April 26 – May 30, 2024


Celebrating a delicacy grown locally

A t the moment I am Each night they are standing in front of the weather map sweeping their arms enthusias- tically over a high that’s lurking out in the Atlantic. I hope that by the time you are reading this it has landed and being a greedy sort of person I am also hoping it will stay. I have been more frustrated than depressed with the wet weather we have endured for the past few months. I am lucky enough to have a glasshouse that I can hang out in so I can potter away setting seeds. The modules are filling with keeping an eager eye on the weather people.

seedlings that are going to be looking for new homes soon, so we’ll have an instant garden as soon as it dries up and we can work outside. Gardens are places of optimism, even in the worst weather a waltz around outside will do wonders for the mood and things still grow even when the weather’s bad so there’s always something to admire. The cherry trees are heavily laden with pink blooms at the moment and the apple trees are just beginning to blossom. I’m hoping the wild wind will pass so the flowers will set: then we’ll get a good crop. We’re slowly clearing out one of the tunnels to transplant the tomatoes. We’re pulling out all the green things that are growing to make room. This means we’ve had buckets of spinach, chard and red endive to consume, knowing that’s it’s the last we’ll see of them until the new season crops catch up. The tomatoes are very happy in their new home, sitting pretty with their sticks in situ ready to grow up. April is the month known as the hungry gap in the vegetable

growing world, but truth be told there’s always something to eat in the garden, and West Cork is full of wild things to forage – sea spinach, wild garlic, dande- lions and so on…and of course there’s the local asparagus. We have set a new asparagus bed this year. It’s inside in a tunnel this time so fingers crossed we will be picking asparagus in the years to come. Meanwhile there are plenty of dedicated and de- termined souls who do produce this prehistoric looking vegeta- ble. I don’t think asparagus is prehistoric but it’s been around for a long time, as Julius Caesar is recorded sending troops out to scout for this delicacy. It is well worth supporting the local asparagus growers. It comes at a premium price but you are guaranteed a fresher and tastier vegetable. Most of the asparagus that is available in the supermarkets has been flown in from Mexico, Peru or Ecuador where labour is cheap and it has travelled thousands of miles before it reaches us, arriv- ing slightly limp and lacking in vigour. The local asparagus is bright and pert and needs very little done with it before eating. To my mind the most important thing to remember when cooking asparagus is not to over-cook it. I don’t cook asparagus in boiling water, I prefer to grill, roast or pan fry it, which negates any slime factor and enhances the flavour. This month’s recipe is for asparagus with lemon and linguine, a delicious and simple way to enjoy asparagus with pasta. If you don’t have linguine use a different pasta such as spaghetti or tagliatelle. West Cork-based food writer, Kate Ryan, is looking for your help with research she is conducting in the area of one of Ireland’s oldest and most traditional foods, black pudding. H er research concerns memories of making black pudding in the home for an MA in Irish Food Culture and Foodways she is completing at UCC under the supervision of leading culinary historian, Regina Sexton. Kate is interested in record-


stir into the egg cream mix – it’ll be quite thick but don’t worry. Six minutes before the pasta cooking time is up put a pan on the heat and, when it warms up, add the butter and oil, letting the butter melt, then adding the chopped stems. Keep the tips aside. Cook the stems on a medium heat for two minutes, it should all be sizzling away, then add the tips and continue cooking until the timer goes off, seasoning with salt and black pepper as you go. When the pasta is ready, lift it from the cooking water into the asparagus pan using a pair of tongs or pasta lifter, the residue water is useful. Put a tablespoon of the pasta water into the egg/ cream mix to loosen it, then stir in the lemon zest, mix through, then drop the egg/cream mix on top of the pasta and toss ev- erything together. If it’s too dry add another spoonful or two of pasta water until you’re happy with the consistency. Tip into a warm bowl and serve. Here comes the sun! Karen Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Timoleague

Linguine with Asparagus and Lemon Serves 2 Ingredients • 1 bunch asparagus • 20g butter

• 20mls extra virgin olive oil • 250g linguine or other pasta • 2 egg yolks • 50mls cream • 1 small lemon, zested • 50g Parmesan cheese – grated • Salt and black pepper Method: To prepare the asparagus wash the spears then trim the woody end. You could snap them off but I usually lightly run a sharp knife over the stem working from the stalk up towards the tip and the knife cuts like butter as soon as you pass the woody bit. Chop off the tougher end of the stems and then chop the rest into 1cm pieces except for the top 8-10cms at the tip Put a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Read your pasta instructions as cooking times vary – when the water boils add plenty of salt and the pasta, give it a twirl then set your timer. Put two egg yolks into a bowl with the cream then whisk to- gether. Grate the Parmesan and

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Call for research participants

ing memories, recollections and stories – either firsthand or stories handed down through families – of domestic black pudding making. She is particularly interested in the details of the day: struc- ture, roles, responsibilities, the individual nature of recipe, the sights, smells and sounds of the day’s activity, equipment used, ingredients, the form puddings took. Although she is interested in hearing from men and wom- en, Kate is very keen to talk to women and to gain insights into the female perspective of mak- ing black (or blood) puddings in the home. “Foods made from the blood of animals are some of the old- est in Ireland, but their cultural

value is often overlooked,” says Kate. “Little research has been conducted about the heritage customs of the seasonal pig or cow kill, domestic pudding making, the value of recipe, or that excess puddings were sold to provide a small income for women. I hope this new re- search will shed some valuable light on the under-researched area of traditional, rural life in Ireland.” If West Cork People readers would like to take part, please complete a brief initial ques- tionnaire which can be found at by May 6, or email kate@


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