Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween has come and gone..........

When I was a young girl, I remember Halloween was a really lovely time for us. In our little village, all the children dressed up (in homemade costumes and masks) and were allowed to traipse around the neighborhood for hours trick or treating.
We had to either sing a song, or do a little dance or something in order to get our treat which usually consisted of nuts, apples and possibly money of we were decent entertainers.

Then, somehow everyone ended up back at our house where Mum & Dad always had a huge amount of games lined up for us to play. Bobbing for apples in a tub of water, Hanging apples from a doorway tied to a string, and with your hands tied behind your back you had to try to take a bite out of the apple (this, may sound easy, but is actually impossible) and my favourite one was a plate with a large mountain of flour poured onto it. Perched atop this pile of flour was a little grape. Each child had to (using a butter knife) slice away the flour until the grape tumbled of the pile onto the plate. Whoever dislodged the grape had to stick their face into the flour and rescue then eat the grape!
Needless to say, we have come along way since then with the commercialism of everything. The children were permitted to dress up on their last day of school before the Halloween break. Above, Ms. Rory Belle, the ballerina princess is sharing the limelight with one of her school mates - Molly, the Witch.
Not to be outdone by his sister, Jack also joined in the fun as Spider man and is quite attached to this costume (literally, we have to peel it off him).

Getting ready for trick or treating but of course always has time to pose for the camera.

Thankfully our little street is very small with only a few houses so it only took about 30 minutes of craziness - they should rename this holiday to Candy Exchange.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another lovely Wine ??

Well, OK. So this is not a stellar wine. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. In this case, we are looking at the manservant of the prince.
Ron remembered Mezzacorona from his days at Chateau Pomijie and thought it would be worth revisiting. From what he could remember it was overpriced and just OK.
That was more than 15 years ago, and what do you know. He feels the wine has stayed true to his memory all those years ago!
We over chilled it, and ate it with a spicy fish pie and it actually complemented the meal quite well, but as we sipped that last glass it had warmed up a little and was just way 'over pronounced' with a very tiresome & lacking finish.

All was not lost, the Fish Pie (new recipe for Ron too) was stellar (albeit a little rich for the arteries).


A nice piece of fresh salmon
Fresh white fish (haddock, cod,)
2 lbs mussels, clams or both!
8 lovely fat shrimp (fresh - with head on)
(When buying the fish, ask the fishmonger to give you the scraps (skin, etc) from the trimmings of your fish. It is great for your fish stock)
1 bunch of baby leeks,
1 cup grated Gruyere
3 cups fish velouté
Small bag new potatoes (boil them, and allow to cool)
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbps unsalted butter
2 cups white wine
1 cup Noilly Prat (dry vermouth)
2 cups fish stock
1 cup heavy cream
Now, before you get started - make sure you like fish and cream. It ends up kind of like a fish shepherd's pie.

Put the mussels/clams in a large pot with a little olive oil and about 1 cup white wine.
Put on the lid for 5 minutes. When all mussels have opened, pull them out, then throw in the whole shrimp. Let them cook just for a few minutes.
Take them out, take of the heads and peel them.
Keep heads, tails etc.for fish stock.
In a separate pot, put the heads, tails etc. of shrimp, the trimmings from the fishmonger into a pot and add 1/2 cup white wine. Allow to cook for 15 minutes.
If you have some fish or lobster stock in the fridge, now would be a good time to add this.
If you do not, sauté the shallots and leeks in a pan with some butter until soft.
Add the wine and dry vermouth a splash at a time, allowing it to fully reduce.
(now, it is called Velouté)
Add the cream, then strain the juice from the fish stock you have cooking right into the shallot/leek mix.
Take the pieces of raw fish and place into the fish sauce. Allow to cook for a few minutes.
Remove mussels from shells. Take all fish, sauce, mussels & shrimp and put into your fav. casserole dish. Slice baby potatoes on top of this mixture and then sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese.
Allow to cook in the oven for at least 20 minutes (fairly high heat) until the potatoes have crisped up a little and the cheese is melted and a little crispy.
As mentioned earlier, it is quite rich but I assure you very very tasty and especially of you are lucky enough to get fresh fish.
That is all the WiseWords for today,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just can't get enough!

This is the country of greens and goodies. There is a variety of spinach grown all year round here called perpetual spinach. It is about 6 times as big as the normal salad variety and is a little rougher in taste and texture.

A traditional favourite of ours is good old Bacon & Cabbage. Over the years I have been able to get a piece of bacon/ham to make this taste as authentic as possible, and now that I am back on Terra firme, I have made a few changes to the old standby recipe to keep the chef interested!

With all this perpetual Spinach growing around here, we have come up with a yummy dish for all you comfort food lovers out there.

Get yourself a piece of salt cured pork. Cottage ham will work fine. Place in pot covering with cold water and allow to come to the boil. Add some baby potatoes, reduce heat and let cook for 2 hours.

Then add in as much spinach and 1/2 head of cabbage or other greens (for variety).

After the greens have cooked for a while (until tender) add some RED HOT sauce. (Tabasco is OK too, depends on which one you like the best). Add as much as you like.....................
Also, add a nice spoonful of butter.

Let this cook some more (maybe another 1/2 hour). Get a few nice big pasta bowls and some nice crusty bread. Best to eat on a cold wintry night with a lovely big bottle of Chimay. (blue of course)

This, is one of our very favourite dishes. Serious serious comfort food.

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wise WINE Alert

Yummy, Yummy, Yum! We had this wine yesterday and I wanted to share it with you because it most likely is going to be a hot seller for the holidays. (to drink or to give as a gift).
AL Muvedre, 2004 Tinto Joven
The best way to describe it, in a nutshell - it tastes like a baby Amarone.
The strange thing about that is that it is from the Alicante region of Spain, nowhere near the Piemonte region of Italy where Amarones come from. Some further digging around taught me that the winemaker (although a Spaniard) has an Italian Winemaker for a grandfather. How cool is that!
We bought it for 9 euros here in Galway at Wine Warehouse and it tasted AMAZING!
So, stop what you are doing, call into your local Wine shop and see if you cannot get your hands on a bottle!
That is all the WiseWords for today,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hello Mr. Jack!

I know I was crazy to ever worry if this little man would ever speak, but just to give you an idea of how his language is developing he has recited the story Rory just told you in the first video.

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Do 'ye' hear it??

I know this is barely audible, but I am hoping you can detect a wee shift in the accent of Ms. Rory Belle. She wanted to video herself telling a bedtime story

Stay tuned to hear the same story, told by Jack!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Drive with me

HINT - hit the play button then pause it immediatley for at least 2 minutes or more if you have time. That gives the music time to load and play along with the video as you read. Otherwise it will be kind of blotchy.

This is a effort to give you all a little taste of driving in our neighborhood. Notice Rory's school, some cool old houses and finally Home.

I have posted the lyrics to the song that is playing in the background. It is one of my favourite songs and although there are several versions out there, this is the one with the Chieftans and Joni Mitchell. For those of you unfamiliar with the story behind the song, you can check out the website and I am sure it will shed lights as to why it is one of my favourite tunes.


The Magdalene Laundries

I was an unmarried girl, I'd just turned twenty-seven, When they sent me to the sisters For the way men looked at me

Branded as a Jezebel I knew I was not bound for Heaven I'd be cast in shame Into the Magdalene laundries

Most girls come here pregnant, Some by their own fathers Bridget got that belly, By her parish priest

We're trying to get things white as snow, All of us woe-begotten-daughters In the steaming stains, Of the Magdalene laundries

Prostitutes and destitutes, And temptresses like me-- Fallen women--Sentenced into dreamless drudgery ... Why do they call this heartless place, Our Lady of Charity? Oh charity!

These bloodless brides of Jesus, If they had just once glimpsed their groom Then they'd know, and they'd drop the stones

Concealed behind their rosaries They wilt the grass they walk upon, They leech the light out of a room They'd like to drive us down the drain At the Magdalene laundries

Peg O'Connell died today, She was a cheeky girl - A flirt

They just stuffed her in a hole! Surely to God you'd think at least some bells should ring! One day I'm going to die here too And they'll plant me in the dirt Like some lame bulb That never blooms come any spring Not any spring No, not any spring

Not any spring

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Monday, October 13, 2008

Update on the Children

So, I am a sucker for the sky. I cannot get enough photos of the morning and evening skies around here. It stops me dead in my tracks sometimes.
The children are doing well. They are adjusting to the Irish way of life as easily as a duck to water. There is a lot of open spaces for them to roam free. Inside and outside the house. There is also a lot of talk about animals. Dogs, Cats, Horses.....................
Rory is letting her hair grow a little longer than normal. The jury is out on whether or not we like this as it is a lot more painful and tearful when we have to comb it, but cést la vie. One has to suffer to be beautiful and I suppose she is at that age where she needs to know this.
Jack! Well, does this picture not tell a thousand words? He is doing just swell. Really, he has turned out to be just hell on wheels. He is still the most loving and cuddliest thing and Granny's very favourite phrase from Jack is 'what about the hug and the kiss' - he just will not let you leave without this show of affection. Ok, I will take the credit for that one!
Remarkably, more sunshine on our outing to one of my favourite places - Coole Park.
They really are at a great age now, because aside from all the times they kill each other, they are just hamming it up most of the time and having a great time playing together.

That, is all the WiseWords for today,


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oh me, oh my - is that a pie?

Yes, this is my second attempt ever at making a good old fashioned Steak & Kidney Pie.
1st attempt was in highschool - home economics class.
I will throw the recipe on the blog down below, but I have to tell you, that unless you really like kidney, do not make it. Really, it is a very strong tasting piece of meat, much stronger than liver or even heart. HOWEVER, it sure is tasty!

As we have just recently moved, one of the things we have either misplaced in a box or did not bring with us is a rolling pin. I used a wine bottle which worked great for future reference, and then of course I had to get little 'rolling pins' for the crumb catchers. Does anyone recognise those bottles?? This was my rolling pin du jour today, but write down the information on this wine. It was delicious. Really really yummy. Danilio Spinoglio is the winery - a gorgeous place in Piemonte.
As they waited patiently for supper, I could not help snap this shot for two reasons. 1. They were quite content sitting at the table just chatting together and 2. The Sun was shining AGAIN! Reality check, it is just a few hours later and now lashing rain again.
The glorious end result. Turned out yummy, the children gobbled up every bite on their plate.They actually preferred the kidney over the steak, because it was so tender. I have very strange children. I know.


1lb Beef (Braising Steak or Round Steak)
1 large Onion (roughly chopped)
1 Beef Stock Cube dissolved in 1/2 pt of warm water
4 Lamb Kidneys (cored and chopped)

Ron keeps little dough balls of pastry in the freezer for these such emergencies, so I did not have to make the crust - just thaw and roll! You will need a top and bottom crust.

First, dust the beef with salt/pepper and a handful of regular flour.

Heat your frying pan or a nice heavy based pot to almost burning point so you can sear the beef.

If you are as lucky as I am, you will have a little jar of Foie Gras fat tucked away in your fridge somewhere. I suggest you break this out for the fat needed for this job. Words cannot describe how great steak tastes when cooked in the fat from a lovely piece of foie gras.

Add onions & I threw in about 4 cloves of garlic also roughly chopped. Start slowly adding the beef stock, and because you used flour to dust the beef with, you will notice the juice is naturally thickening. Allow to simmer for at least 1 hour. Do the same with the kidneys. Dust in flour. Fry in foie gras fat. OK, so you may have to use a substitution instead like bacon fat. Doesn't that also sound yummy??

Add the kidneys to the beef, cover and allow to cook slowly for as long as you can.

In the meantime, I blind baked the bottom layer of the pie crust.

When ready, and after you make sure there is still some juice but not so much it will ruin your pie - dump all into baked pie crust. Cover with remaining pie crust topper and brush with egg wash (we used cream - worked great).

Wait patiently for at least 35 - 45 mins. The oven was set on 190 Celsius.

I am not sure what we will drink with this later this evening. Maybe beer, maybe wine.

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Friday, October 10, 2008

For whatever ails you

I know you are detecting a theme here, last blog was about Irish Coffee and now this is about the ever famous Hot Whiskey. It is that time of year! It is getting a little colder outside, some may have more rain than others, maybe even a little frost already on the ground.

The runny noses have begun, and you are wondering if you should dig out your gloves.

Whilst pondering that thought of exactly where the box of gloves and scarfs is stashed, pull a few items together from the kitchen and bar and fix yourself a dose of hot whiskey (or hot toddy depending on where you come from).

This recipe, is just a traditional Irish recipe and you can adapt it to suit your own tastebuds.


2oz Irish Whiskey

6 cloves

1 nice think round slice of lemon

1 tsp sugar (or honey if you have a sore throat)

Boiling water


Boil the water. Stud the slice of lemon with the cloves. Put sugar and whiskey in glass and fill with boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved then throw in lemon with cloves.

Wait until it cools down for a minute then sip. Adjust the sweetness to suit your own taste buds.

No matter what the ailment, the first one will ease your pain and there is no telling how well you will sleep after the second!


That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Good ole Irish Coffee

There are several of you that have had the pleasure of drinking one (or several) of these delicious coffees and I felt it only fitting to throw up the recipe for this and tell the story that goes with its 'perfection'. You see, I always claimed to have the best recipe for this drink, considering I started making them at home for the parents (sorry Catherine, your secret is out) most likely at the age of 9 or 10. It was great, we got to stay up late and make drinks for Mum, Dad and whomever of there friends they were entertaining at the time.
It is kind of your birthright as an Irish person to instinctively know how to make this drink, and it will be consistently delicious every time.
When I met Ron at BrewWorks a million years ago, we were in the opening phase of the bar and needed a recipe. I argued that mine should be the one we use, and Ron (IMAGINE) argued that his WOULD be the recipe we would use. We had to have a 'taste off' where we both made our own recipe and had Ken Lewis (the boss) taste and deliver an answer.
Ron and I had just met (2 days prior) and although I was already very smitten, he was not having any of it. So, there was NO chance of me winning him over and he was the king of recipes.
After tasting his recipe and giving careful consideration to the fact that he was my future husband I conceded to use his recipe with one minor change. His coffee was terrible, but his whipped cream was divine. (keep it clean folks - we had not even dated at this point).
As he was quite chuffed at 'winning the battle' I decided to make a run for 'winning the war'. I invited him over to try out our new recipe and although I had to keep him 'drunk' for 3 days, he finally gave in and agreed to date me.
Amazing what a girl has got to do to land a husband these days.
Needless to say, the recipe is still intact and used by many. I hope, after you try it out (esp. you MarySue, Jane & Carmen) I think that it will bring back many many memories of the howling laughter we have shared over this drink.
2 oz whiskey (or more if you like it)
Boiling hot water (really boiling)
1 tsp sugar (raw sugar cane is the best and use more sugar if you like it sweet)
1 tsp instant coffee (yes, I said instant, NO - do not try it with good coffee)
Heavy whipping cream
Vanilla essence (a few drops)
White/Superfine sugar
First, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla essence to a perfect whip. Not too thick, not too thin. Just right. Stick in fridge and leave there until ready to make your drink. (same day and NEVER EVER use that crap in a can that squirts).
Boil the water. Put sugar and coffee in a glass. Add whiskey. Fill 2/3rds of the way from the top, stirring until you are certain the sugar is dissolved. Taste to make sure there is enough sugar in the drink.
Get 2 teaspoons and a cup. Place spoons in cup and 1/2 fill with boiling water.
Get cream from fridge and start spooning it onto the hot coffee mix with the use of these teaspoons. You should be able to float the cream nicely on top assuming you have the right mix of whiskey, sugar and coffee.
Dust a little instant coffee on top for garnish.
Sit back, drink and enjoy. NEVER mix the cream into the coffee. That is just gauche!
That is all the WiseWords for today,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Food Glorious Food

Sometimes I feel like all we do around here is eat. PROBABLY because that IS all we do around here!! Today, I decided to share with y'all a few recipes of (mine) because it is that time of year, and I KNOW a few of you are missing the tasty treats we used to share together.
To start with, I am delivering the recipe for the Oxtail Stew Ron and I have made together for the last 12 years. But, it should be noted that the original recipe is mine and of course he has perfected it!Ingredients:

3 lbs Oxtail

1 large onion (cut into quarters)

6 cloves of garlic (whole pieces, can use roasted also if desired)

4 carrots (roughly chopped up large pieces)

4 medium potatoes (cut in halves)

Worcestershire sauce

Whole black peppercorns (6)


Up to 4 cups beef stock (water is OK too)

1/2 cup flour

1 can/bottle Guinness (large)

1/2 bottle nice red wine

(remember, if you can't drink it You should NEVER cook with it)


Find a large heavy based pot, turn it on and get it burning hot.
Dust the oxtail with the flour and place into your pot. There should be enough
fat on the oxtail to brown the meat right away. If you are afraid it will burn, add a drop of olive oil. Turn the pieces of oxtail until browned nicely. Add a nice amount of Worcestershire.

Reduce heat a little & throw in the raw onion, and garlic.Let the onion and garlic cook until soft and tender. Slowly start to add the Guinness a small splash at a time. Let it reduce a little and caramelize with the juices coming from the meat. Keep adding the rest of the Guinness slowly like this. Add the 6 whole peppercorns & a decent pinch of salt.
Now, you can start adding your beef stock (or water). Just dump it all in.

Throw in your potatoes & carrots. Allow to cook for 30 minutes at a decent heat. Taste the broth. Adjust seasoning as desired. I usually go heavy on the worcestershire sauce early on in the process because I like that flavor.

Reduce heat to the lowest setting and allow to cook for at least 2 1/2 hours if not longer. We used to put ours into the chamber pot in our chambers stove (remember that cool stove in our kitchen on Craig ave. ?) and leave it there for an afternoon.

Now, I feel like I have forgotten something...........................Oh yes!
The Wine. Get yourself a nice big glass of wine, sit down, put your feet up and get caught up on reading your favourite rag or blog! We always keep a loaf of sesame ciabatta (Shadeau in Cincy or Gourmet Tart in Galway) in the freezer for occasions like this. Pull a loaf out, stick in a hot oven for ten minutes and voila. As soon as you are ready to eat - break out a nice bottle of Cabernet or even a Shiraz. I assure you on a cold wet wintry evening this will go down a treat as you toast your toes in front of the fireplace!

That is all the yummy WiseWords for today,


Monday, October 06, 2008

Can you hear this? Can you see this? Can you smell this? Can you feel this?

I know most of you are insanely jealous that not only did I steal Chef far away from you all, but now, here I have plopped him right slap in the countryside on the west coast of Ireland. Where he most likely will never stray from ever again.

Things are different here. The Internet, is still not in every ones homes and many of the locals just use dial up because broadband is not available. Can you all imagine life without the Internet?

I have had a break from it over the last few weeks whilst packing up and moving, and imagine my horror when I was told that the line quality in our home was to poor to service us with broadband. I was fit to be tied and shrieked like a banshee at the poor girl from Eircom who was told to phone me with this message.

After freaking out for a few days, my younger brother Kenneth put me in touch with a company called IRISH BROADBAND and they came out today to install a WIRELESS receiver on our rooftop so we could get back to business.

Now, to complete the picture, I thought it only fitting to share with the movie clip above of how I have been spending the last few evenings whilst tapping the keys on my hot little laptop!

We bought our first load of turf (Irish Fuel - look it up) and have not looked back!

That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight,


Sunday, October 05, 2008

My Newest Bestest BFF

I know, I am showing a rare (but real) very materialistic side of myself here. I recently decided to splurge on a new PC. After quite a bit if research and a lot of (family) Mac users trying to lead me over to the dark side, I decided to stick with what I knew best. I am a DELL girl. I have been since I bought my first PC in 1995. I love the machines and could not wait to build my new PC. I decided to go with the Dell XPS M1530 RED laptop. I am pretty sure since I started using this laptop over a month ago, I have emerged as a budding writer! I cannot let go of it. I take it with me everywhere I go and now that we are settled into our new home, I am online and ready!
Product RED was something I was familiar with from living in the states and so would anyone if they have heard or seen commercials from companies like The Gap, Hallmark, Dell, American Express etc. Thanks to (RED) people and (RED) companies, The Global Fund has $115 Million more dollars on hand to buy and distribute life-saving medicine. The just got a ton of money to eradicate malaria in Africa! That is pretty amazing to think that they are eradicating a disease as prevalent as Malaria (in AFRICA!!) That money is going to work right now in (RED) programs in Rwanda, Ghana, Swaziland, and Lesotho.And every time you choose a (RED) product that number grows. Think about choosing RED for Christmas presents.
I think it is worth it.

Oh, and back to the machine. Yes, it is fantastic. Faster than the speed of light, and it is RED!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mi Casa es Su Casa!

Welcome Home..........................Welcome!
Come on in and close the door. This is the view from my kitchen window.
We moved into our new home, just a little over a week ago. It only took a few days to start feeling like home.

Rory has already hooked up with the boy next door. His name is Evan, he goes to the same school as her and is .................wait for it......................a whole year older than her!!! He is equally enthralled with her.
There was a present waiting for us in our back yard when we moved in. Good ole Uncle Arthur Guinness. Sorry folks, it was empty.
Although this house is enormous, (6 bedrooms), would you know that the children only want to be in the smallest most cramped space they can find, and spend hours there quite happily.

It feels right. Actually, Chef himself made the comment just after a few days how surprised he was at feeling like he was coming home to the same 'home' we had on Craig Avenue.
That should give most of you warm and fond memories of fireplaces, food, the occassional glass (or bottle) of wine and millions of hours of fun and friendship.

It is good to be home, now - who is coming to visit??

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Salt Anyone??

Here is what I am reading right now!

This book was given to us by our dearest friend Christine Smart several years ago. Ron read it immediately and mentioned it was a heavy read but still a decent page turner. For whatever reason it never made it to my night stand. Well, that was then! Now it is actually toted along in my backpack with me and is proving quite an interesting read.

OK, now here is where you fall asleep if not interested, or really perk up if curious!
This book tells the story of salt. You will encounter engineering, religion, and food, all of which the author (Kurlansky) really gets into. Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

I dug into a box looking for it the other day because as I was out shopping for our favourite brand of table salt (Maldon Salt), I came across a competitor! I hear the gasps of shock and amazement rallying around the globe...................surely, there is no competition with good old Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. We have been using them for more than 12 years now.

Introducing Cerebos. From Croatia (no less) and endorsed by her royal highness herself! So, of course we had to buy a box and in a blindfolded side by side taste test - there was no difference.
The only difference (here in Ireland) was the price. Maldon is available for 3 euros a box at any and all grocery stores across the land. Cerebos, was 89 cents more and is only available at a speciality food store. I guess being endorsed by the Queeen is costly stuff!

In case you do not have one, rush out today and buy a salt pig - perfect home for your Maldon Salt Flakes. We just stumbled upon this one last week at a shop called Options (7 .99 euros), here in Galway. What I like about it is that your whole hand fits in there, unlike the other ones we have had in the past. Try Williams Sonoma in the US.

And of course, a really great way to try out your new tasty treat would be something like this pictured below. Toasted potato cakes, with a drizzle or drowning of butter (all depends on your cholesterol levels right!) then a sprinkling of salt.
I would love to tell you these were as tasty as they looked, but right after I snapped my photo, the two rugrats apparently wasting away to skin and bone grabbed the whole plate and inhaled them. Finger licking good - they said!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

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