Award-winning food writer and photographer Lilly Higgins spoke to James Taylor about the importance of shopping local, new recipes and the importance of supporting Irish farmers and producers.
Lilly Higgins is a food writer, blogger, photographer and chef. Lilly lives in Cork with her partner Colm and their three children; Liam (8), Cathal (7) and Hazel (4).
With a practical and approachable style of cooking, Lilly also has a love of baking. Fresh, local produce always features in her recipes, with delicious dishes for feeding a family or for special occasions.
How are you coping with the challenges of the lockdown with three young kids?
“I work from home normally writing recipes, cooking food and doing food photography. My kids are young, so they are used to me working around, so there hasn’t been a major change.
"Before the current lockdown, there was a window for me in the morning when my youngest would go to playschool and the two boys would go to school, so that’s gone now.
"It’s gone back to the way things were before they went to school where I would do a lot of the work in the evenings when the kids are gone to bed. It’s just about getting back into the routine of it.
“On a positive note, we’ve never eaten better, we’re baking and cooking every day. We are very much into home schooling, with the kids having a snack at a set time.”
Top tips for keeping the kids entertained?
“Getting the kids involved seems to have worked out the best. The kids want to do the things that we are doing. They’re taking lots of photos of their food.
"What I’ve started to do with them is to get them to make their own snack and they are doing a lot of baking with me. They are really enjoying that because they all have their own preferences. We can create our own normal by making our own food.”
What are their favourite dishes?
“For Liam, it’s definitely duck pancakes, he absolutely loves them. He also loves any type of Chinese food. We cook up stir fry vegetables with noodles and he loves that and he’s learning how to make that now.
I’m always trying different recipes and cooking different things to see what they like and don’t like
"Cathal is our resident carnivore, he loves every type of meat. When he gets steak and two veg, he just pushes the veg aside!
"We are having loads of barbecues now that we are at home, when the weather is good, which is great. He also loves smoked goats cheese. Hazel eats everything.”
How important is shopping and cooking local?
"Shopping and cooking local is more important than ever, sourcing locally produced food you know has zero air miles.
"We are so lucky that a lot of Irish produce is grass-fed. It’s often something that is taken for granted in an Irish setting.
"Shopping locally is great from a health perspective, buying the raw ingredients to make our own dishes and recipes.
The distinct quality and taste of Irish dairy is the best in the world and I love to cook with it in all my dishes. The vegetables, the meat, the milk. It’s all about supporting farmers and small Irish food producers right now."
Rhubarb fool with candied almonds
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp hot water
1 tbsp brown sugar
60g chopped almonds
100g caster sugar
Labneh and homemade flatbreads
For the Labneh
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
For the flatbreads
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
For more delicious recipes, visit www.ndc.ie/our-recipes. This health and wellbeing page is the fifth in a five-part series brought to you by the National Dairy Council.