Mary Sheehan Coming Home To Cook

June 23, 2011


Filed under: home base — admin @ 1:11 pm
dropI get a lot of opportunities, through work and play, to converse with the many visitors who are drawn to North Clare, for the world famous traditional music in Doolin or the lore of the magic in the Burren. Americans, particularly those of Irish descent, are always curious as to how I can live and work here. My grandparents left Cork and Kerry in 1907 and through them, I received my Irish citizenship in 2005.   But, as I always tell people, if you can live here, why not? It’s an amazing corner of the world, unique in it’s natural beauty, history and culture.


One of my favorite drives is  up the spectacular coast road through Fanore to the Khyber Pass. The crystal clear Caher River  gently spills over little waterfalls as it cut the limestone canyon, now dotted with colorful Burren wildflowers. Further upstream, The Caher Bridge Garden is nestled into a little spot by a 19th century bridge.



 Imagine transforming a rock landscape, covered with black thorn trees, and brambles into a lush acre of flowers and plants. Bringing in 1,000 tons of topsoil, moving the rocks to build the dry stone walls and a vision in building an oasis that compliments and respects the surrounding landscape is extraordinarily hard work. I was getting tired thinking of it! ball

redBut, listening to Carl Wright’s  story of renovating his 200 year old stone cottage and then designing and working on the gardens was so inspiring that I was awestruck as we followed him into a wonderland of color and scents.  It has taken him 12 years to create his masterpiece and it’s still a work in progress. Many of the plants are native to Ireland, as are the yellow water lillies and a rare river grass that is only found in 3 places in the world. Orchids of all colors grow as weeds scattered throughout the many terraces. In early spring this is home to the largest collection of snowdrops in Ireland. Native Ash, Hawthorne and Holly trees are not only used as borders but as living sculptures. As you look through the limbs of a knarled, rambling Ash you view the neighboring limestone plateau that shelters this little bit of paradise from the mighty gales coming off the Atlantic. A beautiful, natural sculpture, perfectly placed.

 As I was leaving through the rose covered gate I thought that of all the gardens I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and this is one of the finest. Wait, was that a  fairy scurrying through the ferns?!  Again I ask,  if you can live here, why not? Indeed!                                                                       rose-cropped

June 17, 2011

Catch the bubble!

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Ah, to be this free on a summer’s day in the woods. Chasing bubbles, splashing in the swimming hole, catching fireflies and singing by the campfire. Summer is here, or was on my recent visit to the US.

 Back in Ireland and I’m sitting here in a flannel shirt and quilted vest by the fire, listening to a dismall weather forecast.  Like they say, “you don’t come to ireland for the weather!”  But, no bother, for now the sun is shining and I’m happy to be back in this country of amazing and breathtaking beauty. This morning a gorgeous pheasant flew by the window and a new born donkey came to say hello last night, drawn in by the light  in the window. The garden is sprouting new veg. every day and it’s time for creating some summer delectables to share with you. For now it’s off to the Farmers Markets to gather some ingredients for dinner. On Fridays there’s Ennis in Clare and Kinvara in Galway and on Saturdays, there’s the Doolin and Ennistymon markets. All offer a wide variety of fresh local produce, veg.,fish, meats and even handcrafts. check out for what’s going on this weekend. Up the Banner!

May 19, 2011

Have you ever heard music in water?

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The Burren in bloom is a rare treat if you are lucky enough to find yourself  in this unique limestone landscape any time of year. But, from April to June it is especially enchanting.  I was happy to bring a few American friends to a limestone plateau at the base of a fog shrouded mountain that are now carpeted with rare flowers of fogpurple, pink, yellow and blue. As we wandered from rock to rock with the  call of the cuckoo as our guide, I thought of a how the inspiration for the tunes of the traditional music we heard in the pub the night before come from the land, the water, the history and  antiquity of the land.  I thought of someone who recently told me she heard the strains  of a uillean pipe coming from a Burren stream traveling to the sea.  Poetry in motion. Life in Ireland. bloody

May 10, 2011

Ah, Wild Garlic

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 1:41 pm


It’s that time of year in Ireland to get busy foraging for wild edibles.  The hedgerows, stream beds and coastlines are full of delicious herbs, berries, seaweeds, flowers, and nutritious plants all for the taking. I recently made dandellion syrup and wild gartlic pesto. Rhubarb  and elderflower cordials are next on the menu!  The wild garlic, which can be found mainly in damp areas such as low lying stream beds, is a particular favorite. Substituting the wild garlic for the basil and garlic cloves from my vegetarian cookbook Coming Home To Cook made a subtle yet pungent sauce for a nice organic pasta dish. And, use the delicate white flowers as a garnish for a colorful salad.   Take a quart of wild garlic leaves, pulse in a food processor with 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1 cup of really good olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and crushed black pepper. Add a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and blend until smooth. Enjoy!wild-garlic2

April 27, 2011

Oh Yum!

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 11:25 am


Sometimes you just get it right!  This morning I started out trying a new recipe (risky as I’m cooking for 40 people and on a time frame).  I tried a  bread recipe that I thought would go with black bean soup. However, after I mixed and blended all the ingredients I realized it was too sweet for a luncheon bread so I poured  it into a 10″ round spring form pan and turned it into a coffee glazed spice cake. The subtle flavors of the spices, the pop of the cumin seed combined with the not too sweet coffee glaze are scrumptuous, and it’s vegan!   It even prompted a round of applause from the lovely group here at the Bog.  So, go ahead and be adventurous, you won’t regret it!


2 1/2 CUPS WHITE SPELT FLOUR                                                                                                                                                                                               1/2 cup dark brown sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda//////1 tsp. baking powder                                                                                                                                                                1 tsp. ground cinnamon////1/2 tsp. ground cloves////1/2 tsp. ground coriander/////1 1/2 tsp. cumin seed                           1 1/2 cups soy milk                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1/2 cup apple pear spread or prune butter                                                                                                                                                                           2 Tbl. good vegetable oil

Grease a 10″ spring form pan. Heat oven to 180c or 350F.  Stir all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly add wet ingredients until all is well blended. pour into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack, remove from pan and glaze.

Coffee Icing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               2 cup icing (powdered) sugar                                                                                                                                                                                                       1 Tbl. soy spread                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       3 Tbl.strong coffee                                                                                                                                                                                                                               mix all together to form a smooth glaze. optional: 2 Tbl. cocoa powder                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

April 21, 2011

Burren in Bloom

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Spring is here (or is it summer?) hmm… The ” official” word is that the freezing cold of last winter, coupled with the warm days of March and April have done wonders for the spring  foliage in Ireland. The spring gentians are bluer than ever and the Black Thorn Flowers are blinding! A bumper crop of sloe berries will make for a merry sloe gin bonanza next Christmas. But for now, we’re just enjoying the warm sunny days and cool nights of a very special time of year in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.  Happy Easter!


April 7, 2011

More Men!

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brian-andrew1Brian and Andrew are proof that age dosen’t matter when  learning how to cook!                                                                                                   The first Men’s Only Cookery Class was so successful that I’m doing it again!                                                                                                               One enthusiastic participant says ” Your class changed the way I cook and eat, just fantastic.”                                                                        The real reward for me was the enthusiasm and fun that was present in each class  and  all of the lads tried some of the recipes at home for their families, who were very impressed!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So, if you want to start cooking and eating healthier, the next class starts Tuesday nights, 3rd of May for 4 weeks at the Boghill Ctre. from 8-10pm. Cost is 125 euro which includes all supplies, the meal we cook, recipe handouts and a copy of my cookbook Coming Home To Cook.

March 2, 2011

Women Love Men Who Cook!

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img_77701Women Love Men Who Cook       
 Take this Cookery Class For Men Only!

A HANDS ON cookery class for only 6 MEN

that will be fun, supportive and
get you cooking !!!

You will be learning how to cook soups, stews, main courses, side dishes, breads and desserts.

Mary Sheehan is a professional chef with 30 years experience teaching varied culinary styles and techniques.


When: Tuesday evenings 15 March to 5th April

8 to 10 pm

Where: The Boghill Centre, Kilfenora


Price: 125 euro includes all supplies, the meal we prepare, recipe handouts and a copy of my cookbook


Bring a friend and get 25euro off!

Contact me at

February 19, 2011

2 new cookery classes

Filed under: home base — admin @ 12:13 pm

I’m offering 2 new classes this spring.

On the 5th of March I will be giving a 1 day class at the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan. We will be cooking and eating an entire vegetarian meal including appetizers, soups,  main courses, 2 side dishes, and desserts. This will be a full hands on day where you will not only master all the recipes we will prepare but will get loads of nutritional info and cooking tips, as well. Sample menu includes; fresh salad greens topped with glazed walnuts, curried tofu crisps with a sesame ginger dressing,  Thai pumpkin soup, seeded whole grain dinner rolls, stuffed courgettes and vegan chocolate cake, to mention a few!  All supplies and handouts of recipes are provided. The hours are 10 to 4 and the fee is 70 euro. contact me directly at .

For Men Only! I was asked to give a cooking class for men who want to learn how to cook or to improve on their basic skills. So, if you’re a man who is tired of the same old spud and overcooked cabbage, or you want to learn how to cook for yourself or your family sign up for this class which promises to be fun, informative and as all my classes are – hands on. You will learn new, easy recipes that are delicious and nutritious. you will be putting on the apron (no feminine colors or frills!)  and cooking in a small class (6 men only) for 2 hours, after which we will eat what we cooked.  We will be cooking soups, stews, hearty breads, meat dishes, vegetables and vegetarian casseroles and desserts. The course runs for 4 weeks starting 15th march at The Boghill Centre, Kilfenora, from 8 to 10 pm.  The cost is 125 euro including, recipes and all supplies, including a copy of my cookbook Coming Home To Cook. sign up at

February 9, 2011

Vegan Blueberry Tea Bread

Filed under: home base,Recipes — admin @ 12:23 pm

The next time you need  a lovely tea bread why not bake one that is delicious and good for you!   Substituting unsweetened applesauce for refined sugar makes this bread  suitable for diabetics, vegans and those with gluten free diets. The natural sweetness of the apples is all you need.  And, the kids will love it!  Blueberries are a great source of Vitamins A,E and C, fiber,  beta carotene, anti-oxidants and magnesium.  I added a Tbl. of ground flax seed which are packed with Omega 3’s, one of the richest sources of essential fatty acids.  A sprinkle of sesame seeds added to the crumb topping adds iron, calcium, and B vitamins, important for vegetarian diets. And, it’s gluten and dairy free and has no eggs, which makes it ok for vegans. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea.

Blueberry Tea Bread    – Preheat oven to 180 or 350 (depending on your country!) sliced-cake

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce, 1/4 cup canola oil, 3 cups gluten free bread flour, such as brown rice flour or a gf bread flour mix. 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.1 tsp. vanilla, optional: sprinkling of brown sugar.

Mix together flour, flax, baking soda and baking powder. In a small bowl combine applesauce, oil, vanilla and spices. Add 1/2 of the blueberries into the wet mixture and combine with dry ingredients. Fold in the rest of the blueberries.

Pour batter into 2 greased bread pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds and brown sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

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