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

Monday, April 26, 2010

I planted the seed......

One of the great things about 'spending your life' with the same person is that you know how to manipulate coerce your partner into doing just about anything you want him to do.  Today, was the first day of my summer holidays. I had planned to do a little laundry, do a little gardening, ride my bike and even blog a little. I was excited to have several hours to myself with the Chef busying himself at work and the crumbcatchers at school. That all came to a crashing halt when the chef ended up with a bad dose of 'early summer flu' aka manFLU so I had to put my selfish desires of day-off-dreamery aside and act a little 'nurse-like' for a few hours. (ewwwww).  

Dangling Winter 2009 Issue No. 83 of 'The Art of Eating' in front of the chefs runny nose I propped him up in bed with fluffy pillows and left him to while away a few hours after I took the kids to school. Whilst out watering his 'offspring' in the pollytunnel it was brought to my attention that there was an abundance of parsley taking over a top corner of the plot. Shaving it closely and leaving loads for friends, I plucked enough for a large bowl of tabbouleh figuring I'd be left to my own devices for dinner. (cue evil laugh here....I had a plan!)

Buttering him up like a fat pig for slaughter, I fed him on of his favourite comfort foods for lunch (Grilled Cheese sandwich with soft cooked egg ontop) and as we chatted about the cost of drugs for a simple 'manFlu' being outrageous (EIGHTY euros) I proposed we come up with interesting ways to deal with the excess parsley so's as not to waste it.

As luck would have it, the Chef had just read a recipe using parsley in his favourite foodie rag. Should he be 'feeling up to it' later he would try to give it a whirl! (return of evil laugh - the man cannot resist this food magazine. EVERY time he reads it, he has to stop what he is is doing and make something).

With both ducks laying lovely eggs daily now we have no shortage of fresh eggs around here (also needed for the recipe) so off I went in search of a few for the 'ailing' Chef.

Bagnét Verd is a very common sauce in Italy and this recipe is from Ristorante Moderne, Carrú, Italy.

  • 2 large handfuls of flat leaf/Italian or curly parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or more if you are trying to keep Dracula at bay)
  • 2 yolks of hard-boiled eggs (cooled)
  • 2 salted anchovies (rinsed)
  • 10 salted capers (rinsed and squeeze the water out)
  • 4oz (100gr) day old bread (remove crusts)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (more if you want a more fluid sauce-like texture)
  • 1/4 cup cider/white wine vinegar
  • A sprinkling o' salt


  • Finely chop the following: parsley, garlic, anchovies, capers and bread. With the egg yolks gently mix those ingredients in a bowl. 
  • Add the oil, vinegar and salt to taste.
  • Let stand in a cool place for an hour or two before eating.

It is that simple and it is that damn good. We had this dolloped atop of some braised chicken thighs (from The Friendly Farmer) and the kids ate the lion's share of this meal. That says it all folks!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this evening,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Name is Khan ... and I am not a terrorist.

It does not happen very often, but I am at a loss for words when it comes to talking about this movie. Based on a true story of a couple living in Los Angeles, CA and directed by Bollywood's Karan Johar, this movie is hitting nerves around the world. Reuniting Sharukh Khan and his leading lady Kajol the dream team made it 'easy on the eyes' for almost 3 hours. (Their last film together was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in 2001).

Encompassing themes of Love, Autism and Islam it was definitely a loaded gun, and if you go to see this with your friends do not be surprised if you all walk out of the theater with totally different interpretations.

The early part of the movie tells the story of a mothers love for her autistic child. There are several moments of tenderness that every mother will relate too. There is a scene where Khan's mother sits down with her son and explains to him that there are good and bad people in the world. It does not matter what religious background you come from. 

The young Khan (Tanay Chheda - Slumdog Millionaire), a genius, receives extra tutoring from a reclusive professor. This puts strain on the relationship Khan has with his younger brother as jealousy saunters in. The brother leaves to go to University in America and subsequently sponsors Khan to come live with him when their Mother dies. 

I have never had any contact with an Autistic child so this movie taught me what it would be like to have a child with a disability (like Autism). The adult Khan (played by Shahrukh Khan) settles in to the American dream as he works for his brother selling beauty products. 

He displays obvious signs of Autism and is re-diagnosed by his brothers wife as having Asperger syndrome. Khan meets and falls in-love with Madira (a divorced hairdresser) and her son Sam. Although they have a rocky courtship he eventually convinces her to marry him and both she and Sam take his last (Muslim) name.

The scene of the wedding was one of my favourites. It brought back memories of another great flick Monsoon Wedding. The colour of their traditional dress, the music (amazing) and the looks of love exchanged  between both actors made this perfect. 

The house in the white picket-fence San Francisco neighbourhood followed and life was great for the Khan's. That is, until the September 11th attacks on America. This is where the movie really started to rope me in and it was hard to not get emotional from here right to the bitter end. I do not want to go into anymore detail on the movie because I really want y'all to go see it or at least rent the DVD when it comes out in July (2010).

We have, what I like to refer to, a blended family unit. A husband with no religion but an amazing 'centre of belief in mother-earth', two bi-racial children also not any religion on paper - but exposed to many, and me a mother-wife with a firm faith but serious *dislike* for most organised religious institutions.  


Watching this movie re-invigorated my 'Irish by birth/American by choice' mantra because it reminded me how hard it was to live in 'a country at war'. After the September 11th attacks, everyones lives changed. We were lucky that we lived in middle-America and did not loose any friends or family, but we have friends that did loose family members. Although this part of the movie initially portrays 'Americans' in a very negative light, it was a very real portrayal of 'how things were' at the time. We were scared. Scared for our lives and for our families.

This movie is loaded. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will feel a serious disdain towards America/ans and Muslims. But, by the end of the movie you will have a much better understanding of both and certainly will become more accepting of the fact that there are bad people everywhere in the world and it really has very little to do with their religious persuasion. 

A scene half way through the movie where they sing the song 'We Shall Overcome' a key anthem song of the US civil rights movement, is still sliding around in my head this morning. 

Snippets from the last line of each verse of 

'We Shall Overcome' ( ... ) 

We shall overcome some day
We'll walk hand in hand some day
We shall all be free some day
We are not afraid some day
We are not alone some day
The whole wide world around some day
We shall overcome some day 

I hope you enjoy the movie, let me know!

Those are all the WiseWords I have managed to string together for this rainy Sunday morning,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wise Wine Alert

"A nicely crafted Chardonnay with a surprising eleagance at a very keen price. Unoaked, with a very attractive rounded pear and apple fruits, and a refresing citrus tang.perfect with chicken dishes" yada yada yada...............

I can keep this one short and sweet. Ringing in at just shy of eleven euros, this should be added to your summer sipping list right now.  

It does what the label says. Clean, crisp and yummy!

What caught my eye was the label of course, because I am not accustomed to buying a French Chardonnay. Well, maybe I am, but not one geared for the American market. So, again I fell for a label, going with my gut instinct. Knowing I was fond of the Chardonnay grape did not hurt. 

More summer sippers to add to the list in a few days!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday double-bill movie reviews...spolier alert!

I love graffiti. Mostly bathroom wall graffiti. I usually read all the messages written in the loo's thinking I will find some profound message.  Nine times out of ten I do not, but occasionally there is something 'snapshot'  worthy.

I hate WAR. I try to steer clear of thinking about war (let alone sharing my thoughts in writing) because it depresses the hell outta me and I can't stand the backlash of reasoning from the folks that support the war.

I know (all to well) why war has to happen but I am at the stage now where I think that people are really starting to capitalize on it and that makes me MAD and very sad. The reason that I hate war so much is because I cannot stand the loss of life. I feel that it has gone on long enough. Being a conversationalist I would (dreamily) love to think that we have come to the stage where we could make serious head way if we just sat down over a nice pint and talked it out. 

With exams looming this week I have tried just about everything to avoid studying at all costs. I have filled my time nicely watching as many movies as possible to keep my brain numbed. This is my way of procrastinating. I am very good at this.

I will warn you there are spoilers in this blog relating to The Hurt Locker and Dear John. So, if you want to see either of them, read no further and make up your own mind about the movies.

Let's open up the can of worms by dissecting the well awarded 'The Hurt Locker'. I know this won six Oscars, and it was directed by James Cameron's ex wife Kathryn Bigelow, and that must make it a really fantastic movie. Right. Well, I guess that all depends on what you are looking for.

Jeremy Renner played a hot shot soldier that liked to dress up in a safe-suit and disarm bombs. He had successfully disarmed 800+ bombs at the early stages of his career and it seemed that he could not live without the rush and excitement that brought him.

The images of war are all to real in this flick and it just wore me down. I wanted to see it because of all the awards it had received. It was supposed to be an excellent example of screenplay 'writing'. 

Soldier disarms bomb. Soldier disarms next bomb. Soldier does not follow protocol. Soldier disarms next bomb. Soldier does not do what he is told thereby inducing conflict into story. Soldier keeps disarming bombs. Yes, there was suspense in the sense that each time he suited up to disarm the bombs you kind of thought even with that protective gear on, his head might get blown off. Sadly, he continued right to the bitter end of the movie and for all we know he is still out there disarming bombs.

There was a few fleeting minutes of hope in the movie. The horrific psychological side effects war has on soldiers is clearly portrayed. Renner's character returned home for a few minutes of the movie and it showed him living normally with his wife and baby. But, disastrously, even he figured out pretty darn fast that this was not the life for him. Unless he was within a few seconds of possibly loosing his life every day, then life at home was just not thrilling enough for him. 

Funny, but my husband has never felt that way - he walks around our place pushing my buttons every day waiting for me to go off!

That said and I am sure you can gather from my tone, I did not care for the movie at all. I am glad that they did not paint the 'American soldiers are evil drunk idiots' picture as quite a few movies have done in the past. AND on a side note here I will say that I have the world of respect for all those soldiers out there, I just question the judgement of the parents that not only allow but encourage their barely-legal children to enlist and go fight the 'war on terror' whilst they stay at home. 

The Hurt Locker did not get the thumbs up from me.

Moving on to my next movie selection and still sticking to the war hero theme I bring you 'Dear John'. 

Cuddling up on the couch with my hubby I was  looking forward to this one because one of the lead actors is a favourite of mine. Amanda Seyfried is most known for her work on the uber-popular and much loved Showtime series Big Love. Long-time addicts of that show, both the Chef and I were interested in seeing how Seyfried played out on the big screen. 

She is young, the script was ok. She has time to grow into a bigger and better role. The story (even the cover of the movie) might lead you to think that this is a love story. And it kind of is, but that is the secondary story line. It is a classic (kind of dull) boy meets girl in the first scene, boy falls in love with girl. Boy goes back to war. Twin Towers are blown to smithereens and boy re-enlists for a lifetime. Girl cries. They pledge undying love for each other. Boy goes back to fight the war. Girl dumps him and marries someone else and sends him a 'Dear John' to fill him in on her exciting news. 

Given the fact that Channing Tatum was shirtless for the first few minutes of the movie might have had something to do with the fact that I stayed tuned in. AND what actually might have saved the show entirely was the fact that he and Seyfried did have an amazing on-screen chemistry. You cannot fake that. It was so well done I would not be surprised to see them hand-in-hand in real life.

Bob Newhart Richard Jenkins played the role of the soldiers Dad in the movie. Aside from the fact that we kept thinking he was Bob Newhart the entire way through the movie, he did a fantastic job in his role. The main story is actually about a very strained father-son relationship. If you can step back from the reality of relationships and war and all the other mush in the movie it is actually very touching. I think that if they had pushed this story line just a few inches further we could have seen the whole movie develop in a way only John McGahern could have hoped for. Sensational.

Seeing as I have a boy to raise and a husband that never had a relationship with his own father, it kept me awake last night thinking about how important it is to encourage my little man to 'man-up' and hug his Daddy. Of course he does this every day now (at the age of 5) but to make sure later in life, when the teenage years separate us from our children, that the occasional 'I love you pops' slips into the conversation every now and then. I know, y'all are rolling yer eyes having to endure my 'Make Love Not War' mantra so I will put ye out of your misery and wrap things up now.

In order to 'let-go' so I can get back to procrastinating over all the studying I need to do for my exams, I thought I would share this (above) little bathroom-wall graffiti with you. Aside from the fact that it is misspelled and the accents are missing, the literal translation from this very famous Irish phrase means 'Our day will come'. 

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Which came first the Chicken or the Duck?

Being married to my husband is never dull. To be honest, as the years trickle into decades I find myself constantly wondering what the hell is going on behind those smiling eyes of my handsome Chef. There was never a doubt in my mind that he would make a good Dad. He is forever doing all those kind of creative projects that I hate doing. 

One of the more recent projects we have been working is the new abode for all our feathered friends. To date we have only six...

'The Simpsons'
Bart, Maggie and Lisa

Horny Henry (aptly named)
Henrietta and Grace

My husband likes animals. Other than having an allergy to cats he would fill the house with little furry creatures were he to have his way. We have an understanding that as long as it lives outdoors, he can have it. Needless to say these birds bring us endless hours of fun and a fresh supply of eggs. 

The children love the hens and ducks. They spend a lot of time walking around the garden with one each under their arms, chatting away to them and helping them find big fat garden slugs. 

I just sit back and take it all in.  

To be happy and content with life is a very great place to be. How lucky are we!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this sunny spring evening,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

I am feeling a little crabby today

No matter how hard I try I have feck-all say in what goes on around here when it comes to making dinner. Them be the blows when you marry a chef. It is not that he does not eat whatever I put in-front of him, because he does, it is just the fact that no matter what I plan on making he comes up with something better. 

With barely two weeks of college left and four long months of summer waiting in the wings, I kind of want to step it up a notch in the kitchen. I'd love to get a few raised eyebrows or looks of disbelief when declaring the dining decisions, and of course then hope to hell that I can pull it off.

How can I boldly go forward? Let me share you my secret ingredient! I have all his recipes. This being one of the (many) perks of marrying a chef!

Because he arrived home last night with some live crab that he just had-to-have I figured it was time to dig out the recipe of a dish we used to make (sparingly) for our customers at our restaurant back in Cincinnati, Ohio. We never had it on the menu because many of our employees were seriously addicted to it and we worried for their health. Be forewarned this is not for the faint of heart and should still go on your list of things-to-eat-before-you-die.


Whatcha need:                                       

Cream cheese                                  1 lbs.
Heavy cream                                   1 ½   cups
Marinated artichokes, chopped       ½ cup (more if you like 'em)
Spinach, raw, chopped                    1 ½ cups (more if you like spinach)
Crab meat                                       ½ lbs
Onion                                              1 (small)
Paprika                                           1 tsp.


  •       In mixer, blend cream cheese with heavy cream for 5 – 10      minutes on speed #1
  •       Add artichokes, onion, spinach, and crab meat to mixer
  •       Add paprika and continue mixing until incorporated
  •       Pour into individual soufflé dishes and bake until it starts to  brown lightly on top.

                     (195 celcius/385 farenheit for 15 mins)

Easy peasy to make and totally delicious!
Serve as a snack or appetizer for your next party or have it for a nice light (ha ha ha) dinner!


What to do with the rest of the leftover crab meat? 
Hmmmmm, maybe crab-cakes tomorrow!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Early Summer Sun

Fluid foggy clouds rolled by,
my window this early morn.

Smothered sun was dense and thick,
and the rooster, a new day did warn.

Cool and dampness slowly drifted,
blazing bright blue skies.

April sunshine bestows its heat,
Dear Ireland, heaves happy sighs.

I may have more to say later!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Munchin at Munchies!

South William St, City Centre South

(01) 679-7296

Click the logo above for the Munchies website!

When travelling with Children (or hungry husbands), be it for a day trip or several weeks, one of the most important things to have on hand at all times is a few snacks. At one point or another someone is gonna get the munchies!

My five year old son Jack wakes up hungry/thirsty and pretty much continues that tune throughout the day in typical toddler fashion. My six-going-on-sixteen daughter Rory has very refined taste buds and eats like a bird in the morning, fills up at lunch and likes to dine lite for dinner.

My husband, the Chef, has life-long-never-ending hunger pangs. To be honest when we set of on our adventures I pack our snack stash with him in mind. Nothing quite as annoying as a hungry husband that needs sustenance immediately! 

Last week we spent the morning at the Dublin Zoo and decided to head into the city center for a nice lunch and some retail therapy. Just doing our bit to help the local economy!

Unless you know where you are going you could spend hours and hours wandering around Grafton Street or the Temple Bar district looking for that perfect little spot to have eats and treats at. People (especially little hungry people) can get a little cranky if you do not make haste in your dining decisions and choose where to eat, in a hurry!

After taking the bus into town from Phoenix Park and wandering around for five-hundred hours we finally stumbled upon a corner café called Munchies that had an inviting look from the exterior!

The inside had a great vibe spilling out the front door onto the busy spring-shoppers-filled streets. We were greeted by a long line of customers all studying the chalkboard menu and an equally fluid line of suits exiting clutching their lunch baggies to go. WiseTip: When traveling (and hungry) never ever-ever eat in a restaurant that does not have a line of people waiting outside to get in.

Munchies has the "French Café meets Dean and Deluca" feel about it. Perched prominently near the cash register was ice cold bottles of bubbly, carafes of chilled lunchtime libations and, for those that had to drive home, some freshly squeezed orange juice.

The Chef needed no convincing to try this spot for lunch because he was greeted (half way down the street) by the smell of freshly baked bread. The only difficult task for him was which loaf to munch on. Sandwich board menu items are a little deceiving in that you think you are having a sandwich for lunch but in reality you are having a lovely lunch experience that happens to be enclosed in some kick-ass breads.

With the most expensive item (Cheese board) teeter-tottering at 7 euros, it could take forever to wade knee-deep in the menu options at Munchies. Clever name-calling of their sandwiches bring smiles and hunger-pangs simultaneously. Should you decide to choose the 'Hummus The Tank Engine' or the 'Bjorn Again', the 'Bacon Whoopie' the 'Salmon Rushdie' or the 'Italian Scallion' you will not go wrong. I am certain everything on their menu will delight the taste-buds, kill the hunger-pangs and have you planning your next lunch in Dublin before you know it!

Of course you could not leave without getting 'one-a dem chocolate tingys' they had on display behind the glass case (at perfect five-year-old eye level) so a little lunch bag to go was procured as we exited, making room for the long line of late-luncher's still flowing through the doors of Munchies.

Yummy Yum yum!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


P.S. It should go without saying (at this point) that this business is big on sourcing organic and locally-grown produce and serves fair-trade coffee. Cheap and Cheerful!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Family Fun at Dublin Zoo

Visit their website here!

Sometimes I feel like a sloth. Most likely, it is because I am consumed with student life instead of normal life and just try to keep my head buried in the books to stay afloat.

With Easter Break nearing an end here in Galway and everyone returning to work and school next week, the Chef and I decided to take a run up to the Dublin Zoo yesterday with the kids. Once again folks you will notice from the pictures how beautiful the weather in Ireland really is.

Getting out the door and on the road can sometimes take a little longer than expected when you have a few kids. I had planned on being on the road at 7am to get to Dublin Zoo right at 9:30am when the zoo opened. To beat the heat of the day (yeah!) and the crowds. I knew that we were not the only family planning to use up that last 'day' of Easter holidays to the fullest. Sometimes things do not go according to plan. I dealt with it.

We have a new road that takes us all the way to Dublin in less than two hours. This may still seem like quite a haul just to go to the zoo - but Dublin used to be a 3 hour car ride away. With no traffic on the road we lined up for tickets at the Zoo gate at 9:45am. One hour and 45 minutes after leaving our home in Galway. No speeding tickets either! 

Dublin Zoo is one of the oldest Zoo's in the world. Opened in 1831 you can still see (above) the original entrance lodge which was built for just 30 Irish pounds back then. If you are interested in reading all about the history of Dublin Zoo then click here!

Situated in Phoenix Park in Dublin the Zoo occupies a hundred acres of land and is nicely laid out. The animals have an abundance of space to roam about and for the most part you do not feel like you are looking at caged animals. Considering the last time I was in Dublin Zoo was over twenty five years ago, I was rather impressed with the over all look and feel of the place. It reminded me a lot of the Zoo in Zurich.

In some cases, we got a little too close for (my) comfort with the larger animals. It did not seem to bother the kids at all. Thank God for protective glass!

For the kids, the mark of a good Zoo depends heavily on two things. (1) The Playground and how long they get to 'play' and (2) the availability of ice-cream, bottled water and toilets on every corner. 


 They do not look too miserable, so I would say Dublin Zoo scored an 'alright' from the terrible two!

Not to be outshone by his Children, the Chef likes to score the zoo's he visits and he really liked this one. The vegetative growth in Phoenix park is quite spectacular and as Spring is in full bloom right now, it was like walking around in the botanical gardens. 

More later on where we lunched in Dublin!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today!


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I SHUDDER to think what happened on Shutter Island!

I'll not be sleeping well tonight. 

I am afraid to turn the lights out in case some of the images from this movie start flashing back through my mind like the flames of a fire throwing wild shadows against the walls of a cave. 

I am not even a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. This is a perfect case of dimwittedness on my behalf.   

A few days ago we watched The Hurt Locker. I may do a blog review on this movie at a later date, but for right now I am leaving it alone because I am just not sure if I liked it or not. I thought (and this is where the DimWitt enters) seeing as we already watched a war movie this week we could lighten things up this evening with a few hours of easy-on-the eyes DiCaprio. Typically, I do a little research before I popcorn-up and not since watching A Beautiful Mind (Russell Crowe - 2001) have I been at such a loss for words.

I do love Ben Kingsley. Still. After everything he put me through in this movie. 

I think that Martin Scorsese should win all the awards for 'Best Director' because he almost directed me into an early grave EXCEPT I was too afraid to get off the couch. (I am a wimp - it's a psychological thriller!)

I think Leonardo DeCaprio can act. There, I have said it, and I mean it.

The film is based on a novel written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and a few episodes of The Wire) and the screenplay was written by Laeta Kalogridis who was one of the executive producers of Avatar and Dracula. This explains all the darkness in the movie.

I really do not want to spoil this for you which is why I am going to end with the last line from the movie

'Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man? 

Go see the movie.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


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