Thursday, December 30, 2010


As an Irishwoman living in the U.S, I frequently hear the stereotypical jokes about the Irish and their love of alcohol but rarely do I hear about our love of the other beverage........Tea ! Yes, you heard me tea. Did you know that a cup of tea solves all the problems of the world? It brings us together, we cry over a 'cuppa' and we laugh over a 'cuppa'. I moved to the U.S in 1996. When we bought our first house, needless to say we had various contractors in and out repairing and installing. I would offer them a cup of tea. Some declined politely. Others thought I was crazy offering tea in a cup. "What other way should I serve it?", I asked. "In a glass" was the reply. Of course, I had moved to Dallas, Texas, where the only tea that people drank back then (and even now to be truthful) was iced. More importantly, the difference was not in the temperature of the beverage but indeed, I, the homeowner was offering the hired help a 'Cup Of Tea' I grew up in Cork City, Southern Ireland and everyone had a cup of tea. My mum would put on the kettle to make a 'Cuppa' for the window cleaners. The man fixing the washing machine rarely began his task until he had a nice cup of tea. It's what we do. I sat for countless hours as a teenager with my friends drinking tea, planning our weekends, figuring out who we liked, and who was going out with who ! Tea became popular in 1901 and that was when James J Barry opened his first store on Bridge Street, Cork. Today BARRY'S TEA is still based in Cork and remains in the family. Growing up on BARRY'S TEA is a fond memory. When I first moved to London, I brought my tea with me. My sister now lives in London and packing the distinctive red box is a must in our home. You just can't leave Cork without it. Now, when I teach my cooking classes, I always make a pot of tea for everyone. My preference is to drink tea from a china cup or china mug. It just tastes better to me. The reaction is lovely. Warming reaction. Despite the vast array of teas here in the United States, this golden cuppa is received very well. Simply served with milk, and a spoon of sugar if you like, it is the perfect accompaniment to one of my Irish Butter shortbreads ! By now the customers from the grocery chain 'LUNDS & BYERLY'S in Minnesota know about BARRY'S TEA and I even point it out to them on the shelves. You see, over here, BARRY'S TEA is never where you would expect to find the Tea & Coffee aisle. No, this hidden treasure is found in the 'Specialty or Imported' section, nestled among products from Great Britain, Germany,France & Denmark. Look for the distinctive red box. In 1986, BARRY"S TEA launched their first TV ad and the slogan 'Every Day should have it's golden moments' was born. It has a uniquely refreshing taste and a bright, golden color. Blended from the high mountain slopes of Kenya and the Assam Valley of India. There are many flavors in the BARRY'S TEA range but I chose to write about my favorite ! Now, I urge you to share your GOLDEN MOMENT with me. Simply send me a photo and a few sentences telling me about your GOLDEN MOMENT, preferably over a cup of tea. You have until Jan 31st to submit. Then I will choose one lucky person and BARRY'S TEA will ship you a basket of goodies to your home. I have received several already on my Facebook page, so please feel free to post there also.

Monday, December 27, 2010


It all began November 30th at Central Market Houston and ended Christmas Day. I am referring to Christmas Baking. From cooking Classes to Home Baking my hands have certainly deserved a well earned rest ! Traditional Mince Pies, Christmas Pudding & Brandy Butter, pastry, Cheesecakes and shortbread cookies. My supply of Kerrygold Butter and King Arthur Flour have depleted beyond recognition. So too have my supplies of booze ! Yes, as I mention frequently on my TV cooking segments, I use a lot of booze in my food !

The traditional Pudding is soaked in Guinness & Rum, Brandy Butter is made from Hennessy Cognac , Cheesecake is soaked in Baileys and the mince meat for the mince pies is saturated in Rum & Brandy. For me, the smells of home baking are extremely nostalgic and calming. Walking into a home that actually uses its oven is one of the most welcoming feelings. Funny how many people have such updated kitchens, all the best equipment and gadgets yet you can tell that they are rarely used. How?
It's just like a butchers block. At first it's smooth and new but over time as it is used and treated it becomes a trusted piece, one where you feel confident with your butcher !
A used kitchen is a great kitchen. The aromas become part of this warm place. No matter the size it's still the heart and soul of the home. It's a gathering place and a place to ignite the senses. Over the years kitchen styles change but, thankfully the aromas remain the same...........Comforting & welcoming....