Sunday 4 April 2021

A Candy Conundrum


Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

A Candy Conundrum

Relationship matters


On Halloween, the subject of candy, or sweets, as some of us would call them, cannot be avoided. Advertisements everywhere, reminders to buy treats, even though trick or treating has been ruled out due to the risk of spreading Covid-19. I set up a treasure hunt indoors for my granddaughter, searching out mini packets of candy under beds and behind doors. It was fun for a little while and helped to give the day a Halloween feel.

But that is not what this story is really about. What I am going to describe is a serious issue that affects the enjoyment of candy, impacting on relationships. At least I am assuming that there are many couples out there who have this same problem. In the grand scheme of things it might seem relatively minor, but believe me, it is only minor if you are not afflicted by it.

Here is how it begins. Early in your relationship, it feels good to go to the cinema, and just before you take up your seats, you probably buy some candy or popcorn. If you only buy popcorn, then you can avoid this little problem. If you choose  soft candy, everything will be alright also. It is the hard candy, the boiled sweets, the pear drops, bulls-eyes, the gob stoppers and any other variety in this category that cause the problem. You buy a bagful to share, because sharing brings you closer and dating is all about sharing.

You have already had the discussion about which candies you like best, and probably compromised a little on the varieties, so that every type you bought  you are happy to share. You sit down and the film starts. He passes the bag over to you and you choose one, pop it in your mouth and start to roll it about your tongue, sucking it slowly to get the full benefit of the flavour.

He takes one from the bag, pops it in his mouth and immediately crunches it up and it is gone! He takes another, but of course since you are still sucking your candy slowly, you are no way ready for another one. His second candy is smashed to smithereens in his mouth in no time at all. Before long, he has consumed more than half the candies and you have only had two or three. In addition, you find the crunching noises really quite irritating, making it hard to concentrate on the dramatic bits of the film.

Well friends, let me tell you, there is no satisfactory solution to this problem if you want to continue to share your bag of candy. You will simply have to accept that he is a cruncher and you are a sucker because he certainly won’t change, and why should you?

My suggestion on how to overcome this relationship incompatibility is to choose chocolate instead. Even crunchers become seduced by the smooth, velvety texture of chocolate. They may consume a little more than you, as they unthinkingly chew the first one or two, but don’t despair, he will soon settle to a more leisurely eating pattern as the endorphins begin to circulate in his bloodstream. The result will be a much more mellow partner, no unpleasant mouth noises to disturb your pleasure in watching the film and a much more equal distribution of your chosen candies.

Previously published in Medium

Taste from my childhood


Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Brown soda bread

I grew up in Dublin and brown soda bread was a staple part of our diet. Every few days my mother would bake a loaf and the house would be filled with the smell of delicious bread. No need for yeast, or time consuming pounding of the dough, the ingredients could be put together in an instant. Warm from the oven, spread with butter and home made marmalade, there was nothing better for breakfast.

Lunchtime it would be brought out again to eat with soup or a slice of strong cheese. Later, with a cup of tea, it went down well with some tangy raspberry jam.

Now if you would like to make it, there are two vital ingredients which are required, both of which may be difficult to source, depending on where you live. The first is buttermilk. Available in most grocery stores in Ireland, but hardly ever seen in the shops of mainland Britain. The second item required is coarse ground whole meal flour. Most of the commercially available flours are too finely milled, and though it is possible to make a white soda bread, it is the nutty flavour of the brown flour that gives it its signature taste.

Provided you can get all the ingredients, here is how to make this wonderful bread. This is the original recipe and the measurements are in Imperial measure.


12oz whole meal flour
6oz plain flour

1 pint of buttermilk

2 heaped tsp of baking soda

1 level tsp salt

1 level tsp sugar

Method: Heat oven to Gas Mark 6, or 220degrees. Sieve the flour and soda into a bowl with the whole meal flour. Add salt and sugar. Pour in the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be quite wet. Add a little ordinary milk if it is too thick. Pour mixture into a greased deep tin. Mark the top and sprinkle a little flour over. Place in the oven and turn it down to 190 degrees. Leave for 35 minutes. Turn off the oven, place the bread back in the oven upside down to firm up the bottom of the loaf. It is done when the loaf sounds hollow as you tap it.

As there is no yeast in this bake, it doesn’t cause the excess gas and bloating that commercial bread may do.  It provides a good source of fibre, and even if it gets a bit dry, makes very nice toast.

What did you eat as a child? Have you got some recipes which have been handed down through the generations? Let’s share them together.

Previously published on Medium.