A little milk boiled to the right temperature is the key ingredient and that is pretty much all you need. Well, that and a bit of vinegar (or rennet once you get serious about this) and away you go; The world of cheesemaking is yours.
Another item crossed of the bucket list so-to-speak, because I know many of you daydream about making your own cheese all the time. I’ve made my own butter - that was just as easy. I even made flavoured butters. One with Nettles, and even a bacon butter. Yep – a piece of cake.
A couple of months ago we received a message via Facebook from Yvonne Hollidge at Creative Cheese Works asking if we would like to try a cheese making kit. Kit? Are ya kidding me? We do not need a kit!
But I had a look at her website and I really liked what I saw. I’ll be the first to admit I love nice packaging and this kit comes in a dark hunter green corrugated cardboard box. Everything was wrapped and presented beautifully and this would make an excellent gift for Father’s day, I’m sure and for anyone who might just love cheese.
Yvonne is doing her best to educate people as to how easy this cheesemaking really is. She is on the road doing demonstrations around the country at festivals etc. and also in schools. She is passionate about teaching, and wants to encourage everyone to try their hand. So much so that she has give us a free kit to offer one of our readers.
You really want this … you need to prove it to yourself that you can make cheese – for once and for all.
Once you get your kit you can whip up a batch of soft cheese in a few hours.
This kit uses full fat milk and makes up to 10 batches.
The first time we used the kit we made a delicious black pepper crusted soft cheese which the kids inhaled in seconds.
Since we are officially on the cheesemaking bandwagon – we have made several different soft cheese’s and are now graduating onto the blue cheese – more of a challege but really looking forward to trying this.
The one thing we are loving is the shelf life – if you can keep it hidden from the kids that is. The cheese is mild and will ripen and strengthen in firmness and flavour if you leave it (wrapped in greasproof paper) in the fridge for a week or two. When you tuck into it after a few weeks maturing … it is begging for a glass of wine, a few olives stuffed with anchovies and a long weekend lying ahead of you. It’s that kinda
Now – if you are ready to get your cheese making hat on, I suggest you leave a comment down below (we will ship worldwide) and let me know why you have finally taken the plunge and are ready to make your own cheese!
Maybe you want to make this gorgeous (baked) Rhubarb Cheesecake and you just know it will tase better if you use your own creamy cheese?
Or maybe, you are ready to finally learn how to make n’ bake a kick ass macaroni and cheese dish but know that there is no point in even attempting this unless you have all the right ingredients … such as homemeade cheese?
I’ll pick a winner on April 26th, 2014 ….
Comments in the box below. Tell me your cheese woes.
That’s all for now folks,
and the winner is….Peggy Falbo! Congrats to you now send me on your details and I will get that cheese making kit out to you in the post.
A few weeks ago I got an email from an old friend of mine. She put me in touch with Helen Calvey of the Calvey Family Farm on Achill Island, who is helping out on the marketing and social media end of things for the family business whilst she is on maternity leave.
I’ll be the first to admit it – there is no rhyme or reason to figuring out what motivates me to write a blog post. Ordinally, and most writers would agree, one would love to have the luxury of waiting for the inspiration to waft in willingly – then I could drop everything and allow the words to spill endlessly onto the keyboard; Sadly that almost never happens.
But when it does … it’s a great feeling. For me sometimes all it takes is a Tweet from a Mum suffering from #babybrain. As a mum of four – you have my total attention and empathy; Rock on Mama – this too shall pass.
I was immedialtey interested in having a chat with Helen because she bounced across the social media pages and landed in-person at our front door to drop off a small sample of their lamb so we could taste for ourselves. The proof is in the pudding as they say and and the taste has lingered with me since.
Incase you are wondering – we did very little cooking to the gorgeous piece of meat they shared with us. The rack was small and butchered beautifully into two (3-bone) chops. A quick season and sear on both sides to brown them for less than 5 minutes, a spoonful of mustard topped with fresh breadcrumbs and finished in a very hot oven for 12 minutes.
There was fingerlicking at the table. I am not ashamed.
So, nosey me, I set about drafting a few questions for Helen to see if I could get a bit more information on what makes Achill Lamb so different to other Irish Lamb. Here’s what Helen Calvey had to say:
How is business? Fifty years is a long time to stay afloat – what’s your secret?
(I’m actually getting hungry just reading Helen’s response)
Oh – this was not a difficult one to feature on the blog Helen. What an excellent product.
It’s not difficult to see why I was interested in sharing this with you all. There is so much more to the story than just a few ‘lambs for sale’. We live in a very ‘get-rich-quick’ kind of world and I think sometimes people need a little reminder that slow and steady wins the race. For quality of product and quality of life. Thanks to Helen Calvey for taking the time out of her busy schedule to have a chat with me.
It seems like Achill Island is a place we should all aim to visit this summer. With Failte Ireland’s recent launch of the Wild Atlantic Way (watch the video!) I see no reason to travel abroad this year . . . staycationing all the way for us.
Have you been to Achill Island recently?
Todays topic is always at the epicentre of every argument I have at home with the kids, of which there are four – ages 8, 9, 10 and 12.
Up until recently (before they all entered the age of reasoning – which some say it is 8 years of age, and they are right!) the kids towed the line and did their daily chores, for the most part.
I am not talking hard core labour here, just chores that we consider ‘normal’ in most family households:
- setting the table, clearing the dishes after breakfast and supper, then loading the dishwasher,
- bringing down their dirty clothes hampers, folding and putting away their own laundry,
- occasional sweeping of the floors
Now that the age of reckoning has arrived, we are hearing a lot of dramatic resistance to simple requests and the thing that concerns me the most is the statement they reiterate over and over again.
‘None of my friends at school have to do chores’.
None. Not even one. Nada. Nothing.
Now, I am not one of those Mother’s you can fool easily.
I am always up before breakfast so to speak … and I start my day off in a quiet reflective contemplative manner … enjoying the sunrise … like this morning …
Typically, I don’t believe a word out of their mouths if it starts off with ‘all my friends’ … because I don’t know their friends or their friends Mum’s and Dad’s all that well, so it’s just heresay as far as I am concerned.
But you know what … I kinda believe my kids. I am getting the impression, perhaps I had a moment of blind weakness this morning, that maybe there are a lot of parents out not doling out the chores to their kids?
The way I see it is as follows – if you have kids maybe you can slot yourself into one of the following three categories:
(A) you give the kids age appropriate chores (like I listed above)
(B) you never give the kids chores and you/your partner do them yourselves for a quiet life and because you feel that this is your job/responsibility as their parent
(C) Neither of the above because you pay for domestic help and no one has to do the bothersome household chores.
Readers … tweeters … peeps and pals …. I need to know – do you get the kids to help out with the chores around the house?
If you are unwilling to respond in the comment box below – will you send me an email at MonaZWise@GMail.com – thanks.
Ok – less than 6 days of classes left before I finish the MA in Journalism at NUIG.
Imagine. It only took me FIVE YEARS to get here! Ok – technically I am not finished until I complete my work placements and write my 15,000 word Thesis – due in August … but I am no longer tied to a classroom effective April 4th.
I will have soooo much more time on my hands to do laundry and sweep the floor.
Keep the faith lads and ladies … the sun is still shining bright in Galway – FUN and frolicking will resume soon.
38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 091 562259 (International +35391 562259)
Twitter : www.twitter.com/McCambridges38
I was trolling through my photos from McCambridges and noticed that several of them were (coincidentially) of Beer & Wine. So I sent a quick email to Natalie MCCambridge, one of the owners, and asked her to shuttle me on a few of hers. Just to add to the variety of what they offered.
She sent me the following few images ..
So, as you can see … these guys rock in the Beer & Wine department. But here is something you may not know. In addition to offering fabulous fare (for lunch) from the deli counter downstairs and an excellent selection of teas and coffees to boot, they have, in the last year, expanded to now serve lunch in their beautifully designed space above the store. They are also serving dinner (up until 9pm from mid-December) for a few weeks over the festive season. Go there – eat lots. Shop till you drop.
Great care was made in sourcing much of the reclaimed materials used in the renovations and let me tell you, with the expert design eye of local arthitect Stephen Walton (who also brings his design beauty to Kai Cafe) ‘Upstairs @ MCCambridges’ is where it is at ladies and gentlemen.
McCambridge’s of Galway is a family owned Deli and Fine Foods Shop and Restaurant located in the heart of Galway city centre. On any given day you will find this shop a-buzzing with people zipping in and out to get a few bits and pieces. They are notably famous for the way they treat their customers. If you are already on their mailing list, then you know what I am talking about. Their annual Christmas party invite should be arriving in the post any day now. A fantastic evening with the McCambridge family celebrating with their vendors (who bring the food and wine) and customers, (who drink all the food and wine) with all proceeds go to a most deserving charity.
We have attended Sunday brunches, weekday lunches, book launches, cheese tastings, wine tastings and have sat upstairs for a host of other reasons … sometimes to duck out of the rain and have a glass of wine by the window watching the world stroll by.
Sometimes we stop in for a slice of cake and a cup of coffee with friends .. and we always hope to see their talented Chef Heather … who is always only too delighted to let you know which cake to take a stab at. She’d know, because she makes every one of them. earlier this year, at a book launch I think, she made this little appetiser of Polenta cubes topped with mushrooms and truffle oil. I can still taste it. A damn shame it is not on the menu.
For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).
There are not that many places in Galway that leave a lasting impression on me when I go out to eat, or do my grocery shopping. I guess I am hard to please. I want to be able to find the product I am looking for with ease and if I can’t find it, trust that the employees will be only too happy to help me.
Yesterday, I spent a few minutes chatting (on the radio) with Sean O’Rourke, the presenter of RTE Radio 1 ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show. He wanted an update on the Food Scene in Galway and if you listen in, you will hear that McCambridges was one of the places I talked about because of the variety of Galway products they showcase.
One of my favourite places to shop for foodie presents for Christmas.
Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.
Barely 8 weeks till Christmas guys and dolls.
I am putting together a few blog posts on my favourite places to shop-till-ya-drop in Galway.
Most of them are food havens but I might throw in one or two cute-for-kitsch shops too.
First up ..
Asiatic Manila Food Store,
25 Upper Abbeygate Street.,
Galway City, Ireland,
This little gem has been in Galway for a few years now (right across the road from Sally Longs Pub) but they were on the other side of the road until a few months ago. They have moved into a bigger and brighter place and have the best supply of Asian ingredients in Galway.
The meat counter is not to be sneezed at, mostly because the butcher will find you anything your heart desires. We are embracing Oxtail and lamb shank seasons these days.
They have a very impressive frozen foods section too – and I am delighted to be able to (finally) buy Edamame .. in the shell and out of the shell. It is the little things in life, I know.
One of the things that hooked me on this Asian food store, as opposed to a few others in Galway, was the excellent selction of fresh herbs they have. It does not matter if you don’t have a clue what half of them are, or if you have no idea how to use them. The staff are only too excited to tell you what to do with them all.
I still have not figured out exactly what to do with the dried banana Flowers … I have made tea with them and it was alright … and I pulverised a few and added them to Banana muffins … they were ok … but surely there is something more we can do with this, right?
Anyway, incase you are not tempted by all the fresh herbs and dried flowers, you need to pop in to buy a rice cooker. They have them for only twenty euros – now that is a bargain … and they have gobs of rice to choose from.
They also have a few other items that one might wonder about ….
Whatever Asian flavour you are craving .. this is the shop for you.
One last thing ….. during these times of belt tightening and in the lead up to Christmas, a little bit of mulah goes a very long way in this shop. I think a gift certificate for students (ahem) would be a well recieved gift, as would a basket filled with their excellent Ramen noodle or Pho soup packages. They are so good, there is little need to order from the Take-away on a Friday night.
Up next …. McCambridges .. so stay tuned!
This week, I earned a very important piece of paper.
I graduated with an honours degree in English, German and Creative Writing.
After the year I have had, I am honest-to-god delighted to have graduated at all. If you have no idea what I am talking about … then read this article here.
My Mum, Catherine, also earned it as she has been talking care of the ‘homework and school side of things’ for our four children for the last four years. She has also carved out an inordinate amount of time to just being ‘Granny’ to them and ‘Mammy’ to me.
I love you Mum.
Husband and best friend of mine, aka the Chef, should not be left out either. He is still cooking up a storm and taking excellent care of our little family – and the feathered flock too.
I can’t imagine that my smile could be so smiley …
I feel … educated. I also feel exhausted and am still worried about that pile of laundry that just never seems to stop growing.
After the conferring ceremony had finished, Mum, the Chef and I, with my cousin Jamie (who took the photos) all went to Kai Cafe for a quick bite of lunch. We rarely get to do this without the children … so this was a nice treat.
We were greeted with Quince Bellinis … if you have never had one … then go get one right now.
I have not said it enough … but there is fierce comfort in going to a cafe where you just know every bite will be perfect .. everytime.
After the festivities had died down, I made a few important stops to see my BFF’s for a few photos ‘in cap n’ gown’ and then paid a visit to my Dad who has been laying low for 13 years now.
Those that state it it gets easier as time goes by are big fat liars. I have never cried so many tears. It is not like I have been a big loser my whole life or anything. I never questioned whether or not Dad was ever proud of me. I just hate that he is not here to see me kinda-sorta get my shit together.
And then the mucksters got home from school … and all hell broke loose.
Things are going well here in Galway. I decided at the very very last minute to take on ONE FINAL year of college and have jumped in with both feet to the MA class of Journalism.
This is a 12 month course so there will be one more graduation next year before I get back into the world of ‘all work and no play’.
One of my first radio broadcasting assignments aired last week on Flirt.fm (101.3 fm).
I titled it ‘Life as a mature student’.
It is ten minutes long. Have a listen.
Thanks for all the love and support over the last four years guys n’ dolls.
I could not have kept sane without my blog and all my buddies.
The Kings Head
Sometimes … it takes me an age to get around to blogging about a place I love. I could pull several different and unique excises out of my hat to lay on this one … but the truth is I am just buried alive.
Late in August I took the boldest and bravest decision yet, and signed up for the MA in Journalism at NUIG. I am knee deep in the 1st semester and loving it. I have had to shift gears completely and am writing about news and politics and all kids of interesting and different topics.
I miss writing about food though. And I miss y’all.
I was flicking through my images last night and found these photos and it reminded me that I had never told you how much I love this pub. Not only do I love it … the Chef loves it too … and the kids …
They really love it …………
And shur what is not to love? The Kings Head is a family-run business that has been under the ownership of Paul and Mary Grealish for over 20 years now. They also own the beautiful …. and a bit posher …. Malt House restaurant next door. Their chefs have been with them for 15 + years. They run a tight ship.
They dip their crab claws in melted butter with hot fresh chilie slivers.
These – are to die for.
A variety of daily specials always on the menu and never will dissappoint.
Something we love (during the summer months) is the grilled Lobster with drawn butter and thick steak cut chips.
But it is the mussels that bring me back everytime. A massive bucket to share for the table so the kids can get stuck in.
Graduation season is upon us and I have a special blog post lined up for next week – so stick around.
In the meantime, if you know anyone that is graduating in Galway, why not meet them for a pint at The Kings Head?
This is the week the children go back to school after a long family-fun filled summer holiday. Eight long weeks ..fishing, swim lessons, sea side scampering …followed by lazy evenings lounging on their trampoline. They have it made in the shade…
As we ramp up for their first day back to school, on Thursday, we set aside a small bit of time to make and bake a few of their favourite treats … easing them back into their routine of early mornings.
If you have ever read any of my blog posts you will know that there is something wrong … there is no such thing as easing them back into early mornings … it will be total and utter chaos. Lunchbox lids will fly, I will be roaring and shouting like a lunatic and the kids will resist, with all their might, dragging their pre-teen butts out of bed. But … we still want them to get off to a happy start on their first day back to school … so we will play nice.
This recipe, I can now make with my eyes closed. I use rhubarb in the spring, strawberries in the summer and my favourite, now, blackberries for autumn.
- 250 ml sour cream
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 160 g coconut oil (or butter)
- 100 g raw cane sugar
- 300 g honey
- Zest of one orange (reserve juice for frosting)
- 3 eggs
- 400 g blackberries (washed and left to drain)
- 1 Tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
- 380 g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Using your stand mixer, mix the coconut oil, the sugar and the honey together. Add in the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix the bread soda with the sour cream and leave it to do its thing for a few minutes. Once you see it start to bubble, set it aside for a minute or two. Add the eggs to the sugar mixture, still mixing slowly. Add the orange zest and then the sour cream.
- Remove the mixture from the stand mixer and add flour to the batter, making sure you get all the flour well incorporated into the mix.
- Toss the blackberries in a bowl with the cornflour then add them into the cake batter using a large spoon taking care not to bruise the fruit too much.
- Line two greased 5″ x 8″ pans, or a few smaller ones, if you are planning on sharing with your friends and family, with baking/parchment paper. Pour the cake batter evenly into the cake pans and place in the pre-heated oven (175ºC) for 45 minutes. The cakes will rise up nicely. Do not open the door to have a look at them – as they might flop. Once the time has passed – remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes in the cake pan, then transfer to a wire rack. Best eaten same day but works deliciously well as a sharing cake for the office the next day too. I highly recommend the frosting below too .. and garnish with a few blackberries.
Blackberries are in season. Get out … start picking them (they are free after all) and most importantly, preserve the last delicious drop of summer. We freeze them in little sandwich bags. Perfect for quick tea cakes and pies in the depths of winter. I also like to make hot toddies with them. That recipe will come in a few weeks.
Thanks for reading along as always .. I am as stressed as a bag of cats this week with a lot of big changes happening here on the home front … and I am in major need of a few virtual hugs … anyone?
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
Wise (or maybe not so much this week) Móna
I know. You are getting ready to send your kid out the door and off to college in a week or two, and it has just dawned on you that they know absolutely nothing about living on their own.
Your years of caring for them, and your parenting efforts, have been minimised into the space of about 30 minutes (or less) and you are becoming increasingly aware of all the stuff that little Johnny or Mary are not able to do for themselves. No point in blaming yourself (or your spouse) for all your grievous errors. Best to just pack them off to college – throw them in at the deep end – let them sink or swim, like.
They’ll be grand.
OR MAYBE THEY WILL NOT!
Here’s the thing. I have just completed a four year undergraduate degree at NUIG. Granted, as a mature student, I had my wits about me, for the most part. One of the things I kept close tabs on whilst on campus, was how the younger students behaved. I figured I would be able to tweak my own parenting skills by watching the, sometimes scary, state of incoming first years.
You know the kids I am talking about. The girls all fake-tanned and Ugged up, worrying more about how they look, than on which classes they should take and the lads that are positively excited about not having to take a shower more than once a week (on Sunday nights because Mammy says he has too). These same kids, standing in long lines at the canteen waiting to pay (with your heard earned money) for a plate of greasy chips, will be up in the sick bay by mid-October looking for the fastest flu-shot or antibiotic going because they (who never missed a day of school in their life) are dying. Really dying. They have never been so sick.
Now, they might be just hungover, especially if they are like most normal students breaking away from the clutches of home for the first time, but the harsher reality is that they are probably at the start of a nutritional deficiency that is only going to get worse unless you give them a few last minute culinary tips. That plate of chips (for lunch or supper) will not sustain or nourish them for 4 years – but they are cheap and tasty, so the kids will keep eating them.
It is not too late to give them a quick lesson in the kitchen.
Why not start with the basics. Lets look at one of my favourite cupboard items – a bag of jumbo oats, costing around €2.75 per kg at the local grocery store. I reckon a savvy student can get at least 8 portions out of this bag and adding in a few other raw ingredients they will be loaded and ready to take on their day classes and evening study sessions.
I know … they won’t eat porridge, right? Well, if you explain that learning how to use Oats (a hugely versatile and affordable product) will give them more drinking money, then I am sure that will get their attention. And don’t hate me for reminding you that students are spending your hard earned money on beer and booze. It is what most of them do. It is our job to make sure they have a somewhat healthful diet … so all that alcohol does not wreck their stomachs.
Toasty Oaty Breakfast
80 g jumbo oats (toast in a non-stick pan for a few minutes until they turn light brown in colour)
240 ml water
Pinch of salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp butter
1 tbsp fruit preserve
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
50 g almonds/hazelnuts (optional)
60 ml milk (full fat)
How to make it
Bring water to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt (this will sweeten the breakfast oats). Stir in the oats when the water comes to a rolling boil and reduce heat to medium. Keep stirring for 7 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Place oats in a bowl then add sugar, fruit preserve, butter and vanilla. Mix with a spoon. Add nuts and a splash of milk if desired.
Now that they know how to make a well balanced, hot, nutritious and delicious meal to start and keep their engines running, they will be more likely to drag their butts out of bed and get to class. Encourage
nag them constantly about the importance of class attendance and participation.
For their first year, there is room to skip one or two classes. By second year they need to bring their A game and show up for every lecture. Third year is a confusing year for those that go abroad on Erasmus because they have no rules, in class or from the home front, so just bury your head a hope for the best.
FINAL YEAR is the most important. Up until last year (2012/2013) students were allowed to pull their final degree grades from second and final year results, enabling many to have a higher mark than expected, if they worked hard throughout their college careers.
This is no longer possible.Now, all final results for their overall degree comes solely from their final year exam results. If your student has worked hard, attended and participated in classes, and handed in their assignments on time, then their lecturers might have some say in helping them squeeze an extra mark or two in their favour if their results are not so favourable.
So what can you do to help?
Their first essay (1500 words) will be due in or around halloween. This will be the week that they experience a massive amount of stress.
Tell them to break it down into a game of numbers just like this :
Introduction ………………. 200 words
Make the statement of what you are going to discuss making sure you have answered the question.
Paragraph 1 ………………. 350 words
Paragraph 2 ……………… 350 words
Paragraph 3 ……………… 350 words
Conclusion ……………….. 200 words
Wrap it up re-affirming that you have answered the question.
Total 1450 words .. they give a 10% leeway on the word count.
This may seem trivial now, but they will thank you for this advice when the time comes.
Whatever happens, tell them not to panic and just to get it in on time. Once you go down the road of asking for extensions on assignments (especially in first year) … it never ends well.
Now, back to the cooking lesson.
Part of an essential piece of kitchen kit is a non-stick pan and rubber spatula. If they hand wash the pan and only use the silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, the teflon will stay in great shape for their four years of college.
Still using the jumbo oats, why not teach them how to make a savoury (vegetarian) dish that they can soup up with a bit of meat or fish when the craving hits and the budget allows.
(Veggie) Toasty Oats
80 g jumbo oats
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
100 g frozen peas
100 g fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cube (chicken) veggie stock
240 ml boiling water
1 tsp black pepper
50 g parmesan cheese (optional)
How to make it
Dissolve the (chicken) stock cube in the 240 ml water and set aside.
Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil and butter for 7 minutes on medium heat.
Add black pepper then stir in the uncooked oat into the onions and garlic.
Turn the heat up and continue to cook until the oats turn brown.
Pour the veggie or (chicken) stock liquid into the pan and allow to simmer (medium heat) for 5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated.
Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
Add frozen peas and stir well into the oats.
Add chopped tomatoes and grate a little parmesan cheese on top to finish.
Teaching the younger generation about eating a balanced diet is sadly coupled with teaching them about budgeting their money for their meals and entertainment. These young students have massive amounts of stress to wade through during their first year and sadly, nutrition is rarely at the forefront of their daily chat at Starbucks. The canteen offerings are quite costly and, for the most part, serve massive amounts of overly processed foods. Thankfully, most on-campus medical clinics are still free for students but I think it is always better to take preventative measures when it comes to staying healthy and fired up for all the learning they have to do. There will be a few more back to school recipes in The Sunday Times this week (August 25th).
Make a batch of these cranberry oatmeal squares (below) for your teenager to snack on while they are studying. They will thank you later in life by constantly asking you to bake a batch for them.
If your student is coming to Galway to study, then you might be looking for a place to stay when you come to visit them. You might even wonder where to have a bite or two when you are here.
This is my cheat sheet for y’all :
A nice place to stay : Corrib Townhouse
A nice place to eat : Kai Cafe
Irish music fix : The Crane Bar
College is hard. Really bloody hard. Keep open lines of communication with your teen even if you are exhausted from raising them. Every year students take their own lives because they cannot handle the pressure – that college is. From the minute they enter into the world of academia, they are faced with the reality of failing. It is a fear that is laid on thick and follows you to the finish line. For many it can be frightfully debilitating. Be there for your child. All they way.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
PS – thanks for ALL the emails and FB messages about the Blog Awards Ireland 2013. As you know, I won three categories and overall best blogger last year (2012) but have decided not to participate this year, in order to give others a chance to share in the limelight. Although I am sad to not be part of the mix this year, I will be judging … so starting tightening up your P’s and Q’s. I will be watching and reading years worth of blog posts over the next few months. If you are interested in becoming a judge, and you should if you like to read blogs, or are indeed a blogger yourself, then please sign up on the Blog Awards 2013 website.
Logo designed by Ray McDonnell at www.LinkAssociates.ie
It’s not often that we can all get together and have dinner. Many of our food industry friends work nights and weekends. Many of us have kids, big or small, making it hard to bring them, or break away from them.
Sometimes we make plans to meet and eat, and have to change the date several times before we can all actually just find one day, in the middle of the summer that works for everyone, ven the pregnant lady that was a week past due.
And boy when it happens … it is always worth the wait.
The Big Green Egg said to stir up almost religious levels of devotion among owners was fired up at 9:00pm the night before, for the larger pieces of Pork (shoulder and collar) and the slow and steady watching of cool coals began. Maintaining a temperature that needs to hold at 200 celsius all night long, and for most of the next day, is not for the faint of heart. One would need to be up checking and replenishing the lump charcoal every two hours, and by the time the Pork is ready for pulling and eating, you might be ready for bed.
Unless of course you are a chef and BBQ’ing is in your blood. Luckily for me … this is right up our alley.
And when I say our, I do of course mean my husbands alley. I slept soundly thank you very much.
If you have decided that you are ready to get serious about Bar-be-cue, and want to learn how to cook a beautiful shoulder of pork to make pulled pork sandwiches for your end of summer BBQ … then I would start doing your research right here. We have not found a better source on the internet for technique and recipes AND he is sassy as all get out too. Gotta love a guy who writes with attitude.
Once you are up and running and have pulled off a few decent parties with your pulled pork, then you should buy this book because it is one of the best BBQ’ books ever.
I have book envy every time I pick it up, or even walk by it in the kitchen. It leers at me from across the room sneering ‘you will never write a book as excellent as me‘ …..
It does! I hear it! Daily. MAYBE it is the bright orange coat it wears, or maybe it is the fantastic block print used.
It has me vexed. Buy the book. You will love it too.
Tying up the pork, after rubbing it down with your spice rub, is important; It is not, however, essential. We tied up one piece and left two untied and none of them fell apart but were all cooked to perfection.
For the spice rub we use a mixture of old bay seasoning, chilli powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and what ever else we find laying around on the day.
We only use a dry rub, and make sure that the meat has come to room temperature before placing it on the grill, where the flame has died down and there are only silver coals glowing, no flames.
Having a trusty assistant to help
because she did not want to go to bed is always nice.
We use this guys guidelines for pulled pork every time. If it ain’t broke – then don’t fix it.
We figure about 250 g of pork per person and it takes 1.5 hours (at 200 celsius – low n’ slow) per 450 g of meat.
You need to purchase an internal thermometer if you do not already have one. You also need to figure out how to throw a party the next day if you have to get up every two hours in the middle of the night to feed your fire.
Timing is important. Ours finished up about one hour sooner than our guests arrived so we had to wrap it in foil and hold it in a water bath in the oven with the hopes it would not dry out.
We did not eat straight away, as a few of our guests ran late (understandably so – they were serving record breaking numbers at sunday brunch at their restaurant!) … the chef was sweating it.
We decided to have a drink and relax …
My brother is here visiting for a week, and knowing we are whisky fans, he brought us a delicious bottle to share with our friends.
My cocktail making skills were not needed on this occasion, although I did make a few fresh cherry manhattans for myself and one of my BFF’s (who baked her heart out and brought all the desserts for the party) as the men all chose to drink it straight up with a few cubes of ice. Worth looking for if you like your American whiskies.
While we were waiting, another one of our pals from this excellent cafe in Castlebar, cooked for us; A rare treat, I assure you. He came boldly into our kitchen carrying a massive tub of Cuinneog Sour Cream (you know the buttermilk people?) This new product is not yet on the market and I have to tell you that there is nothing like it. Not anywhere in the world, and we have traveled far and wide, have we come across such a buttery sour cream. Forget the spuds, which we did have it on and boy were they fabulous, this cream needs to be on scones. Goodbye clotted cream.
Of course, and because I am the hostess with the mostess, we made sure to have several other libations on hand for our guest to quench their thirst. Peter Boland, from Cases Wine Warehouse, toted along several excellent wines in the hopes that he would get some honest feedback on which types of wine might be best suited to BBQ’d meats.
His re-cap and list of suggestions is right here and most certainly worth your time if you are planning on hosting a BBQ before summer fizzles out. On a side note, the stellar find of the evening was a beer we sampled, given to us a few weeks ago by our friends from OldFarm Pork. It is called Bo Bristle (we tried the Amber Ale) and it is from County Offaly. Check out their website here and if you are coming to visit me … bring me some, as it is still not available in the West and I am thirsty for more!
By the time everyone had arrived … we were all more than ready for supper. The kids had their picnic blanket set up outside and at the last minute had to relocate to the bike shed due to a deluge of a downpour that had been threatening all day. Not to worry … haven’t we had a lovely stretch of three weeks with all that sunshine. We needed the rain.
Ok – back to the pork … which had been holding in the oven for two hours longer than it needed to be.
It pulled apart perfectly.
It was served on buttery baps that the chef had made the day before, a spicy kimchi coleslaw, loaded baked potato skins, an heirloom tomato salad and a few other dishes I neglected to take photos of, but I assure you .. were as beautiful as they sound.
Desserts were made lovingly by our friend Anne Marie and there is no doubt in my mind that this woman should open her own bakery. She seems happiest when she is watching people gorge themselves on her gorgeous creations.
They actually looked too good to eat.
By the end of the evening … everyone drove back to their respective homes all happy and well fed. They got a lesson in pork-pulling and we had a wonderful afternoon sampling all their beautiful side dishes, desserts, wines and beers.
Making time …and it is not easy, to gather together with friends and family, is so important. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all that goes into the planning and production of a good party and I can’t recommend the pot-luck style party enough to you. As the host, you cook the meat and advise the guests on items to bring to share. In this case, advice was not needed and there was, at one point, a worry that the side dishes would all outshine the pork … but hey … wouldn’t that make for a great party too?
On that note … go forth and plan your end of summer bar-be-cue.
Do the reading and research required and figure out your schedule on how to keep the coals burning through the night and still be able to catch 40 winks.
On a side note, and if you already are the king of your BBQ world, which book or website do you turn to for your BBQ advice? I’d love to know.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,
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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You might as well just come visit.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS