About BeeSmith

I was born in Queens, N.Y, reared in Pennsylvania, did university in Washington, D.C. Then I moved to England for nineteen years. I lived first in London and then in Leeds. After my partner's sister died of cancer in 2000, we decided to take the leap of faith and move to Ireland to be nearer his family. Despite our friends thinking we were mad and feckless, it has worked out. The angels really do look after fools! We have a cottage on an acre and a quarter three miles from where the River Shannon rises. We have a polytunnel to grow vegetables and fruit organically, a small orchard of apple trees and plans to create a sacred space on the land over the rest of our lifetimes. We share our home with two tortoiseshell cats, Zelda and her daughter Zymina, and three dogs, Murphy, Pippin and Cara.

Maple Nutmeg Feather Cake

Even though I’ve lived in Europe for over thirty years now, there are still some American childhood tastes and flavours that stay with me. It’s like they are engraved in my tastebud DNA. One of these is maple syrup. Continue reading

Irish “Snowed-Up” Soup and Cheese Scones

snowy house

Editor’s Note: This post came from Irish transplant and writer Bee Smith back in January 2010, when Ireland was experiencing record-low temperatures and snow. So good we just had to repost – whether or not you’re “snowed up” (or snowed in, as we say in the U.S.). Enjoy!

Here in Ireland, we have had record low temperatures that have created chaos for this temperate-climate culture. No snow tires (or tyres) here. Rock salt is rationed for densely populated areas, and out here in the wilds of West Cavan we get “grit”- a combination of loose chippings mixed with sand. So, even snowfalls of less than a foot can leave you stranded if you don’t own a jeep with four wheel drive.

But for someone who loves to cook and likes the creative challenge of looking in the larder and seeing what you can make up with what you have on hand, these days mean a frenzy of cabin cooking. And lots of yummy fun. Continue reading

Summer Vacation – Unplugged

This rugged, lightweight, 3-candle lantern produces a bright light and heats water on top, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our lightweight 3-candle lantern produces a bright light and heats water on top, too. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

How many people – including backpackers – go out into nature, on the trail, into the woods – and are completely unplugged?  Cell phones offer GPS.  How many walkers march to the tune of pop music piped into earbuds from an iPod or cell phone?

It may sound scary, the idea of unplugging for a week or so. But it is completely worth it.  Let me share how I have spent my summer vacation for several years now.

Each July, we pack as much as we can into our teeny Tardis – actually a Nissan Micra. It’s fuel-efficient, and very cozy, especially when packed for a vacation.

Then we set off for a camp in Ireland where we will join up with 500 other folks, ranging from babies to “aging hippies” who can just about remember the 1960s! Continue reading

The Real St. Paddy’s Day Food

St. Patricks Day Theme Dinner plate and napkins

Editor’s Note: Blogger Bee Smith hails from the U.S., but she’s lived on the Emerald Isle for many years. This post was originally published in 2011.

Living in Ireland, I view with some bemusement the way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the States.  For in St. Patrick’s Ireland there is nary a green-dyed beer to found. It would be thought sacrilege to taint a worthy brew that way! Continue reading

Get Schooled In Meatless Mondays

Freezable Lunch Box

Food Stays Cool – No Ice Packs Needed!

Yes, it’s that time of year again! This article originally appeared on August 27, 2012. Hope it helps you make the transition back to a fall routine this year too.  –Editor.

Back to School Meatless Monday
September is an odd month. It can still be as hot as summer but the mornings and evenings can be chilly, hinting at autumn. Whereas in August you are buying new pens, pencils, tablets, binders, schoolbags, lunchboxes and all the other equipment to start the new school year, by September it’s a done deal. We are all back into the routine of school runs, bus schedules, car pools, after school activities and homework.  Life can be a bit fraught while everyone gets used to their new routines. Continue reading

Slash That Seasonings Stash!

Always in good taste, Streb's Amish Country Ham and Cheeses are still available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

Always in good taste, Streb’s Amish Country Ham and Cheeses are still available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

In Ireland and Britain the pantry was the butler’s province in the Big House, otherwise known as a stately home, or manor house. The comestibles that one might store in an American pantry are stowed in a larder over here.  And indeed, originally the smoked ham and bacon would have been hung on hooks in that room designated to store food, crockery and cutlery. Additionally, the silver stored in that room was to be kept mirror-bright, an ongoing task for the butler. Few of us today have a designated room like the old fashioned pantry.  (After all, whose house looks like the ones on Downton Abbey?) Continue reading

Keeping Community Is Important This Season

Feeling a bit nutty? Or just have a good sense of humor? This tin sign is sure to bring smiles.

We seem to have been adopted by a family of endangered and protected native red squirrels who have decided that our peanut feeder is just the best kind of dining out. They vie with the great tits and finches for the peanuts. They are super entertainment value as they do acrobatic turns and eat upside down, or chase each other through the trees.

Given the expense of peanuts, the squirrel’s diet is outstripping the budget line item for the little deaf dog’s special GM free, gluten free, organic-for-dogs-with-sensitive-skin-and-delicate-digestions diet, we were really excited to see that you can grow peanuts in Ireland.

As part of a global inclusiveness initiative, the Organic Centre here is giving courses on how to grow peanuts, lentils and chickpeas – Third World staples which would have seemed impossible to grow in Ireland a few years ago. So we will be off to the course and living in hope that we can become self-sufficient in squirrel food next year.

Taking the course also underlines the importance of getting out and about as the days get darker and we draw in towards the hearth. Country living can be isolating, especially in the winter months. It is important that no matter how self-sufficient you want to become, remember you really are part of a larger world. Getting out and meeting people is vital, especially in farming communities which have been hit by the economic downturn.

One line item in the family time budget that is sacrosanct is choir. Last spring we linked up with some neighbours and decided that we would car-share and join the One Voice Choir in Enniskillen. Choir singing is especially good for us according to some psychological studies. It’s not just the singing that gets our endorphins going, what is important is that we are engaging in a communal activity. All that working on four and five part harmony is really good for the mind, body and spirit. It’s not all earnest and po-faced. We laugh a lot at choir especially when we try to coordinate singing with some simple choreography!  We manage to make Dennis blush at least once every evening. Susie likes to get in a hug or two. It’s a social event as much as a communal activity.

What is unique about this choir is that it has no religious or sectarian affiliation. In Ireland, which has been heavily identified along religious lines in the recent past, this is a rare but welcome opportunity for ‘cross-community’ interaction. The facilitator, Valerie Whitworth, runs groups in Manorhamilton in the Republic of Ireland and three other choirs in Counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. And we all get the opportunity to join together for at least a couple of concerts each year. Last June the concert was a fundraiser for Water Aid. Later this month, singers from the Northern Ireland choirs are turning out at the Leitrim group’s fundraiser for their choir.

No matter how self-sufficient or independent we may wish to be there is always the need to reach out and be connected. As I type this, I have one eye on the red squirrel doing its form of exotic yoga to eat the last of the peanuts in the feeder. Between the introduction of the American gray squirrel, mink, native pine martins and domestic cats, they have hard work hanging onto the thread so their species doesn’t fall out of the web of this one world. It makes me realize all need one another, as much as my choral members all need one another to put together a good performance.  In this winter season, make a little extra effort to stay connected to your local and greater communities.

Harvestime Reflections From Ireland

We’ve passed the autumn equinox and up in these northern latitudes it’s really noticeable how the days are rapidly getting shorter.  It’s dark by 7 pm.  But while the summer was a dull wash out, now the days are proving perfect for rainbow conditions.  We’ve many sunny days, still with a great deal of warmth, and seasonal showery intervals. There’s still enough sunlight even with shorter days that the rainbows following the showers are just brilliant. Continue reading

Green Tomato Week: Have Some Pie!

This pie plate is available from Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

If you have green tomatoes on hand, you’re already in the green tomato pie game. The big question is this: do you like deep dish pie plates or or standard depth? The amount of green tomatoes you will need will depend on whether you want to bake this in a deep plate, a standard pie plate or in mini patty-pan trays. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply