No yeast, quick bread recipe!

This is a quick and easy bread recipe that requires little or no knowledge of how to bake. If for some reason you ran out of yeast or you just do not want to use it, then this recipe is for you. Preparation time is 10 minutes or less, very few ingredients needed (you might probably won’t need to run to the shop) and no butter.

Ingredients

Self raising flour

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of salt

Olive oil

Free range eggs

Milk

 

Method

In a large bowl, whisk some eggs, (depends on quantity of bread) olive oil, then milk

Next, stir in self raising flour

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Keep adding flour till you get a soft (but not wet) consistency. Knead for a minute or so for the dough to come together

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Divide into two, mould into long logs and place into a greased bread pan.

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Bake for 40 to 45 minutes (in an already preheated oven)  180 degrees.

Enjoy! So basically, it takes about 10 minutes of your time. The oven does the rest!

Easy chicken and goats cheese bake

We have all had times when cooking from scratch seems such hard work. Especially coming back home from a hard day’s work, or doing school run’s, helping out with homework and all other unbelievable amount of house chores (lol), the last thing you want to do is slave away in the kitchen. You just want to put your feet up, relax and be handed a plate of food.

I am all about easy cooking and using everyday ingredients you can find in the kitchen, including left overs or those frozen and canned foods that have not gotten a chance to shine in your pot (because you keep topping up on shopping and not using older stock) or casserole dish.

The chicken and goats cheese recipe below can not be faulted for simplicity and ease of cooking. It is one of those foods you would probably rather have than a “take away”. If you love goats cheese and chicken, then this recipe is yours (you are welcome, haha!)

Ingredients

Chicken

Goats cheese (lots)

Fresh tomatoes or sun-dried

Milk  (tablespoons)

Shortcrust pastry (Thawed)

Seasoning (salt, pepper)

Method

Pre heat oven. If you are lucky to have pastry stashed away in your freezer (leave out to thaw while you enjoy a glass of wine) or an already defrosted pastry (great), roll out and line in a casserole dish. Bake blind.

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Cut chicken and tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried) into small chunks. Pan fry chicken in olive oil and stir in tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for a few minutes (You can also cook the chicken and tomatoes in the oven).

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Pour the chicken and tomato mix into the pastry, if there is not enough juice from the tomatoes, sprinkle a few spoons of milk. Then layer as many goats cheese as possible on the top. Bake in a hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold!

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Craft Beer’s – Tried and Tasted!

Craft Beer’s are very popular at the moment. It seems to be the “thing” for people who are passionate about beer and brewing. There are micro breweries making lots of varieties of beer’s, ranging from Ale’s to Lager’s and Stouts.

You can not seem to miss the small  (but ever-growing) sections dedicated to these beer’s when you enter a supermarket’s off-licence. The bottles are not only attractive, but the names are also very catchy, thus , drawing the customer to view the product.

The curiosity for new craft beer’s has encouraged the increasing demand for micro- brewing. The availability of home brewing kits also means that everyone interested in creating their unique tasting beer, can indulge in experimenting.

Below is a list of craft beer’s that you might like and I have tried and tasted.

261431_10150234628376644_1913572_n 266991_10150234628381644_6886093_o (1) 267936_10150234635071644_595736_n 268099_10150234618401644_3343587_n 270696_10150234636621644_4007558_n 277656_10150234628386644_1239348_o (1) 278452_10150234628361644_6821430_o Ale

261781_10150234620161644_4243679_n 262305_10150234604186644_839090_n 263746_10150234621446644_5405132_n 264029_10150234614481644_1249193_n 300688_10150279388931644_3479051_n 302916_10150279384926644_6627072_n 315318_10150279388076644_6053772_n Irish Stout Stout285643_10150865862396644_1660502124_n 285669_10150865861511644_1755706032_n 285719_10150865858041644_407510447_n 305663_10150806401826644_1394232602_n 312568_10150279402951644_6209620_n 316296_10150279407606644_4876433_n 319723_10150814656316644_1394619147_n 392543_10150865869666644_514425732_n 428876_10150887187901644_570927139_n 521936_10150887187361644_1015832232_n 525896_10150784762956644_365624724_n 527733_10150784458541644_1003400032_n 527849_10150865859581644_414199339_n 533052_10150835544476644_524817677_n 535682_10150784658681644_505065937_n 536645_10150725271176644_1556720899_n 538943_10150724064566644_372253495_n 542464_10150806403736644_37023150_n 558491_10150724063786644_1384333847_n 560279_10150806402766644_637147787_n 564930_10150806400901644_541432314_n 577500_10150865935651644_41801909_n 578304_10150784874216644_260296025_n

2842_10150970961691644_1107284666_n 13879_10151269943161644_847706123_n 224231_10150970961236644_1011657067_n 248431_10151022639681644_2020222601_n 284037_10151047644246644_1524734404_n 294362_10151014816471644_1329088988_n 302302_10150952918991644_1730125863_n 314175_10151022637091644_1048305282_n 376710_10150934596321644_1908983067_n 388928_10151047642996644_962471541_n 400886_10151022636011644_674686427_n 426413_10151269943536644_733393467_n 479828_10151269943811644_517447910_n 488244_10151014811251644_2144541976_n 524720_10151269943411644_867769307_n 533209_10151014823496644_550230988_n 536021_10151047641361644_966591958_n 539560_10151014820606644_1500145055_n 540916_10151269943301644_271571613_n 544245_10151269957076644_164538949_n 549761_10150952920601644_256423872_n 550934_10151047642311644_623553122_n 551185_10150952921136644_1046866155_n 557386_10151022638756644_631957888_n 560452_10151022640596644_449213069_n 561015_10151022637761644_500972994_n 576033_10150952919371644_1148326866_n 599818_10150952919976644_1578004040_n

17719_10151269957376644_1218439476_n 60629_10151326835921644_1792046413_n 149205_10151326836016644_916942291_n 285761_10151269957481644_1156005036_n 295623_10151269957636644_1368624304_n 426444_10151269957576644_790349772_n 526067_10151269957226644_466429271_n 578228_10151326836066644_1550147488_n 581469_10151326836091644_966124725_n 734628_10151269957286644_1497493603_n

Don’t worry, I do not have a drinking problem (lol), this is strictly for research purposes only. It took 4 years.

4 things migrants will miss from their home country.

We all probably know someone who might have emigrated to another country; it could be your family, friend, neighbour or even you. There are many reasons why people move around – from the need for discovery and exploration of new things (leisure) to perhaps, more serious reasons such as  escaping poverty, war, discrimination, unemployment and so on. One thing for sure, is that a migrant is leaving a familiar surrounding to a whole new world of uncertainty, fear and a hope of a better life.

I moved from Nigeria to Ireland 8 years ago and as I look back from when it all began, I marvel at how much I have changed and the transition I went through. It’s almost like becoming a new person. Your experiences and knowledge are combined; old and new becomes one. I will stop myself from digressing and focus on the topic (lol). From my experiences, discussions and what I noticed from other migrants, there are 4 aspects that were always mentioned.

Weather

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Obviously, if you moved from one place to another that are world’s apart (e.g, Europe to Africa, Asia to Europe or Australia, New Zealand to any where! and vice versa), there will be a huge difference in the weather. So for instance, the first time I stepped my feet on Irish soil, it felt like I was climbing into a refrigerator (it didn’t help that I arrived during winter, Jayus!, someone should have warned me, lol). Although it was cold, the air felt fresh, clean and I was a long way from feeling so hot, sticky and sweaty. Little did I know that I would once again crave and beg for hot sun (not blinding winter sun) shining down on me like an angel.

Food

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Ahhh! this one is very understandable. Yes, yes, I know there are food everywhere you go; but you would not believe (or maybe you would) the satisfaction you get when you fill your belly with traditional food you grew up eating. It’s like home cooked meal, just how you like it with all the trimmings. The smell, taste and look of your traditional food, creates a nostalgic feeling that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Who wouldn’t want to feel that way?

Family, friends, well wishers

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This is the most obvious one. If you are a migrant and you are lucky to have moved with at least your nuclear family, the impact of being very far away from your extended family, and friends might not be as grave. Although in a new country, you have familiar faces close to you. But if, like a lot of people, you are one and alone,(Phew!) it is very hard. I have spoken to people who said they suffered depression among other things. But migrants soon learn to adapt, (and even love the new place!) especially with technological advancements: They are able to communicate with people back home.

Culture

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Families and friends are not the only ones that are thousands of miles away; way of life-such as social gathering, dressing, language and culture have probably been left behind too. Nevertheless, new migrant communities are soon formed with a hope of preserving the culture they are used to. However, it is never the same as the original. For instance, children of migrants born in the new country, might lose their parents culture and sense of identity.

Introduction to Nigerian foods – 101

Just as there are many people with different cultures, languages and dialects; there are also overwhelming countless uncommon foods that can be found everywhere you go. Some of these foods are widely grown, known and eaten routinely (rice, beans,corn, etcetera.) And even formerly unknown foods, spices and condiments have slowly made their way to new markets and mouths (e.g, Asian spices, Mexican wraps, Spanish rice, and Italian pizza, etcetera) with every intention of staying.

However, many other foods have not made it to new markets, and those that have, are not very common. These include Nigerian (Afro Caribbean) foods, ingredients and recipes. I have been living in Ireland for the past 8 years and I can honestly say that Afro Caribbean foods are not widely known (by other people that are not Africans). African foods are sold in Afro Caribbean shops throughout the country and their restaurants can be found too (though, not as common as other non-Irish restaurants), but you can hardly see a non African patronizing them.

And so, I started to wonder why it is that way! When I could not figure it out, someone was nice enough to give me an answer, which was “African foods and ingredients have very pungent smell” and “Africans use cuts of meats that are not well known to the Irish people” (e.g, stomach linings, skin, gizzard and all sorts).

Either way, I decided to do my bit and introduce Nigerian (Afro Caribbean) foods to those that might be interested in new flavours and tastes. Many of these can be found in Afro shops throughout the country.

Stock cubes:

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Knorr and Maggi cubes are the most common for Nigerians to cook with. These taste different from other types of knorr you can get from the supermarket. I believe they are probably made for the Afro market (consumers). The shape is a thick rectangle, not square.

Crayfish:

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Dried Crayfish adds lovely taste and rich smell to foods. They are usually used in soups and stews.

Beans:

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There are several types of beans that are eaten in Nigeria. Their texture, colour and taste varies. As the above picture shows (brown and white beans), some maintain their shape after cooking, others get very mushy. They are cooked with simple ingredients such as palm oil, salt, pepper, cubes and (or) tomatoes.

Dried Fish:

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Dried fish are a must in a Nigerian soup. They give lovely aroma and richness to any properly prepared soup. They are soaked in water and de-boned before use.

Ukwa (African bread fruit):

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This has to be my favourite food any day. Once cooked, it becomes very creamy and rich, almost looking like porridge oats, but with a bit more colour to it. Very easy to cook.

Garri:

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Garri is always eaten with soup. It is made from cassava. Depending on the way it was processed, it could taste very sour or mild and texture also varies. Simply make with hot water (not boiling) and stir.

Cassava strands (Apku):

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This is also a product of cassava. It is the main base for an African Salad. Ingredients for preparing it includes dry fish, hot pepper, vegetable leaves, palm oil etcetera.

Zobo leaves (Roselle):

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These dried plant are used to make refreshing drinks called “Zobo”. The leaves are brewed with lots of ginger and sweetened with sugar. Best enjoyed cold.

Egusi (melon seeds):

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The picture above shows ground Egusi. They are used to make thick soups which may contain vegetable leaves, meat, fish and seasoning.

Ukazi Leaf:

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This is dried Ukazi leaf. It is one of many vegetable leaves that are used in Nigerian soups.

Pepper Soup Mix:

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Pepper soup mix includes several nuts and seeds such as Ehu, utazi, uziza, etcetera. The soup is watery with lots of spice and several cuts of meat.

Thyme and Curry:

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Thyme and Curry are important ingredients when cooking Jellof rice and fried rice. They complete the much-loved delicacy with their colour, smell and taste.

Ogili Okpei:

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This is a very pungent (traditional) food seasoning. Used mostly in soups. Made from fermented oil seeds. Although they might not look appetising (lol), the smell will definitely make you salivate.

Yam

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Yams are edible tubers can can be cooked in a variety of ways (boiled, baked, fried, roasted). There are hundreds of varieties that are grown. The meat inside can be yellow, white, purple or pink. The above image is the particular type of yam that Nigerians eat. Yams are not sweet potatoes.

Plantain

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Plantains, although look like banana’s, are not the same. Plantain’s are longer and larger. They can not be eaten raw like banana’s, rather, they are cooked first (usually fried) and enjoyed as a snack, main meal or side dish. You can also use them as plantain crisps (alternative to the usual potato crisps).

Palm kernel

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The smaller nut inside the kernel is called “palm kernel”, and the flesh outside of it (as you can see) is the Kernel flesh which the palm oil is derived from. The palm tree produces this essential oil palm.

Palm oil

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Palm oil, derived from the palm kernel flesh (above) is an essential cooking oil used in mostly soups and frying. It gives food a lovely rich colour.

Indomie noodles

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I know may people eat noodles, but this brand (Indomie) is the most common (if not the only) type eaten in Nigeria.

There are many more types of foods, the list above are just a few staples. I will keep adding more to the list.

Berries, berries, berries

Berries, berries, berries..

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Hello all, as you know, the weather this summer was mild (at times was pretty shocking) and I would say compared to the past few years, is the worst so far. The season did start off promising, even as early as end of March / early April, it was scorching. I remember spending hours in the garden and enjoying the heat (2 to 3 weeks) and then came end of April/ early May, the weather remembered it was Ireland (lol) and changed dramatically. It never really picked itself back up consistently (although there were good days here and there) till end of September.

Now autumn, and so to my surprise (or not), when I went wild black berry picking, I found little or none. Instead of coming back home with an empty bucket, I decided to pick other berries. Thankfully, I found lots of elderberries, few blackberries and even fewer sloes. What better time to make a home made cider just in time for Christmas! With a handful of ingredients that you can find in the kitchen, an easy and simple cider can be made.

The quantities for the recipe below are guidelines and depends on how large your berries are, how sweet or sour you want the taste and the colour for your cider (amount of water, type of sugar-brown or white sugar).

Ingredients

Water
Sugar (I used cane sugar)
Wine Yeast (I used fast action bread yeast)
Berries (I used blackberry, elderberry and sloes)
You will need an airtight bucket

Method

Mix a small amount of warm water, sugar and yeast in a cup and set aside for 5 minutes until it starts to foam at the top.

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Wash the berries and mash them to bring juices out.

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Depending on how strong you want your cider, dissolve sugar in water under a low heat.

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Pour the lukewarm sugar and water solution into the bucket with the berries and stir (check for consistency and taste). By now the yeast and sugar solution should be ready; pour into the bucket and stir again making sure it is completely mixed through.

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Cover the bucket and let it do it’s thing for three weeks, making sure to stir every second day.

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Strain with a cheese cloth and discard the berries. Let the cider sit again for a couple of hours for the yeast to sink to the bottom; strain again, making sure you pour the yeast at the bottom out. Do this a couple of times until there is little or no trace of yeast left. Bottle, chill and serve cold. Enjoy!

Note: If you do not want your cider to turn into alcohol, do not add yeast, once your berries are mashed. Let it sit only a few hours with the sugar and water solution to infuse, then strain.

The Celtic Clan

Well it seems that you can’t miss superhero’s these days. They are everywhere from movies, TV series, kids toys and cartoons and even where it all began; comic books. But an interesting fact is that most of these superheroes are American. Where are all the other superheroes from other countries? So I went researching and found a whole universe of superheroes from all corners of the globe.  There were hundreds of small press publishers that are adding more culture and flavour to the all American superhero genre.

One such comic is “The Celtic Clan”, which is an Irish independent comic book published by Punt Press. CC TeamThe comic stars    Celtic-Clan-2-Cover

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Ireland’s premier super-powered team who has a secret base underneath New Grange and fight an ongoing battle with an ancient race of shape-shifting reptilian’s who call themselves “The First Race”. The members of The Celtic Clan includes “The Athlete”, a former junkie and the speedster on the team.

There is a duo of heroines called “Legacy” and “Nymph”. “Legacy” fights crime with her shield and spear, (the Gae Bolg) which she inherited from Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Nymph who is half human and half fairy is her partner). The other members on the team are “Ard Ri”, a former high king of Ireland who is now more bog than man and the mysterious “Citizen” who wears full body riot gear which is adorned with the Irish tricolour and then “The Druid”, a former man of science who was transformed by Newgrange into a man of mysticism.

The last two members are “The Celtic Tiger” (an overweight, anthropomorphic tiger, former MMA boxer with a bad temper) and finally; time lost axe welding St Patrick (yes the one and only St Patrick ). It is a 32 page fully colour ongoing comic and at this moment 3 issue have been released .

The Celtic Clan comic book can be picked up at http://www.comicsy.co.uk/thecelticclan/store/products/the-celtic-clan-2/

5 Things you should do before you turn 30.

Most people have plans or at least an idea of the way they want their life to be. Some people figure this out very early in life, some very late and others might not even know what it is they actually want, thus, taking it day by day and waiting to see what happens.
I will be turning 30 early next year and I will like to think that my life has followed in some sort of direction, hopefully for better (lol). I have compiled a small list of things to do before you turn 30. They are in no particular order and of course, depends on you.

1. The first on the list is financial security. 207H Obviously, to have this, one has to have a solid skill foundation. Whether it is from going to college, getting a trade qualification or simply having the courage to follow whatever talent you may have. At 21 to 24 years of age, many students would have achieved their professional qualification, assuming they enrolled immediately after secondary school. And if you were to nurse your talent, e.g, being a singer or actor, you are sure to have started much earlier; perhaps in your teens. So it is a matter of getting a proper job ( If you are lucky in this economic downturn) and moving towards financial freedom if you can.

2. Buy a house. If you are one of those people who think that renting a house  (especially for a long period of time) is a total waste of money, then you might want to plan ahead so as not to be stuck in a house renting cycle. 59H You can either buy a house through a mortgage or use the fall of property prices to become mortgage free. Either way, saving is the key. Buying a house is an investment for the present and your future, so why not start as soon as you can.

3. Be in a serious relationship. 55H It has increasingly become common for a lot of people to settle down in to family life in their mid to late 30’s and even early 40’s. It is not a must that one must get married, be in a serious relationship or even have children. But if you believe that one of the aforementioned is for you, then you might want to start really thinking about a serious partner.

4. Exercise. This is an ongoing activity everyone should engage in as often as possible. 140H There are so many reasons why you should exercise. It goes beyond the present craze of having a lighter body weight. It is about strength, connecting with your body and being in control of it. There is a nice mental feeling to be able to take a few minutes to care for yourself. It could be Pilates, yoga, any form of cardio, strength training, a walk or even a quiet moment to meditate. As your 30th year on earth approaches, making exercise a habit, will go a long way through the next chapter of your life.

5. Find your self. 108HGrowing into who you are is more than just fulfilling society’s expectations or conforming to a particular order of values, customs and traditions of the present day. Among those include the numerous amount of information all around us that we often absorb and might suddenly find ourselves grooming subconsciously. 71H It becomes a fusion of who we think we are and who we think we should be. 20’s is perhaps a time when young people try to figure out that confusion on their own. So by the time 30 is knocking at your door, hopefully, you would have at least be well into your way; figuring and accepting who you are. 200H (1)

Finally, (if you have not already started) believe in yourself and most importantly, love you.

I asked someone today what I should do before I turn 30. The answer was “be happy”.   What do you think?

Visit Corfu!

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My family and I visited Corfu last year and I thought it was one of the most beautiful places to go on holidays. The beaches are sandy with clear blue waters, the view out to the sea looked so magical. It almost felt like I was watching a 2015, 1080p Disney animated movie. I did take a lot of pictures which I don’t think does it justice; you will have to go there to see for yourself. And for those of you who have visited Corfu, I am sure you will agree with me (lol). Unlike what we have here in Ireland, the weather in Corfu was hot with an average of 28 to 32 degrees. I remember having a shower and sweating at the same time. Not to worry though, because drinks are inexpensive ( so you can cool of nicely). Alcohol was cheap compared to what you can buy them for here. Local wine was everywhere and in restaurants they served wine in carafe instead of bottles. Corfu also has many historical buildings and ancient sea caves,  many of which are in good condition. I was fortunate enough to explore and take pictures of some of them including a Fortress. wpid-wp-1443306874783.jpeg

wpid-wp-1443306775813.jpegHowever, not all of it was bliss. The restaurants, although served a lot of food that were fresh, they also fried them, especially appetisers and side dishes. Nevertheless, I would recommend any lamb meal but do not make the mistake of ordering pizza (soggy, not their best) and prawns (5 at most on a plate). Visit Corfu!