Sunshine in a bowl

Posted on: 17th January, 2017

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty,

January is the month for armchair gardening and travelling – cruising around seed catalogues and travel sites in search of vegetables and sunny climes. I am making lists of all the possibilities and dreaming of new adventures. This gently whiles away the long days of January and for sure before we know it we’ll be in a rush to go out planting – or catch a plane – so I am enjoying the slower pace and sitting beside a cosy stove.

It’s also the month for good intentions – how we are going to sort out our lives, eat better, drink less, exercise more – intentions which are often dropped at the first hurdle as we’ve made the goal too complicated.

A simple solution to cleaner eating can lie in your vegetable basket. A selection of vegetables and fruits, different varieties and colours – the more the merrier – will provide plenty of vitamins and antioxidants to fight off sickness and depression.

My idea of a weekly shop is to fill the basket with a few keepers such as beetroots, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions etc., some avocados and mangoes that’ll probably need to ripen and some that will need more immediate attention such as broccoli, kale or cauliflower.

Grated carrots and beetroots, blanched broccoli, just ripe avocado and some lightly pickled red onions topped with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds is one of the many combos that I throw together There is no hard and fast recipe for this – just an assembly of fresh ingredients lightly dressed with vinaigrette and toasted seeds.

Just the sight of these brightly coloured vegetables makes me feel good. It’s like sunshine in a bowl and very fast and easy to prepare.

Here’s a suggestion for one of these mega salads


1 small broccoli

2 carrots

2-3 beetroots

1 red onion

1 avocado

a handful sunflower seeds

a handful pumpkin seeds

Soya sauce/Tamari

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1tbs White wine vinegar

5-7tbs extra virgin olive oil



Peel and grate the carrots and beetroots, keeping them apart for the colour scheme.

Peel and finely slice a small red onion, massage with a little salt and sprinkle over a little vinegar. Put aside for ten minutes

To prepare the broccoli bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, cut the broccoli into small florets and finely slice any stems then pop into the boiling water. Count to twenty, take the broccoli out and refresh in cold water then drain.

Peel and dice a just ripe avocado and toss with a little lemon juice. This will prevent the avocado from discolouring.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together a scanty teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of decent vinegar, about 5-7 tablespoons of olive oil and a little splash of soya sauce.

Toast the seeds in a dry pan and when they are golden toss them with a little soya sauce, just enough to lightly coat them. It has a similar effect to dry roasted peanuts, giving a savoury coating to the seeds.

Assemble the salad, as you fancy, in a large bowl, scatter with the seeds and serve with the vinaigrette.

I am giving a Thai cooking class on Saturday, January 28; zippy fresh recipes – fresh spring rolls, som tam, fish cakes, vegetables with cashews, Thai curry – lots of inspiration to brighten up January and the ingredients are all available locally. It’s the next best thing to a plane ticket if you fancy some sunshine!

For more information please pop into the shop or send me an email

Happy New Year!


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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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