Setting Out on the Journey Up the Mountain, Once More

I have a need inside of me to return to this blog. I consistently lie to myself that it is not the creative outlet that I need. At the very least, I manage to talk myself out of doing anything with it whenever the creativity bug bites at me. So, I figure that the days and months leading to Lá Fheile Pádraig, or Saint Patrick’s Day, are the perfect opportunity to say, “Yes, this is necessary - you need to do this!”

I have been feeling an emptiness inside related to my lack of motivation to do something with this blog. But then I began to reminisce about what the holiday has meant to me through the past few years. I found an entry in my journal from four years ago. The words that I read, were as relevant today as they were when I first wrote them. In fact, the sad part is, my life has not changed much since I wrote them. I still feel the same.

I keep re-reading those words over and over again. I have two choices. I can lament about how horrible I feel about not doing what I set out to do. Or I can treat those words as a letter from my past self to a future self, the one I am in this present day. I prefer the later. Maybe what I wanted to accomplish then, I was not ready to do. Or more so, maybe my God, was not ready for me to do those things. Maybe there is a message somewhere in the past four years that will spell itself out if I look back on all that has happened to me in that course of time.

My main goal is not to make this blog about religion. It is not for me to dictate where others find solace and peace in their faith or even lack of it. But, my faith is part of who I am. I will not hesitate to reference that faith. That does not mean that I am looking to shun my Pagan friends. I treasure my friendships with those people. However, I feel through this upcoming feast of Saint Padraig, that I have been sent a message; a message from him, through God.

"I was like a stone lying in deep mud; and he that is mighty came and in his mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft and put me on top of the wall. And therefore I ought to shout out aloud and return something to the Lord for the great mercy he has shown me now and for all ages."

Such an image, when you consider the stone walls that weave across the Irish countryside. For some time now, I too have felt like a muddy stone. I need to trust in my God to put me on top of that wall. I need to pray to be lifted up, so that I can take the gifts that He has given me and finally put them to the use that he designed me to do.

Here is the journal passage that I wrote about Lá Fheile Pádraig those years ago. This time, I not only read the words, but I choose to live the words.

St Patrick’s Day. Even though it has been a while since I have written anything, the idea of the day made me feel that I need to write again. I have not written for many reasons. I have not felt inspired. I have felt distanced. I have felt disconnected. Then I had a conversation online with a longtime close friend. She brought it to my attention about getting beyond my comfort zone. There have been opportunities to get beyond the lines that I have drawn in that comfort zone. There have been many of those opportunities that I chose not to take or act upon. I realised that I have to stop waiting for opportunities to bestow themselves upon me. I need to reach out to those opportunities. I need to do more than reach out to them, I need to seize them. Much like I did with Croagh Patrick. 

I never imagined that I would have the drive to reach the top of that mountain. Yet, I did it. I would have been disappointed with myself if I went all the way there and did not make it to the top. That is not to say that everyone needs to do it. It was my personal goal, and I met it. It felt amazing to do it. Then, when I came back, my world as I knew it began to change. What I felt as though I had accomplished, diminished. I lost sight of what it was to have made a goal. Perhaps that is because all of the other goals that I had set out for myself previously, crumbled. I vowed that I would continue on. Now, I realise that I was not continuing on. I was just going through the motions. I had forgotten what it mean to have prayer in my life. I will leave it at that. I am not looking to turn this into a preachy site. What I am saying is, that a part of me that had existed at one time, was missing. Much like the journey up the Reek, I have been on a journey since I left the life that I had known for the last seven years. 

Some people can walk away from things easily. Couples divorce. People pass on. Things come to an end. These are all facts of life. It does not mean that we can all handle them. What I had experienced for the last seven years was a great career experience. I am not a person who can easily leave a piece of himself behind. I need to constantly reflect and figure out how to get that piece of myself and re-join it to who and what I once was. I am not able to leave part of myself behind.  

This is why I am taking this time to dedicate myself to breaking outside of my comfort zone. I am dedicating myself to reaching beyond an area where others may say that I should not go. I am reaching beyond to a place where others will say that I am not qualified. That is okay if others feel that way.  

What I am reaching toward is the authentic side.  I have always wanted to do things as authentically as I could. The hard part is, that it does not always work in a business sense. Authenticity, is not always the most practical, financially. I get that. That is probably why I chose not to do it as a career anymore. For me, doing it right and correctly is more important than doing it to make as much money as I can. Everyone has his or her motivations. Mine are are doing things as laboriously  and as intensely as possible. Shortcuts are not an option. Keeping in mind that shortcuts are not the same as incorporating modernisation.  

In the next few days, I intend to write about why I feel the way i do about food. I often forget, that because this is my space, I make the rules. It does not always have to be about a text, photos and a recipe.

This week is about climbing that “mountain” again. It is not just about finding the passion, but latching on to it. It is about living the passion. I am hoping to write a bit each day this week to get me in the habit of writing again. Eventually recipes will follow.  

Much like climbing the mountain, I will go with a staff for support, a camera to be my eyes, and good company to share the journey with.  

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit 

Croagh Patrick

Four years later I do plan to write my reflections not on just this message, but on the holiday itself. I plan to open up about my feelings in regards to the holiday, how I plan to celebrate it, and a few other ideas. I am finally ready to take the journey I thought I was ready for so long ago. When I wrote about that mountain four years ago I thought the answers were going to lie at the top of the mountain. Even though I have not reached the top yet, I have forgotten that I should be looking for the answers in the journey itself.

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” -Greg Child

Taking the "sting" out of not working...


While it is true that I primarily only work during the academic year, I am trying to pick up some odd jobs here and there. Luckily I have been able to round up a few spots working on food trucks and at festivals for the summer. With my other time, I am hoping that by blogging enough I will get people interested in what else A KIlt and a Cuppa does in addition to this - namely catering and items for delivery. To distract myself from the security of a regular pay cheque that I am used to, I have been trying to research things that are a bit different and unusual.

The past few weeks I have been concentrating on stinging nettles in the area. I was able to procure some from a few different sources. There is one local farm about 45 minutes away from here that grows and sells them. I have also purchased seeds online to start growing them for ourselves. I hope to grow them in a large enough pot so that we get enough of a harvest, but they do not take over our entire yard. 

I have looked online to see what other bloggers and culinarians are doing with stinging nettles. Soup seems to be the most common of applications. Those that lean toward more healthy and medicinal purposes tend to write about making nettle tea. There are those that also use them to make nettle beer. I wanted to do something a bit different. My curiosity piqued toward seeing if they could be applied to desserts somehow. I did not even have a thought in my head as to how one would even use them in that genre.

I stumbled upon a Lemon Nettle Cake with Lemon Buttercream on by Kate Hackworthy. Not wanting to completely lift her work from her blog, I reinvented her cake into a Lemon and Nettle Madeira Cake with Lemon Glaze and Candied Lemon Slices. 

I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant when I first set out on this journey. But, at the same time my curiosity wanted to know. The verdict? I actually enjoyed this cake. The nettles, with their herbaceous flavour notes, blended very well with the tartness of the lemon. The cake is not cloyingly sweet in trying to cover up the flavour of the nettles. The chlorophyll from the leaves tints the cake a really nice colour. Overall, I would make this again - especially for a springtome afternoon tea.

It is great when things like this turn out. It helps lift the spirits when the direction of the journey that I am on, does not always seem to be so well defined. It remindes me that I can still do this. It reminds me that there is still a passion and a curiosity in there. Most of all it reminds me, that it is all worth it.



Yield: 1 loaf

Lemon Nettle Madeira Cake with Lemon Glaze and Candied Lemon Slices

adapted from


  • 100g nettle leaves, picked, and void of stems
  • 200g unsalted butter, diced
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Grease and flour a 9.5 X 5 loaf pan.
  2. Using rubber gloves, carefully wash the stinging nettle leaves and remove any stems. Place in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. This deactivates the sting from the nettles. Drain into a colander in the sink. Shock under cold running water, drain, squeeze tightly to remove any excess water and puree in a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and coating the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggs, beating one at a time, then stir in the nettle purée, vanilla, zest and lemon juice.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. When done the cake should have a signature dome and crack down the length of the cake, according to Mary Berry.

Created using The Recipes Generator

Lemon Glaze


  • 1-1/2 Lemons, juice and zest
  • 150 g. Icing Sugar


Mix together the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar.
Drizzle over the top of cooled cake and allow to set
Created using The Recipes Generator

Candied Lemon Slices


1 medium sized lemon
200 g. granulated sugar


1. Slice lemon into paper thin slices. Remove any seeds that may still be attached.

2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add lemon slices and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and lay out on a sheet pan to cool completely in the refrigerator.

3. Bring 235 ml of water and the 200g of sugar to a boil in a medium-sized sauté pan.  When sugar has dissolved and water is bubbling, reduce heat to a simmer. 

4. Add lemon slices to water/sugar mixture. Simmer for 1 hour until the zest on the slices is translucent.

5. Transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Allow slices to dry until cool but still a bit sticky. If using on Lemon Nettle Madeira Cake, arrange in a shingled row down the centre of the cake.
Created using The Recipes Generator