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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Winter is here!

Tiny ice crystals
glazed across the glass
Winter is upon us
Frost dances upon the grass.
The icicles hang heavy
The snow sheets all in white
The sun glistens fiercely
It’s never shone so bright.
The animals move slower
Their quest for food begins
The birds may chirp less often
But still you hear them sing.
Winter is here
Winter, is here
© 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cabbage Rolls......................Devine!

Finally, after weeks and months of begging....................the Chef decided today was the day to make cabbage rolls for dinner. I think most of you remember this as the meal he served at Rondo's to all the lucky ones but never ran it as a special or put it on the menu because it was just Cabbage Rolls! Well, I for one am happy to have this fine dish to celebrate our Thanksgiving Day Dinner!
Ron has recently decided to grow a beard and the jury is out as to whether or not he is going to keep it!

OK, to get right to it the Cabbage Rolls are dead easy. The secrets are to make in advance a lovely creamy tomato sauce and use leftover rice or cook 3 cups. (It is better to use brown rice - trust me on this one, and not the easy/quick cook stuff).

2 cans of tomatoes, puree them with the stab blender. Season to taste (salt/pepper/little bit of Franks Red Hot). Add a few tablespoons of Sour Cream and let cook slowly for an hour. You can add a little bit of cabbage water at a later point if you think it has thickened too much.

Before you start working on the Cabbage, get out a non-reactive roasting pan.
Get either one large head of cabbage (white or savoy) or mix it up with some Kale which is abundant this time of year.

Boil a large pot of water (seasoned with Salt/Pepper). Peel of the outer leaves and place in boiling water. Let them cook for five mins. Use them to line the bottom of your roasting pan.
Now, with the Kale or the rest of the cabbage - peel off the leave and blanch them until they are that lovely green color like you see in the photo above. Set them aside.

2 onions, 6 cloves of garlic. Saute gently in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add to 1 pound of ground turkey and 1 pound of ground pork/beef. Chop in a decent amount of parsley and salt/pepper.
Add in cooked rice.
The Chef's TIP here: Fry up a small piece of this meat mixture to see how it tastes. If necessary adjust the seasoning!

Lay out your cabbage leaves on a clean work surface and place a decent amount of meat/rice mixture into the center of the cabbage leaves. Roll up the cabbage leaves, tucking in the sides as you roll up. Ron shows his true skill here and told me that I would have been much better at this task if I had ever been a dope smoker!

When finished you should have one or wo layers of little cabbage rolls in your roasting pan.
Cover with tomato sauce and let cook for one hour at 350 F.
These ALWAYS taste better the next day but a little longer in the oven will not hurt them.

The Chef likes to put a dollop of sour cream on his and we serve it with a nice loaf of crusty bread! I think a Pinot Noir would go nicely with this, and will ALERT you later on as to how it all washes down!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American Friends and Family!

It is so strange to be in Ireland on Thanksgiving (especially the West Coast where there are no expats at all!!) where no one remembers or acknowledges this special holiday.

The children went to school as normal, and we are having cabbage rolls for dinner!!
We are celebrating with a Turkey and all the goodies that go with it on Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

We miss you, and love you all.

Móna, Ron, Rory & Jack

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wise Movie Review

Practical Magic. An oldie but a goodie.
OK, it is 10 years old so maybe not exactly that old.

Many would say an outright chick flick and I would agree with that. However, the Chef tolerated the movie because a young and perky Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock are the main characters.

The movie is a cute story about 2 sisters that dabble a little in witchcraft and get in a little trouble for killing Nicole Kidmans abusive ex boyfriend. And wouldn't you know the lovely, talented and oh, so fine Mr. Aidan Quinn comes to the rescue of Sandra Bullock and there is (of course) a happy ending!

Winter is here, more movies and books to watch to while away these wintry & wet evenings by the fire!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Monday, November 24, 2008



I am in the final week of a creative writing class I have taken at the local university. It has been a really great challenge and I have learned a lot!

Our final assignment is to write a Sestina. I had never heard of this style of poem (as I am not poetic at all) but gave it my best shot. I chose very easy words and cheated a little bit.

A sestina is a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (or envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines.

The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time; If you number the first stanza's lines 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243, then 364125, then 532614, then 451362, and finally 246531.

These six words then appear in the tercet as well, with the tercet's first line usually containing 1 and 2, its second 3 and 4, and its third 5 and 6.

Anyone up to the challenge??
It is very much suited to those of you that love to do a daily crossword puzzle, or Sudoku. It does mess with your head a little but is a lot of fun!

The Chef is working on one called 'Sestina D'Obama'
depicting what Obamas life would have been like had he been born and raised in Alabama!

My Sestina, titled 'Sestina D'Wise' is a little more controversial and provoking (I know that surprises you!) but like I said I took the easy route, choosing easy words. I will publish my Sestina D'Wise shortly!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Wise Movie Review

Quantam of Solace
Daniel Craig

There really is not much good to say about this movie except for the fact that we do get to see the half naked body of the lovely Daniel Craig.

I am not a 007 fan. I never have been. I tolerated watching them when Sean Connery was the man, and I did only because I had a major crush on him (and really girls, what is not to love?)

His car was not a fancy one, it was more like an antique mini. He did have a phone that had Internet access (w0w) but the Chef swears that the gadgets were never a big attraction to the male viewers (says the man that still has not managed to figure out how to send an email!!!)

There was one redeeming factor about this movie (OK, this is the 2nd redeeming factor as we have already covered Daniel Craig's half naked body) and that was the fact that this movie was not a bond movie! It was just a mainstream movie, with a bunch of killing, fighting, car chasing etc. testosterone filled, boring, no real plot or story line to worry about. Dame Judy Dench (and I do like her) was also in the movie and played Jame's boss but really, it was just not worth watching.

My recommendation is this. Arrange for a boys night in for them to watch this drivel, whilst you go out with your girlfriends and enjoy yourself!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wise WINE Alert!

Bourillon Dorleans
Vouvray 2007

Another lovely wine to share with my fellow foodies. Thankful that Sunday evening was finally here and the kids in bed asleep at 7pm, the Chef & instructed me to pick a nice bottle of wine to have with the yummy pasta dish he was throwing together! I opened the fridge and this was the first bottle I pulled out!

In fairness we do have a love affair with Vouvray. To be honest, neither himself or myself can recall a vouvray that we have had that we did not enjoy a great deal if not love!

This wine set us back 11 euro and it was most definitely worth every cent. It is crisp, it is clean, it is very very refreshing. There is a slight hint of pear and at first sip I was afraid it may be a little too much with our pasta dish, BUT the chef had added a little heat to the dish and all was perfect!

So, I would definitely look for this one. At this price, I can imagine this would be a welcome Christmas present for anyone I know!

That is all the WiseWine Words I have for today,


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Isn't it great to be a kid!

Before I get to explaining why Ms. Keira was here for a visit, I thought 'What a great photo' for any company to use as advertising!

It is sad that for the most part our families rarely are all together unless it is for a wedding or a funeral, but we try to make the most of it whenever the occassion occurs. One of my Uncles passed away last week. He was my fathers brother (Aidan) and had been long suffering with lung cancer. The wake and funeraling took place over 3 days (Thurs.Fri.Sat).

Shane flew in Thursday morning and brought a little surprise with him - my gorgeous niece Keira. She stayed with Granny on Thursday night and on Friday went to each of the kids schools to pick up my two! Needless to say, they were more than overjoyed to see their cousin.

On Friday afternoon we took them to the home of my late Uncle to pay our respects and I would venture to say it was the first time all 3 of them had ever seen a corpse. They had no real feelings on the matter. I thought it would get a little more chatter out of them, but they seemed indifferent to the fact that someone was dead in the living room and more concerned about the Apple Pie in the kitchen.
When Jack walked into the living room where my Uncle was laid out, he proclaimed loudly (in a room full of the mourning families) - "theres my Grandfather!" I had to do a quick look around myself as I was focused on my uncle in his coffin who did not resemble my Dad in the slightest and then noticed that Jack had spied a photo of my Dad nearby.
It is funny how the things children say can have a strange effect on people. I was a little mortified that Jack was being his usual loud and 3 yearish self blurting out the first thing that comes into his little head but later found out from my Mum that my cousin Raymond (eldest son of my uncle that just passed away) was shocked and happy to see Jack behave as if he knew exactly who my Dad was even though he has been dead 9 years this Christmas.
I know, I feel proud. I love that the children who have never met Dad, do have a great sense of his presence. It is awful that he never lived to walk me down the aisle, or be around to watch the kids grow, to have seen our lovely restaurant, to have partied with our friends, to help us build a chicken coop (see upcoming blog) and so much more. But he is forever in our hearts and apparently his image & essence is engrained in the little minds & hearts of my babies.
Keira has this really cool way of wrapping her french fries around her chicken nuggets then dipping them in ketchup. Usually 3 french fries and always the same size ones!

As most places like Supermacs (Irish equivalent of McDonalds) give a little gift, the kids left with a toy, balloons, ice cream and very full tummies. This photo is a little blurry but I thought it was a true image of the way they actually were all hyped up on sugar!

That is all the WiseWords for today,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mmmmmm.......................Gravy Bread!

Hmmmm, I am not sure where to start with this blog. You see, I - Móna Wise do NOT LIKE GRAVY BREAD. I realise that many of you out there are shocked by this statement (sorry Kurt) but I just do not get it.

The Chef, is an avid fan and actually has this in mind every time he makes gravy. Imagine, after you have finished eating a lovely dinner, slathering butter on a piece of bread and pouring gravy over the bread, then letting it soak into all the nooks and crannies before devouring it.

I watched in amazement last night as my brother - Kenneth (still slightly intoxicated from funeraling) made his gravy bread and I thought this was strange as the only place I had ever seen this happen before was at Kurt & Dia's house (in the US).

I even googled Gravy Bread last night to see exactly who started it all. Nothing! I cannot find out where this idea originated from but apparently it is a favourite on both sides of the pond!

Needless to say it was shamelessly washed down with some of the black stuff and whiskey chaser! Finger lickin good, he said!

Before I sign off for this evening, I should warn you the Chef spent sometime today talking about Rondo's stuffed cabbage rolls (oh, God remember that??) and peppermint bark chocolate fudge.
I will have the recipies posted as soon as he gets to it!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gourmet Babies

Cheese in Ireland is a strange thing. There are soooooo many really great yummy yummy cheeses. Cashel Blue to name our personal favourite is now available all over the world! There are a million different cheddars, a few great smoked and unsmoked goudas, unbelievable goats cheese (including some exceptional dry aged). But when a girl goes to town looking for a bag of shredded mozzarella (yes, the yucky kind) there is not a scrap to be found!

You can, however find the most beautiful balls of fresh baby mozzarella at most grocery stores and even, wait for it - fresh cheese curd!

So, when Pizza night rolls around every so often here at Chez Wise - the children sing the same tune every time - More Cheese Please!!

Now, as you know, our little restaurant babies have unusual, if not great taste buds!

Ron had to pop out last night for a little while and I was left to 'fixin dinner' for the 2 crumb catchers. In saying I was left to do this arduous chore, let me clarify a few things. The chef had made some pizza dough for the kids to make their own pizzas. I had to open the jar of tomato sauce and get the cheese out of the fridge. (I know, I am a lucky girl!)

They proceeded to sauce and cheese their pizza and when asked how they wanted to top it off (sausage, mushroom, etc) they asked for thinly sliced apple??

I sliced it, they arranged it. I popped the pizza in the over for all of 8 minutes if that and they ate the entire pie before it had a chance to cool down.

Its a winner for any Mum out there trying to get their children to eat more fruit!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Monday, November 17, 2008

Addict Update

So, how am I really doing? Well, it has been rough these past few months since returning home to the old sod. After realising there was NO STARBUCKS on my side of the island, it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I would be saving myself so much money and instead of pining for my favourite brew, I needed to get out there and rejoice!

Truth be told and I am not ashamed that all of you will know this - The Chef and I are addicts.
We, hand over heart cannot give up our addiction to Starbucks home brew coffee.
There, I have said it. We tried, and tried just about every blend there was on offer to grind and press. From fair trade to instant, from organic to green. Ron even found those coffee beans that are eaten by a goat or a cat or something and then pooped out for a finer blend. Tasted OK, says he!

So, how do we feed our fix? Well, thankfully the fair city of Dublin is less than a two and a half hour drive away and with family and friends passing through we have managed to keep a steady supply of Verona and Gold Coast stocked and ready for our french press each morning.

In addition, when we left Switzerland we brought with us our adorable little Nespresso machine and they deliver our favourite pods right to the door in the middle of the sticks here in Galway!

That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight,


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Road trip anyone?

We belted away on Saturday morning to visit one of my Uncles (Michael) who happens to live at Lough Talt, Co. Sligo. Lucky Man!
He was kind enough to allow the children some time on his donkey! This poor old boy lives quite a quiet retired sort of life and I could not believe just how placid and accommodating he was.

I see stars in her eyes. "Oh, Daddy. I would just love a pony for Christmas". And of course, the Chef will not know how to say NO! Thankfully, I showed Rory the size of Donkey poo and she quickly changed her tune after realising that were her new friend to come home with us she may someday have to actually clean up something that smelly!

For what feels like a millisecond in their tiny little lives, I feel like they are really getting along quite well these days. I treasure these moments and photos because there is usually so much hair pulling and the usual things little siblings like to argue over. OR, is it just that Jack has been coached ever so well by big sister Rory in the art of posing for that perfect photo to keep Mum happy?

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is it a little wierd that they enjoy this???

Granny popped over for supper this evening. We had a lovely roast duck dinner that the chef had let slow roast over the afternoon and as he knew it was one of Granny's favourites he made a lovely orange and cranberry chutney to dollop on top of it.
After dinner and too much ice cream for the children, they wanted to show Granny their art project from last week. Ron had taken a bucket of old clothes pegs and asked the children to paint them.

I think that most Granny's would be worried that encouraging this kind of behaviour would lead to possible piercings in the future but clearly our dearest darling Granny was only encouraging the brats.

I guess we can send them to her when they come home with the idea that they want a tattoo as well!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Enjoying the season

Traffic around here is a killer sometimes. As we are living in the sticks you have to be careful of rush hour 'Cow' traffic. Either early in the morning or right around supper time you can be barreling along down the road only to have to come to a screeching halt to allow the cows to cross the road in order to get home for milking. Ron is very amused by this as are the children and sometimes want to go for a 'Cow' drive just to sit in 'Cow' traffic...................I wonder how long this will last???
We went over to Rinville bay for an evening walk and stumbled upon this cool old castle right beside the kids playground. I have no idea who this once belonged to, but it was a functioning restaurant at one point.

It is such a shame that many of these structures are let go into ruins. In saying that, there are still A LOT of them all over the country that are very well maintained and still lived in. Beggars can't be choosers.

As you can see from the photo above, they are wrapped well but happy to be out and about for a walk. And who wouldn't be with a view like that in the background???

Somethings are just too good to pass up. We saw these carrots yesterday at the market and could not leave them behind. I feel the urge to try my sisters carrot cake recipe and see if it even pails in comparison. OK, lets be real. I really will not be doing the baking, but I will wash, peel and grate them then I will watch over the shoulder of my dearest darling as he mixes, bakes and decorates the lovely cake.

I am not sure if you remember this as it was a million years ago, but I think we will try to use her (my Sister Tracy) recipe combined with that of Vera's from Rondo's (she used crushed pineapple) and I will let you know the outcome..................
Heart attack city here we come,
That is all the WiseWords I have for now,

Leave our kids alone!

It is evident that at such a young age our children will be passionate about having their voices heard!

We took them to their first protest march in the Galway today. The protest is over the fact that the government has decided to make huge Education cuts this year in order to survive the recession we are in and although our children's school is not directly affected we wanted to show our support to the schools that are loosing teachers.

We and 8,000 other people decided to brave the rain and cold and walk down the centre of the town in protest of these budget cuts and I have to say it was quite a wonderful day. We were with a bunch of other families and they children had a great time.

However, did notice that they gravitated towards the flash of every camera they saw and I have never seen two children watch the evening news with such anticipation over seeing themselves!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Friday, November 07, 2008

Food Coma............

What a week! They say when all else fails - we should eat! So, eat we did! And then some.
Before I natter on incessantly about all the boring details, this photo above is of the yummy quiche we had for lunch today. I will post a recipe down below (well, kind of a recipe - enough for you to get started).
I rarely have to grocery shop or cook. I know, I am a lucky girl.
I would do these necessary chores if Ron did not feel like it, but it is his vocation in life, to grow, buy and cook.
I (like most busy Mum's out there) race around from shop to shop, trying to keep one hand on 2 children whilst not dropping the eggs and trying to find my keys, all the while realising that I have just checked out at the cash register and forgotten to buy what I came in for in the first place!!!
He gets such pleasure from spending hours (and I do mean hours) looking for those perfect ingredients that will make that perfect meal.
He has an easygoing saunter around the market or grocery store (even with the children in tow) and carefully examines each piece like his life depends on it before finally reaching into his pocket, to take out his wallet, ask how much the piece costs, haggle a little and finally pay for it.

After our little costing out project this past week wondering how much it would cost to feed our family of four for one week, you will be happy to know it is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day!

You see, for us this was a little overwhelming. Ron has always been a day-to-day shopper. I think it goes hand in hand with being a Chef and running a restaurant. He only imagines what to cook on a daily basis and does not really like to plan a menu for one week (especially for his family).

The arduous task began with him developing a lovely meal plan menu for the week and I am happy to say he did not stick to it at all! Although it sounded lovely, and we did end up eating a few items he had proposed, his creativity was stifled by forcing him to plan a menu for a week and stick to it :-)

Before I sign off, here is the quick quiche recipe:

Either make your own pastry from scratch or buy the one ready to bake.

You will need:

1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Cream
3 eggs (we used duck eggs)
1/4 cup creme fraiche (to make it creamier)
Smoked bacon (chopped up and fried)
Gruyere & Cheddar cheeses (grated - and get the good stuff)
2 whole leeks

Saute the leeks with the smoked bacon. Mix the eggs, milk & cream together in a bowl with a balloon whisk. Add creme fraiche.

Blind bake the pastry and let it cool. After it has cooled down, spoon in the leek/bacon mix. Sprinkle the cheese all over then slowly pour on the egg mixture.

Cook for 30 mins on 180 C in the middle of the oven. Keep an eye on it. It should brown a little on top but not too much. We ate ours right out of the oven with a Beet & Arugula salad.

Still tasting it............................totally totally delicious!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


There was very little sleep in the Wise Family household last night. The kids of course slept like logs but the Chef and I settled in for an all nighter in front of the fire watching the details of the presidential election unfold across our television screen.
Seeing our home state of Ohio deliver a blue win for President Obama brought a sense of relief to us both and unimaginable joy.
This president will change the world we live in and most definitely that for our children.
From this side of the pond it is so exciting for us to see the sheer excitement of everyone over here. The last 8 years have taken its toll on the whole world and there has been an electrifying response already to this good news.
Here's hoping he picks a good team and then all we have to do is wait until January 20th, 2009!
Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new America, once again filled with hope!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How much does it cost to feed your family of four?

Last week in one of the Sunday newspapers there was an article on how much people spend on food each day. Whether it is eating in or dining out. The editor gave a challenge to two of his reporters to dine each day on 5 euros per day ($6.35). It had the bones of being a really great story, except the reporters ate a lot of crap or just begged a friend to pay for their dinners. I was quite annoyed to see this story in print, considering it was really just great advertising for the big name fast food places I cannot stand (I know I am on my soap box, bear with me).

Ron and I have decided to take the challenge this week and see how we do, feeding our family of four on less than 20 euros a day for food. (I say less than 20 per day, because after seeing all the food we have ended up buying today, I am thinking it will stretch to 10 days at least, but we shall see if the pickings are slim by day 7).

The photo above is the bounty of goodies we picked up at the weekly Saturday market in Galway.

Some of the very nice things about being regular customers at any market, is that you always get a little extra for your money because the farmers get to know you and they take care of you, NOT TO MENTION with the use of my trusty market basket, I have absolutely NO PACKAGING to worry about disposing of ( I know, carefully removing myself from the soapbox now).

After that, on to the local grocery shop for the rest of our weekly needs. With less than 140 euros spent we will blog daily how it goes and even share a recipe or two if there are any surprisingly delicious dinners out of this brown bagger!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Again, it was sunny!!!

Blinding I say, Blinding!
Ron, is seriously considering buying a pair of sunglasses. He broke his favourite pair right before we left Switzerland and he chuckled saying it would not be necessary to replace them as he was going to the land where 'the sun don't shine'. Well, since we arrived over 3 months ago, 80% of the time, the sun has shone. Yes, there may be sun showers or watery sunshine as Ron likes to call it, but nonetheless - the weather is gorgeous here right now.
A trip with the kids to Coole Park to enjoy the colours Autumn is displaying and it is quite spectacular.
The kids love this park. There is not a swing or slide anywhere insight. Nothing but miles of hiking trails and lakes and gorgeous old trees.
A quick walk by the sea before lunch to work up a ferocious appetite. We cut through this beautiful golf course and Ron was itching to get his clubs and play a few rounds.
That is all the WiseWords for today,

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