Goodbye to Shane, Shan and Dermot and safe journey back to the welcoming arms of MaMa.
Goodbye to baby chairs and travel cots and car seats and rattles and noisy toys and all the paraphernalia needed to play host to a four month old baby.
Goodbye to the constant stream of visitors – young friends like modern magi with their gifts, chatter and wisdom.
Goodbye to conversation and the strumming of guitars drifting from the garden on rare balmy June evenings, to food served as it should be – communally, on platters, for sharing – hot from the BBQ or sizzling from the wok, to catering for an ever changing crowd.
Goodbye to the infectious sound of giggles from the kitchen downstairs as your Grandad Ye Ye teaches you a new game or soars you through the air like an airplane.
And to my own sacred moments, walking the bedroom floor to soothe you while your parents have a rare night out, feeling the unexpected weight of a buggy as I push you around Shanganagh park and show you a glimpse of the Irish sea, reading you your first nursery rhymes, proudly strolling through Stephen’s Green to introduce you to the ducks, a novice Nai Nai on the loose, holding your gaze.and rapt concentration as you clutch my fingers and wrist from your car seat…
Singing with you each morning and waltzing to the strains of Tiny Dancer, marvelling at how in a little over two weeks your legs have strengthened, your body lengthened, your attention span and field of vision increased, you’re even more inquisitive and the sounds you make are words in a language known only to you.
That’s what I forgot about babies, how quickly they change, but nothing, nothing in this life had prepared me for the rush of love that goes with being a grandparent.
So goodbye for now to special encounters and unforgettable moments – you learning to play “clap hands” with your great granny Tai Tai, puzzled as your feet touch the ticklish grass of Irish ground for the first time, meeting countless O’Neill and Corcoran relatives, frowning initially and then relaxing as if to say “I have you now”…
Well Dermot, you certainly have us – in the palms of your tiny hands…
Safe home little one agus go n’eiridh on bóthar leat. May the ancestors you didn’t get to meet – your great granny Alice and your great Grandads Seamus and Sean mind you on your way.
Every special time has its own soundtrack or, in my case a cookery book that keeps me company along the way.
For Dermot’s first visit to Ireland it has been my copy of Rozanne Stevens Relish BBQ book which is already dog-eared and spattered with splashes of marinade from the grill.
I’ve cooked 8 or 9 full dishes from it so far, each one a winner. If you buy just one cookbook this summer make it this one. It’s packed with recipes with Rozanne’s unique “ish” factor from around the world and is available from Rozanne’s website or in most good bookshops.
I’ve adapted her sticky marinade/ basting sauce below slightly to make it even more Chinesish by substituting Shaoxing rice wine for dry sherry. I made it using homemade chilli jam from the recipe given to me by Tom Walsh chef at Samphire @ The Waterside, Donabate but a bottle of sweet chilli sauce will also do the trick. It’s great with pork ribs and chicken and is already one of my favourite sauces along with homemade chilli jam and chilli oil. My Mum took home the left-over sauce from Duncannon on Sunday and has discovered it works well in the oven too basted over pork ribs that have been simmered in boiling water for 10 minutes then drained.
Thanks Rozanne for helping make our celebration meals special.
Rozanne’s Chinese Sticky Marinade and Basting Sauce
- 8 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, grated or finely chopped
- 250 g dark brown sugar
- 200 g honey
- 250 ml hoisin sauce
- 250 ml Shaoxing rice wine (or pale dry sherry)
- 200 ml light soy sauce
- 200 ml Tom Chef’s Chilli Jam (or sweet chilli sauce)
- 50 ml groundnut oil (or sunflower oil)
- 2 tbs Chinese five spice powder
- Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and simmer, covered on gentle heat for 10 minutes.
- Use as a marinade for pork or chicken and to baste chicken wings, sausages and vegetables on the barbecue.