Christmas in August

I really love that my life has taken this turn into the world of multimedia. As I get older and my knees get creakier I find myself relishing the thought of sitting at my keyboard and regaling you with some great stories of my time spent at the stove and hopefully you can pick up plenty of cooking ideas and tips along the way. When I think back  to all the functions, weddings, christening and even divorce parties that I did over the years ( there was even a "face-lift party", I kid you not). But, always, by my side, were my team . We were like a well oiled machine. I always felt I was as good as the people I was lucky enough to surround myself with.

So this part of my cooking life is almost like the second act and couldn't be more different. Don't get me wrong, I'm not missing the physicality and sweat of the professional kitchen, but the work I produce these days does have it's own set of problems.

As the title of this post suggests, I'm doing everything way out of season ,which can be a bit of a head scratcher.  But I am nothing if not resourceful . We were on holidays down in Ballymaloe cookery school last August when  it was decided I would do a Christmas tipple for the fabulous Nov/Dec issue of Image Interiors mag. Well, I trawled through the supermarkets and shops of East Cork , searching in vain for cranberries, all the shopkeepers  must have thought I was completely batty, the sun was literally splitting the stones. Thankfully the cookery school came to the rescue with a lovely bag of cranberries from their freezer. This is a lovely little recipe and super easy to prepare.

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You will need

130g sugar 180ml water Zest of ½ an orange 150g cranberries, fresh or frozen 350ml vodka


1 Bring sugar, water, orange zest and cranberries up to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until cranberries start to burst, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2 Use the immersion blender (or a fork) to roughly break up the cranberries just enough so as the juice is released, yet the mixture remains chunky.

3 Pour into a sterilised sealable jar (I sterilise my jars and lids in the dishwasher) along with the vodka and seal. Shake. Allow to steep for about two days @ room temperature. Sample and continue to steep until you’re happy with the flavour.

4 Strain through a sieve lined with muslin (I used a new J Cloth), pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. Decant into a pretty glass bottle and store in the fridge. It’s supposed to keep for about 6 months but ours never lasted that long!