Wednesday, April 15, 2015


 It's Temple Street Bake time again!

Low calorie banana bread
I'm a sucker for banana bread. I'd love a soda bread type one (I think I will have to invent it) but, in the absence of that, I made a low calorie one today based on this recipe. How she got 24 pieces out of this is beyond me - maybe her guests were mice. My loaf yields about 10 slices.

Apple sauce is not a staple here in Ireland, so I made my own (ahem!) out of a peeled, finely diced apple. I cooked it on a medium heat with a little water until softened and then blended it, which didn't make it very sauce-like. But, in it went anyway.

This makes a moist, very sweet, low-sized loaf so the slices are more like bars. 106 kcals per bar. Yum!


2 mashed bananas
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce/or one apple made into poor applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons nonfat milk (I used soya milk)
3/4 cup spelt flour


  • Preheat oven to 180°/350°F and lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin
  • Place all ingredients but flour & baking powder in a large bowl and mix
  • Sieve in flour and baking powder to wet ingredients
  • Pour into loaf tin
  • Cook for about 35 minutes - or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool before slicing

Saturday, April 4, 2015


We went into the city for the annual food festival today. It's a beautiful Easter Saturday here in Galway: dry, almost warm and almost sunny :) The festival continues all weekend and is well worth a visit. Great food, gorgeous atmosphere around Wood Quay and the Claddagh, especially.

We stopped at the Skeff for cakes on the way to the festival - Mr V and I shared a salted caramel brownie.
Juno opted for milk and a giant cookie
Juno Bunny
Giant bunny outside Yes Flowers
Every house in Galway probably has a piece of Judy Greene's lovely pottery
Skeff cakes at the marquees at the Spanish Arch
America Village Apothecary syrups - so pretty
Róisín Fahy of Beechlawn Organic Farm, Ballinasloe
More Skeff goodies

Bowl A Granola
Man of Aran fudge
Creme egg bun anyone?
Easter buns by Goodness Cakes
Man of Aran mint choc fudge
Pad Tofu for lunch in Lime Restaurant in the Claddagh. Yum.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Black Cake - with a chunk taken out :)
This cake features in my forthcoming novel Miss Emily (out July in USA and Canada, August in UK and Ireland) so it was about time I actually made it. In the book Emily makes it for her December birthday and shares it with her Irish maid Ada.

Juno beating the eggs and sugar
Emily's version of this calls for 19 eggs and 5 lbs of currants!! I made a quarter sized version. The finished cake certainly looks black and it tastes more like a plum pudding than cake to me. It's rich and very fruity. I have no clue how Emily baked hers at 120°C in three hours. My much-reduced cake took three hours and forty minutes and still looked a bit moist around the middle.

Treacle marbling the batter - Emily used molasses in her version
I had a lump of it hot from the oven last night - I am looking forward to having a piece today with soya custard or that lovely Alpro Lemon and Lime 'yogurt'.

•           225g self-raising flour
•           225g butter
•           225g sugar
•           half teaspoon baking soda (bread soda in Ireland)
•           quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
•           1.25 teaspoons total: cloves, mace, cinnamon (or mixed spice)
•           5 eggs
•           550g raisins
•           150g citron (candied peel)
•           150g currants
•           60ml brandy (or whiskey)
•           60ml treacle

•           Preheat oven to 120°C
•           Grease and line the bottom of a round baking tin (8”)
•           Sift together flour, bread soda and spices
•           In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar
•           Add eggs one at a time and beating after each one
•           Add brandy (or whiskey), mix well
•           Add flour mixture, mix well.
•           Add treacle and sprinkle in fruit as you stir
•           Pour into greased tin
•           Bake for 2 hours at 120°C
•           Bake for a further 1 hour 30 mins at 160°C then remove cake from tin to cool
•           Store in an air-tight container. Douse with whiskey/brandy once a week.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Juno mixing the dry ingredients
I was dying for some seeded brown bread yesterday but as it was Mother's Day I was too busy lolling about eating chocolates. So, today I got around to it. I adapted a recipe from the Natural Fuel blog. I swapped in a beaten egg for some water, for the nutritional value. I also used more seeds as I wanted a fairly crunchy bread.

I toasted fresh slices to have with soup. Ended up having one with jam - yum!

  • 320g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 80g porridge oats
  • 35g mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin and sesame)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300 ml tepid water
  • 1 medium free-range egg, beaten

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Grease a 2lb loaf tin with veg oil (use a piece of kitchen roll)
  • Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Sieve the baking powder and mix through
  • Mix in the water, then the egg, until the dough is evenly wet - it's a fairly heavy dough
  • Plop the mixture into the loaf tin, smooth down with a wooden spoon and cut a deep line down the centre
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Bake for 1 hour or so (until the bottom sounds hollow when knocked)
  • Cool before slicing

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I have gotten out of the habit of making my own hummus (much easier to buy a pot in Aldi) but we've been on a health kick lately, trying to vary our diet and eat unprocessed stuff as much as possible. So I decided to start making hummus again. Also, I tend to like a chunkier, more garlicky hummus than the shops provide.

Hummus goes off quite quickly (3 days max.) so I only wanted two lunches worth, that is four portions, so I used a small can of chickpeas from Tesco - 130g drained weight.

97 kcal per portion, 6g fat

130g chickpeas
20ml olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tahini
pinch salt
pinch pepper
2.5ml to 5ml water - optional

- Throw everything into a food processor and whizz
- If you don't have a processor, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher then mix the other ingredients through.
- If your hummus is too thick, you can thin it down with a drop of water.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Here's a link to some great charts for healthy eating on Buzzfeed. I particularly love this one:

Monday, December 22, 2014


Juno churning
In my novel due out next year, Emily Dickinson's Irish maid makes butter. Since writing it I have been obsessed with mini butter churns, particularly the glass table-top ones with wooden paddles. I bought one on eBay after drooling over similar ones in Nairn Museum in Scotland and The Butter Museum in Cork.

I finally got around to making butter with it today and it was fun! I used a 500ml tub of double cream and put in two pinches of salt (not enough salt for my tastes, as it turns out).

Mr Vegan has a go
We all had a turn of the handle and I guess it took about ten minutes worth of churning, which is not long at all.

After the butter came together I drained it in a sieve, then pressed it more with my hands to remove the buttermilk. (If you leave it inside, the buttermilk sours). I then put it into a bowl of cold water, squeezed it again (with cold hands) and patted it into shape.

A little video to hear the sound of the churn and Joe Duffy chirruping in the background. (Oh, the sound has not come over with the video for some reason - I will try to fix this but, for the mo, it's just a jerky visual.)