This post is going to be multifaceted, so get ready. It will include dangerous cooking, of course, but because I was just in Ireland for two weeks, it will be dangerous travel cooking, as well as travel guide, with a splash of “snap to it,” for good measure. There, you’ve had a recipe before we’ve even begun (a recipe for an enjoyable read, that is! Ha ha).
Over 50 years ago, a sense of adventure brought my husband’s parents John and Meta to Canada from a town near Belfast, Northern Ireland. This move worked out very well for me personally, because it not only meant I was able to meet my husband, but also that every few years we’re able to hop across the pond and enjoy the enormously warm hospitality of Phil’s aunts, uncles, and cousins.
This was my fourth trip over – on the first trip, my husband proposed. This time we revisited some of the gorgeous places where ten years ago I thought he might have been reaching for a ring in his pocket.
Would he ask at the 800-year-old Carrickfergus castle, I had wondered hopefully? Nope.
Maybe swaying on the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge? Smart that he didn’t, because it’s much windier than it looks.
At the Titanic exhibit? No, it’s actually not romantic, and also it didn’t exist then, but I had to mention it in case you happened to be in the neighborhood. It’s very well done.
Had to be while we were jumping from stone to stone in the Giant’s Causeway … but no.
I began to wonder whether he’d ever ask me, until…
He asked at the bed and breakfast in Sligo (slightly more romantic than the town’s name sounds) and we ate a breakfast that looked like this, so all was well.
More pictures, less talking you say? So here are some pictures of our sail with five kids and four adults through Strangford Lough…
Oops, turns out I only snagged one from the camera card and I’m too tired to grab others! Next time.
And we can’t forget Dublin…
Yes, that was a Leprechaun AND Molly Malone in the same shot.
Thanks very much to everyone who made our faces wide with smiles, our bellies full of food, and our spirits overcome with adventure! (That nearly sounded Irish – it rubs off)
And now on to the dangerous food! I can’t remember if I’ve cooked anything that was literally dangerous before, but hey, I figured if you couldn’t try for the first time at your Auntie Molly’s 84th birthday soiree, when could you?
I first heard about nettle soup on Twitter while following chef @tobyelkington (flavoursomefeast.blogspot.co.uk). I had become acquainted with the fact that nettles existed on a previous trip – my daughter had shaken hands with some. For those from my parts of the world where we don’t have them, they don’t call them “stinging nettles,” for nothing. You can imagine I had a few questions back and forth with Toby over Twitter asking how I could protect everyone’s tongues. He patiently explained that after you boil them for a while, the sting disappears. I quietly hoped Toby wasn’t someone with a sick sense of humour. After a plane flight, a pair of gloves, and a tour through the weedy bits of a garden led by Uncle Sam,
I had my nettles.
Probably should have brushed my hair for that shot, but nettle picking is tricky work.
Toby said to only use the tips of the leaves, but since I had left my gloves behind and had to use plastic bags that were less than efficient (ouch!) I just chose bright young leaves, having read elsewhere that those would also do the trick.
But let me share the ingredients before I get ahead of myself, inspired by Toby’s direction:
Stingy nettle soup without the sting
- 1500mL chicken or veggie stock
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 good sized potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 big handfuls (ouch) of nettle leaves, picked from the stems while wearing gloves, the newer the better
Directions: Heat olive oil in large pot. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and cook another minute or two. Add stock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until potatoes are soft when pricked with fork (I am NOT going to tell you exactly how long to cook a potato. If you don’t know how to do this, you’d better leave a comment to tell me on which dark corner of this earth you live). Add nettles and cook 10 minutes or more (I did this longer because I was paranoid, and I sampled it to make sure it was safe).
Puree until smooth.
Results: Nettle soup was a big hit! Auntie Molly said her mother used to suggest it to purify the blood in spring. It was very simple to make and everyone finished their bowls. Even my kids ate it! I would make it again if I had access to nettles, but if not I’m sure spinach would make a satisfactory but lesser substitute. Rating: 5 Yums!
And finally, a note about “Snap to it!” A fellow blogger, Cinnamon, is posting photography challenges, to be answered every Monday, to help photographers of all skill levels learn to take better photos. I’ve completed the first two challenges, but last week I couldn’t find a computer to upload to while I was away. The challenge was “triangles,” so sailing made for great subject matter. Here was my submission, where I played with the camera to shoot into the sun and reduce the exposure:
But hubby Phil, who didn’t read the challenge (and who also took MANY of the shots above), took a super hot triangle shot that trumped mine this week. Don’t worry – I’ll get him next time.
The triumphant photographer