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.