Sunday, May 25, 2008

White Asparagus!

Mmmh... we had white asparagus for dinner, it was just divine! My favourite vegetable, even as a child! I always picked 'Spargel' for my birthday dinner (Did you get to pick the dinner on your birthday? My mum didn't cook separate food for the kids so it was a big treat to get to decide what was on for dinner). It's really good with Hollandaise, but that's a tricky sauce that we usually left to restaurant chefs to deal with, at home we usually made do with melted butter.

This type of asparagus grows underground, that's why it's white. We never grew it in our vegetable garden, only one of my aunt had some beds, i think it takes about 3 years until the 1st harvest, you have to have good soil and make ridges, and the trickiest part is that you have to cut it before the tip breaks the surface. Less than perfect asparagus tips are grey or green because they haven't been cut in time, after cutting you have to reshape the ridge, so the other growing asparagus tips don't get exposed to light. You only get 'Spargel' in spring, and only until St. John's day if i remember right, the summer solstice.

To buy, it's an expensive vegetable, due to the short season, the labour intensive harvest (it's hand cut, there's no machine that can do it!) and probably also because it's so delicious.

I found it in the farmers market at the Skerries Mills, i think the only other place I've seen it in Ireland was in Fallon&Byrne, the delicatessen in town. At the mills, it possibly came from the Netherlands and might have been organic, and I paid about 6€ for ten stalks, which is enough for 2 portions. (Even though I'd probably have no trouble eating 10 or 15, i'd just be mostly ignoring the ham and spuds...)

If you want to give it a go, make sure you buy some that's not green at the tips, and if you get to pick the actual stalks try and get similar thicknesses. Cut of the woody ends (I find it hard to tell where they start, but my mum has it down to a tee) and peel from just below the tender tips to the bottom with a vegetable peeler (save the ends and peels for asparagus- (or vegetable-) soup). For the professional approach you need a tall pot, and you tie the asparagus stalks in a bundle and stand them up, with the tips just above the water (my mum usually ignores this, and cuts the stalks into three pieces, bottom, middle and top, and throws the bottom ones in first, the tips last.) Cooking time is about 20 minutes, maybe more, you really want these to be much softer than green asparagus, completely tender, but you don't want the tips to fall apart. here are some more explanations. Serve with new potatoes, butter or sauce hollandaise, and for the carnivores, some boiled ham. Yum...

By the way, the farmers market in Skerries makes for a great saturday morning/afternoon, you could have your breckie or lunch in the Mills, or have a delicious grilled Nurnberger Bratwurst with mustart and bread at the German sausage stand, and then buy your fruit and veg. I also got some durum wheat bread at the Soul Bakery stand, and some tea from Larrol's. There are also the usual italian delicatessen, and cheese and egg stands. They are open 10-4.

Oh, did I mention dessert was rhubarb crumble and custard, made by my dear husband P?

Monday, May 19, 2008


on the way to the farmers market in skerries we passed a car boot sale, and apart from a little tin watering can and a few plain white linen napkins i picked up these treasures!

a single chenille throw, white, 100% cotton.
my 'bend the rules sewing' book has a pattern for bibs, and i'm planning to make some bibs and burp cloths a la happythings. i have lots of cute fat quarters that i can use, and some recycled cottons, too. i just have to get started again. hard to do with the weather still being lovely.

2 pillow cases, probably poly cotton, with lace detail

a kind of matching flat sheet (or was it a duvet cover? my memory is really letting me down, i only took these pictures saturday night!), the flower cotton is actually much more faded than the pillow cases, but the plain yellow fabric is darker, and the lace is different, it looks like somebody might have tried to make this matching afterwards, it's definitely home sewn.

so, as these fabrics are lovely and soft from years of washing, i'm thinking baby bedlinen? i suppose it'll have to wait till we've got a crib. my friend will lend us her moses basket for the 1st few months, but i have to start looking for a crib soon. there are several 2nd hand websites around, i'm thinking getting the crib itself off or and then just buying a matching mattress?

of course this fabric would be a little too girly for a boy. i just don't know, should we book a private scan and ask to find out the sex? i'm worried that if they get it wrong i'd find it harder to bond if i was expecting one but got the other? on the other hand, it would be handy and it would give us some time to prepare, and if i saw some cute not-gender-neutral outfits i could just give in and buy them!

i also like the idea of a 'co-sleeper' bed, in case i manage to breast feed i would prefer not to have to get up in the middle of the night. they are little cots that attach to your bed, so the baby has its own little bed but it's at the same level as yours so you can just reach over for cuddles and for feeding. has anybody got any experience with these?

Monday, May 12, 2008

a proper real tiny baby! for real!

moving around, scratching its head, clasping its hands!
it seemed so unreal but the ultrasound technician assured me, it's really mine, in my belly! i couldn't quite connect the two, the picture of a baby on the screen and that it really should be inside me, i can't feel anything yet! and there's no real bump either!
it's about 9 cm big now.
i also got assessed for the midwifery led unit and 'passed'! that doesn't neccessarily mean i will give birth there, but at least i've got the chance.
time to get organised for yoga classes, and 'gentle birth' classes, err, are there breastfeeding classes!?

PS should i be worried about the baby's big belly?? the ultrasound technician didn't seem worried, but she was very rushed and didn't have much time (a little disappointing seeing as this is my only official scan... if my GP didn't happen to have a machine it would be the only scan for the whole 9 months! but of course as a GP he's not fully equipped and trained to measure and spot problems, he does it just for a bit of reassurance that the baby's moving and its heart is beating)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


4 BBQs in 7 days! we're making the most of the weather, you never know how long it lasts in this country... i'm pretty wasted now, spent all day finishing the ironing, and tidying up, and cooking, then we sat out with our neighbours and ate, a lot... chicken skewers, pork skewers, burgers, tomato salad, potato salad, corn on the cob... and now, an hour later, i still managed a mars ice cream bar... savage! it was lovely and laid back, just 4 grown ups and a baby, so there was no hassle getting food ready for everybody at the same time.

in germany it was mother's day today, i have a cute old photo scanned, but i don't have it to hand... maybe later this week! (13.05.08: i found it! here it is!)
(I wasn't the prettiest baby, i admit, i got a little cuter for the following 4 years or so, honest!)

tomorrow i have my 'booking appointment at the hospital. i'm really nervous. i'm really hoping the baby is still there, and alive and healthy! i'm also hoping i will get into the midwife led unit, but i'm fairly healthy and a good weight and haven't had any complications so far, so fingers crossed!

shattered now, i think it's nearly bedtime for me, want to be well rested for tomorrow, a friend said it might take all day! and the last two nights i hardly slept, lots of nightmares to do with hospitals and giving birth...

Monday, May 5, 2008

money matters...

Do you ever wonder if you save enough money or give enough to charity? Or if you should be spending this much on a new pair of shoes? I was just reading this post on how to divide up your money on apron thrift girl and I think it's a great concept. I've heard about it before, and while i won't be keeping my money in jars I think I might calculate how much I 'should' be saving and spending on different things, and compare it to what I actually spend it on... Every now and then I keep track of what I spend, but I usually give up very quickly as it's sickening to see how much goes on coffees and lunches every day, I've never mastered the packed lunch for any serious length of time, it usually goes well for a few weeks and then I fall off the wagon. And I do enjoy those take away coffees immensely, they give me this 'girl about town' feeling, when i walk into the office with my latte and croissant!
We're off to a friend's house this afternoon, so I better stop reading blogs and musing about take away coffees and get that ironing done before we go!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

green kitchen photos

the kitchen, in crown 'tropical green'

dining area

these 5 tulips are all i got this year...

the fig tree actually has figs! after an atrocious summer last year and a long winter that only really ended 2 weeks ago! i don't really know how figs work, i didn't even think it would survive the winter, i never noticed any blossoms! (maybe because i didn't go out much in the awful weather)

evening sun on the patio

Saturday, May 3, 2008


i know i'm probably being really naive that i'll be able to cope with looking after a baby and still have time to consider using cloth nappies, but don't these soakers look ever so cute? there are 220 projects on ravelry, it must be a good pattern... i wonder will i knit one in newborn size or should i go up one size as i won't have time to dress myself never mind do extra loads of washing and try folding muslin for nappies? what about allergies, what are these soaked in? i have quite sensitive skin, i wonder would my baby be able to wear wool? how often do you (hand?)wash the wool soakers?

garden photos ...and little cotton socks

fig, it survived the winter

stock, sowed 2 years ago, i think it keeps resowing itself, it actually had a few blossoms even in winter!


tomato plants


rosemary, in blossom, i wonder at what point i have to trim it, i think possibly after blossoming?

oregano, and a stray thyme sprig in the background, it seeded itself, so i'm leaving it be and when it's big enough it'll get its own pot, and maybe go to a friend. or to replace it's mother plant, which is getting very big and woody.

cress, radishes, peas (i think, i really should have labelled them...)

"mexican orange blossom", they have a lovely smell

little cotton socks for my friend's baby, made with LIDL cotton on 3.5mm needles


i was travelling for work last week, and couldn't resist pointing the camera at the windscreen a few times, look at those skyes!

lunchtime in the park

a few photos i took on the first day of may...