Throwback Thursday

In which I was a lush from the very beginning:

Me and my dad - popping the bubbly. I think I'm four years old here...maybe five.

Me and my dad – popping the bubbly. I think I’m four years old here…maybe five.

No surprise there.

It might have been a special occasion but I doubt it. Although the ribbon on the bottle suggests it was a present. Perhaps it was just a present for being fabulous because LOOK AT US.

I couldn’t be more than four or five in this photo and I clearly know what that bottle is all about. My dad taught me well.

I miss him every day.

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Filed under Culture, Family, Food and Drink, French Culture, Home, Life

Lyrics of the Day

Hozier-From-Eden
Rare is this love, keep it covered
I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
Run until you feel your lungs bleeding
Oh but the pharaoh knows
Her hungry eye, her ancient soul
It’s carried by the sneering menagerie
Know what it is to grow
Beneath her sky, a punishing cold
To slowly light up her ancient misery
To be twisted by something
A shame without a sin
Like how she twisted the bug man
After she married himRare is this love, keep it covered
I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

But in all the world
There is one lover worthy of her
With as many souls claimed as she

But for all he’s worth
He still shatters always on her earth
The cause of every tear she’d ever weep

Rushing ashore to meet her
Foaming with loneliness
White ends to follow and meet her
Give her his loneliness

Rare is this love, keep it covered
I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
Run ’til you feel your lungs bleeding

Rare is this love, keep it covered
I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

Rare is this love, keep it covered
I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

Run, Hozier

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Filed under Culture, Irish, Language, Lyrics of the Day, Music, Writing

Lyrics of the Day

Civil Wars band 2
It’s not your eyes
It’s not what you say
It’s not your laughter
That gives you away
You’re just lonely
You’ve been lonely, too long

Oh, you’re acting your thin disguise
All your perfectly delivered lines
They don’t fool me
You’ve been lonely, too long

Let me in the wall
You’ve built around
We can light a match
And burn it down
Let me hold your hand
And dance ’round and ’round the flames
In front of us
Dust to dust

You’ve held your head up
You’ve fought the fight
You bear the scars
You’ve done your time
Listen to me
You’ve been lonely, too long

Let me in the walls
You’ve built around
We can light a match
And burn them down
Let me hold your hand
And dance ’round and ’round the flames
In front of us
Dust to dust

You’re like a mirror, reflecting me
Takes one to know one, so take it from me
You’ve been lonely
You’ve been lonely, too long
We’ve been lonely
We’ve been lonely, too long

 

Dust to Dust, Civil Wars

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Sea Bass With Sweet Chili Sauce a la Gordon Ramsay

Red-Mullet-With-Sweet-Chilli-Sauce

Oh Gordon. I don’t quite know how to put into words how much I love your recipes. If I really spilled the beans and professed my love of your food it might seem to a non food lover that there’s a bit of stalking going on. But really, I just trust you. I trust your palette, I trust your training, and I trust your instruction. Everything I have made so far from your plethora of recipes has been delicious.

Minus the time I broke the blender trying to make one of your sauces. But that’s a story for another day.

This recipe – Sea Bass with Sweet Chile Sauce – went well (with one small hiccup) and is now a personal favorite.

The recipe actually calls for red mullet as the fish but if you’re unable to find red mullet he suggests bass, which is what we went with.

Ingredients

  • 4 red mullet fillets, about 150g each, descaled
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 lime

FOR THE CRUST

  • 150g skinned peanuts
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Salt
  • Small handful of cilantro, leaves chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Dash of fish sauce

FOR THE SWEET CHILI SAUCE

  • 2 red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp  sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • Handful of cilantro, leaves chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime

Instructions

First make the sweet chili sauce. Place the chilies in a mortar with the garlic, salt and sugar. Pound until smooth. Add the fish sauce, rice vinegar and olive oil, and mix with a spoon. Stir in the spring onions, cilantro leaves and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar if necessary. Pour into a serving bowl.

To make a crust for the fish, place the peanuts, chili flakes and a good pinch of salt in a mortar. Pound until they look finely chopped but not powdered.

seabass1

seabass2

Then mix in the cilantro leaves. Scatter onto a plate or into a shallow bowl, and place the beaten eggs on a separate plate or in a shallow bowl. Season the eggs with a dash of fish sauce and a pinch of salt.

Dip the fish skin side down into the egg. Shake off any excess egg wash, then dip into the peanut mix, coating the skin with a layer of peanuts. Repeat until all the fillets are coated on one side.

Side note – we royally screwed up the crust. I don’t know if it was the eggs we used, or if our peanuts weren’t crushed enough, but it would just not stay on. We instead just cooked the peanuts with the fish, which worked out surprisingly well. But next time I will master the coating!

Add a little oil to a hot frying pan and fry the seasoned fillets over a medium heat, crust side down, for 2–3 minutes until the crust is golden and the fish half cooked.

crust everywhere but on the fish - oops

crust everywhere but on the fish – oops

Turn and cook for further 1–2 minutes, basting as you cook. Remove from the heat and finish with a fresh squeeze of lime juice over each fillet.

Spoon the chili sauce over the fish to serve.

Gorgeous and DELICIOUS despite our mess up

Gorgeous and DELICIOUS despite our mess up

Here’s a video of Gordon Ramsay preparing the dish (he of course makes it all look SO easy – why would anyone have problems with the crust?):

I’ll say one thing – when he makes it everything just looks so lush. I know he has perfect lighting and the best of tools but it really is disturbing how his video looks and how our kitchen looked when we made it. Peanuts and cilantro EVERYWHERE.

Regardless of our crust mishap, it was a perfect fish dish. Light, flavorful, gorgeous, and, despite appearances, super easy to make. If you like Asian flavors and need a new fish dish in the rotation, this one is definitely one you should try.

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Filed under Cooking, Food and Drink, Recipes

Hell Has Frozen Over – I’m a Competitive Irish Dancer

feet

Well, it finally happened. I did something I said I would never ever do again. I entered an Irish dancing competition. I am registered and paid for. There is no going back now.

I’m honestly extremely conflicted about this. I hate Irish dance competitions. I went a few times as a kid and the energy and atmosphere was just not for me.

It’s interesting because, despite my perfectionist streak, I’m just not a naturally competitive person. I thrive on being successful and the best at something, but I don’t enjoy having to prove it in a competitive setting. The energy and the intensity of competitive people turns me off, and even as a kid, I had a very life is too short mentality about being around those types of people. My mother was the same, and the antithesis of a stage parent. When she was told we had to arrive at 6am for a competition with our hair perfectly curled her Belfast reaction (exclamations of Mother of God, and Jesus, Mary, and St. Josephs) was only further confirmation that this shit was stupid.

Over the years, the nature of these competitions has gotten worse and those competitive types and their stage parents have turned them into pageant land with tacky costumes, faux tans, stage makeup, and full on ridiculous  Shirley Temple wigs. What was once a traditional and fairly simple irish dance feis is now a full on production – and a very scary one. I give you exhibit A:

And Exhibit B:

what in God's name was this person thinking...

what in God’s name was this person thinking…

I can’t – I JUST CAN’T.

To give you an idea of what costumes USED to look like here is a pic of me in my costume at age 15. To be fair, this was a school costume, not a solo costume (the solo costumes are the more extreme designs) but still. Fifteen plus years ago the costumes were still based more in the traditional world of all things Irish:

I'm on the right in the more colorful costume

I’m on the right in the more colorful costume

And for good measure – here’s some 15 year old evil eye, stop taking pics of me realness (my glory days):

Again, on the right. Bitchy teenage REALNESS

Again, on the right. Mastering bitchy teenage shade

But, in the end, by not competing I did myself a disservice. Because I hated the competition aspect of Irish dancing I never really improved. I was capable of more but I didn’t participate in the system in place to move up in levels and improve my skills. And because I didn’t compete, I didn’t really have a reason to get better.

Much like runners sign up for marathons or triathlons, or charity driven 5ks to get better and build their stamina, Irish dancers have their competitions. If you win in your dance category you get to trade in your little gold medal for new and harder steps at your next dance class. It’s just the way it works.

But I have finally accepted the fact that I can’t beat the system. Instead, I need to use it and make it work to my advantage. I want to get better. And this, despite me wishing otherwise, is how I will get better. It’s also how I will remember my steps every week. Because, if I’m being honest, my 33 year old brain does not retain things quite as quickly as my 8 year old brain did. I need a reason to remember them, and someone watching me and judging me on those steps is one way to do just that.

If I can remember to, I will take pics and document the weird, wonderful world of adult Irish dancing competitions for your amusement. Knowing me there will be some serious what the f*** is wrong with these people moments worthy of a photo or two.

Until then, I will be practicing my little heart out, going for the gold.

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Filed under American Culture, Culture, Dance, Ireland, Irish, Life

Lyrics of the Day

jenny-lewis-rollingstone

I used to think you could save me
I’ve been wandering lately
Heard she’s having your baby
And everything’s so amazing
It goes on and on and on and on
It goes on and on and on and on

But she’s not me, she’s easy

All those times we were making love
I never thought we’d be breaking up
Bet you tell her I’m crazy
It goes on and on and on and on
It goes on and on and on and on

But she’s not me, she’s easy

Remember the night I destroyed it all
When I told you I cheated
And you punched through the drywall
I took you for granted
When you were all that I needed

But she’s not me, she’s easy
She’s not me, she’s not me
She’s easy, she’s easy
She’s not me, she’s not me

She’s Not Me, Jenny Lewis

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Filed under Culture, Language, Lyrics of the Day, Music, Writing

Lyrics of the Day

20130918_iron-wine-4_91
I am thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images and when we kiss
They’re perfectly aligned
And I have to speculate
That God himself did make us
Into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay
And true it may seem like a stretch
But it’s thoughts like this that catch
My troubled head when you’re away
When I am missing you to death
When you are out there on the road
For several weeks of shows
And when you scan the radio
I hope this song will guide you home
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now, they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
Come down now but we’ll stay
I’ve tried my best to leave
This all on your machine
But the persistent beat
It sounded thin upon listening
And that frankly will not fly
You’ll hear the shrillest highs
And lowest lows with the windows down
When this is guiding you home
They will see us waving from such great heights
Come down now, they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
Come down now but we’ll stay

Such Great Heights, Iron and Wine

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