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Food miles and Foodie Penpals.

1 Jun



It’s Foodie Penpal time again.  On this occasion my parcel came from Allison Jackson who lives in Surrey.  It’s always nice to get something thats not a bill in the post but a parcel is something special. It was all wrapped up very nicely and protected with bubble wrap.



Inside were some little chocolate bars,  a tube of Swiss chocolate mints, a bag of liquorice, dried porcini mushrooms, tempura batter mix, Ras el Hanout a spicy herb mix, a packet of fruit rolls and some cup cases.  What a lovely mixture of items.



The liquorice was first to go…I just love liquorice. I did share it with Andy though. The fruit rolls disappeared pretty quickly too!



I also love chocolate…most women do…actually Andy doesn’t  shy away from it either. I especially love a little sweet treat after dinner in the evening. These chocolate mints and bars fitted the bill very nicely. The dried porcini mushrooms I hadn’t tried before but during the week I added them to a risotto. Really delicious! Risottos are one of my fave meals.

Allison included a very nice letter with the parcel telling me a bit about each item and also a recipe for oat crackers. She also brought up the topic of food miles. As most of the things one can send through the post are prepackaged it really is hard to buy locally produced items to send. Chocolate, even though it may be made in England, contains cocoa beans from South America. The dried mushrooms were from China as were the baking cases. Now China is a big problem for me. Its very hard not to buy stuff from there as they produce everything in that country it seems. The big problem for me is the Chinese treatment of animals and of their people too. Not to speak of the environmental issues. I do deliberately try… not always succeeding… not to buy from China.

The liquorice was from Australia. Think of the air miles getting that to England. I hope you don’t think I’m being over critical of Alisson’s parcel but Allison herself raised this issue so I know she doesn’t mind. She also recommended “How bad are Bananas, the Carbon Footprint of everything.” for some light reading! Haven’t read it yet but I will do. It’s been a very sunny week in Ireland so reading etc has been minimal. It’s been outdoors working in the garden from morning till evening.  So what with the sun, the garden and food parcels arriving at my door it’s been a great week allround.


Marching against Monsanto.

26 May



Yesterday was March Against Monsanto Day all over the world. Andy, myself and our friend Charlie went up to Dublin on the train. On the way we made stickers to distribute on the march.




Charlie drew the cartoon bees and Andy and I coloured them in.



It made the journey very short to be occupied on the way. On reaching Dublin we went into the centre on the Luas and then on to Govinda’s Vegetarian Restaurant.  A good meal to sustain us on the march. Forgot to take a pic but the meal was utterly delicious.



As we made our way to the Garden of Remembrance, where the march was starting, we placed a few stickers in prominent spots. This one on The Spire, a stainless steel momument on O’Connell street.



On reaching the Garden of Remembrance I was a bit shocked to find very few people there.  However by 2.30 a crowd of about 300 had gathered. A bit better but in my view a very disappointing turnout. GM  food is such a serious issue I just can’t understand why people are so apathetic. If one did a survey most people would say they didn’t want GM foods. What they don’t know is that even in Ireland GM foods are already here. Animal feeds all contain genetically modified maize, unless they are organic, so our food chain here is already contaminated. I also learned yesterday that GM potatoes are being trialed in Ireland this year. They were planted last week in Co. Carlow.



The march first stopped at the Dail and then on to the Department of Agriculture.



Tony O’Brien who organised the march spoke very passionately and said that this was just the beginning of the campaign against Monsanto worldwide. I suppose the biggest way to hit them is financially by not buying their products,  but without clear labelling this is hard to do unless one can buy organic produce.



Most people are just trying to survive in this recession so it is hard to opt for higher priced organic foods. Even finding them can be hard unless one is near a good Farmers Market.



With the possibility of fracking in Ireland also on the agenda it seems a strong possibility that our clean green image is to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and exploitation. How sad is that??!!



However, as the saying goes, life goes on. One has to balance being concerned about these issues with trying to do your bit and living a happy, peaceful life. We will grow what we can, from organic and home saved seeds and try and buy what we can organic.  Trying to live as sustainably as we can is about all an individual can do but together we could do so much….



To finish here is the cutest doggie of the day.







Foodie Penpals.

29 Apr


Last month I joined Foodie Penpals which is run by Carol Anne Grady over at . It’s always nice to receive a parcel in the post, even nicer if it has some edible treats. The scheme matches people to receive a food parcel. You figure out what the person might like be emailing them and getting to know their likes, dislikes and any dietary restrictions. There’s a financial limit of £10 or €10.


My parcel arrived last Thursday and it could’nt have been better timed. We were both working at home decorating our newly renovated sitting room, the cupboard was running a little low on treats and neither of us wanted to go to the shops. The parcel which was sent by Cerys from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire was a delight. .


A mix of sweet and savoury treats to enjoy. I was so impressed Kerys had included my favourite sweet from my childhood, Black Jacks, love ’em. Aniseed flavoured, chewy,  black,  toffee like sweets. They did’nt last long, set to them straight away.


For our work break we had the chocolate drinks along with the Strawberry/Vanilla choc chunk biscuits.  Divine! Even more so beause our cookie jar was empty.


A large chocolate bar with hazelnuts also disappeared that night as we watched a bit of TV after a hard days work. Lots of whole nuts in there which we both love.


Also in the package were some pretzels, cupcake cases, some lovely sugar decorations and flower wafers. Also some Aromat seasoning which is said to make steamed vegetables taste divine.  The cupcake cases and decorations I will use next month to make treats for my neices birthdays which are on the 12th and 17th.

Hopefully the recipient of my parcel was as pleased as I was. Looking forward to next month’s already. If you would like to join check out  the website mentioned above if you live in Europe. For people in US and Canada the address is .

You can check out Kerys’s blog at .

SOS….Save our Seeds.

26 Apr


Last night as I was perusing through Facebook, as one does, I came across a post on pending EU legislation that would make it illegal for seed to be sold that wasn’t  on an approved list. It would also be illegal to grow or swap seeds not on the list. Not always believing what I read on Facebook I did a bit of frantic follow up research and sadly I have to report that it’s true.


“EU is preparing legislation that will make it illegal to grow crops that are not on a list of approved seeds. A list that currently is 60% dominated by big corporations like Monsanto, AsrtraZenecar and others. The pros list are basically only hybrids, which means you can not take next year’s seed from this crop. Furthermore, it will not only be forbidden to sell other seeds than those already mentioned but also to grow, “File sharing” in the area of seeds will become a criminal act.” (Section of the Avaaz petition against this legislation).

Please sign the petition. This is a devestating piece of legislation for anyone who cares about food sovereignity, growing or having access to non GM food. For have no doubt, that’s what this is about, the domination of corporations over our food choices.

If this is passed it will make criminals of all who wish to grow home saved seeds. It will be a criminal act to swap saved seeds with your friends and neighbours.

Please sign the petition. Write to the European Commisioners. This legislation goes before the Commissioners on May 6th. Not much time!!

Are we past the tipping point?

23 Apr


What is the tipping point  you may well ask? The tipping point is the point at which 50% of the world’s ecosystems have been interfered with. Research published by Anthony D Bannosky et al, University of California in 2012, says that in that year the figure was 43%. So yes, with the way exploitation of the Earth has escalated it is likely that we are now beyond the 50% point.


To me that is a rather shocking thing. What does it really mean though? Are we on the road to doom and destruction?  The Earth is a powerful living entity, not solely for the benefit of the humans being allowed to live there. It is for all the living creatures. Each have full entitlement to live peacefully and breathe clean fresh air. Perhaps even that very air is under threat. So many trees being felled on the Planet right now. Even here in Ireland the Government is debating whether or not to sell off our publicly owned forests.


Such a crazy idea! Humans and  Trees share an important resource…oxygen. Now I know that trees aren’t the only source of oxygen on our Planet but they do create a huge amount of it. Opinions differ as to exactly how much. It’s simple….Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Humans breathe out carbon dioxide and breathe in oxygen. Seems pretty fatal for the human race then to be cutting Trees at a time when the Planet’s population is growing rapidly.

Birr Castle 019

Water is another resource that is being abused on our Planet. Hydraulic fracturing is seen as the saviour of our fuel shortage situation. However fracking  as well as rupturing the Earth in the search for gas uses vast amounts of water. This water is made toxic by chemicals used in the process as well as naturally occuring chemicals from the Earth. Water is not a renewable resource….All the water that will ever be is already on our Planet. Should be a no brainer that we protect and cherish it.

Birr Castle 014

However it seems that corporations are now more powerful than our governments…and to them profit is the only endgame. It is a well known truth that there are now more lobbyists than politicians in Washington. I’m sure it is similar here in Ireland now.


So what are we to do? Are we to flow along helplessly on this tide of greed and exploitation? No!! We have the power to make a difference. We need to become passionate about our Earth. Stand up against what you believe to be wrong. No, you don’t have to go on the streets protesting. We each need to start in our own homes and gardens/farms/balconies/ growbags. Whatever we can each do may seem very little but if we all work together we can surely turn the tide. Grow what you can in whatever space you have. If you must buy everything try and buy organic, go to independent shops instead of corporation owned supermarkets. Use your money as a weapon. It’s what the corporations understand. That’s the only hurt they feel…the financial kind.  Don’t let shopping be your pastime, even here in Ireland now the shopping centres thrive at the expense of independent retailers. Let Nature be your recreation. Go to the Woods, the fields, the allottments, the parks. It’s healthier than the malls… cheaper too. We need Nature, Nature needs us. Lets get to know her…love her…defend her…before we are tipped into the abyss of no return.

Cold weather explorations.

26 Mar


It’s so cold here at the moment that even the Hyacinths are huddling close together.  Three or four degrees celsius every day for the last week. That wouldn’t be too bad but there’s also a biting east wind which makes it feel so much chillier. At least we don’t have snow like the folks in England and Northern Ireland.


Doggies are cuddling in together too.

The humans are feelings the stirrings of Spring and are keen to work outdoors. There is much to be done in the garden, pruning, making beds and of course keeping  up a good supply of logs for the stove. The Siberian wind makes it hard to stay outside for too long. We managed about 3 hours yesterday, less today.

Even though we are only 45 minutes drive away from our old place it is a completely new area to get to know. We are still close to Boyle and Carrick on Shannon but it’s nice to get to know the towns that  are new to us.


Ballaghadreen is a town most people pass through on the way to Knock Airport. We went there yesterday to get some supplies. In the supermarket I was delighted to see lots of vegetarian staples on the shelves. Mung beans, chick peas


and spices I would normally expect to pay a premium price for in the health food store.


They even stock pure butter ghee. I’ve only ever been able to get this in Dublin.

Not a bad price either. The town of Ballaghaderreen has a large population of people from Pakistan living there hence the good supply of “ethnic foods.”  I love it!


On the way home we stopped at the Douglas Hyde Interprative Centre which is on the main road from Ballaghaderreen to Frenchpark. Douglas Hyde was Ireland’s first president and this church, where his father was rector, now houses a museum. It doesn’t  open until May so I shall make sure to visit it then. Didn’t think to take a pic of the church itself.


Douglas Hyde is buried here beneath this lovely celtic cross.


On a building behind the church is this lovely old cast iron door. How Ireland has changed in the years since this door was made. If only these  old things could talk what treasures they would speak.

Back  home, indoors, for Butternut Squash and Carrot soup. It definitely is weather for soup.

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