In the press
The Chef & I are literally gobsmacked at the whole outcome of the interview and new job as co-columnists with The Sunday Times (!!) guys.
We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and are excited to have such a prestigious newspaper as our platform to do so.
Enjoy the read if you please and another post coming soon on the book and launch and sale details!
Click on each link to read the entire interview and see the recipes.
Excerpt taken from the Tuam Herald the week of December 7th 2011.
Try some Cherry Pie for Christmas this year!
Some new twists on the traditional feast
By Siobhán Holliman
APART from Santa’s never-ending wish list, the other inventory that seems to incite equal amounts of panic and excitement over the coming weeks is the Christmas shopping list.
Trolleys towering with everything from bread to Brussel sprouts slowly move through the supermarket aisles as their despairing drivers sink deeper and deeper into the vinyl tiles. Yes, we do have a tendency towards shopping for Christmas like we’re stocking the kitchen in the ark – even Noah had the sense to take just two of everything – we choose the multi-packs.
The absent-minded few who dare breeze around with a mere hand-basket receive scornful looks from those fighting over the last aluminium roasting tray, and are forced to leave in shameful record time through the ten items or less checkout.
Even if you’ve edited your list to within an inch of the last lemon, the peer pressure of others wielding a trolley in either hand while they nestle ten litres of milk next to the super-dupersized 50-pack of assorted crisps, and boxes of luxury Belgian chocolates for when starving visitors call, can’t be fought off and you succumb to picking up a tub of brandy butter that you know no one at home can stand.
When it comes to the calorific feast itself, those who fail to produce some type of previously feathered form on the plate obviously are undercover alien invaders, and while a legless turkey might be acceptable as a new-age Christmas craze, a suggestion of steak will have the traditionalists calling the Croí ambulance on speed-dial.
No matter how many ways or twists the celebrity chefs offer us with the traditional feast; whether they suggest cooking the bird inside out, upside down or drowning in Guinness – we don’t stray too far and tend to release our experimental side elsewhere on the menu.
How you cook yours (bird that is), is really up to you and while it may be tried and trusted, a family secret, or more often, a mystery to yourself, as long as it doesn’t end up in flames you’re doing pretty well.
Instead we’re offering a little inspiration for the before and after – to liven up those pale melon balls or give the stodgy pudding a miss for once.
If you’re going to really challenge your digestive system on December 25 with a possible 6,000 calories, at least give it a surprise from last year’s menu.
So here are some suggestions. (for the entire article please click here).
Christmas would not be the same without it, says Claregalway-based food author Móna Wise.
“I know. Not terribly Irish, right? Being married to a Yank has opened up a door to a whole new world of food tradition in our house. With myself hailing from Claregalway where Christmas would not be right without Christmas pudding smothered in rich, yellow custard, and him, the chef, hailing from Alabama where Christmas cannot be had if it is not finished with a nice cherry pie.
“We have ‘Christmas compromise’ down to fine art here at the Wise household; it is easy. He makes it, we eat it and I do the dishes. Cherries are not the easiest fruit to come by at this time of the year but you can find them in the freezer at most of the larger grocery shops. The good ones mostly come from Belgium and it is best if you use the sour (or tart) cherries. We have used the tinned (in syrup) variety you can find at the shops but always find the fruit to be a lot nicer with the frozen variety. Seeing as we are preparing for Christmas, you can take it easy on yourself and get the pre-made pastry.
1 box of pre-made pastry, ready to roll.
360 g sour cherries
90 g sugar
Arrowroot, for thickening
Sprinkle of light brown sugar
• For the filling, put the cherries and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pot and allow to simmer for ten minutes.
• Mix a spoonful of arrowroot into a cup with a little water until it has dissolved. You could use cornflour (with water) also but arrowroot is better with fruit and cornflour is better in stews.
• Add the arrowroot (liquid) into the cherry mix in the pot and stir until the mix turns clear (not cloudy). Once thick, you are done. Take the cherries off the heat and set aside for a few minutes.
• Butter a tart pan (or pie dish) and set aside.
• Roll out the pastry to a nice thin size and line the tart pan.
• Trim off the extra dough and roll it out into a square.
• Cut the trimmed or extra pastry into thin strips (half inch) and use them to top the pie in a criss-cross fashion.
• Glaze, using a beaten egg (with a drop of water) and brush liberally over the pastry. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
• Bake for 45 minutes at 190˚ C.
• Serve with a nice dollop of vanilla cream and a spring of mint.
Incase you ever underestimate the power of the local press and media coverage, you shouldn’t.
Heavy traffic in Blogtopia is a problem we would all like to have. This week we have seen the traffic increase ten fold mostly due to the articles published in our local newspapers and a spot on the Keith Finnegan radio show today (November 17th 2011) on Galway Bay FM.
We are very excited to get this coverage and thankful you have stopped by to read WiseWords again and again and again.
First up an article about our ‘Living Leaner‘ series published in the Galway Advertiser.
Next up, the Tuam Herald did a feature piece on The Chef & I and this is an excellent read.
Some wise words about how we eat
By Siobhán Holliman
THE appetite of our old peata the Celtic Tiger was often so monstrous that we forgot how much it took to keep him fed. Spending and eating habits have changed; where once many people couldn’t tell you how much they paid for a litre of milk, now the savvy family shopper can estimate, within a few cent, the cost of most items on their grocery list.
Recent reports seem to indicate that the less money a person has, the more processed foods they eat and, more worryingly, the more likely they and their children are to be overweight.
Is good food really a luxury for families at the moment or is it a myth that if the food budget is tight, then our tastebuds have to suffer?
Lovers of life and food Móna Wise and her hubbie Ron, affectionally referred to as the chef, experience a greater connection with their food then most.
This has developed through their experience of running their own restaurant in America for five years and through their passion for eating fresh and local produce – wherever they may be.
Although Ron is a professional chef, working in Morton’s, the gourmet food, bakery and deli in Lower Salthill, Móna has picked up many of his skills through what she describes as “kitchen osmosis”. “Ron really does 70 per cent of the cooking at home but I still really enjoy cooking and baking,” she explains, adding that even their four children, aged from ten to six years, have mastered some basic recipes.
A few weeks ago the couple set themselves the challenge of making dinner for their familiy of six in Claregalway (or sometimes seven when Móna’s mum pops in) on a budget of just €10 a day. “We wanted to see if we really could come up with nutritious meals that would feed us all for under a tenner. It definitely is possible but you have to be a good shopper and creative,” remarks Móna, who has her own food blog. Having ‘no time’ is not an acceptable excuse in the Wise household when it comes to preparing dinner. Their house, with four children, a working dad and full-time student mammy, is just as hectic as others complain to be.
“When you start looking at the food budget, sometimes you have to wonder where all the money goes.
“In an effort to cut down on spending, many families cut out valuable nutrients as they choose cheaper and more convenient food over home-made dinners. By undertaking this challenge we want to show other families that it is possible to save money and still feed a family, nutritiously, for less than €70 per week,” continued Móna.
Móna and the chef have a large part of the larder in their back garden. They produce a lot of their own meat and eggs and a small polytunnel and veg patch produces an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables from March until November. The view from the kitchen window certainly amazed me. I wasn’t overcome by mesmerising scenery, I wasn’t astonished by a Diarmuid Gavin inspired landscaping project, I was definitely, however, dumbstruck by the number and variety of two-legged feathered beings bopping about the backyard. Everywhere I looked there was a different type of duck or hen and they almost seemed to be chatting to each other as they scratched and bobbed around the garden.
One duck definitely stood out and if Naomi Campbell was ever to go downy, the Indian Runner called Penelope would be the model duck. She had an elongated and elegant neck that was always held upright no matter how fast she waddled across the grass. Móna agreed that Penelope definitely topped the list when it came to the duck with gusto.
But apart from this duck there are guinea fowls, Sussex hens, Bronze turkeys, Australorp hens and Muscovy ducks. The Muscovys, I’m told, are table birds. For a moment the vegetarian in me was perplexed – but reality soon hit home and I realised that these quack quacks were bred for being placed between the knife and fork.
“We started out with just two little red hens. We got our first egg on an Easter Sunday and when chef (who knew nothing about keeping animals other than a dog) ate that egg, he’d never tasted anything like it and was hooked,” smiles Móna, whose parents had always kept ducks and hens.
Ron’s enthusiasm for home produce lead him to study different breeds and this has resulted in the wide variety of feathered friends.
Móna and Ron are long-term foster parents to two young children and Móna says the animals have been very helpful.
“I really believe in pet therapy. When the children get to hold a soft, fluffy chick in their hands it’s an amazing experience for them. They also realise the responsibility that comes with having animals and they are all involved in caring for the birds from feeding them to mucking out. The kids are very proud of the animals,” she explains.
But what about when it’s quack quack’s time to be yum yum, are there floods of tears? Apparently not.
“The kids will happily pluck the chickens. I think as long as they see that we’re comfortable with it, then it’s all fine,” reflects Móna.
While most of us aren’t so self-sufficient when it comes to stocking the fridge, Móna and Ron are adamant that tasty, nutritious meals are affordable, even when most items are shop bought.
During their time in Ohio, they used as much locally sourced produce as possible when devising the restaurant menu.
“The menu was drawn up on the basis of what came through the door. Everything was in season and local. We were also very family orientated and affordable. Everything was under $20,” adds Móna. The living leaner challenge doesn’t allow for too many fussy eaters at the table and Móna is the envy of many mothers as she reveals that the children will really eat anything and everything. “Bring as much colour to the table as possible. They will try and eat different things in time, it’s important not to force the issue. It’s important to ensure the food tastes good too,” she says with a smile.
Since the beginning of November, the couple have begun showcasing a number of recipes that are packed with flavour yet are gentle on the pocket.
“November is a difficult month on the pockets for most families. Saving for Christmas, extra fuel and electricity bills and winter clothing for children eats into the family budget,’’ adds Móna.
Each Friday afternoon, the couple spends an hour carefully planning the menu for the week ahead. Chef does the food shopping and Móna looks after the other household shopping needs.
“It makes shopping a lot easier and because we only carry a certain amount of cash with us, it’s easier to stick to the budget,” she assures me.
She believes people need to keep a better tab on what they are eating and where they are spending their money.
“Some extra cash in time for Christmas will be a real help for most families,” she concludes.
The living leaner recipes that feature on Móna’s website, www.wisewords.ie, include turkey lasagne, homegrown pizza with winter Rocket, apple and blueberry pie and vegetarian pasta bake.
Móna’s writing success AS part of her BA course, Móna has been studying creative writing and during the term allocated to writing, she has been working on her first book The Chef and I. She has decided to self-publish the book and will launch it on September 30 next year. “It has to be that date. It’s a date that means so much for us. It’s the day we met, the date we married, the date we adopted our son and the date we opened our restaurant. It will definitely happen on that date.”
Móna has set herself a target of selling 1,000 copies but remarkably for a novice writer, she has a full series of books already planned. She has also developed her photography skills and takes all of the food photos for her blog and the book herself. “It might not be as stylish as other food photography but it’s family-style cooking, everything on the plate can be eaten.” The busy mother began food blogging when the family spent a year in Switzerland and she’s been addicted to doing it ever since. Her blog and her forthcoming book are a mix of recipes and life experiences. “The Chef and I isn’t just a cookbook. It’s the story of how we met and our lives until we adopted our first child,” explains Móna. She has already marked out the later years and food experiences for other titles. To read more about Móna and Ron’s challenge and to download the recipes for meals under €10 visit www.wisewords.ie.
and lastly, our neighborhood newsletter, An Nuacht Chláir, also wrote a piece about the ‘Living Leaner’ series right here.
Thanks for reading WiseWords, and if you have not signed up to receive our (free) newsletter with recipes and be notified of our giveaways (next one is happening the first week of December) then you can do so right here! We have some fabulous prizes lined up! Leave a comment, say hello! Let me know where you are reading from?
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.
You can find me here
About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.
Buy the Book
SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS