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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We interrupt this program.............

Sometimes I feel like it would be better to just have stayed in bed. Today was one of those days. Granny has spent the better part of the week with the rest of my siblings and their little ones in Switzerland and France. Yes, even she is entitled to a break. This has jolted us right back into reality, everyone being back at school and work after the holidays. My brother Kenneth stepped in for the earlier part of the week taking care of the kiddies until we arrived home (Thank you Kenny!). All went well 'till Wednesday when we noticed the shiny shiner Ms. Rory Belle was sporting. Apparently she and Jack had a rough and tumble on the playground at school. Oh the shame of it. Apparently Jack won.

Today, Ron was able to take off early, pick them up from school, go home, light the fire, help with their homework, make some tea and cookies for them whilst they waited for me to get home from college. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? That is because it is! I had a few missed calls on my phone when I got released from class and flew into panic mode when I noticed the calls were all from Ron. Somethings never change. He is still not a huge fan of technology, so to have called me more than once meant trouble.

'Hi Honey, we are at the ER. Jack caught his finger in the door (living room door at home) and we are getting it x-ray-ed to make sure there are no broken bones in his hand - see you at home for dinner.' Miraculously Kenneth pulled in the driveway at the same time this happened and was able to drag them all to the ER.

This not being the first time Ron and Jack have been to the ER together they were all in decent spirits when they arrived home. Ron had prepared a lovely dinner for us (before this all happened) and magically it appeared before us as soon as the little ones were settled for the evening.

There is something to be said about a good old dollop of comfort food at this time of the year and most definitely when something like this knocks the wind out of your sails. When Ron cooks steak he only cooks it one way. Perfectly! OK - with a little bit of Bleu cheese butter and caramelised onions. I am still licking my fingers - I have no shame.

We swilled it down with a bottle we picked up a few years ago in Italy. It could probably have laid down for a good fifteen more years but lets face it, that would never happen around here. But after having a rough day and getting decent results from my Christmas exams, why wait?

Tignanello, 2004. Most wine reviews will tell you 2004 was a great year Tuscany and this really shows in the Tignanello. This is true. It is quite intense. A gorgeous gorgeous black ruby colour with blackcurrant essence and a warm and almost chocolate finish. Good to the very last wringing out of the bottle - drop.

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Gourmet Lovers Guide to Galway and the surround!

Having lived away from my home town for several years in several different countries I know what it is like to be homesick. I know how difficult it can be moving to, or living in a new City. Not knowing where the best restaurants are can be frustrating if you have little to spend. Allow me to guide you in the right direction! I will lay a trail of tempting crumbs along your path  so when you end up following your nose to the place where you can buy the best cheese or a perfect loaf of freshly baked bread - sitting back and enjoying glorious Galway will be your only task.

With spring already upon us we are bracing ourselves for one hell of a tourist season here in Galway. We expect to see many of our friends this summer popping over for a visit and hope to make many new friends too. As we are still in the throes of belt tightening times I wanted to share with you my Outsider’s Insider Guide to Galway. For the most part the excursion will be cost effective to say the least!

I am the Ambassador for Galway, heart and soul. In case you have any doubt there is no place like home!


I have chosen places that appeal to all the senses and right to the core of your soul. Tapping away to the tunes played at a local pub.

Conversing with neighbours over where exactly the best pint comes from could factor into this story waiting to be told.

A lazy walk along the beach as the sun sets in the sky.

Stare for hours at a tree that you are sure has just caught fire.

Visiting one of Ireland’s greenest tourist destinations with all the luxuries you long for on holidays in a setting so majestic you’ll be seeing rainbows and stars in your dreams forever.

Or maybe by the time you’ve whiled away an afternoon lakeside with Irish literary greats like WB Yeats and a few of his friends will you solemnly declare that “To Ireland you are headed no matter what the fare!”

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year's here - What is in your fridge?

Most people vow to run off those extra pounds found floating around at Christmas time. Some attempt to join a gym and engage in a totally new and healthier lifestyle, and some even go to the extreme of giving up the 'drink' as they say around here or try to stay away from the 'sweets' for a while if they feel like they have over indulged.

That does not happen here in the Wise household. This year, the decision was made that there was just not enough cheese in our life (or diet) therefore the quest began.

I am declaring that Cheese will be made in our kitchen this year! This is on his behalf of my handsome Chef of course, because he is still convinced that the internet is a 'passing phase' and soon enough y'all will return to writing letters or heaven forbid using the phone to actually 'talk' to someone -

Last year, if you recall  he was hell bent on building a Cob bread/pizza oven and by August we were dining al fresco (in the rain) with our yummy scrummy pizza. Methinks the cheese may take a little longer, depending on the style of cheese he chooses to make. But hey, only time will tell!

So with such an ambitious husband to wrangle with, where does a girl start? Lucky me - right here at home!

Although baking his heart out every day at Morton's of Galway ( Ron occasionally slinks off downstairs to do a little perusing around the store. Think a tiny 'Dean and DeLucas' style shop. Small amounts of everything fabulous that you can consume including some amazing wines!

Ron had oodles of time off over Christmas and as he was working up to his Cheese promise he consulted his cheese bible The Cheese Primer by Steve Jenkins

In order to know what kind of cheese a Chef wants to make, then a Chef must eat more cheese! So after a little bit of reading and almost no arm twisting from his boss he arrived home with a few cuts of cheese to tease the tastebuds.

The first (pictured above) is called Langres. A French cow's milk, washed rind (means you can eat it) cheese. It is made in the Champagne region of France and near the end of the cheese making process they actually pour some Champagne over the top of it allowing it to puddle in the center. Needless to say it would pair well with a little bubbly - but there are few words to describe this one. TO DIE FOR. Allow it to rest for a while coming to room temperature. Do not be scared by the orange rind or goopy middle. When you see the lovely white moist cheese inside, you will know what fantastic cheese is all about!  Look for it, buy it, lick your fingers clean DELICIOUS!

Next on the chopping block was one of my old favourites. The semi soft Talleggio from northern Italy, also with a washed rind.  This can give an unfriendly pong when unwrapped but like its French friend above, leave and allow to breathe for a few hours and once it comes to room temperature it really 'tastes like buttah'. For real. This will be one of your favourites for the rest of your life once you try it.


Next up, a little Irish Goat Button. and that is about the long and short of it. Ron's boss (Eric Morton) sent this one home with him and told him it was great. It was, and we still have no idea where it came from! It was almost crumbly chalky dry to look at and as moist and mysterious as it gets when consumed. We had a wee bit of cranberry sauce left over from Christmas that we topped ontop of this one and it kind of was 'dessert'!

Wrapping things up and serving with a nice big Ravenswood Zin we dove right into the old reliable Cashel Blue. I know this is not to a lot of peoples taste and 'whatever' - your loss. Made in Tipperary, Ireland (only since the early 1980's) this BLUE is fairly new in the worlds of great cheese. Allowing it to sit around for a while (and not consuming it cold right from the fridge) makes this cheese more amazing every time I try it.

So there you have it folks, The Wise New Year Resoloution 'of sort'. More cheese later this week as we get together with my baby brother and his bride for some nibbles and honeymoon stories on Friday!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wise Irish Poetry

Before the onslaught of school starts tomorrow (for me anyway), I wanted to doodle a little ditty for my Mum. She is a lover of all things 'Nature'. She also assumes the primary care of our wee crumb catchers whilst we work and study. As we will return to 'the normal daily grind' tomorrow, so will she and God knows, she has the harder job!

So Granny, Mum, Catherine (and any other personality name you go by) This ones for you!

Window Watching Wonder

Tree tops smothered with icy fog,
birds are scrounging like a hungry dog.
Splashy skies of radiant hues,
pinks and yellows, mauve's and blues.

Freezing breaths of ice cold air,
this weather in Ireland is oh, so rare.
Snows white blanket on the ground,
for bundled babies a treasure found.

Blood red cheeks and fingers froze,
sparkly laughs and runny nose.
Crystals hang from rooftops edge,
so to nature’s beauty we make our pledge.

Protect our earth, our air and sea
so the little ones can squeal with glee.
With their happy cries of musical tone
we only hear 'There is no place like home'...

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Friday, January 08, 2010

What is Love?

I think it is a 'family thang' but around here once breakfast has been consumed the first question asked is 'What are we having for lunch and dinner?' On that same note, I find myself guilty on the edge of Christmas past wondering what should we do for Valentines Day/weekend this year as it is the next major holiday.

When I look over the last few years of our very chaotic life I realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much love. I still have a healthy contact with my friends back in the USA thanks to the magic of email and facebook - I can feel the love (albeit electronically).


After the sterility of Swiss life for a few forgetful months ** disclaimer - not all Swiss are unfriendly ** I learned that making new friends when you are a little longer in the tooth is not as easy as it used to be, or maybe I am not as willing to work as hard at relationship building as I used to be?

When children enter into your life (no matter how they arrive on your doorstep or for how long) your capacity to love changes dramatically. What started out as a 'tight - twosome' grows into a 'messy menage a trois' with that extra body sleeping with you and your partner. In a lot of relationships this causes quite a bit of stress. The mother stops catering to the needs of a neglected husband and the child (rightly so) gets all the love and attention. I am not sure why but our little 'bed buddy' did not mess things up at all. She fit right in and it worked for us (first time around!)

Then because 'things have changed' you have to work sooooooooooo much harder at the relationship. The little ones - well that is the easy part. "Feed them, Love them, Watch them grow". For quite sometime I mourned the loss of life with my lover because I knew those days were gone and would never ever return. What I did not know then and I very much know now is that if you keep feeding the relationship it grows in a different way. Because we had a decent root system (many years of togetherness before babies - thank God) Love gets so much deeper. The bonding of babydom passes and every learns how to wipe their own bums (yeah!). Then teeny tiny moments of time return to grown ups which we greedily grab.

I got some news last week about a couple that used to frequent our restaurant quite a bit (n the USA) and they were that perfect couple. Both very beautiful, healthy, 2.5 kids, gorgeous home, great jobs etc. Apparently Mr. Perfect has been having a string of affairs for most of the time they have been together (15 + yrs). I got so mad when I heard this. I still am mad. Fecklessly we fall in love. Passionately we get married. Ambitiously we plan a family (some of us!). We endeavour to make it all work.
We are no longer selfish. We have responsibilities.

People that throw that away with reckless and selfish abandonment should be ......................................
My mother always told me if you have nothing nice to say then say 'nothing'.

LOVE is all around us. It is in the little sticky notes left on the fridge door reminding us to get something. It is that wet nose kiss from the puppy, or the extra hand squeeze before a little one lets go on his way to school each day. Whoever you are, wherever you are - whether you have love, are looking for love or have lost your love. LOVE is all around you, waiting for you. So - how will you celebrate Valentines Day this year?

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Monday, January 04, 2010

All Things Spring!

Before the creeping crocuses stick their heads out of the frigid earth to alert us to the fact that Spring is here, it is time to do a little Spring planning!

The Chef being an avid gardener has lived by the same planting calendar for more years than he cares to admit (especially as his birthday soon approaches). When we lived in the US - he had to start his tomato seeds by Valentines day and the rest of his garden by St. Patricks Day. Some things could be planted (outdoors) by 'Mothering Sunday' but for the most part it was Memorial Day weekend (usually last weekend in May) before he took the chance - incase of a final cold snap.

Alot of this timing has to do with what hardiness zone you live in. Now that we are in Zone 9 we can start 'seed setting' right now and will be planting a lot of items outdoors no later than St. Patricks Day. OF course because he has the Polytunnel ( he can grow a lot of hardy winter crops all year round like rocket/arugula, cabbage, carrots, parsnip, turnip, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary etc.

To find out what 'hardiness zone' you live in - click on one of the links below.

Living in Europe - click here:
or for those living in America

On my 'wish list' this year is perpetual garlic, onions and spinach. The kids want strawberries and lots and lots of flowers. Ron is more inclined to plant an edible garden so I see a lot of colourful nasturciums in our future.

Seeing as there are a few more weeks of winter to suffer through before the ice melts for some, spend a little time taking care of your feathered friends. Around here they behave like they have not eaten in months and are scavengers when it comes to feeding time. Feeding the birds need not be an expensive hobby as they are quite happy to get your stale bread or cereal, and it is one of the most enjoyable passtimes we enjoy with the kids - absolutley free and right outside our back door!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Wise Movie Review - The Blind Side

This was a great 'feel good' kind of movie. A friend of ours in the US had mentioned it a few weeks ago as worth seeing, but it sat around on the back burner over the Christmas holidays until we finally had time to watch it last night.

I reckon you could call me a sorta Sandra Bullock fan. I do like her quirkiness for the most part and I think as she gets a little longer in the tooth she is more careful with her movie choices. This movie will hook both the boys and girls. Neither a Chick Flick or BroMance this is a good all-rounder for the family-feel-good effect.
The story is about a sixteen year old kid that has been raised in the projects in Mississippi. His father was never in the picture and his mother - a crack addict. He couch surfs with some of his friends and one in particular sees the athletic potential 'Big Mike' might have, were he coached and trained properly.
In comes Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw AKA "The Tuohy's" and they sort of adopt him. She catches some flack from her rich snobby white friends who think she's dealing with some white guilt and needs a new fundraiser project to distract her. Bullock does a fairly decent job in pulling of the heavy Mississippi accent and looked pretty amazing the entire way through the film (for a girl over forty!)
One of my favourites popped in for a few lines 'Kathy Bates' as tutor to help the football star keep his grades up to snuff. I wish she had a few more lines in this movie but my favourite one was a cracker! Right before she accepted the position to work for the Tuohy family she had to declare some very pertinent information that may cause them not to hire her due to the fact that they were living in the deep conservative south. 'Well you see, Mrs. Tuohy, I - am a Democrat' . . . . . . .


Of course because this movie deals with an inter-cultural/inter-race adoption of sorts, it totally pulled on my heart strings. The one line that stood out the most and certainly hit very close to home here in this house was the line Sandra Bullock shot back to her snooty friends when they were playing the 'nice friend' card telling her how great she was and how she would change 'this boys life' - she replied 'No, he is changing mine' -

That is all the WiseWords I have for tonight!


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