Sunday, December 6, 2009


When I joined the group DREAMERS INTO DOERS through the MARTHA STEWART SITE, I had no idea what was in store for me! All those months ago, I became a member of this group of over 3,800 amazing ladies. A site that promotes dreaming. If you can dream it, then you can surely do it !

As I joined various groups, popping in and out of conversations, looking at other womens web sites, one in particular caught my eye. DREAMERS GETTING TOGETHER started by none other than my now long distance good friend Jolene Mack. Jolene has a passion for the 1940's. This passion led her to open 'Quite The Stir' 1940's inspired bungalow in Gettysburg, PA. You can read her blog and check out her bungalow.

Also an event planner, Jolene thought it might be a nice idea for us Dreamers to get together in New York to meet. And so began the journey. A thread of emails and comments followed between some of us back in September. Back and forth we went coming up with ideas and suggestions as to when and how we should meet. How could we give back? Although all of us own our own businesses and still work hard and continue to strive, we also feel blessed to be able to do so.

So we contacted the producer of the Martha Stewart site, Alexis Tirado and asked if we could get tickets to attend the Martha Stewart show in New York as a group of Dreamers. And so we waited. Finally, the confirmation came through. Yes, we can have tickets to the show and we needed to finalise the number of Dreamers attending. Then along comes another Dreamer, already a member of the site, called Terry Grahl.
Terry began 'Enchanted Makeovers' a registered 501 (c)3 based in Michigan. Enchanted Makeovers transforms shelters for women and children into places of peace and possibilities. They believe that the women and children who go there shouldn't have to sleep in a place that looks like they feel. You must go and check out her site also.

This trip to New York has taken on a whole new life. It's simply wonderful. The meeting will now span over 2 days in Manhattan. We will all be visiting a womens shelter in New York and sharing our message of hope and giving back. The list of Dreamers is growing and by tomorrow we will have our final number of attendees for the fabulous ALEXIS TIRADO (Martha Stewart). From here, this amazing journey and trip will be documented. I intend on writing about this journey, featuring amazing Dreamers along the way. Our goal and dream is to fill a 26ft UHAUL with goodies for this shelter. We will travel to the shelter after the show and I will co-ordinate the Afternoon Tea for the shelter. We will have tours of the Martha Stewart Studios, offices and will be having Cooking Demos in her Kitchens ! My buddy and mentor Mike Michalowicz, aka 'The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur' will be coming to the Martha Stewart Omni Media offices to talk to the Dreamers about their businesses.
We will be looking for donations of PJ's, Blankets,Pillows,Cosmetics,Hairbrushes etc.
As we receive them, we will give a shout out on the sites as a way of thanking people and their businesses. Jolene, planner extraordinaire will be co-ordinating and Terry will be the Shelter Contact.
So, come follow me and the other Dreamers on this amazing journey to Manhattan in January 2010.
Below, is the release from the Martha Stewart site.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


As we approach Thanksgiving, we are acutely aware, Christmas is following hot on it's tail ! Advertisers will have us all a panic, with the ever popular countdown, reminding us that we can begin our shopping with doorbusters at 5am!
So....we scurry obediently, doing their will, truely forgetting the meaning of Christmas. Now, dont get me wrong, I too love to open those ornately wrapped gifts that I have always thought America does best ! Sorry Ireland, I love you, but remember when we used to save last years paper with sellotape still on it and part of the pattern missing ! Sometimes, if you were lucky you even got a recyled gold bow that looked like someone sat on ! I know, I know,it was and still is expensive, but as a child you just simply recognised a beautifully wrapped gift.

This was especially true for me. My godmother, 'Auntie Pat' was a gift to me. This is my mums' sister who, back then used to travel quite a bit to the United States. I was the lucky one ! She was MY godmother, so I got the beautifully wrapped gifts. It could have had a toothbrush in there for all I cared, all I knew is that it WAS always wrapped beautifully ! Although, there never was a toothbrush in there. They were always special. My first make up ever was from 'Auntie Pat'. Memories. Really great memories.

My mum is a very special lady. She embodies all that is gracious in a lady. She made Christmas so special. Tradition is part of everyone's Christmas and 'Plum Pudding' or 'Christmas Pudding' was and still is one of those very special traditions. Every year she made these from scratch. No fewer than 13 ingredients, sometimes more. Ingredients such as suet,flour,mixed spice, raisins,to name but a few (I will post a recipe later) filled the bowl. This was one of my favorite times of the year. All the dried ingredients were placed in a large mixing bowl and covered with a tea towel overnight. Oh, the smell of the fresh breadcrumbs blending with mixed spice. Next came the wet ingredients. The addition of Guinness & Rum ! No better ingredients....

Once all the ingredients were combined, next came the ceremonial stirring. Yes, you heard me,the ceremonial stirring ! Each and every one of us (4kids) took a turn to stir the pudding with a wooden spoon. When you did this you could make a wish. The direction of the stir also mattered, East to West , honoring the 3 Wise Men.
Some say the 13 ingredients represent Christ and his disciples. Whether it be true or not it's a tradition. Tradition , passing on from one generation to the next. And, if, like my mum you pass on the tradition of family, love and respect then there is no need to rush for your 5am doorbusters!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Yesterday morning, I awoke early and really wanted to read something familiar. An old favorite perhaps. For some reason , I had this burning desire to read one of my favorites. Brian Friel. One of the great Irish Playwrights. Brian Friel was born in Northern Ireland in 1929 and co-founded the 'Field Day Theatre' in Derry.

From a very young age I have had a love of Literature,Theatre and Speech & Drama. So much so that I spent 10 yrs studying with the London College of Music. At 17yrs of age, I fell in love with the writings of Brian Friel. I chose 'Lovers' for my exam. Made up of two parts, 'Winners' & 'Losers'

Here I was, this catholic girl performing 'Lovers'........The story of a young teenage couple in Northern Ireland preparing for their final exams, known then as the 'Leaving Certificate' In this scene, I played the part of Mag, a 17year old girl who was pregnant. Pretty controversial at best ! A piece of writng that is bold to say the least.

According to my mother, I have been somewhat of a recalcitrant from an early age ! I learned from the best.....Who? The Irish people of course. Growing up there, you are part of a mind set that is, in my opinion a gift. Always questioning, always creating and always wondering .

Successful businesses are not created. Like energy, passion and innovation can neither be created or destroyed. I give much deserved thanks to the great artists, playwrights and literary greats that I was exposed to at an early age. Through the medium of the arts we learn creativity, encouragement to think both technically and critically and as a result can apply these skills throughout our daily life.

So, just before I sat to write this blog,( already knowing I was going to write about Brian Friel )I opened a few emails and received one from a friend by the name of Dennis Lonergan in Minneapolis. Dennis was telling me that he was attending the Guthrie Theater that night to see Brian Friels, 'Faith Healer'
Coincidence or not............?
Thanks Dennis, now I'm headed North.........

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Now that I live in the U.S, I think that I must have been deprived as a child ! Costume stores are prolific ! To think that geography deprived me of the ability to be Wonder Woman ! No, I had none of these luxuries. I did my best with the black plastic rubbish bag (garbage)cutting slits in the top for my arms and to think that we were not as inventive as kids today to use pillow cases, to carry a larger loot ! A "Quinnsworth" plastic bag had to suffice (for those of you Corkonians, at the time ,my mum didn't shop at Dunnes Stores!) Although, had we used the pillow cases, I'm pretty sure they would have been pretty empty! Lots of dark houses, where no one was home......

Halloween for me was completely different to the Halloween my kids experience. The history and tradition behind it will explain why. The attitude will be more easily understood.

Samhain, (pronounced Sow-In) was in fact for the Celts the beginning of a new year. November marked , the start of a cold and dark winter. October 31st saw the abundance of bonfires, where the druids or celtic priests wore animal heads and skins as costumes. They believed that October 31st was the eve where the spirits from another world crossed over. They burned crops and often sacrificed animals. On this eve they used this to tell fortunes and try to predict the future.

As time went by eventually the Romans invaded. For those of you who have seen Monty Pythons 'Life of Brian' there is a scene where John Cleese is asking "what have the Romans done for us"? Well, besides education,aquaducts,sanitation etc the Romans celebrated Pomona. She was the goddess of fruit and trees, hence they used apples............Following? Bobbing for Apples ??!!

On Halloween night, Trick or Treating was pretty much shunned, my mother saw it as begging! You see how deprived I was.....
I thought this was absurd as a child, but tradition is a strong thing ! This belief ,in actual fact had merit. Long ago there was a thing called 'Souling' . Generally children and the poor would go from house to house singing a song in exchange for a cake. For every cake received it was believed that a soul was freed from purgatory. The cake was made with raisins , currants, nutmeg and ginger.

As I got older, I could put all the pieces of this puzzle together. We ate "BARM BRACK" and "BOBBED FOR APPLES" but were not permitted to Trick or Treat.
"BARM BRACK" was and still is a wonderful tea loaf. It is made by soaking the fruits overnight in tea. The really special thing about this BARM BRACK or as it is called in Irish "Bairin Brack" (Bairin meaning loaf & Brack meaning speckled) were the surprises inside.

When you had a slice, there was a surprise baked into the loaf. A Pea,Stick,Coin,Ring,Piece of Cloth and sometimes a medallion with the Virgin Mary on it.
They all had a meaning.

Pea- You would not marry
Stick- To Beat Your wife with (indicating strife)
Coin- Rich
Ring- you would marry or find your partner within the year
Piece Of Cloth- Poverty
Medallion- you would join the Priesthood or Convent.

Funnily enough I never got the medallion ! We all know from one of my recent blogs, even the nuns didnt want me!! We waited with baited breath to get the ring...........!

So, even though I never got the chance to be "Wonder Woman" for Halloween, I am indeed such a happy woman to understand the meanings behind "Bobbing For Apples" ,"Trick or Treating" and "Barm Brack"

Monday, October 26, 2009


Not so long ago, I joined a group called "Dreamers Into Doers" through MarthaStewart's web site. This has been a great place for me to meet other women who have , like me , started their own business. From here there are sub groups. One of which I have started, looking for Irish stories and experiences. The group I want to tell you all about today is the group of 17 of us that all want to meet together in New York sometime in January or February.

The plan is for us all to meet as a group of Female Entrepreneurs at the Martha Stewart Studios in Chelsea, New York. Makes sense, as we all met through her Omni Media site.
To do this of course, takes some considerable co-ordinating, to say the least.
North and South will meet East and West ! From here, my goal is to document this journey, along the way looking for help & advice and hopefully we can inspire other women to get up and just do what they love.

We have already requested tickets for the show and as soon as we secure these.....Wer'e off.................Oh and did I mention ? We are all TRUE ENTREPRENEURS, roughly translated we are doing this with little or no money ! Lets see how we can all help each other. I will start writing about all the members of the group, their journey,their business and how we are all helping each other. If you want to be updated, just register as a follower below and you will be informed. Lets continue dreaming and doing !..............
Slainte..........(Irish for your good health)

Rachel Gaffney

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This week saw yet another meeting with investors. This has been an ongoing experience and whilst each time , each is just a little bit different, they are essentially all the same. An investor, rightly so , is investing in a business , to make money. Thats why they are called Investors!
The bottom line is the only thing that matters. This is merely a statement of fact.

This week I was faced with the statement that a 50% margin is optimum. My arguement is that 40% of $6, is better than 50% of $3. The retort was that they would prefer the 50 margin. Volume. Volume is the reason. Volume based business produces the margins that people want.
To achieve volume, something has to give. In my experience it is ALWAYS quality and integrity.
I would have to compromise on quality of ingredients used, ink on the packaging,faster baking times etc etc etc. The end result will indeed be a much cheaper product with a 50% margin but nonetheless a new product. Now you will have an institutionalised, generic product. Oh, and one that tastes pretty bad, with ingredients that are also known to be throughout the rest of the world as carcinogenic, but can still be used legally in the U.S. I talk about flour. Yes flour.

My passion for my business is about Ireland. To Educate & Entertain the U.S about Ireland. The REAL IRELAND, through the RACHEL GAFFNEY BRAND of products. To do this, I need to stay focused and committed to my original plan. Passion is indeed a great trait and one that is often overlooked. To me, passion is belief. Belief in your message and how you achieve this goal.

Money is of course one of the very neccessary components to this business and finding the right investor is key. One that gets it. One that understands that true committment to quality means you cannot take shortcuts. These are not common but are however out there. I know it.

To be successful you must also surround yourself with good people. People who are good at what they do. People who inspire and motivate you. I have done this. Every time I feel just that little bit down, dejected or hopeless, I turn to them. They come in many forms. From my colleague Peter Leahy, who has over 30 years in consumer goods from Coca Cola to Coors, but has this unwavering loyalty and belief in what I do. And so , for him, I must keep going. The Culinary Shop Manager at Lunds & Byerly's in Minneapolis/St Paul who loves my product and talks about it with such fervor. To Laura Vella, ex procurement for Whole Foods/HEB & Central Market who is now with Bloom stores and supports me 100%. To the buyers around the U.S that wish to purchase the Irish Butter Shortbreads. For these too, I must continue.

Heart & Drive are at the core here. Once upon a time a French Priest by the name Fr Edward Sorin and 7 others purchased 524 acres in Southbend Indiana in 1842. Between 1830 and 1844 the Irish endured Anti-Irish riots and prejudice. Such Catholic Colleges and Universities as Fordham, Villanova, Holy Cross and Notre Dame would ensure that the Irish, who were finding their way in the U.S , would receive a world class education, as too would their children and grandchildren.
We all know the infamous story about Rudy Ruettiger. At 5' 6", lacking talent,position,grades and money managed to live his dream of going to Notre Dame.
That very same University was destroyed by fire in 1879 and Fr Sorin's indomitable will told him to rebuild and continue. He too was faced with obstacles. Huge obstacels.

In business my mentor ( and who I know call friend!) Mike Michalowicz, author of "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur", refers to this as tacking. He describes this in his book, which is now my bible. Here he relates it to sailing. A sailor needs to know where he is in relation to his destination. He has to overcome winds, other boats, no wind etc and tack accordingly. Mikes Heart & Drive is almost tangible in this book. This is indeed the reason I was drawn to him and consider him to be one of the people I surround myself with.

Septembers, edition of "Forbes Life" , "The Style Issue" has a very poignant Editor's Note. In it, Gary Walther discusses how they "unveiled a magazine with an editorial and graphic format that conveyed our new emphasis on luxury lifestyle." One year ago this was not a good time to be spending more when others were spending less! Here is an example of Mike's "Tacking"
December of 2008 , the cover said "Quality Still Counts."
This is a MUST READ article. He talks about "goods that have staying power because they're made of superior materials, are well crafted,embody tradition and pedigree................"

I couldn't agree more. My mother always said "Buy cheap, Buy Twice" Thanks to Margot Gaffney !!!! My mission is to bring products that are of superior quality to the U.S.
The Traditional Irish Butter Shortbread is merely an entree for this emerging brand. It will take a lot of work (4 years to date) perseverance, refusal to compromise on standards, strong will, mistakes, guts, and determination. Frank McCourt, the brilliant English high school teacher, also author of "Angelas Ashes" "Tis" and "Teacher Man" said "Doggedness is not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights"

We live in a society of instant gratification. Work ethic is diminshing. Credit is high. Have we lost our Heart & Drive? Is this what the Irish Diaspora's legacy is to be? We have seen what has happened when people have made decisions at corporate levels that were based on immediate needs and wants. Taking on loans etc that they knew could be passed on. We must not expect anymore. It cannot simply be given to us. We are becoming a generation of 'handouts'. Simply put , we need to work. Get up of our bums and work hard. It takes time. It takes "Heart & Drive". For Gods sake, how do we expect our kids to get it if we don't set the example. Is this how we are to honor generations before us? I need to be careful here, almost becoming a political rant!!

Heart & Drive is at the core for me. This is, in my opinion , what separates failure from success. Always dreaming, always thinking, always doing and always tacking.......................................!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Today, celebrations have been planned in Dublin at exactly 17.59. Why this time? Well, glasses will be raised to celebrate the historical signing of Guinness' lease at St James Gate,Dublin in 1759.
Arthur Guinness secured its lease for 9,000 years at a cost of 45pounds per annum!
Guinness is now owned by the Multinational company Diageo and they have dubbed today "Arthurs Day" to commemorate 250 years since Arthur Guinness went into business.
Once upon a time, Guinnes used the slogan "Guinness is Good For You"
Nowadays they cannot use that . Since then people have collected old memorabilia from the early 1920's. The original campaign stemmed from market research when people told them that they felt good after a pint!
However, there is some evidence that it is indeed good for you although they cannot , as a drink company say that. It has been proven that there are "antioxidant compounds" that help with heart health .
When I was growing up in Ireland my grandmother told me that they were advised as pregnant and nursing mothers to have a glass of this stout. Not so today!!
However, if you have not made a stew without Guinness, then you simply have not lived.
Simply put it is delicious.

I make mine with Stewing Beef, Onions,Carrots,rutabagas,Turnips,Parsnips and 2 cans of Guinness.
I make my potatoes separately , by boiling,and mashing because they will only break down and become mealy in the stew. Mashed Potatoes served with GUINNESS STEW is simply the best.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The last few weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind. Last weekend I went to Chicago to see U2 launch their 360 tour here in the U.S.
Irish flags were flying high as were spirits! Walking downtown to reach Soldier Field, were reminders of my past and heritage. I came across St Patricks Church just off Adams Street. Why did I never notice this church when I lived in the windy city 8 yrs ago?
This building survived the "Great Fire of Chicago" There it stood among buildings old and new.
What a contrast from the ancient St Patricks to the modern sound of U2. A mix of past and present. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" ever reminding of us our past. "I'll go crazy if I dont go crazy tonight" from the present.
You see this was my reminder of what I am trying to do. Combine the rich cultural heritage of our past with the modern contempoary present.
"An Bord Bia" which means Irish Food Board in Irish ,is also the charging the way with this message. As most of you know I am a huge advocate for using only the finest ingredients. Kerrygold Butter being the main ingredient in my IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS.
Our temperate climate contributes to our fine dairy products.
Mark my words as I continue to say that Ireland the REAL IRELAND that I know is far from Green Beer and Cabbage!! WATCH AND ENJOY................

Sunday, August 30, 2009


After several problems with the sound on my computer, I finally got it fixed. Oh joy!
Now I can finally catch up on several emails and work assignmentst that require sound. Tonight I had the fortune of sitting watching and listening to my fellow Cork woman Clodagh McKenna on RTE televisions show "FRESH FROM THE SEA"

Now, I'm homesick. Very very ,homesick.........The water is afterall in my blood.........

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Seems as though I fell off the face of the earth and in a way I did! My kids went back to school yesterday and the preparations filled my days. Now that they are back , it reminds me of my own back to school days in Ireland in early September. At this moment in time I know where I would rather be. IRELAND...........WHY? Heritage Week is from Aug 22nd- Aug 30th. So any of you planning a trip to Ireland during this week there is plenty on offer.

The Council of Europe and European Union put together Heritage Week every year. Over 40 countries participate. The goal is to "To build awareness of our built,natural and cultural heritage thereby encouraging its conservation and preservation"

Ireland has its kick off on Saturday August 22nd in "Kilkenny Castle"
This magnificent castle is perched strategically on the River Nore. Built in the 12th Century, it will be home to the opening of Heritage Week. What a week they have planned.
The castle alone is a sight to behold, from touring the castle to roaming the excuisite gardens.

Clodagh McKenna, Irelands Chef and Tv personality will be there to conduct Cooking Demonstrations. Clodagh shares the same passion and belief as me as she is a strong supporter of "SLOW FOOD"
Slow Food promotes sustainable agriculture and is a celebration of local food and its producers globally. There is a chapter in almost every city throughout the world now.

Clodagh has recently launched her own line of 50's style aprons in Ireland that are bright , fun and whimsical ! Maybe we should get them here?! Clodagh is a fellow Cork Woman, and was in fact my next door neighbor as a kid !!

If food and cooking is not quite your thing, perhaps pottery is? The famous Nicholas Mosse will be on hand to talk on August 27th about the history of the mill and pottery in Bennetsbridge, Kilkenny.

The week is packed with events such as "Story telling" , Dry Stone walling and Stone Carving, Butter Making (my favorite !) thatching and even Hurley Making (Hurley is a sport in Ireland)
Perhaps Whale Watching? This happens on August 23rd throughout Ireland.
You can go to this web site ,
choose the County in Ireland you wish to visit and see the list of events for the week.
If you go............Send me a Postcard !!!

Friday, July 31, 2009


The last few days I have been talking about cheese and cheesecake as yesterday was National Cheesecake Day !! There will be a day for everything soon !
The key ingredient or common denominator here is MILK. More importantly IRISH MILK.
As some of you already know I began RACHEL GAFFNEY'S AUTHENTIC IRISH GOODS with a passion & mission. To educate & entertain people about the REAL IRELAND that I know and love.

Yes, it is indeed steeped in tradion,history and culture. Films such as 'The Quiet Man' have their place. However, people we are NOT still dancing at the crossroads. We do in fact have running water and electricity. Don't get me wrong, I strongly agree with the words of Edmund Burke "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors"

We are today a product of our past. In getting to this point we have become a nation known for its exquisite natural ingredients. Namely the Land & The Sea. If you have been to Ireland then hopefully you will have tasted for yourself what I refer to. As some of you know one of my products is IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS. I only use the finest ingredients for these. Namely Flour,Butter and Sugar (You always list your heaviest ingredient first for pacaking!)
The butter I use is KERRYGOLD UNSALTED BUTTER. If you have not tried this butter then you simply just have NOT LIVED yet.

The cattle in Ireland are grass fed. We have heard many times about the 'Green Green Grass'
Ireland has a temperate climate,which in turn yields this magnificent pasture. When you open a block of KERRYGOLD BUTTER, you will be blinded by the light!! It is in actual fact bright yellow or GOLD. Perhaps this is the pot at the end of the rainbow, well at least for me it is anyway. March this year I was on SHOWCASE MINNESOTA (KARE11) talking about this butter. Even Rob,the host,noticed the smell and colour. You can watch the video by cicking on the link.

KERRYGOLD has this colour because of the natural beta carotene. It is NOT an additive. You can find this butter all over the U.S now. Whole Foods,Central Market,Lunds & Byerly's in Minnesota. Wegmans,Trader Joes. So you see it is indeed widely available. Baking with it is incredible. Your baked goods will be flakier. Try it and see how people notice the difference. You can get Salted or unsalted. Eating on a slice of toast,Irish Soda bread,Bagutte etc is simply a little slice of Irish Heaven...............Let me know what you think

Thursday, July 30, 2009


So people, today is believe it or not 'National Cheesecake Day'! Yup, thats correct. Not sure when it began or who came up with the idea, all I know is that today July 30th is the day.
There are so many variations. Cheesecake dates back to 776 BC, where small cheesecakes were served at the 1st Olympic Games. When the Romans conquered Greece, they brought their recipe back with them, making versions known as 'Placenta' and 'Libum'.

Fast Forward to the time of the Tudors in England, 1545, recipes can be found in cookbooks for this tasty treat. The Italians like to use Ricotta Cheese,The French,Neufchatel.....and New York style cheesecake tends to use Cream Cheese. Whichever way you like it....then its good !

Last year,whilst working in Minnesota, I made Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake,using my own Irish Butter Shortbreads, (RACHEL GAFFNEY'S TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS) It was a hit. I also made one on the morning show "SHOWCASE MINNESOTA" In this tv segment I showed how I like to have the crack in my cheesecake.
Who cares? Why does it have to be perfect? Nothing ever is.....We have been conditioned to have ALL FOOD look perfect... Below is a clip explaining how to make the cheesecake and also how beautiful it looks NATURALLY........

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Oh, how I'm very very sated ! To me, next to IRISH BUTTER, IRISH CHEESE is the next best. Tonight, I ate or rather devoured my most favourite cheese in the world. CASHEL BLUE. If you have not had this cheese yet, then all I can say is , "You poor poor thing"

Life begins after you have tried this cheese. I regularly make large quantities of Tomato & Ginger Chutney, and when I do a visit to "Sigels" in Addison , Tx is in order to purchase a large quantity of "Cashel Blue".

Cashel Blue, hails from the Dairy farm in Cashel, Co Tipperary,Ireland. This family owned business is owned and run by Louis & Jane Grubb. Just like the Irish Butter I use to make my RACHEL GAFFNEY'S TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREAD, this cheese is made from Irelands finest cows milk. It will melt in your mouth, driving your taste buds wild, leaving you begging for more. I'm serious. I challenge you to try this cheese.

Ireland boasts the finest dairy products in the world. This is due in part to our temperate climate. The cattle are grass fed and the results...well...they speak for themselves.

I suggest you visit your local Cheese shop, Central Market,Whole Foods etc and ask for this cheese. Then I want to hear from you......Let me know what you think....I will publish your findings.......

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Remember the famous exhortation of America "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free"
What other nation offered this kind of sanctuary.............

To date, there are 35 million Americans claiming Irish Ancestory....thats a lot of people ! Considering the population of Ireland is 3.7 million !!!!!! Although during the time of the famine 1845, the population was 7.2 million people.

Times are without a doubt tough again. It is the cycle of life. Sometimes we learn from our past, sometimes we don't. Somehow, being Irish we seem to inately understand this. We have this sense of humour that lives within us even through the darkest times. We only have our past to help us to understand this. We have long been a persecuted country. People like the great Michael Collins emerged as a leader of the EASTER RISING in 1916. In 1921 he led the Irish team of peace negotiators, which accepted peace with the British and the partition of Ireland.

Oscar Wilde, one of our great Wits and dramatists of the English Language reminds us of our endurance, through my favourite quote "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy,which sustained him through temporary periods of joy" !!!!! Think about it..........

2009. Yet another wave of Irish Hope has arrived in the form of song. CELTIC WOMAN. July of this year saw their tribute and sense of HOPE and support of America . This was featured on my most favourite morning show "Good Morning America"

Watch,Listen, Enjoy and Continue to Believe.........

Monday, July 20, 2009


Sadly, the great teacher-writer Frank McCourt passed away yesterday Sunday July 19th 2009 at the age of 78, in New York. He had been suffering from skin cancer and subsequently menin- gitis.
Newspapers will write for days about the author of the famed "Angela's Ashes" & "Tis". His Pulitzer Prize winning writing will live on forever. Franks writing involved all of us. We felt as though we knew he and his brother Malachy well!!
He was born in New York, moved back to the slums of Limerick at the age of 4, enduring poverty and rampant alcoholism. At the age of 19 he returned to the U.S. Joining the army, it enabled him to get a college degree.

We are so familiar now with the book and movie. Are we all so familiar with Frank McCourt, the Teacher? He taught in New York high schools for 30 years. He taught English and Creative Writing. Now ,here's where freedom of speech becomes a great gift! I have a huge problem with teaching and education here. Why? I can only speak for my own experience. Both my kids go to a private Catholic School. Standards are high, discipline is great, God is allowed in the school BUT and a BIG but I don't feel like my kids are being educated. Education to me far exceeds the grades on the day. Ask my kids where Cairo is? Ask them about the Outer Hebrides? They are even developing a very narrow minded view of how the rest of the world operates. Some of what they come home with is quite frightening and it is from the teachers!!! Every subject is such a droning chore. Yes, I too went through much of this, I was not educated in Franks era in Ireland,thank God, but a more progressive learning one that Frank himself embodied. Open discussions about the subject at hand,questioning the why? Hating certain lines, loving others. Learning how to THINK for yourself is crucial. Isn't that our jobs as parents? Aren't we supposed to prepare our kids for life? Not just for High School or College? It's all so immediate. Instant gratification.

Frank McCourt was and is the standard for what a great and good teacher should be. Frank was interviewed by (Site for School issues and Education News). They asked him "So what kind of teacher did you want to be,then?"
His answer: "I don't know. How do you know anything until you do it?"
"THE MAIN THING IS TO FIND WHAT YOU LOVE" "There were people who liked teaching grammar . Kids are always resisting grammar because of the way that it's taught. But it needn't be like that. I think teachers who love a subject can find ways of making anything attractive"

Isn't this so true of everything. Doing what you love? You see it everywhere. Being passionate about something means you are always's your belief, it defines you. You live it, because it is you. Frank loved to teach. What a gift for his many students. Only this morning I read an article on one of the blogs that I follow about starting a business. The main point in there about your success and happiness was THE WHY? Why do you do it? Do you do it because you love it? When you do what you love, it shows.

Frank, rest in peace. May we all continue to learn from you. May I suggest reading his book, "Teacher Man". All of us has a bit of the teacher in us, if we continue to do what we love......

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Earlier today, I was trying to think of something nice to make for dinner tomorrow night. Needless to say,I have an abundant supply of cookbooks, but I was trying to just conjur something up from memory. Looking at the bag of "Fingerling Potatoes" in my kitchen, all I could think about was "New Potatoes". If you haven't tasted NEW POTATOES , then all I can say is you haven't lived !!

Being Irish, I am of course, to say the least a little biased, accepting that and moving swiftly on, my opinion is that I have yet to taste potatoes like those in Ireland!! Perhaps OPRAH should indeed pay it a visit !She has been quoted as saying that her idea of heaven was a good baked potato and someone to share it with.....

We are all aware of the Great Potato Famine of 1845, brought on by a blight. An airborne fungus that indeed originated in North America, carried in the holds of ships traveling to England. From here it spread across to Dublin. In September 1845, Ireland saw the leaves on it's potato plant turn black,shrivel and rot. We all know what followed.....................

Through Famine, Death and mass Emigration we managed to survive as we always seem to do.
In the words of the great WB YEATS "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy" !!
That , has NOT changed.............NOT one bit.....

Anyway, back to my potatoes. NEW POTATOES in the summertime in Ireland are such a treat. They are boiled in their skins. When cooked the skins crack open, leaving a floury inside. A knob of KERRYGOLD butter, a little sea salt and some fresh parsley......mmmmmmmmm
There are numerous potato recipes out there. Some such books are written here in the U.S
Margaret Johnson, a friend of mine, who lives in Long Island, has written several Irish Cook Books. "The Irish Spirit", "The Irish Pub cookbook" & "The New Irish Table". Her books are beautifully written and filled with beautiful stories and photographs. You can check her out on her web site

CHAMP & COLCANNON are Traditional Irish Potato dishes. Champ is a Northern dish and Colcannon more of a Southern dish. Champ is made by boiling potatoes. Next combine,milk and butter in a saucepan. Put chopped scallions into the warm mixture and let sit for a bit to soften the onion. Then, pour onto the potatoes and mash together.

Colcannon is made using finely chopped onions, cabbage and potatoes. In a pan , add a little water,chopped cabbage,salt & pepper. Lightly fry for 5 mins,tossing frequently. When the potatoes are cooked add them to the cabbage, along with chopped parsley and milk. Serve with lots of KERRYGOLD butter.............

Friday, July 10, 2009


HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS..........Never could a truer word be spoken... I just love all the old and ancient sayings. They are so wise. I don't think I have heard of a great modern saying yet ! even the Chinese have to rely on their ancient ones.

This morning I was noticing some construction on the roads . Made me think about the construction of the roads at home.! Odd, I know, but here in texas it is flat,flat,flat. Sure they have their challenges.extreme heat for one. I am from Cork City. The Irish for the word Cork is 'Corcaigh' which means bog. The centre of Cork is built on mostly islands in the tidal estuary of the River Lee. Channels of the river separated the islands, some were spanned as early as the 18th Century to form our principal Street, 'Patrick Street' or as we Corkonians know and call it affectionately 'Pana'

The 1st plan of Cork City dates back to circa 1545. St Patricks bridge was built in 1789 and was damaged by flood in 1853 when it was rebuilt.
I remember crossing this bridge every morning when I went to school , 'St Angelas, Patricks Hill' (Ursuline). Now ,there was a hill to climb every morning ! The view from the top was and still is quite simply, spectacular. The view has indeed changed ,of this ever evolving Street over the years. It has seen battles , Tall Ships, even embraced a young Margot Whelan aka MY MUM whizzing down on her bike, in the days when traffic was not a concern. It has seen my friends and I meander up and down hoping to get a look at our latest crush ,in the walls of 'Christian Brothers Boy School'.

This Street is ALWAYS alive. Even now. A street that meanders around to the GRAND PARADE. This is a street that was built over a river and when looking from 'Patricks Hill' the reminder is ever present. It is buzzing with people. Since leaving Ireland and living in major cities such as London,Dallas,Chicago...I am still amazed at the amount of people that are on the streets. Taxi ranks are busy, buses pulling in and out,buskers singing,sometimes well...sometimes not so well !! People congregating to meet outside 'Cashs' now 'Brown Thomas'.
Newspapers being sold on the streets. I can still remember the cry for the 'Evening Echo'. A Cork Institution, if ever there was one. Each and every day,rain or rain !! The papers were being sold....'ECHO....EVENING ECHO '......Sort of like a town crier........

So, from looking at parts of Preston Road in North Dallas roadworks to remembering HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS............It always is.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Life with 4 kids did not mean that my parents were our entertainment committee during the summer months. When my father finished work, he often piled us and any of our friends that wanted to join us ,in the car, and off we went to either Roberts Cove or Rocky Bay for an evening swim.

The drive was approx 30 mins from our house. We drove through Carrigaline,on past Minane Bridge and then waited with baited breath for that bumb in the road where Dad would speed up and drive the car as fast as he could, so that we flew over it and felt the feeling in your tummy like that on a Roller Coaster ride! Cheap thrills. We also had it to look forward to on the way back !!

I still remember him saying the same thing each and every time we approached any beach. "Lets see who is first to see the sea" Craning our necks,we all wanted to be the first to see that familiar sight in the horizon. Honestly, I still love that view of the sea coming in to view. The endless beauty,that is the Atlantic.

Whoever came up with the idea of dressing at the beach? What a feat. Even the infamous Rowan Atkinson aka MR BEAN had trouble undressing at the beach. Remember that scene? If not , you can watch and enjoy here!!

Anyway,I used to hold the towel between my teeth and try to to pull the skintight SPEEDO up without letting the towel drop! I used to imagine people hiding in the cliffs. You know how it is, there were hoards of Irish people roaming the cliffs to get a view of my bum , or indeed my THEN 2 pancakes !! (my how I made up for those !)

Swimming in the evening was, I must admit, even then a serene time. The stillness was almost tangible and peaceful. Water temperature was at best frigid, but we thought for some reason that it was bath water ! After the evening swim, the task of getting dressed again became a feat soon mastered. After all...necessity is the mother of invention !

On the drive home,we would stop at Collins SuperValu in Carrigaline for a 99.
Yes, I said a 99, not any other number !!!! The 99 was and still is ,a soft whip ice cream cone with a Cadburys flake stuck in it .........Mmmmmm
To this day, no one knows where this name came from. Many theories. Some say it was an advertsing campaign by Cadbury's back in the 1930's in the UK. Theories that it originated back to Italy,and the most recent was in Edinburgh claiming its invention. Either way, I don't really care. I love 99's !!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This morning I made myself a bowl of granola with natural yoghurt and a handful of blackberries. I say handful as I have to compete with my oldest son James for the berries ! He simply devours anything with berry at the end ! Now, my husband doesn't much care for them. If he does,then it has been a great secret in our almost 16year marriage... So, I guess I have to conclude that James gets his taste buds from me!

I LOVED blackberries as a kid also. However,ours did not come in 8oz plastic containers for $3.99. They came in empty cans, buckets, basically any container you could get your hands on !! We had to pick them ourselves. Normally found sometime in late August or early September. The height of my blackberry picking happened between the ages of 9 and 12. After that I was far too mature to bother with such childish skirmishes.

To think slavery had been abolished. WRONG. My mother knew fine well what she was doing. Sending us poor innocents out amongst the brambles to pick her fare ! Now,as time goes by ,you become experienced at this prickly task. Initially , I would pick just after the rains. NOT a good idea. You see,one of the perks of blackberry picking is eating as you go...kind of like the old fashioned version of a drive through ! After the rain, the blackberries house tiny little worms!! mmmmm

Now,some of you may prefer to purchase yours in the stores and you may even have picked them yourselves in your past. What a pity our kids don't have the pleasure of foraging through the bramble and understanding where everything comes from. There are times during our early years,when we don't understand why we have to study and learn what we must study and learn. Later, it all becomes clear. During my years of studying Speech & Drama with Mrs Bracken ,as an extra curricular activity,some of the poetry and literature would escape me. Now , I can recall whilst writing this, studying some of the works of Seamus Heaney. His poem BLACKBERRY PICKING has never been so poignant as it is now.

" Late August,given heavy rain and sun
For a full week,the blackberries would ripen
At first,just one,a glossy purple clot
Among others,red,green,hard as a knot"

I think Mrs Bracken would be proud!

Friday, June 19, 2009


During the secondary school years , I had the fortune and yes I say fortune not misfortune to study the autobiography of PEIG SAYERS. Peig was born in Co Kerry in 1873. She is probably one of Irelands leading female Seanachai's....(storyteller). Most students, who remember this book being on the curriculum for the LEAVING CERTIFICATE, will probably roll their eyes. It was written in Irish. Therefore, we studied,discussed and wrote in Irish. All you eye rollers out there......halt. The great William Burke said " People will not look forward to posterity who ,never look backward to their ancestors" I believe also that we need to know and understand where we are coming from to know where we are going.

Peig lived a hard life. She was born in Dun Chaoin,Co Kerry (Dunquin). She married a fisherman and moved to the formidable Blasket Islands. A harsh existence. Her autobiography depicts tales of rural hardship. Devout catholics,still reeling from the aftermath of the GREAT FAMINE of 1845,and still recovering from penal laws. What can you expect? Her story is rife with tales of tragedy.

Life on the Blasket Islands was so tough that eventually it became uninhabitated and she moved back to the main land where she later died in 1958.

Fast Forward to today. 2009. I wonder what Peig would think of the progression to the infamous "CELTIC TIGER" economy and along with it comes politically correct beliefs . So much so, that her beloved Dingle coastline is now host to one of Irelands NATURIST beaches !

INCH BEACH in Co Kerry,is one of the best beaches in Ireland. If you go to , this is the description....

"It is one of the best in Ireland. It is more than 2 miles long and is backed by sand dunes. Walk for about a half a mile until you are past the textile bathers" !!!!!!!!!! I love that. TEXTILE BATHERS.

I used to walk for miles along the beaches with family on Sunday afternoons, rain or shine. I'm just picturing the walk today with the very same family members !! Namely Auntie Nora, Auntie Madge, Auntie Mary (Sr Mary that is) Gran, Mum ...........!!!! I'm sure Peig might find it somewhat of a shock to the system when mooring your boat after coming in from the Blaskets!
What an this what William Burke had in mind?!........

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


So, I wrote about Molly Malone and her wares last week and wouldn't you know I somehow manged to show my own wares ! I entered a competition sponsored by the FOOD NETWORK & COLUMBIA CREST WINERY. The task here is to create a recipe inspired by a Columbia Crest Grand Estate Wine. The rules state that you must use at least Washington State ingredient. Having just written about Molly Malone and her cockles and mussels, it seemed only fitting that I cook with them. Well at least the mussels anyway........

I can't believe how an exercise like this just takes me tripping almost falling down memory lane. The Atlantic Coastline has an abundant supply of these mollusks. Of course , as a child ,roaming the beaches in Schull Co Cork, Ardmore,Co Waterford and Derrynane,Co Kerry I used to try to remove the mollusks with sharp rocks and simply try to skim the water with them,step on them or anything else rather than cherish them as I do now !

The beaches there are just endless. I always tell people here in the States,when going to Ireland ,not to go for the weather. If you get great weather then that is a bonus! Don't expect and you won't be disappointed. You don't visit Ireland for the weather ! You go for an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

So, last week armed with a home movie camera and a crazy friend of mine, Laura Vella, we embarked on our first production. The video is now uploaded on the FOODNETWORK SITE.

20 of the top recipes will be announced on June 18th. Then the public votes.
I think Laura was trying to liken me to the infamous "Molly Malone" . You may notice our similar attributes in the video...............

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Some days you just have to end your day,throw your arms up in the air and say.............!!

Well, I'll just leave that to your own imagination !!!

Welcome to the life of an ENTREPRENEUR....but not only that ,welcome to the life of RACHEL GAFFNEY,the mum of 2 boys,as an ENTREPRENEUR !!

There are people in business, people that work, business owners and then there are what I call the TRUE ENTREPRENEURS. These are the people that are true innovators. Wont take no for an answer. Want to find a bigger,better perhaps simpler way. Bootstrapping their way along and dealing with challenges and obstacles that business books and classess quite frankly DO NOT prepare you for !!

I am entereing a recipe contest sponsored by the FOOD NETWORK.Deadline is this weekend.

So,time is of the essence here. I really didn't need any distractions. Being a Mum there are many.
My youngest, Matthew is 11 going on 94 ! Somewhat of a Recalcitrant....!! I wonder where he gets that from..!!
He is a great example for up and coming sales people. He just DOES NOT know how to take no for an answer. Constantly renegotiating,handling objections extremely well and creatively !
He wants to make his own smoke bombs. He needs to use Potassium Nitrate.
He has asked his father if he would buy him some. The reply from my British husband was "Not if he wanted his father to be listed as the new unibomber !!'

We explained and that was it. Or so we thought. He went on a bike ride the other day to CVS. He met with the pharmacist and chatted with him. He then came home and asked if I needed to purchase more heating pads for my next ski trip as there were only 2 left on the shelf at $7 a piece. Ah the innocence and the logic. Perhaps I should stock up now?
You see, when split open and separated from the liquid...what do you find? Yes,Potassium Nitrate . Proud that I had uncovered and foiled his plot I moved on.

That weekend I spent time in the Garden removing old debris,shrubs and weeds. Matthew wanted to come with me to the Garden Centre. Being the good boyscout he wanted to help me. Knowing the workings of this criminal mind (takes one to know one !!) I asked why.

He thought I should buy some Stump Removal. Good Idea. But why?
Because,it is 99% potassium Nitrate.
Now, if that doesn't speak to ways of engaging the brain,doing your research and finding a better way, then I just dont know what is! It is my job as his parent to harness and guide this gift for the better use of us all. Although,not a straight A student, I will take this creative intelligence anyday. He is without a doubt my little man, whom I adore. He is Matthew.

Oh and by the way I did also manage to complete the cooking segment for the competition. Another reason why mums make it happen !!!

Monday, June 1, 2009


1988 saw the Millenium year in Dublin, IRELAND. Among the many celebrations and commissions, one of the more memorable ones for me was the commissioning of the bronze sculpture of the infamous "MOLLY MALONE" The sculptor was none other than Irelands foremost living artists, JEANNE RYNHART. At the time I was finishing my senior year in school and dating her son Barry ! Of course back then, I was probably more interested in her son than her obvious talent! Now I am grown up (although open to debate !) I am in awe of her talent. Molly Malone died on June 13th 1699 and now June 13th is known as Molly Malone Day in Ireland !

"As she wheeled her wheelbarrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying "Cockles and mussels,alive,alive,oh!"

Irreverantly,as the IRISH only know how,she is also known as "The Tart with the Cart" and "The Trollop with the Scallops" She is also displaying her own personal wares !!!!

Ireland has an abundant supply of assorted mollusks. My personal favorites are Oysters,Clams and mussels. Every September,Galway City hosts the famous Oyster Festival.
Collecting these delectable shellfish is a treat. If you live along shores that provide these treats then I beg you not to take it for granted as I did. You are very lucky. Living in Dallas has taught me that lesson! Washington State is famous for its mollusks,namely those found along the PUGET SOUND.

This week I will enter a contest with the FOOD NETWORK using mussels found in Washington as my main ingredient. It is very important to choose the right ones and to prep them properly.

1- Try to purchase Fresh Mussels
2- The shells should be tightly closed if they are still alive
3- Dont forget to DEBEARD them before cooking
4- This is done by tugging the stringy material towards the hinge edge.
5- Soak them for approx 20/30 mins in fresh water before cooking
6- Hand or brush clean them under running water to remove any extra barnacles,sand etc

I will be posting a video later this week of my recipe,with an IRISH TWIST on line.
There are similarities between Molly Malone and myself ! Although both of us are indeed blessed with buxom qualities, I doubt that I will dress the same !!! Might be a little cheeky !!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I began my day by sitting with a coffee by the pool. Far cry from the mornings in Cork ! From here, I spotted a little weeding that was crying out to me. Somehow,whilst lost in thought I was thinking about seaweed !

When I was 13 years old I spent 1 week in Knockadoon camp. Located in Ballymacoda, 30 miles from Cork City. Primitive conditions at best, this Dominican run facility provided a lifetime of memories for me. Here, I learned all about the various zones in the sea shore. Daily, we pottered around in rain and shine looking through UPPER, MIDDLE AND LOWER ZONES. We slept in bunk beds in army style barracks, and ate God only knows what. At 39, I still remember this as one of the most enjoyable weeks of my life. Think about it. Children, sea shore and friends. Could you really ask for more ? I only wish my kids could go also.

Speaking of kids, seaweed seems to be their dreaded enemy ! Happening upon some whilst swimming conjures up thoughts of some slimy serpeant around your legs ! Well it did for me. I hated the feel of it around my legs.

Todays trend is to call marine algae "Sea Vegetables" .Carrageen Moss is a very popular seaweed found in rocky parts of the Atlantic Ocean, especially in Ireland and North America namely Massachusetts. When fresh, this seaweed is generally a green to purplish/brown color. Used also for medicinal purposes, for its anti viral properties, it is used in Ireland and Brittany (Western France) for respiratory problems.

It is actually used in cooking in Ireland. During the famine, it was used as a primary food source. It can be used in Stews, Soups and Puddings. Yes puddings, you heard me. It has a gealatinous quality when blanched in boiling water. Some of my favorites include the following:

Guinness battered oysters in Carrageen moss

Carrageen moss pudding (using vanilla a vanilla pod and Bailey's Irish Cream )

So, the next time you are swimming in the Atlantic, and something snarls around your limbs just ask your self "Whats for Dinner?" !

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Over 7 million Irish people emigrated to the US during really hard times , especially during the famine. We brought all sorts of talents, gifts and a strong work ethic. Removing my rose coloured glasses for a moment, I have to admit that along with the good came some of the not so good, including celiac disease. Yes, we Europeans have a really high intolerance for gluten. This disease is very common in countries such as Ireland,Italy,Sweeden and Austria. 1 in every 300 in Ireland are said to suffer from this and it is estimated that 1 in every 250 are intolerant in Itlay.

It is estimated that almost 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease but only approx 100,000 have been properly diagnosed. It is often confused with IBS and other gastric problems. Celiac disease is hereditary. Plain and simple. We have our ancestors to thank !!!

As a baker, I am extremely particular about the flour I use. Personally,I am a HUGE KING ARTHUR fan. My reasons for using these products are many and will blog about that at a later time. Freshly milled wheat flour DOES NOT actually contain gluten. It contains 2 proteins. Glutenin & Gliadin, which turn into gluten when mixed with water. It is this protein that celiacs just cannot tolerate. That being said, a celiac has to be ever so vigilant with their diet, including breads,pastas,cereals,grains and processed foods. Thats a lot. Which brings me to my title.

Looking through the aisles over the weekend in the stores, I have noticed that the section given to Celiacs is pitiful !! Whilst admirable, vogue and politically correct, you would think that celiacs were a cult. A group of voodoo eaters !! A space on the shelf donated to these special people! Come on. I purchased some products and brought them home. The packaging was not what I would have called enticing or alluring. The taste.... YUCH! In essence, if you are celiac, most of the foods I tested are quite simply devoid of flavor. We cater to people who eat too much rather than people,who cant eat too much!!!

I happened upon a wonderful guy by the name of Wes in Whole Foods, Park & Preston,Plano,Tx.
During our conversation, I learned that he too was indeed Celiac. I was there to purchase gluten free flour to experiment in my own kitchen for 2 of my friends Cindy, in Dallas and Sean in San Diego. I baked Traditional Irish Butter Shortbread using gluten free flour. It was a hit.
You see, just because your body develops an intolerance for a certain protein DOES NOT ALSO MEAN YOUR TASTE BUDS DIE !!

I intend on pursuing this further. Any comments, suggestions are welcome. Please email me at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This morning, I was already thinking about what I would make for dinner tonight.Full day. Sprinklers being repaired. Board meeting at noon. Working on casino night for HELPS INT charity event. Finalising business plan and pick the kids up from school. All by 3.30 !! Typical day in American Life!!
So, to put a twist on my day, I need to return to my roots. Simple & Basic. That being said,have you noticed how ORGANIC and ALL NATURAL are vogue ! I was watching a segment on grass fed beef the other day. How this was better for you !! Do any of you remember the fable "The Emperors New Clothes?" Written by the Dane ,Hans Chrsitian Andersen. The little boy who watched the King parade naked? "But he's naked?"......Well this is how I have felt for years... I am that little boy! COME ON PEOPLE....Do we really need scientists and researchers to tell us this? Didn't your mother or grandmother ever teach you anything??? FRESH IS BEST.....
I wonder what Hans would think today?
With that vein of thought,thinking about fresh,this is the season for berries. All kinds of wonderful berries. For me,growing up in Cork, gooseberries were in plentiful supply. My Aunt Nora lived in this austere property perched atop STRAWBERRY HILL,overlooking Cork City.
Surrounded by acres of gardens,we frequently pretended to be characters in "The Secret Garden" !! Hiding from My Uncle Paddy, who was not by any stretch of the imagination a friendly character,I snacked on gooseberries ! Green,hairy,tart gooseberries.....
A fruit that grows in abundance in Ireland, due to the lack of sunlight needed to grow these !! Typically they were harvested earlier in the year. Although tart, there are other varities that can be eaten straight from the bush. These are red in color.

GOOSEBERRY FOOL. One of my favorite desserts. Serve this with one of my RACHEL GAFFNEY SHORTBREADS.

1lb of gooseberries (take tops 'n tails off !) Half them
3/4 cup of sugar
Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 Cup of sugar
Rachel Gaffney Irish Butter Shortbread.

In a medium saucepan,place gooseberries and sugar on low heat. Stir from time to time until soft. Then mash with a fork and cool completely. Next chill for an hour or so.
Whip cream and sugar together. Fold berries and cream.
Place 1 shortbread on a plate and spoon Gooseberry Fool on top.Top with some Rasperries/Strawberries for some color. Mmmmm Enjoy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sometimes,writing this blog is simply cathartic. For this Female Entrepreneur , it is a way to clear the cob webs . Yesterday, I had the gruelling task of editing and updating my business plan. How I hate doing this. I know only too well whats in my head but of course others DO NOT and I need to constantly remind myself of this ! The VISION is still the same. So it should be. After all, thats why I started RACHEL GAFFNEY'S AUTHENTIC IRISH GOODS.

I think, as an entrepreneur we are in danger of letting the wheels fall off the track at times ! Its only natural really...we are after all "A JACK OF ALL TRADES AND MASTER OF NONE" in the beginning ! My love and passion for my homeland IRELAND is the driving force here. MONEY DOES NOT MOTIVATE ME. IT NEVER HAS. If I have to explain that last statement to you then you are probably not running a business that you are PASSIONATE about. Passion is about belief. The BELIEF that you can find another way to make it bigger,better,tastier etc. Please bear in mind that I have said this is indeed a business !! I have that belief.

I want to Educate and Entertain people about Ireland through Food,Drink,Travel,History,Clothing and Culture. This is what I set out to do. My vision is to create a lifestyle brand , the RACHEL GAFFNEY BRAND that will deliver that message with a little bit of IRELAND in every thing we do. The TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREAD is currently leading the way for this journey.

That being said, understanding that there are formalities and procedures that are part and parcel of running a business. Like NIKE says JUST DO IT ! There are core values,strategies,budgets etc. This morning I logged in to one of my favorite web sites . This is a networking site for female entrepreneurs and business professionals, co-founded by Angela Jia kim. Today,sitting with my cup of coffee,listening to the rain outside,I watched and listened to her VLOG. Todays title "What Are Your Rules?" Simply go to and check it out. My mother used to say to me as a child (still does in fact!!) SHOW ME YOUR FRIENDS & I'LL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE......
Now I know why I like Angela and her web site. Although today she speaks of Give,Give,Get, the time preceeding this vlog had already communicated this message to me about her. It was something viceral & intuitive. Her message and core values were already being communicated through her previous endeavors. Running events like ROCK THE WORLD IN NEW YORK.

The point to all of this? Staying on track,staying true to yourself keeping with your original vision and value system works.....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


People ask me on a regular basis about the ingredients I use to make RACHEL GAFFNEY IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS. It's very simple. I use 3 ingredients. Easy right?
Flour,butter and sugar. How hard can that be?

Shortbread is one of the oldest recipes, one of the simplest and also one of the hardest to get right. Trust me on this ! Whatever your product or service , a really good product or service uses the very best.

There is a saying that mum used all the time "Buy cheap,buy twice" How true. How many times have you experienced this with a pair of shoes, or handbag etc. It looks good, its the right price but in a short time its broken. Well, the same can be said for your ingredients. When making shortbreads, I only use UNBLEACHED,UNBROMATED flour. No compromise. Why unbleached,unbromated?

Bromated flour is flour that has been enriched with Potassium Bromate. This promotes gluten development and is frequently used by bread bakers. Potassium Bromate is classified as a potential carcinogen. Whilst it is still legal in the U.S it is banned in most countries in Europe.
Bleaching flour is also common. Chemicals such as Chlorine Dioxide and Benzoyl Peroxide are added to bleach flour. Unbleached flour is matured and unbleached naturally by oxygen merely being present in the air. Another old saying TIME IS MONEY. Well it certainly applies here. To unbleach naturally ,it takes months. The product then occupies valuable warehouse space. Now manufacturers bleach the flour in minutes by adding the above chemicals.

I began making TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS using only the fnest ingredients and will continue to do so. Thanks to the AIB (American Institute of Baking) for helping me through my years of research and a special thanks to Tim Huff of General Mills for his patience a few years ago when I flew to Minneapolis to learn about flour !

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Well, yesterday I had to work. Like everyone else, I too have children with doctors appointments, dental check ups and baseball games !!
The ocean is calling. As of today, I am looking at OGUNQUIT, MAINE. Named one of the TOP 10 BEACHES in the US. The warmer water seems to be the current attraction for me, hoping my boys will spend their days enjoying its natural beauty.
I noticed yesterday that MAINE TOURIST OFFICE has posted my progress on TWITTER. You can view their posts under "visitmaine".
AMERICA TONIGHT is a nightly radio talk show syndicated in over 90 US Cities and together we are going to document this MAINE QUEST.
My boys, 13 & 11 are beginning to get a little excited about spending time in Maine. Along the way, my hope for them is to gain the love and respect for the natural beauty that is THE ATLANTIC .

This MAINE QUEST will be a social/business experiment and local businesses in the town we decide upon will be featured/interviewed regularly on radio. Internet access is a must.
I will be looking for people who would like to participate in Irish cooking classes,cross marketing with Irish Companies, people who can share their success stories and struggles in business. This will be a THINKING OUT OF THE BOX exercise, so get creative. if you would like to offer services in return for FREE PUBLICITY then email me at

Friday, May 8, 2009


As I mentioned yesterday, perhaps the ocean is in my blood ! Whatever the reason , I feel the need for the ocean. So, yesterday I set about my quest....calling it RACHEL GAFFNEY'S MAINE QUEST.
I have decided to try to navigate my way to Maine on a budget with 2 boys,who are firmly embedded in a society of electronics, grade driven schools and organised activities!!! I wonder what it would be like for them without it ? This is not to say, by any stretch of the imagination that going to Maine is without such trappings either !

Yesterday morning through the world of TWITTER, I came across TIMBERCLIFFE COTTAGE B&B in Camden Maine, (actually we had been following each other for a few weeks now) .At 10.11am I spoke with Karen (The Innkeeper). We shared our ideas and thoughts on how we could help each other in our businesses. As some of you know I own RACHEL GAFFNEYS AUTHENTIC IRISH GOODS, including Traditional Irish Butter Shortbreads. Within an hour, I was introduced to Dana Moos, a fellow foodie ! Dana is also an associate broker at THE SWAN AGENCY SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY.
Cooking classes together are indeed on the horizon !!

At 6pm Central time,I took part in SOCIALBEES,(Ca based company) AWESOMEHR TWEETCHAT. During this hour I met Kathie Papera founder of LILYPAD BABY ,based in Manhattan Beach,Ca. Kathie has a contact for me in Maine also and hopefully today I will continue to research that avenue.
Now here comes the interesting part. For those intersted in an opportunity to get FREE PROMOTION for their business,I have teamed up with a radio talk show and will be talking about this regulalry on national fellow entrepreneurs contact me...more to follow.......

Thursday, May 7, 2009


As some of you may know, I grew up in cork,Southern Ireland. Summers were spent in places like,Ardmore,Co Waterford and Schull,Co Cork to name a few. They were not by any stretch of the imagination extravagant,but were nonetheless extremely wonderful holidays.
My parents would rent a house for a month at a time,and basically move there. My dad would indeed take some time off work,but for the most part it was just the four of us and Mum !
Ardmore, Co Waterford. I can still see the house we rented,as if it were just last week. It was not on the beach,but it did have an incredible view of the beach. If we did not want to wait for a drive in my mums car then off we set,which invariably we did, by foot to the beach daily. Rain or shine!!
There were no organised activities except for Lifesaving classes. No , not with swanky swimsuits and goggles. You jumped off the pier,where the boats were moored. Lovely,just lovely. Dead fish,fishing nets,bouys etc. You had to go in at times in your jeans,learning how to take them off in the water and use them to indeed save your life.
Perhaps it is because I am going to be 40 this year or perhaps the ocean is still in my blood,that I FEEL THE NEED and urge to simply go back to basics. I now am a mother with two lovely boys of my own but don't feel like they are in fact being educated. They go to a private school and don't have any knowledge of world geography. My thirteen year old is still studying Texas history. Don't get me wrong,we live in Texas,but even his general knowledge about the rest of this country is worrying to me. This is by no means a slight on the school,but even they don't see how grade driven they are. Losing sight of true education. Even schools can loose sight without it being intentional.
NOW, I am on a quest. I want to leave Dallas for a month or so this Summer. I want to take my kids to Maine. Live simply. No organised activities for them. Leave behind country club activities,organised sports,team uniforms,air conditioned buses for field trips and let them figure out how to get along without dare I say it PS3 and XBOX. I want to live there. Not vacation. I want to see if I can continue to run my business from there whilst my kids get their education. Can I continue to sell RACHEL GAFFNEY IRISH SHORTBREADS from there? EDUCATE & ENTERTAIN people about Ireland and in turn my kids can be educated about Maine. I can offer Irish cooking classes. Anyone out there have any ideas?Looking to partner with hotels,cooking schools,B &B's,culinary shops,radio stations.Portland,perhaps?2 bedrooms. Electricity etc of course. I want my kids to be able to get around without cars. I look forward to hearing from anyone. I will start documenting this journey.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I'm not attempting to be a party pooper here....but people, CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE really isn't traditionally Irish ! Well of sorts. Corning beef was a way of salting beef long ago to preserve it. Again, the great City of Cork, (my hometown) was famous for its production of Corned Beef in the 1600's -1825. It was exported all over the world, mostly in cans. Beef was traditionally served as a delicacy,so ham (gammon) or bacon was more common in Ireland. In the mid 1800's when the Irish emigrated,they looked around for a similar bacon joint,couldn't find one and discovered Jewish Corned Beef. This was closer in texture. This is where the tradition of Corned Beef and Cabbage began.
Now SALMON, thats a whole different story. That is very common in Ireland. I qute literally grew up on this and loved it. It was always wild salmon and not farmed salmon. Big difference. Of course the famous BLACKWATER flowed right through Cork,onto Waterford entering the Atlantic via Youghal harbour. It originated in Kerry. This is the delight for Salmon fishermen.
Last Sunday I made salmon for my family and again used it in a completely different way on Monday. Thats being frugal !!!

So here it is"
Sunday: I grilled a salmon in fresh lemons,sea salt (a little) bay leaves and peppercorns. This we had with a nice salad.
Monday: SALMON CAKES......My kids LOVED THEM
You will need:

Mashed Potatoes
Cold Grilled Salmon
Cayenne Pepper
Green onions finely chopped
Bread Crumbs & Crushed Cornflakes

Chop up the salmon , in a bowl and add mashed potato,chopped green onions,cayenne pepper.
Mold into a ball then roll in bread crumbs & crushed cornflakes. Next lightly fry in olive oil,turning occassionally. Serve with mesculin mix. I also like to serve some Irish Soda Bread with this. Enjoy

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Going to bed with worry on your mind,stress,your next move etc can take its toll. I know only all too well !
Exciting as it is, running your own business, it comes with all the other baggage you would rather do without !

So last Friday,this 5ft 8 Red Head decided to take yoga a little more seriously.
It was WONDERFUL. So much so that I felt it necessary to return Saturday morning to a "Hip Opener " class.

I learned that yoga taught me so much about my business or rather how to cope with stress. I don't mean relax, I mean I LEARNED a lot.

1) By exhaling with absolute and definite sound/noise , you are in fact ridding yourself of the buyer who was un-neccessarily rude to you, the lost package, the unpaid bill, the customer who has folded etc. At first I felt ridiculous !! Everyone else was doing it so I did it more and more and then found I didn't want to stop.!!

2) During one of the poses (don't ask me which one !) Suze, our instructor told us to hum, or at the very least to make a vibrating noise in our throat. This is really good for your heart. When you do this, you release Nitric Oxide. This is essential for healthy blood flow. It feels really really silly at first but really really good!

3) One of the people in the class gave Suze a glaring look as she did not like the pose and she simply said to her "Your look is bouncing off me, I'm in a bubble" Great advice. Acknowledge,how you are feeling during that sticky situation and then let it pass on by.

4) Hip Openers.....ow !! Boy did I have vivid dreams !! I had to remain in some pretzel like position for 5 mins. It was so uncomfortable (not painful) that I was about to stop and take a rest when as if by witchcraft Suze came and stood by me and said that we were to acknolwdge the discomfort we were feeling and to continue to feel it...just like in life we want to run away from feeling unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings. We prefer pleasure. Of course! This time we need to stay in the moment,feel the discomfort,face it ,if you will, then when its over we enjoy the pleasure. This is my goal for the next few weeks..........Facing my DISCOMFORTS in my business...feeling them,dealing with them and then moving on to the next adventure.

Friday, April 17, 2009


1- Spiced Beef is a very traditional dish , especially around Christmas Time in Cork. I loved it so much that when I lived in London,I decided to make it myself. Saltpetre is a must for this. Of course only available in chemists as it also used for making explosives. So here I was, an Irish woman,in the height of the IRA bombings looking for SALTPETRE in London ! "Honest,I want to cook with it "

2- I asked my teacher Sr Rosario, when she was giving us the talk about vocations what to look out for if we thought we wanted to become a nun. She told me, if I thought God was calling me, to run away! Refused by the convent at a time when nuns were in extremely short demand!

3- My mum was very determined that we read a lot. Quotes were also very important as she thought they would be of great use for essay writing. I found an old book in a box in the garage. I found a quote and decided to learn it and impress her. Boy did I impress her....
" A man in the house is worth two on the street" Mae West.

4- In English class the teacher asked us to use gossamer in a sentence. I did. I said it was found in a little packet , often in your medicine cabinet . Again, I had no idea what it was but upon revealing to my mother that I had announced this in Catholic school she was horrified.!!!

To put the record straight,she had been given them by a doctor after child number 4 and never used them !!!!!!!

5- On holiday in Ardmore,Co Waterford, my friend and I had been out late one night. Lets just say a little TOO late! Sneaking back in without anyone hearing us was short lived. I discovered that bats like to use the eaves of our porch !

Monday, April 13, 2009


Real Ireland....My Real Ireland.........
I was educated by the nuns, the Ursuline nuns to be more precise. I can remember each and every one of them like it was yesterday ! One nun in particular was called Sr Rosario. We called her "Sarge" as she walked like a Seargent ! Bless her heart. She was indeed a kind and sweet lady.
Its a little difficult to be taught by nuns that also taught your mother before you, especially if your'e mother was a good student and was always well behaved ! Yes, that was me. Sarge had also known my mum.....
The day came when Sarge talked to our class about vocations. Here we all were listening intently about joining the convent. I could think of nothing less that I would like to do. However,if god was calling you then you had to listen. She talked about hearing his call and that you must do his will. Now I was confused. I didn't want to be a nun. But,if God was calling me,being a good catholic, I just couldn't refuse. How did I know if he were calling me ? I knew it wasn't going to be an invitation in the mail !
I waited until after class. I was racked with guilt at knowing I couldn't ignore his call but now all my plans for the future were going up in smoke ! I asked Sarge how I would know. What were the signs? I knew the catholic church was in desperate need of fresh blood.
Sarge told me this........
"If you THINK you hear God calling.... he's away"
She said this with a knowing wink and smile.......I think she knew me only all too well !!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy" I just love this quote courtesy of William Butler Yeats !

I think I can identify with this all too well. We have such a long history of tough times. Even St Patrick had tough times ! Back then he was quietly minding his own business when NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES,KING OF IRELAND,decided to kidnap he and his 2 sisters from the United Kingdom and bring them to Ireland as slaves. My family tree points to this very King !

So are some of us just better at enduring really tough times than others? This surely is a rhetorical question. I personally like to take the NIKE approach to everything....Just do it !
What is the worst that happens from trying something? it doesn't work? or its just another stepping stone to reach your destination. These are exciting times. People can re invent themselves,clean house,get rid of the old,bring on the new. Our kids can learn from us and we in turn can learn from ourselves. St Patrick,who was originally living in Pagan Ireland as a slave obviously would agree with me..............!


Today,I decided to join THE FABULOUS WOMAN NETWORK....Check it out on the link above

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


My father always said that the people that lived next door to the church had a tendency to be late for mass !!! I knew what he was saying...he was right. You take it for granted sometimes when it is right on your doorstep!
Now that I live in Dallas, I would love to have somewhere like KINSALE to take my kids to.
Sunday afternoon drives were extremely popular in my house when I was a kid. Dad,Mum my two sisters,my brother and myself begrudgingly piled in to the back of a four door sedan and drove 20minutes (often in the rain) to nearby Kinsale. Moaning and complaining that we had to spend even more time together, we drove to historic and beautiful KINSALE. As if like puppy dogs,upon arrival at CHARLES FORT,my father opened the car door and let us run ! He probably couldn't wait to get rid of us ! CHARLES FORT is a fine example of a 17th Century Star shaped Fort.
Now,KINSALE is the culinary capital of Ireland,with its numerous award winning restaurants. The town is twinned with ANTIBES (South of France). For golfers,THE OLD HEAD OF KINSALE is a must,with its majestic views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Kinsale is full of historical buildings,cobbled streets,wonderful pubs and restaurants and magnificent scenery.
Oh how I wish now that I lived next to the church !.............

Saturday, April 4, 2009


A dull miserable morning here in Dallas, reminding me of the weather I was only all too familiar with in Ireland. I remember setting off to school on my bike ,with my school bag strapped to the back of my bike. Without warning , ten minutes into the journey,the heavens would open ...........I worried about my books and my lunch getting wet,and of course they did !
I wore a royal blue skirt made from gaberdine and a wool royal blue sweater. Well, you can only imagine the smell from wet wool ! Oh,these were the days. The days that build strength and endurance,I suppose. No cars for us when we turned 16 ! Now we could ride our bikes to school or take the bus.

The number 7 bus schedule was always in my pocket. This was the bus that passed through Douglas to the City Center. I took this bus almost every Saturday when I met my friends in town. We browsed through the shops on Patrick Street. Roches Stores Department store,which is no more,was a firm favourite,along with 'The Moderne' 'Benetton' and 'Easons'. We would meet at the 'Queens Old Castle' which was a shopping arcade and have coffee there. Seriously,coffee and tea !! Hard to imagine in this day and age !!

Patrick Street as I knew it has changed quite a bit since then. Change of course happens all around us. Several streets have been pedestrianised and there is a spectacular array of shops and restaurants. The traditional street buskers still remain,and the buses still pass through. It is still as vibrant a city today as it was in my day,even in the rain....................!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


As some of you already know I was born and raised in Cork City. Then you will understand why I am feeling a little melancholic today. Ireland's oldest Stout Brewery located in the heart of Cork City is to close. Now in the hands of HEINEKEN,it will close its doors by the end of May.

I remember this place well. This 4 acre site is to be sold once it is decommissioned in a year or so. BEAMISH & CRAWFORD was founded in 1792 by William Beamish and William Crawford.
It was an existing brewery when they bought it and had been there since 1650,although whilst growing up in Cork, many historians there say it dates as far back as possibly 1500 !!

It is said to be the most ancient porter brewery in Ireland. Irish or Dry stout is a dark ale. The word stout also meaning strong,refered to the strength of the ale. 'Leann Dubh',is the Irish for 'Black Ale'

Located near the South Gate Bridge,in the medieval part of Cork City,I sincerely hope that this place will be preserved. The National Conservation & Heritage Group,has in the past had success in persuading GUINNESS to develop the GUINNESS STOREHOUSE in Dublin. I pray they have the same success in Cork with BEAMISH & CRAWFORD. They want the owners...HEINEKEN to develop a micro-brewery style tourist attraction there. Perhaps by passing this information along, the viral marketing magic of the web may help. This Cork woman is also concerned and would love to see this preserved and hold on to the historic Tudor Counting House.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Blogging,writing is somehow cathartic for me. Its a way of starting or ending my day with some form of clarity. Clarity can sometimes be somewhat of an oxymoron for this Irish woman running her own business ! In a world filled with business plans , these can,literally suck the life from me !! funny but oh so true. Since starting my business I have taken the NIKE approach to it..."Just do it".... For me it works but not for all.

I trust my instincts . I wish more people would. I have trusted my own moral compass and let it guide me. I still have not paid myself and have even refused a few investors ....Some might think I'm crazy but there are reasons behind my decisions. I believe there is such a thing as THE RIGHT INVESTOR. Still looking for the right one. Although an investor would offer a safe haven by providing money,what happens after that? Are we on the same page? Does he/ she work with the same integrity? How does he/she treat other people? These are very real topics for me. They are equally as important , if not more important than Cost Of Goods, Sales, Budgets etc

Along the way,I have met people in business who are very good at what they do,without being rude. I say that without writing the words I really want to write !!! Such people are still successful. You DO NOT need to be on an almighty power trip. For me,I experience this regularly when I meet buyers. I understand they are buyers and ultimately DO have power but we can benefit each other. This should be viewed as a symbiotic relationship that can be built upon. Those that want instant gratification ultimately fail.

I feel it only right to point to some GREAT experiences. Once such client is in Minnesota. Lunds & Byerly's grocery chain in the Twin Cities. What a wonderful experience for me as a vendor. The experience ALL ROUND reflects the type of management that a company such as Lunds Food Holdings has. I knew this from the very first meeting I had with them. Now we all benefit from our relationship. I say RELATIONSHIP because I mean it. For me,working with them is such a pleasure. They have treated me well and with respect.

Lately I discovered "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur" by Mike Michalowicz. Yes,I know I'm a little late to the party !!! However lately he writes about women being the latest wave of Entrepreneurs being the next wave of leaders. Mike talks about women INCLUDING whilst still competing (it is afterall business!) but growing at the same time. Check it out. Again, apologies for being so late !!!

Today I am menu planning for an Irish cooking class in Byerly's St Louis Park in April.
I also have to pay bills, negotiate with a distributor for Southern California, research new packaging for a large client around the U.S, send samples to a potential client in Upstate New York,filling out bio terrorism forms to accompany it,open a new bank account,have 1 appointment , then pick the kids up from school at 3.30,followed by Lacrosse practise and dinner and homework !!!! THATS THE REALITY OF RUNNING A BUSINESS...whilst all the time owning the worry and the debt,the sleepless nights and the countless stepping stones you have to cross to get to the other side, but somehow ploughing forward..............KNOWING & BELIEVING in why YOU started this business.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I was born in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork in 1969. This magnificent building opened its doors in 1915. By the age of 5, I was attending school in another magnificent building. Ursuline Convent,Blackrock,Cork. I remember the walk up the sycamore tree lined avenue every morning,often collecting "conkers" (chestnuts ) to play with at lunch time.

Things have changed since then. The Bon Secours is still operating as one of the largest Catholic hospitals in Europe but the Ursuline school I attended is now a listed building with a new school built on site. People and traditions however have not changed.

Irish people are a passionate people. Consistently passionate ! So of course it can be good and it can be not so good !! We love ,fight, argue, write and feel passionately........Giving it our all. To some this is difficult to understand. Perhaps it has something to do with our history of national struggle. I still remember the street vendors and shop owners in Cork to this day. The ENGLISH MARKET is an everlasting memory and is among the many influences that formed my passion for food. Located off Princess Street,this pedestrian market opened its doors in 1786. In 1980 it was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt. Walking through there , is a delight for the senses. Butchers, Fishmongers, bakers and Cheesemakers all sampling and selling their wares. Fresh eggs were a staple in our house. Every Friday I remember my father getting fresh Cod or Plaice from the English Market. My mother would bread and fry it and serve with a bechamel sauce. Floury white potatoes and fresh garden peas accompanying the fish. Mmmmm

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Last night I met a lady from California. She was telling me that she and her family were applying for citizenship for her mother. They hail from Sligo and Cork. Its funny that to be in a country this size with a population of over 250million people, almost everyone I speak to has an Irish connection ! I wonder will my youngest,the only one of us born in the United States,be as excited as the people I meet want to connect to his Irish roots? Why?
My youngest couldnt be prouder of being American and frequently likes to point that out !!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm sure its because its been that time of the year (St Patricks Day) that the demand for Irish Soda Bread has been pretty high. However,there are many different versions of this bread.
Some people use currants or white flour and/or caraway seeds to enhance the flavor,but the original Soda bread contained flour,buttermilk salt and soda. In the early 1800's ,yeast bread making was not that popular,so Baking Soda was used as a leavening agent.

Here is a recipe for my mums soda bread.

3 1/3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoons Wheat Germ
3 Teaspoons Rolled Oats
1/2 Quart Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Egg
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Form into a round loaf on a baking sheet. Cut a cross on the top of the loaf and bake for approx 40 mins... Enjoy

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Monday I spent the morning at the WFAA studios. I prepared an Irish Cheesecake,using Brady's Irish Cream. First I ........well,why don't you just watch the clip above ! It explains all.
This weekend I am attempting to build a web site with ecommerce so that people can buy RACHEL GAFFNEY'S TRADITIONAL IRISH BUTTER SHORTBREADS....

This should be an interesting challenge,as I prefer to work with food...!!watch this space..I wonder how long it will take this Irish woman?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


LA FHEILE PHADRAIG.........HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY .... in Irish (as gaeilge)

Lovely sunny day here in Dallas. A little different to the weather I remember growing up in CORK ! However, although generally wet and cold,we still had a day off from school and for that we were always grateful . Lent was strictly adhered to in our house but on this day it was a day of feasting, special dispensation from the church.

As I mentioned before,the name GAFFNEY goes back to the King of Ireland in the 400's,known as NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES. Niall was a pagan king,and invaded England. During this time he kept a young man named Sucrat and his two sisters hostage. Sucrat was a christian boy. Later he became known as Patricus. He would introduce chrsitianity to Ireland and become our patron saint. Although never really proved the myth about the shamrock still lives on. It is thought that St Patrick used the three leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The stem representing God,and each leaf representing God the Father,God the son and God the Holy Spirit.

Today,I spent with my kids. No bacon ,cabbage or green beer! We did however cook and I made traditional Irish butter shortbread with a GREEN icing !! We ate Shepherds pie with creamy mashed potatoes,along with real Irish soda bread and KERRYGOLD IRISH butter.......mmmmmm.

All in all a perfect day. My days of wild parties seem to be replaced by a very satisfying feeling of watching my boys run and laugh......

Monday, March 16, 2009


The sun is shining here in Dallas. The Day before St Patricks Day. This morning I did a cooking segment with WFAA channel 8. Gary Cogill, the host and I , showed people how to make "Irish Cream Cheesecake" with a Rachel Gaffney Shortbread base.

Just click on the above link to watch..............

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What a game !!! Yes , Ireland beat Scotland yesterday at Murrayfield. The pitch looked like a herd of cattle had run through it before the game began !! Talk about mud.

Slow first half,but in typical Irish fashion the heart took over and it was evident to those of us who were watching via big screen tv in Dallas. Sorry Scotland. We love them really,after all they are our family. Edinburgh had to be a fun place last night.

Next week we take on the mighty Welsh. Now that promises to be quite the game.........

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The air seems to be thick with tired,angry,frustrated people. These are indeed tough times.
Haven't we been here before? In some shape or form?

Remember the famous exhortation of America "give me your tired,your poor,your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" What other nation offered this kind of sanctuary....
Over 35million people came.

Now,it is time to give back. Whether you are Irish like me (after all, 7 million of them were Irish) Polish,Italian,French,German,Sweedish...the list goes on. We can do this again.

With a strong worth ethic and integrity,it can and will be great again. So lets move on, so much talk. Lets work. Its what our ancestors did.

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best"
This has to be my all time favourite quote ! The great OSCAR WILDE.............

And on that note ...being satisfied with the best....Today IRELAND V SCOTLAND at MURRAYFIELD. I will be watching my brothers friends play their hearts out for Ireland. Namely ,Peter Stringer and Ronan O'Gara. Lets beat the scots,then the Welsh and bingo...Grand Slam..........I'm off to TRINITY HALL for some Irish Breakfast and to watch the match with my English husband and some other Irish friends.........GO IRELAND GO..... I see my name sake Alan Gaffney is the assistant coach for the Irish Rugby team ! It just had to be a GAFFNEY !

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What a day. I suppose you could call this my SUPERBOWL !! St Patricks Day....
My childrens school host faculty lunches once a month for the staff. Today they had an Irish theme and me being the resident cailin was aked to help !

I baked fresh Irish soda bread and served it with Kerrygold Butter. For dessert I baked Brady's Irish Cream Cheesecake with a RACHEL GAFFNEY SHORTBREAD base.
Main course,I hear you ask? Well they served Shepherds Pie and Rueben Casserole !!!
Shepherds Pie hails from the U.K. For those of you who are unfamiliar with geography,England and Ireland are in fact separated by a body of water known as the IRISH SEA !!

Tonight I am chatting live with KATE DELANEY,who tells me she hails from Cork. Kate is the host of AMERICA TONIGHT. 1160am Talk Radio. We will be discussing Irish Food & Drink. I am really looking forward to this. This show is syndicated around the country,so the American public are just going to have to endure me.............Tune in tomorrow for more........