Saint Patrick…..

Saint Patrick’s Day

I hope you will enjoy the festivities of Saint Patrick’s day which is celebrated the world over, pretty amazing for a little country like ours!. It is also amazing how long this tradition has endured and where its origins lie, right back to the fifty century. This blog post is not about baking but I hope you will forgive me as I am sure there are more than enough shamrock covered cup cakes out there!

As you may have gathered I have a grá for archaeology and heritage so I thought I would share the story of a place connected with Saint Patrick not far from where we live, near Tinahely, Co. Wicklow. Saint Patrick has left his mark here on the landscape, in the townland which bears the name Toberpatrick- Patrick’s well.

Saint Patrick

   Tubberpatrick Holy Well, Co. Wicklow.

The late fifth century in Ireland saw the beginnings of extensive missionary activity. Saint Patrick, our  patron saint is of course the best known of the early missionaries. This was a time of massive social  change as pagans were converted to the new and soon to be dominant religion. Pagan customs were  adapted and often assimilated into Christian beliefs and the holy well which would have been held sacred in pagan times were blessed by saints. The water in the well was used to baptise pagans who converted to Christianity. Holy wells became places of popular religious devotion where people come to pray and leave simple offerings.

Many holy wells appear to have held cures for specific diseases for example toothache, headache amongst other ailments. There is also a tradition that red rags were tied to the trees at holy wells as it was believed that the colour red would ward off evil spirits. Once the rags had rotted away so too did the illness.

St Patrick

Saint Patrick

         Tubberpatrick, Co. Wicklow.

There are two stories about Saint Patrick’s holy well recorded by Liam Price which I came across recently. Liam Price. Price was a district justice in County Wicklow between 1920 and 1950. Between his visits to the local courts he recorded local history, folklore and antiquities along his travels. He visited Toberpatrick. One story was that about two trout which lived in the holy well. A local man caught the trout and tried to cook them but when they wouldn’t cook he brought them back and placed them under a stone. The weeds were also reputed to be good for curing people and a surgeon in Dublin is reputed to having used the weeds for curing yellow jaundice. Price also notes that on the feast day of Saint Patrick up to one thousand people would visit the well, times have changes and there are few visitors now. But it is visited by a few whom have left mementos on the hawthorn tree. Interestingly the ‘offerings’ are a mixture of religious and non religious gifts.

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick

Tubberpatrick, Co. Wicklow.

                                                                         
This blog post is nothing to do with spelt or baking so I hope you will forgive me! I felt that it would be good to illustrate how Saint Patrick left his mark on our local landscape.

If you want to know more about pilgrimage during this era, my friend Louise who is also an archaeologist has an excellent blog on pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland. This blog contains a wealth of information which Louise gathered whilst doing her PhD thesis. There is a great post written on Saint Patrick by Terry O Hagan on Louise’s blog. Terry is an expert on the saint, so if you want to know more about Saint Patrick check out Terry’s blog post, well worth a read.

Happy Saint Patricks Day!

Yvonne

References

http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/2013/03/17/st-patrick-a-man-on-a-mission/

http://www.holywell.seomraranga.com/holywellsireland.htm

http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/

http://www.holywell.seomraranga.com/holywellsireland.htm

Corlett, C. & Weaver, M., 2002. The Price Notebooks. Vol. 1 & 2. Dublin: The Heritage Service.

Madeira Cake Recipe

Madeira Cake Recipe

Below you will find a really lovely Madeira cake recipe which is made in a loaf tin- so you have a Madeira loaf! One bag of our White Spelt Scone Mix makes two of these cakes so its great value. It can also be made dairy free just dairy free butter. However dairy certainly does give the cake an extra richness.

What you need:

  • Half a bag of Cathys Spelt for Health White Spelt Scone Mix– 225g/8 oz
  • 175g/6 oz  butter
  • 150g/5 oz caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Grated lemon rind
  • 2lb loaf tin lined and greased with a double layer of baking parchment
  • Pre heated oven to 180 degrees C/Gas 4

madeira cake recipe

 

Method:

  1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C/Gas 4
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy
  3. Add an egg and some flour gradually and mix until all the flour and eggs are used.
  4. Mix the lemon rind and stir through.
  5. Spoon batter into the tin and smooth top with the back of a spoon
  6. Bake on middle shelf of oven 45 minutes approx. or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean
  7. Remove from oven leave to cool in tin for five minutes before turning out on wire tray.

maderia loaf cake recipe

Maderia Cake Recipe

 

 

Wholefoods London Tastings

Hello!

I’m off to pack my back for London where I’ll be based next week doing lots of tastings in Wholefoods Kensington so pop by if you happen to be there.

These are the times:

Wednesday 2nd December 12am-6pm

Saturday 5th December 12am-6pm

Sunday 6th December 12am-6pm

Hope to see you there!

Yvonne

Halloween as we know it

Our latest post is a bit of  brief history lesson on the origins of Halloween with a bit of archaeology thrown in for good measure! I love the weather at Halloween, its crisp, clear and the crunch of leaves under your feet feels and sounds amazing.

Halloween has its roots in the pagan festival Samhain, which was one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, marking the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. It was deemed as a time when the boundaries between this world and the other world could be easily crossed by the spirits or fairies. These other worldly creatures are believed to have been remnants of the pagan gods.  

This time of the year was important to our ancestors stretching right back to the time of the first farmers, the Neolithic Period. The Mound of the Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb on the Hill of Tara, is aligned with the Samhain sunrise and on this day the suns beams illuminate the passage and the back chamber of this tomb. The mound was used for burials between 1600 – 1700 BC and the remains of up to 500 individuals are buried in this mound. The dead were for the most part cremated and their ashes and grave goods were spread on the floor of the tomb. The dead were obviously important to these Neolithic peoples and it is quite amazing that the old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely.

Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with today when Christian missionaries attempted covert the pagans to their new religion from the 5th century AD.  Samhain became known as Halloween meaning ‘’hallowed evening’’ or ‘’holy evening’’. The pagan traditions still endured however and involved people dressing up in costume and visiting houses reciting verses in exchange for food. The dressing up was in an attempt to mimic the spirits. Rituals and games involving foods were also a part of the festival.

The Barmbrack or tea brack is widely eaten today and at Halloween. It comes from the Irish Babairín – a loaf – and breac  which means speckled, probably getting its name from the raisins in it. The brack traditionally contained various objects baked into it and depending on what you found it told your fortune. Rings were for the most part contained in the brack and if you got the ring in your slice you would be wed within the year!

We have adapted our white scone mix to make a dairy free fruit brack or fruit cake given the season that we are in. It’s also dairy free and tastes great, very rich! Happy Halloween.

Hello stranger!

Hello there!

Its been a while since we have checked in here and updated the blog but in our defence we have been pretty busy. In March we attended a large trade fair in Dublin run by Bord Bia which was brilliant and since this our little mixes are on container ships heading for Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and will soon be leaving for the US. We have no idea how the mixes will be received in these countries but its great to even get this far and we have all limbs crossed!. We are also launching two new products very soon which will add to the spelt range. More about that in the next blog post.

We also attended our annual outing at the Tinahely Show which was as always just brilliant. We met some new customers, old customers and it was such a fab day and is now in its 80th year. If you ever find yourself at a loose end on an August Bank Holiday weekend we recommend a trip to Tinahely!

I will leave you with a recipe for making scones out of our wholemeal bread mix. You will get about 14 scones out of one bag and they freeze well so make up a batch, put in the freezer and grab one when you feel like it. They are very handy when you are on the go and want to avoid all those ‘freshly baked’ scones that you can pick up in the petrol stations. As they are wholegrain and have no added sugar they are for sure a healthier option! Click here for the recipe.

wholemeal spelt scones

Lemon & Cinnamon Cookies

lemon shortbread cookies
 

Lemon & Cinnamon Cookies

This is an easy recipe which uses our White Scone Mix

to make delicious crumbly lemon & cinnamon cookies.

These cookies would make a pretty delicious food present if

visiting friends or family. If you would like an orange flavoured

cookie just substitute the lemon zest for orange zest.

 

What you need to make Cathy’s Lemon & Cinnamon Cookies

225g White Scone Mix (½ a bag)

181g of butter

112g of caster sugar

Lemon or orange zest

1 egg yolk lightly beaten

Half a teaspoon of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

 

Method

1 Mix the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

2 Add in the egg.

3 Sieve the flour, cinnamon and salt into the mixture until it forms a dough.

4 Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C/170 degrees C/Gas 5.

5 Line two flat baking trays with baking parchment.

6 Roll out the dough and cut out shapes with cutter.

7 Space the cookies apart on the tray and put in oven for 10–15 minutes until golden.

Tip

If you would like to use normal spelt flour keep the recipe the same. If you would

like a healthy version use dairy free margarine, coconut oil and replace the sugar

with Xylitol or coconut sugar.

 

Most importantly enjoy!

Gingerbread

Hello there,

Its been a while and we have neglected our website of late but its all in a good cause we can assure you! Fiona is just back from four months in Jamaica where she and Jenny her business partner have been based.

Fiona will be a regular at Wholefoods over the coming week with four tastings booked in next week, she has a lot of baking to catch up on! In the meantime Cathy has had another birthday although she always says that her body may be getting older but her head is still about 25! I’m sure lots of you feel the very same and its a great way to live life.

We are also bringing out two new products which will hit the shelves in mid July and although they are spelt based they are not baking mixes. All will be revealed soon!…

In the meantime here is the recipe for Gingerbread cake, its really spongy and full of flavor, made using our white scone mix.

easy gingerbread recipe

 

Lola picks the winner!

Meet Lola Cathy’s Basset Hound who is so clever and even does a little trick! Watch this video to see her in action and to see who won a range of our baking mixes.

 

 

Pear and Almond Spelt Bread and New Bags

Hello March!

It’s been a few weeks since our last post but it feels like a few days, then again I still think I am in 2014 at times!. Where does the time go?! Anyway Cathy has been busy in the kitchen trying out new recipes using our mixes and our latest one is our Pear and Almond White Spelt Bread. This bread is made from our white scone mix and instead of making it into scones we have made it into a bread. The pears make the bread lovely and moist and the almonds are lovely and crunchy on top. We are fans’ of Avoca’s almond and pear scones so this recipe is inspired by them!

pear and almond spelt bread

In other news we have just gotten samples of our new bags and they are on the high seas at the moment due to arrive the 23rd March. For those of you that have bought our mixes for the past few years you will have noticed that we have changed the bags a few times.  Starting out with paper bags and then moving to pouch bags. The paper bags were lovely but as the volumes increased we just could not keep labelling by hand.

cathys spelt for health

Our new bags will have the story of Cathy at the front. This was based on feedback from buyers that the story was not strong enough. What do you think? Would you pick up the bag quicker when the image of the producer is on the front of the bag? 

CSFH_2015_newbagswhite

Keep an eye out on the shops for the new bags. We are also working on new mixes and other spelt products so fingers crossed our customers will like them!

Until next time,

Yvonne

 

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Before we start baking some spelt muffins here is a little history lesson on Saint Valentine. Valentine’s Day goes back a very long way, right back to the ancient Roman Empire in fact when February 14th honoured Juno- the Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses. On the 15th February a fertility festival called ‘Feast of Lupercalia’ was celebrated. Young boys and girls were brought together and the girl’s names were drawn out by the boys from a jar. The boy and girl were then paired for the duration of the festival. This set the tone for Valentine’s Day but it was a certain priest Valentine who gave his name to the 14th February.

The_goddess_Juno,_1st_half_of_2nd_century_AD,_Ny_Carlsberg_Glyptotek,_Copenhagen_(12949046265)

The Goddess Juno

There were at least two Christian priests called Valentine martyred between the years 200-300 BC. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II soldiers were forbidden to marry, as they were more reluctant to join the army. However a priest called Valentine secretly married them and was brutally murdered for his defiance. Another legend is that Valentine was killed as he helped Christians escape from a Roman prison. Whomever Valentine was his legend was passed on through the centuries and in the 5th century AD Pope Gelasius declared the 14th February as St. Valentine’s Day, to honour the martyr and to end the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.

Valenties Day

St. Valentine’s Reliquary, Whitefriar Church, Dublin

Did you know that there is a shrine containing the relics of St Valentine in the Carmellite Church at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin? The relics ended up here after they were gifted to John Sprat an Irish Carmelite who was given a gift of St Valentine by Pope Gregory XVI in 1835. The shrine contains the sacred body of the Saint together with a small vessel tinged with his blood. There are other relics of this Saint around the world however the Whitefriar Street Shrine to St Valentine is today still a place of pilgrimage for love birds.

Cathy doing her bit for Valentine’s Day whipped up some delicious rich muffins, the only problem is she didn’t make enough! These muffins are made using our White Spelt Scone Mix with a little bit of extra sparkle seeing as Valentine’s Day is around the corner. If you are looking for a Valentine’s Day recipe for your little love bird, click on our spelt muffin below!

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day

 

References

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day/interactives/valentines-day-by-the-numbers

http://www.stvalentinesday.org/

http://homepage.eircom.net/~seanjmurphy/irhismys/valentine.htm

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/relics-of-saint-valentine-at-the-whitefriar-street-church

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St-valentine_110921-01.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_goddess_Juno,_1st_half_of_2nd_century_AD,_Ny_Carlsberg_Glyptotek,_Copenhagen_(12949046265).jpg?uselang=en-gb