The Three Darinas and DAR
It’s been another full week here on the farm and now we have seven weeks under our belts. We continue to get more comfortable in the kitchens and dial down on our techniques while learning new ones. This week, I learned to make a grapefruit sorbet for which I had to hand squeeze 10 grapefruits! We have to do everything the old fashioned way the first few times to make sure we know how to do it sans technology. Hence, Darina’s book with the fab title, Forgotten Skills.
This week, I learned to make panna cotta with an espresso jelly on top and despite my rabid dislike of all things coffee, it was delicious. I continued in my quest to perfect fork biscuits (cookies) and made the most amazing tomato rice which was paired with a smoked chicken curry. I can’t wait to share these dishes with my family and friends.
The cool thing about the curry is it calls for a lump of charcoal to be put onto a burner, or gas flame, and to let it burn. Once it gets good and white-hot, you carefully transfer it to half of a red onion skin that’s been placed in the center of your curry, in the pot and add a “knob” of butter to it so it’ll smoke. Put the lid back on for five minutes or so, et voilá, smoked chicken curry! It’s quite a presentation and gives the dish the perfect bit of smokiness. Of course, if smoke’s not your thing, you can omit that part.
Since Hallowe’en was on Tuesday this year, we put off our celebration of it until Friday and what a fun time it was, too! Being land-locked here and loath to ask for a lift, I didn’t have much in the way of costumes and everyone was expected to dress up. So, it was ingenuity to the rescue! I had decided to go as Darina, our headmistress, which meant I had to have her signature red glasses. She’s got snow-white hair but I decided to let that detail go as I was at a loss for what I could use to transform my hair into spun silver. Most days, she wears a nautical-style red or blue and white striped shirt under a denim smock-style over shirt with black knit pants, or loose-fitting leggings and I had a reasonable facsimile of all of those items.
When we came to Ballymaloe, we were supplied with seven boxes of plastic sleeves to put all of our recipes in. The boxes these sleeves come in are cardboard and just the thing I needed to make my red glasses. I used the watercolor paint I brought with me to fill in so I had a solid red when I was finished. Finally, my prop for the whole ensem was a water glass and a spoon, Darina’s preferred way of getting a large group of people’s attention. 🙉
The reaction I got to my costume exceeded my expectations! Everyone hugged me and laughed hysterically and said they loved it. I was delighted. But I thought Joe Mahoney’s costume was so clever and apropos. He found a white sheet and made himself into a paper piping bag, complete with the icing tip hat on his head. He said he thought the “tip” made him look like a KKK member. 😂
I’d heard a rumor that another one of us had had the same idea and had spent quite some time procuring articles of clothing and enlisted the help of one of our classmate’s help. When Rupert also showed up as Darina, I died laughing! The whole package on a man was hysterical. He had one thing I hadn’t thought of, the “Slow Food Ireland” button she most often has on her outer shirt. But he didn’t have the water glass and spoon, which made everyone scream with laughter when I’d clank on it. We were quite a sight, the two of us.
I heard that one of our classmates had considered coming as me, dressed in all her Lululemon garb because that’s what I wear most days to demo. She decided against it, however, because she didn’t want to offend me. I was flattered! You know what they say about imitation, right?
I had more fun at that party than at any other Hallowe’en party I’ve ever been to. Our weeks are so tense and hectic that it feels just fabulous to cut loose at the end of it and did we ever! Thankfully, I’d gone to bed when Darina came out to ask everyone to keep it down and Rupert was well out of sight in our cottage at the time too. WHEW.
Yesterday was an unbelievably gorgeous day and with nothing on my afternoon’s agenda, I got to go for a long run to the sea. It was absolutely beautiful and not a cloud from here to Minnesota, as Ooma would say. I kept going and ran along the water’s edge for another mile. The only thing was that it was icy cold outside, especially near the water but it felt so good to be free and to run! Today’s another equally beautiful day and I’m on my way out the door for a repeat.
Yesterday afternoon, when I checked my email, there was one from my sister, Mary. (How wonderful it is to call someone “my sister” and hold the person in such high regard.💖) Long story short, she’s traced our father’s line back to one Elias Tolin born circa 1755 in Ireland, who fought in the Revolutionary War, making the two of us eligible to be members of DAR! Finally, something to be proud of in my father’s lineage. I hope she can flesh out this 5 times great-grandfather of ours so we might know what sort of man he was. I don’t even know if that’s possible but I hope it is.
When you’re looking back into the past, there are only names and dates on pages, nothing of who the person was. That’s how it was when I was doing my look back in time in ’86, when I was searching for my roots. But then I found the actual people and heard their stories first hand. Looking further and further back, I suppose fleshing out long-dead people is not easy. I hope Rose and Mary can reanimate some of our ancestors, to get a sense of them as people.
As I was finishing this latest post, the power has gone out again. Arden went over to the school to see what’s up and came back with the answer that it’s county-wide and will be several hours before it comes back on. We’re all gathered in our den, under a wool blanket and huddled by the fire. It’s literally the warmest room in this entire house. I’m really kind of over this.
As there was plenty of daylight left, five of us headed out for a long walk to the sea and to Garryvoe Hotel to find warmth and food. It was quite a trek and walking along the seashore as the tide was coming in was a little dicey but very much of an adventure. As we made our way, I was so taken by the beautiful stones on the shore. They were so flat, smooth and multi-colored. I wish I could gather a million of them and bring them home to make a stone mosaic from. Of course, Arden and I were wearing our “Wellies” and heavy raincoats and James, native of Galway, had on topsiders with no socks and just jeans and a hoodie. Also, he just skipped along, over those slimey seaweed-riddled boulders while the rest of us tried to keep our balance and keep up. #NativeSon
Dinner, a glass of wine or a pint, whatever, in civilization was quite restorative and I intend to make my way there every weekend we’ve left to us here. We had a ball laughing and talking and used up every bit of daylight that was left in that lovely place. Thank goodness one of our housemates offered to come and get us. Walking on these roads in the dark here is just not an option.
I’m ready to dive into week 8 tomorrow. We’re having an annual pop up dinner next Saturday night and we’ll be doing lots of extra work all week just to get ready for that. Kincaid and two of his friends are coming and I’m so excited to see him. I wish you could come too, so Arden and I could cook for you. It’s going to be a fabulous evening.