Turn away now of you do not want the goodies OXO Good Grips has up for grabs.
This is a sponsored post.
I do love OXO kitchen gadgets.
And they love me. See evidence of that in previous blog post.
A few weeks ago, due to a persistent back pain I have been tortured with … my doctor told me I shall never again ‘hoover’ … (that’s vacuuming for all y’all back in the US of A).
Imagine receiving a diagnosis like that!
I complained mildly about this on Twitter and a few days later I received a few helpful products in the post from our friends at OXO Good Grips UK.
Now, all I needed was the motivation to start Spring cleaning … and seeing as Spring seems like it will never arrive … I had to enlist a few helpers.
It is safe to say that the folks at OXO know what they are doing because they have developed a line of stuff that kids (and husbands!) like to use around the house, be it kitchen gadgets or clean up kit.
Although I have been given a reprieve from hoovering … I can still manage to hobble about with the dustpan and broom – but thankfully now I have to ‘wait my turn’ because so many of my wee helpers would rather play with the new toys.
Dinners could be eaten off the floor around here these days.
The lovely folks at OXO Good Grips UK have given us a goody bag of spring cleaning kitchen kit with a value of £50 (almost €60) to offer to one of our readers.
No songs or dances on this one … just finish the sentence please in the comments below ….. ” I want to win the Spring cleaning Kitchen Kit from OXO Good Grips because ….. “
and you will be in with a chance to win. You can double your chances by liking their Facebook page too!
On a side note … we have four kids and all four of them have daily chores and are expected to help out around the house on a daily basis. Sweeping, mopping, laundry, mucking out hen coops etc.
You name it … they can do it. Please do not send me an email complaining that I am over exposing my children by using their images on the blog and using them as little slaves to help out around the house.
They are well fed and quite happy to live here and hope to have their own blog someday to get their own back.
Ok – get cracking on the comments folks. I will pick the winner myself on Easter Sunday.
… ” I want to win the Spring cleaning Kitchen Kit from OXO Good Grips because ….. “
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Here’s the deal lads … I am not a huge fan of the telly at all.
I am much more inclined to be curled up on the couch reading a book or will happily settle in to watch a box set of my favourite TV series (except for Downton Abbey which I watch live!) or a movie … But the constant flicking around and channel surfing that goes hand in hand with normal TV watching … it’s not for me.
The Chef on the other hand … loves telly. It is his way to unwind . . . he spends most of his telly time watching Antiques Roadshow and Auction Hunters … the occasional cooking show and even Come Dine With Me.
A few months before Christmas we were given the opportunity to get involved with Waka TV productions (owned by Comedienne Katherine Lynch and Warren Meyler) who produced a new series on TV called ‘Six in the City’ for RTÉ.
Reeee-AL-iteeee-TV. Ah – no thanks. Not on your life.
BUT the Chef wanted to do something different … and he felt that, seeing as I had dragged him from his home turf kicking and screaming back to Ireland to settle down in a cooler and damper corner of the world, … I owed him.
I stood firm in saying no .. but finally caved in.
What did we have to lose … I mean, it would be virtually impossible for these guys to make us look like total eejits. We are so bland and boring and behaved …
I almost backed out at the last minute … but am so glad I did not.
We met some very cool people along the way and several other (work) opportunities have come our way since then.
So what happens when you take three couples …
1st couple from Belfast – raring and rocking party animals;
and us … weighted down with four kids, a rake of animals and smothered in our food centric family world
… and throw them together for three nights out, in three different citys .. three weeks in a row.
Did we become fast friends and bosom buddies … or are we waiting with baited breath to block every comment that comes our way on Facebook from our new ‘friends’.
Reality TV is not for everyone and when you get involved with a production company to work on a show like this … you go into it with the understanding that they are going to do what they can to sensationalise every utterance.
I can’t wait to see the end result. The Chef and I were mostly very well behaved … but I am certain y’all will see another side of us … please tune in to watch the show on Monday night – March 25th 2013 on RTE 2 at 9:30pm.
There was food … there was, eh, dancing? and there was even a bit of ‘naked singing and guitar playing’ …
Things were said … peoples feelings were hurt … there was quite a bit of drama …. nothing out of the ordinary .. it will make for great, or possibly cringe-worthy, Monday night telly watching.
From left to right : Deborah Renyolds & Sam Stone (Naas, Kildare); Aaron & Justine Watson (Bangor, County Down); Móna & Ron Wise; Galway.
I think that the main thing these images show … is that we all had a lot of fun.
We did something different … had a new experience … and
hopefully have no regrets.
You can watch a wee preview of the show right here …
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
When we moved home to Galway almost five years ago …. we could not find a beer that we loved. When in Rome – right?
Yes – there was Guinness and plenty of it. The best pints we have ever had – especially if you go here when you are in Galway. (I insist you go here when you are in Galway).
But sometimes, on a Friday night, a girl just wants a cold beer from the fridge. We were not finding, and definitely not falling in love with, anything …. but gawd knows we were trying.
All that water and not a drop to drink. I know … Beer snobs. Call us what we are.
We were conditioned to drinking, and pined for, good old fashioned American brews like Samuel Adams or Boont Amber Ale or any of the hefty selections from Rogue beers. Aside from the schwag American beers (Coors Lite/miller/Bud lite etc) nabbing a US microbrew beer came at a painful price; We grew thirsty.
Then one day … Peter came to the rescue. Try this beer sez he. You will pine for Sam Adams no more.
Sceptical …. we tried ONE bottle. Then we went back to his shop for a whole case.
Guys and dolls …. this Galway Hooker beer … is ‘da bomb’.
Summer … might be just around the corner.
Are you all stocked up?
AND … if that is not enough to convince you … this is an Irish business … two Irish lads, first cousins, who are incredibly skilled at their craft of beer making and customer service.
They deserve your business … and their beer is damn good.
The kids are on a two week Easter break … starting today — I might not come up for air for a while … so pop in and say hello if you are in the neighbourhood next weekend for the Galway Food Festival.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Oh. What a can of worms we open when we pose this question whether here at home in Ireland or abroad.
Are there too many chefs in the kitchen to allow our national food identity to develop into what could be a wonderful Food Island culture? And before you get too excited .. we are just talking about Irish Food here … not Irish cuisine …. that is a whole other can of worms.
Every menu we peruse these days we are confronted with global influences sneaking on to our plates. Coconut milk replaced with rich Irish cream or olive oil on the table for dipping your bread in instead of a knob of Kerrygold.
Three years ago I attended a food bloggers workshop hosted by Bord Bia at their HQ in Dublin. They were asking Irish Food Bloggers to work on our SEO and food photo ‘tagging’ to help improve the over all image of Irish food to the world. A fair request one might say, because lets face it, the image the world has of Irish food is still all cabbage and Guinness. With the exception of one of my fellow food bloggers Zack Gallagher and a couple of American lassies (who are living/working/blogging/eating in Ireland and really know their SEO) the image of Irish food (on Google) is controlled online by Bord Bia, and a few other large corporations. I can’t say this excites me ..
When we asked the kids last night what they would like to have for dinner on Paddy’s Day (March 17th every year and it is this Sunday) we were bombarded with requests. We tried to reject several of their requests because they were not ‘Irish’, or at least what we feel ‘Irish food’ should be.
They think, and I believe they are right, that Irish food is what they eat every day because they are living in Ireland. Be it bacon and cabbage with boiled and buttered spuds or chicken curry with coconut milk. If it is (mostly) produced and made here on the island … then to them, it is all Irish. Ya gotta love kids for keeping it simple.
So I picked out a few photos of whats been gracing the table here at Chez Wise recently and whilst the Chef and I try to keep it interesting … we never consider it to be very ‘Irish’.
What do you think?
Christmas 2012 … not very Irish. Gingerbread ice cream sandwiches .. Pumpkin muffins … Peppermint macarons and a Gingerbread house ….
Ok – all Irish here. Arctic Char fished right out of a tank at a local fish farm a few miles from our home in Galway.
Sushi … all fished right off the coast of Galway Bay … can’t get more Irish than that. Ok – the origin of the cucumbers and lettuce is unknown.
Carrot cake …. with cream cheese – Our own carrots from the poly tunnel and cream cheese frosting from Kilbeg Dairy (best ever Mascarpone cheese). Irish enough for me ….
Irish carrots, Irish butter and Irish honey … all local. all delicious.
Irish butter … Irish egg whites for the icing … no such thing as irish sugar or Irish food colouring so I guess these are just wishful thinking … and incase you missed it – the decorating on these beauties was done by a local food artist (Gail Porter) and I blogged about our recent rendezvous with her right here and now, if you are in Galway, you can buy her cookies right here! Go buy some for your family. They look as good as they taste and she can customise the be-jessus out of them for you.
Ah yes … Barley blinis with smoked Mackerel … the fish is Irish, so is the sour cream but the Barley flour is from the UK.
Bold beautiful Beetroot (and apple) soup … all Irish. Why are we not seeing this soup in Irish restaurants?
More Barley … with Irish broccoli, Irish carrots, Irish onions, Irish salad greens.
Ha ha .. so we know the rice and bean sprouts and chilli paste are not Irish … but the egg, chicken, spinach, broccoli and peas are!
Again … if I had my way with the setting of the Irish Food menu … this would be the national salad of Ireland. Not only does it look very inviting … it tastes fabulous all year round. All Irish.
Again .. with our fish supplies on the island we are blessed … and onions grow like weeds they are so easy to cultivate and care for.
Mostly air and egg whites … the kids call this white cake.
Irish scallops, Irish bacon … some kind of Asian sticky sauce with onions and sesame seeds.
Custardy egg quiche … all Irish except for the flour for the pastry. Can’t believe there is no Irish flour to be had.
Spuds and eggs. Otherwise known as a Spanish omelette … but really just a potato and egg supper.
A family favourite .. grow them almost all year round … twice baked sweet potatoes. With Irish onions, Irish bacon, Irish sour cream … Irish cheese.
(French) Onion soup … not very French at all…
Our New Years Eve party snack … left over spuds (potato cakes) with left over ham …
Brisket … one of the most beautiful pieces of Irish beef … yet no one really asks for it at the butcher shop or knows how to cook it.
We can, quite easily, grow all of these onions. No basle .. virtually disease resistant. And they have huge cancer fighting qualities. Eat.more.onions.
Ok … no question its Irish right … eh, no .. wrong actually. Not even brewed here (for now) and the ingredients are not all Irish either.
My whole point to this picture blog is this …
Irish food is everywhere. If your mantra is, like ours, to buy local, you will see that it is not impossible to make a good 65% (if not more) of your diet .. all Irish and all delicious.
Irish cuisine is in its infancy however. We do not have a long and rich gastronomic history like the French and we do not have the familial food fanfare that the Italians celebrate daily. We had a poor and strange affiliation with ‘thick milk‘ before the potato arrived and once we started to eat and depend on the auld spud .. well we know how that ended.
If we are ever to change the image of how the rest of the world perceives Irish food … we need to love it for what it is and make sure the generations to come are growing, cooking and eating real food … and not looking for a green McShake on Paddy’s Day.
Support your local community by buying and eating local (organic when possible) foods.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all xx
PS – if you want your pretty Irish food photos to show up on Google you need to place the word “Irish” in the main title of the blog post. All I ask is that you please make sure it looks good!
Galway’s City Centre Boutique Hotel
Lower Merchants Road
The Latin Quarter
+353 91 538900
This is a doozy folks. I know y’all are probably getting sick and tired of all these fabulous hotel giveaways but you know when we get the opportunity to share something fabulous with our readers … I can’t help myself. I could of course just use this myself … check in for a night or two with the Chef – take a break from the kids. .. enjoy the peace and quite of the hotel and then write up a quirky blog post about what a gorgeous place it is and how much fun I have had there … and what would you get out of that? Nothing really … maybe a bit annoyed that I got the nice experience and you got your nose rubbed in it?
Nope – not me. I like to share. I like it when people come to visit my home town and more than anything I love making sure that they have a great time. This hotel, and their carefully appointed crew, will make sure that you have that kind of experience when you come.
So now you have the chance to stay at The House Hotel in Galway. Up for grabs (details at the end of the post) is two nights bed & breakfast (for two people) and dinner on one of those nights. Arriving on (holy) Thursday March 28th and enjoying gorgeous Galway and the Galway Food festival for two days and two nights … .
A wee blurb on the hotel :
The House Hotel is Galway’s leading city centre boutique hotel is home to the most popular of Cocktail Bars and trendiest Relax Lounge. With only 40 bedrooms this boutique hotel is warm, chic and prides itself on excellent customer service and a warm ‘Galway’ welcome. The rooms are chic, quiet, intimate and oozing in comfort, perfect for any visitor whether it be to enjoy Galway’s Festivals, for business meetings, or simply to relax in the City of the tribes.
Perfect for those romantic weekends away, or a fun filled break with the girls, The House Hotel offers it’s guests the ultimate in relaxing surroundings midweek and is now renowned as the place to be seen on a Saturday night! If it’s cocktails is you’re looking for then there is no need to go any further. The House Hotel mixologists are among the best in Ireland – many representing their country last year in destinations such as New York and Paris.
Sip on one of their fabulous Pink Champagne Mojitos, sit back and relaxing in the stunning lobby bounded by pieces of art that will take your breath away.
Located in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter everything is quite literally on your doorstep.
All that promotional jargon above is true. But the real reason you should WANT to stay here is simple and will come as no surprise to you. It is the people. From the minute you set foot inside the hotel you will be taken care of. The hotel is tiny so this affords the employees to remember who you are and what room you are staying in.
Over the last four years, whilst I have been toiling away at NUIG trying to get myself an education, I have sought refuge on their cosy couches and they know I like bottomless pots of black tea and free wifi. They also know how I like my dirty martinis when the Chef and I step out for a night on the town and they know that we like to sit by the window in the summer to people watch and by the radiator in the winter with glasses of hot port.
They don’t take notes and keep journals of all their guests likes and dislikes – they just do their job and offer the warmest of Irish hospitalities … the way it should be.
Ok – the nitty gritty.
Visit their page on FB please and say hi. This will double your chances of a win.
Leave me a comment finishing this sentence ….
I want to stay at The House Hotel in Galway over Easter because ……..
Please note that many of you (already registered as avid readers and commenters here on WiseWords) are automatically entered to win as soon as you comment down below – but those of you that are not registered to receive updates via email are not … so make sure you register right here. It is free and relatively painless.
AND … it also ensures that you will be kept informed about all the cool stuff happening in the West .. and I know you do not want to be the last to know.
The lucky winner will be chosen randomly on Tuesday March 12th 2013, giving you plenty of time to plan your get-a-way to Galway!
OK – get cracking!
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
AND THE WINNER IS :
I like to test the theory ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ from time to time .. especially as ‘the old dog’ aka my handsome Chef, knows
everything quite a bit about cooking and baking. A few weeks ago I noticed a few images flitting about on Facebook and I clicked my way back through the myriad of friends that had been ‘liking’ the images to a very cool landing page of LizzieMay’s Cakes, Cookies and Cupcakes.
There was a few images on her page that made me think of my dear friend Paula over at VanillaBeanBaker blog . And I thought ‘bummer . . another highly skilled cookie decorator that – probably – lives on the other side of the world’.
Except this highly skilled cookie decorator lives right here in Galway and only a stones throw from us really. I sent her a message tout sweet (ha ha) and asked her if she could come out to the house and give us a lesson on ‘how to decorate cookies’.
Gail Porter, owner of LizzieMay’s Cakes, Cupcakes and Cookies got back to me straight away and was only too delighted to oblige.
At the very tender age of 30, Gail decided to take advantage of being made redundant at her ‘proper job’ with Nortel and followed her passion for food. She enrolled in a twelve week course at Ballymaloe but had no interest in working with sugar or making cakes. I think that is the cool thing about food; whether you like it or not, when you are good at something it weaves its way in to your world and you sometimes end up going down a road you had not planned to travel. After she graduated from her course (and needing to find a way to pay for her education loan) she launched her new business and called it LizzieMay’s after both her Grannies.
Gail arrived out to our house with her, eh, guns loaded and icing whipped and sorted in small little cling film pouches. This made clean up a snap later and I would encourage all of you to do the same should you attempt to decorate a few cookies any time soon.
Explaining as she worked, that the secret to becoming a pro at icing cookies, is first patience, followed by fabulous icing, followed by a steady hand. We had a few (duck) egg whites left sitting at room temperature and whipped up a small batch of royal icing (90 g egg whites/480 g icing sugar) and stood to attention waiting for her tutelage.
The peanut gallery looked on with eagerness. For future reference, this is an excellent way to keep the kids entertained for a while and keeps the kitchen that wee bit cleaner too!
When you want to learn ‘how to’ do something new, it is first best to admit that you know nothing and start fresh.
When icing cookies, start by piping a border using a heavy consistency of icing. By the time you have ten cookies iced, the border icing has set up enough for you to start filling in the rest of the cookie with the flood icing.
Once you have that part done, place the cookies in a fan oven on (almost) zero heat for twenty minutes. This hardens up the royal icing greatly and you can carry on and finish your cookies with a bit more bling.
While Gail worked away on her cookies, teaching and talking away, we gave an icing bag to the Chef to see if he could match her skill.
His cheerleading squad looked on with interest and were delighted that he did not screw it up!
When you remove the cookies from the oven you will have a fabulous hard icing with a beautiful matte finish on your cookie. The No. 1 icing tip is best for piping the border and writing.
But be forewarned folks. This.Takes.Time, and an incredible amount of patience, skill and creativity.
And it gets messy. Learning how to decorate cookies means you are working with sugar and food colouring, meaning you end up having a sweet sticky colourful mess on your hands for the afternoon.
And you know … someone has to clean it all up …
As we were mixing and matching colours I was getting a little confused over which ones were border/piping icing and which ones were flooded – because once wrapped up in little cling film packages it was hard to tell the consistency of the icing. Of course, and because I am so slow to catch on, the answer is easy … the little ones are the border icing (which you use less of) and the bigger ones are the flood icing, which you use lots more of.
A steady hand and the ability to not laugh or sneeze while working is vital .. because one false move can screw up a cookie. In Gail’s line of business you can’t just throw one out if you mess it up half way through the process. She likes to use a damp paintbrush to clean up her messes – but we did not see her put that into action once!
Supporting local business’s is something we strive to do more and more of each day.
Discovering a new local business woman making and baking her product from scratch only reinforces our way of thinking, buying and eating.
We will think of her now when we have a special occasion looming but are strapped for time and still want something real and delicious.
We are going to continue to buy local and support local business’s because we like to – and NEED to – know where our food is coming from. We like to see where it starts and how much work has to be done to the raw ingredients before they end up ready to go on our plate or cupcake stand.
Maybe you are wondering what to buy your Mum for Mother’s day next weekend? (March 10th here in Ireland and UK).
Gail can whip up a dozen cookies with a few days notice and can ship them to you!
Or maybe you want to get something for a client for a special Paddy’s Day party or for an Easter celebration?
Or maybe you will break down and give it a whirl yourself and even let the kids try their hand at decorating a few cookies.
No matter what you decide … there will come a time when you want to buy someone a beautiful gift from Galway and in our opinion this is one of the best places to start – so make a note of Gail’s contact details.
When you are popping in and out to our website (and we are ever so glad that you do) please note we have added a new tab called ‘When in Galway’ and this will make it easier to find all local business’s that we blog about. There are only a few on there right now but that will change over the next few months once I am finished with college …………..
and have a bit more time to tell you about all the Galway Food heroes we have in this tiny fabulous city by the sea.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Tel : +353 (0) 91564041
Sitting at the bottom of Eyre square, Hotel Meyrick has graced us with her stately presence since 1852. Her doors flung open wide inviting guests to eat, sleep and play, in (what we consider) one of Galway’s most welcoming hotels.
Originally constructed with Galway’s train station, Hotel Meyrick is built using Ashlar Limestone, exactly the same as the Galway Cathedral. Statuesque and filled with more than a century of stories, it is one of Galway’s gorgeous gems.
A quiet spot in town to study, where the wifi and tea flows freely, is not always easy to find. Although the library on campus at NUIG and in town offer quiet places of respite for students, sometimes it is the white noise and clatter of forks and spoons that aid in my choices of where to spend a few hours writing, reading or dreaming.
Taking a small step back in time and treating your Mum to brunch or afternoon tea at Hotel Meyrick would be considered a lovely gift for Mother’s Day (March 10th 2013 in Ireland).
But the greatest gift of all would be a few nights stay here in Galway over the Easter break (March 29th-30th 2013) and that is what Hotel Meyrick has (most) generously given us to share with our readers!
Two nights bed & breakfast plus dinner in their award wining Oyster Grill on one of those evenings. All this … for Easter weekend which falls on the same weekend as the second annual Galway Food Food festival.
So jump in … enter the giveaway and start planning your Easter break in Galway!
When in Galway – if you are looking for a place to eat supper on the second night of your stay I would put this place on your list for dinner and go here for brunch on Sunday. I would also make sure you stop in here to and donate a few shillings to their cause because they are doing tremendous work here in Galway helping people in need and are dependant on private donations to keep food in their bellies of those that are hungry.
All you have to do is leave a comment here on the blog letting us know why you want to come to Galway?
The winner will be chosen at random on my birthday (Saturday 23rd February) so you will have PLENTY of time to plan your Easter break. I can’t wait to see who wins this one and hope it is someone I know!! My last class (of four long years of college) is March 27th … so I expect to be in a deliriously happy mood that particular weekend!
Special thanks to Hotel Meyrick for this excellent giveaway! Pop over to their Facebook page to keep up to date on all their special deals – especially during the food festival and race week in Galway. Special thanks also to my blogging buddy Anne Marie Carroll of Warm, Snug & Fat food blog for the food festival photos and of her gorgeous children.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
And the WINNER is …….
Get a little dirty … and throw a little clay.
Make for a fun filled afternoon … right here, near Galway Bay.
This is not to be missed if you (a) live in Galway or (b) are planning a visit to Galway.
Tight spaces are not my thing. Tight spaces in rooms with no windows are definitely not my thing.
This has got to be one of the smallest spaces in Galway and, in our opinion, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the City of the Tribes and what our beautiful city has to offer.
Kevin: 086 1620755
Laurence: 086 1020308
Laurence O’Kelly has taught pottery here in Galway for over 35 years and now, with the help of his talented son Kevin, they are launching a few more classes. We feel that this is one of the best ways to spend your hard earned cash, be it for you, or for the kids – or – something to do with the kids.
Here is a wee blurb from their website …
Laurence O’ Kelly
Kevin O’ Kelly
Don’t worry about making everything so perfect in life …. it is in the whimsy and the flaws that we find all the fun.
At €15 (kids) for 1 1/2 hours, or €18 (adults) for 2 hours, you will surprise yourself at what you might accomplish.
New class for kids at 11:30am on Saturday mornings.
Totally mucky, totally worth it.
Sign up. Go play with the clay.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
And always … sublime
I remember my first taste of honey; sticky, sweet and sensational. We had parents that fled the city and bought a small plot of land on the outskirts of Galway, wanting to give their children freedom to play in a field, get lost in a wooded lot or be at one with the sense of calm that can only be found when footing turf at the bog. A word forbidden from our line of daily chat was ‘bored’. Summer holidays were spent careening down the country byroads on our bikes, never knowing where we were going, and yet never feeling lost.
Late one summers evening, one of my brothers and I pushed our bikes past an old cottage down a dead end lane. We knew it led to nowhere but still rambled onwards, wondering if the landowner might chase us out of there if discovered trespassing on his land. As we looped back around, disappointed that we had made no discovery, we came face to face with not one, but two farmers, wondering why we had taken liberties on their stretch of road. In their hands they held a bucket loaded with honeycombs of crackling gold. They encouraged us to eat a chunk of it, right there and then, stating it was ‘the finest’ and we would never be able to buy anything as gorgeous as this Irish gold they held so dear. We rambled far from our homes and took ‘sweets’ from old men that accosted us in their driveway; a shame the world has changed so much that even now, living in the countryside of Galway, we cannot allow our children the same freedom.
That taste of honey is still with me and I must have been only eight or nine years of age. The crunch of the honeycomb exterior, the way the honey clung to my lips and fingertips as I rode my bike home and the crystal clear clarity of the honey as it sat puddling on a plate on the kitchen countertop later that evening; beautiful Irish gold.
Honey is one of the handiest sweeteners to use in the kitchen. We have a rule around here that when a dish does not taste ‘finished’ right before we serve dinner, it usually needs a squeeze of lemon, a knob of butter or a spoonful of honey. When the kids are coughing the winter away we send them to bed with a glass of honeyed water and cinnamon to soothe their chesty colds, and then make sure to double the dose the next morning before they go to school. When it comes to sharing recipes for honey, we did not have to look far at all.
The first recipe is for a breakfast smoothie. This time of year, it is hard to get excited about eating our greens. The garden is still dormant and the salad greens have not started to sprout just yet. We like to blitz up a yoghurt shake for breakfast and a spoonful of honey lends the perfect sweetness to the glass giving a much needed protein boost for the start of the day.
The second recipe is just gorgeous. Cheese and honey are great partners and there is no shortage of recipes out there for you to choose from. Halloumi is an excellent firm piece of cheese to cook with. Honey drizzled upon it makes for a sweet and salty match made in heaven for your plate and palate.
Honey-mustard is something we have easy access to in Ireland. There are several different varieties available to consumers, but making your own is as easy as adding a spoonful of honey to your favourite mustard. Fish and mustard might seem like an odd combination; but it always works. Our third recipe, for a beautiful piece of Salmon is sure to be a massive hit at your next dinner party. When it cooks, the exterior will crunch up caramel-like when using honey and I am certain your guests will be asking for the recipe. Enjoy.
Honey, sweet and steeped in historic fact, should be the natural sweetener we reach for on a daily basis. Up until recently, and maybe a final fallaway from the remnants of the celtic tiger days, manuka honey was all the rage in home and restaurant kitchens. While there is not anything wrong with this honey, (well, the price can be exorbitant), health benefits are mostly obtained when you introduce and keep local honey in your daily diet. Recently, friends of ours in Tipperary (Oldfarm pigs, pork and more), purchased a few hives and they are getting ready to set up their dormant bees for a season of sweet success.
We started to look into how local honey needs to be in order for us to reap the benefits of adding honey to our diet, and that of the children’s, and it turns out that ‘local’ means the radius in which the bee flies. An average hard working bee can fly three to four miles away from the hive covering 30,000 + acres. This is best honey for you to choose; from your neighborhood. It might seem a little strange, but bee keeping is growing in popularity, and now, even the rooftop gardens in large metropolitan cities like New York have hives dotted along the skyline.
Honeyed breakfast shake – 2 pp
This time of year we are itching for the days to get longer and the dreary dark mornings to show a glimpse of dawn before 8:00am. The desire to let our bodies to wake with morning light instead of the alarm clock consumes us and we count the days for the clocks to change so we can spring forward into a newer and lighter season. This breakfast shake will help you shake off the remnants of the winter blues and help get you ready for your day at work or school. It will also help the kids get their day off to a nutritious and delicious start.
What you will need
1 ripe avocado (peeled and stone removed)
2 medium apples (cored and diced)
480 ml yoghurt (Glenisk Greek plain)
80 ml of honey (more if you like it sweeter)
How to prepare it
Cut the avocado into chunks then place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. You can substitute bananas or mangos for avocado if so desired, and a handful of spinach works well in this one too. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a slice of kiwi fruit or pour over granola for breakfast. This is an excellent way to get your ‘five a day’ of fruits and vegetables and the kids will never know what is in it.
Honeyed Halloumi – 2 pp
Pronounced: Ha-loo-me … one of those bland looking cheeses at the grocery store, and I am sure you have seen it because it is widely available in Ireland. Cut up and eaten ‘raw’ it can taste a bit rubbery (best to grate it) but sliced and sautéed this beautiful salty cheese turns into a right meal maker when placed atop a bed of greens. We find a drizzle of pomegranate molasses or local honey helps this cheese become the showstopper at lunch time.
What you will need
240 g mixed salad greens
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 tsp olive oil
6 slices of Halloumi cheese (1/2” thick)
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Aniseed, toasted
How to prepare it
Place salad greens in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Arrange the greens on a plate and set aside. Using a non-stick pan, sauté the cheese 3 – 4 minutes on each side in a medium hot pan. Place cooked cheese on top of salad greens. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle toasted aniseed on top. Best enjoyed immediately while cheese is still hot.
Honey-mustard glazed Salmon – serves 2
Mustard and honey …. it would be difficult to go wrong with any recipe that calls for those two ingredients. A few months ago, we received a jar of honey-mustard from a local chef here in Galway (Jess Murphy – Kai Café). At first, this mustard (Moutarde de Montjoie) seemed a little too sweet and syrupy for us to use liberally, so we negotiated it with caution. At first, we drizzled a little over breakfast sausages as they sizzled and were delighted with the succulent results. Since then, we have dabbled and drizzled this sweet sticky stuff on many products and have to say this one of our favourite ways to use it.
What you will need
400 g fresh salmon (200 g per person)
30 g butter, melted to brush on salmon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lemon, (1/2 for juice only, other half sliced into circles for garnish)
60 ml honey
60 ml whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion (peeled and sliced)
How to prepare it
Brush the (uncooked) salmon with melted butter and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Sauté in a medium hot pan for 4 – 5 minutes on each side, starting with skin side up. Finish in the oven at 200ºF for 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Do not overcook. Sauté the sliced onion in the olive oil and arrange it on your dinner plate. Remove fish from oven and deglaze the pan (with the salmon in it) with the lemon juice. Add the honey and mustard and lemon slices. If the sauce is too thick then add a spoon or two of water to thin it down. Serve immediately, atop the sautéed onions with the pan sauce spooned over the top of it. A side serving of brown basmati rice would be a delicious accompaniment to this dish.
Do you use honey more than sugar? Do you keep bees?
Thanks for popping in for a visit and I hope you enjoy the recipes.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
These recipes were published in The Sunday Times. (February 3rd, 2013)
Commenting on blogs takes up a lot of my time and not for one second do I feel it is a waste of time. I feel like if someone goes to the effort of writing a thoughtful (or thought provoking) piece and I have taken the time to read it because it interests me …. then it usually deserves a head-nod of some sort.
Another thing that takes up a lot of my time is drafting and writing a blog post of course, because (him) cooking and (me) shooting the food, editing the recipes, re-writitng the first draft because I ‘got it wrong’ (according to my more knowledgeable partner in crime) all takes quite a bit of time. So, I will be the first one to sit around and hope and pray that I get a few of those comments floating about. I have put the work in and I like the feedback.
Now – since my big win late last year and seeing as I hold the title(s) for these blog awards I felt it was time to throw a few answers at all the ‘Frequently asked questions’ I get; and there are many.
Some questions come in the form of comments themselves, which I believe I have already answered. FYI – WordPress tells me I have responded to over 1500 comments on just my blog since 2010. Time well spent, in my opinion.
Other FAQ come in the form of emails and the ones I like the best are from the anonymous faceless trolls that troll the internet looking to start a fight. Needless to say, these are hardly worth a mention, because we cannot highlight from where they have originated, but maybe I will throw a few out there for good measure and to give y’all a giggle.
Incidentally – RIGHT after publishing this blog post … I did get an anonymous comment (I never publish ‘anon’ comments) so I am sharing this with you just so you see that sometimes getting ‘comments’ is not all that exciting.
But moving on from all that, er, drivel??
The most Frequently Asked Question is invariably ‘How do I get more people to comment on my blog’ …
One of my favourite sites (Write-on-Track) gets asked this question all the time too.
So, how do you get readers engaged, keep them coming back to read your blog and (eventually) drop you a minute of their time in the form of a comment?
1. Write engaging (and relevant) stories for your blog. This might seem easy or simple but if you look at the blogs from your peers right now there is a lot of complaining and suffering going on (Ok – we all get the January blues!) and it is just not what I want to read. I am hip to current affairs and what is happening in the global and local news. I watch the news on TV (morning and evening) and read the newspapers online. If you are a news blogger – then I will come to you for the news. If you are a food blogger I will stop reading you if you keep reiterating the doomsday news and blues.
2. Run the occasional give-away. This draws (quiet) readers out of the woodwork and it is one of my biggest delights to see how many readers never miss a blog post. (MailChimp (a free service) tells me I have a higher than average ‘open-rate’ for all our updates received by email. This makes my heart sing! The reports (at first) can be a little daunting because you see how many readers are ‘not’ opening your emails – but hey – only makes a gal work harder! )
On a side note regarding giveaways … I get A LOT of crap from readers about the giveaways. ‘Why are you always doing giveaways‘, ‘you would never have any commenters on your blog if it weren’t for the giveaways‘ … Sigh. yes. I get all this free stuff like Mauviel Copper Pots, Oxo kitchen gadgets, Le Creuset cast iron cookware, and even a few hotel city breaks (including dinner!) and you are right – faceless troll – I should be greedy, and keep it all for myself and just blog about the fact that I have all these goodies and you don’t.
Double sigh. Giving and receiving …. pure joy.
3. Stop trying to copy your peers. There is no ‘real’ formula for successful (food) blogging. It is all in your voice. If you come across as open, humorous, loving, intelligent, caring and have tried and tested your recipes … then readers will find you. One of the ways I knew our blog was becoming popular was people started emailing me questions about the recipes. Sometimes they find an error with a recipe (I totally hang the Chef for these) and others were asking of they could substitute one ingredient for another. They might not have been ‘commenting’ but the readers are there and already eating the food we have shared. On the flip side, if you are a bit cranky or fly off the handle on every trendy topic trying to garner more traffic for your site (because it is relevant in the media ‘right now’) then you need to quit blogging and become a newscaster.
4. Be the expert on only one or two things. David Leite does this so well; He is the expert on Love. I love David’s Bhlag because his stories are filled-to-the-brim about the food he cooks for those that he loves. Do not strive to be the expert on everything. You only dilute yourself.
5. Ask questions. Best to finish the blog post with a weighty question if you want a flurry of comments . . Dianne Jacob is the queen of this. As a matter of fact, if you want to be a better blogger, then just take a few weeks of work, read back over her blog posts (and buy her book) and emerge knowing how to ‘do it right’.
Now that you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve to garner more comments on your blog – which seems to be what A LOT of bloggers want, I have two questions for you, and this is something you should have already asked yourself.
1. WHY do you want more people commenting on your blog?
2. Once they do actually comment, are you going to respond?
Again, from David Leite …. ‘No comment left behind‘ … RESPOND to every comment please, and for the life of me, do not tell me you do not have time. Turn off your TV and take care of your readers. Engage with them if you want them to do the same.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today …
PS – and because there was chat of a giveaway … if you are thinking ahead and planning to come to Galway for the Annual Galway Food Festival (you should be!) on Easter weekend (March 28th – April 1st) then please make sure you check back here next week or sign up for email updates.
Hotel Meyrick has VERY generously given us a two-night break (including dinner for two on one night, and breakfast both mornings) for our readers. This is a gorgeous hotel and even those of you living in our beautiful city could take advantage of this one and invite some friends down for the festivities over the Easter holidays. Sign up for email updates right here (and send the link to your friends and family if you do not want them staying with you – ha ha!)
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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About the Chef
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You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS