I married an Irish farmer

by Imen McDonnell20th January 2012

In a former life, I used to spend my days working in television, film and advertising production while living in Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles. Then, I met a dashing Irish farmer and life as I knew it changed forever.

My blog “I married an Irish farmer” is a diary of my adventures in starting a new life from scratch, embarking on a second life where nearly everything that made up my former identity was replaced with a new set of circumstances complete with a pair of wellies and a whole lot of muck to trek through.

It is a blog about leaving behind a career, a city, a nation and a slew of family and friends when I fell in love with a man, a son, a farm, a country and its traditions. Perhaps most challenging of all, it is the story of finding my way around a kitchen and becoming a home cook and baker in a world where traditional methods trump speed and convenience.

In fact, I had never even been on a real working farm in my life and outside of “roughing it” in a rustic cabin with friends for a weekend, I wasn’t one for spending time outside of the city. Five years later, I have developed a true fondness for country living and all things rural. But the truth is, when I fell in love and made the decision to move to Ireland and marry my farmer, I hadn’t a clue what I was in for and just how different life would become.

Our address is Shanagolden, but our village is called Kilcolman. The farm address was changed by Grandma McDonnell whom years ago decided that the post would arrive much earlier in the day if she had a Shanagolden address because their post office was larger and far better staffed. She went in, boldly stated her case and was granted her wish. She was in the habit of making her wishes come true. So ironically, Shanagolden is actually down the road about 5-6 miles, but will now always be considered our town mailing address. Nevertheless, our rural community is called Kilcolman. Kilcolman, Ardagh, County Limerick to be exact. Kilcolman is what is known as our “parish” and basically consists of three brambley corners where three narrow roads meet on top of a small hill.

There is simply no better way to rekindle your love for the beauty of Ireland than to entertain visitors from abroad. Each time we have company from America we often hear comments like “ I love all of the privately owned shops lining the streets of towns and villages, they seem to really know their customers, you just don’t see that anymore back home”. There is also always an affinity towards ”all the wonderful real butcher shops and fishmongers” that aren’t the norm in America anymore, though they appear to be attempting a comeback thankfully.

In my blog I share some of the recipes that I have come to discover in my new life. The old saying goes, “there is nothing more American than apple pie”, but I am here to tell you that it was actually a delicious slice of Irish apple tart that won me over in the infamous apple pie department.

When my mother-in-law, Peggy, offered me a slice on that fateful autumn afternoon, I hesitated, then thought to myself “Hmmm, I wouldn’t want to seem contrary, would I?” And so it goes, that was the first day of my six year love affair with the Irish apple tart.

This isn’t just any ordinary tart. It uses the age-old tradition of baking using an ordinary flat plate as opposed to the deep pie dish that we are accustomed to in the USA. If you had told me before I moved here that it was possible to bake a pie on a plate, I would have had a good chuckle. But here in Ireland, it’s pretty common practice. I’ve had it with a cup of tea in more than a few locations.

Our son would say “Gran makes it best” {but you should know that she also shares the yummy pastry trimmings with him}. Up for a challenge, I decided to give it a try myself with a few small tweaks to see how it would turn out. I bent her ear for the recipe and borrowed her oven proof plate and got started.

Since it is winter and we’ve no fresh apples from the orchard at the moment, I used the ones that were peeled and frozen in the autumn. Each autumn the apples are picked and either sliced and frozen or stewed and frozen for the year, which is a brilliant, time-saving idea. For the apple filling, I added a tiny bit of cinnamon and freshly grated ginger to the sugar just for a little added zing.

First, I put the thawed apples in a mixing bowl and stirred in the sugar, a squeeze of a lemon, cinnamon and a bit of grated fresh ginger.

Then, I made the pastry dough and rolled it out to a quarter- a half inch thickness. I then turned the rolled pastry onto the plate and I carefully spooned the apple mixture into the pie plate pastry.

I placed the top of the pastry case over the apples, added a sweet little apple motif on top, sealed the edges and brushed with an egg wash.

The full recipe is shown on the right hand side.

To follow the rest of my work you can read my Blog at www.marriedanirishfarmer.com  or my Tweets, Pinterest and Instagram @ModernFarmette.

 

About the Author

Imen McDonnell had a career in television, film and advertising production in America. She met and married an Irish farmer, and now lives on an 18th Century farm in County Limerick. She created the Blog "I married an Irish farmer" to tell the story of her daily life and the food she makes for her family and friends. You can see her work at www.marriedanirishfarmer.com, and follow her life on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram @ModernFarmette.

 
 
Imen McDonnell

Imen McDonnell - 20th January 2012 5:48 pm

Thank you for sharing my wee blog and my mother-in-law’s recipe on the Foodie Bugle. It is an honour! All Best, Imen xx

Sue/theviewfromgreatisland

Sue/theviewfromgreatisland - 27th January 2012 2:24 pm

From the moment I first came upon Imen’s blog I’ve been hooked.  I love her story, her photography and her food.  This apple tart is gorgeous.

All photography Copyright Imen McDonnell (www.marriedanirishfarmer.com)

All photography Copyright Imen McDonnell (www.marriedanirishfarmer.com)