Isn’t this a dreamy image? I had so much fun going through all the vintage graphic images that I found online when I was searching for one to open this post with. There is something so mesmerizing about the girl in the blue dress playing a harp while her Irish wolfhound is looking away from the ship pulling into the harbor. This image is so symbolic of the mass wave of Irish people who left their home country during the potato famine in the 1800’s for shores across the vast blue ocean… America. It was in the nineteenth century that Saint Patrick’s Day evolved from a religious holiday into a secular celebration of all things Irish. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762 by Irishmen serving in the British military and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. I guess in truth, we have the Irish serviceman who marched in that first parade to thank for the origination of a movement of celebration that has perpetuated the wearing of green, eating Irish food and drink, and stating Irish phrases that most of us do not use at any other time of the year. Well some of them I do not use at any other time of year, but my kids would say that I use “top o’ the mornin to you” way too often.
Speaking of the morning, I LOVE Irish soda bread! Plain or toasted, spread with a either a little butter, raspberry jam or lemon curd, it is delicious. When time is pressed I purchase it at the store but it is actually quite easy to make and I especially like to make it for Saint Patrick’s Day. Below you will find and easy recipe that you just might want to make to kick off your Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. As an FYI… this bread is good anytime of day and even with dinner itself.
Irish Soda Bread
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 – 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2/3 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.
- Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and cut an x in the top of the loaf.
- Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Irish soda bread is always so much better with a cup of Irish Breakfast tea! Trader Joe’s has a wonderful blend available right now.
While you’re munching on your delicious slice of Irish soda bread, you can throw the ingredients for your traditional corn beef and cabbage dinner into your crock pot.
This is an easy recipe that I use every year to make our corn beef and cabbage dinner in our crock pot so you can slice, dice and then leave the ingredients to cook and meld on their own to then enjoy later in the day.
- 3/4 of a bag of baby carrots
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- ½ pound small potatoes, halved or fingerling potatoes whole
- 1 corned beef brisket (about 3 pounds), plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- 2- 8-ounce beers, I prefer ale or lagers
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1½-inch wedges
- ½ cup sour cream
- 3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish to taste
- In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place the carrots, onion and potatoes. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice. Pour the beers over the vegetables and brisket. Sprinkle with the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 5-6 hours or 10-12 hours on low.
- Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 min to 1 hour (or 1½ to 2 hours on low).
- Meanwhile, mix the sour cream and horseradish together. Thinly slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with the vegetables and cooking liquid with the horseradish sauce.
Turns into this…
I like to serve the stew in large bowls and dress up our table with swatches of burlap and dried thyme tucked into a little piece of the string from the burlap that I use to tie around the napkins. Dried thyme sprinkled on top of the stew adds a little flourish of green as well.
Corn beef and cabbage stew is always delicious served with an Irish cheese and a hearty cracker or bread. To top them off, you can add a whole grain mustard and an Irish butter to the selection. They make a wonderful accompaniment to the corn beef and cabbage to dip into the broth. I found the Irish cheese at Trader Joes but many varieties can often be found at your local grocery store. Natural elements of green can be added with extras of the actual ingredients that you use for the meal, such as the green cabbage and the thyme.
Add a traditional pint… or a glass of Guinness to your meal and you are all set.
Opps! Except for the addition of the green eggs! When the kids were little and we did not have chickens, a farmer behind us did. The tricky little leprechauns always visited us then and turned anything that could be turned green… green… their scrambled eggs, their milk, their toilet water (yes, that little leprechaun stooped that low) and their hard boiled eggs. Now that we have chickens that lay their eggs in a soft shade of green, we boil them and put them out to nibble on with a little salt and pepper.
Even if you do not have an ounce of Irish in you, may you partake in this Saint Patrick’s Day with a little bit of fun, merriment, music and mischief for the sparkle of life is in the hands of your own making. I leave you with this Irish blessing until we meet again.
Walls for the wind,
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks beside the fire —
Laughter to cheer you,
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire!
Margaret Rose Murphy… Veno