Friday, 30 August 2013

The Family Table. Part 10. Ciara Brehony from Milkmoon

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.

It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.

While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.

I am so excited about this series and have some of my very favourite family sorts lined up to share with us their Family Table experiences over the coming weeks.

Today I am sharing with you a very special human being from all the way across many seas.

We are heading over to the green grasses of Ireland, to the home of the kind,  gentle, clever, creative, fellow mumma of many; Ciara Brehony- artist, music lover, good food eater & all round ace human being and blogger at Milkmoon.
Ciara and I have been chatting online for a few years now and one day we both dream of both of our families sharing the table in real life.

You can find her beautiful blog (one of the very first I ever read) over here.
And more recently you will find her endeavours into clean eating, information on food, diet & food intolerances at her Milkmoon Kitchen Facebook page here.

I am SOOOOOO thrilled that she is sharing her busy family table with us today!

Over to Ciara ~

1.) Can you please share a little about how your family shares food?
The Family Table just about says it all! In this house, we try and have most meals at the family table, albeit during the day it may be varying combinations of us, and there are often snacks on the couch, but the evening meal is all six of us sitting together around the table, myself and Jay, our three sons, Ru (17), Ed (9) and Billy (6), and one daughter, Finn (15). It’s my one rule. It’s how I grew up, and to this day my parents, myself, and my siblings (plus our multiplying additions now) still gather together regularly, which is something I cherish.
However, we do love a movie, and homemade pizza on the couch on a friday evening!
And one of our favourite things is to have other families around to share food with. I can’t think of anything lovelier. 
Some dear friends of ours, who were living out in the sticks too, up to recently, have moved in, with their two little girls, around the corner from us. We are all very excited to have lots more meals together, from now on. I can't tell you how great it is to be able to walk(!) to people's houses for dinner, these days. Something we are taking full advantage of. So naturally we were thrilled for them when they arrived on our doorstep yesterday evening, on foot. 
Happy days! 

2.) Do you have hard & fast eating rules?
Aside from eating at the table, and no arguing while doing so, that’s about it. And no tv. Or phones. Conversation is what we are after!
Like any family, there is quite the variety of tastes and preferences. We have two children who eat everything, one who doesn’t yet, and one who now does, simply because he is hungry! We are vegetarian, though the children do eat fish occasionally, and when out with his friends the eldest lad does eat meat. I’m also gluten, sugar, and dairy free. To some this might seem like a serious challenge, but anything can become the norm, as I’ve discovered! I know lots of parents who refuse to do the two or three different dinners every night to cater for fussy eaters, but I often find I have to do a couple of variations of a dish, though that’s usually to accommodate me! 
Myself and Jay have recently become involved in setting up a wholefood co-op in our town, something we are very excited about. It’s early days yet, but the commitment and passion of the lovely people involved is very inspiring, and the sense of sharing and community is just wonderful. Here food, and sharing food, are the mainstay, and it’s incredible how, when the focus is on something wholesome and good, it changes how people interact with one another. I love the idea that my children are experiencing a different way of doing things. That it doesn’t have to be all about money. 

3.) Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?
In the last few years my intolerance to certain foods has sent me off down an exciting new road of food and nutrition. It’s become one of my passions. I am mostly raw, mostly vegan in my own eating, and while I don’t enforce that on the rest of the family, it means that for the most part they are eating a certain amount that is. That’s not to say I don’t resort to frozen food, or convenience meals, on occasion. I’m by no means a purist! However, I find their palettes are changing, and their capacity for junk is swiftly diminishing. Resources like Pinterest have been fantastic for recipes and info about eating this way.

4.) Do you have a favourite cuisine?
We all love Indian and Japanese. Jay is a master chef when it comes to Indian, his dal is famous in these here parts. I am so very grateful to have married a man who can cook. He does most of the cooking at the weekends, which suits me just fine!

5.) Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?
With food, and sharing food, being such a part of my growing up, it’s hard to specifically pin down one meal in particular. As I’ve written whole blog posts about before, any family occasion in my parents house is a meal to remember, with all of us mucking in, and turning out a meal fit for kings. 
Funny, the one meal that does stand out for me, was not actually one I even remember eating myself. Twenty years ago, travelling around India with Jay for four months, he was on a mission, the whole time, to find the perfect thali. He did eventually find it, up a tiny backstreet in Varanasi, and he still grows misty eyed at the thoughts of it. 

6.) Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?
It’s always tricky to find something that they all love. We eat a lot of wraps, we put everything in wraps, and it’s an easy way to let people take what they want from the table. We also eat a lot of pulses. But what I’m going to share with you here is my failsafe, my go-to recipe if I’m tight for time, or there’s a crowd to feed. The one that no one ever turns there nose up at. Homemade pesto. As simple as that. I always make more than I need, and it’s never enough. It gets put on everything. Pasta, sandwiches, and of course, wraps. This version is quite garlicky and lemony, so reduce the measurements for those if it’s too much for you.

Milkmoon Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil, packed
4 cloves garlic
1 cup cashews (or slivered almonds or walnuts - we prefer these to the classic pine nuts)
4 tbs fresh lemon
1/2 cup parmesan, or 3-4tbs nutritional yeast for a vegan version
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Combine the first five ingredients in a blender/processor.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil.
  3. Blend until desired consistency. We like our with a bit of bite to it, with little chunks of nuts.

Stir through pasta of your choice and serve with crusty bread to mop up your bowls after. 
That’s it! Couldn’t be simpler, or more delicious.

7.) What song would be playing at the dinner table?
That’s the tricky one! Music is one thing there is never a shortage of in this house, and while there is a wide range of what we each like to listen to, there is nothing that someone else likes, that any of us really object to. But for all the obscure music I like, and the way-out-there music Jay likes, and everything in between that the children like, the one thing we will all, wholeheartedly agree on, is The Beatles. And while the others might choose a different song, I’m going to choose one of my personal favourites, if for no other reason than the lyrics seem so fitting. 

Thankyou so much Ciara for sharing your Family Table with us.


  1. Beautiful from the start to the finish, pesto, Beatles and good healthy eating

  2. Lovely Family table edition,thankyou Ruth and Ciara ,and thankyou for sharing your pesto recipe.

  3. Great food+Great Music=♥


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