Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kilmainham Gaol - Dublin Historic Prison (Review)

Hundred Year Old Prison Door - Dublin
On a recent trip to Dublin I had a meeting directly across the street from what seemed to be a very large tourist attraction. I learned it was Kilmainham Gaol prison and that I just had to take time to go! Super glad that I did - as a fan of history and wanting to get off the beaten path a bit. This was an excellent stop. 

I didn't realize much of the history of Ireland until I took this tour. The prison was built in 1787 and many key figures in Irish history were incarcerated and executed here. There could be some really fun costume/haunted house events here. Lots of details on various websites and books. 

Everyone has to go through on a tour - which is a good thing. Our guide was knowledgeable and fun. She put into context the conditions in the country versus the prison - sharing that some were trying to get put into prison as the conditions her, which were harsh (overcrowding, dirty, little food) were better than on the streets. The prison was for both women and men - noted somewhere that 40% of inmates could have been women. This was attributed to lack of employment opportunities or marriage after males emigrated. (women arrested for vagrancy or prostitution or other...)

Perhaps owing to my love of antiques like old woods - I was fascinated with the doors and metal work as you can see in the photos below.

Other Dublin / Ireland events and tours on my blog can be reviewed here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Preserving Fresh Herbs - Part 2

Before the frost in the next few weeks I'm scrambling to finish harvesting and preserving the fresh herbs from my garden. Herbs can be kept for a long time by drying or freezing (or transforming into another ingredient like a flavored oil or butter.) Some I scoop up and take indoors too - for example chives, parsley and basil. 




Most often herbs are kept for long periods by drying or freezing them. Some recommend using the oven or a dehydrator, but I find air drying is easiest, the least expensive, accessible to all, and keeps the flavor better. While air drying is a slow, the herb leaves should retain flavor oils than other methods mentioned. Microwaves can also start your herbs on fire (now that's a funny story to share some other time...) 
Formal Herb Garden - Dublin


How to Air Dry Herbs:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Old Trinity Library - Book of Kels; Dublin (Review)

A colleague had attended Trinity University in Dublin and insisted that, as an antique and book lover, that I take a visit to the Trinity Library and Book of Kels exhibit. When I learned that this site, the Long Room, was the inspiration for The Jedi Archives in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (where they discovered that the planet had been erased) - yes I had to go!


Long Hall, Trinity Library, Dublin, Ireland - Sept 2015

These photos are from a visit in September 2015.


Book of Kels - Bible, Trinity Library, Dublin
The Book of Kels is an illustrated bible created by Celtic monks 1200 years ago. The exhibit has a great deal of history in the exhibit. Entry into the exhibit is times - but even then it was very crowded. A new portion of the book is shown each day. You can also see it in these digital archives. Today when people barely read a book or even write a letter - it is an interesting exercise to imaging how it could have taken so many people so many years to create this masterpiece. Some say it is one of Ireland's national treasures - which is easy to understand. No photos allowed - so I grabbed an image from the digital archive for your enjoyment. 


Other Dublin Day-trips and tours are reviewed in these blog updates.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review - Glendalough, Wicklow Ireland

Tower - Glendalough, Ireland, 2016
On prior trips to Ireland I had gone on day-trips north of Dublin to Howth and explored the Botanic Garden.  

On this trip I had a half day free for another adventure, exploring more of Ireland. 

I had the good fortune to be invited down to the Wicklow area.  This is one of Ireland's National Parks and an easy day-trip from Dublin.

Although a raining overcast day (what else would it be?) this was a very enjoyable diversion! I think the light rain kept the majority our sightseers away - the trip did get very crowded towards the end of our stay. 


Our focus was hiking with a close second for good food and a bit of shopping - so it was recommended to try Glendalough and Sally Gap and then head to the coast.


Woodlands at Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland

Glendalough is a pretty valley with bonus of historic sites and well groomed trails and easy access. There are ~9 trails that range from a few minutes to several hours or days. We started with the "green trail" to the ruins of an early christian settlement called Monastic City. We were fortunate to have gotten a very early start arriving as the parks opened. Later in the day the tour buses were pervasive and the trails a tad congested - at least near the visitor centers.

Please see below for some additional photos of the day. Other Dublin Day-trips and tours are reviewed in these blog updates.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Preserving Fresh Herbs


It's no secret that I love to grow my own herbs. When harvesting fresh herbs it's best to nearly decimate the perennials - so that often leaves me (pun intended) with large quantities of herbs at one time. That has lead me to investigate different ways to preserve their freshness. Keeping herbs fresh is mostly about water - preserving water in the plant and avoiding excess condensation on the leaves to cause rot.



For the love of fresh Herbs!
Leafy herbs - like parsley, basil or mint, do not keep as long as non-leafy ones (like tarragon, rosemary, chives, thyme, or dill.) More large leaves gives greater surface area for water loss and space to capture moisture which lends to rot. So keep that in mint when you harvest or buy fresh.

Once during a class, a gentleman asked me when fresh herbs were no longer suitable for use. I wanted to say "when they don't look fresh" :? but instead the reply was when the leaves turn dark, dry out or any part of the plant begins to show traces of mold or rot.  


Not all herbs are equal - they need to be treated differently.