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. ”
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
Imagine going into your garden and picking all the vegetables for your dinner. Well, that’s what I did at Tom Barry’s small holding outside of Ennistymon. Tom and Dorothy generously loaded the boot of my car with all of these vegetables, floury and waxy potatoes and gorgeous cabbage. So, whether it’s all organic and fresh from your garden or fresh from your Green Grocer this salad is a burst of late summer flavors and colours.
Barry’s Cole Slaw: gluten free
2 cups peeled carrots
2 cups cabbage
1/2 large raw beetroot
peel and dice 1large cucumber
peel, core and dice 2 cups apples
chop 1 Tablespoon of curly parsley and 1 Tablespoon fennel leaves
Mix all together, sprinkle with a little salt and fresh black pepper. Add enough green goddess dressing to coat. Refrigerate and let the flavors come together. Optional: 1/2 cup currants……..1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts.
It’s been an interesting 2 weeks since my last road trip from Athlone to Cavan. Coming Home to Cook is now in 150 locations. Jim Tynan at Jim’s Kitchen and Foodhall in Portlaoise www.kitchenfoodhall.com. has sold 11 books in a month, and says customers are very interested. Many other shops are reporting good sales. I’ve received a lot of great press – see Media section and I have a lot of cookery demos planned for the upcoming months – see demos and events. One of the highlights is the Clare Harvest Banquet on September 19. It is the first annual benefit of this kind in Clare and every single ingredient of this 4 course buffet will be from the banner county. I volunteered to make the vegetarian entree and I’m excited about producing something tasty and nutritious from only local ingredients for 300 people. 2 other events I’m participating in are the Seed Savers Apple Harvest Day www.Irishseedsavers.ie and The Dingle Food Festival www.dinglefood.com. It will be great to be down in Dingle with the cousins for that! I had a spectacular day on Inis Oirr last friday. As the weather this summer has been horrible, it is my one memory of a whole day of fun in the sun. Inis Oir is the smallest of the Aran Islands and has a unique feel to it. We visited Mairead Sharry, who is the kinitter, spinner and weaver at the Doolin Farmers Market and Crafts Fair. www.doolinmarket.blogspot.com. Mairead and her son run a tearooms in the family cottage overlooking the ocean, surrounded by old stone walls on this Irish speaking island just 30 minutes off the coast of Doolin. I had a great market in Doolin the next day. I served the Indian Potato Cauliflower soup, from the cookery book, to my menu and was sold out in a few hours. This week I will be making the Butternut Squash Soup and Apple Rhubarb Crisp (rhubarb and apples from Tom Barry’s farm) for the Doolin Market. This week I finally met Irene Lee, who is not only a disributor of Burren maps and books but owns a kiosk at the Cliffs of Moher. She took Coming Home to Cook for the Cliffs, now making the book available in all the major visitor spots in Clare. The Kilrush market is brimming with potatoes, cabbages, carrots, beetroot, onions, turnips, parsnips, broadbeans, hericot verts, fresh herbs and a lot more. Harvest time is the perfect opportunity for creating new recipes -see recipes for a delicious new salad and hurray for Irish Apples! Summer is over, the kids are going back to school and we’re all hoping for a sunny autumn!
This is a recipe that is similar to the one in Coming Home To Cook. I made this today at the Doolin Farmers Market Demo. As you see, most of the ingredients are local and seasonal. The fresher the better! I put an * next to the veggies from small West Clare Farmers. It is gluten and dairy free.
2 cups pineapple – chopped fine
1/2 cup sweet radish*
1/4 cup corgettes*
1/4 cup shallots*
2 Tbl. fresh garlic*
1/4 cup spring onions (scallions) *
1/2 cup tomatoes*
1/4 cup coriander*
1 Tbl. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 Tbl. red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
Chop all of the veggies into small pieces. Add to the pineapple. Mix with the lime juice, pepper flakes and salt. Refrigerate and let the flavors absorb.
Update on the seaweed bath: Magnificent! Although, I was squeamish at first,( was that something moving under there?) but after picking out a few snails, I quickly got very used to it and had to force myself to slither out of it as the water cooled down. Not only is it a great skin softener, it made me feel different in a way I can’t describe. What is it about the Irish elements that are so moving? The sea, the earth, the wind, even the soft rain have an intensity. I can’t wait for thursday! Thank you Paddy! If you stop coming to the market I may have to move to Dingle! Today was the Doolin Market and I gave a food demonstration. I made a Vegetarian entree and 2 side dishes from Coming Home To Cook. I cooked the Potato Quinoa Cakes and Maple Squash and let everyone try it with the fruit salsa. I used local, seasonal ingredients and bought grocery store items from the Supervalue in Ennistymon and some health food items from Meanwells Health Foods in Ennis. I cooked quinoa and showed people what it and spelt looks like raw, cooked and how it is used in the recipes. People sampled the 3 salad dressings, hummos, tofu patties and sesame sauce. At one point, there was a group of 25 people all intently listening and tasting. I had help from a delightful little girl, Aisling, whose mom, Kate is the Market’s Cheesemonger. Kate is working her way through the book, making all the recipes and Aisling was begging her to make the potato cakes tonight. I sold the book and I’m planning the menu for next weeks market, August 15. Go to my website www.marysheehan.com for a look at the entree I will be cooking, Tofu Cutlets with a Port Wine rosemary sauce. If you’re in the area, The Doolin Market at the Russell Community Centre is a really fun, lively place to be on saturday from 10-4. I will be giving the Demo at 1:00. Join in!
It was a good week for feeling the true essence of living in the Burren. I took a spectacular 6 hour hike in the Burren with 2 very special Dutch friends on Sunday. I couldn’t feel my legs on monday and then the pain set in. But, despite a huge bruise from falling on one of the thousands of ancient rocks it was a day I won’t ever forget. There’s no way to describe the Burren from the middle of it. There is a sense of total isolation, no people, no structures, only yourself, the rocks, wildflowers, a lone portal tomb, a bull in the meadow, wild goats grazing in the distance. Magic and history – it’s everywhere here. That wonderful day was preceded by a fun market at Doolin, a lovely session followed by a spontaneous sing song in the Roadside, and a walk at sunset to the deserted famine village on the sea in Fanore. Today presented me with another opportunity for immersing myself in nature “literally.” At the end of the Kilrush Market, the Dingle Fishermen presented me with 2 heaping bags of seaweed for “my bath.” Instructions: get the water as hot as possible, put both bags (yikes!) of seawood in the tub, let steep for 30 minutes, pour a glass of nice wine, light the candles, immerse herself and relax. I wanted to learn more about cooking with seaweeds this year but I guess this is a good way to start. Time to pour the wine.
Green Goddess Salad Dressing – gluten free
The markets are brimming with fresh green veggies of many kinds. Rocket is my favorite salad green. It’s tart and crisp and holds up to a thick dressing. I came up with this version of Green Goddess when a gardener friend gave me a handful of basil and I found just a little balsamic vinegar in the cupboard. It’s a little sweet with a bite of vinegar.
Makes 3 cups or 700ml.
In a blender combine until creamy:
1 cup chopped fresh basil or mint
1 1/2 Tbl. chopped red onion
2Tbl. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl. low fat sour cream
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
8 Tbl. plain yogurt
6 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbl. honey
Quick Conversion Chart: 1 Tbl. is 15 ml. 1/4 cup is 60 ml. 1 cup is 240 ml.
Today I sold at the Kilrush Market. It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve been there, as I was on the road. There’s 3 new vendors and it felt like the season, depite another rainy day, has finally kicked in. 2 of the vendors are from Dingle, the Dingle Pie Company whom I met at the Milltown, Kerry market and Paddy Mahoney and Martin Kennedy were selling fresh fish. Of course, they know my cousin James Curran very well, Martin was in James class and Paddy bought a cookbook and said he’s coming up to Lisdoon for the craic in September (matchmaking festival!) There was a great turnout, I sold a good number of books and caught up with everyone. Cora thinks that Coming Home To Cook must be the best selling book in Ireland because it’s in so many locations (now 134!). I got a lot of information on who to contact for local press and talked to the organizers about doing a food demo. I’m planning my demo for August 9th at the Doolin Market, a little cooking, a lot of tasting and “healthy eating information.” If you’re reading this and want to attend contact me so we’ll have an idea of the numbers. On the way back I checked the books in Milltown Malbay where it’s for sale at An Ghiolla Finn on Main St. Maureen runs a lovely ittle shop and I bought a new apron to wear at the demos. On to Lahinch and the sun started peeking through the clouds. It was high tide and the surfers were out in full force. Lahinch always feels like a summery town. The cookbook is in 3 locations – the Lahinch Bookshop, Kenny’s Woolen Shop and Lahinch Failte. By the time I got to the Liscannor Rock Shop the sun was shining and it was getting hot. This is a beautiful big shop filled with all kinds of rocks and crystals from around the world. The tearooms has the signed cookbook right on the front counter and they’re selling well. The manager said someone came in the other day and proudly said “I know the woman who wrote this book!” Brilliant! The drive up the coast road to Doolin is magnificent. If you’re driving in that direction get off at the sign for the Clare Jam Shop and follow that (very carefully) down to Fischer St. There’s a spectacular view of the Aran Islands and today every fiels had that amazing sparkling green fresh look to it. I caught a glimpse of horses on both sides of the road running together, a beautiful sight. The meaowsweet is in full bloom and the air in the Burren smells sweet. It gives new meaning to stopping to smell the flowers when you can experience these little pleasures while you’re working! Doolin is busy because it’s a bank holiday weekend and construction workers holidays for these 2 weeks. I stoped in at the Magnetic Music Cafe. Petr and Mary have a beautiful music venue, indoor/outdoor cafe with a big selection of Traditional Irish Music CD’s and great coffee. Later on, as I was prepping for the Ennis Market tomorrow, I looked out the window and saw a full rainbow. I grabbed the camera and saw that it was a full double rainbow that was not only clear but it’s colors were probably the most vibrant I’ve ever seen. As it’s the eve of the new moon I can only take this as a good omen – it’s the night to wish for new things and tomorrow is the first day of Autumn. Bring on that pot of gold!
Failte! This is my first posting. My intention is to keep friends, near and abroad, informed of what life is like in Ireland in the summer of 2008. I also want to use it as a kind of “message board” about my cookbook Coming Home To Cook and to post new recipes.
So, in this blog I will give you news of the farmers markets, my travels with the book, food demonstrations, book signings and any other good food news from the Emerald Isle. I’m trying out new recipes and will share those, too. I would love for you to share your experiences with the recipes you’ve tried. So, let’s start there. On Thursdays I sell at the Kilrush Market. I started last week with the cookbook and samples of the Quinoa salad and the hummos and sesame dressing. Everybody wanted to buy the samples! This week I went back with bottles of sesame dressing and honey mustard viniagrette and containers of quinoa and hummos. I sold quite a few. I did the same at the Ennis Market on Friday and the Doolin Market on Saturday. It seems like I’ve created a little niche for myself. The markets are a great way to get the word out about the book and generally good craic. The other vendors are warm and friendly and have been very helpful.
Biddy Hedderman from Carrigaholt sells gorgeous vegetables and plants. She bought the book and told me this, “Last saturday night the boys went off fishing and my daughter Muireann and I baked the chocolate chip cookies. We made a double batch which was 4 trays. They were for a bake sale on Tuesday but were gone by Sunday! What I liked about them was the moist, soft center with the crunchy outside and the recipe was so easy to follow.” I’m off to Cork tomorrow to promote and sell it in the “home” county so I’ll let you know how they like the Sheehan cookbook and Ballyvourney stories with the Carriganima farmer on the cover. Slan, Mary