Tag Archives: Lettuce

Gardening: First Lesson Learned

6 Dec

Firstly some good news: The caterpillar was located. He has been sent to a nice farm in the country where he will happily live out his days*.


SJ and plants

Since my last gardening post we have been very busy! Seven huge plastic containers were purchased and lots more plants, so adding to those we had before we bought celery, strawberries, joi choi, rainbow chard,  lettuces, spring onions, snow peas, zucchini/courgettes, cucumbers, more coriander, mint, thyme and basil and my favourite was a rainbow selection of carrots .. potted them all, arranged them beautifully in the yard and were very proud of ourselves altogether. The weather was awful that week really stormy and wet, I worried about our little plants but they survived.

IMG_5182 IMG_5166 IMG_5155 IMG_5154 IMG_5153 IMG_5151 1375 1373 IMG_5148

Then it got very hot ….. and lots of them died!
What a rookie error on our part not to realise that a 36 degree day would burn the leaves of all but the very toughest. After a quick relocation into the shade some of them came back to life but we had a number of casualties and my dreams of rainbow carrots are fading. Its not just my skin that needs the factor 50!


However there have been some good developments, our chilli plants are weighed down with long green chillies and our courgettes are flying it with flowers bursting out, the capsicums are also doing well and we get about 2 teeny tiny tomatoes each day. The herbs and strawberries also with stood the heat and are thriving. This evening the tomatoes are being relocated as we think the wall behind them is getting too hot and burning their leaves so they too will benefit from a bit more shade. Its the complete opposite to Ireland where we were chasing the sun shine.

I cannot wait to be able to harvest the produce, hopefully neither the caterpillars nor sun will cost us anymore plants .. fingers crossed!

SJ x

*May not be true.

A moving feast ….

25 Sep

In the spring of 1987 as I was eating my breakfast before school,  my mother said to my 2 younger sisters and I “There’s a surprise coming in September, guess what it is?”

“A dishwasher!” I guessed

“Well, actually yes but that will be here before September there is something better coming too …” she said.

“Better than a dishwasher” I thought to myself. Unlikely, very unlikely!

I was delighted about the dishwasher because I had recently come to the conclusion that we desperately needed one ..  you see every time I wanted to go somewhere my Mam would say “after I have done the dishes” .. dishes were ruining my little life!

As for the other great surprise? That was a third sister, followed a couple of years later by a fourth. Although I am fond of them now I was fairly annoyed that my mother couldn’t have gotten us some brothers at the time. I remember that morning so well, it was a very cute attempt to get us excited about a new baby wasn’t it? Backfired with me though!

The dishwasher in 1987 didn’t change my life in fact it probably ruined it a bit more as small children are a good height for stacking .. especially when you have a very busy mother and a “work ethic” family .. However this week I felt the excitement all over again as we have moved house and there is a beautiful new fitted kitchen and (joy of joys) a dishwasher!!

There is also a lovely little yard where we will be attempting to grow some veggies, I may need some advice on this as the seasons, climate, varieties are all completely different to Ireland.

The past week has been spent moving, cleaning, sorting, unpacking, cleaning, losing everything, slowing finding things again, buying more furniture and even more flippin cleaning … I am exhausted!

When I read this recipe yesterday I knew it was just what I needed – I didn’t have all the exact ingredients but as my national school teacher used to tell us “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and it was delish!



Rye bread instead of wraps, fresh coriander instead of dried, cherry tomatoes instead of “cooking” tomatoes (whatever they are?), button mushrooms instead of large, lettuce instead of spinach .. and a chilli for good measure!

tomatoes cooking

add paste and herbs


sweating mush and onions Sweating the onions, low heat & patience – usually I try to rush them resulting in burnt onions! But I’m wising up … a pinch of salt helps too!

coriander and chilli I added chopped coriander and chilli to the tomato sauce just before serving …

mushrooms and balsamic Added in mushrooms then balsamic … which btw adds an amazing flavour to the mushrooms, I’ll be doing this again!

mushies ready to go


avo and toast This avo was very ripe so I just spread it on the toast but sliced would be nice too … a sprinkle of salt at this stage to bring out the flavour!

Ready for assembly ..

finished The finished dish .. it was really tasty and healthy .. if I was doing it in this form again I would poach the eggs, scrambled are perfect for a wrap!


Later on I had this … yes it is Nutella. A girl has to get her fruit you know!

SJ x








Station Street Markets, Subiaco

12 Sep

Almost every weekend since I’ve been here I’ve made the trek to Subiaco for these markets .. I love them!
From the outside it looks like nothing, maybe a warehouse or underground carpark but once you get inside its a hive of activity and I adore the buzz! I like to think I am a bit like my hero Darina Allen pottering around the English Market in Cork picking the best of everything … perhaps the sun really is getting to me.

There’s a superb health food shop called The Angry Almond where I buy porrige oats, basmati rice, dried apricots and lentils among other things from huge open metal bins. It is also a great place for spices, oils,  flours, yeast,  hard to find ingredients (just this weekend I got coconut sugar) and some good cheeses!

Angry Almond
There’s a branch of my favourite french patisserie La Galette de France, a florist, juice bar, milk bar, numerous restaurant stalls offering all sorts of delights but the largest part, and my favourite hands down are the fruit and veg stalls!!

The array of fruits and vegetables astound me everytime .. 5 types of melon, 6 types of tomatoes, 4 sizes of avocados (my addiction), fresh herbs in huge bunches, produce I don’t recognise, bright colours, fresh smells, choice, choice, choice!!


Potatoes Royal Blue potatoes are really good, they are white on the inside and sadly don’t keep their bright blue colour when cooked but taste really good!






I have no idea what this is or what to do with it? Anyone??




uglyHow’d you like them (custard) apples??!!


oranges and apples

There is better value to be had here compared with the large supermarkets, these eggs for example are about €6 in our local supermarket and since discovering these markets our food bill has decreased … however we also had to get a larger fridge for the amount I haul home every week.. five a day is no longer the aim but a minimum!

While in Ireland last month I treated myself to this new book from another one of my food heroes Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, I’m hoping to try lots of new vegetable dishes and salads suitable for the warmer weather while taking advantage of the huge array of fresh good quality product available here.


Station Street Markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Public Holidays.

Lettuce Soup … Surprisingly Yummy.

3 Aug

Its summertime and the veggies are growing in the garden… leading to a glut of epic proportions!

I am almost Shrek-like eating kale and lettuce and still I can’t get through it quick enough .. last week I read some lovely recipes for lettuce soups .. then in typical SJ fashion I started making it without any recipe or real plan. The recipes I had read all included either a potato or sweet potato – I had neither but I did have a great tip I once picked up in WW class, broccolli stalks added to soup make it really creamy, it works!

About ten minutes in the soup was such an awful colour I wanted to dump it .. I was gently persuaded (read: ORDERED) to continue ..

The result was really really good, very full of flavour and filling, I was genuinely surprised!

What I did … 

>>> In a heavy bottomed saucepan I fried onion (from the garden), two cloves of garlic & a lump of ginger  in some oil .. threw in a pinch of salt after a few min to stop the onions burning (a tip I got from EnglishMum) . 

>>> With my hands I ripped up one huge head of lettuce, two handfuls of kale, two handfuls of spinach leaves and threw it into the saucepan along with the stalks of some broccoli and a few slices of red chilli  (basically everything green in my fridge) 

>>> Add one litre of boiling water with a tablespoon of marigold vegetable bouillion (or a stock cube) and boil for about 20 min 

>>> I added a large handful each of fresh mint and basil leaves for the last 5 min

>>> Allow to cool, and then whizz/liquidise .. Enjoy x 

I took some photos but its a not a really attractive colour and I am not a very good photographer .. but rest assured this soup is worth trying!

SJ x