Saturday, April 4, 2015

First Vodcast!! Review of sistema microwave rice steamer (and steamer basket)

Well, its been a while. This is the first vodcast for the blog - a review of two highly recommended items for the microwave.

In the long term, I hope to produce a few more vodcast's / videos on growing your own food, cooking etc. but also product reviews - here's the first.

Sistema ( of New Zealand produce a BPA free plastic range of cooking utensils and storage solutions.
I bought the steamer basket first, then the Rice steamer.
The rice steamer can also be used for polenta, quinoa, cous-cous and I'm working on lentils.

The sistema range is made in New Zealand, ethically and environmentally sound.
This is something I consider to be very important, workers conditions are as important to me as environmental practice, we are after all a part of the environment!!

I just want to be clear that this is an independent review. I do love New Zealand, a small Island on the periphery like our own, and this does breed innovation.
I also like the fact from their website that they have grown on merit and excellence, and not outsourced.

I got mine in TK-Max but the range is easy to find on Amazon etc.

As a guide line, 100 grams of rice with 175 ml of water takes 10 minutes.
I normally leave it sit another 5 minutes.
The rice NEVER STICKS, easy to clean, dishwasher safe.

The only suggestion I would make to sistema is that they might imprint or print the guidelines for time and weight for rice, quinoa etc. on the back of the spoon or side of the rice steamer bowl.

The basket steamer is really handy. Great for spinach, cabbage, kale etc.
Potatoes take only 10 minutes on high in a 700W oven. For salad and waxy potatoes that's it.
For more flowery varieties I drain, then just leave sit in their own heat for 5 minutes.

Highly recommended - 10 out of 10

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn musings

Well, that time of the year again - hope the harvest is in.

Found something on Youtube. This was the time of year for basket making, cishogs, and this footage is of a very dear friend.
The collie was called Bran.

In the background is the house where I spent a lot of my summers, happy memories.

Mind you, I hated the sheep in the spring.

I just wanted to share these videos with readers, a great deal of what I know about growing veg, the importance of being able to sustain oneself and to plan ahead, to value what nature can give to you, I learnt from the man featured in the videos above.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bespoke Irish Garden Furniture

A very dear friend of mine has recently started producing garden furniture.
Its made with care, and made to last.

His facebook page gives a much wider selection of his designs

Personally, as you can see from the blog, I really do believe in supporting local Artists, Craftspeople and Artisans
Something like Ian's creations really add to a garden, they are individual and unique as opposed to something mass produced and soulless from a factory in the far east.
Ian's work is designed to be durable, to the point that several bars, cafes and clubs use his products because of their style, sturdiness and durability.

 Ian is primarily a metal worker, so also does features for inside the home like the quirky wine rack bicycle (but please don't drink and ride!!) or other features such as light fittings, candle holders etc.

Other features that add to a garden also feature in his creative talents. I really like the gate cap featured here.

As always, I really feel people should re-duce, re-use and re-cycle - but also re-source, something from the locality or even the country maintains funds - and equally important - creativity in the community.
So, if your considering adding features to your garden, or preparing a meal, keep an eye out for local and national creators and producers.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014


Just browsing recently, weather in the Baltic means a bit of downtime.
I am looking at a new property, I am hopeful, but nothing is certain yet - the mortgage still needs to be applied for, engineers need to be consulted etc. Early days but fingers crossed.

When one is daydreaming, the internet can be a disaster - but sometimes it helps.


One thing I would like to do is keep chickens. When I was a child in Connemara, my grandmother kept them - as did my friend Sean in Roundstone, with whom I spent many happy days.
Chickens Rock.
Chickens provide food
Chickens provide pest control 
Chickens provide a great deal of entertainment 
- especially for children (if you meet me in a pub ask me about chicken dominoes)

There are several companies in Ireland who provide chickens commercially.
Two I have seen are: 
henpecked based in Galway, and present at the Connemara Pony Show (see pics) & chique-hen with whom a schoolfriend of mine was involved - 

Both these companies also provide coops, equipment  etc.

I remember as a child, a box of chicks being delivered to my Grandmother by Bus Eireann.
That'll teach him to stick his fingers into the cage!!

But in getting chickens, I saw something recently that I thought was a cool way of getting chickens and doing something compassionate. A quick internet search will give quick results - but essentially it is re-homing rescue birds from battery chicken farms.

Rescue Hens Ireland is probably the biggest. - and their facebook page Halfway Henhouse

Nuthouse Hen Rescue are in the North 

Little Hill Animal Rescue also - at times - save chickens from mass culls.

Adopt A Pet Ireland have a list of other rescue centers who may be able to help or advise near you.

Here's some advice from They may go off-lay for a couple of months when you get them but should start laying again. 
Afterwards, treat them as other hens by worming and mite prevention. You will probably find the eggs are larger than you will get in the shops as well once they have moved back into full-lay. They can be great for double yokers. Give battery hens a chance in life, treat them with respect and you won't be sorry. The main psychological problem is feather plucking, it can be stressful for the bird on the receiving end of this habit, identify the bird responsible and the vet can snip his beak in the appropriate place to stop this. It does no harm to the bird and doesn't prevent her eating etc, just makes it difficult to get a hold of the feather, they usually stop once they go free range though, although sometimes one can persist. Please don't get a "I-can-do-that-for-you" person to do it, if it goes wrong, you can end up with another stressed hen. 
You will get eggs from the ex-battery-hens, but just take your time with them. They should be quite quiet as they are used to close proximity of humans and handling. Due to the amount of antibiotics etc they have been given, they would do better in a large run initially until their immune systems get back to what it should be like, then allowed to roam free range, if that's your wish. 

I think its a bloody great idea. Rescue chickens, give them dignified and decent conditions - and you get fresh eggs, virtue IS its own reward.

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