The Referendum That Everybody Won

Map of the Day

‘Will this be in history books in the future?’ Kashmira asked me.

‘Yes,’ I said.

She beamed.

‘And I can say I was there.’

There were no losers in this referendum. Love won, and when love wins, nobody loses – not even those who voted no and did not want the amendment to be made.

This referendum was important and it really caught my kids’ attention. Ishthara, at 13, was a bit stumped that we would even have to vote on it in the first place. Why would a civil right be reserved for one ‘type’ of person? On Wednesday night, Kashmira sent me a text to let me know how many minutes were left before I could vote. On Thursday night, she set her alarm for 6.30am to make sure I was up in time to vote. (I explained that I wasn’t voting until 10.30am, so there was no need for her alarm!).

On Friday night, she was anxious – worried that, somehow, our electorate might not actually vote in favour of equality – so I was delighted to bring the news to her that the early reports were good. As we listened to the radio and I refreshed my Twitter feed every two seconds, we found sitting still difficult. Both my girls expressed a desire to be in the courtyard of Dublin Castle when the result was declared. They wanted to be there, they wanted to share the excitement and the joy and to celebrate.

We were lucky; getting to Dublin Castle just after 2pm, we managed to get right up the front, with just one line of people between us and the crush barrier. There was so much joy, so much celebration, so much love in the air that we wouldn’t have wanted to have been everywhere else.

Cheers of joy went up every time a constituency returned its numbers, and yet another area of the country turned green. Cork, for some reason, kept us waiting more than two hours. In the end, however, they were forgiven, because they voted ‘yes’, too.

There were so many beautiful moments – like when Katherine Zappone re-proposed to Ann Louise Gilligan; when David Norris took to the stage and he and Colm O’Gorman embraced. When Colm asked the crowd if anyone had seen Úna Mullally, and when Úna made her way on stage and was overwhelmed and Colm held her and let her cry on his shoulder. The young French woman at the end who was just standing, alone, crying tears of joy. I walked to her and hugged her and she explained that she was French but so proud of Ireland and so proud to be with us on the most day in our recent history. Personally, I was very proud of David Carroll and Grainne Healy with whom I studied in DCU, who were gracious in their victory.

One of the messages that rang out loud and clear yesterday was that Irish people are a generally decent lot and that we can be trusted to make decisions for ourselves; something our government would do well to remember when treating us like children and making decisions on our behalf that are not in our best interests.

Now that we have brought marriage equality to these shores, we have other issues to sort out – child poverty; the lack of abortion rights;  women’s rights; children’s rights, and our appalling suicide rates all need to be tackled. Let’s grab the momentum generated by the recent campaign and make it work for us on these other important issues, too.


Warm(ish) Salad with Tahini Dressing

It occurred to me that it was a while since I’d made hummus, and as I had a brand new jar of tahini, I thought today might be the day to put that right. Then, I noticed that there were a few odds and ends in the fridge this morning and I decided to combine them in a salad and use the tahini in a dressing.

So this is what we ended up with:

Tahini-Dressed Salad

Warm(ish) Salad with Tahini Dressing

1 400g Can of Chickpeas

1 Courgette

1 Red Bell Pepper

3/4 Bag of Rocket

8-10 Leaves of Mint

1 Clove of Garlic

2 Tablespoons of Tahini

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Squirt of Honey

Juice of Half an Orange

Zest of a Lemon

Juice of Half a Lemon

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Open the can of chickpeas and toss them into a sieve.

Rinse them under running water and leave to drain.

Peel and finely grate the garlic.

Cut the courgette into small, thin, bite-sized pieces.

Cut and core the red pepper.

Make the dressing by combining the tahini, garlic, honey, zest, orange and lemon juices.

Mix gently and add a drop of water until it’s slightly runny.

Add the olive oil.

Whisk gently with a fork until you have a runny consistency.

Leave to one  side.

Gently heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and add the courgette pieces.

Fry them over a medium heat until they start to brown (about 10 minutes).

Add the pepper pieces and fry them for a further five minutes.

Turn the heat off.

Get out a large bowl and throw in your chickpeas, rocket and the fried vegetables.

Pour the dressing over the combined vegetables and toss the lot together.

Scatter a few mint leaves over the top and tuck in!

Coconut ‘Chicken’ Curry

This is one of my favourites – full of flavour and not at all spicy, so you can serve it to anyone and they won’t be afraid of it. I was full sure I’d already posted this recipe until my friend Karen and her daughter, Ciara, came by for lunch. Ciara is also vegetarian and forever on the hunt for new recipes. She liked this curry, so I blithely told her ‘oh! It’s on the blog – you can easily download it from there’. Then I discovered it wasn’t, so I’m hastily typing this up so it will be by the time she looks later this evening!

Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off – there is little to prepare out of the list, it’s more assembly than preparation, to be honest. I think I’ve mentioned this before (and if I haven’t, I should have!) but if you have a friend or two who likes to cook, it is worth your while to get a decent-sized bag of ground spices at your local Asian market and divvy it up between you. That way, you’re getting the value of the cheaper prices in these shops and you’re using up the spices before they go off. I am reminded of this because there are a few spices in this recipe that only call for a pinch, but you’d miss them if they weren’t there.

Coconut 'Chicken' Curry

Coconut ‘Chicken’ Curry

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil

2 Teaspoons of Cumin Seeds

4 Fresh Chillies

8 Cloves of Garlic

300g Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces

1 Teaspoon of Ground Turmeric

1 Teaspoon of Ground Mango Powder

1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon of Ground Coriander

1/2 Teaspoon of Garam Masala

Pinch of Ground Cloves

Pinch of Ground Cinnamon

Pinch of Ground Cardamom

1 400ml Tin of Coconut Milk

Peel and bash the garlic and ginger and chillies together in a mortor.

Heat the oil in a pot over a low heat.

Add the cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and chillies.

Fry, stirring, over a low heat until the garlic is browning and the mix is releasing its fragrance.

Add the Quorn and mix it all together.

Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick .

Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, mango, garam masala, clove, cinnamon and cardamom powders.

Cook, stirring, for about three minutes.

Add the coconut milk and raise the heat a little until the mixture is bubbling.

Turn the heat down low, cover the pot and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.

We had this with carrots and orange with chickpeas, wilted spinach with garlic and Mozzarella and plain, boiled brown rice.

Amaranth Patties

So, you remember the other day when I was extolling the virtues of quinoa? Well, hold the phone, honey, cos I’ve a new grain to tell you about and it’s got even more protein in it than quinoa and it’s less than half the price.  Amaranth. Gluten-free, heart-friendly and versatile, it’s also less than half the price of quinoa (in case you didn’t hear me the first time!).

I have given up wheat again because there is a direct link between consuming it and my waistline (and every other part of me) expanding. I really want to be strict with myself until I’m back in my clothes so no wheat – even though I love bread and pastries and pasta and…all the things that taste really good. This shunning of wheat means that I’m looking (again) at all sorts of grains and flours with which to prepare tasty meals.

So, yesterday, I cooked with amaranth for the first time, and made patties.

Amaranth Patty

Amaranth Patties

200g of Amaranth

400 mls of Water

1 Onion

5 Cloves of Garlic

Zest of half a lemon

2 Tablespoons of Curry Powder

1 Egg

4 Slices of (gluten-free) Bread

150g of Hard Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Vegetable (not olive) oil for frying

Peel and slice the onion.

Peel and pound or mince the garlic.

Turn the bread into breadcrumbs with your hand-blender, or spice grinder.

Bring the 400mls of water to the boil.

Add the amaranth to the pot in a steady stream.

Return to the boil and then lower the heat.

Leave the amaranth to cook for about 20 minutes.

When it’s done, the amaranth will look a bit like couscous that’s been cooked with too much water. Don’t panic! This is what it’s meant to look like. It will also be very sticky.

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a wok or frying pan

Add the onion, garlic, lemon zest and curry powder.

Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the stove.

When the amaranth is done, combine the onion mix and the grain in whichever pot is bigger.

Whisk the egg and add it to the mixture.

Add in the cheese.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and combine.

Add the salt and pepper.

Mix well.

Over a medium heat, heat some oil in wok or frying pan.

To shape the patties, I used a wooden spoon and a butter knife, scooping the mixture into the bowl of the spoon and un-sticking it directly into the pan with the knife. It keeps a reasonable shape in the pan.

Fry each patty for about one minute each side.

I got a batch of about 18 from this amount – I say ‘about’ because, as I fished them out of the pan and onto a plate, the grils swiped and ate them!

Beetroot, Quinoa & Rocket

I always forget how much I love beetroot until I end up with little else to prepare for lunch or dinner. Then, I break into a sweat and wonder what on earth I can do to make it interesting. This recipe was invented on one such day. Now, I’m not for a moment going to pretend that quinoa is a cheap food. It’s not. That is to say, a 500g bag retails at about €7.00 but that bag gets you get about sixteen servings (4 meals of 4 servings). There is no waste and it’s full of various vitamins, calcium, folate, magnesium, maganese, phosphorus and potassium. It’s also very low in sodium. At least, that’s how I justify it to myself every time I baulk at handing over so much money for half a kilo of tiny grains.

Beetroot and walnuts are one of nature’s obvious parings – like garlic and mushrooms or potatoes and leeks – so, in the spirit of ‘If it ain’t broke…’, I included them in this recipe.

Beets on Leaves

Beetroot, Quinoa & Rocket

125g of Quinoa

300mls of Water

2 Onions (I used red)

Knob of Butter

50g of Walnut Halves

2 Red Chillies (optional)

250g of Cooked Beetroot

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

100g of Rocket Leaves (1 small bag)

Peel and chop the onions.

Wash the rocket if it’s not already washed.

Halve the walnut halves (so you have walnut quarters!)

Grate the beetroot.

Snip the chillies with a kitchen scissors.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water.

Tip the grains in to a saucepan and cover with the 300mls of cold water and bring to the boil.

Once the quinoa is boiling, turn the stove down low and allow it to cook for another 15 minutes. You know it’s done when the little ‘tail’ sprouts out the back of each grain.

While the quinoa is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.

Add the onions, chillies and walnuts.

Stir them for a  minute or two, until they are covered with the butter.

Put the lid on the pan and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.

Then add the beetroot and stir.

Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Tip in the quinoa (which should have absorbed all the water).


Empty the rocket into a large bowl.

Pour the beetroot and quinoa over the leaves.

We had this with boiled and buttered spuds.  Yum!

Mixed Veg Oven Baked Frittata with Rooster Wedges

This is another of those quick and easy recipes that we all need a slew of! I’d spent most of the day slaving over a hot laptop and it was 6pm before I knew where I was. I’d picked up 1.5kg of gorgeous little roosters in Lidl the other day for €0.79 and there was some frozen veg in the freezer and eight eggs in the fridge. Plenty for dinner, so!

Fresh Red Chillies

Oven Roasted Frittata

600g of Frozen Vegetables

4 Fresh Red Chillies*

8 Medium Eggs

100g of Feta Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 180 a splash of oil in a frying pan and empty in the frozen vegetables.

Fry them up for about five minutes, until they are no longer frozen.

Pour the vegetables into an oven-proof dish.

Dry fry your chillies until they are slightly blackened – this makes them taste sweeter and less firey.

Tuck the chillies in among the vegetables in the dish.

Beat the eggs in a container with a fork.

Add the salt and pepper.

Crumble the cheese over the veggies.

Pour the eggs over the lot and pop it in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Rooster Wedges

13 Small Rooster Potatoes (about 750g)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a pot with enough salted water to just cover them.

Bring to the boil.

Turn down the cooker and allow to simmer for ten minutes.

Drain the spuds and allow them to cool for a few minutes.

Once they are cool enough to touch, cut your potatoes in quarters lengthwise.

Toss in the oil, salt and pepper. (If you like, you can add some curry powder or sumac or whatever powder tickles your fancy).

Tip the spuds in to another oven-proof dish and roast them, in the oven with the frittata for about 35-40 minutes.

* Fresh chillies, in regular supermarkets are ferociously expensive – sometimes up to €1 for four of them! I bought nearly 50 of them yesterday in my local Asian supermarket for €1.27

Quick Mushroom & Kidney Bean Curry

This recipe was born because we needed to go shopping yesterday, but I didn’t feel like venturing out in pre-snow weather (not least because I was reading a terrific book – Rowan Coleman’s The Memory Book).  So I had a quick rummage in the cupboards and came up with this:

Mushroom & Kidney Bean Curry

1 Onion

250g Mushrooms

2 Tablespoons of Sesame Oil

4 Teaspoons of garlic-ginger paste

1 Tin of Kidney Beans

1 Tin of Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons of Tomato Purée

2 Teaspoons of Cumin Seeds

2 Red Chillies

11/2 Teaspoon of Garam Masala

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chop the onion.

Chop the chillies (I use a kitchen scissors, it’s quicker, easier, and I’m less likely to end up with chilli hands)

Wipe the mushrooms and cut them in quarters.

Open the tin of kidney beans, drain and rinse in a sieve.

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a wok or saucepan.

Add the cumin seeds and fry gently until they release their aroma.

Toss in the onion and sautée, stirring often, until they are glossy and the raw smell has gone off them.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and chillies.

Continue to fry, over a low-medium heat, for a minute or two.

Plop in the contents of the tomato tin and the tomato purée.

Swish the tin out with water and add that to the sauce as well.

Pop in the chopped mushrooms.

Leave the lot to cook, for about 20 minutes, on a low heat, stirring often.

Add the drained and rinsed kidney beans and the garam masala.


Leave the lot to cook for another 10 minutes or so – just until the kidney beans are heated through.

I was going to serve this with rice, but it smelt like it needed chapatis, so I made those instead. 🙂