Jen's Kitchen offers a fresh approach to home cooking with exciting recipes and blog posts that emphasise hands-on cookery using local and organic produce.

Hen Weekend!

Things have been quiet on the blog the last week, as family took over. But this is a warning of the kind of pictures that may be floating around!
Liverpool is our destination, and luckily we are flying from Waterford. Not sure what the plan is but we’ll go with the flow!!! See you all Monday!

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Back to School Cooking

Lots of people write about school lunches and “back to school” cooking, but here I plan to give you an idea of my weeks cooking.  Now that the kids are both Day -boarders, I don’t pick them up until 17.30 every day except wednesday. Thankfully I don’t need to supply gargantuan boxes of sandwiches as they get a 3 course “lunch” in school.  But they are still absolutely starving by the time they get home.  Especially as most days they either have music or dance after I collect them, meaning we don’t get home until 19.30.

clock

Which means dinner has to be either very quick, or alternatively I have to be organised and have it in a preset oven ready for when we collapse in the door.

Tonight is an easy one; Roast chicken, our own baked potatoes, and roasted carrot and parsnips.  I always like to have some green in the meal, so it will be salad.

Vegetables a plenty

Vegetables a plenty

Last night was not too bad either as I had roast loin of pork, with left over mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.

If I don’t get a chance to put anything on in advance pasta is usually the option.  Carbonara is a very definite favourite of us all, and really only takes 10 minutes.  But chicken in my really quick sauce is a favourite too, but needs a little forethought. http://www.jenskitchen.ie/grease-lightnin-dinner/

Lightening Quick but ultra TastyLike all of these blogs, I think for me, the most important thing is to have a plan.  Even if it is just to get a take away.  And I don’t feel guilty that I’m not slaving away over the stove for 4 hours before we all sit down to eat, we do plenty of cooking together in the kitchen at the weekend.  And that’s what we really enjoy, cooking and eating together, especially with the extended family.

Party Time!

Party Time!

 

What I’m listening to

I tend to hear a song and listen to it constantly for a while. Often these songs mean something to me. For example , I spent nearly six months playing Take That’s “Butterfly” every day when I collected my daughter from Montessori.

At the moment I am dealing with lots of emotions that come from having a family member sick, and trying to manage home and work, and trying to balance it with exercise and friends.

I heard David Gray interviewed on Ian Dempsey’s Breakfast Show on Today FM. He sang Birds of the High Arctic.  For no particular reason, by the end of the song, the tears were flowing down my face.  And to tell you the truth, I can’t honestly attribute it to the lyrics in this case.

The other, completely contrasting song I am listening to is the Idina Menzel sung “let it go” from Disney’s Frozen.  I know I am a little late to the game and kids have been singing it for a very long time.  But at the moment, these lyrics are for me a mantra that are both encouraging and liberating.

 

 

Thank you very much

I am delighted to say that I have got through to the next round of the Cono Sur Food Bloggers Competition. Thank you to all who voted for me.  As you all know I am extremely passionate about cooking (and drinking wine).  I wish I could cook you all a meal to thank you… maybe someday when I open my cookery kitchen.

Thank youFor now be thankful I didn’t put of a picture of me with a ridiculously happy smile!

My weekend of Orienteering with the “Vets”

Due to my age, and not my ability or stunning good looks, I was once again representing my country at the Veteran Home Internationals.  The venue this year was the Forest of Dean.  My only experience of the Forest of Dean was the reference to it in the Harry Potter films.  Hermione had been there camping with her parents.

Forest of Dean, Mallard's Pike

Forest of Dean, Mallard’s Pike

The first day was the individual competition.  The parking was near the start and the finish, which is a good thing for me, as I’m never fond of a 2km hike to the start, mind you that does usually mean that it’s downhill from there.

Individual Race

Individual Race

I started slow, to make sure I knew what terrain was around me. I was happy with the first couple of controls and found them pretty much spot on, although I was very slow through the brashings and kept double and triple checking myself with both my map and my compass.

Number five involved a climb and a VERY steep descent so I made a number of checks to ensure I would not have to come back up.  The next issue was eight, I was in the right area but too high, a number of runners ran out from beneath my place so I dashed down and found it.

Number nine was a struggle as I was very hot and tired at this stage and also knew I was only half way around.  And then the moment arrived when I knew I was lost.  I thought I had taken an accurate compass bearing after number ten, but others running around the forest took my eye, and after a lot of head scratching and attempting to relocate using path junctions, I decided to go back to number ten. Miraculously number eleven was then easy.  The rest of the course flowed reasonably well.  I played it very safe with my route choices, which made my time unbelievably slow, but I found them all where I expected.

Once again I was last in, which is never great for the moral, but a point is a point.

The BOK juniors put on the Saturday meal, and the kids were very polite and polished in their service.  I elected to have an early night as I wanted to put my best foot forward for the team.

My Ireland Veterans Orienteering Shirt

My Ireland Veterans Orienteering Shirt

Mallards Pike was the forest used for the Relays.  We started and finished in an old disused quarry.  I was third leg runner and got more and more nervous as runners came back utterly exhausted.  I just had to finish.  Simple you would think.  The start “kite” was up a slope and I had in my head I would jog slowly up it while getting my bearings.  Again the day was very warm.  My number two runner arrived, and I was off.

In retrospect, nerves got the better of me.  That, and the bracken.  I wasted valuable time at most controls being in the right area but not seeing the kites as they were in pits surrounded by bracken.  The second half of the course went better as I trusted myself more.

I always say never again.  But the group of Irish that travel are so dedicated and great fun to be with.  I made a huge effort this year to be fitter, which definately helped.  But I need to be twice as fit.  Better get going so….

My Autumn Salad- Venison & Pinot Noir.

I truly love Autumn, the slight chill in the air, the earthy smells as the leaves start to fall from the trees.  This year we were incredibly lucky with our beautiful summer and felt justified in having BBQ’s and salads nearly every day.

Into the back garden

Into the back garden

So I wanted to have an Autumn salad meal, as a transition between the two seasons.  Venison is lovely at any time of the year, but I think particularly comes into it’s own in Autumn, I use our own Seika Venison, grown on the farm.  I chose the pinot noir to accompany the dish as you can almost smell the autumn earthiness when you open the bottle.  The soft tannins complemented the St Tola Goats cheese in the salad also.

Vision Cono Sur

Cono Sur Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

With a salad using such bold ingredients I think it’s nice to have a dressing that both draws out the other flavours and brings the whole meal together.  I made a pinot reduction slowly with some of our own honey, the cherry character that finely touches the wine also goes well with the game.

The venison was pan-fried first as it benefits from resting for a time, and I then used the pan to flash fry the field mushrooms, this addition to my salad further encouraged the mouth feel of autumn, before finishing off the reduction.

Pan Fried Venison

Pan Fried Venison

Then it was just a matter if preparing the salad with the cheese., and the in season tomatoes.  I thinly sliced the venison, and served it warm with the Cono Sur Pinot Noir.

Venison Salad

Venison Salad

Perfection in a salad.  Perfect for a Monday. Who said salads were boring?

PHEV-ever love

When I was younger all I wanted was a Jaguar, in racing green.  And I got one, well, a little model one that my now 16 year old would spend time driving his toy hens around in.

When we moved back to Waterford, and I got a horse, and had to upgrade our civic for a very old Mitsubishi Pajero.  It was my first automatic, and I LOVED it, it was clattery and clumsy, but pulled like a dream and never gave up.

Then when all the kids on the farm needed to go to school, it was time to look at a seven seater.  After an awful lot of looking around we finally settled on the Mitsubishi Outlander.  That was in 2007.  She’s still with us.  We love her.  Truly love her.  She has driven to Spain, Belgium, France, Scotland, Wales, England and everywhere in between.  She has done school runs, is constantly my office on the road, and has brought many a horse to many an event, and us to numerous national, and international orienteering events.  She really is the fifth member of the family.

So it was with heavy heart that we felt we should look at upgrading.  My husband is very into new technology and also environmental savvy, so an electric car was the way we were looking.  BUT, we live in the middle of no-where, well, not really, but close enough.  So a pure Electric Vehicle (EV), wasn’t really an option, plus with all the sporting activities all over Europe,  we needed the distance.

In stepped the Outlander PHEV.  I wasn’t really sure, but himself persuaded me to go to the Mitsubishi Dealer in Enniscorthy, Simon Kavanagh Motors. (http://www.enniscorthy.simonkavanaghmotors.ie)

We met Dave and he showed us to the demo model and said we could take it for a spin. So in I got.  With the kids and Nigel.  All of whom were told under no circumstances to open their mouths.  Went to reach for the gearstick.  Wasn’t one.  Automatic.  Gulp.  Sweated.  The Control Panel looked like it would launch a rocket from NASA. Scarily complicated.  I got about 100m’s down the road and abandoned ship.  Himself test drove it that day.  But we were in love.

#PHEV

#PHEV

He persuaded my to test drive it again, I did, and managed to drive forwards AND reverse. Impressive I know.  We took a trip to Dublin to see the model with the sun roof.  We were nearly afraid to talk to each other in case we talked ourselves out of it.

charging....

charging….

I’m a bit evangelical about her actually, so should me meet, perhaps it would be best to talk about the weather….

 

 

Wedding Songs

We were watching “the” wedding last night from the latest series of Modern Family.  Robert hadn’t seen it as he had been away, as with any episode it really is side splittingly funny, but the wedding at the end was truly beautiful.  The Vitamin String Quartet played a tribute to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Not sure what song I would pick now if I was getting married now, both of us have similar taste in music, he introduced me to Prince, which certainly broadened my repertoire.  Grey’s Anatomy are another series that do great music, last season (10) they did really amazing covers of 80′s music.

What was your wedding song?

 

#eday cake

I made a cake for Pims Business Systems today, as they were having a seminar on e-payments. It went down well, and was a chocolate and Guinness cake.

#eday

#eday

Yum.

Glad there is some left over….

 

Knowing my alphabet

I sometimes have to give out codes in work, as in software, most activations work on a code system.  I simply CANNOT manage to give out these codes without getting tongue tied.  A is for …….auxcillary???

Radiotelephony Alphabet

Radiotelephony Alphabet

These codes were originally designed in the 1950′s to standardise the format in which letters were called out over the radio.  The final choice of code words was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests were completed with 31 nationalities.

But they never asked me….