Things are back in full swing with the American Women’s Club, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Along with meetings, there are events put on for entertainment and charity purposes. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be involved more with charity, and yesterday was the perfect opportunity to do so. Karen, the Philanthropic Chair, hosted a Cooking Demo in her home with the proceeds benefitting the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). As I’ve become overly fascinated with food and cooking lately, I decided it would be a great way to spend my afternoon.
I must first talk about Karen’s home, as it is a true symbol of the medieval history here in Ireland. Karen lives in an old, converted convent! That’s right, a convent. The history of the building is amazing; on the fireplace it even has its own coat of arms. When you walk in the building, you really do feel like you’re walking into an old Catholic convent, with dark wood, unique carpeting, and large church-like doors. Karen’s space feels modern, in the sense that the living space has been redone (her kitchen is to die for), but when you look up and around, the moldings on the ceiling are dark wood and historic.
The cooking demo itself was put on by Karen and her friend Paddy. Paddy is an Irishman who is slightly famous in Dublin. I don’t have the time or the space, nor could I do justice to his history and story, but here is a snippet. Paddy grew up in harsh family circumstances as a child of abuse, which he shares openly and candidly. His mother dropped Paddy and his brother off at an orphanage when he was still a boy, because of poverty, and he lived there until he was 16. Paddy eventually fell in love with his wife, who he kept referring to as a symbol of unconditional love. She changed his life. When she became ill and could no longer cook, Paddy went to food stores to bring home prepared meals because he didn’t know how to cook. He would always come back complaining that they weren’t cooking it the way his wife did, and was continually banned from coming back (this part of the story is quite entertaining and he tells it in such a fun way). Because he couldn’t go back to the food stores and needed to learn how to cook, he started attending cooking classes around the ripe age of 70. His wife eventually passed, and now Paddy teaches bread baking for free, because he wants to pass down the knowledge and unconditional love. A wonderful man, Paddy had almost all of us in tears and wanting to go up to give him a big hug.
The demo itself was the art of making Irish scones. We enjoyed a pre-made batch while he went through the process. With the scones, we feasted on carrot and orange soup and an array of finger foods. Karen had a vat of Starbucks coffee brought in, because we Americans sure do love the stuff. Paddy’s presentation made scone-making seem so simple and easy. His methods are unique and the end result of full of flavor. Compared to Irish bread and scones I’ve had since I got here, Paddy’s scones were so moist and delicious. A raffle was then held for door prizes and desserts of all kinds were placed out on the tables.
It was a beautiful afternoon and I was filled to the brim when I left. Paddy’s story was so powerful, but with a good mix of lightheartedness and positivity. The food was fantastic and we each took home some recipes to practice on our own. And I think it was a great way to start our charity work for 2011.