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Trip To Ireland Part 1: The Lingo

I recently took a trip to visit some buddies of mine in Ireland. I went with The Texan. Before you ask, no he couldn’t understand them, and yes they could understand him (and insisted he was a cowboy) and yes it was hilarious.

You’d think, being the huge Irish population in Chicago, I’d know everything there was to know. And I knew a lot. But, somethings slip by even me.

For the sake of not BORING you with details about the trip because honestly, it’s probably only interesting to me, I’ve decided to just post some amusing things you might find interesting about the green place and it’s people.

We went to visit some friends there and it was a great time. I learned quite a bit. We went to visit a guy we call Lucky, yes, it’s a nic name.

First things first…some lingo.

The word you’ll probably hear most: Craic. Pronounced “crack.” There is no definition for this word here in the US. It’s slang, sort of. Let me try to explain.

The first thing you’ll hear off the plane: What’s the craic? Tranlsation: How’s it going?

How was the craic? Translation: How was it (the party, the trip, etc).

What’s the craic today? Translation: What you up to today?

That’s good craic. Translation: That was good or that sounds like a good time.

That’s bad craic. Translation: That was no good. That sucks.

For the craic. Translation: For a good time.

Ok, so you get the idea.

Also, you WILL hear “wee”. Alot. Everything is “wee.” And for those not schooled in Irish people, “wee” does not always mean “little” or “tiny.” It can, it often does, but not always. For example:

“You’re so wee.” (which I heard a lot, goddamnit) means “You’re small.”

However, they will also say “She’s a wee lovely girl.” Which doesn’t mean she’s small, it means she’s lovely. I like her.

It can also be pity, in the same sentence. “Poor wee girl.”

Or it can mean “SOME.” For example: Would you like a wee coffee? I’ve got some wee cheese. Would you like a wee drink? Don’t expect they mean SMALL when they say that, especially when they are talking about liquor. But I’ll get to that later.

Food also is not described by food like terms. Food is not tasty, delicious, or yummy. Food is described the way you would describe a good looking person. For example: “This steak is gorgeous.” or “This coffee is beautiful.” Doesn’t mean it LOOKS good, means it TASTES good.

“Like” is also a totally acceptable way to end damn near any sentence. I picked this up years ago from hanging out with Irish people. I didn’t actually realized I’d picked it up until Mr. Big started saying it and I wondered why he was saying it, then Texan pointed out that I’ve ALWAYS said. Oops. Irish by osmosis.

There isn’t really a definition for the “like” factor. It’s not used the way we use it, we use like as a way to describe something. This is LIKE that. Instead, they would say “The coffee was hot but it was terrible like.” Translation being “The coffee was hot. It was horrible though.”

We would say “I didn’t mean to do that.” They would say “I did it, but not on purpose like.”

They also say Aye. Aye means yes, pretty plainly. More like “yeah.” Someone says “Aye” they mean yeah. Someone says “Aye right” they mean “yeah right” or basically “you’re full of it.”

You’ll almost never hear the words “supposed to.” For example, we’d say “I’m supposed to go to the doctor.” They’d say “I’m meant to go to the doctor.”

“Pint” also means “beer.” That’s pretty self explanatory.

“Bake” means “face.”

“Chips” are “fries.” That’s pretty universal in that region in general. “Crisps” are “chips.” Like that come in a bag.

And there is a difference between “shite” and “shit.” Now, I got a huge, hilarious lecture from Lucky’s friend on this. Apparently, “shite” is a grosser, more forceful way to say “shit.” He explained it like this: Shit is something you can “cut with a knife” (go ahead and gag, I did). Shite is something that’s “all over the place.” LOL! I’m actually laughing at this. Nice description huh?

Let’s recap shall we?

Here is a typical Irish paragraph

“I went to the pub, for some craic like, and I had a pint with the lads. I ordered the fish. It was meant to be battered like, it was gorgeous. They’re chips were shite. The chef told me they were fresh. Aye, right.”

So, I’ve got you so far.

The Irish also do not understand diabetics or the idea of carbohydrates. To them, diabetic means you can’t have SUGAR. Period. No sugar in your tea, basically. No sweets. They don’t really quite get that potatoes and bread are effectively the same thing. It’s really actually very endearing.

I say “Oh that looks wonderful, but I’m diabetic, I can’t have that.”

The reply “Oh, right. Well, I get you some wee chips then.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sure they are very good but I can’t have fries.”

“Why not? They are potatoes.”

“I know, potatoes are carbohydrates.”

“Oh, aye” (not really understanding what I meant but don’t want to argue) “I’ve got some wee wheaten bread then. Good for ya”

You get the picture.

Then of course there’s the Northern Irish thing of saying “so it is” or “so I am, did, etc”. I’ve no idea what verbal purpose this serves but it’s very common.

Me: “Is this the only grocery store in town.” Irish Person: “Aye, it’s the biggest one, so it is, but there’s one just down the road as well.”

Me: “Where did you go today?” Irish Person: “I’ve went to the store, so I did.”

Me: “Did you get what you needed from the store?” Irish Person: “They were closed, so they were.”

Irish people are also VERY nice. VERY VERY VERY nice. I’ll get to that later, but they aren’t “polite” in the way we think of here in the US. There isn’t a lot of please and thank yous or no ma’am yes sirs. They have their own way of being polite.

For example, if were to ask someone to hand you a beer from across the table in the US, the nice way to say it would be “May I please have that beer?” or more appropriately “Can you hand me that beer?”

Irish translation: Giz a pint.

That roughly translates into English as “Give us a pint.” It’s really cool to me that they are comfortable talking in the third person, it just took me a minute to get what they were actually saying.

The same with “Hi, how are you?” That’s how we would greet people here. Or if you were talkin’ to friends it’d be “Hey, what’s up?”

In Ireland, in Northern Ireland particularly, the proper way to say this is apparently to yell pretty enthusiastically “WHAT ABOUT YE?” This rightly scared the CRAP out of me and quickly made me laugh the first time I heard it. Lucky, the guy we went to visit, had warned me about people saying this and what it meant. I just didn’t expect it from a cab driver. I get in the cab and I say “Hi!”

Driver shouts “WHAT ABOUT YE?” I immediately widened my eyes and started to giggle, over the initial shock. I still have NO clue how you actually answer that question because it’s odd to me. No response seemed right.

“What about ye?” “Um, I’m ok” That doesn’t sound right

“What about ye?” “I’m fine, how are you?” That doesn’t sound right either.

So I just said “Thanks for coming so quick! It’s pretty weather today huh?” Ok, that was an international fail but I choked.

Bollocks: This can mean a myriad of things. It can be a form of exasperation, much like “shit!” If you drop something, you’d go “BOLLOCKS!” (pronounced Ballix).

“That’s bollocks.” Means: That’s BS.

Or it can mean testicles: “Punch him in the bollocks.”

Pissed or steaming: Meaning “drunk”

Fag: Means cigarette. Yeah. Takes getting used to, I know.

Arse: Ass

Mates: “friends”

Quare. There’s another word that took some getting used to. This can interchangably mean “weird” or “very” I think. For example: He’s a quare pup. Meaning “he’s a weird guy.” Or “That’s some quare craic” meaning “That’s a great time.” This one I’m still iffy on. For all the long I’ve heard it, it’s still a bit strange.

Dodgy: Means somethings up, strange, or not right, it can also loosely mean that sucks. Like “How’s the soccer game going?” “They’ve been doing well and now the other team has scored 2 points. It’s dodgy.” Or “The weather is dodgy.”

You’re a big lad. Meaning: You’re a small guy.

You’re a wee lad. Meaning: You’re a big guy.

Slagging. To mean: make fun of. “I’m just slaggin’ yeh.” I’m just playing around.

So, let’s go through a kind of casual Irish conversation between two Irish males.

Irish male #1: What’s the craic?

Irish male #2: What about ye? (said probably at the same time)

#1: Quare craic last night. Where were ye?

#2: I was meant to take my girl to hospital.

#1: That’s bad craic. She still sick, aye?

#2: Aye. They gave her antibiotics, so they did.

#1: Right. Poor wee girl

#2: Giz a pint. What was the craic last night?

#1: We got pissed. My mates arrived late like. They were meant to have met some girls at a pub.

#2: Aye, right

#1: We sat about slaggin each other. We ordered take away, the food was lovely.

#2: Oh, aye. Sounds like good craic. Sorry I missed it.

This is a very generic representation of what you’ll hear from the native males in their natural state. Be careful not to get too close to their beers though, they’ve been known to be aggressive when challenged. Although a generally fun loving and playful species, you must know the rules of this rare and endangered Northern Irish species to walk amongst them undetected.

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Unpluggeth!

I was sitting in my kitchen the other day happily typing away some recipes of mine into my Ipad’s recipe organizer. I’m trying to get it all in there so that I can throw away a lot of my recipe cards and have a nice, single organized place for all of them.

I’ve recently gotten Mr. B interested in steampunk style decor. He’s been pulling apart lamps and watches that would instead be garbage and making really cool stuff out of them. I’d had a long day of working, cleaning, taking care of my old pup and generally getting things done. Sitting down to type recipes was actually relaxing to me. And then I hear him say:

“Do you mind if I turn on Netflix for some background noise?”

This spawned a conversation. Mr. B and the Texan almost ALWAYS need some kind of noise going in the background. Even when they sleep. Mr. B is an ultra-gamer, he can spend hours and hours and hours day after day in front of the PS3 whereas Texan is usually glued to news, sports, message boards on his phone or the history channel on the TV and if not that then the radio.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my gadgets. My Ipad my Iphone and I do watch some TV: True Blood, Game Of Thrones, Californication, re runs of Family Guy. But in general, I’m not a “tv watcher.”

I’ve been poked at because I like my house silent. Like that’s a weird thing. I don’t mind kids laughing or dogs barking, I don’t mind organic noise. But I’ve truthfully gone entire weeks without a radio or TV and would probably go entire weeks without a computer if it wasn’t part of my job. I enjoy the quiet. I’m one of those people that relishes the silence when the power goes out. There’s no more electric buzzing from the plugged in but not running electronics in the house. It’s back to story telling and talking and knitting.

My BFF had actually once made a comment that she liked my living room a lot and that she plans on having one like it. There’s no TV. When we are in the living room, we TALK. We don’t eat dinner with the TV going, ever. It wasn’t even a hard and fast rule, it was just natural. Dinner times means catching up time.

I’m not so worried about people plopping in front of the TV or the game console, hell I do it. I’m more worried about what they AREN’T doing. Especially with children.

If you are pacified by the TV, or some other electronic thing, chances are you aren’t thinking about the walk you could take, the place you could go fishing, a trip to the zoo, a skill you could learn. I often wonder what happened to the great old art of “talking” or “teaching.”

This can most obviously be seen in going out to dinner. Go on. Go out to dinner with a bunch of friends, friends under the age of 35 especially. They are GLUED to their phones the whole time. My BFF found a fantastic idea called “phone stacking.” Put your phone on the table at dinner, all of you, first one to pick it up has to pay the bill. I thought this was a great idea but then she asked me:

“Well, what if your phone is ringing?” See what I mean? What are honestly the chances that THAT phone call is an emergency one? And if you are really worried about it, then how about if the phone rings incessantly, THEN it’s ok to pick it up. But, with the advent of technology feeds the “I-can-get-ahold-of-you-any-time-I-want” mentality, and the definition of “emergencies” become well, slightly altered.

I’ve gone fishing in the past where my friends haven’t put down their phones the whole time. I HATE that, you are in nature, enjoy it. If I go hiking, unless I need the GPS, the phone gets LEFT in the CAR. It’s just me and the dog and the noises around us.

When I suggest to people to unplug, including their children, they almost get into a panic. They start to make excuses like addicts. Well, just this one last week or I can’t because…it’s actually rather sad. What’s sadder is if you’ve ever know children who are addicted or “raised” on television, you’ll notice that their attention spans for anything, literally, are about 8-10 minutes long: exactly the amount of time between commercials. How about instead of just family xbox game night or family board game night, there’s family craft night? Family hike night? Family garden day? Something that sort of disconnects you from a serious central focal point of amusement and hones a skill or appreciation? I’m certainly not battering the way people do things, they are just suggestions. I get sad at the thought of “environmental deficiency” and I’m most certain that this condition actually exists. So many people don’t even get daylight nevertheless proper outside time.

As a chick who loves crafting and everything “homey” I mourn the days of crafting circles and actually LEARNING things from other women. Not buying DVD’s, books or looking it up on the internet. Nor am I talking about circles where everyone just gets together and does their craft and talks, though, those are a lot of fun. But knowing someone who knows how to knit, sew, make this or that and will teach you,  having days out of the season to all get together and can stuff, or make pierogis (which is a PAIN to do alone) or whatnot. It’s not just the act itself, it’s the social bonding as well. It’s how memories are made. It reminds you no man is an island. But the people who still do these things in and of themselves are few and far between, nevertheless a whole group of people in the same area.

I’ll notice a lot of people saying too that “they aren’t interested.” That annoys me. Maybe it’s because I really do believe in broadening one’s horizons, but how do you know if you aren’t interested if you don’t try?

All that being said, I don’t hate technology. I LOVE it. It certainly has it’s place. When I think of all the waste in landfills that things like MP3 players and Kindles have saved (though I still do love me an old book, and I’m totally sad at the closing down of SO many book stores),  or how  many lives technology has saved, I certainly know it has it’s place. I just often worry that this technology, instead of having it’s place and enhancing our lives, is simply taking it over.

Perhaps try a little bit today to unplug and listen to the silence. See if there is something there. Or enjoy that there is nothing there at all. Quiet, organic time is something that can be very rich and fulfilling, especially when you’ve only your own thoughts and the noises outside or in the house. It’s totally amazing the things that are there that you’d never notice if you are pinned to your phone.

The Bad Boy Dehydrator

About ten years ago, I had read an article about dehydrating food. Mind you, at this point I was living in the middle of an upscale suburb in what was known as the ugliest house in the neighborhood. I have barely any usable yard, my landlord was an ass, and nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, would grow in that garden.

I was in love with the idea of homesteading and food storage even at that point, and I have never seen a dehydrator. I just thought that was an awesome way to store food and dry stuff. I think at that point I thought more herbs, which I was trying to grow in the house, but I still loved the idea. Then I saw the price of the damn things. Yikes.

I didn’t know there was anything but a round-style tray dehydrator, but $60 at that point was enough to scare me out of the idea of getting one in my young life. I wanted a gadget, but I was broke as hell and couldn’t justify it.

Then I moved into my own home a couple of years later and was still pondering the dehydrating idea. Sounded so cool. Dry your own food! Thousands of thoughts crept up in my head from whether or not that food was anything like the dried stuff in the stores to how the hell you would make your own jerky. It was at this point something I had put on my “to do” list to learn, and search for a deal, but nothing I was terribly serious about. My garden was still small and we were eating everything from it. I had nothing but the basic tomatoes and maybe a few cucumbers.

That winter I went to Kmart. I don’t even remember what I was there for, mind you. I went to the evil cooking gadget aisle, at that point full of Martha Stewart crap. (Mind you, this was before her great fall.) And there I saw it. One of those circular dehydrators with the trays. For $11 on clearance. I snagged it so fast I think the box dissipated in mid air.

I dried damn near everything in that thing. Boy did it get it’s use. It lasted me through a couple of growing seasons as my garden expanded, made me dried herbs and apples and other things. Some came out awesome. Some sucked. But it lasted quite a few years before the trays started falling apart and it started to break down a bit.

It was a weird style one, even for a round one. Instead of the heat source being on the top it was on the bottom and I hadn’t mastered the art of rotating trays. Ok I never mastered that art because I’m lazy. I had bought another “spare” one when they were on clearance there for the extra trays and ended up using the spare heating part too.

I finally, about 3 years ago, broke down and bought a new dehydrator. Just a nesco, which if you can believe it was a step up. I started to master jerky. But since I’m a lazy ass I never rotated the trays. It had a nice little temperature control which was SUPER fancy compared to the one I had had before, which had no such thing. I kinda just had to guess.

I found myself at this point frustrated by the thing. It was a bitch to store, and since the heating element was on the top, it didn’t really heat even so the temperature thing was still kind of a guess. My stuff ALWAYS came out crispy, not “bendy” like some stuff was supposed to be (jerky included). If I didn’t want to stay home all day and rotate and check it I was screwed.

When you become comfortable with something, your standards go up. That’s why to this day I recommend anyone who wants to get into drying food to try a crappy one first. If it sticks, and it’s something you like, you can always upgrade. You can’t “downgrade” once you’ve spent a million dollars on something.

Nonetheless, my frustrating with the Nesco grew. It worked fine enough for what it was but the trays were breaking, a bitch to wash, even the glory of the jerky gun wasn’t enough for me to like my new little purchase. But I dealt with it. What could you do?

Then I started gawking at the wonders of the stand up, pull out, box type dehydrators. Everyone who dries knows what the Excalibur is. They also know the kind of investment it is. I daydreamed. I pondered. I couldn’t justify 300 for the size I needed, but that didn’t stop me from wanting it.

Then one day at Cabella’s a few months ago I noticed they had a rip off version of it. 10 trays and digital to boot. The reviews weren’t bad, they weren’t as good as the Excalibur, but they were pretty good. One day it would be mine, oh yes.

So this Christmas we were working on a serious budget. There was so much going on this year, so much tragedy, loss, emergencies, so many things to be exhausted over that by the time I got to Christmas I was damn well exhausted myself. I hate when that happens.

I opened all my gifts, happier than a pig in crap, and Mr. Super said to me “Oh, we forgot one!” and handed me a book sized wrapped up gift. I opened it. It was the Dehydrator Cookbook I had asked for. YAY! Finally! A cookbook about nothing but dried foods! I was anxious to get started.

Then he said “We’ve got one more for you up here.” My first thought was not honestly OH! The dehydrator I wanted. My first thought was “Dear God please don’t let it be something living. I don’t need more pets!” (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my pets, but at this point sheer exhaustion had taken over).

And upstairs was sitting a huge wrapped box. I knew immediately. I was both elated and pissed that they had spent that much. The Texan, Mr. B and Mr. Super were standing in anticipation as I opened it. I didn’t disappoint. I almost crapped my pants. The thing is bigger than me. No sh#t. I actually have to stand on a step stool to program the thermostat and timer (YES! IT HAS BOTH!) when it’s sitting on the counter.

I couldn’t WAIT. I was itching to use it. But I knew I still had so much to do so I stared at it. I played with the drawers. OH! The glory of having a dehydrator that had a BACK heating element AND digital temperature control AND a timer. I was ear to ear grinning.

It’s only been now that I’ve been able to kind of play with it, and not much even then. I just grabbed some mushrooms and green onions and half an onion out of the fridge and started chopping.

Now, nearly all dehydrator books will tell you to use the most primo produce ever to dry. Hogwash and bullcrap. Mary Bell, dehydrator queen, will even tell you that produce that’s starting to go, that might not be the freshest, sometimes make the best dried. I’m not saying that crappy, molded, totally wilted produce should be dried. No. There’s only a certain point at which it can be saved. But I will tell you that those mushrooms were started to get a little less firm and those green onions were starting to go wilty but they did fine. Look at the glory!

Who the hell knows the difference once the green onions are dried (use them like chives) if they’d gone wilted before you dried them? No one. They weren’t moldy or nasty, just not firm any more. Ditto on celery. If you wanted to rehydrate them, they might not be the greatest, and you probably don’t want to eat them fresh. But I know I’ve used celery that’s gone a bit bendy in stews and soups, and there’s no reason to toss them out of the running for dehydration for that same reason.

As I speak right now, there’s trays and trays of apples dehydrating in it. I bought them from the bruised rack at the grocery store for super cheap. I peeled them (you don’t have to), cored and sliced them (all with the aid of my handy dandy apple peeler which is another purchase I’ll NEVER regret). I didn’t dip them or treat them cause really? You don’t have to. That’s just appearance. Laid them on the racks and sprinkled cinnamon on them. Who the hell wouldn’t want to eat that? With the whole diabetes thing I’ve got to be careful with dried fruit, but it’s better than somethings I could eat and they definitely do something for the sweet cravings.

So here is the big bad boy so you can be jealous

Here’s the veggies from the fridge I was cutting up to test this thing out

And them all laid out pretty like. I’ve been using the screen from my old dehydrator because this one didn’t come with screens.

Some onions.

And of course some apple slices

And in roughly 6 hours I had this

This dehydrator dries much more evenly and slower than my last one. You might think slower is worse, but it’s not. It means it’s maintaining the correct temperture I set it at instead of cooking the crap out of the food and making it crunchy. My mushrooms were nice and dry, but not like mushroom CHIPS. Ditto on the apples. Dry but still a bit flexible, I wasn’t going to do apple chips this time.

So if you are a seasoned “drier” then you might want to make the jump to this kind of bad boy because it’s so worth it. Otherwise if you are just starting out, one of the round cheapy ones should do you just fine. Look at it as a test for your love of drying: if you can deal with those annoying POS’s then you know it’s for you.