sweep over their camp spot and sweep away everyone and everything in its path – they are traumatized but safe.
Yet another friend of a friend holidaying in PhiPhi came back from lunch to find her deck chair seconded by a large gentleman who refused to move, furiously she moved to a place on higher ground - she survived and sadly he did not.
Others told us of their friends who opened their new hotel in Phuket on Christmas Eve, a husband and wife team – she is confirmed dead and he’s missing, as are three of their friends who went out for the opening to support them.
Whether one knows anyone or not is completely irrelevant – what has been exercising so many people’s minds is how can we help? Many people have already dug deep in their pockets and contributed to various charities, many of whom are working around the clock to reach the affected areas and deliver desperately needed supplies.
Yet the heartbreak goes on, many of these areas have no social services or health system, many not only lost their homes and belongings but all means of livelihood, their boats, nets, barrows, braziers, tools…. They will need support not just for weeks or months but probably years. So how can we raise money in our circle of friends or communities – everyone has been coming up with ideas and many fund-raising events are already underway.
How about an official day of mourning as was declared to show sympathy with the victims of September 11th terrorist attack in New York. This time however, people might choose to contribute their day’s wages to a fund in aid of the Tsunami victims.
As this is a cookery column, I’ve been thinking of suggestions connected with food. We can all make a difference in a delicious way. Invite friends around to dinner, charge €20 - €25 and gather a few prizes together for a raffle, sell tickets and sell a bit more.
Offer to cook dinner in a friend’s house for a fee – contribute to the fund. Restaurants could consider providing a donation box by the till – every little counts.
ICA Guilds whose membership includes so many fine cooks and bakers may want to organise bring and buy sales – a cake sale after Mass or Church is always a good time to sell goodies. Coffee mornings are another way of fund-raising. Many people have spare presents from Christmas which could be used as raffle prizes.
Children may want to make rice Krispie buns, cup cakes, oatmeal biscuits. Teachers and parents will want to be involved in this effort which also teaches children to be caring and socially responsible.
Home economics classes at school might bake and sell to their classmates. Stallholders at Farmers Markets might decide to donate a percentage of their day’s takings to the disaster fund. 
Shops and supermarkets might follow suit, some have already done so. Sports clubs will no doubt have ideas for ways of raising money. Golfing and tennis friends could consider a few charity games.
I will do a fund-raising demonstration on Thursday 3rd February at Garryvoe Hotel - full details from Ballymaloe Cookery School Tel 021-4646785. 

Here are a few suggestions for recipes to get things started.

Pork with Gentle Spices

Also delicious made with chicken breast, easy to reheat, serve with fluffy rice or orzo and a good green salad.
Serves 4-6

2 pork fillets or 675g (12lb) pork leg meat

1-2 teaspoons whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
30g (1oz) butter
110g (4oz) onions, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
150ml (3 pint) Home-made Chicken Stock 
150ml (3 pint) cream
flat parsley or coriander

Press the cardamom pods and extract the seeds, grind to fine powder with the coriander and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat until soft. Trim the pork fillets of all fat and membrane. Cut into 2cm (:inch) slices or cubes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss the fillets in the ground spices. Add to the onion and sauté gently for a few minutes. Cover the pan tightly and cook in a preheated oven 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 15-20 minutes or until the pork pieces are cooked but still nice and juicy. (It may not be necessary to put the pork in the oven if using fillet). 
Remove the pork to a serving dish and keep warm. Put the casserole back onto the heat, add the stock and cream and reduce by half. Taste and adjust seasoning, add the pork pieces back into the sauce, allow to bubble for a minute or 2. * Serve on a hot serving dish garnished with flat parsley or coriander. 
· May be prepared ahead to this point. Reheat in a saucepan over a gentle heat. 

Beef Stroganoff

Another favourite – can be whipped up in a few minutes or reheated carefully.
Serves 6 – 8

50g (2oz) butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped finely
225g (8oz) mushrooms sliced
freshly grated nutmeg
750g (1lb 11oz) fillet of beef, cut into very thin strips
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
200ml (7fl oz) sour cream
1 teaspoon paprika, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt half the butter in a sautepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the chopped onions. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes approx, until the onions are soft but not colored.
While the onions are cooking sauté the mushrooms in the remaining oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Season the mushrooms with salt, freshly ground pepper and grated nutmeg.
When the onions and mushrooms are cooked remove from the pan. Melt the remaining butter in the pan. When the butter starts to foam, add the beef and stir fry over a high heat until just cooked. Add the onions and mushrooms back into the pan. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg again if needed. Stir in the mustard, paprika and finally the sour cream. Continue to cook until the stroganoff is just bubbling.
Serve with Plain Boiled Rice 

Rice Krispie Buns

Makes 18 approx.
8 ozs (225g) best quality chocolate
3 ozs (85g) Rice Krispies
18 Smarties

Paper bun cases

Break up the chocolate and melt in a bowl over simmering water. Gently stir in the Rice Krispies. Fill the mixture into paper bun cases - about a dessertspoon into each. Top with a Smartie, allow to set before you start to nibble.

Coffee Cake with Chocolate Coffee Beans
A splendid cake, keeps well too. This cake may be baked in a larger tin to make it look more like a gateau.
Serves 8-10

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 centre 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
Back to Top
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.

Foolproof food

Penny’s Vanilla Cupcakes

My daughter-in-law Penny is famous for her cupcakes
Makes 12

150g (5oz) butter (at room temperature)
150g (5oz) caster Sugar
150g (5oz) self raising flour
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract.

Icing sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.

Dolly mixtures, hundreds and thousands, silver dragees, cherries and angelica, crystallized violets.

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5.

Put all ingredients except milk into a Magimix, whizz until smooth. Scrape down sides of Magimix, then add milk and whizz again.
Divide mixture between cases in muffin tin.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 –20 mins or until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spoon a little icing over each cupcake. Decorate with dolly mixtures, hundreds & thousands, cherries & angelica ‘’’’


Scented Geranium Cupcakes

8 medium sized Geranium Leaves.

Follow the master recipe but put the geranium leaves in to the milk and bring up to simmer. Allow to cool before adding to Magimix.
Put a crystallized rose petal on top of the icing for decoration.
Back to Top
Hot Tips

Fund-raising Cookery Demonstration by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School, for Tsunami Aid, at Garryvoe Hotel on Thursday 3rd February at 7.30pm – booking essential. Tel. 021-4646785 for details. Theme – Stress-free entertaining for family and friends.

Fresh Brocco Shoots 
A unique blend of broccoli, alfalfa, clover and radish sprouts which are crunchy to eat, have a delicate spicy flavour and contain an abundance of nutrients. Just 20g will provide you with your recommended weekly intake of the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane - delicious in sandwiches, wraps, salads, stir-fry, omelettes, as a garnish and in juices or smoothies. 

Irish Food Market Traders Association 
Is hosting a Conference in conjunction with The Farmers Journal – ‘Farmers Markets – A Positive Story’ at the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork on Monday 14th February from 10-5
For further information contact Caroline Robinson –

Training Programme for Food Producers employing less than 10 people will be held at the IRD Duhallow Training Centre, Boherbue, Co Cork, starting on 20th January.
Aim of programme is to provide food producers with the necessary skills to sustain their small business, enhance their professionalism, sustain and create employment in rural areas and acquire the know how and expertise to develop their competitiveness and ensure long term viability. Details from Isobel Fletcher, 087-9794369 email: 

Midleton Farmers Market 
Will re-open on Saturday 15th January – Happy New Year to all our customers.


Past Letters