Darina Allen in vegetable garden

Darina Allen on Home-Cooked Meals, Fresh Ingredients

This article was published in the May 2015 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. Darina Allen hesitated when I asked her about her guilty pleasure. “I don’t think I have one,” said Allen, the founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. I could hear Allen pull her…

Margaret River beach.

Margaret River, You Had Me at Hello

Australia’s Anzac holiday weekend is coming to a close. The annual celebration reminded me of my trip to Margaret River, Western Australia, a gorgeous and wild place filled with wine and relaxation. Here are some reflections on my journey down under. On the journey to Margaret River, three hours South of Perth by car, I…

food pantry

The Challenging Experiences of our Hungry Neighbors

This article was published in the April 2015 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. During Lent, it’s common for people to give up guilty pleasures like chocolate or wine. But for one out of seven northern Illinois residents, guilty pleasures are not an option because even a regular meal is not…

curry ingredients

Eating Curry Chips Doesn’t Count

This article was published in the March 2015 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. I fell in love with Indian food in Belfast at one of my now favorite dining spots, the Bengal Brasserie. Ireland’s take on curry is not the same as in India, of course, but the interpretation is…

Lemons and cloves

Toasting My Oven Fears

This article was published in the January 2015 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. It’s the New Year, time to turn over a new leaf. For me, that means making a confession to you, dear readers. For the past year, I’ve been sharing stories with you about food, culture and…

Christmas cake.

Cake Expectations

This article was published in the December 2014 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. My wedding cake was a traditional Irish Christmas cake, all three white-fondant-covered tiers of it. When I was 18, I had a very different idea of what my wedding cake would look and taste like. I…

Spoons and Bowls Circling the Pot

This article was published in the November 2014 issue of the Irish American News under the “Guilty Pleasures” column. For many Irish Americans, life in the Midwest typically means periodic visits from family members living on the Emerald Isle. In between those visits, however, a sense of isolation from loved ones becomes more and more…