Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin: Irish proverb meaning ‘There’s no hearth like your own hearth’.
As I mentioned in a Facebook post on ‘Greenville Style’ some weeks ago, January 11th 2018 saw the arrival of our new Stanley 8 cooker (reconditioned by H & F Cast Iron Ranges in Cashel) to Greenville.
Since Christmas, I would describe myself as being in ‘active mode’.
I re-organised several rooms at Greenville, and we put the Stanley in our dining room, a room previously only used on ‘special’ occasions. I suppose, as you get older, every day you spend with your family, your children, who you see grow up so fast in front of your eyes, becomes special. So we made the decision, during Christmas, to change some aspects of the dining room so we could use it more in winter time – and the Stanley 8 was the ‘pièce de résistance’ in this transformation.
I removed the large and dramatic Gothic side cabinet we had at the end of the dining room, which we bought years ago in a salvage shop somewhere near Limerick (it is now on sale on Adverts.ie) and moved an old carved dresser I had in the Reception room into this place instead (see opening image).
We also changed the colour of the back wall from red to a vibrant green that catches some of the colours in the painting by Tipperary artist Noel Long, which hangs high on this wall, bursting with light and colour.
It seems a rather simple set of adjustments, but the re-plastering behind the new cooker took time, as did moving heavy furniture from one room to another – and, all in all, the whole exercise took the entire month of January.
The reception room is also totally transformed in that I re-installed the beautiful counter I once had at my shop in Nenagh (designed by Lyn Kirkham and Paul Finch of the then Greenmantle, Killea, Templemore in 2004, which I had in storage) and this now stands where the dresser used to be in the reception room.
This room is simplified and, while we need to add some ash branches to the counter to complete the refitting, it looks spectacular with all the mirror.
A big ‘thank you’ to Tipperary Glass in Templemore for cutting the mirror for the shelf at the back and to Pat Lynch for his carpentry.
I know a large part of all this ‘interior reshuffle’, for me, was an effort to manage grief.
January can be a bleak month and, with the heavy rains we had this year, it felt even bleaker at times.
I don’t think a day has passed since my Mother died on September 29th that I have not cried, mostly when no one is looking, often when I am cooking or baking alone in the kitchen; or when I wake up in the middle of the night. Driving past her former home can also result in the tears flowing.
It is a dreadful pain and sense of loss, the unfathomable realisation that I will never see her again, honestly, sometimes seems unbearable.
But Christmas brought many blessings, with family get-togethers and two of my nieces getting engaged and, more recently, the birth of my nephew’s new baby boy, Noah.
I am aware life does move on and the loss and sadness of losing a loved one, eventually, subsides.
The Stanley in Killough
One of my many memories of growing up in Killough was coming home from school or college or being out with friends, and the first place you would go to, when you came into the kitchen, was over to the Stanley 8 range, to stand in front of it – to warm up and absorb that unique sense of being home, being safe.
Mother was usually seated on the right, Daddy on the left of the Stanley. A general conversation often happened, from this somewhat odd location – standing in front of the range.
Mother loved her Irish and was very proud of the fact she won a medal in primary school, many years ago, for her Irish language skills. I remember she often quoted the old Irish proverb ‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’ – ‘There is no hearth like your own hearth’.
I know she certainly loved her home, her hearth – her independence and being in charge of her ‘domain’ as it were, in the kitchen. I follow in her footsteps in that respect, as I too love home-making and welcoming people to our home with its unique history and slightly unusual interior design.
Bread Making in a Non-Fan Oven
I have been asked by many if I am making my soda breads in the new Stanley oven and the answer to that is, maybe surprisingly, ‘no’. I am using it instead for my yeast breads and I find the non-fan oven is excellent for these breads.
I have become too accustomed to using a fan oven for the soda breads so I decided to stick with what I knew best in that regard. My Fougasse (photographed to the left) tastes even better since I started to use the Stanley.
My latest bread is also just delicious and it too is baked in the Stanley. I use half strong flour and half of the fabulous seeded strong flour I was so kindly given to sample from the Little Mill in Thomastown last summer. I can’t recommend their flours enough. So this seeded rustic style bagette bread is very soft, tasty and nutritious. It gets a lovely crusty finish in my new Stanley oven (see image below).
Today, January 31st, Spring seems to beckon outside my windows as I write my first blog of 2018, the birds are starting to chatter, and one has that sense of the season changing in the air. A short blog, as I said it would be – I want to wish my readers every good wish for the year ahead. A year can bring many changes, many moments of joy- many moments of great sadness.
We have to be thankful for our hearth, and the people whom we love who sit at it, with us. I have no doubt some of those who have left us for a different place are close by in spirit, happy to see old traditions continued… of family, warmth, good food to share, and of course at the center of it all – love.