Mary Sheehan Coming Home To Cook

August 19, 2008


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June, 2009 Profile in Food and Wine – Irelands’ Food and Wine bible. see May 25the posting.

May/June 2009 Review by Kate O’Dwyer in Organic Matters Magazine – Ireland’s Organic Magazine. see May 26th posting.

I met Grainne Rogers, Editor of  “Irish Homes – Ireland’s Longest Established Interiors Magazine” at the Kilrush Farmers Market last summer. She bought a copy of Coming Home To Cook , loved it and has just printed a review in the Nov./Dec. 2008 issue. Here it is:

The author of the book, Mary Sheehan, was born in Massachusetts in to a big Irish Catholic family who originally hailed from Kerry and West Cork. Her grandmother was Annie Curran from Dingle, who was a relative of Peig Sayers and appears as “Nan” in the book that so many of us remember with fondness. Mary has been involved with food all her life, specialising in healthy, organic cuisine, and after her children flew the coop she decided to return to Ireland and reconnect with her roots. In the summer of 2007 she managed a vegetarian organic tearooms in the Burren, which was highly recommended in the Georgina Campbell Guide and now she has brough out this vegetarian cookbook. It’s a wonderful, simple manual of user friendly recipes peppered with stories of her ancestors and their now living descendants. There’s a great story of Mary’s great great Grandmother walking 50 miles to and from the butter market in Cork City twice a monthly. Along with this broad sense of history, the book reveals the vast landscape of Mary’s background with a recipe for chilled Gazpacho soup, inspired by the glut of plump tomatoes back home in New Jersey each summer, as well as one for Big Bold American Scones sitting alongside one for Traditional Irish Scones. Mary displays a fresh positivism and energy so often lacking in the Irish. She talks of being “mesmerised by the wildflowers, the rocks, the history that lives in every field and on every roadside” and enthuses about the wealth of organic vegetables and artisan products grown and produced here that are so vital to her recipes. Available at most book stores and health food shops or through Mary’s website

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. ”

I have received great reviews from the people who have bought my book at the Markets, a shop or been given it as a gift.  What makes them so special is that they have actually taken the time to, not only make a variety of recipes but emailed to give me their feedback. Here’s a sampling of my favorites:

Jennifer Anderson, New Hampshire, USA wrote: “I bought your book at the Doolin Market. I have just tried the Butternut Squash soup recipe from Coming Home To Cook. I absolutely love it! It is by far the best soup recipe I have tried. I am a vegetable farmer and a vegetarian and the addition of your book to our home is superb.”

Biddy Hederman of Rahona Roots Farm, Carrigaholt, Clare says” On Saturday night the boys went off fishing so my daughter Muireann and I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies from your book for a school fair on Monday. We made a double batch which was 4 trays. They were gone by the following evening! What we loved about them was the soft cenre and crunchy exterior and the coffe gives it an extra special flavour. The recipe was so easy to follow, we just loved them!”

Chris and Hillary from Rainbow Nursery and Gardens, Glenmore, Clare say:  “Bramble and Josie found the biscuits nutty and tasty. Lots of tail wagging and woofing!”

Tom Barry, Teacher and Vegetable Farmer,Ennistymon, Clare says: “I’m not a cook but I’m a vegetarian. If anything can tempt me to start cooking it will be the recipes from your book.” His son Dave says: “I love your pasta salad!”

Bridget O’Dea, Farmer, Moycullen, Clare says: “Those tofu patties are incredible. I never had tofu that I liked before. With the sesame sauce they are delicious!”

I asked Kate Carter to review the book as she has been a professional cook, like myself, for many years. And, she was the first person to buy it when she was on vacation in Clare. It was serendipity, we bonded immediately and had great craic. A lovely beginning to a great adventure. Thanks for this, Kate

“I met Mary earlier this year whilst on vacation in County Clare, Ireland. I am delighted to say that I was the first person to buy Coming Home To Cook, hot off the press! I was greatly inspired by Mary an her enthusiasm of healthy, organic food and as a keen cook myself I couldn’t wait to try out her lovely vegetarian recipes. The recipes are simple to follow and are mostly contained on one page with a useful coversion chart of weights and measures at the back.

This book is about healthy, hearty and beautiful food. There is a real mix of Irish fare with a twist of cosmopolitan flavours. The colour photographs work as a great backdrop to conjour up the feel of the land and the vibrancy of fresh local produce. Mary herself takes us on a personal and heart warming journey through her Irish American roots.

As an allotment owner I have has a lot of fun cooking with my own seaonal veg. The Spring Pea Soup with mint pistou was particularly delicious. Easy to prepare, with a stunning colour and rich textures and taste. I served this soup with Irish brown bread. The bread smells sweet and nutty with great flavour and a dense, chewy texture.

I’m a big fan of Mary’s ginger honey carrots and now serve them up at every opportunity. These are so easy to prepare. they come out sweet and glazed with delicate oriental flavours.

For light and healthy lunches I often turn to Hummus, which again, is such a simple dish to make. I love to add green salad and vegetable crudites.

At the moment, I am overwhelmed with courgettes, squash and beans and so I am using a lot of the soup and salad recipes.:Butternut Squash Soup with creme fraiche is a beautiful rich yellow with subtle spicey flavours of ginger, honey and nutmeg. Tomato Fennel Sup with courgettes is a rich and sweet tasting delight.  I am getting through the salad section quite well, too, as our first beetroots have been harvested. The Burren Roasted Beet Platter is absolutely delicious and a beautiful salad to present as an easy summer party dish. The Sweet Hot Tofu Salad is another simple and beautiful summer dish to make. I love the refreshing and contrasting flavours of lime, honey, garlic, mint and red pepper flakes.

I have tried the Mushroom Quiche and fresh dill, served with Red Potato Salad which is a classic combination.  The sweetness of the caramaelized onions goes superbly with a sweet and nutty cheese such as Gruyere, nothing could be simpler to prepare. this combination goes really well with a green crisp salad.

There are still so many delicious recipes to try  and I hope I can work my way through all of them! I am really looking forward to getting my first pumpkins and baking the Vegan Pumpkin Pie. My next adventure is to make the Apple and Cranberry Tart. I will report back and let you know how it went!”

Kim O’Shea, Director Elphene’s Coffee and Arts and Archaeologist, TVAS Ireland ltd.     “Delicious tofu patties! Really nice and the taste and texture reminds me of a good quality crab cake. Really, really good, congrats on a super recipe. They were great!”

John Lyon writes: A friend recently returned here to Los Angeles and kindly bought me a copy of your delightful book Coming Home to Cook.  I hail originally from Dunmore Co Galway and am a vegetarian and raising my son as a vegetarian also.
I grow food gardens for a living and also teach gardening in the public schools system.  There is a very real movement afoot here to engage children in ‘earth” issues and a group of us are very involved in that.
Thanks for creating this book and I will use some of the recipes in out school Kitchen Garden and Cookery class.
I took out my lawn here are started a winter garden last Nov.  The edible landscape as we call it here is also a new movement in Southern CA where we are encouraging people to remove lawns and use the space to grow food instead of water guzzling lawns..

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