Ode to a Mother

For the day that’s in it – well in Ireland anyway!

Today is what is officially known as ‘Mothering Sunday’.

A Hallmark holiday along with Father’s day, Valentine’s day etc etc? Perhaps, but so what, from what I can tell Mothers are never ever even close to being as appreciated as they should be so they deserve the day – and much more!

Yesterday I met up with alot of other Bloggers at an event organised in The Hotel by Brussels Food Friends  (omg check me out, I’m a blogger apparently).  It was a really lovely afternoon and I’ll write something more about it soon.  But during the course of the afternoon I had to explain why I started the blog – which of course involved Mary B.  So I thought no better time to write something about her.

The first question is – what should I call her?

Growing up I called her Mam, then I went to a school where everyone said Mum.

When I say it it sounds like Mom, though usually I write Mam. My sister calls her Mum, I think my brother is in the same dilemma as me.  Dad is so much simpler. Let’s stick to Mam for now – for old time’s sake!

Anyway before she was anyone’s Mother, she was Mary Dromgoole.  Her own mother’s maiden name was Jane Thornberry.  Then she married Brian Brennan and has been Mary Brennan every since.  Though she sometimes wistfully talks about giving up her glamorous maiden name, and once mentioned if we ever ‘named’ our house she liked the sound of ‘Dromthorn’. So here we are.

Somebody once asked me who I admired most in the world and I said it was my Mam.

This is because she is quite possibly the kindest, most selfless, hardest working, most thoughtful, most caring, warmest, loving and as a result happiest people I know.



There are a million examples of her fabulousness – here are but a few;

1. She makes snow angels.


2. She came to Belgium with her friend to visit me after I got my tonsils out, I went to bed early and left her having a drink somewhere on Rue du Bailli with her friend, and woke up to the sound of her bringing Sylvia  in for a glass of wine.  She had bumped into her on the way home.

3. She takes care of my friends when they are ill.

4. She never gives up on us. Ever.

5. She puts hot water bottles in my bed when I visit Dublin. Often wrapped up in my pyjamas

6. She comments on stuff on Facebook, and signs it.

7. She tweets Jamie Oliver:


On top of all that, she is the best daughter, sister, aunt, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, wife and friend that anyone could ask for.

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Obviously, I am biased, but I don’t care. If and when I ever have a family of my own, I can only hope to be half as good a mother as you have been to us.

Thanks for everything Mary B,

Happy Mother’s Day

Love you forever

Jane xxx

Of course – behind every good woman is a hero of a man… to be continued!

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The Story of the Travelling Brownies…

Well – it’s been a while. Too long.
Too busy? Too lazy? You decide!

This is the story of a batch (love that word) of Brownies that made it’s way from Brussels to Paris and back to Parc du Cinquantinaire, where I then paid 2Euro to taste them. (DISCLAIMER: I may have tasted a crumb whilst in Paris – but celebrating winning the Six Nations Championship will work up an appetite).

Since circa 2007 Belgium GAA and FC Irlande  have been joining forces to help the people of Brussels, Irish and otherwise, celebrate our national day, and raise a few bob to help the running of our clubs in the process.

On whichever Sunday falls closest to the 17th March (AKA St Patrick’s Day) the kind, or foolish people in the Ecole Militaire allow us to use their terrain de foot in Parc du Cinquantinaire.

It started off with a few games of Gaelic Football, hurling, camogie and soccer with a bar and some food being sold along the sidelines.  Obviously Guinness was involved, and large green hats.

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Luckily for us, the people of Brussels seemed to like this and every year, as the rain kindly stayed off for most of the day, their numbers increased.  We added things like bouncy castles, kids games, cake and sandwich stands, more green things – this year was amazing – there was even a stage with excerpts from ‘Annie’, Irish dancers, and musicians.

Unfortunately I spent the Saturday in Paris and was only able to join the festivities around lunchtime where I got snap happy with my camera:

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Paris was a total drag, like totally. It was sunny, people were smiling, Ireland won the Six Nations Championship, we celebrated with a street party thanks to the French Police kindly closing it on our behalf.  WORST WEEKEND EVER.  As you can see below, I was not a happy camper.

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Anyway, I still wanted to contribute to the Cake stand in Parc du Cinquantinaire – so I chose something that would last (as I was assured by Sylvia that brownies were the way to go.  It was to be my first attempt, and twas a success (IMHO).

So I made the Brownies Friday  night, packed them into my overnight bag and brought them with me on the Thalys to Paris.  They survived, one disappeared circa 3am – a certain Colin Byrne was suspected, but I turned a blind, green-tinted eye as I fell into bed with dreams of Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney (drool) and Gordon D’arcy’s mighty fine beard.

Sunday morning, bright and early, they were packed into the bag (note: they did spend their time in Paris in a fridge!) and duly delivered to Sylvia’s cake stand.  Then I gave her 2Euro and bought one right back 🙂

Malheuresement I didn’t take any photos of the actual brownies – rookie mistake.  But here is the rest of the delights on display and the dedicated volunteers selling their wares!

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So after all that, I only got a little taste BUT I was very impressed – if I do say so myself.

So here is the recipe – if only so that I remember to make them again!

Avoca Brownies


  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g dark chocolate (55 per cent cocoa minimum)
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g rich dark brown sugar
  • 110g plain flour
  • 80g nuts (hazelnuts/pecans/walnuts  – I only had hazelnuts and slivered almonds so I improvised with these)
  • icing sugar


  1. Melt the butter and the chocolate in an ovenproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and pale – this will take about 10 minutes and can be done in a mixer with the whisk attachment. I did it by hand – be prepared to work  hard!
  3. Stir in the chocolate/butter mix.
  4. Fold in the flour and nuts.
  5. Pour into a greased and lined cake tin (30cmx20cmx5cm) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 170C/Gas mark 3.
  6. Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to cool.
  7. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar