Delicious, DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

A Country Christmas at Hunter’s

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I’m so excited about next months two Inspiration Masterclasses.  The events are a fine opportunity to get in the mood, with friends, for the festive season while gleaning tips and ideas on how to decorate your own home with an emphasis on using Nature & the Garden as your resource.

The afternoon will be filled with creative ideas for decorative detail around your home from myself and this will be followed by a demonstration of creating your own seasonal harvest and tonic drinks with Glenealy based local Courtney Tyler of Hips & Haws Wildcrafts. Courtney will show us how to create our own healthy wildcrafted tonic drinks using foraged wild berries such as elderberries, blackberries and rose hips. She will concentrate on cordials, shrubs, sodas and fruit wines.

The event which is now an annual tradition for many regular attendees, takes place in the cosy, atmospheric surroundings of Ireland’s oldest coaching inn, Hunter’s Hotel, County Wicklow.

My aim is for everyone to leave with a warm glow and full of inspiration for decorating your own home for the festive season and through the Winter until Spring. Ticket price includes Hunter’s renowned homemade afternoon tea (complete with deelish sambos, scones & cake) and a glass of fizz by the fire.

The events take place on Saturday 3rd October & Saturday 10th October

Places are limited so early booking is advisable. You can book on either of the dates here

Niamh Mac Gowan Interior Stylist  http://niamhmacgowan.com/

Courtney Tyler http://www.hipsandhaws.com/

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Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

How do you like dem apples?

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Last week, the night before Hallowe’en, I took a walk around a friends farm – the Autumn mists were down so I can’t show you the sea views this handsome new herd has but I am sure you can imagine. When leaving, Teresa handed me a bag of apples – there are only so many apple tarts she can make she said.

I fancied making something that will last, something that doesn’t involve pastry (a moment on the lips….. ) and something I can’t get readily in the supermarket.

I decided an apple jelly was just the thing – I had a feeling it might be trickier than jam but worth it I reckoned. I have a couple of scented geraniums in the garden and thought I might involve them before its too late in the year so looked up a recipe with those combined ingredients. Darina Allen of Ballymaloe came to the rescue as I found her recipe here

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I gathered all my jam jars, the ingredients from the recipe & some fresh clean muslin. (which incidently, you can sterilise by ironing on the hottest setting – who knew)

Right, apples into the water – I used lemon scented geranium leaves here instead of lemon zest. All good so far…..

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A comedy of errors ensued. I tried to create a contraption to house my muslin filter for the scalding hot pulp using an up-turned stool and many many pegs – I needed this to be left overnight in order to get every last drop of sticky juice from the cooked apples. Soon realising that the ginormous bowl I had wedged into the legs to receive this mixture was going to fill up well before the pulp had emptied. I tried to tilt it in to another sterilised bowl, it got jammed, slipped and poured all over my right thigh and kitchen floor. I scream, Dinny decides to come in and check out what the hell is going on, I run upstairs whipping off clothes to get cold water on my leg and then spend the next hour mopping up the sticky mess.

I attempt to try again – there is still plenty of pulp that hasn’t drained, this then spills and another hour is spent mopping the floor over and over again. I then leave the rest of the pulp to drain overnight. I sit down to watch a scary movie – it is Hallowe’en weekend afterall. One of the light bulbs in the kitchen decides to pop. Movie is indeed scary. Everytime I jump, Dinny awakes and starts barking, the light in the stairwell flickers every time I go upstairs, film get scarier, pulp keeps dripping. I am stuck on the couch afraid to put my feet on the floor .

Next morning I manage to make my apple jelly with rose scented geranium leaf – far less than there would have been had most of it not ended up on the floor. It is a little more runny as well as I think the majority of all that pectin didn’t make it to the pot either….

BUT the good news is, it tastes deeeelish. *wipes brow*

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DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Nature & the Coast

A ‘mini’ wreath

As many of you know I love playing with scale and as well as making the biggest wreath EVER from lleylandii, I also made this particular little wreath with rosemary but you can also use buxus or anything else from the garden with small leaves.

These are ideal for backs of chairs, in front of mirrors or hung anywhere around the house.

I started with the wooden rings that are used for embroidery – I bought these in my local haberdashery

I made small bunches using about 3 sprigs and tightly wrapped them with a little elastic band

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I attached the bunches gradually, using green garden wire

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continue this right around eventually filling the gaps with smaller sprigs

add any colour ribbon to hang it

et voila!

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Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration

Rose Geranium Syrup

My latest recipe making use of the garden….

A delicious syrup made from the aromatic leaves of rose geraniums. I love my rose geranium and can’t resist giving it a rub whenever I sit near it – I have located it by the garden table so it is always to hand. It smells of turkish delight – and actually the essential oil drawn from it is used to give a rose flavour. This recipe is more simple and quite immediate.

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This syrup is very sweet and therefore works well with fruit that has a bit of tartness to it like raspberries for example. My Autumn raspberries have just started producing so I married it with them and some meringue.

 

I got this recipe from Gillon Meller from River Cottage

Simply dissolve 200g of caster sugar in 200ml of water in a heavy based saucepan and simmer for a few minutes. Pour this into a kilner jar, add 8 rose geranium leaves and leave to cool & infuse.

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These leaves will go brown so replace them with fresh ones when it has cooled down. If stored in the fridge, this syrup will last well. 

I drizzled it over raspberries and left them for an hour. and mixed a little more with some creme fraiche and served it with crushed meringue….delicious yet not too naughty.

My small but fruitful garden keeps giving.

 

 

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Delicious, Floral & Gardens

Rhubarb Syrup

July, for me, is a month of parties, birthdays (mine), picnics and sitting enjoying the garden sipping refreshments of one sort or another. So last night, in an effort to deal with the abundance of rhubarb and also tapping into one of my favourite flavours, I made Rhubarb Syrup.

So while sitting here in the sun, sipping this beauty I will pass on inspiration…

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I simply melted 1.25Ib of sugar into 1.5 pints of boiling water, brought it down to a medium heat. I  grated a good chunk of fresh root ginger into the syrup and added a large bunch of rhubarb (scrubbed and sliced in to 2inch slices) and gently cooked the rhubarb until soft, I then left the mixture to completely cool down and for the flavours to infuse. When cooled, I sieved the liquid into a jug and poured into a sterilised bottle and some into a freezer bag as it freeezes well. You could also make ice cubes from it. The syrup in the bottle should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. oh and I have kept the rhubarb bits as a fresh jam to have in the fridge.

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What to do with it?

Well you can simply mix it with sparkling water or lemonade over ice for a good picnic drink…..

Drizzle it over ice cream or fruit salad…..

Add prosecco or champagne for a Rhubarb Bellini…

Mix with vodka and freshly squeezed lime juice for a Rhubarb Martini…

Mix with gin and lemon juice and tonic for a refreshing aperitif….

I am on the hunt now for some more vintage cocktail glasses & a shaker.

Drinks on the Terrace anyone?

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