Saturday, December 06, 2008

Recipe: Penne ala Irish Breakfast

I hesitate to call this a recipe, it's just something I did for the first time today without much thought for what would be "right" but it was pretty cool. I probably would have added a rasher if I'd had one.


  • pasta (I used penne because that's what I had).
  • 4 sausages - 160g (Dunnes' Simply Better or whatever you like yourself).
  • white pudding 50g (again Simply Better)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 dried chillies with the seeds removed (I might use 1 next time)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (Lidl I think, not that it matters very much)


  • Start the pasta cooking.
  • Fry the sausages in some oil (I used olive oil for no particular reason) until they are mostly browned. You don't have to worry too much because they're going to cook some more later.
  • Take them out and slice them into circles about .5cm long - maybe 10 or 12 slices per sausage.
  • Slice the garlic and fry it and the chillies in the pan for about 30s or a minute. I just let them fry in the little bit of oil that was in the pan from cooking the sausages.
  • Put in the tin of tomatoes and stir it up.
  • Put back in the sausages and stir it up.
  • Mash in the white pudding - you want it to break up into little grains and be spread all through the sauce.
  • Leave it cook some more, stirring now and then to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. About 5 minutes of cooking seemed to do the trick for me.
  • Pour it on the pasta and eat it.

That's a nice spicy, tomatoey way of getting all the vitamins and goodness contained in an Irish breakfast. Maybe it should have a fried egg on top but I was never one for fancy presentation.

Monday, December 01, 2008

That's my daughter

Shortly before we went to Japan, we go some family photos taken - it would be unfair to Seán to only have nice baby photos of Ríona. The studio had various props, wicker baskets, dolls, chairs etc. At one point between poses, I heard Ríona crying. I turned around to find her with her head stuck in some railings. They were part of one the props, a little stand-alone fence that would be waist-high to a 6 year-old - something to lean on or whatever. Poor Ríona, I couldn't help laughing, especially when the photographer said, in a puzzled voice, "I've had that for 25 years and no one has ever done that".

Regrettably I am not a cruel enough father to take a photo before popping her head out from the bars, I actually didn't think of it at the time, I wish I had. I do plan to bring this up at her wedding though.

Japan - smoking

One afternoon I was flicking around TV looking for a cartoon or something to occupy Ríona for a few minutes. I found a cartoon, so we watched that for a few minutes. It wasn't by any means a toddler's cartoon, it was called "Gunlock (SaiYuki)" (there seem to be several seasons and variants of this anime, I have no idea which one I was watching). It's a retelling of Journey to the West (aka "Monkey Magic") with more modern characters, some guns etc. Although it wasn't a toddler's cartoon, it held Ríona's attention for while I got something else done. She seems to like any kind of cartoon at least for a few minutes.

The cartoon had some violence ("Daddy, boy fell over") but what really surprised me was that one of the main characters was smoking. He wasn't even a bad guy. I was just really shocked to see someone smoking in a kids show at 2pm.

It was actually pretty uncomfortable in Japan on several occasions, restaurants still have smoking sections, usually as big or bigger than the non-smoking sections and we sometimes had to settle for a seat in the smoking area. We even found one that didn't have a non-smoking section at all!

What's really odd though is that it's not like smoking is entirely acceptable in Japan either. In lots of places, smoking on the street is illegal and some streets had designated smoking areas. And in true Japanese style, people obeyed these rules. I saw plenty of smokers at the smoking areas and I can't remember seeing anyone smoking in the "wrong" part of the street.

Still it's better than China. A few years ago I was in Beijing airport and I went into a restaurant. "Smoking or non-smoking?". "Non-smoking", I said. "Sit anywhere you like", said the waitress. I was sleepless and jet-lagged at the time so I didn't notice how stupid this was. For a while I was the only customer but soon some more tables filled up, including a guy smoking right beside me. It was only then that I understood my conversation with the waitress. The question was purely cosmetic - probably just for foreigners - there was no non-smoking area in this restaurant, or certainly none that the waitress was willing to enforce. I wonder if I had lit up a cigarette would I have been told to put it out because my table was non-smoking?