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.

Halloween Planning

The kids are a bit disappointed this year, as between one thing and another, we haven’t had time to put up the decorations.  But I do plan to do some cooking.

Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations

I plan to make these cute little buns to bring to the party my Mum & Dad are hosting for the cousins.  They live in an estate, not the back of beyond like us, so within 20 minutes we should have bags of treats!

Halloween Cake

I made this cake before, and it went down very well, but this year, I think a more unusual cake is called for.  I look forward to rooting through my cookbooks for ideas.  Although it won’t be had until after the event, it will be demolished all the same!

Setting your Goals for 2015- Guest Post by Pamela Caldwell

Did you know that most New Year’s resolutions, despite all of our good intention never happen?

In fact according to Forbes just 8% of people achieve their resolutions. 

The Top American Resolutions are as follows:
21% Weight loss
14% Improve finances
14% Exercise
10% Get a new job
7% Healthier eating
5% Manage stress better
5% Stop/reduce smoking
5% Improve a relationship
3% Stop procrastinating
3% Set time aside for self
3% Start a new activity/hobby
2% Improve my work habits
2% Stop/reduce drinking alcohol
1% Assertion/learn to say no

Do any of these ring true with you?

Would you like to achieve positive change in any area of your life in 2015?

Well…I am here to help !  Through my own personal journey and by putting many of my learnings into action I now know that I can do, be or have ANYTHING I want in life – WOW how amazing is that!

Every January I make my new Vision Board for the 12 month ago ahead with I absolutely love the process because as I am listing down my goals and finding pictures and images to match what I was to achieve I absolutely KNOW with every inch of my being that my goals are going to come true !

You see a Vision Board is a tangible map of your future, it is a tool you can use firstly to define your goals and then keep yourself honest and on track to achieving those goals.

Here are some soul searching questions you can ponder while working out what you want to put on your 2015 Vision Board

1. What is my life’s purpose – we are all here for purpose to share our unique talents and gifts with the world – what is your life’s purpose? Some clues will lie in thinking about what you are passionate about.
2. What are my dreams?
3. Then what are my goals?
4. What am I grateful for in life?
5. What makes me happy?
6. What is something I have always wanted to do?
6. Where would I like to travel
7. What career would I ideally choose for myself?
8. What are my financial goals?
9. How can I give back in my community?
10. Which causes or charities would I like to be more involved with?
11. If I could change the world, how would I make it a better place?

Arm yourself with a  scissors, gluestick, pictures and images you want to put on your Vision Board, some bright coloured pens and of course the Board itself.  I always use a board that is thick enough to stand up on its own and it big enough to capture all of my dreams on it.

Keep your vision board in a place where you will see if several times a day and as you are passing it stop and ask yourself

“Am I on track with the future of my desires?” and

“What action can I be taking on a daily basis to keep moving forward with confidence in the direction of my dreams?”

When you look at your goal, your words and the image you have chosen to represent your goal imagine that you have already achieved it. You need to emulate those feelings of “having it now” in your body – allow yourself to actually feel the success pumping through your veins – feel it now !

You need to take action in pursuit of your goal. If for example your dream is to buy a Motorhome to explore Europe in over the coming years then you have to actually start to shop for your perfect motorhome. Even though you might not have the money now or any idea where you will get the money from to buy it you need to ACT AS IF you are in the market to buy one. You see its not for us to figure out the HOW’s – that is the job of the Universe. We just need to ASK and BELIEVE that achieving the goal is possible.  Go test-drive a few models – figure out what layout will best suit your needs. Research the places you will go and explore, where will you stay? Caravan parks, free camping, what are the other options? What festivals and events will you go to now you have a home on wheels. Tell your family and friends of your desire to buy a motorhome – in fact tell anyone who will listen to you! The most you step out of having a dream into reality of actually getting inside one and talking about it the faster you will manifest it to you.

There are 3 main roles for you in all of this willing your dreams to you malarkey!

  1. You have to BELIEVE that your goal/dream is going to come true (I mean REALLY BELIEVE).
  2. You have to TAKE ACTION in pursuit of this dream. (make some quiet time for yourself every day to hear the messages the universe will pass onto you – little ideas on what you need to do to make it happen – these are also called “inspired thoughts”)
  3. You have to FEEL GOOD as feeling good means you are on track with the future of your desires. If you start to feel any negative emotions (fear, resentfulness, depression, sadness, anxiety, boredom etc) then you need to become AWARE that you are feeling bad and CHANGE IT. Switch the dial, tune into another frequency, block the negative feeling and REPLACE it with a positive one (happiness, love, joy, gratitude) and put yourself back on track.

“It’s not that easy to do that” I hear you say – well please try it. The next time you are feeling bad put on your favourite piece of music – the one that has you rocking in the car or singing into your hairbrush, go for a walk in nature, hug a loved one or a pet, look at a photograph of a really happy time in your life, remember a place you went to on holiday which you absolutely loved….there are many strategies you can use to make yourself feel better and in doing so you put yourself back on track with the future of your desires.

So I hope I have given you enough information and inspiration to make you want to create your own Vision Board for 2015. If you need any more help or would like to come to one of my “Dare to Dream Vision Boarding Workshops” then please email me on info@circleoffriends.co

Circle of Friends Vision Board

Circle of Friends Vision Board

Here’s to 2015 being the best year in your life yet

Pam Caldwell

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!

images

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?