Tag Archives: fermenting

An Island Anecdote & Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

I couldn’t believe my good fortune one day many years ago when a born and raised islander came up to me in the Spar parking lot offering me milk kefir grains. I had been wanting them but didn’t want to buy them. Just like plants for the garden, they’re much more special when received from a loving space which they’ve outgrown rather than purchased from a shop.

Because fermenting cultures reproduce and eventually one has to either give them away, throw them out, compost, or feed to one pet or the other, I believed they’d eventually come to me fortuitously. So, this was my day and when she said ‘Someone told me you might like these’ (I had told no one I was seeking them), I squealed with delight and gratefully accepted. Never did I dream someone on the island had any or I certainly would have made my desire known. Anyhoo, my hobby of fermenting was no secret and now I had kefir grains so I immediately put them to use. Continue reading

What’s cooking good looking?

This time of year sees me in the kitchen slightly more than the garden.  My intention is always to produce food that is good for us, tastes amazing, and makes us feel good from the inside out.  Here are a few things I’ve created during this last month…


I’m feeling these are my best fermented eggs ever. I added in some nice pickling spices this time including coriander & mustard seeds, ginger, chilies, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cassia (which has an amazingly cinnamon-like flavour). They’re both sweet & sour at the same time and super nutritious & delicious. The carrots and onions give some needed natural sugars but add so much more than that to the finished product. 😍 Wish I could let you all have a taste!   Continue reading

Garden to Table: Homegrown Pickles

Someone on my Facebook page asked me to show a picture of my pickles when they were jarred– this after I’d posted the picture below with the caption ‘Time to make dillicious fermented pickles.’


Here are a few pictures of the process I undertake to create my beautifully delicious, incredibly healthy, and quickly devoured fermented pickles.  While not a recipe per se, it’s obvious just how easy it is to ferment your own pickles with three ingredients, cucumbers, salt, and water, and I do give the ratio if you want to give this simplest combination a try.   Continue reading

Fermenting Magic

Anyone who has ever cultured vegetables knows that moment of uncontainable excitement when the first bubbles appear. After three months, one week, and five days of experimenting, at last, I think I’ve done it! It may be premature boasting but I’m confident in those seemingly magical bubbles.

I’ve tossed umpteen grams of veg to the compost and chickens as well as eaten a few less than appealing pounds just to avoid “waste guilt.” Although these earlier attempts used all organic produce, could it be that this last batch was made exclusively with veg from my very own garden?

I would like to believe veg cared for with doting hands from sow to harvest is more conducive to such biological enrichment, and that would be true.  But my failures were more likely due to practice not product as I’d done minimal research and therefore not adhered to proper room temperature and sterilization techniques.  Only time will tell if my confidence in these magical bubbles will be rewarded, but it’s looking good so far…”

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Garden to Table: How To Make Traditional Korean Kimchi

While fermented foods are becoming ever more popular, they’re nothing new, having been around for thousands of years. Kimchi is a traditional food of Korea touted for its health benefits.  Like most fermented foods, it’s simple to make and well worth the wait for it to fully develop because the matured flavour is just outstanding.

There are nearly 200 versions of kimchi, but the most common use this method: salt cabbage then add a paste of red pepper powder, fish sauce, garlic, onions, and ginger to scallions and radishes (I also add in carrots)– that’s practically it in a single sentence. These nutritious foods are mixed and allowed to ferment until, voila, kimchi is created.

kimchi 1 Continue reading

Today’s Autumn Harvest from the Garden


Really appreciate having a bit of corn to harvest after this summers weather. We weren’t sure they got pollinated, many didn’t.  



Me and the bees working side by side in the garden today.



Beetroot just harvested for fermented salsa, the greens to blanch and freeze, and the bucket of waste is a treat for the chickens.


Next stage sunflowers–to be dried for feeding birds in the winter.


Purple cabbage alongside yellow, green, and purple tomatillos–all to become fermented salsa.


Tomatoes for sauce and semi-drying in the basket, blackberries on the face.

The final onion harvest. No more in the ground, but plenty lying around enjoying today’s sunshine.

The final onion harvest. No more in the ground, but plenty lying around enjoying today’s sunshine.

A preparing for autumn inspired Haiku

Johnny and I had a wonderful child-free outing together in Galway today– a big thanks to his parents for minding them before and after school, a treat for them all I believe it was.

We bought a new used car, three dwarf apple trees, new fermenting buckets, and a few items in bulk for the freezer and pantry.  Plus lots of odds and ends for the homefarm that pretty much filled the entire car before dropping it to the loading docks where it will be transported to the island in a couple of days.

fermented shot       bulk shopping

 fall starts by making

sauerkraut and hot salsa,

marks summer’s ending



We went for a quick bite at one of Johnny’s favourite fish & chip shops, somewhere we hadn’t been in years, before heading for the boat home.

The framed picture below was on the wall of our mechanics house, the gentleman whom we purchased the car from, and it gave me a giggle and smile.  Maybe you too?  The other pic is a book that arrived for me in the post today, very nice reading to come home to.  Surely it will give me much to share here and with my family.

20150915_100014           20150915_230356

I got the inkling before pressing ‘publish’ to check out Ronovan’s Haiku words this week.  I’ve been sensing my rejoining was quickly approaching as I feel myself relaxing more, working less hours out of the house, and really just missing counting syllables along with my Haiku friends.  ‘Start & Hot’, thems the words.  They inspired immediately and I’m happy I’ve not lost my Haiku groove.  Perhaps I just got lucky that Jamie’s photo word this week is ‘view’, a view of my day.  Oops, just after finding out that her word is ‘yellow’ so fish pie, chips, and cider it is.  Who knew yellow could taste so good? 😉

That’s all.  Long day, now off to bed. 🙂

Melissa Xx

Garden To Table: How to Make Courgette (Zucchini) Bake with Risotto & Cheese

“Can I have the recipe for your…?”  has got to be the best circuitous compliment that can be dished out as regards to a meal prepared for someone.

I love when people enjoy my cooking.  Who wouldn’t?  There is something so gratifying about connecting on such a basic yet significant level.

If you would like to experience this jubilation, and you know a cheese and rice lover, then prepare this exalted dish and listen to the silence of everyone eating–silence followed by ‘oohs’, ‘ahhhs’, and ‘wows’. And eventually a request for the recipe.20150621_151427 Continue reading

Rainy Day Ramblings

The wind and rain doesn’t seem to stop the many visitors who gear up and brace themselves for the 4+ mile journey from Kilronan to the islands main attraction, Dun Aenghus Fort.  However, I did wonder this day how many of them would’ve boarded the ferry in Galway had it already been lashing.  But the rain started late morning and they had already arrived.  So while cyclists buzzed by our garden during yesterday’s wonderfully wicked weather, I was welcoming a day off from the hotel and garden to stay inside the house.

i live here in aran blue star

Blue star is where we live.  Map source.

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