Posted by Móna Wise in Features.

The month of January is weird. Every where I go I meet people that are in a state of flux. Coming down of their Christmas high and trudging onwards day by day with work, or college, or parenting. There appears to be a cloud hanging over everyone. The same worries are flitting in and out of everyones conversations, so much so, it is hard to recall who you have been chatting with because it feels like we are all in the same (sometimes sinking) boat.

Job security, money, oil/gas prices, education costs, health insurance. I would venture to say, on a global scale, these are at the forefront of most people’s things to worry about list.

Right now my list of things to worry about is very very long and fairly serious. I thought it would be wise to let you know I am worried too because you know as well as I do a problem shared is a problem cared.

I find that instead of getting bogged down by all the things everyone else is worried about, it is best to have a mooch around the house and find things that make you happy. Like this:

A photo of my beautiful hen and duck (and possibly guinea fowl) eggs. Imagine, in the dead of winter we are still reaping the most beautiful rewards of our (obviously) very happy birds.


Now back to the worrying…

Oh. I worry about the fact that I will never be a good baker. Mostly because I am too heedless when it comes to all that measuring and timing of things in the oven. Daydreamers rarely make good bakers. Fact.


I worry that sooner or later the clothes will just fold themselves and march up to their respective rooms rendering me useless. I have had this worry for years and thankfully the clothes have refrained from taking the initiative to do so, just yet.


I worry, and this is real, that people with all their healthful filled notions will start eating more beans and less meat (which is a-ok with me) but not treat them properly and suffer the consequences because of it.

Soak overnight and boil for a good few hours, low and slow.


Here is a quick how to guide for beans:

  • Dried beans (uncooked) need to be soaked in a lot of water overnight and boiled the next day in fresh water for at least two hours. If they are undercooked they play havoc with your stomach and cause other gestational problems that are not pleasant to discuss or experience. If you are wondering whether or not they are cooked enough just smush one between your thumb and fingers and if it disintegrates easily then they are cooked. If there is still a bit of firmness to it put them back on the stove and cook some more.
  • Tinned Beans are already cooked! Just open the tin and consume or heat ’em up a bit if you need to eat them warm. You can make BBQ beans (which requires a bit of baking) but only to meld the sauce and seasonings together. One of the things we like to make on a regular basis around here is bean salad. The Chef, being from Alabama where this is a tradition, likes to start of the New Year with a big pot of Black Eyed Peas and this year we ended up making one of my favourite salads for lunch.

Give it a try. Remember with the kids maybe a bit less heat and more fresh herbs but make sure you get plenty of colour in their diet. This is a winner every time with ours and a nice (refreshing) change from the old bachelors beans or van de kamps pork n’ beans.


Black Eyed Pea Salad


  • 2 tins of black eyed peas
  • 1 tin of corn
  • 1 large carrot (grated)
  • 1 small onion (finely diced)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cumin
  • ½ red chili (chopped finely)
  • Coriander/cilantro (a nice big handful roughly chopped)

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 240ml (1 cup) olive oil
  • 60ml (¼ cup) cyder or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Mix the peas, corn, onion carrot, chili and cumin powder and set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl mix the oil, vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper with a whisk.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Mix dressing into salad and then add the coriander to the salad.
  5. Lots of variations can be made to this salad. Sometimes we use fresh ginger and green onion and a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. Or dijon mustard, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar with rapeseed oil. Give it a try. Great in lunch boxes for the kids too!

Now after you have made this salad—which takes no time at all by the way—you should think to yourself ‘how can I incorporate a lot more salad and healthy stuff into my diet this year?’


Eat more colour on your plate—add garlic too!

Isn’t it time you stopped procrastinating and started doing instead of just talking about it. Beets, and they are easy to grow, come in the ready to go packages at every grocery and convenience shop in town. A little bit of garlic, diced chilli and balsamic vinegar with salt & pepper to taste and you have the fastest salad in the west. And pretty too. The kids like to eat their beet salad with cottage cheese. This is not so pretty. Hence no photo.

I find that you can get stuck in a salad rut using the same bagged salad and bottle of thousand island dressing. Another quick and very tasty salad that we love is tomato and pomegranate. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and toss in olive oil. Drizzle with balsamic, salt & pepper and add a few little crumbles of Cashel Blue Cheese. Go to bed very happy.


Once you get out of the salad rut you are stuck in then the world is your oyster. Left over lentils become eye candy. The remnants of an almost empty bag of grated cheese—food confetti. That half dead bag of lettuce in the fridge that you are holding onto for emergencies—picked over—can give oompf to a side salad. And frozen peas, fresh from the freezer and still a bit frosty, add a delicious cold contrasting bite to your evening meal.

Isn’t it time you started to think outside the salad box?

Oh—and before I forget

I am giving a few talks in February. First one is on Thursday February 2nd 2012 (at high noon) Blogging for Business at GMIT’s first (and annual I hope) Foodie Forum 2012 and the second one is for KLCK Bloggers network on Monday February 13th (7:30pm) at Kavanagh’s Pub in Portlaoise where I will be talking about having fun with food blogging.

And finally… because I think this is waaay cool… check out this list of Incredible Irish Food Blogs paying close attention to number five.

Ok—thats all for today folks, Back to the writing and editing I must go.

Thanks for reading and staying tuned!