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 !!