Archive for September, 2008

Farm Life

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Bridget O’Dea who is another vendor at the Kilrush Market. Brid leaves in a stone cottage with a big open fire, with her 2  children, Frank and Fina and her partner PD in Creegh. As it was a spectacularly gorgeous day I drove down the coast taking in all of colors that makes Ireland shine on a sunny day. The fields are their characteristic 40 shades of green and the sea was a calm blue. Even the cows and sheep looked happy to be drying out.  Brid has 4 gardens and 1 tunnel and I left loaded up with organic rainbow chard and tomatoes for dinner.  We took a walk down to the O’Dea family home which is still a thatched roof cottage with no running water, along side a stream in a shaded lane. I got a real feeling of autumn. There are 3 old oak trees on the proprty, which is very rare in Ireland. They have to be several hundred years old.          They have 2 new donkeys, one is a few weeks and the other is a 5 day old black female. I have only looked at donkeys from the other side of a fence so it was a real treat to get up close and touch the little ones. They are absolutely gorgeous and their coat is as soft as you can imagine. Brid said that when the female was born the adult females gathered around and bellowed, sniffed and then walked away to leave mother and foal in peace.  Donkeys are communal animals and the little ones were rubbing up against all of the adults who would playfully nudge them. They also have chickens, geese, goats, sheep, horses and of course cats and a resident sheepdog.  We had a good coffee with hot goat’s mik from the mornings milking. Her partner was busy with the WOOFERS (workers on organic farms) clearing the fields of hay. They take in Woofers from all over the world, and in exchange for work, house them and give them food to cook during their growing season.           On the way back I stopped at the Liscannor Rock Shop, and restocked Coming Home To Cook. Another store that sells it from the front counter – this time in the tearooms.    For an update on my demos that are coming up see demos and events and for the 3 radio programs I will be on this week see Radio and Print. Slan, Mary

Clare Harvest Banquet

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

The 1st Annual Clare Harvest Banquet was a huge success. I joined Head Chef Jim O’Brien from Kinsale and my friend Pete from Connemara and together with a pastry chef and volunteers we created a spectacular feast for 300 guests from only foods grown and produced in Co. Clare. My recipe for the vegetarian entree of Stuffed Cabbage leaves is filed under Recipes. Enjoy!

stuffed cabbage with sea grass and goat cheese

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

For the Clare Banquet I used Greyhound cabbage. It gets it’s name because the shape is similar to a greyhounds head. It is softer and whiter than the typical green cabbage commonly grown here (like the one on the cover of Coming Home To Cook.)  Either is good for this recipe. Since I could only use ingredients grown  in Co. Clare I stewed or steamed all the vegetables, no sauteing as there is no oil.

Steam 6 large cabbage leaves, set aside to cool

Dice the following and mix together:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  •  3 leeks, chopped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 cloves  2 cloves garlic, mined                                                                                                                                                   1 large courgette (zucchini) , chopped                                                                                                                          3 peeled carrots , chopped                                                                                                                                             2 stalks celery ,chopped                                                                                                                      10 runner beans (or any green bean) cut into 1/2 inch pieces                                                                                                                                                  In a heavy bottomed stock pot add all of the above veg to 2 cups of water or vegetable stock. Add sea salt, mix together and cook on low heat until vegetables begin to soften. Take off of the heat and set aside.                                                                                                                                                       Wash, dice and steam 6 waxy potatoes, set aside and cool.   When cooled, add to veg mixture.                                                                                                                                                                   Grate 2 cups of hard cheese – I used a mixture of Burren Gold with fennel and fenugreek.                                                                                                                                                     In a food processor put 2 eggs, 1/2 cup cream and 1 lb. of soft cheese. I used soft goat cheese but you can use farmers cheese or cream cheese, too.  Add sea salt and a mixture of chopped herbs, like thyme, oregano, dill andfennel.                                                                                                                    Here’s the fun part: I bought live sea grass from the winkle man in Kilrush. It was fresh when I bought it (2 weeks before I used it). The instructions were to watch it and when the shells opened, remove them.  They opened in 10 days and then it started drying out. On the day I used it, I soaked it in water, drained it and saved the water, which is a good thickener.   So, if you don’t live near a winkle man or can’t find sea grass (it’s seasonal) get dried sea weed and soak.                                                                                                                                                                           Boil 1 gallon of water . Immerse 12  ripe tomatoes.  The skins will begin to come off in less than a minute. Immerse immediately in a bowl of cold water and gently peel off skins.  In a stock pot cook the tomatoes, 2 cloves chopped garlic, a handful of chopped basil and sea salt. When the tomatoes are cooked down and soft, ,take off heat and puree in a food processor or blender.                               

Lay out the cabbage leaves , In the middle of the leaf spread a spoonful of soft goat cheese, top with a dollop of vegetable mixture.  Add a sprig of sea grass. Roll leaf  so that it folds together, keeping mixture tightly inside. Place in a casseroloe pan, that has been filled with  a 1/4 inch of tomato sauce.  Drizzle more sauce over leaves, top with grated hard cheee and bake for 30 minutes in a 180 (350) degree oven.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Books Ireland

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I’m thrilled that the September issue of Books Ireland  has a lovely review of Coming Home To Cook.  It was given a star for design and a check for fair value and 2 shamrocks for being printed in Ireland.  Here it is:

“A labour of love in more ways than one as Sheehan has not only written and published the book herself but she is also marketing it. She should have little trouble as cookery books are always popular especially when, like this one, they are well designed and produced and full of attractive photographs. Another topical attraction is that it consists of vegetarian recipes inspired by the work of the Organic Gardens of Ireland.  Sheehan was chef at the Dalton School in New York and now divides her time between County Clare and New Jersey. She provides mouth watering recipes for all occassions using a variety of fruits and vegetables. The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow and include soups, salads, breads and pastries as well as full meals. She intersperses the recipes with anecdotes and information which adds another dimnension to the text. Of course this will appeal to the dedicated vegetarian but even meat eaters will find the dishes inviting. ”

 

Indian Summer

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The rain seems to have abated, at least for the past few days and the forecast looks good. But, a lot of grain crops were lost this season which means a hard winter for many Irish farmers. The markets are still brimming with fresh vegetables and I have a few interesting cookery demos scheduled.  See demos and events.                                                                                                            Last week I took a much needed break and met Carolyn Evans in Rome. Carolyn is a good friend who did the brilliant layout for Coming Home To Cook.  It was great to see a friend from my other home , New Jersey!  We spent 4 days in very hot and sunny weather.  What can one say about Rome? It’s a fascinating city that I’m thrilled I visited, although we skimmed the surface, we covered a lot of ground in 4 days and met wonderful people.  We stayed at a lovely convent right across from Museo Vaticano for only 55 euro a night for the room.  Contact me if you want their info.    This week I have the 1st Annual Clare Harvest Banquet which takes place on friday night, Sept. 19, to work on and I recruited my friend Pete (of Pete and Emma) who is a Chef, to come help.  For info on the Banquet see demos and events.                                                                                               But, the most exciting thing I did this week was visit CaherConnell Fort in the Burren to see a dig.  A team of Archaeologists have unearthed  2 -10,000 year old human remains. These are the oldest human skeletons found in Ireland. Most of the remains are of a teenage girl and the other is possibly an infant. My friends, Kim and Fergal O’Shea are Archaelogists with TVAS Ireland. This is a major find and Kim’s picture, holding the skull, was in a dozen Europen newspapers. Kim gave me a detailed description of the chamber, the remains, the animal bones and tools that were excavated. It was fascinating and as we were standing on a slight incline overlooking the beautiful fields of the Burren on a gorgeous hot, sunny day it was hard not to wonder what life was like for Ireland’s first people.  go to     www.tvasireland.ie    for  pictures, news and updates.  Slan, Mary

Best Selling Cookery Book In Dingle!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

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On Sunday I headed for one of my favorite places in Ireland – the Dingle Peninsula.  On a visit in 2005 I reconnected with my cousin, James Curran and we became fast friends. James runs the pub/shop on Main st. that our Great Grandfather started and where our cousin Peig Sayers lived and worked. Her “Reflections of an Old Woman.’ was required reading in Irish schools for decades. My Grandmother, Annie Curran, is the little girl, Nan, in the book.  Walking into the pub/shop is walking back in time.  When I arrived, there was a sing song happening, highlighted by a fisherman with a beautiful, strong voice. My favorite was “Barr Na Sraide”, about the rebels of Cahersiveen, one of which was a Sheehan.  James is selling Coming Home To Cook which is displayed right on the counter.  He’s sold quite a few copies which makes it the only Pub in Ireland selling the book.   On monday I did my rounds to the other 6 locations in Dingle that are selling the book. Commodum on Main St. had sold out so I restocked and talked with Mary about doing a Vegetarian Cookery class in Dingle next winter.  Sean Brosnan at Leac a Re on the Quay had also sold out so I restocked.  I met Martin Bealin at Global Village Restaurant on Main St. who organizes the Dingle Food Festival www.dinglefood.ie which is held october 3-5. I will be doing a vegetarian cookery demo at 4:45 at St. James Church on Main St. and a book signing at the Dingle Bookshop.   But, the big news came at the Dingle Bookshop where Camilla checked her records and told me Coming Home To Cook is their best selling Cookery Book of the 2008 season! So, it’s exciting and appropriate that I’m doing my first official Book Signing there.  Join me!                            James and i love to take spontaneous road trips so when I finished my rounds we took off for Kenmare.  I restocked at The Kenmare Bookshop and McCarthy’s. As it turns out, Dolly McCarthy knew James uncle, Father John Gerald Curran, who was stationed in Eyeries in the 1960’s, so she was thrilled to meet him and told us many good stories.  As it was still early, we decided to drive out to Castletownbere on the Beara peninsula.  To say that is one of the prettiest and most dramatic landscapes in ireland is an understatement.  Everywhere you go in Ireland there’s a different landscape.  This one can’t be missed. The peninsula is a combination of lush little coves, fishing villages, majestic trees, barren hills, fields of 40 shades of green.  I loved Eyeries, 1/2 way out on the northern side.  It’s a beautiful little coastal village with beautiful, brightly colored houses.   The stars were shining over Dingle as we returned and we actually had a mostly sunny day!                                     Tuesday on my way back to Clare, I dropped a book off at  Radio Kerry and got  a call today from John Greene who will be interviewing me tomorrow (Sept. 4th) at 10:15 on the Morning Show.  John is from West Cork so I’m looking forward to this interview. you can get get it livestream at www.radiokerry.ie