Depression is Real

Anyone who was on social media today cannot have missed the furore caused by professional windbag, John Waters, in his pity party for one interview in the Sunday Independent about the backlash from Pantigate. In this interview, Waters was speaking about how he was affected by the comments and criticism levelled at him when he commented: ” “I don’t believe in depression. There’s no such thing. It’s an invention. It’s bullshit… it’s a cop out.”

I wish life were that simple. I wish I truly were not affected by depression in any way and that none of my loved ones did not have to witness my depression last year. Unfortunately crossing my fingers and wishing does not make it go away, nor does telling yourself to cop on, that you’re only being weak and stupid.

Depression is not an invention, it’s the slow shrinking of your emotional world to a grey, washed out place where all you feel is dread and shame. Depression is not bullshit, it is as legitimate as any physical illness and confined me to a small world where I felt like I would never heal or be able to do the most basic of tasks ever again. Depression is not a cop out, it is often the result of having to be strong in a world that is way too tough some days.

There were days when I could barely leave my bed or couch for fear of what would be on the other side of my apartment door. There were other days when I felt that if a bus knocked me down, it would not matter; days that would start with such promise only to result in tears by 3pm, completely stymied by the lies my depression was screaming at me.

Your mind will lie to you a thousand different ways once depression has a hold on it. It’ll start with a small criticism, poking holes wherever it can in your mental defences. Then it will tell you that you’re incompetent and stupid. When that message sinks in and you start to withdraw into yourself, your depression will grab onto something else to torment you – that you’re socially awkward and everyone must think you’re a freak. Then when you eventually stop going out and can’t get out of bed, that voice will start to mock you again to remind you’re weak unlike everyone else who can just get on with life.

With all that going on in your head, a comment like that made by John Waters is just going to reinforce all the negativity you are thinking. I have recovered from this episode of depression with medication and some hard emotional work with the help of  a therapist. The other big factor in my recovery and continued positive mental health is the support of those around me, friends and family who recognise that depression is an illness.

If you are feeling the same way I did, you are not making it up and you are not alone in this. If you are in the black hole I was in this time last year, the best thing you can do is acknowledge it and reach out for the help you need – from your GP, a counsellor, your family, your friends and from the many fantastic groups out there like Pieta House, Aware and the Samaritans. 

Holi, Festival of Colours

Yesterday I celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, with some friends from my fiance’s university. This festival involves playing with powder paint in an open area, throwing it at both friends and strangers alike. There were around 60 people there, a mix of Indian, Irish and international students. After 30 minutes of chasing, throwing paint and laughing, everyone was covered in colour from head to toe.

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It was such a fun, playful experience to have participated in. I was laughing from the moment I threw my first handful of powder. Even walking home covered in colour through Cork city centre resulted in more giggles as most people either started joking with us or gave us the weirdest looks. It was so great to play in such a carefree manner, and to be able to share our friends’ culture.

As you can probably see in the pictures, the paint goes everywhere – in your hair, your mouth, into your clothes – so if you do participate in a Holi celebration, expect to throw away your clothes afterwards and to be in the shower for a while. However don’t let that put you off joining in, if you do get the chance to celebrate as it’s the best fun ever!

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Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

[sorry everyone, broke my blog this morning so I had to repost some stuff]

Perhaps this post is a bit late for Shrove Tuesday but still delicious for a weekend treat. While many Irish people prefer thinner crepes for their pre-Lenten indulgence, I love the fluffy texture of thick American pancakes.

I originally got this recipe from the excellent Smitten Kitchen, one of the first food blogs I ever read. Since the first time I used this recipe, I converted it over to grams and ml measurements and adjusted the quantities for ease of measuring/ cooking.

The original ingredient list called for unsalted butter and salt to be used in the recipe but as I only ever have salted butter in my fridge, I dropped the salt from the recipe. Similarly, if you don’t have buttermilk, swap out with ordinary milk and a tbsp of lemon juice/ vinegar.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

serves 2; makes 8 pancakes

Ingredients

Pancakes

260g cream flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
60g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
600ml buttermilk
60g butter, melted, plus extra for frying pancakes

Blueberry Sauce

100g fresh or frozen blueberries (I used a mixture)
50g caster sugar
50ml water

Instructions

1) Place the blueberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Heat until the mixture begins to bubble and continue to stir until the blueberries begin to soften and break down.

2) When the blueberries are soft and mushy, strain the sauce through a sieve, crushing the blueberries in the sieve. Discard the leftover skins and leave the sauce to cool. (If the sauce is still quite liquid, you can further reduce the sauce in the pan to thicken it.)

3) Sift the flour into a medium bowl and then whisk in the baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Stir in the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter, and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

4) Melt a small bit of butter in a 6 inch frying pan. Pour a ladle full of batter into the pan, spreading the batter around the pan. Let the pancake cook for 2 – 2:30 minutes until the batter is set and bubbles have formed on the top of the pancake. Flip the pancake and leave for 1 minutes for the other side to cook until golden.

5) Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping the pancakes warm in an oven at 100-120C. Serve with berries with the blueberry sauce on the side.

Pulled Pork

[Sorry everyone, I broke my blog this morning so have to repost some stuff!]

One of the best budget cooking tips I have learned since learning how to cook is to use cheap cuts of meat, slow cook it until tender and then stretch it out in multiple meals. Meat is an expensive part of the weekly grocery shop, and any way to stretch our limited food budget is more than welcome. I know eating more pulses and eggs are also recommended as a way to add cheap protein to your diet but sometimes I need my meat fix as well.

A 5.5kg shoulder of pork with bone in costs me anywhere in between €16-€20 from O’Neills Butcher in the English Market. Some butchers may not have this cut readily available but should be able to order it in.

When it is roasted very slowly at a low temperature, the tendons and fat in this tough cut melt, leaving behind beautifully tender meat which falls apart so easily when pulled apart with two forks.

As this obviously renders a lot of meat, I freeze the meat in small plastic containers and use it in a wide variety of meals. Some of the meat was tossed with barbecue sauce and served on baps with coleslaw. Another serving went into a crispy pork stirfry, while another box of the shredded meat went into a quick pork and bean chilli. The last of the meat was used to make burritos.

As I knew I wanted to use the meat in spicy meals, I covered the pork shoulder with a salt, sugar and paprika rub to get a smoky flavour into the meat but if you could also rub it with salt and pepper for a simpler taste.

Roast Pork Shoulder

Pulled Pork

Ingredients

5-6kg pork shoulder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix together the salt, sugar and paprika in a small bowl. Remove the string from the pork shoulder.
2) Rub the meat over with the spice mix and place fatty side up on a roasting tray.
3) Cook the meat for 30 minutes at 200C. Cover the tray with tin foil and then reduce the heat to 120-140C for another 4-6 hours.
4) When the meat is cooked, place the join on a chopping board. Remove the layer of fat and then shred the meat with 2 forks.

Springtime in Cork, Part 1

[Sorry everyone, I broke my blog this morning so have to repost some stuff!]

Spring are finally here after a cold and rainy February. Walking from UCC to town along the Mardyke walk, the first few flowers have started to grow and birdsong can now be heard from the trees beside the river. There is a lightness and freshness in the air now, which is most welcome after what feels like endless days of winter.

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Robin1

Moving Blogs

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post to let you know that I’m moving blog hosting from wordpress.com to self-hosted over at http://auroralapetite.com. I’ll be moving over the subscriptions over the next couple of days so you should keep getting posts from me in your reader.

If you’re following me using a RSS reader, please redirect your reader over to http://auroralapetite.com.

Looking forward to seeing you all over there,

Dawn

xx

Wholewheat Penne with Pancetta, Onions & Spinach

I assume most people are like me, rushing home from work in the evening and trying to get dinner on the table. Some days I consider cooking anything for dinner an achievement, let alone cooking a healthy, well-balanced meal. On those days, the only thing stopping me from phoning the nearest takeaway is the thought of having to go outside to collect it.

The next easiest thing to a takeaway has to be a simple pasta dish which can will be on your table within 20 minutes without much work. I tend to keep my fridge stocked with pancetta, baby spinach, and decent parmesan, and my store cupboard always has onions, pasta and olive oil in it. With a little bit of love and effort, these simple ingredient can be transformed into something delicious and healthy.

This recipe isn’t so much a strict recipe as a method using some basic ingredients. If you have chorizo rather than pancetta, feel free to use that, or if you stocked up on courgettes recently, grate them up and use them instead of the spinach. Add some cherry tomatoes if you have a punnet of them in your fridge, or replace the onions with shallots if that’s what you have to hand.

Pancetta, Spinach & Onion Pasta

Wholewheat Penne with Pancetta, Spinach & Onions

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g wholewheat penne
100g cubed pancetta
100g baby spinach
salt & black pepper
Parmesan

Method

1) Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the onions. Saute for 10 minutes until they are softened, and then add the garlic.
2) Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
3) Meanwhile, add the pancetta to the pan and season well. Add the spinach to the pan after 7 minutes and allow the spinach to wilt down.
4) When the pasta is cooked, reserve a mug of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with a splash of the cooking water. Mix well, adding another splash of water if needed, and season to taste.
5) Serve sprinkled with some grated Parmesan.