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

Monday, May 25, 2009

It is that time of year!

Almost every single person that I know has a grrrrrrreat coleslaw recipe. This recipe is for those of you that don't! I cannot call it gourmet at all - it is just good!

Many many (many) years ago, shortly after I landed my talons in my handsome Chef, we went to visit an Uncle of mine north of Cincinnati, Ohio. We were given a lovely tour of his cattle farm and shown several of his gorgeous antique cars and trucks, then retired to his very comfy home for a BBQ that his Wife had slaved over all afternoon.

She had made a coleslaw that the Chef and I really loved and was kind enough to share the details with us that evening. Over the years, we have made this (quite possibly more than a thousand times) and God only knows what the original recipe was - but this is how we make it today and the result is finger licking good!

Wise Sesame Coleslaw

1 head of white cabbage
1 can of mandarin oranges
4 green onions
1 carrot
2 ounces peanuts (toasted -hazelnuts or macadamia's OK)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (toasted)
2 packages chicken flavour ramen noodles (instant noodles)
A little bit of butter
Mayonnaise (you decide the amount)

It is fairly simple from here.

Shred cabbage, carrot and thinly slice green onion. Toast all nuts and seeds.
Take flavour packets out of ramen noodles and mix into mayonnaise. This is your dressing so
be as liberal or sparing as you like. (Just taste is as you make it).

Smash up the ramen noodles a little and pan fry them in the butter until they look a little
brown, then let them cool. Drain the mandarin oranges then add all ingredients together right before you serve the coleslaw saving a few of the seeds to sprinkle on top!

Obviously if you make your own mayonnaise this will take on a whole new identity - and if you want to give it a little zip, I would suggest adding a teaspoon of Franks Red Hot Sauce to the mayonnaise. In addition to this - we usually add a grilled chicken breast for a fast and tasty summer dinner!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!
Happy Summer!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Irish Aioli!

The smells of all things lovely growing in our garden is getting out of hand! Due to all this lovely rain we have been getting everything is just flourishing! The garlic that none of us remember planting before Christmas when preparing the vegetable beds has come through in bunches and is oh, so divine!
When I was at the market on Saturday, I could not resist the temptation of buying an enormous bunch of this tasty treat as it is one of our favourite spring snacks! This afternoon, myself and the children roasted (slightly) several of the entire bulbs with a drizzle of olive oil, some black pepper and salt sprinkled on top.
Normally, I would allow the garlic to roast and get really soft and spreadable, but with fresh spring garlic, I usually only allow it to cook in a fairly hot oven for just 15 mins. or less. The garlic cloves remain a little firm, and seriously explode with flavour when you pop them in your mouth!
When my handsome Chef kissed me goodbye this morning on his way to work he requested that I make an Aioli sauce with some of this lovely garlic. 'Sure thang honey and have a nice day!' In the words that only both my sisters will understand and appreciate - WTF???
I have made aioli before. I get a jar of Hellman's, I add raw garlic.
Viola - Aioli!

However, this time around, the Chef had a better idea and mentioned this as he handed me his current food bible Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray. OK, I will say this is also one of my favourite books too so I humoured him!
With lovely fresh eggs still warm from the nest this morning on standby, I began the arduous task of 'mayo making' only to find out it was rather easy and tasty to boot!
So, be brave, try it!
All you need is:
2 lovely egg yolks
Sea salt to taste
2 entire bulbs of roasted (spring) garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice (or red wine vinegar - your choice)
Put garlic and salt into mortar and pestle bowl and muddle into paste. Add a drop or 2 of water if you feel the need. Add in the egg yolks and keep muddling. Slowly and carefully drip by drip add in the olive oil. This takes time, and patience (esp. if your olive oil pourer is aged 5 going on 17 and more interested in the portabello mushroom fries that will be accompanying said sauce). As you can see from the color below - it was almost orange in color.
Really rich and lovely and surprise surprise, I added a drop of Franks Red Hot Sauce.
Oh, Yes - it was finger licking good.

There you have it! Make your own Aioli. It is so inexpensive and really so much tastier than Hellman's mayo!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A wet kind of week!

The above piece is a perfect example of beautiful graffiti. I have never been a huge fan of graffiti but when I see it something like this I can happily see the artistic and humorous side of drawing on a wall. It has been a wet week here and the spirits of local people seem to be low. Everywhere we go and many of those we meet on a day to day basis are consumed with missing the days of the boom and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The rain gets them down even more. I think I have mentioned this more than once here on my WiseWord blog - but it just does not rain that much. Yes, we have had a wet week - but in saying that I have only turned the clothes dryer on once (for 20 minutes) as there were plenty of times when the sun shon!

I find myself being a little obsessed with the rain - because it is then that you get to see the loveliest of Ireland. Everywhere comes alive with glossy green glint when the rain is pouring and the sun still shining. I remember Billy Connolly (Scottish comedian) years ago stating a very true fact - that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing and aint that the truth!

I still have not dug out my winter coat which is being eaten by moths in storage - I may never need it again! I have had my red rain coat on hand for the most part every day because of watery sunshine. Right now, we are experiencing sunrise at 6.25am and sunset at is soooooooooooo very nice to have all those hours of sunlight and it memory serves me correctly I think we will stretch to closer to 11pm with summer solstice barely a month away.

Having lived in climates where we have experienced the harshness of freezing temperatures and snow and ice for several winter months at a time, or summers so extreme that you could not live or sleep with the use of air conditioning - we are loving loving loving our mild climate here on the auld sod.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rice Pudding for Jack!

My little man has become quite the connoisseur of food - I am sure this comes as no surprise to many of you, considering he is being led down the path of fine foods by his excellent palated older Sister, and food lover parents. One of his very favourite things in the whole world, is sticky rice pudding. We had a rotten rainy day today (still had quite a bit of sunshine too) and when he came home from school he started begging for his favourite treat. So, of course, being the indulgent mother that I am, I caved in fast and he and I made a yummy batch!

What you need:

· 3 1/2 cups skim milk
· 1 cinnamon stick (use a big one from your local Mexican/Brazilian market)
· 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 1/4 cups uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
· 3/4 cup sugar (I use unrefined brown)
· 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
· 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

How to make it:

In a large saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon, vanilla seeds and pod and salt. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Add rice, return to a boil, stirring so that the rice does not stick. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has been absorbed by the rice and rice is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not let mixture brown or burn. (If this happens - throw it out to the cat or dog - can't save burnt milk).

Remove rice from heat and immediately stir in sugar until dissolved. Mix in some whipped cream and lemon zest into cooled rice pudding. Yummy yum!

Now, one would think that would be enough to keep a Chef happy as an offering for dessert, but of course he had a better idea!

He takes the cold rice pudding and makes little rice balls out of them, rolling them in toasted coconut flakes (that all of you have laying around your pantry) then he does the unthinkable!

He deep fries them! Aaaaaaagh. This man is addicted to the fryer. However, after I finished ranting and raving I did taste a bite of this tempting dessert. He drizzled a little bit of freshly whipped cream and a blackberry honey we got at the market last week and yes, I have to admit, it tasted divine. That is what you get for making dessert around here - someone else showing up and stealing your idea and making something quite ordinary into something oh - so - NOT ordinary!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Good Great Gran Torino!

So I will freely admit it, I have a thang for older men, and who better to while away a wintry wet evening by the fire with than good ole Clint Eastwood. My handsome Chef was close by so I had to stay somewhat reserved.
For a movie so loaded about someone who is blatantly racist and hateful towards other nationalities, Clint edges himself gracefully into the viewers hearts. His very young cast mates Bee Vang, and Ahney Her did a really great job as ordinary kids living next door to a grumpy lonely old man.

Although I think a lot of this movie was predictable, and that usually drives me crazy - I tolerated it all the way through because I knew that the ending would have a profound message that would hit home to all (one can only hope!)

Because we live in a world that is so multicultural and colourful, it is important to check our prejudices at the door. Nick Schenk (the writer) must have lived this experience in order to write so 'real' about it. Keep in mind good old Clint also directed this story, so he had complete control over how the story unfolds!

A great movie, well worth the few bucks at the theatre.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, May 04, 2009

It is a grilled cheese kinda day!

May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Bealtaine (Irish word for MAY) and in latter times as St. Mary's day. We noticed earlier today that a bonfire was lit at the top of our road and when we asked why we were told it was to acknowledge the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter!!! Wooooooo Hoooooooo!

That being said, it is kind of a crappy (almost wintry) day here in good old Galway. Most business are closed today as it is a bank holiday so the Chef and I enjoyed a very leisurely morning sans little ones as they overnighted at Granny's last night (THANK GOD for GRANNY!!!) so we could enjoy an evening with our local SlowFood group. This morning, I headed into town to do a little grocery shopping before stopping by my Mum's to bring our babies back home, whilst the Chef began rekindling a passion he has distanced himself from for quite some years - he went to 'throw some clay' with the intention of making a few select pieces for his 'missus' as he has affectionately been calling me lately.

After getting the children home and unwound from all the excitement and sugar (no need to deny it Catherine) and with a hungry Chef on his way home from the pottery studio - I decided it was a grilled cheese kind of day. I think that my eardrums still hurt from the shrieks of glee from the crumb catchers. One would think this is an easy task - throwing together a few pieces of cheese and bread for 2 people and a few little ones, but NO! In our family it is never easy when it comes to food. The children (for example) like their grilled cheese sambo's with JAM?? Late last year, we had gotten a lovely load of damson plums and I had made a few jars of onion damson jam. After carefully selecting their cheeses (usually Gruyere with a dollop of fresh mozzarella), they butter both sides (outside of bread) then I throw them on the pan to fry on both sides. As soon as the cheese starts to ooooooooze out - we plop a dollop of jam on top and off they go. Food heaven for the brats.
As much as I do not 'hate' cooking for my darling Chef, sometimes he can be a little demanding. See, he likes a trio of cheese in his. Mozzarella is the most important, Gruyere and always some goat or sheep's milk hard cheese. Mayonnaise on the inside of the bread with mustard (Coleman's English) then a spray of olive oil on the outside of the bread - assuming I do not have any duck fat to fry it in. Yes, I did have some duck fat :-)
Now, after all this effort and the sandwich looking good, take it and hack it to pieces and fry the heck out of it again until it is crunchy and brown - like a grilled cheese crouton. Dump said croutons on top of a huge bed of spring salad and green onions picked from his lordships garden this morning and be assured the hungry chef will be happy for the rest of the day!
Mine is just so boring. I like good old fashioned aged cheddar. No mayo, no butter. Just all cheese a little melty with toast a little burnt. Thrown on a plate with some of the lovely salad we are growing makes for a lovely snack on a day like today!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

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