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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Free Range Reaping!

So....we are going through a little shift in branding currently. Why? Well because to be honest we tried for too long to fit into a box that was just too small to handle us really and after reading Marianne Cantwell's book - Free Range Humans given to us by the awesome Voice Coaching Ireland, we felt we needed a change. Break free from the reins! A bit of a Run Forest Run moment. Kinda ironic considering my name is Jennifer and I OFTEN get slagged with the "Jennaaaay" quote. Anyway I am (as always) the Glam Reaper? Well it was actually an Irish Tabloid paper that nicknamed me this name some months ago and it stuck - Amongst friends, family, acquaintances, clients and more. The more I thought about it, the more ME it seemed.

Farewell Funeral Planners - the original name is a fabulous name (if I do say so myself) but it described what we were and NOT who we are now and where we are going. I am NOT a funeral planner. I am not as soft spoken as the name suggests either. The Glam Reaper might seem crass to some but meet me, hear me, read me, listen to me and you will know I am anything but crass. I started this business because I care greatly about people. I have loved and will continue to love hearing the fabulous and often heartbreaking stories from people I have worked with on funerals, on their businesses and through my book and my jewellery.

I looooove what I do but the Farewell Funeral Planners box was just too tight for what I have grown into - I have written a book - Say Farewell Your Way, I have created a line of Irish glass cremation jewellery for Humans and for Pets. I do marketing for Funeral Homes and a variety of other non funeral related products and services in the UK, USA and Ireland. I am making a documentary on the funeral business.  I write for publications all over the world, I chat with real live humans about the stories they have, the lives they have lived and the action they have seen. I want something that represents ALL of that and not one facet of it.

Summary - I like to write, think and talk about things most people don't!

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Monday 1 September 2014

Top 10 Irish Foods

1. Irish Stew

Beef or lamb, although typically made with beef these days, carrots, onions and spuds - oh and a delicious gravy like sauce that its all stewed in - hence the name!

2. Soda Bread and Brown Bread

Soda and Brown Breads are very versatile recipes which have stood the test of time as Irish classics because of their simplicity. No-knead, no-fuss styles of bread which are delicious on their own (with lashings of REAL Irish Butter!!), toasted (also with butter!) or served with a warm bowl of soup.

3. Roast Lamb

Personally I can't stand Lamb BUT I believe it needs very little work to get stunning natural meat flavours. A staple on Irish dinner tables for years, this continues to be a firm favorite. Roasted with rosemary and garlic is the way to go and with these flavours I might actually be tempted!

4. Fish!

NOT a massive fish person but I couldn't neglect this - Simple, versatile, and we're an Island so there's plenty of it! Regarded as a delicacy in other countries, salmon is one of the most common fish eaten in Ireland. Typical preparation is poached in fish stock, or another very popular method is Smoked Salmon. The flavor of wild salmon tends to be tastier but also more expensive.

Seafood Chowder is also a HUGE hit with tourists and Irish natives in equal measure - it warms the heart and when fresh like in Howth it tastes like Ireland.

Oysters are regarded worldwide as an aphrodisiac and a wealthy person's meal but in Ireland, on the island, they frequented the dinner table as the norm. Typically served on ice with a lemon to garnish.

Mussels are big in Ireland these days and although I don't eat them or therefore prepare them - here is a tip from Tv Chef Donal Skehan "Mussels have a reputation for being difficult to cook, but this is just not true. The hardest part in reality is the washing. Place them in cold water (they should close, if they don’t you should throw them away). Scrub any dirt off the surface of the mussels and remove the beard with a small knife. If you can get this down you will have no trouble and they take minutes to cook, so they’re the perfect little starter. I love serving the pot straight to the table from the stove and clunking large spoonfuls of the cooked steaming mussels onto guest’s plates. Make sure to serve with some chunky bread to mop up the juices!"

5. Coddle

Apparently this is (or was maybe!) a common dish for Dubliners on a Saturday night before they headed on a night out but as a 32 year old Dub - I have certainly never experienced this! It is a good basic Irish dish that consists of chopped sausages and bacon cooked together with onions and the potatoes in beef stock. Tasty as F@##!

6. A Full Irish Breakfast

Wow what to say here - it's delish! And a MUST HAVE after a night boozin! For me, it has to be superquinn sausages, clonakilty black and white pudding and rashers and 2 eggs whichever way you like 'em! YUM YUM!

7. Colcannon Mash

Colcannon is as traditional, as traditional Irish food gets, mashed spuds with gently cooked and thinly sliced cabbage with lots and lots of real Irish butter! Nowadays scallions and/or mustard are added to the mix to give it a different flavour. Personally I adore it with scallions and a fried egg on top!

8. Apple Crumble Cake

Apple crumble is one of my most favourite winter desserts of all time, I remember making some for my mom as a surprise when I was a kid and when I took it out of the oven, I put it on the stove which was still too hot and the dish exploded Apple Crumble all over the kitchen walls! Not a great welcome home gift but Apple Crumble never fails to warm down to the toes.

9. Bacon (Ham) and Cabbage

Here is how to do it right: Slow boil the ham/bacon loin, then boil the cabbage in the salty water the bacon has cooked in. Bake the ham until crisp on the outside, you can add honey and mustard to the outer layers too if you like. Serve with the cabbage and some mashes spuds with oodles of real Irish butter (there's a trend emerging....).

10.  Soup and Sambos

I couldn't write a blog about the top ten Irish foods without a special shout out for something you will find practically anywhere! Any house, pub, restaurant, shop, petrol station - anywhere!! There is always a hot soup going and accompanying it is a sandwich - ham and cheese, chicken salad, egg, tuna, chicken tikka, BLT - the choice is endless!

Stick a packet of Tayto Crisps and a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk onto the end of ANY of the above meals and you have yourself a TRUE Irish meal!