The Mouse Wars are still on and I am losing. The traps are still out and have some peanut butter (preferred mouse food) still on them. The mice are getting smarter, though, and do take little nibbles off the bait without putting enough pressure on to set off the trap. Occasionally, when I open the pantry door, I see a flash of gray. Tippy, the best mouser of the cats, knows they are there, too. She practically scratches a hole in the baseboard, so I know she can smell them in the walls. Of course, with an old house (this house was built the year West Virginia became a state) and living in the country, it is practically impossible to keep mice out. I don't want to put poison out because if one would die where a cat could get it, the cat would die, too. The dogs who live here would be in danger, too, as they aren't smart enough not to eat anything they think they might have caught. The war goes on.
One time when Mom was at the feed store buying both cat food and poison for rats and mice, the cashier told her if she would buy less cat food, she wouldn't need to buy so much mouse poison. Rural folks are pretty much plain spoken.
Sunday is St. Patrick's Day. Since everyone is Irish on that day, do make plans to enjoy it. Remember, green beer doesn't taste any different; it just turns your tongue green. It is a good day to get your kids to eat veggies (color them all green). Green desserts are easy just do something with green Jell-O, or color cake icing green for cookies or cake. Make green Kool-Aid or mint milk shakes for drinks for the kids and Irish Coffee for the adults with a touch of green Creme de Menthe on top of the whipped cream for the adults.
Corned Beef and Cabbage is always good and an easy meal to make, especially if you use a crockpot
One of the nice memories I have is a visit to Ireland. It is a beautiful country and the people are so nice. Going back for a visit is on my Bucket List. A prized possession is my long Irish cape. By the way, the old farmers used to say to plant your potatoes on St. Pat's day.
My music room is in the process of being turned into a place for grandchildren to sleep when they come over. Talk about a mess. Since it was also somewhat of a "storage room," too, and held collections of things we didn't use day-to-day, all those things have to go somewhere. Guess where? My computer room is a total mess and guarantees a total mental breakdown if I don't get things under control soon. Then husband Norm says we need to "downsize." We need to "upsize" to keep our sanity. Spring cleaning this year will be huge project. Of course, that has been needed for some time now, so you know what I will be doing these coming weeks. If I find the walls, I might even repaint them. Where's the Prozac? The girls take most of the care of their horses and are looking forward to when the weather gets warmer so that they can ride them instead of only feeding and cleaning stalls. Grandpa said they were doing such a good job that they needed new beds for when they were here, so there went my music room. We love it, though, and I seldom used that music room anyway.
Of course, the garden is about to need much care and the roses need to be cut back before new growth starts since they didn't get trained on the fence when they should have. Some of those climbers have grown about 20 feet straight up and the fence they are supposed to be growing along is only four feet high. The berry vines did an exceptional job of multiplying, too, without the needed care to control them. Guess I had better get an extra supple of vitamins for the next few weeks. I really don't know how my grandmothers did all the work they did in the gardens, berry patches, cooking, cleaning, painting and wall-papering, and still had time to quilt and read.
The spring bulbs that had flower heads on them are looking rather brown. Time will tell if they tried to grow up too soon (like some kids) or if they will survive. Springtime is so pretty with daffodils, tulips and other flowers blooming in unexpected places. One always wonders who planted them long ago for us to enjoy today.
Enjoy this last of the "relaxing time" before the rush of springtime activities takes over. Stay warm, smile, and be thankful.
CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE, SAVANNAH STYLE
One corned beef brisket, trimmed (4 to 5 pounds)
Two bay leaves
One-and-one-half teaspoons whole cloves
One-and-one-half teaspoons whole peppercorns
One medium cabbage, cut in wedges
Six medium potatoes, potatoes and cubed
Six medium carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
Four medium onions, peeled and quartered
Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish
Place brisket in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Add spices and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours or until brisket is tender. Add cabbage. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, Add potatoes, carrots and onions and cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove brisket to a warm platter and slice thinly across the grain. Remove vegetables from liquid, discarding spices and place on platter with sliced brisket. Garnish with parsley.
EASY CHRISTOPHER VERSION OF CORNED BEEF
(Using same ingredients as above)
Place corned beef brisket in a large crockpot. Cover with water and add spices. Next, add whole or halved potatoes, carrots cut in large chunks, onions quartered, and put cabbage wedges on top. Turn pot on for 4 to 8 hours, depending on your crockpot. When meat is tender, remove vegetables to a serving bowl and keep warm. Place brisket in a baking pan and cover with glaze. Handle carefully as it is well done and likes to fall apart. Place in hot preheated oven for about fifteen minutes, or until glaze bubbles. Don't leave too long or you will have a hard caramel shell on the meat! Slice across the grain and spoon any glaze from the pan over the meat. An electric knife is the easiest way to slice this very tender meat.
GLAZE: Brown sugar at least a cup
Prepared mustard about one-fourth cup or enough to make a spoonable glaze
NOTE: This glaze with catsup added and a little less mustard is a good glaze for meatloaf.
NOTE 2: I also add the spices in the beef brisket package with the above additional ones. Also, my crockpot spits out moisture on high, so I can't leave it for the shorter period and use low for 6 to 8 hours.
IRISH SODA BREAD WITH RAISINS
Three cups flour
Two-thirds cup sugar
One teaspoon baking powder
One teaspoon baking soda
One teaspoon salt
One cup raisins
One-and-one-fourth cups buttermilk
Two tablespoons melted butter
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. Add raisins and mix. Beat eggs with buttermilk in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in butter. Pour into a greased 8-inch baking pan and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Invert onto serving plate.
IRISH WHISKEY BREAD
One cup raisins
One-half cup Irish whiskey
Three cups all-purpose flour
One-half cup sugar
One tablespoon baking powder
One teaspoon salt
One tablespoon grated orange rind
One-half teaspoon baking soda
One-and-one-third cups buttermilk
One-fourth cup butter, melted
Whiskey Butter recipe below
Soak raisins in whiskey overnight. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange rind in a large bowl. Mix well, then stir in raisin mixture and blend well. Dissolve soda in buttermilk and add to flour mixture, stirring well. Stir in melted butter. Spoon batter into a greased 2-quart baking pan or casserole. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into serving pieces and serve with Whiskey Butter.
One-half cup butter
One tablespoon Irish whiskey
Combine and blend well.
Pour one jigger Irish whiskey into a warmed glass goblet or coffee cup. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar. Add hot strong coffee to within one-half to three-fourth-inch of the top. Top with chilled sweetened whipped cream and drizzle a few drops of green creme de menthe on the top.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org