Tasty Tuesdays

Tasty Tuesday – Hazelnut & Carrot Top Pesto

Last week, my lovely friend’s lovely husband gave me some lovely organic carrots from their lovely garden.


My youngest worried that the luscious green tops would go to waste. I had heard that they were inedible, but Googled just to check. I was glad I did, because it turns out that these green leaves are bitter, but definitely edible and packed full of all the goodness you’d expect from leafy greens.


Now that I knew we could eat them, I wondered what best to turn them into. I settled on a pesto.  In this photo, you can see that the consistency is more that of a pâté than a pesto, so I added a little water (2-3 tablespoons) later and thinned it out. It tasted good either way.

Time: 15 mins      Serves: 4


3/4 cup Hazelnuts

Tops of about 14 carrots

12 basil leaves, shredded

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

30g Mature Cheddar Cheese

Salt and Pepper to season



Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan until they colour slightly and release their aroma.

Remove the carrot leaves from the stalks. Discard stalks.

Puree nuts, garlic, lemon juice, carrot leaves and basil.

Add cheese and seasoning.

Add oil, a little at a time, and blend.


Note: A small red chilli, chopped and added with the garlic peps this recipe up slightly.


One Bad Apple

I love Apple products. The first computer I ever had was an Apple. Since then, I have never bought any other type. I love the logic of Apple products, I love that they are easy for me to use. I love that they are reliable. And any irritation I might have regarding incompatibility of Apple products and software is neutralised by the fact that Apple products are so much less likely to be attacked by viruses.


I love that Apple products are so easy to use and so clever.  When I first held an iPhone in 2008, I thought ‘Hmmmm, I gotta get me one of these’. Then, I remembered that I don’t actually like touch screens on phones.


So when the iPad was invented, I thought I’d get one of those, instead. Now, however, I’ve changed my mind.

The big tech news this week is that Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple.  Truly, he has my sympathy. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as he continues to battle cancer. My thoughts and prayers are also, however, with the workers and their families at the factory in China where iPads and iPhones are manufactured.


When I first heard about the worker suicides at the Chinese plant that makes Apple products, I was absolutely dismayed. It’s something I can’t ignore. Much and all as I would like an iPad, there’s no way I could live with myself if I funded someone else’s misery. As my seven year old just said, ‘It’s like paying someone to kill themselves.’


So there will be no iPad for me. I’d never be able to wash the blood off.

Tasty Tuesdays

Eggplant in Yoghurt – Kashmiri-Style

Eggplant, aubergine, brinjal…..whatever you call it, this is a wonderfully versatile vegetable. In this recipe, it’s married with some of the ‘sweeter’ spices and natural yoghurt.  Just don’t ask me to count the calories…!




Time: 10 mins prep + 30 mins cooking     Serves: 4 


Vegetable for shallow frying

1 large aubergine, cut into thin discs

4 green cardamom pods, bruised

1/2 tsp fennel powder

1/2 tsp tumeric powder

1/2 tsp dried ginger powder

Pinch of asafoetida

300g natural yoghurt


Coriander leaves, chopped finely.



Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan until it is very hot.

Fry the aubergine on both sides until it’s golden brown in colour.

Drain on kitchen paper and keep to one side.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of oil.

Drop the cardamoms, spice powders and asafoetida into the oil.

Add the yoghurt immediately.

Season with salt and heat through, stirring constantly, until the gravy is heated through.

Add the fried aubergine and serve immediately, garnished with the chopped coriander.


Serve with plain white rice and lentils.

Parenting, Personal

The Attitude of Gratitude

During the week, I was listening to an interview on the radio. The interviewee was talking about motherhood. She spoke about how women ‘lose their identity’ when they have children –  my response to that is an entirely different post – and she also spoke about how children ‘aren’t grateful’.


This pronouncement stopped me in my tracks. Are children really not grateful? Why, if they’re not, do you think that might be? Children, after all, learn by example: If they see and hear gratitude around them, they can’t help but be grateful themselves.


It’s like complaining that children ‘have no manners’. Some children don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – but perhaps that’s because the people bringing them up don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the children?


‘Children have no gratitude,’ opined the woman on the radio. I beg to differ. In support of my argument,  I give you Exhibit A – a note my girls wrote for me when they were aged 5 and 7, respectively:


It reads: “To Mum thank you for the lovely food your such a good mum. Lots of love from I xxx Kashmira “.  I keep it taped to the inside of one of the food cupboards.


On the inside of another cupbaord, this is taped:

“I love you and Ishthara. Thank you so much mum for making me cum to life” is the message Kashmira painted for me in April of this year. (My heart does not see their grammar and spelling mistakes!)


These are not the only notes expressing gratitude that  my girls have given me over the years. Apart from the notes, they constantly tell me that they are grateful for our home, for each other, for Love, for hugs, for books, for food, for shoes, for clothes – for all sorts of things.


My children are grateful because they have been taught to be grateful. I cannot remember a time when I did not thank my children for coming into my life; for choosing me to be their mother. I thank them for being kind to each other, for being kind to me, for clearing up after themselves, for getting up in time for school (so I don’t get stressed).


I thank them for being well-behaved when we’re out – which means I can bring them to (certain) conferences and meetings and museums and art galleries and other places where people don’t always assume they can bring their kids.  I thank them for amusing themselves without ruining the house when I’m sick. I thank them for the lessons they teach me, for their patience with me when I get things wrong, for being on this journey with me. I thank them for the joy they bring to my life.


My children are grateful because they have seen and heard me express my gratitude. They have seen that I keep a Gratitude Journal, so they keep one each, as well.


It really is that simple; if you want your children to behave in a certain way, model that behaviour for them. If you want your children to be grateful, adopt an attitude of gratitude and parade it in front of them.


Tasty Tuesdays

Tasty Tuesday – Greek Salad

This week’s Tasty Tuesday recipe is for a Greek salad that takes about 15 minutes to prepare from start to finish. It’s packed full of protein, vitamins, zinc and other trace minerals.

Great as a side dish, this is also wonderful as a main – and can be eaten with pita, baguette, foccacia or pasta for a complete meal.

Time: 15 mins      Serves: 4 


400g  Chickpeas (tinned), drained and rinsed

300g Black olives, halved

250g Halloumi, sliced

250g Cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4  Cucumber, sliced thickly

2  Spring onions, chopped

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and Pepper to season


Pan fry the halloumi, both sides, until it is slightly coloured. Remove from heat and leave to one side.

Mix lemon juice with olive oil.

Quarter the slices of cucumber.

Put chickpeas, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions and halloumi in a bowl. Add basil leaves. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil mixture over the salad. Toss. Season. Serve. Enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have halloumi, you can use Mozzarella instead. 



So here I am, an Irishwoman who was born in Ireland, who grew up in Ireland, who currently resides in Ireland – and I’m homesick.


Most people I say that to have great difficulty understanding it.  I spent ten years  – and the happiest days – of my life in Asia. India and Indonesia are the only places in the world where I have ever felt truly happy and truly at home. At home in myself and my surroundings. There, I have been physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally at my best.  I’ve looked and felt my best. And I’ve felt like I belonged. Everywhere else I’ve ever lived, I’ve felt like I was approximating happiness – striving for it and hoping I’d find it. In India and Indonesia, it didn’t feel hard to find.


A few years ago, I read ‘The Geography of Bliss‘ where home is described as where you want to die. I don’t want to die in Ireland. I don’t want to live here, either. I don’t want to bring my children up here. I want, not necessarily more for my girls, but I do want different for them.


I want to bring them up in a place where I can get the education for them that I want them to have. They won’t get that in Ireland. I want them to be raised in a place where, if they need medical care, they will get it in a timely fashion. They won’t get that in Ireland, either.


I’m not blinkered in my approach to Asia. I know that the places I crave to live are not perfect – but nowhere is! The secret is to find the place you’re happiest and make the most of it. To embrace the joy and do your best to change what chafes. Or, if you can’t change it, to accept it with serenity.


The longer I am away, the more I miss ‘home’.


I have such a list of things that I miss – from the simplest of pleasures to the greatest: I miss sari-shopping; the ritual and the ‘dance’ of the exchange. I miss the varieties of fruit I can’t get here. Where, for example, can one buy custard apples  in Ireland? I miss going shopping for ‘perishables’ on a daily basis.


I miss being able to pop into the Temple. I miss my favourite temple. I miss going for my daily walk and meeting people who go for their daily walk at the same time. I miss having live-in help so I don’t have to do everything for and by myself.


I even miss the things that drove me mad when I lived there – the attitudes and assumptions of a certain ‘type’ of middle-class Indian male. The preoccupation of a certain class of Indian female with one-upping you and your children with tales of the achievements of their children. (That was a game I very quickly learned to opt out of!).


I miss drivers who deliberately try to take you the long-way around, and drivers who agree a fare before you start off and then change it once you reach your destination.


I miss opening the window and hearing a variety of different languages being spoken; Marathi, Hindi, Punjabi, English, Bengali…..all in one moment.


I miss the sense of community – of being welcomed and made to feel like I belonged (conversely, when I returned to Ireland, people were suspicious and judgmental). Homesickness, then, is missing the feeling of being at home.


Homesickness is starting to cry when you’re driving on the motorway because you have a physical pain of longing to be somewhere else.


Homesickness is when  – with no warning –  tears splash down your face in the supermarket because this is not how you want to be buying vegetables; wrapped in clingfilm and sitting on little trays. This is not how I want my children to think that vegetables should be bought. I want to teach them to engage with produce; how it should look, smell and feel when it’s ripe.


Homesickness is dithering over whether or not to buy a jasmine plant: Part of me wants to because, if I do, then I’ll have the creamy scent I love around me all day. Part of me doesn’t because then I’d miss India even more. I’d miss handing 10 rupees to a mogra-wallah in the middle of busy traffic in exchange for jasmine flowers, strung together with thread and wrapped in sheets of newspaper. These, we’d take home and keep in the fridge, plaiting them through our hair the following morning, and using on our alter as offerings.


Homesickness is realising that you’d rather be dying there than living here.