A Day in the Kitchen (and elsewhere)

“Sorry to bother you on your day off,” said my colleague in a phone conversation earlier. I knew she didn’t mean to suggest that I was lounging around: she was respecting our model of self-care that honours days off and time and space away from work. But when she said ‘day off’ it sort of jarred — I guess by day I’m kind of in one office or another, and a third, if you count my kitchen as an office.

I had a varied to-do list today, but there was lots of kitchen on it. Granola, which had carried over from my last ‘day off’; pesto, from the wild garlic growing merrily in my back garden; a slow cooker coconut rice pudding that I’d been wanting to try; and belatedly added to the list was Grandmother McGrath’s soda bread, from a recipe Domini Kemp adapted from The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford. Sometimes I get a bit ambitious when I write lists, though I’ve been known to add things after I’ve done them just so I can cross them off. I’m not saying that’s what happened with the bread.

I didn’t even include veg prep for the slow cooker Irish stew I’ve planned for tomorrow, which I will need to do tonight as there won’t be time because I’ll be in my other office.


The coconut rice pudding is lovely, if not that photogenic: it’s creamy and rich and very tasty. I doubled the recipe so that we can take some to work/school tomorrow (and removed a portion before adding the nuts for the one going to the nut-free zone). I used brown rice instead of basmati and didn’t have quite enough coconut milk, so replaced with other milk.

And the wild garlic pesto! So, so, so yummy! I could eat it all now, myself. I used almonds instead of walnuts because I had them and they were already toasted. I only used half of the oil (100 ml) as I’d found in the past it was just too oily. I also snip the wild garlic into 5 cm or so lengths as sometimes it can be a bit stringy (though that may just be my ageing, good old food processor). I’ll keep some in the fridge, but freeze the rest for use later and I’ll be making more batches when I get another afternoon or evening to do it.


And Grandmother McGrath’s soda bread is a little more effort than some of my other brown soda recipes (another of my favourites has just 3 ingredients) because of the extras in it, but it is worth it. Again, I’ve changed things (just as Domini Kemp did!). I used about half the brown sugar. Today I used millet flakes instead of wheat germ because I had none. I also bake in two tins: the recipe in my book specifies a 31cm x 11cm x 7cm tin and I don’t have one that large, so the two loaves are each about half the height of the one in the cookbook photo. The recipe in the book also says to bake for 80 min: it takes 65-80 for mine, depending on the tin. This is best eaten with lashings of Irish butter.

And for dinner? I’m thinking gnocchi in garlic parmesan sauce with a salad of mixed leaves, grated beetroot and cherry tomatoes. And of course, rice pudding for dessert!

The other parts of my day off included a school run (just one: I was mercifully spared the other school, music, etc runs); a walk in Memorial Gardens – always so beautiful; a bit of writing; some housework but no going all Marie Kondo or anything; a tiny bit of painting (the house kind, not the artistic kind); several dashes to the back garden to rescue almost dry clothes from hailstones; and trying to dissuade a young magpie from flinging itself against my window.

And the granola? That’s getting deferred again. And I’ll be having an early night.

8 thoughts on “A Day in the Kitchen (and elsewhere)

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