March is Just Full of Exciting Things to Celebrate—The Best is St. Patrick’s Day
March 17, 2021
Hey Boomers, we’re fast approaching the one-year anniversary for the coronavirus being declared an official pandemic. And what a year it’s been, a virtual lockdown, and that friends is a play on words. However, I am not dwelling on the past, rather I’m looking forward to getting my groove back and moving forward. Let’s start by thinking of ways to party with your mate, your friend, best partner, neighbor and expand from there.
In my case, I struck gold or as they say the luck of the Irish with my BoomerGuy, who loves to honor traditions like St. Patrick’s Day. Traditionally, this has been a day filled with meeting up with friends at the local pub and having a pint or two of green beer. However, since we’re still somewhat sequestered and not frequenting such establishments, we thought we might just blow it off, then we looked at one another and said, nah, let’s celebrate regardless. So off we went to find a great brisket of corned beef. By far and away, Costco had the best cut and prices (surprise!) and loaded with savory spices. It’s a meal ready for however you wish to prepare it, and it’s not so large that two people can’t enjoy it without overindulgence, even though it’s not on our specific diet, we always throw caution to the wind and say why not.
Yeah, I’m getting my groove on. I just made soda bread ahead of the big day. I used wheat flour and a gluten free blanched flour and added some raisins and orange zest. I actually mixed a lot of different recipes—more on that later in the blog.
Do you remember Wolfgang Puck? A number of years ago when QVC was slightly ahead of the Amazon curve, we ordered one of his signature slow cookers from his Bistro Collection. What a great investment, it is without a doubt the best crock pot cooker ever. It comes with a myriad of settings for how you wish to cook or braise your meal and over what period of time, and the best part is the non-stick crock itself for easy clean up. So get ready Wolfy, we’re putting you to use again with an 8-hour slow cook of the corned beef, carrots, celery and cabbage, stirred with an ample amount of Guiness Stout, and maybe a few sips on the side.
As you know, St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th, next Wednesday and is a celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Born in Britain under Roman rule in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches and schools.
Many legends grew up around him, for example, he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. The word shamrock comes from the Irish word “seamróg,” meaning little clover. It is the symbol of Ireland and wearing and displaying shamrocks has become a widespread practice on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ireland soon came to celebrate his day with religious services and a feast. It was immigrants, particularly in the United States, who transformed St Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of “all things Irish.” Cities with large populations of Irish immigrants who often wielded political power staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades. In fact, Boston had its first St. Patrick’s parade in 1737, and New York City followed in 1762 by a group of homesick Irish expats and soldiers who served with the British Army in the American colonies. Since 1962, Chicago has colored its river green to mark the holiday. The world’s shortest parade is held in the Irish village of Dripsey, it lasts only 100 yards, spanning the distance between the village’s two pubs.
Wearing green has become a staple of St. Patrick’s Day, but the holiday was originally associated with the color blue. It is thought the shift to green happened because of Ireland’s nickname “The Emerald Isle,” the green in the Irish flag and the shamrock. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn as early as the 17thcentury. During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, an uprising against British rule, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17th to make a political statement. Legend has it that wearing green makes a person invisible to leprechauns that will pinch someone if they see them.
Another tradition is a meal of corned beef and cabbage as a mainstay for hearty appetites, along with a stout beer sometimes dyed green. It looks good, but actually doesn’t taste any different. Although some of these practices were eventually adopted by the Irish themselves, they did so largely for the benefit of tourists. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
When my BoomerGuy and I lived in Portland, we would frequent a famous pub in downtown Portland for an Irish Coffee. It’s the oldest in Portland, called Paddy’s. Line’s down the street on weekends, but especially on St. Paddy’s Day.
In advance of the big day, no matter how you choose to celebrate it, make it special, and make it fun, and may the luck of the Irish be with you always. Side Note: actually the word luck itself is derived from middle Dutch in origin. The word comes from “luc” which is a shortening of the word “gheluc” meaning “happiness and good fortune.” Bet you didn’t know that.
From this BoomerGal who is Dutch and my BoomerGuy who is Swedish…wait just a minute, how in the world do these two observe anything Irish. Well folks, we do so with gusto and whenever possible, good friends.
Acknowledgements for editorial content: Tanya Lewis at www.livescience.com;
SODA BREAD RECIPE
The recipe is a blend of three different ones obtained from the internet and uses buttermilk, making it easy, breezy and astoundingly delicious.
- 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour—hand sifted
- 1-1/2 cups gluten free white flour—hand sifted
- 1-1/2 tsp baking soda—hand sifted
- 1/3 cup brown sugar—firmly packed
- 1-1/2 tsp salt (use iodized if at all possible)
- 6 tbsp cold butter—diced
- 1-3/4 – 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- Orange zest from one orange
- 1-2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 375°. I baked the bread in a large cast iron skillet which was placed on a flat baking sheet. Be sure to season your skillet with a combination of oil and flour—I used about 1-1/2 full tsp of butter instead of oil.
In a large bowl, blend the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix the 6 tbsp of butter into the dry mixture, be sure to mix well.
Using a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and orange zest together. You can use a mixer on low speed or a large wooden spoon to blend.
Pour the buttermilk mixture slowly into the dry ingredients, all the while blending in the raisins. The dough should be sticky.
Sprinkle flour on a cutting board or countertop and dump the dough onto it. Then knead it several times in a round or oval loaf, depending on your preference. Due to the consistency of the mixture this should be easy to accomplish. Place the loaf onto the prepared surface of the cast iron skillet (I liked the crispiness this type of skillet gives it). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a cookie sheet with parchment paper works just fine. Using a large knife, lightly carve an “X” into the top of the dough. It adds a rather regal and professional look to the final outcome.
Bake the loaf for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. If it starts browning on top and looks nice and crusty, but the inside is still moist, cover the loaf with foil and continue baking until it’s cooked through. One option that always serves me well, when I get to this point, I turn off the oven and allow the bread to continue baking in a slightly cooler oven.
The bread should stand for 5 minutes before serving. It will still be warm and ready for a dollop or two of butter to be spread evenly over your serving piece. YUM! ENJOY!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY from BoomerGal.