Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Etude April 22


                                                                                                                                                 Monday, April 22, 2013

        Etude:   A musical composition written solely to improve technique.
            And so it begins.

Breakfast of home-grown goodness: raw milk and butter from Ballymaloe cows!

            What better way to begin any day than with a breakfast with organic wonderfulness? Say, porridge, hand made butter and marmalade and cheeses, all manner of breads, fresh squeezed orange juice.
               Then we were on the grounds tour by Darina.  Her husband “Timmy” is in charge of the grounds and production.  Here are my notes:       

  • The mature beech trees form the hedge. They are the most important in the country, being certified at over 200 years old, and in some spaces 20 feet wide.

Beautiful Beech Tree hedge ~ can't wait to see it leafed out.

  • The crops are on a four year rotation.
  • They use sea weed as compost.
  • They grow sea kale which is blanched, very rare and delicious.
  • You can/should blanche rhubarb as well.
  • The growing season is really late this year.
  • When you pick rhubarb, pull it out from the ground, don’t cut it.
  • Rhubarb leaves are not poisonous to chickens.
  • You can pull the lower leaves on broad beans for your salad.
Mr. Darina, "Timmy," heads up all the outside operation

  • They grow 80 varieties of crops.                         
  • Raw milk is really good for asthma (1 in 5 Irish children have asthma).

We each planted a corn seedling and marked it with our names so we could watch it crow through out 90 days. We saw the chickens, the pigs and the cows… where they make cheese, grow herbs, the acre-sized “glass” house (green house) .. the gardens all in pre-spring hiatus. 100 acres holds a lot.

My adopted corn plant.
Thankfully its survival will not depend upon my skill or attention!
Contented pig...

Darina is a real bio-diversity and save-the-planet crusader.
She is proudly pointing out the solar panels which they bought
without government assistance or any kind of credit. Here's hoping she rubs off :-)

Lunch was luscious. I realize they are probably bringing out the dog for us.. but still… it’s better than anything: fresh organic milk, their own cheese, locally sourced shrimp and smoked salmon. Dessert was dacquoise w/ fresh strawberries and cream and rhubarb compote.

We are students from 11 countries including South Africa, India, UK, Brazil, Australia, Austria, Denmark …and coming from professions such as medical anthropologist, medical scientist, dental hygienist, catering, technical writer, a Lithuanian who runs a tapas bar, several downsized lawyers, cultural anthropologist, and E.R. nurse.

And class begins!

The school has a country store with great foods that we can buy. Then by 1:45 we were back in the classroom:

  • We can’t change our DNA but we can change  the fuel we put in the tank.
  • The horse meat scandal is the tip of the iceberg.
  • When food is cheap, there is a reason.
  • There has been a massive de-skilling of the population with regards to preparing our own food.
  • Don’t put potatoes in stock pot because they will soak up flavors.
  • The faster the soup is made, the fresher it will taste.
  • There is such a thing as a “garlic board” that helps mash the garlic.

Darina was very no-nonsense about her 3 non-negotiables: no drugs at any time, no tolerance of over drinking, no outsiders in the cottages. Darina also is very clear that no anti-bacterial is used on the premises. We signed up for milking cows, making cheese, working in the Balleymaloe House restaurant, going to the farmers’ Market.

And then the day was over, and a beautiful sunny evening greeted us.  Brian seems to have mastered the washer/dryer/all-in-one machine. The bath tub is very narrow (now shower)… and we have no freezer.  Still it’s a lovely place to return to at night.

Tomorrow we begin cooking and dressing in our chef’s clothes.

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