A new label is set to appear on all egg cartons across the country very shortly, with the Department of Agriculture insisting that the egg and poultry sector can no longer use the ‘Free Range’ label after St Patrick’s Day 2017.
This news comes following the introduction of recent and necessary regulations by the Dept. of Agriculture, which required all poultry keepers to maintain their flocks indoors in a secure building, ensuring no access to other wild birds or animals. Same decree was due to the outbreaks of the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (H5N8) currently sweeping across Europe. Bird flu has been reported in no less than 16 countries across Europe last month.
The H5N8 strain of the virus was found in Whooper Swans in Borrisokane and Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, as well as in a Grey Heron in Middleton, Co. Cork. Two cases were also reported in Northern Ireland in Whooper Swans in Derry and Lough Neagh.
From March 18th next all eggs sold in cartons, or offered for sale on menus will be unable to use the description ‘free range’. Egg producers must detail how hens were kept and according to the Department, all previously free range eggs will now have to be classified with the term ‘barn eggs’ or ‘barn eggs – laid by hens temporarily housed for their welfare’.
According to EU rules this new label must appear ‘easily visible and clearly legible’ on the outside of all egg cartons, with any reference to ‘free range’ on the label removed or covered over, with new sticker ‘not easily removed’.
Under current law, owners of hotels, restaurants, cafés and pubs selling food, can no longer have information on menus that is not totally correct, so proprietors will need to remove any references to eggs as being ‘free range’ on all written published material.
If and when the current confinement order in relation to avian influenza is lifted, the industry can again return to marking their produce as ‘free range’ if so appropriate.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Account given in the gospel attributed to St Matthew, Chapter 4].
Today is the Christian feast day best known as Shrove Tuesday. This moveable feast day, also known as Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, is traditionally observed by Christian communities here in Ireland; occurring each year between February 3rd and March 9th, to coincide with Easter.
Positioned the day before a time dedicated to fasting; 47 days before Easter Sunday, Christians continue to use Shrove Tuesday as a time to confess and be “shriven” or absolved from all their sins, by way of their confession and the undertaking of penance, before the start of Lent.
The association with Shrove Tuesday and pancakes of course is the fact that Shrove Tuesday is the last opportunity to use up your eggs and fats, before embarking on your Lenten fast, which for the most part saw meat removed from your diet over your subsequent 40 day venture.
The ingredients of pancakes or griddle-cakes were viewed as representing the four pillars of Christianity, e.g. eggs representing creation; flour signifying the mainstay of our human diet; salt expressing wholesomeness and finally milk indicative of purity.
Traditional pancakes, featured in cookery books as far back as the 15th century, are thin flat cakes served immediately on being cooked; usually with sugar, perhaps a sweet syrup or lemon juice.
Your Traditional Thurles Irish Pancake Mix:
One serving of pancakes for a family of 5 will necessitate the whisking of 8 ounces of plain flour, 2 large eggs, 1 pint milk, 1 tablespoon of melted butter and a pinch of salt. When whisked this mix should be left to stand for some 30 minutes.
Next, heat a little oil in your frying pan, before pouring or ladling in sufficient batter to thinly cover the base, (Tip: Tilt your pan so as to spread the mixture evenly; while allowing it cook until the base of the pancake has browned. Then shaking your frying pan to loosen the pancake, you can with minimum practise flip / toss your pancake over to brown the other side. Of course you can avoid spills by ‘Flipping’ your pancake over using a palette knife or fish slice.
This tradition of ‘tossing your pancake’ however goes back in time:- “And every man and maide doe take their turne, and tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).
Shrove Tuesday next year, 2018, will fall earlier, on Tuesday, February 13th.
For centuries watercress was hailed and indeed annually confirmed the arrival of Ireland’s spring season, with rural people in particular collecting bunches of it to consume as part of their evening repast, believing that it would “clear the blood”. As a small boy in the 50’s, on Sundays, myself and my uncle Bill would make the walk of some three miles to collect this tasty peppery super-food from a fast locally flowing clear stream.
Although not a medical practitioner myself, watercress I was informed was rich in iron, vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin C, E and A). Back then, this incredibly versatile readily available free plant was packed raw into my home-made brown bread sandwiches, as a salad for school lunch breaks, and used in my home to make the occasional soup and sauce.
Today food science experts (which I repeat, I am not) talk about this herb reducing the risk of bladder, colon and rectum cancers, while also preventing breast cancer cells developing. Fact or fiction; most certainly watercress is being seriously scientifically investigated for its anti-cancer properties. Watercress juice is a natural antibiotic, and if applied to the skin, many claim it clears up spots, eczema, psoriasis and when eaten can speed up body detoxification, while relieving stomach upsets, respiratory problems and urinary tract infections. It is also suggested that uncooked watercress is a leading food source of quercetin, inhibiting xanthine oxidase, the enzyme that is responsible for converting purines into uric acid, thus placing watercress into a class of food suitable for those who suffer from painful gout.
The ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier and mercenary Xenophon (430–354 BC) insisted his soldiers eat specifically watercress “for vigour” before going into battle believing it could increase their mental powers. Hippocrates of Kos (460-370 BC) one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine and indeed referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine”, set up his first hospital on the Greek island of Kos, beside a spring thus enabled him access to a continuous supply of watercress with which to treat patients.
The English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper (1616 -1654) in his book “Complete Herbal” (1653) wrote “Watercress pottage is a good remedy to cleanse the blood in spring and consume the gross humours winter hath left behind”. So too can be found references to this super-food, watercress, in early Irish manuscripts. Watercress supposedly enabled St. Brendan to live to reach the ripe old age of 180, while Irish monks appear to have survived on it for long periods of time, referring to it as “the pure food of wise men”.
Then inevitable came the contamination scare in the 1970’s / 1980’s. Since watercress grows in streams inhabited by water snails; these snails can carry a nasty parasite known as liver fluke, spread by the run off from cattle and sheep and washed into our streams and rivers. Droplets of water and these tiny snails, who cling unto watercress leaves, can pass-on this parasite to humans.
Of course the best way to make sure you don’t contract this parasite is to blanch your watercress briefly at high temperature. In undertaking this most simple of exercises, the threat of liver fluke parasite is eradicated. Perhaps also the introduction and ready availability of lettuce all year round was considered to be now less of a food risk and watercress went mostly forgotten.
Over recent years watercress is once again back on the menu and thankfully sold commercially through our supermarkets here in Thurles and elsewhere. But here is a test, grab four slices of low-G.I. brown bread (Available most days in Thurles Supermarkets) made with linseed, jumbo oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, then make two sandwiches filled with red cheddar cheese and strong helpings of watercress. Once lightly toasted and consumed, I dare you to come back and tell me you did not get a feeling of wellness and vigour, after your simple delicious meal.
Do any farmers grow watercress in Co. Tipperary; I don’t believe so. Perhaps such a happening could be a future addition to the home of excellent food production, while offering at least some limited rural employment.
Parker’s Restaurant, Holycross, Thurles.
Fire broke out early this morning at the well established, busy Parker’s Restaurant, situated in Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Management of the restaurant, which is a firm favourite of both local people and visiting tourists to Holycross, are unable today to confirm on how the blaze actually started, which caused serious internal damage to the building.
A member of staff arriving on duty this morning is understood to have raised the alarm and nobody is understood, thankfully, to have been hurt as a direct result of the fire.
On their Facebook today Parker’s Restaurant report the following entry, “It is with great sadness that we have to inform you our restaurant will remain closed until further notice due to fire damage. Thankfully no one was hurt in a fire that broke out in the early hours of this morning, however a lot of internal damage has been done.”
Parkers Restaurant have apologies for any inconvenience caused and ask that they be contacted on Moblie Tel. No 087-4417218 with regard to all future bookings and enquiries.
Auburn Hotels (Aherlow) Limited, Aherlow, Co. Tipperary has announced, with great regret, that it has been obliged to cease trading as Aherlow House Hotel, with effect from the 9th February 2016.
The scenic hotel has surrendered possession of the hotel premises to the Receiver of Aherlow House Hotel Ltd, Mr Costelloe of Messrs Grant Thornton’s, Limerick office, with immediate effect.
Auburn Hotels (Aherlow) Limited had been in negotiations with the receiver of the hotel over an extended period with regard to the future of the property and in the expectation that it could remain operating the premises, having envisaged that bookings could be taken for functions for dates into the future.
It is now understood that the receiver intends to place the hotel for sale on the open market and that the present lease granted will not be renewed or extended; leaving the company with no option but to cease trading with immediate effect.
Some 25 employment contracts held by the hotels staff have been now terminated and the hotel will not itself be in a position to carry through bookings already confirmed. The hotel is understood to have in excess of 40 weddings and other functions confirmed for the year ahead, but say it will not be in a position to meet future commitments. However the Receiver has requested full particulars of all bookings for weddings and functions to be furnished to them, together with full particulars of all staff currently employed. Same information will be passed on to all / any interested future purchasers.
Functions booked to take place in the immediate future at Aherlow House Hotel have now been accommodated at other venues including Kilcoran Lodge Hotel, Cahir and at the Clonmel Park Hotel, some 25km to 43km distance from the Aherlow venue.
Dundrum House Hotel
Fears are also growing for the immediate future of the wonderful Dundrum House Hotel, in Dundrum Co. Tipperary, situated some 28km from Aherlow House, where 110 employees have been given notice that their place of employment may also close within a month unless a new buyer can be located.
The loss of both superb Tipperary hotel venues are seen as a massive economic blow to the over all future of tourism in Co. Tipperary, particularly through attendance at numerous visitor centres, museums and the wider county’s rural economy.
Such job losses are not expected to feature on any Irish TV channels, unlike the loss of 140 jobs in Cleary’s department store in O’Connell Street, Dublin. Tipperary after all is only a jobless region somewhere in a long forgotten ‘Rural Ireland’.