Growing wild

Dr Catherine Keena

Teagasc countryside management specialist

Look out for snow-white blackthorn flowers, contrasting with the black bare leafless stems on which they are located. Blackthorn is a shrub or small tree which grows on a wide variety of soils. It spreads by suckers creeping underground often forming dense thickets of scrub, with flowers present even on the newly emerged growth. Look out for eggs of the brown hairstreak butterfly laid last August or September in the fork of branches or at the base of a thorn. The larva bites its way out of the egg in early April feeding on the newly unfurled blackthorn leaves with perfect timing because both are part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Rural Rhymes

Love Spoon

By Trevor Johnston

She moves with grace

Through the chores.

I watch her

Stirring the pot.

Just like she stirs

My emotions.

She stops, removes

The wooden spoon,

That like myself

Has seen better days.

She rests it on the side.

I wonder at the joy

That such a simple act

Can so enrich my day.

But such is life

That love can shed

Its glow on spoons,

And love

Shelter in

The warm recesses

Of my heart.

Picture of the week

Jack Tuohey (age 5) and Holly Tuohey (age 2) on their dad Paul’s farm in Ballinruan, Crusheen, Co Clare. / Photo taken by Sarah Tuohey.

Quote of the week

"the sale closed a few days ago, you’re too late’. My heart plummeted. I hung up and drowned my sorrows in gin that night and retreated like a wounded animal, nursing myself with the clichéd balm of what’s for me won’t pass me by."

Maeve Ferris shares the winding path to her home amongst the trees ( memoir).

Chef’s Tip

Rice is such a versatile ingredient and, depending on what kind of food you’re preparing, the different types of rice available can and will be the perfect complement. For Japanese foods, sticky sushi rice seasoned with sugar, vinegar and salt is ideal. For Indian curries, a fluffy, drier basmati rice will do the trick. Sometimes, I make Jamaican-inspired meals and will make my rice with black beans and coconut milk to pair with it. The trick with rice is to start it off hot (bring it to a rapid boil), then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down to low. Cook your rice too quickly and it won’t be soft. Cook it too long (or in too much liquid) and it will be a gloopy mess. IIf new to it, Basmati is a great place to start your rice journey. Soak it in cold water for 30 minutes, then rinse and wash the rice to remove excess starch. Then add double the amount of liquid, bring to a boil, cover and slowly steam until cooked.

Number of the week: 48

The number of hours that Andy Farrell was giving his grand slam champions before focusing “100%” on the world cup (sport).

Online pic of the week

Kelly Petit (Empire Productions), Aisling Byrne (Journey Through Ireland) and Emma McCabe (Epic Management) speaking at the DkIT event.

Students in DkIT organised an inspiring women in business event to mark Women’s History Month (careers).