When people hear TMI they might think of the acronym “Too Much Information”. It is true some people share TMI, telling near strangers things better left unsaid. But I have some TMI for you and it is info you need in your life! Especially if you are on Instgram. My version of the acronym is called: Tuesday, My Instagrams. I’m talking about the Instagrammers on my feed that I like to follow! Continue reading
As promised last week, I am posting another round up of our amazing Woman Crush Wednesday recipients. Not only because there were too many fab chefs since the last roundup to cover in one post, but also because I will be traveling today. Hubby and I are headed stateside and I don’t think the flight attendants on Aer Lingus would be too happy if I busted out in my bad sining and dancing routine while I did a cooking tutorial. But next week I’ll be able to do a delicious recipe from another inspirational culinary queen. Until then let’s look back at some of the honorees that have graced these blog pages and snapchat airwaves!
The Two Hot Tamales are Los Angeles’ darlings of Mexican food. Which if you don’t already know is my fav cuisine. I was lucky enough to attend a cooking demo they hosted at one of their restaurants. The food was delicious and they were too! They are funny and informative, a perfect foodie combination. And what I remember quite vividly about the day was that they served numerous boozy drinks! So in their honor I actually made a lovely Bubbly Sangria and some savory snacks to go along with it. Oh and I wore a sombrero for the tutorial, of course! Click here if you’d like to make the amazingly refreshing drink and nibbles
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, happens to be my best friend’s favorite chef. And she literally has every book the American superstar has ever published. So when I was in L.A. in May staying at my friend’s house I figured I just had to make one of her recipes. Since I am a self admitted peanut butter addict, I was eager to bake the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. And wow they were beyond delish. Please, click here to get the recipe and bake them yourself. If you don’t want to, then message me and I’ll bake them for you. Though I might eat 99% of them before I mail them to you!
Skye Gyngell is an Australian chef living in London. She has gained massive acclaim for her restaurants, and is currently at the helm of Spring. Hubby and I went there for a Foodie Fieldtrip Friday. It was not only stunning but also ethereal. It seems daunting to take on a Michelin Star chef’s recipe library, but I chose a wonderfully easy but flavorful Poached Chicken Salad. If you’d like to say you cooked a dish from the fab Skye click here. Even if you don’t you’ll surely be inspired by her story which I shared as well.
Yvette Van Boven and I met at the Ballymaloe Lit Fest in May. I told her I wanted to do a Woman Crush Wednesday for her. I’m not sure if she knew what that entailed. But hopefully she was happy enough with the way her gorgeous soup turned out in my humble hands. Yvette lives in Amsterdam and her food rocks! She knows about flavors and what I love is how she illustrates and styles her cookery books. Her food is very accessible so if you’d like one of the best soup recipes ever, click here for the Sweet Potato Soup from heaven.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rozanna Purcell at the Irish Blogger Conference in Dublin back in April. She’s probably one of the most physically beautiful women I have ever seen in person. My eyes hurt from her gorgeousness! But hand on my heart, she is so down to earth and friendly. She was kind enough to accept my very naughty S’mores Bars and we had a good chat. What I love is how she is reinventing herself from a beauty pageant winner and model to a food advocate. And her recipes are not only good for you, but quite honestly, awesomely delicious! Click here to get tempted by her chocolate protein balls.
Caitriona Redmond is a household name in the Irish foodie world. Her blog Wholesome Ireland is my go to for tasty food that isn’t too difficult to make and won’t break the bank. Speaking of bank, the bank of recipes she has is phenomenal. She is one of the most prolific writers out there and has a heart of gold. I absolutely love her and feel so honored to know her in real life. One of my fav Foodie Fieldtrip Friday adventures was with her and her sister Olivia. And her Chicken Curry recipe that I recreated for her WCW was out of this world wonderful! Click here if you too want to have a super dish, a curry in a hurry at home!
Silvena Rowe‘s Woman Crush Wednesday honor came at an emotional time. Istanbul suffered devastating terrorist attacks. Hubby and I had just spent an amazing time there so I was very shaken. But that is why I decided that showering her with LOVE and highlighting the amazing Turkish food she creates would be therapeutic. And indeed it was. Silvena is a powerhouse in the kitchen. In a profession dominated by males, she puts her own stamp on the culinary realm and we are all blessed for that. I actually made three dishes of hers for a delish dinner. Click here to see the chicken, rice and salad from this gorgeous gourmet gal.
Michelle Darmody owns one of my favorite cafe’s in Dublin. I’ve been numerous times and each time have had a wonderful experience. So it was an utter pleasure to crush on Michelle and make her Chocolate Biscuit cake which is featured in the Cake Cafe cookbook. She is a true lady, and her quirky little oasis in city center is always on the “best of” lists for a reason. And this recipe is not only easy, but a lovely version of a classic. Just thinking about it makes me crave it! If you click here for the deliciousness I guarantee you a happy experience!
It is such a pleasure to shine the light on these women who have inspired me and others! Sharing LOVE and creativity through food is a true art. These are only eight of the 42 chefs I’ve highlighted this past year. Each one unique and each one as special as the next. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to share them and their recipes with you. Which is why I am so bummed that I won’t be cooking today. But I am looking forward to next week. Hope to see you then!
LOVE and culinary crushes,
Living in Dublin since 2008, the home of Guinness, the world famous stout pretty much becomes part of your life. Even if you don’t make regular trips to a pub to have the perfectly pulled pint, there are Beef and Guinness savory pies and all sorts of other ways to enjoy this liquid black gold as it is lovingly referred to over here. While we are currently in London, since I was back in Dublin this week I thought it was a must to make a visit to the Guinness Factory for my weekly episode of the Cookreel Snapchat takeover (the story will be up for 24 hours so go over to @cookreel to check it out). Oh and of course there had to be a culinary creation too! So why not have Chocolate Guinness Cake? YUM!
For years Guinness ads have touted the goodness of the drink even recommending it to people with low iron in their blood. While I won’t say Chocolate Guinness Cake is good for you, a cake made from scratch with real ingredients would be much nicer than some sort of prepackaged one. At least you know what is going into it and they are words in the ingredients list you can pronounce. And since Guinness is literally the number one stout in the world, I think we are pretty safe most would be able to say that word! Even if they don’t drink it themselves this brewery started in 1759 here in Dublin is known in all parts of the world. There is a world records book that comes out each year called The Guinness Book of World’s Records! I think I might be in it for eating the most chocolate in the world, it’s my fav. So this recipe will be a massive hit for any chocolate lovers like me!
For the cake:
260g (9 oz) unsalted butter
300ml (10 1/2 oz) Guinness
100g (3 1/2 oz) cocoa powder
420g (14.8 oz) caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
180ml (6 1/2 oz) buttermilk
300g (10 1/2 oz) plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soday)
1 tsp baking powder
For the icing
100g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
300g (10 1/2 oz) icing sugar (called powdered confectioner’s sugar in the U.S)
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g (10 1/2 oz) full-fat cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 170°C /325°F/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 30cm round spring form tin with baking parchment.
- To make the cake, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the Guinness, then remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and buttermilk and then slowly add the Guinness mixture, whisking all the time.
- In a separate large bowl, sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Using an electric whisk, slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and keep whisking until it is all well combined.
- Transfer the mixture in to the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Test to make sure the cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Set aside to cool a little, and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the icing by blending all the ingredients together using an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy.
- Place the cooled cake on a plate and generously spread the icing on top. The cake will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
My dear friend Lauren was so kind to let me use her kitchen and baking gear to get the cake baked. And while it was cooling I went on the tour of the Guinness Factory, which was a blast. I always take out of town guests there. It is like Disneyland for adults. I took the pic on the left of my pint of Guinness a top the factory at the Gravity Bar. And that foam on top was great inspiration for the delicious cream cheese topping that I put on the cake when I returned to Lauren’s.
I usually make my own Guinness cupcakes with a Baily’s Irish Cream frosting, but for this special day, a full cake was in order. I used a recipe from one of my Woman Crush Wednesday recipients, Clodagh McKenna. I saw her recently at a Supper Club in London she hosted and that I attended with a Snap Sista (Miriam from Bake My Style). And Clodagh specifically asked me to try the cake and let her know how I got on with it. Well, it was a smashing delicious success. Super easy to make and the cake was very moist and moreish! I only wish I could have taken nicer photos. But until I make it again, why don’t you try it and let me know how you do with it? Let’s say that there is only one small piece left! Though Lauren and I didn’t devour it! I was chaffing for a Supper Club of my own last night and this was one of the desserts! It was a great way to end a fantastic day!
Thanks once again Cookreel for the opportunity to host your snapchat channel, thanks Clodagh for the recipe, thanks to Lauren for your friendship (and kitchen) and mostly thanks to Ireland for being so special to me! My soul home forever!
P.S. My own Snapchat username is blissbakery so come on over for some daily foodie fun!
How fortuitous that I am here in Dublin for a quick visit and it coincides with a Foodie Fieldtrip Friday! I have been wanting to go to The Happy Pear for ages. When we lived in Dublin full time it was hard to anywhere as I worked nearly 7 days per week. But I did get to peak my head inside their lovely cafe a couple years ago when I was nearby for work. I only got a take away coffee, but I’ve always wanted to go back for a proper sit down meal. Then about a year ago, The Happy Pear owners, twins Stephen and Dave Flynn, were on our flight from London to Dublin. It was inevitable I make this day all about these fellas and the amazing team they have working with them.
I took Snapchat with me (if you’d like to see it my username is blissbakery and it is available to view for 24 hours). I went early as they’ve been known to have lines down the block! It is such a popular place to go for a healthy meal or a quick clean take away. And their coffee has a reputation for being the best in Ireland! It was 9:30am when I arrived and I ordered the Pimped Up Porridge. It was the most beautiful bowl of porridge I have ever seen. It had fruit, compote, coconut yoghurt, granola and seeds sprinkled on top. I also ordered an almond milk cappuccino which was so lovely with the heart shaped foam on top! I took my tray upstairs to the main dining area for a leisurely breakfast. Not only is the food delicious, but the ambiance is very relaxed and at the same time inspiring with all sorts of cool quotes around the place.
I literally couldn’t finish my porridge it was so big so I got a take away container for the rest of it. I don’t like waste and I’m already eager to have the rest tomorrow! Then I toured around the health food store adjacent to the cafe. This was actually the original part of the business. But over the past 12 years it has grown into a national brand. All the staff were so friendly in spite of being busy with restocking or serving customers. Chris was particularly helpful. He wondered if I had anticipated meeting “the lads” Dave and Stephen. Because my adventures are a surprise not only to those watching on Snapchat but also the foodie establishments I wouldn’t have asked for special treatment. Apparently the guys are usually there on the weekends to greet customers. But I was enjoying exploring all the nooks and crannies as it has expanded so much and I had the pleasure of having nice great conversation with one of the other customers.
A beautiful woman with a pretty little girl were sitting next to me and I asked if they would mind my bag while I went to get the take away container. When I returned I chatted to her about the local swimming area and she was kind enough to offer to loan me her wetsuit and togs (that’s bathing suit for my non Irish friends). She said she lived across the road. While I appreciated her kindness it was already raining and getting windy. But we continued to chat about a variety of things. Her daughter, named Izzy, had kicked off her Wellies (rubber boots) and made herself at home. Only later did I find out that it nearly is her home. Her dad is Dave, one of the twins! His wife was so kind and welcoming but never let on who she was. As well I was helped by the nicest woman when I arrived upstairs to eat, and apparently she is the twins’ mom!
It really is a family affair. With the Dave and Stephen running the shop and their younger brother in charge of the organic farm nearby, they have all benefitted from the healthy life style. I felt very at home there myself as this is the kind of place you’d find on every street corner in Los Angeles where I lived for many years. Wheatgrass shots, yoga on the beach and tank tops and shorts for all kinds of weather is what these guys are like. But their energetic and positive outlook has a higher purpose. They really want people to get healthy! And their mission has now gone across the Irish Sea to Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube!
I watch the guys on Snapchat and really enjoy their energy, their recipes and seeing a gorgeous glimpse of Ireland each morning at sunrise when the go for their swim in the Irish Sea. Though I opted against the kind offer to borrow the swimming suit, I did end up taking some lunch to go. A giant Buddha bowl and a vegan Twix bar too. So not only was my morning sorted but my midday lunch and evening sweet treat all situated as well!
I do hope to go back again as there were so many delicious choices. And I received lovely messages from other snappers watching that recommended things like the veggie burger. It really is a fab place to have healthy food in a loving family environment. On top of all that, the very nice Chris shared some of the Happy Pear Bars with me. So I will have to bring them back to London and Hubby and I can have a tasting. He is a master bar connoisseur!
Until then, I hope if you are ever in Ireland that you make your way to the stunning seaside town of Greystones just 40 minutes south of Dublin. You will love the scenery and want to set up camp at The Happy Pear. Sure, you might even become part of the family! They are always recruiting new team members and their morning sea dips are growing in numbers. So the next time I watch the Sunrise Snaps I might see YOU!!!
While today’s Woman Crush Wednesday chef needs no introduction in the U.K or Ireland as she is one of the most beloved women in the culinary world here, for those of you elsewhere let me tell you about the Queen of Baking. Mary Berry is a remarkably 81 years young. Married with grown children she is an accomplished Le Cordon Bleu graduate and has written over seventy cookery books. With numerous televisions shows under her belt, the one for which she is adored by millions is the popular Great British Bake Off. Just back on television again after a summer hiatus, this is the reality television competition (which debuted in 2010) that all others try to emulate. Like Mary herself, it is pure class.
I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the BBC Good Food Show here in London. It was on tour last November and my Hubby bought me a ticket for my birthday. It also happened to coincide with one of my Foodie Fieldtrip Friday outings. She and her partner on GGBO (Paul Hollywood) demonstrated a lovely meal. And I was able to eat it after the demo at the restaurant there. I thought about making that gorgeous chicken with shallots and asparagus she shared at the Olympia Theater that day, but then again, one of her all time fav recipes is a famous dessert that I just know you’re gonna love. I have never made her version ( though I have made a similar one before) so I am very eager to taste the Mary Berry Banoffi Pie from her book Baking Bible.
FOR THE BASE
65g (2 ½ oz) butter
175g (6 oz) ginger biscuits, crushed (about 17)
FOR THE FILLING
100g (4 oz) butter
100g (4 oz) light muscovado sugar
2 x 397g (14 oz) cans condensed milk
FOR THE TOPPING
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
1 large banana
a little lemon juice
a little grated milk or plain chocolate
FOR THE BASE: melt the butter in a small pan then remove from the heat and stir in the crushed biscuits. Mix well, then spread the mixture over the base and sides of a 23cm (9 inch) loose-bottomed fluted flan tin, pressing the mixture with a metal spoon to make it firm.
FOR THE FILLING: measure the butter and light muscovado sugar into a roomy non-stick pan. Heat gently until the sugar had dissolved, add the condensed milk and stir with a flat ended wooden spatula, stirring continuously and evenly for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is a golden toffee colour and thick – watch like a hawk as it burns easily. Turn into the prepared crumb crust case and leave to cool and set.
FOR THE TOPPING: whip the double cream until it just holds its shape and spread evenly over the cold toffee mixture. Slice the banana and coat in a little lemon juice to prevent the bananas discolouring. Pile the bananas on to the middle of the cream and dust the whole pie with grated chocolate. Lift on to a flat plate and remove the ring. Serve very chilled.
While this is a very simple recipe, it doesn’t deter from the wow factor. It seems to be a dessert almost anyone would love (apart from people who are dairy free, though they could make substitutions). And the good news is no oven is required! So with the warm London weather this pie is going to go down a treat in the house. I suspect it might be eaten up in one night! Which is best because of the delicate nature of the bananas browning. However, with the squeeze of lemon over the bananas it will hopefully keep until tomorrow, that is if we have self control!
Mary has received so many well deserved honors such as the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), degrees and freedoms from many universities and cities. And she’s even featured on top of the list of best dressed for over 50s! She does look smart and gorgeous always! But I have a couple of key reasons why she is so special to me. First of all she is a Kitchen Aid Mixer devotee as am I. As well she is very involved in charities especially the Child Bereavement U.K. One of her sons died at age 19 from a car accident. Mary has shown great strength through so many challenges in life including a debilitating illness as a young girl. But her warmth and positivity has gotten her far in her career and into the hearts of her fans. I wish her many more years to come. Since her mother lived to be 105 we shall look forward to at least 70 more cookery books!
Thank you Mary Berry for your inspiring life, in and out of the kitchen!
As I have shared on here several times, I’ve been fortunate enough to be collaborating with CookReel TV on their Snapchat account (username: cookreel). Basically I do what I do on my own Snapchat account (username: blissbakery) so I feel very comfortable and at home when I do my “takeovers”. I do my cooking tutorial with some wackiness. The usual carry on of bad singing and dancing but a great recipe. I’ve also taken the viewers on some gastronomic expeditions around London. But last week they asked me to participate in a different sort of adventure…a cook off against three other chefs.
Sure, sounds like fun! NOT!!! Well NOT for me!!! I don’t like those pressure cooker competitive situations at all. If fact so many of my friends and family have encouraged me over the years to join shows like Master Chef, Next Food Network Star, Great British Bake Off, you name it. And I always say the same thing, NOT!!! I know I’d be the one in the corner in tears, which of course is great fodder for reality television. But that wouldn’t work for my sensitivities. I’m one of those that believes everyone should win a medal. Plus I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry at the national anthem (any country’s national anthem) and in fact I even cry at the Happy Birthday song!
Yet, I found myself in a situation where I was scared out of my wits but couldn’t say no. I really love what CookReel TV is doing by giving undiscovered chefs a chance to show their talents. So I agreed to participate. I was a wreck. It wasn’t stage fright, I don’t get that, maybe because I started acting at age six. But at the best of times I fall over myself sitting down because I am such a klutz. I love cooking and have so much fun, but it’s at my own pace. To do it in a preset competitive time frame, with a secret ingredient chosen by CookReel TV and that would be JUDGED by the viewers? OMG heart palpitations, insomnia you name it! But sometimes we have to do something that scares us, not only our own growth, but as a favor for someone else.
Fridays are busy enough days. I have my usual Foodie Fieldtrip Friday with my Snapchat (and post the stories on here). Given the time zone difference (CookReel is located in California) and my schedule it was easy to make an excuse. But I went through with it and I am so grateful I did. On the day, according to the competition rules, I couldn’t do any of the kitchen prep ahead of time for the ingredients. So I decided to prep my soul! I went to church for daily mass. I took a walk with my doggie Stella. And I reached out to the Snapchat community. I shared my fears and asked for support. I didn’t ask for votes, just that they would try to watch if they could. Then I would feel like it was any other cooking tutorial. No joke, they were there 100 percent! I even asked for their help on which song to use for my opening snap.
When the 5pm start time arrived I felt like I was jumping off a cliff into a deep blue ocean of uncertainty. But in 60 minutes I managed to make my dish, get it plated up and share my recipe and social media information (which all the chefs do on their takeovers). I felt like I had won when I signed off their account and I was literally doing air fist bumps to myself running around the house! I wasn’t even thinking about actually “winning” as I felt like I had won because I did it, I ran through the fire of my fears without setting my house on fire with my crazed cooking!
Guess what? When the votes were counted, I actually WON! I won the competition! I am still in shock actually. I went on my Snapchat and thanked everyone who voted. I cried that ugly happy cry that you’d expect. But that is me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am so grateful to CookReel TV for believing I could do it, for the Snapchat community for supporting me, and my Hubby for basically telling me to remove the NOT from my vocabulary and just do it!
Well, I AM pretty stubborn. While I did do it, I managed to make a recipe that retained the NOT. Because the secret ingredient was Nutella, and the first time I ever tasted it was in Santa Monica on top of pancakes I recreated that moment. Only mine were a healthy version. I used my Easy Peasy Pancake recipe which is gluten, dairy and sugar free. I figured having regular Nutella with all the sugar and dairy would kind of cancel out the goodness of the pancakes. While I love Nutella I decided to make a healthy version and keep the NOT. I made NOTella which was gluten, dairy and sugar free.
Easy Peasy NOTella Pancakes
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup (50 g) porridge oats
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
couple of drops vanilla extract
handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts
Nutella (or *NOTella if being healthy, recipe below)
Whizz first six ingredients up in a blender until smooth. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken up a bit. On the stove top, heat a griddle or frying pan with some melted coconut oil or butter. If you prefer you can use a non stick pan. Drop the batter into small rounds using a turkey baster or a spoon. Cook for a couple minutes then careful turn with a spatula. Continue to cook on the other side until golden brown. Remove to a plate. Between each pancake spread with Nutella or “NOTella” and stack them. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Pour some warmed maple syrup (that you’ve warmed with a dollop of Nutella or NOTella in it) and serve.
*To make NOTella mix a jar of Hazelnut butter with 2 Tbps Cacao powder, 2 Tbsp honey (or 2 Tbsp maple syrup) 1 tsp vanilla extract in a bowl. Because I was in a time crunch I couldn’t make a longer version of a healthy nutella recipe. It was a short cut to use the jar of hazelnut butter. But my friend Jen makes hers by toasting the hazelnuts in the oven to start. If you’d like to try that recipe here is the link to it on her blog called Jen’s Gym Life.
I’m NOT gonna lie, I am so excited and thankful. What did I win? Just the joy of knowing I could do it! Of course with some big time help from all of you and some from above!
LOVE does NOT cost a thing!
P.S. I just wanted to mention that the other three chefs are beyond awesome. Here is a snap that CookReel TV posted of all our Snapchat codes. If you are on Snaps defo go watch them. They inspire me everyday! Or follow them on Instagram (links follow in their names). Thanks Hayley, Brandon, and Ridhima! Keep rocking the recipes!
Next week will be the first year anniversary of my blog. It’s hard to believe in many ways. But it has been an amazing journey. Yesterday I actually had to renew my domain name. Where does the time go?
One of the best things to have happened this year was being featured on Claire Kane’s blog ClaireByReverie in a Spotlight Interview. She is a well known Irish blogger and she knows her stuff about the digital realm. In fact she has a recent post called “The 8 Things Bloggers Don’t Tell You“. My fav is number 3: Starting a blog is actually easy, running a blog is hard. In my case however it was also hard to start a blog due to my tech challenges. While much can be said of the need for improvement in my blogging abilities, one thing I am proud of is that I have been consistent in posting. Most importantly I have been sharing the LOVE!
Today I am going to share the interview Claire did with me as there might be some who haven’t read it. It might give you insight into my world, the blogging world, and indeed Claire’s world. She is a renaissance woman with so many interests, and she always tells it like it is! And when she told me I loved Ireland more than anyone she knows, nothing could have been more sweet to hear. Hence it goes down as one of my all time highlights this past year. Thanks Claire! Being part of this blogging community has truly enriched my life!
Irish Blogger Spotlight: Yankee Doodle Paddy
The Irish Blogger Spotlight is rounding off with a very special participant!
Everyone on Snapchat LOVES this week’s blogger, she is officially Irish (yay!) and also officially one of the kindest, genuine people I have ever come across so it is an absolute honour to be able to feature her on Clairebyreverie.com. I hope you enjoy Karen’s answers as much as I do!
1.Tell us your name: Karen Geraghty
2.What’s your blog: www.yankeedoodlepaddy.com
3. How long has it been up and running? I started the blog at the end of August 2015. In saying that I did have a blog for three months when I did the 12 week Ballymaloe Cookery course back in Jan/Feb/Mar 2007 however that was early days in the blogging world. Now everyone and their dog have a blog. But a dog’s blog should be called a Dlog! Anyway it was more like a travel diary. But it is still up in cyber space and I go to it now and again and relive those amazing memories (it is called: www.karenincork.blogspot.com )
4. Do you blog full time, if not what do you do alongside blogging?: Well, not sure what “full time means” in that some professional bloggers (ones that are sponsored and paid) may only write once per week. I’m not professional. And I don’t call myself a writer but a “sharer”. Just because I lived in Ireland for seven years doesn’t mean I soaked up the Irish talent for writing. I post as often as possible. For the first 33 days I posted every single day, then 6 days a week, then 5 days a week, etc. It was like a horse being let out of the starting blocks. Then I realized that it’s a marathon not a sprint in this journey so I post now about 3-4 times per week. I share about life, travel and of course food. I have am a professional chef and cookery teacher. Before I moved to Ireland, I lived in Los Angeles and was in the entertainment business. People always love my posts about the Hollywood days!
5. What has been the best thing to come out of blogging for you so far?: The cathartic aspect of sharing my story has been one of the best things to come from blogging. Not just for me but people reading. I have experienced many challenges and traumas in my life, along with some amazing joys and blessings too. Different ones have resonated with people who have longed to have someone put a voice to their suffering. But because food is not only my passion, it is also my therapy, I usually include a recipe within each story. It adds a bit of comfort to say, “okay that happened lets get in the kitchen and make something of it!” Also the connections I’ve made with other souls (who are inhabiting their “meat suits” as I call them) on this earth have been amazing. I am grateful that through blogging I have met people like you who have inspired me, taught me, and supported me along the way!
6. What’s your one rule for blogging?: Well, for me it is all about the LOVE. My purpose in life is to spread love. I happen to be a chef so I do it through my food, but also through my words on the computer screen. It isn’t a rule as such, but my hope is that with each post whomever reads it actually feels my love coming through their computer or mobile screen. And I always end my posts with some form of a loving sign off. Where as some bloggers have the same sign off each time, mine is dictated by the theme of the story. And LOVE features prominently in my Snapchat stories as well.
7. How do you think people perceive bloggers, and is it the reality? Since I haven’t been in the blogging world for very long I’m not privy to how people might perceive “us” but I can say one thing. I just attended my 1st blogging event (the IBA conference and awards in Dublin this past weekend) and it was one of the most invigorating experiences for me. The people I met and the information I gleaned will stay with me forever. I think we all have a story to tell, this one is mine. And I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this amazing community.
8. What’s your favourite aspect of blogging? My favorite aspect about blogging is the nuts and bolts of it really. From beginning to end. To start, I like to take time to reflect on my different stories or themes and let them marinate a bit. I create a list of things I might want to share and have a fluid editorial calendar. By fluid I mean I am not tied to it 100 % I allow fate to shift posts depending on what is going on. While I am normally very social, when I am in blogging mode I am more introspective. But that time is very important. So when I actually turn on the computer and start typing, the words come pouring out. As you know from watching my Snapchat stories or reading my blog, my faith is a central part of my life. Therefore I trust that the truth will prevail and everything happens when it happens for a reason.
9. How much time do you dedicate to blogging every week? Just based on my last response there, it is hard to gauge since I often spend hours in thought about a post while I am out walking my pretty pit Stella (the dog who hates the bad singing and dancing I do for the Woman Crush Wednesday cooking tutorials, but loves the yummy treats at the end). The actual “writing” as you would call it doesn’t take that long, but because of my “tech-disabilities”, incorporating photos etc. takes me forever! Let’s say that I am often sleep deprived because of it! But it is so worth it that I don’t mind!
10. What’s your favourite post you’ve written so far? Wow, that is so hard to say, like saying which of my children I love the best, cuz of course I love both my kids equally and completely. But there are two that seem to resonate with readers the most. The one called “The Dog Ate the Pot Brownies” is about my mom being a drug dealer and our family dog eating her marijuana. I know it sounds unbelievable, but all of my stories are true experiences in my own life. However, there is actually a fab recipe in there for some healthy brownies, but the magic ingredient is actually sweet potatoes not pot! And the other popular post is called “Soul Dog” and it is a gut wrenching but poignant love letter to our dear dog who is in heaven now. I guess lots of folks out there have gone through similar experiences with their dogs passing away, so they can relate. P.S. those two stories I just told you about, both have dogs in them, but they aren’t the same dog!
11. Who are your biggest blogging influences? My two biggest blogging influences are my daughter and my daughter in law. My daughter no longer blogs as she is a mommy of two little girls and a full time student getting her masters in social work. But her blog is still up in cyberspace (https://inherchucks.wordpress.com) and is still an influence on me. It is a mommy and food blog and in fact I have used some of her recipes on my blog. Heather is an awesome photographer too. I hope one day she gets back into it if she can. Also my daughter in law (www.kokolikes.com) inspires me as well. She is great with design and blogger networking. She is the reason I joined the Great Blogger Cookie Swap at Christmas time. It was so fun to bake and exchange cookies with bloggers from all over! Koko is a fashion and food blogger. But her experience as the wife of someone in the military (my son) makes her blog unique and popular. I love them both so much!
12. What’s your favourite Social Media Platform? HELLLOOOOO I mean do you even need to ask me that my friend? LOL! Snapcrack, like it’s totally addictive and totally fun (hence I call it Snapcraic). But that is why I do the Sunday Spotlight Snap Sista series. There have been 27 honorees so far and it is fun to spread the love through our Snapland Family, just like what you are doing on your spotlight. Social Media CAN and should be supportive and kind!
13. The main focus of your blog is obviously food, do you have any favourite foodie places to go in Dublin and London? I do! Yes I have actually posted a list of top places to stay, eat and things to do in both Dublin and London. But specifically, in Dublin my “happy place” on the entire planet is Avoca so defo have to have something good to eat there (plus some awesome shopping) and for London I am a walking/talking advert for anything Ottolenghi. I did a Foodie Fieldtrip Friday to a couple of their restaurants. Amazingly crafted sweet and savoury dishes with fresh ingredients, it is to die for, literally! If any of you are coming to London I will offer my services as your tour guide free of charge!
14. You run a Woman Crush Wednesday every week where you feature a recipe from a famous female chef; have you got a favourite so far? Though I have done 40 #WCW and I absolutely adore each and every one of them, I have to say that Darina Allen was my favourite because she was my teacher at Ballymaloe and continues to be my mentor. What she has done for the Irish food scene is phenomenal. And it took me weeks of Wednesdays to get around to honoring her because I knew it would be quite emotional for me. I knew I would cry because I’m a sentimental sap like that. And my cooking tutorials are meant to be fun and festive. By the time I did do her crush I held it together! But she means so much to me I really love her! And I admire and respect her food ethos and her culinary passion.
15. You are queen of snapchat, that is a fact! Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get the most out of snapchat? What? Queen? That is hilarious! What until my Hubby hears that! Well I am really useless with technology, and as a chef I can do wonders with pots and pans but computers and smart phones, yikes! As well at 51 years old, I’m so late to the social media game. I am still not on Facebook! But Snapchat, though tricky to navigate for me, just works. I love the interaction and that is really how you get the most out of it. Simply by being social. Even for people who don’t want to post much themselves, if you are watching others’ stories, comment every now and again. Interact, if you feel safe with someone you follow. You might be surprised that you can strike up a friendship, or simply find common ground on a subject. I spoke of this and other aspects of snapchat manners on my Snapchetiquette story (and subsequent blog post). It was very well received because having manners is important in life, even on social media.
16. Two words: Marty Whelan. A national treasure, of course, but can you tell us why you love him so much? Great question you know me well! Okay here goes: Two words: Mancrush Monday! Not to be funny with my response but honestly, I have only done and will only ever do one Mancrush Monday and it was for Marty Whelan. I love him. And my hubby doesn’t even mind my saying that. I am happily married to my best friend and don’t even notice other men. But Marty attracts me like he does anyone who admires him. Marty is similar to a fragrance and it is called JOY. It permeates the air when you listen to him and stays with you long after his 7-10 am Monday to Friday slot on RTE Lyric Radio ends. I know it isn’t Thursday (cuz you know I like my #tellthetruththursday on Snapchat) but, here is a truth for you. Top of my bucket list is to meet Marty Whelan one day!
17. Finally, you are officially an Irish Citizen and you love Ireland more than anyone I know; what do you love most about our little island? Okay, Claire, I am actually crying reading this question because I miss Ireland so very much. Nothing against London, it is a lovely place. And nothing against America where I was born, I love the USA. But Ireland is my soul home. I love everything about it, the people, the environmental landscape, the history, the food and agriculture, the intellect and humor…how long can I go on here with this Q&A is there a max number of words? Cuz I could talk for Ireland about Ireland. But I will sum this all up with a short little story. My first trip back to Dublin after our move to London I was in my happy place (Avoca) having a bite to eat with a friend. But I wasn’t eating; I was looking around at all the patrons/customers/diners. I was staring at them and my friend said, “Are you okay?” I said, “Look, do you see all these people, they are so familiar to me” She said, “Oh do you recognize them because they were customers of yours or your cookery students?” I said, “No, it’s just this is where I belong, this is my soul home and I know them, I love them, they are familiar to me because they are my family.”
I love you Ireland, and I belong to you! Always and forever! No matter where I lay my head at night, I dream in green!
If you aren’t following Karen, eh, WHY?! See below for details on where you can find her:
Instagram: @blissbakery (food/family/travel etc)
Instagram: @yankeedoodlepaddy (ONLY food)
Facebook: None, but I have a blog post explaining why I’m not. It is called Recipe: Blame it on Napolean Dynamite.
And also Youtube: Yankee Doodle Paddy (at the moment there are only five cooking tutorials, but hoping more to come soon).