Monday, January 31, 2011

Fruity Brown Sauce Recipe

When my husband and I went to Dublin, I found and fell in love with a condiment. It is sad, but true. Here is a picture of my new foreign love.

fruity brown sauce

When we got back home I dreamed of this condiment. OK, not literally, but you understand. I had to have more. I knew it could not be found in a grocery store near me so to the Internet I went!

I found a recipe on (yeah, I was surprised there was a website dedicated to it as well, but on second thought, I can understand the love that drives a person to blog about condiments...). It was a recipe that I could easily understand and I had most of the ingredients already on hand.

I scaled it down by a fourth so here is my scaled down version.

Start with the following three ingredients:
  • Apples – 1 lb, peeled, cored and sliced

  • apples

  • Prunes – 4 oz. stoned and sliced

  • prunes

  • Onions – 1/2 large, peeled and diced

  • onions
Put the apples, prunes and onions in a pot and cover with water. Cook until tender.

cooking the sauce

Next put the fruit, onions, and remaining water in a blender or food processor and blend until liquidized.

blending the sauce blended sauce

Now add the remaining ingredients.
  • Malt vinegar – 12 fl oz

  • malt vinegar

  • Ground ginger – 1/2 tsp

  • ground ginger

  • Grated nutmeg – 1/4 tsp

  • ground nutmeg

  • Ground allspice – 1/4tsp

  • ground allspice

  • Cayenne pepper – 1/4 tsp

  • cayenne pepper

  • Salt – 2 tbsp

  • salt

  • Sugar – 1/2 lb (roughly 1 cup)

  • sugar
Once all ingredients are in the pot, cook on low heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened.

sauced cooked

I had to cook it for about 2 hours. The house smelled for about 2 to 3 days because of the malt vinegar, but it was worth it! Since I scaled it down, it ended up making just over 24 ounces of delicious fruity brown sauce!

sauce canned

I asked while in Dublin, what it was used for and they said it was a meat sauce. It taste a lot like a steak sauce, but fruitier. It was really good on chicken!

I hope I have inspired you to try a new recipe, maybe even my new love, fruity brown sauce! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dublin Ireland - Malahide Castle and Going Home

December 27th - Our last day in Dublin and we had enough time for one more attraction. Our plane didn't leave until that evening so we had a trip planned to the northern suburb of Dublin, called Malahide, to see the Malahide Castle.

We didn't see much of Malahide. I wish we had more time, it was very pretty the little part we did see.

colored building fronts at malahide

It is a small trek to get to the castle, but it is a pretty walk through the woods.

forest at malahide

As we were walking along we came across the coolest park ever.

swing at best playground ever-malahide
It had very interesting swings.

slide at best playground ever-malahide
There was an amazing slide.

And the best thing ever was the fact that this park had a ZIPLINE!!

How cool is that?? We keep walking deeper into the woods, when all of the sudden we see this.

exercise equiment in forest2

"What is that?", you say? Why, let me tell you! It is exercise equipment!! You heard me right, exercise equipment in the middle of the forest! (No wonder the Irish were all so stinking slim!)

Suddenly, the forest cleared and since the snow had been melting we finally saw the green that Ireland is famous for. They don't call it the Emerald Isle for nothing!

irish green

Through the forest, pass the most awesome playground ever, beyond the random exercise equipment, and on the green, we finally reach Malahide Castle. It was beautiful! Just what you would expect a castle to look like.

angie at malahide castle
Here is Angie at the castle.

jennifer and frankie at malahide castle
Here are Frankie and me at the castle.

The castle was really very cool. We got to take a short tour through parts of it that explained things about the castle and about the things in it. There were a lot of things in it.

hallway malahide castle
There were long hallways.

lightling at malahide castle
There were cool things on the ceiling.

spiral bell malahide castle
Cool things on the walls.

floor of blue room malahide castle2
Cool things on the floor.

pucks door at malahide castle
Even cool little doors in the corner of a room.

Now that little door in the Grand Hall has an interesting story to go with it. It was Puck's door. According to the Malahide Historical Society:

"Puck, at one time, was the resident caretaker. He was four foot tall and bearded, and his main function was to keep watch and sound the alarm in case of attack He lived in a turret of the Castle, now known as Puck's Staircase, where he carried out his duties as watchman in the most dedicated manner. Indeed, he was the most orderly of individuals and always kept his turret very clean and tidy.

He was somewhat of a recluse and his food used to be left outside his door each night at sundown. Every morning the empty trays and plates, spotlessly clean, would be in the same spot awaiting collection. Then, out of the blue, for some unknown reason he hanged himself from the Minstrel's Gallery, overlooking the Great Hall.

But that wasn't the end of Puck His ghost has appeared on many occasions since. His dwarfish figure has appeared in photographs taken in the Great Hall. Even in external photographs of the Castle, his wrinkled impish face has appeared through the ivy covering of his turret. Many a Talbot family letter makes reference to his ghostly return. Some of the latter Talbots believed that he was still doing his duties as a sentry, centuries after his unfortunate departure.

About thirty years ago, before the Castle was open to the public, an occasional guided tour used to take place. On nearing the area of Puck’s Staircase, the lady guide used to always ask her visitors to “please, stand aside, make way for Puck”. After a moment of silence, the tour would continue, but in a subdued fashion.

Puck’s last appearance was in 1976. A member of Sotheby’s staff was sitting in the Great Hall, itemizing material for the pend­ing auction, when he swears that Puck appeared on his staircase. Without any prior knowledge he described Puck as he had been known to generations of Talbots."

I am really glad we go to go to the castle. Even if we didn't get to see many of the other attractions in Dublin, at least we did get to see this one. Once we were done with the tour we stopped at the tearoom on the premises for something to drink. Frankie also got something sweet. We were surprise by one dessert that they had.

mississippi mud pie-irish version

It looks like a chocolate pie of some sort, but the name they had on it was "Mississippi Mud Pie". I thought that was so funny. Here we are thousands of miles away from the southern part of the good old U.S. of A and we were still able to get some Mississippi Mud Pie. Not that it looked like any Mississippi Mud Pie that I have ever seen, but really you can't go wrong with chocolate. It makes me wonder what people from other countries thought of that name!

After all our sight seeing at Malahide Castle had ended, we went back to the hotel to get our bags. We got there and got our bags just as the bus was pulling up to take us to the airport. Talk about cutting it close!

At the airport, we stood in line for some time to find out that they had overbooked the flight and since we were some of the last ones to show up, we got bumped. Now most people would be distraught, outraged even that this happened to them. Not us! If you get bumped there are usually good things coming your way.

All three of us each got about $400, a free room in Dublin, free supper and breakfast, and we got put on a different flight that got us home at about the same time we were going to get home anyways. On top of that, we got to fly on British Airways instead of Air France. Air France wasn't bad, but British Airways have individual television screen on the back of every seat to watch shows and movies for the duration of the trip. For an 11 hour trip that is a very very good thing to have.

If I look at just our time zone at home then I can say we left at 12:40 AM on the 27th of December and arrived home by 10:30 PM that same day. That is a lot of miles covered in a seeming long, but not really, time. Keep in mind that this also includes a 4 hour drive from the Houston airport back to our house. Poor Angie had to drive one more hour to get from our house to hers and she had to go to work the next day at 6:30 AM! I don't know how she survived.

The long airplane rides are awful, but the experience of seeing a foreign country really outweighs them. People have been asking us where we are going next. If all goes well, we are thinking a London/Paris combination trip!

I had better start learning French! Au revior for now, y'all!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dublin Ireland - St. Stephen's Day

In Ireland the day after Christmas is called Saint Stephen's Day. The buses run, but not the DART. Most shops are open, but not other businesses, plus it fell on Sunday, so that limited things that were open anyways.

Before we left America, I looked to see if there was a church of Chirst in Dublin that we could attend while there. I did find one in the Knocklyon area and I emailed to ask how to get there by public transportation. The preacher, Steve Kearney, emailed me back and told me that he would just come pick us up. How great is that?! It was a good thing too since the buses run later on Sunday and we would not have been able to get there on time. He had given me his phone number and I called him the day before to work out the minor details.

He came and picked us up and took us to the church building. Despite the snow and the cold they still had about 30 to 40 people there, which normally they have over 50. They were the FRIENDLIEST bunch of people I have encountered. It was very uplifting to be in a foreign country surrounded by Christian brothers and sisters where we felt the love. It was one of the most blessed things of the entire trip and one memory that will not fade over time.

I love the Irish accent. I like that they don't pronounce "th" in some words. So three comes out tree. Through comes out true. We were singing a song in church and the word throne was in the song. The entire congregation, except us three Americans, all said trone. I had to hold in my laughter. I just loved it!

It got worst though, during prayer, they used the word father often, and oh my goodness, it came out farter. EVERY TIME! I tried, honestly I did, to pay attention to the prayer and not focus on that one word that kept being said over and over and over. I was so happy to hear amen just because I knew the man would stop saying farter!

We got to talk to many of the members and it was amazing to see that there were people there from all over the world. China, Spain, Africa, Russian etc. We actually found that to be true all over Dublin. We talked to more foreign people than Irish people, I think!

After church, the Mr. Kearney so kindly drove us to the city center. From there we headed to Stephen's Green Shopping Center and as we found out, a mall is a mall. After a very short time we left there and headed out to find something to eat. We found a great Italian food restaurant in the Temple Bar area where Frankie ordered a most interesting calzone.

fish shaped calzone

It was only in the shape of a fish, there were no actual fish involved. There was however an egg inside, which was different. Frankie said it was really good.

Since I went to one at this restaurant, I want to take a moment to talk about the bathrooms in Dublin. When there are stalls, they are not like stalls in America where you can see through gaps in the doors.

The stalls in Dublin, and we found this to be true in Rome, were individual little rooms. If you have ever been to Buc-ee's in Texas then know it was like those bathrooms. Some of them even let you know when a stall was:


Or if they were:


After our meal, we walked around. Again, most attractions were closed so we just took the opportunity to see Dublin and its people. We did see another street performer in the exact same spot as we saw the band called The Riptide Movement. This guy was dancing though.

It started raining around 5 PM so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. We had to ride the bus the entire trip, which all the way out to Don Laoghaire took awhile. All the buses are double decker buses like in London.

double decker bus no standing in saloon

This was on the upper deck. We made it to our stop, the last stop before the bus turns around and went to the hotel.

Stay tuned to this blog for our last day in Dublin, where we squeeze in a trip to Malahide castle before going to the airport for a LONG trip home.

Dublin Ireland - Christmas Day

Since all public transportation stops running on Christmas day, we used the day to catch up on sleep and to just BE in Ireland. We slept late. We ate the groceries bought from the store a few days earlier. Later that afternoon, Angie and I took a walk around Dun Laoghaire, a suburb of Dublin where our hotel was. Frankie stayed at the hotel and napped/watched TV.

It was a very pretty day despite the cold. Dun Laoghaire is one of the main seaports of Ireland and there are two long piers (about a mile long each).

dun laoghaire map

We walked along the East Pier and the colors were AMAZING as the sun set. Let me share the pictures with you.

cross sculptor

fence line at the irish sea
More Shamrocks!

southern dublin and snow covered rocks
Looking south towards the suburb of Sandycove.

church towers in the fading sunset
Dun Laoghaire church towers in the setting sun.

light house
We made it to the end where the lighthouse is.

angie and jennifer
Angie and Me. We had a great walk!

After our walk we went back to the hotel. We had been gone about an hour and Frankie was getting a little worried. He said he was going to drink a latte first, he was really worried, and then go out to look for us.

We ate some sandwiches from the hotel for supper as we set in the lobby and played cards. That rounded out our Christmas day and I found it an enjoyable one.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dublin Ireland - Christmas Eve

Most attractions were closed today, but we had a few options, so we headed to the city center. I wanted to see the Oscar Wilde statue and it was on the way to the Natural History museum, so that was our first mission. I wanted to see this statue because it was not like any statue I had seen before. See for yourself.

Oscar Wilde in snow

Besides the snow, which is unusual for Dublin, how many statue have you seen lounging on a rock? I love it! Also along our way to the museum, we saw the famous Georgian doors of Dublin. The colors were amazing! My personal favorite was the yellow one, naturally, since that is my favorite color.

yellow door

Had that been a nine (my favorite number) on the door instead of a fourteen, I would have taken that door off its hinges and taken it right on home with me. Yes, I would have! I mean, the door handle is even in the middle of the door!! Come on! It doesn't get better than that! There were other doors and it was just so cool to see them all with their bright colors.

pink door

colored doors

Continuing on we made it to the Natural History museum and had a whole 15 minutes to look around until closing, because they close early on Christmas Eve, you see. Ugh! The guy working there was nice enough to tell us that the best stuff was on the second floor. We walked up the stairs, opened the door, and saw a room FULL of taxidermy animals. It was neat, I wish we could have seen more. Here is a quick preview of one of the animals. Enjoy!

natural history-elephant behind

Ha! Ha! I just made you look at an elephant's behind!

Back outside I got a closer look at the fence surrounding the museum. There were shamrocks embedded throughout the architecture of Dublin. The fence was no exception.

shamrock fence

After the museum we walked down Grafton street which is a pedestrian only shopping area. On Christmas Eve it was very crowded and there were many people buying bouquets of flowers. I guess that is what you do on Christmas Eve in Dublin. *shrug*

Grafton street is also the place to see bunkers (street musicians). We saw the band
The Riptide Movement playing on the street and ended up buying a CD from them. It was their latest album called, "Hot Tramp". Um, yeah. There were a few good songs, and a few bad songs. I burned the ones I liked for my iPhone and the CD will go in the travel memory box.

It was after this that we saw THE icon of Ireland! A leprechaun!! It was very exciting. So exciting that I even paid one whole Euro to get my picture taken with him.

jennifer and the leprechaun

Frankie saw the leprechaun and BEGGED me to take a picture with it. Before we left to go to Dublin, Frankie's big joke was that they may not let me leave Ireland since I would be considered a national treasure, meaning because I am short, like a leprechaun, I couldn't leave the country. He told everyone this joke. I finally asked him to stop, and he did, because he is a good guy after all. Sadly, even the leprechaun was taller than me, after all.

Right behind the leprechaun was the statue of Molly Malone. This was one of the other statues I wanted to make sure to see while in Dublin.

molly malone on a good day

molly malones behind

There is a song called Molly Malone and it became one of the songs of Dublin. She was a fictional fishmonger (a fish seller) who died of a fever. The lyrics are here and below is the song sung by the Dubliners. I personally like to hear it a little more peppy, but that is true of just about any song.

Since we knew attractions were closed we just walked around the city center to finish out our day. Today was the first day of NO snow and the sun shined all day...well until about 4:15 when it sets in the winter. Here are a few of things we saw.

look left

I had been waiting the entire trip for the snow to melt so that I could see the "Look Left" on the road. They drive on the left side of the road and to make sure that tourist don't get run over they have this on the roads. It didn't help me though. I never knew which direction the cars were coming from. I just waited for others to start going.

true irish-trinity college

As we were walking by Trinity College I stopped and took this picture. If you look closely at the picture above you can see that college is college no matter what country you are in.


Where is the craic at? While we didn't hear anybody actually say it we did see a sign for it.

After wondering around we went back to Dun Laoghaire where the hotel was. We finished our day with the worst meal ever at Miami Cafe. I ordered the special chicken, and let me tell you what, it was special for all the wrong reasons. It was a previous frozen breaded piece of chicken on a hamburger bun with cheese that they didn't even bother to heat up enough to melt it. Frankie got the fish and chips and after having really good fish and chips at Beshoff it would be hard to call any other good. But it was definitely not hard to call the fish and chips at Miami Cafe bad!

I guess it had to happen sometime, that we had a bad meal on our trip, but I was hoping we would avoid it. Oh well, we made up for the next day, but that is another post for another day.