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.