Musings – Brenda’s Recipe for roast spiced Winter vegetables

Cooking is love made visible – unknown


4 – 5 Carrots
4 – 5 small Parsnips
2 x Red Onions
Red and Yellow Peppers 1 of each
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Orange zest
Garlic (fresh or ground]
Brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Cut and prepare the carrots and parsnips into uneven wedge/chunks about 1 – 2 inches
Par boil the veg so as they are soft but with a little bit of resistance – you will finish them in the oven
Cut and slice the onions and peppers into large uneven chunks
Put a shallow dish or roasting tray with a decent splash of olive oil into an oven and heat until it is piping hot (oven should be at 200 Celsius)

The spice mix:
Now to prepare the spice mix
Add two teaspoons each of ground coriander and ground cumin to a dish/mixing bowl
Add two teaspoons of brown sugar (light or medium rather than muscovado)
Zest a large orange and add that to the mix
Add a couple of grinds of salt and pepper fresh from a grinder
Crush and mince one garlic clove or add half a teaspoon of dried garlic (fresh is so much better)
Mix all of this together and set to one side
The smell should be fantastic!

Back to the veg:
Drain the parsnips and carrots very well – there should be no moisture as it will cool down the oil
Take the tray of oil out out of the oven and if you can place it over a ring of the hob turned up high so as the par boiled veg sizzle when they hit it then that would be perfect.
Then add the onion and peppers and mix around – all the time getting a good sizzle.
Finally add the mix of spices and seasoning and give it a good mix around.
The smell at this stage should be of pungent orange and garlic and spices.
Get the mix back into a hot oven and bake until the veg are all soft and caramelised and gorgeous. I always give it about 25-30 minutes.

Serving suggestion:
Serve with your Christmas turkey for a real heart warming taste of seasonal sumptuousness. For an even better effect, bring to the table straight from the oven and let people help themselves to large dollops.
This veg tastes even better the next day so be sure to make plenty!

For larger gatherings you will have to increase the amount of veg and also adjust the spices accordingly. This is also great with roast chicken and roast beef all year round.



Musings – Brenda’s Recipe for Christmas Day Stuffing

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” – Perry Como

This serves 6 – 8 people unless they are stuffing monsters like me ….. Then it serves about 4-8 people

3 sticks of celery
One whole green/red apple
One small white onion
One small red onion
One small yellow or orange pepper
Fresh herbs

Chop the onions, peppers, apple and celery into small pieces – very small diced pieces are preferable.
Put a small amount of cooking oil and a knob of butter into a pan
Add the onions, peppers and celery. When they start to hiss and sizzle, turn them down to simmer. Now add the apples. You are not so much cooking them but sweating them off.
After a couple of minutes take them off the heat and place to one side

The Breadcrumbs

In a large mixing bowl add the breadcrumbs – you can buy ready-made breadcrumbs in the shops – go for one large bag. If you are making your own breadcrumbs I go by the rule of 2 slices per person and then 2 for the pot!

Pour the breadcrumbs into the bowl and add some pepper.

Then it’s time for the herbs. Fresh herbs are preferable – parsley, thyme, sage etc
If you can’t be bothered with all that hassle then use a jar of mixed herbs and be generous. I would add 3-4 tea spoons of mixed herbs.
Then add in some paprika for a nice wintery kick – about half a teaspoon. Make sure to add pepper to the mix at this stage but go easy on the salt – just a pinch or two.
Now add in all the vegetables that you have already sweated in the pot and mix it all together.
The smell should be divine. If it’s not then you need to add more herbs!
Through a decent number of knobs of butter into the pot you sweated the veg in and heat until melted. Then add to the stuffing mix and watch it all coming together nicely.
If it is looking a bit dry then de glaze the pan using a small amount of hot water and add that to the stuffing.


Place in a wide/shallow dish and cover with tinfoil.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes and half way through the cooking take it out of the oven and mix it all up to make sure you are getting it all cooked through. About 10 minutes from the end of the cooking take off the tinfoil so as you get a nice crispy crust on the top.

Serve to a very happy family on Christmas day.

And finally
You can vary the fruit/veg that you add seasonally – cranberries work well or apricots instead of the apple. You can also try walnuts along with the apple and the celery.

This is one of the nicest stuffing recipes you will ever taste.

Save some [if you can] for a cold sandwich later in the day.
Enjoy and let me know how it turned out.

Happy Christmas xx

Brenda Drumm (Nigella, eat your heart out!)


The 9 year milestone

“Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on” – Unknown

The 8th of December is a special day for me in many ways. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so as a practising Catholic, it’s a big day. It’s a day off from work and a day to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. Mary is quite a woman and someone to whom I have a strong devotion. I believe that she was with me during the trials of my transplant ……

Getting back to the 8th of December, and specifically to 8th December 2006. I was on a day off from work. I was feeling ok. I was sitting on the couch mid morning when my phone rang. It was Bishop Larry Forristal, the then Bishop of Ossory (Kilkenny). He was phoning to thank me for a memorial card I had sent on to him but then he said something which made me sit up a bit straighter: “Brenda, I’m worried about you”. Now that wasn’t the call I was expecting – not when someone like him should have been really busy with Feast of the Assumption of BVM Masses. But he had taken the time to call. He went on to tell me that he was worried because of what he saw in me the day before. He had been in Maynooth for the General Meeting of Bishops. At the time I was so taken aback, I did not have time to think ‘Jeepers he’s brave commenting on how I am looking!’. He moved on quickly before those thoughts came into a thought bubble over my head. “Brenda”, he said, “You are looking unwell, are you ok?” ‘I am’, I said. “Are you sure?”, came the reply. “You are important to us”, he said, “but you are even more important to your family. Are you really well?”

I told him I had a cold and a few other little doses. He assured me of his prayers and parted by asking me to look after myself. About an hour later I started vomiting and feeling really ill.

A part of me was wondering if he had jinxed me but I knew that wasn’t the case.

I realise now that he had seen something in me that I could not see in myself. He had seen the beginning of the effects of the cancer taking hold.

Any of you who have been following this blog know the story from here. I spent the rest of that weekend feeling ill and vomiting and eventually gave in and went to the doctor who gave me some anti-sickness meds and some stomach tablets to ease my discomfort. What no one knew at the time was the reason I was being sick. I was in kidney failure and I was poisoning myself from the inside because my kidneys were not doing their job anymore.

I had an entirely miserable month of December (2006). It’s strange to be able to pin-point the exact moment and date that I first became ill. The 8th of December 2006 was the day and about 11am in the morning was the time.

I find myself sitting in Starbucks in Dublin on the 8th December 2015 – nine years later. Yes NINE YEARS!

Living with an illness can become all about dates and anniversaries of good and bad news. I have been notching up the dates and the years associated with my illness and today I can notch up the first 9 associated with my illness. It is NINE years today since I first became ill. It feels good to type and to say NINE YEARS.

I am well at the moment. I do have one more hospital appointment this week which will hopefully be the last one this year. I am incredibly lucky to be here – no I don’t mean here in Starbucks. I mean HERE. I mean ALIVE. I mean WELL.

I was listening to an interview on the Tubridy Show yesterday morning with a woman who was recently diagnosed with cancer. The woman being interviewed is Emily Hourican. As I sat listening I had flash-backs to all of the emotions that she was describing and how she was feeling annoyed with herself for being presumptuous about life and other things. I know those feelings so well. She was talking about having to tell her kids about the cancer and hating the idea that they describe her as being ill. That’s tough.

Anyway, here is little old me notching up 9 year’s of living with a cancer that possibly should have and indeed could still kill me. We can’t ever say it’s gone for good because the reality is that it is lurking around the corner all the time.

But as I notch up the number nine in years of living with this I am grateful to have been given the chance to put so much life into these last nine years. I am grateful for all the memories made and the mischief managed in the past nine years. I am grateful to be feeling well as we approach Christmas, my most favourite time of the year. I am grateful to all those who love me and who have stood with me – especially my husband Bryan to whom I will be married for 20 years on 29 December next.

I have said this before and I will say it again:

We all take things in our lives for granted – time being one of them. We assume a path in life that includes growing old with the ones we love. As a result of my cancer diagnosis almost nine year’s ago, I knew that I would never take time for granted again. Because of my cancer diagnosis, time is the thing I find myself most grateful for.