Can allergies be cured?

This is me exactly 35 years ago, summer 1980, somewhere called Ballymacelligott, Co.Kerry, Ireland.

It is a vague memory (and I have remembered a horse not a donkey!), I was only 4 years old but it is lodged as where my love affair of four-legged fellow creatures began.  I grew into a horse obsessed teenager endlessly dreaming of ways to own one.

However, to cut a long teenager dream short, I spent my free time volunteering in a riding school which give me privilege to a gallop around the hills and also the job of breaking in the new horses.

As with most things that developed as a teenager hobby, they were abandoned when I left home.

It was not for another 10 years that I got back on a horse.  It was a pleasure trek in a forest park near where I lived at the time.  To my horror it didn’t go so well.  Shortly after being in contact with the horse I was to discover that I had an severe allergy.

It was a classic case of histamines flooding the system, nearing anaphylaxis:  Itching, tears streaming, red eyes, inflammation, sneezing, difficulty breathing……  A full immune reaction.

It seems this story has a 10 year cycle.   For the next 10 years I lived in fear of that allergy.  Denying myself of the thing that gave me such pleasure in my youth.  As much as I admired these strong creatures, I would avoid them at all costs due to the reaction bound to ensue.

Until last week!!!

The opportunity arose whilst holidaying in Andalusia, Spain.

The opportunity was right in front of me to go horse riding with friends through the olive groves and almond fields just at sunset.

It was too much to resist and somewhere inside me I trusted that all the years I have spent nurturing my inner ecosystem surely a favourable immune response would be in place to the dander from the horse.

I wouldn’t be finding cause to tell the story if there was no happy ending.

The horse riding experience passed wonderfully and I have gone from someone who would have suffered a severe allergic reaction to no reaction at all.

The only difference I can honestly reference, is that some years back I introduced cultured and fermented foods into my diet and took the classic inflammatory foods out.  I have never taken medication to address this problem.

Funny that I have never needed an inhaler since either!


I am back in saddle and ready to muck out your stables for a gallop on your horse, yeeeeha!





Magnificent mayo

Lacto-fermented mayonnaise


IT is nearly the longest day of the year and the colour palate on my plate tries to bring as much sunshine in as possible.

I love my preserved lemons for flavour burst and their tangy zest.  Carrot salads often accompany various meals and my favourite of all, which I cannot enthuse enough about is the bright, almost neon, delicious lacto-fermented mayonnaise!

Fermented condiments were my initial hook into fermentation as sauerkrauts, kimchis, kefir and kombuchas, never sounded that appealing.  ( That is until you try them!!) So to sure this love to good food and full flavoured fermented yumminess, I am detailing my favourite recipe to encourage you to take the 5 minutes out of your day and spend it in the kitchen getting ready for all those summer BBQs you are going to have.  Trust me, make a big batch, as you won’t be able to resist it!



  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 t mustard ( or your own fermented mustard)
  • 1T Kombucha vinegar ( Or Apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 T pickle juice (or Whey)
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 1 cup oil (olive, rapeseed, avocado, rice bran, etc or a blend)



Combine egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, pickle juice and salt in a food processor bowl. Blend well, about 30 seconds. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in as slow a drizzle as possible. Pouring in the oil slowly means it successfully emulsify into mayonnaise. It took me about 5 minutes to slowly pour in the 1 cup of olive oil and complete the emulsification.  Leave it on the countertop for 2 days to ferment before transferring it to the fridge.

Enjoy it on everything, just like I am doing at the present.

Cultivate: We are preparing


Nature is in bloom and the creative juices are flowing in the kitchen as forged goodness finds its way into dishes and into jars. There are many projects on the go right now, from vinegar infusions to floral syrups with many, many jars of fermented goodness bubbling and hissing away.  I am sure some of these will be dehydrated down to powders, as the fridge is now full and the seasons heat will surely spoil many of them too soon.

Orange Kefir with red clover & gorseTraditional Orange whey drink with red clover & gorse infusion

As the culinary side of things is in full swing, The Cultured Club is growing and collaborating to bring a wider sense of purpose.


This new development brings to life a very exciting project which will celebrate Summer. (I laugh as I write this with a blanket wrapped around me for warmth!!!)  The Cultured Club will collaborate with Helen’s bay Organic Gardens to bring you a dining experience which re-connects diners to the land and the origins of their food, celebrating the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.  To highlight this we will present  6 courses of freshly harvested food, local artisan additions, foraged flavours and fermented goodness at natures table………in a polytunnel at Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens.

CULTIVATE compassion, conscious consumerism, connection, celebration and community.  Now is your chance to CULTIVATE CULTURE.



We are having lots of fun perfecting the menu for you…….  Here is a glimpse of potential plates:

Refreshing Aperatifs

Traditional lemonade

Orange tumeric kombucha

Elderflower water kefir

Midsummers fruit kvass

Beetroot pickled quail Eggs with miso mayonnaise & dukkah

 Cucumber roll with laban nut cheese, pomegranate , capers, fermented pesto

Summer  Gazpacho/Bar Tartine Cold Beet Soup

Mouli carpaccio, parmesan, forgaged sea radish, micro greens, crispy nettles & wild clover syrup.

 Sea vegetable croquettes with black garlic, raw noodles & crispy kimchi salad, nori paste, wild garlic flowers

Asian inspired Slaw

Wild flower Salad.

Coffee Kombucha Digestif

Chocolate Avocado mousse

Fermented Lemon & Lavendar cashew nut cheese cake


Ok, I know, it is more than six, but there is such abundance at the moment that we are spoilt for choice!  The taste tests continue and all the enjoyment this project is cultivating will surely translate into the food.

BOOK NOW  for this magical mid-summers eve event to avoid disappointment.

A nice SLOW Ferment



Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine is a mecca.  There is a huge variety of food choices with buzzing conversations ranging from the hidden secrets of the food industry to the delights tucked away in hedgerows and shore lines.

In amongst the many workshops and talks was a chance to listen to the woman who changed the world through food.  In her restaurant, Chez Panisse, she persuaded farmers, foragers and fishermen to raise fresh local food for to use.  This kick-started the farmers’-market movement and she now being recognised and acknowledged as one of the most important and outspoken voices in the world on the subject of food.

What a delight that she should stopped by the Slow Food NI Stall, being a notable member of this movement , it is surely a must-do.  Even better that she should sample the goods and note that ” the ferments were some of the best I have tasted”

Fabulously Funky, just as it says on the label.

Fermentation was hugely evident this year, as the undeniable good news of fermented foods and well-being weaves it way into our consciousness.

It has been a slow journey, of many raised eyebrows, as I chopped my veg, let them ‘rot’ in a  jar and joyfully have them accompany every meal, mostly on my own!!  Now, as the perfect example of Slow Food, they are making their way form my plate to yours!

Join me for more flavourful tastings and digestive well-being.  Have fun in the kitchen with the many potentials there are to explore.

They are slow, easy and catching on.





Find out more at one of our introductory courses:


Or our Tasting Sessions Starting in JUNE!

Milk kefir as an antibiotic?

In the blurry hours of the middle of the night, I lay in agony as a throat infection announced itself. Possibly the side effect of my husband suffering of the same symptoms for the last week. I have a particular phobia of such things as a bad case of quincy some years ago resulted in a lot of pain and serious course of antibiotics.

My glands were very swollen, to swallow really hurt and the thought of trip to the doctors for a predictable course of antibiotics was the causing even more distress.

It was possibly an email or some random google search (which I can no longer find!) but something in those blurry hours caught my attention.  The headline was something akin to ‘Nature’s perfect antibiotic- and it is from milk’

I clicked this tease of a headline, thinking I knew the typical natural antibiotics, (as I had already indulged in some oregano oil, some garlic, a gargle of salt water, some colloidal silver and a spray of echinacea etc etc), so to my surprise Milk kefir was being given top place on the list.Milk Kefir

Best of all I had some in the fridge.  It had been there for over a week mind and I was sure the taste was not going to be of utmost importance at this stage.  If this was natures antibiotic, I wanted it now!  In fact it looked something more like this:

Milk kefir separating in the jar- nothing to be afraid of!

Milk kefir separating in the jar- nothing to be afraid of!


To help with the morning sensation of it all I added some cacao powder and a bananas with a little vanilla powder  and I ate it until I could eat no more.  By mid afternoon, the inflammation was going down, swallowing was becoming a little more of a normal occurrence over a painful task and I was feeling a little perky.

By late lunch (as the appetite is a little suppressed at such times) I mixed up the remaining kefir with some maca ( for extra energy) some cinnamon, turmeric powder (for inflammation) and a little pinch of vanilla powder.  Delighted with a new taste, I finished off what would be over 1 litre of Milk kefir and the healing was well underway.

All hail the mighty natural antibiotic.

Tomorrow I’ll be having some more of ya!

If you wish to learn all about it and more then the next masterclass is focussing on all things milk kefir (covering diary and non-diary options)

Oh how they overflow

IT is time once again for the bulk making to being.  Once the Fabulously Funky Ferments are jarred, they spend a little time hanging out in the sink to let the process begin.  They hiss, they bubble and they OVERFLOW.  Colours merge as orange ferments mingle in with red cabbage krauts and turmeric blends.  It is a wonderful site and the bathroom smells………interesting!

However we all know how good theses all taste and how they make the tongue tickle and the tummy jump for joy! Spring shall bring a new range of wonderful creations so make sure to sign up for the monthly mail out of what Fabulously Funky Ferments are available for March! Contact


The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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