It’s official! I am officially living in IRELAND! (Can you tell I’m excited?) Mom and I just got into Dublin last Thursday, and we had a wonderful time exploring the city. I know we didn’t do as many sight-seeing things as mom would have liked, but we did quite a lot! We went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral. We saw Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Gaol, and the Guinness Storehouse. We drove through a small section of Phoenix Park and we walked all over the Temple Bar area, O’Connell Street, and Grafton Street. We also walked out to the Poolbeg Lighthouse, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite walks (despite the intense wind on the pier).
I’m just so excited that I’m finally here. It still feels a little surreal … like one day I’ll wake up and it will all have been a dream! As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my dining table looking outside – the sky is blue and the clouds are puffy and the air is brisk. Of course it will probably rain later today (as soon as I decide it’s time to walk to campus) – but I love the weather so far! I’m both scared and excited to see what it’s like in the winter. But after Columbus winters of temperatures in the teens (Fahrenheit) and wind chills in the single digits … I hope I can handle whatever Dublin throws my way!
When my sister and I were in Ireland over the summer, we stayed in an Airbnb with two lovely hosts. They had us up for dinner a few nights and were so charming and lovely and generous. This past weekend was my first weekend living in Dublin, and I wanted to thank them for all of the kindness they showed me and my sister over the summer. I also wanted my mom to have a chance to meet them because they had been so welcoming to us in July. So I invited them over for dinner in my new ‘apartment’. I wanted to make a meatless dish, and I wanted to make something relatively easy and low-maintenance because I was cooking in a new kitchen with unknown pots and pans. There’s a SuperValu calendar hanging up in my apartment with recipes for each month … and the recipe for September is “Spanish Chickpea and Potato Bake.” I was very intrigued because I love both potatoes and chickpeas! And it’s a bake, so besides making this we just needed to make the salad and heat up some bread. Easy peasy!
Cooking the vegetables before adding the chickpeas
I had such a nice night with them, and it was made even better because this recipe is so easy! The prep was very straightforward – chopping vegetables and sautéing them. Once that’s done you just pop it in the oven for 25 minutes or so, and voilà! A delicious meatless meal.
Start the potatoes to boil (boil them until they are just done - if you over cook them you won't be able to slice them thinly). Once they are finished cooking, cool them off (run them under cold water) and slice them thinly.
Heat oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 10 minutes (or until the onion is translucent). Add carrots, celery, chili powder, and garlic. Cook another 8 minutes (you can splash in some water if they start to dry out)
Add paprika, dried herbs/italian seasoning, bell pepper, and the leeks. Cook another 5 minutes. Stir regularly. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer. Add chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F
To the stew: add almost all of the parsley (if using). Stir in the honey, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato pesto.
Pour stew into baking dish. Top with the sliced potatoes. (Optional: top with bread crumbs) Sprinkle with salt, top with some olive oil. Bake 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and the potatoes are crispy.
Garnish with parsley and tomato pesto if desired.
So today marks my seventeenth day as a resident of the great country of Ireland…14 September 2017