Today we are hiding indoors with a windstorm warning. It's been rather windy, rainy and stormy all week, with flood warnings all over the place. This is not surprising, given that I'm living on a small island (twice the size of Vancouver Island, or just slightly larger than West Virgina, for a US comparison) tacked out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, rather like an apostrophe on the edge of mainland Europe. The flooding is often related to extremely high tides, and is generally unpleasant to discuss as it often involves septic and sewage flooding.
Despite the shelter that our friendly neighbourhood wall provides, I can hear the howling of today's windstorm beating against our house. But with winds steady at 120 km/hour (gusts up to 140 km/hour) it would be hard not to feel the breeze. The landscape is used to such winds, so although trees and branches may fall, it will hardly equal the disaster of the Vancouver wind storm in 2007.
From my cosy vantage point I am going to cuddle up with a mug of steamy warm tea to spend my afternoon cooking yummy food and pondering a few more Irishisms.
At the toddler group the toys are stored in a repurposed cleaning closet referred to as "the press".
Now that the days are growing short (only 8 hours of daylight) and the weather's turned cold, I've taken to drying my clothes indoors. But it is humid... oh so humid... even on a sunshiny day it will take a load of laundry at least 2 days to dry indoors. So now my laundry rack is in use 24/7, and I'm not embarrassed to have my knickers (underwear) and vests (undershirts) hanging out for all to see, as it is all the rage over here to have your laundry hanging out for everyone to see. (In Canada it would certainly be a faux pas (not done) to have laundry drying in your kitchen-living room-hallway. Only delicates would be hung dry... and then usually in a laundry room, or in your bedroom away from visitors prying eyes).
Anyways, back to "the press"... an advantage that most of my friends have over me is a "hot press". A "hot press" is a closet where your hot water heater is located. It's typically built like a pantry with rows of shelves, and is used to finish drying the slightly damp, folded laundry. We do have a hot press... but it's incredibly dirty, without shelves, and at the moment our hot water heater leaks... so not terribly dry either. So from all this I can infer that "press" means storage closet!
From participating in everyday conversations with the locals, I'm also guessing that "the delf" means either dirty dishes or a dirty mess to be cleaned up (in particular reference to the kitchen).
**I'm just practicing my skills as an anthropologist... so anyone who might know better, please correct me if I'm wrong.**
Les au revoirs:
Lastly, and most weather related, are the Irish goodbyes. On the phone I've received a barrage of byes (for the sake of precision, here is my direct representation with the speed of delivery being represented by the gaps: "byebyebyebyebye... bye... bye"). My Canadian core found this to be rather rude when I first encountered it, but I have since learned that I am not being railroaded off the phone... but rather just goodbye-d in a typical fashion.
Other typical goodbyes are definitely more related to the weather in this dark, damp, windy clime: "take care", "mind yourself", and "safe home". As the weather is certainly conspiring against our general well-being, we do need to take care on a daily basis.
Now a recipe for a blustery day, Greek inspired baked beans (loved these when travelling, but couldn't find a recipe on returning home so I made this one up). This may seem a bit time consuming... but you can stick them in your oven in the morning and come back to them at dinner. How better to heat your house on a tempestuous day?!:
Soak overnight 1 lbs dried Lima beans (or Butterbeans)
Heat oven to 250 F (125 C).
Place a cast iron Dutch oven (or metal equivalent) over medium heat and fry 1 cup finely diced onions in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup tomato paste, and 2 tbsp sugar. Add drained beans, and 4 cups of liquid (mix of wine, broth and water) to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in a handful chopped flat leaf parsley, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp black pepper and 2 tsp salt (or to taste).
Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, then serve it up with bread, colcanon, and your favorite veggies!
The photo is through an arrow slit at the moat in the well fortified Trim Castle.