Wise Kitchen

Jun 24 2014

Bog butter

Posted by     8 Comments    in Kitchen

Bog Butter

Dunmore residents give us the dish on an old delicacy

by Móna Wise

15 June 2014

(Originally published in the Connacht Tribune on Thursday 19th June 2014)

Dunmore Demesne golf club looked fabulous in all its summer glory as I wheeled my way through the Galway countryside last weekend.

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Larry McGuire and Anne Reddington, owners of Galway Goat Farm based just outside Dunmore, had made a recent discovery of Bog Butter and curiosity got the better of me. It was easy tempt me to make the hour long journey out from Galway city to see it, and even taste it.

Butter, it seems, is quite a common thing to find in the bogs of Ireland. Over 274 instances of bog butter has been recorded between 1817 to 1997, and several more since then. A recent find in 2011 of over 45 kg of bog butter found in Tullamore, County Offaly, thought to be 5,000 years old.

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A few weeks ago, when taking a walk down in the bog, Anne’s brother, Michael, happened upon this small wheel of butter and phoned his brother-in-law Larry, straight away. Larry, being familiar with all things dairy, due to the fact that he milks his goats daily, raced down the bog after them to check it out.

“They were gone ahead of me so I tore off in the van down the road after them. I had heard of other people finding butter in the bog, but was curious myself to see this. It looks like it had been wrapped in some kind of leaves, maybe cabbage, and there was lots of moss and maybe a bit of straw wrapped around it too.”

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The tradition of burying butter in the bog dates back centuries with their even being a poem by London poet, William Moffet, written (in 1755) to describe how much a part of every day life this was:

 

“But let his faith be good or bad,

He in his house great plenty had,

Of burnt oat-bread, and butter found,

With Garlic mixt, in boggy ground,

So strong, a dog, with help of wind,

By scenting out, with ease might find;

And this they count the bravest meat,

That hungry mortals e’er did eat.”

 

The reference to garlic comes from the fact that a lot of the butter might have been wrapped in wild garlic, it certainly grows a plenty in this part of the world, but this particular stash had a very mild scent and certainly no trace of garlic essence to be found.

 

“Gurteen, the area where we are now” said Larry, was predominantly poor land years ago, with not much around here except a massive oak forest. The area was hard hit by the famine, and due to there being so much bog land around here, there would have been very poor grazing land for cattle around here, so it is hard to tell why the butter ended up being stored right out here in the middle of the bog.”

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After Larry unearthed the butter, weighing more than a kilo, it was surprising to see how intact the butter still was. The texture crumbled easily enough like a dry waxy cheese, and although quite odourless, it had a mildly rancid flavour, something that can only be described best as ‘really old waxy unsalted cheese’.

 

While some forms of bog butter found are meat based made from tallow, it seems more plausible that this one is dairy based as the colour still leans more towards yellow.

Jack Wise. Age 9. Claregalway

Larry and Anne have a call in to the curator of the Galway Museum in the hopes that they might come out and have a look at it and help them identify a timeline for their find.

 

In days gone by butter was considered a luxury item, and it is really no different today as it is one of those items that carries an ever fluctuating price. In the past, because it was always deemed valuable, that reason alone made it worth hiding. As none of the butter found in recent times in Irish bogs have been known to have salt in them, the best conclusion we can come to is that this was buried, wrapped in leaves, moss and grass, in the bog as the only way of preserving it, pre-refrigeration days.

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The mystery as to why it was buried so far removed from any form of dwellings even ancient ruins, remains a mystery we hope the curator of the Galway museum can answer.

Rori Wise, Age 11. Claregalway.

One thing is certain though, preserving a fabulous food-find right here in Galway is vital to us finding and revealing a lot more of the gastronomic details of our ancestors daily diet.

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Who needs a fridge for butter with the bog nearby?

Our cultural landscape

There are many theories behind the burying of butter. A common tactic in war was destroying the enemies foodstuffs, ensuring a famine, so butter might have been buried for reasons of security and defence, so this find might indicate a sudden attack or flight of the people who stored it.

Another theory is just a practical farming one, in that the cattle were released to graze in greener pastures during the warmer months and the butter was made and stored nearby.

Why the bog?

Peat bogs provide a cold and wet environment with virtually no oxygen circulating in its muddy depths.

The build up of plant materials over thousands of years creates highly acidic conditions making it perfect to preserve many items including food and even bodies. Whilst we have butter in our bogs, many other countries have buried and re-discovered other food products such as eggs in China, ghee (clarified butter) in India, cheese in Italy and even milk in Norway.

Interesting details

A piece of bog butter found in Rosmoylan, County Roscommon, was discovered in wooden barrel with a selection of plants like ‘sedge’, ‘wheat grass’ and ‘hypnum’ a type of moss. All three of these types of plan materials were commonly used by people to stuff their mattresses for bedding, with the Latin word ‘hypnos’ even translating to the mean ‘sleep’. It is lovely to think of the Irish milking maids of days gone by wrapping up their wheels of butter and laying them down in the bogs for a nice long sleep in the bog.

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Thanks for reading – if you are in or around Galway this week, then keep an eye out for this weeks Connacht Tribune on Thursday 26th, 2014. I have a two-page spread on fun activities ALL FOR FREE ….. a cut out and stick on the fridge piece to help keep the kids occupied (and not break the bank) this summer!

WiseMóna

May 23 2014

Dare to dream

Posted by     10 Comments    in Kitchen

A couple of things popped up on my radar this week worth sharing.

The first was the details of an informal chat I had with someone at our local (Galway) enterprise office. They are tossing about the idea of building a shared kitchen facility for small producers. So I have a couple of questions for you and hope you will take a minute or two to respond as this feedback can really help drive this project.

You can copy/paste these questions and leave your answers in the comment section below or you can email the answers to me directly at MonaZWise@gmail.com.

1. Would you be interested in having access to a HSE approved, energy efficient, commercial kitchen on an hourly basis?

2. How much would you be willing to pay, per hour, for the use of such a facility (all inclusive electric, gas, etc.)

3.  How many hours per week would you need to use a facility like this in order to get your product prepped, cooked, packaged?

If you are a small producer and need a space like this (or if you know anyone that is in this boat) please take a minute to answer these three questions and I’ll add you to the list of those interested in this exciting idea. I know we would love to have access to a commerical kitchen from time to time and it can be the way to get a product idea out of the concept phase and into the production phase. So ..what are you waiting for?

And on that note…..and this pertains to Irish readers only … did you see the latest Food lovers competition launched on RTÉ?

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 Wowza….this one, seems to be open to just about anyone, novices to professional chefs alike, and it is one of those opportunities, if in the food biz, you’d have a hard time letting it slip by without due consideration.

Even if you are not working in the industry, but might have a knack with recipe and a desire to develop a product…this is your chance to take that dream of seeing your product on the shelves of your local supermarket!

Ideas are smoking hot here at Chez Wise …. and, as long as we are eligible, I’m pretty sure we will be throwing our names in the hat with a tasty and tempting treat produced right here in Galway with mostly all Irish ingredients.

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You can download the application form right here!

Apr 18 2014

Creative Cheese Works {Giveaway}

Posted by     22 Comments    in Kitchen


You are not going to believe me when I tell you that ‘Cheese making’ is incredibly easy.

cheese kit

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.

Homemade cheese

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 distracting cheese.

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!

Herbed cream cheese en croúte 3

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?

Rhubarb Cheesecake slice and whole

 

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?

Rasher Mac' n' cheese 1 small

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,

WiseMóna

 

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.

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Apr 16 2014

Achill Mountain Lamb

Posted by     No Comments    in Kitchen

Achill Lambs 3

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.

 

Achill Lambs 2

 

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.

Lamb delivery box

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:

Helen, how are you involved with this whole operation?
My parents own the business so it is fair to say I help out when required. I am concentrating on Achill Mountain Lamb at the moment as we are undergoing a process of expansion. I guess I have been roped in as I have skills from my MBA which complement those of my siblings and father. (It is also handy that I am on maternity leave from my “real” job!).
 
There has been a tremendous amount of interest in our unique artisan product of late so I have assisted with social media, press releases and photo calls as well as taking some shots myself (she took the ones of the lambs and her Dad).

   When it looks good raw .. you know you are in for a treat.

How is business? Fifty years is a long time to stay afloat – what’s your secret?

The key thing is my father’s passion for what he does. When he started in 1962 there were 23 other butchers/abattoirs on the island. Today he is the only licenced abattoir within a radius of 30 miles.  Back in the 60s he saw an opportunity to sell his Achill Lamb to the growing number of tourists on the island and butchered and handcrafted it so it would fit in the boot of their car. Today we see the grandchildren of the original customers returning for their own carcase so that they can savour the true taste and flavour of Achill.
 
Our farm is central to all other family business.
 
From this trade my parents opened a Restaurant in the 1960s which specialises in Achill Lamb. I guess rearing a family of 10 children was also a motivating factor to remain in business and be a successful businessman. Through the years he believed in his product and perfected it. He constantly re-invested, continually upgrading and complying with tougher and more stringent  EU regulations.
 
His flock is also central to the success of Achill Mountain Lamb. It is a pure Mayo Blackface Breed. It has been our tradition for many generations and we have never crossed it with any other breed. This type of sheep and lamb thrive on the unique Achill terrain.

Lamb Instagram

How does the taste differ from sea-spray lamb to say, a piece of lamb from the mid-lands?
We can thank Mother Nature for this. Achill is blessed with purity in its water, air and mountain. The prevailing wind on the Island  has travelled thousands of kilometers across the Atlantic and with it, it brings the sea mist and salt which is deposited on the mountains and sandy banks of Achill. This salt runs through the veins of each sheep and lamb. To produce a unique quality lamb product the flock must be treated with respect. The environment will influence this. Our Achill Lamb roam freely on the wild atlantic way and are just a short distance from our Abattoir. If a lamb is bred well and treated well on Achill, mother nature will take care of the rest.
 
Achill Mountain Lamb is raised solely on a natural diet of Mothers milk together with wild herbs, heathers, grasses, mosses and lichens. We breed our lambs to give high quality lean carcases, healthy pinky red in colour, firm deep texture, with light skim of yellowish fat ensuring a unique specific delicate succulent flavour when cooked.
 
Farm fresh and free from any additives,colourants or preservatives.

(I’m actually getting hungry just reading Helen’s response)

 

Wine (Shiraz) Instagram

 

Do you sell the lambs whole or do all the butchering yourself?
We sell the product bespoke as per customer requirements. We can handcraft the whole carcase or leave it whole or halved depending on the customers preference.
 
If someone wants to buy a whole lamb – can you give me wholesale prices  – we know a lot of restaurant owners/chefs who are always on the look out for a nice bit of (whole or) butchered meat. 
This would depend on time of year. Really our season begins mid-July . The lambs we have now are trade lambs due to their size ( All 2013 lambs not quiet a year yet). These lambs are over 20kg.T rade lambs need to be above 15kg. For this reason prices may vary.
Minimum prices for a carcase would be 150 euro. Obviously wholesale prices would depend on volume etc. We would be delighted to engage with any chef/restaurant that was interested.
Hopefully you will be recommending us :)

Oh – this was not a difficult one to feature on the blog Helen. What an excellent product.

Are you using a courier service? How much is a typical shipment cost for the island of Ireland?
We use a courier for Achill Mountain Lamb. We include this in the price of the carcase. Once the season begins a carcase delivered should be approx 99.00 euro. This will arrive packaged and ready for your freezer. The whole carcase will fit easily into a common 3 door freezer. Lambs for the household market are usually lighter than trade ones and weigh approx 12-15kg.
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Achill Lambs 1

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?

WiseMóna

Mar 25 2014

I need to know … am I wrong?

Posted by     49 Comments    in Kids, Kitchen

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.

CHORES.

 

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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 …

 

Sunrise

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.

Móna

Nov 9 2013

{Christmas Countdown – 7 Weeks to go} McCambridges of Galway

Posted by     No Comments    in Kitchen

McCambridge’s

38-39 Shop Street, Galway City, Ireland

Email :   retail@mccambridges.com

Phone :  091 562259   (International +35391 562259)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McCambridges

Twitter :    www.twitter.com/McCambridges38

 

McCambridges sunnyext

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 ..

McCambridges Wine

McCambridges Irish beer fridge

McCambridges Wine 2

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.

McCambridges upstairs nice light

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.

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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.

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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.

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For future reference .. the Malt Cake .. is like a bag of Maltesers (Malted Milk Balls for y’all stateside).

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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.

 

WiseMóna

Stay tuned …… up next The Malt House.

 

Nov 5 2013

{Christmas Countdown … 8 weeks to go} Asiatic Asian Food Store

Posted by     15 Comments    in Kitchen

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 Asian Food Store

Asiatic Manila Food Store,
25 Upper Abbeygate Street.,
Galway City, Ireland,
Co. Galway

Call: 00353-91-567967

asiatic_manila@yahoo.com

 Open daily – 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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They also have a few other items that one might wonder about ….

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Whatever Asian flavour you are craving .. this is the shop for you.

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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!

WiseMona

 

Oct 24 2013

Graduate … a weighted word that has a very simple meaning. Educated.

Posted by     42 Comments    in Kitchen

 

This week, I earned a very important piece of paper.

Degree

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.

MWMUM

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.

MWRLWMUM

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.

`MW JK

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.

KAI

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.

Jamie Food Blogger

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.

KaiLamb

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.

Dad

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.

Kids

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.

WiseMona

 

Oct 18 2013

{When in Galway} The Kings Head

Posted by     6 Comments    in Kitchen

The Kings Head

Galway, Ireland

www.TheKingsHead.ie

 

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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 …

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They really love it …………

Kings Head ham 2

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.

 

Kings Head chili crab 2

They dip their crab claws in melted butter with hot fresh chilie slivers.

These – are to die for.

 

Kings Head - fish of the day

 

A variety of daily specials always on the menu and never will dissappoint.

Lobster n' chips Kings Head

Something we love (during the summer months) is the grilled Lobster with drawn butter and thick steak cut chips.

 

Kings Head mussels

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?

 

WiseMona

 

 

Aug 27 2013

Blackberry Tea Cake

Posted by     27 Comments    in Kitchen

Blackberries

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.

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Blackberry Tea Cake

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

http://www.wisewords.ie/index.php/2013/08/blackberry-tea-cake/

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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

xx

About Móna
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
  • Contact Mona
Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

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