Entries tagged with “clare kleinedler”.
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Sun 15 Sep 2013
It seems that in every second blog post of late, I promise to blog more often. These days I just can’t seem get a handle on my writing schedule so I’ll omit the usual promise and simply do the best I can to post more frequently.
The last few months have been tough for Mountaineering Man and me; his mother is ill and we’re spending every weekend at his parents’ home, which is about two hours away from Dublin. In order to protect the family’s privacy I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say the illness came rather suddenly. It has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole family.
But even during this dark time, there are a few glimmers of light. It’s nice to spend some quality time with the family, who before this we’d see every third or fourth week. It’s been a real treat to see my little one-and-a-half-year-old niece, who – totally unbeknownst to her – has been our comic relief and welcome distraction with her funny antics and ever-developing personality.
I feel lucky to be able to see her every weekend, and am grateful that she is getting to know me too. She is a smart little girl, always up for a dance (last weekend her daddy put on some serious ‘70s disco music and away she went!) and loves for us to read to her from her many books. Mind you, we don’t always agree; she loves her mom’s old Judy doll, which regularly scares the crap out of me with her blank-yet-piercing stare - she reminds me too much of the Talking Tina doll from the Twilight Zone. And since my niece leaves her all around the house, Judy seems to pop up at every turn (particularly in my nightmares).
We also have at least one dinner with MM’s dad, sister and her family every weekend, sometimes two if we don’t have to rush back to Dublin for work. I’ve become the cook along with my brother-in-law; he’s the fry-up expert and will make the mid-day eggs, sausages, rashers, potato waffle, beans and tomato plate for anyone who is hungry. It looks so tempting I think I’m going to have to ask him to do one up for me next weekend. I usually cook the Saturday dinners and Sunday lunches, and despite my father-in-law’s protests that it’s too much work, I genuinely enjoy it.
Wed 28 Aug 2013
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that in the last few months I’ve really gotten into making my own bread. The seed was sown last year when I became addicted to the Great British Bakeoff, and was nurtured by a steady diet of Paul Hollywood’s Bread episodes and various River Cottage shows, which frequently sees the curly mopped-topped Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall whipping up batches of fresh baked breads and cakes.
There’s just something so satisfying about the process of making your own bread: the mixing, the kneading, proofing and of course watching the pale ball of dough transform into a golden, crusty loaf. That said, I have found it difficult to find the time to bake bread regularly and up until now it’s been an every-second-weekend hobby. Mixing the dough by hand means making a goopy mess of the bowl and your fingers, and the kneading process requires a clean worktop (meaning you need to sanitise it first!), 10-12 minutes of pushing and pulling the dough and then of course the clean-up afterward.
Sometimes during this laborious process, I’ll think of my beloved stand mixer, which is still sitting in a dark storage space in my hometown of Los Angeles. Put simply, when it comes to breads and cakes (and a million other edibles), it does the work for you and makes it easy to have homemade baked goods without having to schedule a chunk of time in your diary.
Wed 7 Aug 2013
My father, for all intents and purposes, is a Renaissance man. He can build almost anything; he handcrafted the wooden and rice paper shoji screen doors in their house, built my mother a pair of wooden lamps identical to ones she saw at a shop and has designed and put together a few bookshelves over the years. He writes occasionally as a hobby, has taken classes in pottery and stained-glass making and is currently doing a Spanish language course with my mom.
And on top of all that, he can cook – like a pro.
We were lucky to be raised in a household where both parents cooked. When we were kids, my father managed most weekday meals as my mother worked later than he did. He made some really wonderful meals – some simple and some more elaborate – and in the process showed my sister and I how to do things like slice a tomato without cutting off a finger (carefully make slits at the slice points with the tip of your knife, and then slice into those slits). It never occurred to me back then that it was unusual to have a father who could cook as well my mother.
In Ireland, it still seems to be an unusual thing that a man can cook something beyond a steak on the grill or a fry-up. I say this because of the reactions I’ve received when talking about Mountaineering Man’s recent interest and progress in cooking. It’s not necessarily a negative reaction, more surprise, confusion and disbelief all rolled into one. A handful of more conservative-leaning folk have expressed something more along the lines of disdain – which is odd. It’s sad to say but there’s still a percentage of people in this country who’d argue that a real man shouldn’t be interested in anything beyond sport and drink, which is an absolute fallacy. It’s also a stereotype that puts unnecessary pressure on Irish men to fit into an old idea which, to me, has no place in modern society.
Frankly, I’m thrilled that MM has taken a liking to the kitchen – a place he rarely ventured into before we met. I think his typical meal when we first started dating consisted of an overcooked chicken breast mixed with some variety of Uncle Ben’s sauce poured over boil-in-a-bag rice. Not bad, but not the most inspiring of meals (to cook OR eat!).
Thanks to my obsession interest in cooking and to a few outside influences, MM is starting to craft some pretty serious meals. His most recent quest of making hand-made pasta has developed into a weekend hobby for us both, and a couple of weeks ago he surprised me by purchasing an Imperia pasta roller so we can hone our new-found skills together. I should note that the outside influences in this case come in the form of Two Greedy Italians – Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo – who, through their highly engaging and beautifully-produced BBC series have schooled MM in the delights of fresh, simple, Italian food.
We recently put the new Imperia to the test and made a so-so batch of tagliatelle; it was good but in our haste we forgot a couple of important steps and the result was a very soft pasta. We took what we learned and applied it to our next pasta project: homemade ravioli. I made the filling using a few leftovers we had around and MM made the dough. We both worked together (rolling pasta really is a two person job!) and the result was a beautifully delicious ravioli dish that would’ve been suitable for guests (not that we wanted to share – it was that good!).
The naysayers can keep their outdated, stereotypical Irish men. I prefer my [Irish] Renaissance Man.
Beetroot Greens & Sweet Potato Ravioli
Ravioli dough – we used the Pasta Fresca recipe from the Two Greedy Italians cookbook; here is another fresh pasta recipe from them that’s available online that may work as well.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
1 bunch of beetroot tops (greens) – about 10 large leaves – chopped roughly
1 medium sweet potato, baked, cooled and with skin removed
100 grams fresh goat’s cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Basic tomato pasta sauce (make yourself or use a jar of your favourite)
In a large sauté pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and chilli and cook until softened – about 5 minutes. Add in the beetroot tops and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the greens are wilted down. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mash the sweet potato. Add in the beetroot greens mixture and combine. Then crumble in the goat’s cheese and mix well. The mixture should bind naturally with the goat’s cheese and sweet potato so there’s no need for an egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roll the pasta dough into sheets – we used our Imperia pasta roller and this made a total of 4 very long sheets, which we then cut into two to equal 8 total sheets. The way we made the ravioli was to lay down one sheet on a well-floured surface, and then using a tiny ice cream scoop we scooped the filling and placed it into two rows on the one sheet of pasta. We then brushed the crease points on that first pasta sheet with water, and then placed the second sheet over the first and pressed down around the fillings. We cut the squares using a pizza cutter and then with a fork made the indentations to seal the pasta.
Drop into boiling salted water and let cook for 3 minutes. The raviloi should float to the top when ready.
Serve with a simple tomato sauce or just a drizzle of browned butter and some fresh sage leaves – it’s really up to you!
Tue 30 Jul 2013
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. – Steve Martin
For the better part of the three-and-a-half years I’ve been here in Ireland, it’s been night. The previous two summers have been, at best, a mix of muggy mist, fluorescent-white clouds and a few fleeting rays of sunshine. During that first year in Drogheda I had a total of one al fresco meal, which was cut short by a sudden downpour. When I went home last year and visited my hairdresser, his first reaction was, “Your hair is SO dark!” I hadn’t coloured it, it was darker simply from a lack of sunshine…a bit like my soul!
This summer has been a completely different experience all together. We’ve had long stretches of sunny days and – quell surprise – warm nights. I can’t remember ever being able to step outside after 8 PM in just a t-shirt here, but in the last several weeks I’ve donned short sleeves outdoors in the evening more than a few times. Mountaineering Man and I have been sleeping on top of the duvet for the last month or so, and we’re both sporting tans – REAL tans (not that either of us would ever get fake tan, sorry but I haven’t bought into that Irish obsession nor will I ever!).
We’ve even gotten out for a couple of picnics and barefoot walks on the beach, which I realise for my friends in LA is typical summer behaviour but for us is a real treat. That said we’re also experiencing the downside of having warm weather in a country that is not at all prepared for it; neither of our cars has air conditioning (it’s not a standard feature here). The other day I experienced that brain-melting, so-hot-you-can-almost-see-the-heatwaves moment after getting into my car, which had been parked out in the sun all day. I couldn’t open my windows fast enough.
Sun 14 Jul 2013
For the first year I lived in Ireland, I mainly worked from home. While I loved the freedom (making my own schedule, staying in my PJs, etc.) it wasn’t the best way to socialise myself in a new country.
Though I had a small group of friends in Drogheda (where I lived back when I first came here), I was starting to feel pretty lonely working at my dining room table most days with little to no interaction with other human beings. It was so depressing that at one point, I was putting on makeup and getting excited about a trip to Tesco for milk and eggs. At least I could talk to someone, even if the interaction was limited to a 3-minute chat with the check-out lady.
After relocating to Dublin and moving in with Mountaineering Man, I took a job at a digital creative agency in town. As with most agencies, the hours were long which meant that I spent more time with my 50-odd colleagues than I did with MM or anyone else in my personal life.
The people who really became my family there was my workgroup – the Social Media team. There were four of us for most of my time there and I was the only female in the bunch. We were a scrappy lot, and I mean that in the best way. Philip – a long-haired thrash metal rocker with a sharp wit and a thick Northern accent – welcomed me into the fold with a typed-up list of recommendations and advice. “Don’t ever, EVER eat at the Bridge Café,” he wrote, referring to the greasy spoon deli and one of the only choices for food near the office.
To this day, I’ve never eaten there – despite the fact that Philip has gone against his own advice and eats there almost DAILY now (“I was wrong about it!” he claims, though I attribute his change of heart to sheer desperation thanks to a lack of decent eateries in the Ringsend area). Philip is the master of the hilarious yet thought-provoking quip (“Some day soon, somebody is going to print a 3D printer on a 3D printer and the universe is going to implode”) – and so-bad-they’re-good jokes.
Sun 7 Apr 2013
When I first moved to Ireland just over three years ago, I was a wide-eyed American girl with sense of adventure and an open mind…or so I thought. After the initial excitement of living in a new country wore off, I started to realise that living in Ireland meant I would be getting a lot of practice working on something I wasn’t so good at: Patience.
I recall the first time I strolled down to the post office during lunch, just to find out many post offices are closed during the 1-2 PM lunch break. Seriously? How does this make any sense? Most people use their weekday lunch time to run errands, like go to the bank, drop off the dry cleaning and GO TO THE POST OFFICE. GROAN!
Particularly when I lived in Drogheda, a trip to the grocery store could take twice as long as planned thanks to the chatterboxes that work the cash registers. Oh Mary, you’re looking well! What are ye up to? Aw that’s a lovely restaurant, we love it. Make sure to get the steak and….oh sure treat yourself, you deserve it! This could go on for minutes…tens of minutes. Never mind there’s a half-dozen of us in line behind Mary, waiting to get back to work or back to the car that’s sitting in the pay-by-the-hour car park.
Mon 4 Mar 2013
Exactly three years ago today, I landed in Ireland as a wide-eyed and optimistic American in search of a new adventure. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve found far more than adventure; in Ireland, I’ve found a new life.
It’s fun to look back on old blog posts to see what I went through in the early days. I can recall my surprise when I saw how dressy girls would get for a night out. I was from Los Angeles, where a typical Saturday night out meant a nice pair of jeans and a dressy top, and here girls were putting in hair extensions, spraying on the fake tan and slipping into their best dress for a night out. There were many lessons to be learned in those days…remember how I struggled with understanding the accent (in my case, the not-so-listener-friendly dialect of Drogheda, where I first settled) and how much fun I had upon discovering the charm of the good, old-fashioned country pub?
Like anyone adjusting to living in a new country, I had major moments of frustration; what with the weather, the summer greenfly infestations and major lack of good customer service some days were trying to say the least. And I had some really low points too. I missed my family and friends, felt hopeless about dating here and at times wondered if moving to Ireland was the right decision.
But the good outweighed the bad by overwhelming numbers and that’s what kept me going. Ireland, with all of its quirks and oddities, is an endless source of inspiration and I am always discovering something new and unique. I even learned to cope with the weather, though I will admit I still struggle with it at times. And while many Irish questioned why on earth anyone would want to move to their crippled country, I found many reasons why I wanted to stay and met many locals who felt the same.
In the last 36 months I’ve met so many incredible people, developed some amazing friendships and met & married the love of my life, Mountaineering Man. It’s wild to think that so much can happen in such a short time, but I suppose that’s the magic of Ireland.
Smoked Mackerel Pizza
This dish is a little Los Angeles and a little Ireland all in one. I discovered it when my sister made it for me on our recent trip to LA, but found it works great with the local smoked mackerel (she used trout in hers). It’s super easy and quick to throw together for a dinner party appetizer and you can find all the ingredients at your local market.
1 large pizza crust, baked & cooled. I found mine at Fresh market in the deli section; there is two per pack and bakes up in about 8 minutes.
5 tablespoons crème fraiche or plain yogurt
3 tablespoons horseradish cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 fillet smoked mackerel
3 tablespoons chopped chives
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the crème fraiche (or yogurt), horseradish cream, lemon juice and salt. Using a spoon or spatula, spread evenly over the baked and cooled pizza crust. Using your fingers, take small pieces of mackerel fillet and place the pieces evenly over the crème fraiche on the pizza. Sprinkle on the chives, slice and serve. Goes great with champagne!
Sat 19 Jan 2013
Resolutions – everyone has an opinion about them. Some friends of mine refuse to partake in this annual New Year tradition while others write entire lists of what they’d like to accomplish over the next year.
Me? Well I personally like to take advantage of that bright-eyed, optimistic feeling that comes with every new year. And I like to go big – I mean, why not? I think the last few years have taught me more than anything that aiming high and dreaming big can only lead to great things; less than three years ago I was a single gal living in LA, frustrated with dating and wondering where my life was going. Today I live in Dublin, an married to an amazing man and work in the digital creative agency business. I find myself smiling sometimes when I’m walking down the coast road, looking out at Howth from Bull Island and buttoning up my coat thinking, “Wow…this is my life.”
I guess my point is that if you aim for the stars, you might just reach them – and even if you don’t, you may reach the treetops, a mountaintop and maybe some low-level clouds, and that’s higher than you were before.
With that in mind, I’m starting the new year off by aiming to shed the extra weight I’ve been carrying for a number of years. I’m not seriously overweight or have any weight-related health issues, but if I’m being honest I’d say I could stand to lose 20 lbs. (about 9 kilograms) and moreover could do with some toning and strength training. I have some back issues and tennis elbow problems (not from playing tennis but from repetitive typing) and getting into better shape will help alleviate those issues. I also desperately need to finish a book proposal I’ve been working on for far too long and get back to blogging on a regular basis.
Tue 11 Dec 2012
It’s been awhile, and I apologise for my absence but it’s that time of year when everything just seems to go batsh*t crazy all at once. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing; it’s just a very hectic time of year.
One reason I’m finding myself increasingly busy lately is because I’ve taken on a new role at work. I’m now managing the Social Media team as well as one of our largest accounts – a juggling act to say the least! I’m so wrecked at the end of the day I find it difficult to find the brain space to write blog posts, hence the long silence.
Another reason for the mad schedule of late is that this is the season of entertaining and gifting and meeting up with mates; all good but time-consuming endeavours. In the last few weeks I’ve gone to two work ‘dos, a friend’s housewarming/Christmas party, one wedding and have spent several hours Christmas shopping in between. In the next few weeks we have a brunch, an engagement party, Christmas drinks and Christmas Eve & Day at the in-laws before we’re off to Los Angeles for a warm and hopefully relaxing New Year’s holiday.
Tue 13 Nov 2012
It’s been just over 7 weeks since my wedding day, and I’m finally ready to talk about it.
By it, I mean the dress.
Though everything worked out in the end – thanks to an insanely talented, Dublin-based dress designer named Sarah Foy – it almost didn’t. In fact, the story of the dress is one that almost ended very badly, with me frantically searching the wedding sales racks at Monsoon (which I did) and had my best friend from America sending me her own dress (which she did) in a last-ditch effort to find me something to wear on the big day.
It started out innocently enough. Back in late March, I started the search for my wedding dress and found what I thought was the perfect dress within 40 minutes of walking into the first shop – Berketex Bride in the Jervis Centre. I went with my friend Sinead, and a very helpful saleswoman named Claire chose a few dresses based on what I said I wanted and my body shape. I fell in love with the third one I tried on and decided to buy it straight away. I paid for it in full (big mistake), and Claire advised that I write down my wedding date as August 3rd, well over a month before my actual wedding date, just so I could be sure to have plenty of time to get alterations if I needed it. “It’ll be our little secret,” she said.
She also stated that the dress would be ready “around July 20th” and that someone from the shop would ring when it was in the shop. Done and dusted!