Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. Everyone is Irish on that day. It was always a special holiday in our family. This year, it is bittersweet to think of past celebrations. Our big, handsome, strong, lovable son died of a massive heart attack on this day one year ago. It was such a shock as he seemed so healthy. He loved everything Irish and cherished his Irish heritage - the music and Irish dancing and, of course, the bagpipes. The pain is still very fresh in those who loved him and miss him so much. The bitterest grief for a mother is to have to bury a child, no matter what the age. The pain never goes away - one just has to learn to live with it and accept the tears as tears of love. So, today, dear Bill, this column is in memory of you. You will always live in our hearts and will always be a part of us, no matter where we go.
As you read this, we will be driving back home from the Catskills in New York. It seemed a wee bit weird to plan to go north after the bad weather we have had here in the Ohio Valley, but we are meeting friends from New Jersey there, and all of us decided we needed a time away from local weather and worries. We plan to be much more relaxed after a week's rest and relaxation. There is a concern about the weather and roads going and returning home, but the meeting with friends will be worth it. The area to which we go is very rural and has hills even steeper than those here on our hilltop. We have never gone there in the winter, so this will be a new experience.
Did you remember to reset your clocks last Sunday? It is worth losing an hour of sleep if the weather stays a little warmer. I love winter and snow, but I will have to admit that I am just a little tired of it this year. Now, there was plenty of work to keep one busy during those "stay at home" days, but the spirit just seemed to rebel at doing anything productive. When it finally does turn warm, there will be many regrets that things that could have been accomplished were not done. Guess I can live with that, though. Washing walls and woodwork will not be any more tolerable when it is nice outside as when one was cooped up inside, but when one does not do what should be done when it should have been done, one just has to suffer. As I get older I tend to live too much by Scarlett's rule - "Tomorrow is another day." The rule that needs to be followed is that we are not promised tomorrow.
With spring officially coming this week, it is time to get with that garden work, especially that which did not get finished last fall. I just hope Mother Nature can read the calendar and lets some warmer days come our way. The old farmers would have planted their potatoes tomorrow even if the first day of spring isn't until Thursday. Some folks still go by that rule. Husband Norn has convinced me that we should just buy our potatoes when we need them instead of trying to raise them. That's fine with me - less work for me. When I was growing up, the cooked meal was always started by peeling the potatoes.
Our way of eating has changed completely over the years. Folks just don't eat potatoes every meal any more. We have learned about vegetables that we see every day now instead of only once in a while and then only in the groceries in towns larger than our rural communities. Living in other cultures has been a wake-up to different foods, also. Now we are told to "eat a rainbow" of fruits and vegetables, and if we stick to that as much as we can, we treat our bodies to better eating habits. I consider one of the colors - brown - to mean Chocolate Cake. We aren't supposed to be perfect.
Many of you, like me, like to attend the Taste of Home Cooking Schools. There is one coming to our area April 24 at Marietta College - same place as usual. No matter how many years one has been cooking, there is always a new idea or two to try that makes this interesting cooking school a "must go to" event. Save the date for a fun evening.
There are several Irish events this weekend that are fun happenings. The parades on TV are something to watch, but they don't include enough bagpipe music to suit my taste. Dublin, in Columbus, is one area that has a good Irish gathering to enjoy. For adults, the pubs have green beer (makes your tongue green). For your kids, try green Kool-Aid and lime gelatin for dessert. Maybe you can even get them to eat some green veggies. Many restaurants serve Irish meals, but you could make your own Irish dishes easily at home. There are some of our favorite Irish recipes in the column today and I have seen Irish Stew recipes in several recent publications. I can't copy them here for you (copyright laws) but it isn't much different than any stew you might make. Just use lamb and call it Irish Stew.
Make St. Patrick's Day special for your family, too, and never, ever forget to tell your family members, every day, that you love them. God Bless us all.
CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE, SAVANNAH STYLE
One corned beef brisket, trimmed (4 to 5 lbs.)
Two bay leaves
One and one-half teaspoons whole cloves
One and one-half white peppercorns
One medium cabbage, cut into wedges
Six medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
Six medium carrots, peeled and cut into "coins"
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 hours or until brisket is tender. Add cabbage. Cover and simmer ten 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.
VERSION OF CORNED BEEF
(USING SAME INGREDIENTS AS ABOVE)
Place corned beef brisket in a large crockpot. Cover with water and add spices, including those with the brisket. Next, add whole or halved potatoes, carrots cut into large chunks, onion quartered, and put cabbage wedges on top. Turn pot to low for 8 to 10 hours or until fork tender, (on high for 3 to 4 hours). Go to work. When you come home, 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 preheated hot oven for about 15 minutes, or until glaze bubbles. Don't leave in 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. (I have found that using an electric knife is the easiest way to slice this very tender meat.)
GLAZE: Brown sugar - at least a cup
Prepared mustard - about cup or enough to make a spoonable glaze
NOTE: This same glaze with catsup added and a little less mustard is a good glaze for meatloaf.
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, soda and salt in bowl. Add raisins. Beat eggs with buttermilk in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in butter. Pour into a greased 8-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for one hour. Cool on a wire rack.
WHISKEY SODA 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 Irish 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 squares 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 goblet or mug. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar. Add strong coffee to within - to -inch of the top. Top with sweetened whipped cream, and drizzle a few drops of green creme de menthe on the top.
Contact Amy Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org