Happy St. Patrick's Day! Since this is a Sunday, I do hope you held off on the green beer until afternoon, at least! This is still Lent, but the Irish never let that interfere with a good party.
Everyone is Irish on this day and wears green. Really, only the Catholics wore green the Protestants wore orange, hence the term, Orangemen. There are parades in Ireland and many cities in this country. Irish celebrations are also popular, even in our valley. Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, is a well-known area many folks from this area go to for the Irish Festival. The Lafayette, in Marietta, has a very nice celebration each year. I don't know how those dancers can move their legs so fast. It is truly a fun holiday and one that we all can enjoy, even if we didn't just get off the boat from the "ole sod."
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. There are many stories about him, and some are even true. I guess he really didn't drive the snakes out of Ireland, but it sounds good. He was born in Scotland in 387 AD. As a teen, he was kidnapped by Irish marauders and sold as a slave to a Druid chief in Ireland. He worked as a swineherd, so I guess he took care of the pigs. While in captivity, he learned the Celtic language. After six years, he escaped back to Scotland.
He entered a monastery in France, became a priest and then a bishop. He was sent to Ireland in 432 AD by Pope Celestine I. The pope gave him the name of Patricius. His former masters, the Druids, were not overjoyed to see him, but he eventually purchased his freedom from them and converted his former master, the chief, and his family to Christianity. Even back then money talked!
The shamrock evolved as the national symbol of Ireland mainly because St. Patrick used it to explain the concept of the Trinity to the Irish people. He died on March 17, 463 AD (or 465 AD), so March 17 is the day we celebrate as St. Patrick's Day. I really wonder what he would think if he could see the way his day is celebrated today.
The Irish have always been known for having a good party, even if it is a wake. Party lovers in this country have climbed on the band wagon and try to out-celebrate the Irish. There are gallons of green beer consumed. Since it is only regular beer with green food coloring added, the main consequence of drinking it is a green mouth except, of course, for those who consume too much. We all eat Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread and enjoy an Irish Coffee. Fix green Kool-Aide for the kids so they can enjoy celebrating, too. You might even get them to eat some green vegetables, like broccoli or spinach. Green Jello is good to fix, either as a salad or a dessert. Even vanilla ice cream can be softened and green color added for a green treat. Use your imagination for a "green" meal. You could even have one of those ideas for an after school treat when the kids come home from school tomorrow.
Ireland is a popular tourist destination. I was there several years ago, and remember it as one of my favorite places. The people were friendly and the countryside was beautiful. Going back is on my Bucket List since the Waterford Crystal factory is one of the few things I missed seeing.
So, be Irish today and have fun. Enjoy the food and the music that music will make you either want to dance or make you cry if you listen to some of those old Irish ballads. Don't to plant those potatoes today.
It is time to think about planting other things, too. The seed catalogs have so many new things as well as the old standbys that it would suit me fine to plow up the entire farm for a vegetable garden. That would give husband Norm heart failure!! So I guess I had better stick to my intentions to just plant a few of our favorites. Besides, the Chesterhill farm products auction is not far from here and those farmers grow beautiful veggies so I can get all I want without fighting weeds. I am really not getting too lazy just smarter.
I have a few bulb flowers coming up and trying to get ready to bloom, so I guess the squirrels and other varmint didn't eat all of them. I never know how many will survive until they start to come up in the spring. I plant more in the fall and the creatures enjoy them for meals all winter.
Enjoy this St. Patrick's Day and dance a jig with an Irishman (or whoever is close by).
Keep the leftover corned beef for Rueben sandwiches tomorrow.
Teach your young about the shamrock and God Bless. Easter is two weeks away.
Use an enamel, glass or stainless steel large pot. Fill the container with dry brown onion peels. Nestle the raw eggs in the peels, making certain the peels are around all of each egg and no eggs are cracked. Pour some vinegar over this one-fourth to one-helf cup, depending on the size of your container and the number of eggs. Add cool water to cover the eggs. Heat over low to medium heat until it is just simmering. Do not boil. Let the eggs simmer at least 30 minutes. The longer they simmer, the darker they will be. Carefully lift the eggs from the peel water and place on wire racks (placed over newspapers) to cool. Remove any peel that is sticking to the eggs as it is impossible to get off after the eggs cool. It is best to wear vinyl gloves as the onion water will stain your hands. If you scratch the eggs at this point, the color will come off.
When they are cool, rub gently with a soft cloth that has a little vegetable shortening on it to make them shine. You can use a light colored crayon to write or draw designs on the eggs before you put them into the onion peels and it will not be colored where the crayon is.
If, in spite of being gentle, an egg comes out cracked, don't throw it away as the onion flavor will be in it and it is extra good, especially in Dandelion Salad or Deviled Eggs.
(The dandelions should be showing up about this time.)
Scallions (or green onions)
Boiled potatoes, diced
Hard boiled eggs, diced
Hot Vinegar Dressing
Gather the greens in a field away from roadside contamination, like road dust and tobacco juice from pickup truck drivers. The younger the plants, the more tender. Try to get plants before they start blooming if possible. Gather more than you think you will need since they look bigger in the field. Clean and wash greens, discarding any old leaves. Wash well in a couple rinses of cold water and drain completely.
Boil the potatoes with the jackets on and let cool. Remove the skins when they are cool enough to handle and dice. Two medium potatoes are usually enough for the average family salad. Cut the onions in small slices the amount depends on your taste for onions, but 6 to 8 are usually about right. Use part of the green stalks, too. Dice a couple of hard-boiled eggs.
Put the greens in the salad bowl; add the potatoes, onions and eggs. Pour warm dressing over all and toss gently.
Six bacon strips, diced
One-half cup sugar
Two tablespoons flour
One teaspoon salt
Two-thirds cup vinegar
One-fourth cup plus two tablespoons water
Dash of fresh ground pepper
These are approximate measures I have never really measured exactly for this dressing. Fry the bacon crisp and set aside to drain on paper towels. Keep about three tablespoons of the bacon fat and discard the rest. Combine sugar, flour, salt and pepper. Add to the bacon fat and mix. Let this come to a boil stirring constantly like making a roux - then slowly add the vinegar and water that have been combined. Bring that to a boil and cook about two minutes to cook the flour and blend the flavors. If it is too stiff, add a little more water. It should be just slightly thickened. Let cool until warm, then pour over the greens and toss gently. If you like the greens wilted, pour over while hot instead of letting it cool slightly. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the top.
This dressing can be used for any sweet-sour dish. I use it with hot, sliced potatoes for German Potato Salad and with beans for a Hot Bean Salad. After you make it a time or two, you will not have to measure. Adjust the seasonings to your family's tastes as some like it with more vinegar and less water for a sourer dressing. I add caraway seeds for the German Potato Salad.
RUSSIAN KOULICH (EASTER BREAD)
One-and-one-half cups milk
One-half cup melted butter
One-half cup white sugar
One-half teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons brandy
One teaspoon vanilla
Two envelopes dry yeast
One-half cup lukewarm water
Two beaten eggs
Four cups sifted flour
Four-and-one-half to 5 cups flour in addition to above
One-half cup slivered almonds
One-and-one-half cups mixed glazed fruits (pineapple, cherries, white raisins, etc.)
Scald milk and cool. Add butter, sugar, salt, brandy and vanilla. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water, and then add to milk mixture. Stir in eggs and 4 cups of flour. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Place rest of flour in a ring about the size of a dinner plate on kneading board. Pour mixture in center. Knead flour into dough. Knead in almonds and fruit that has been dusted with flour. Grease two 3-lb. coffee cans and place half of dough in each can. Cover and let rise in warm place until dough reaches top of cans. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 40 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from cans to cool on wire rack. Pour Confectioners' Sugar Icing on top and add sprinkles.
Patty Christopher is a longtime food columnist. Contact her at email@example.com