Thursday, March 14, 2013
THE LUCK OF THE IRISH – NEVER PRESS A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER…
This St. Patrick’s Day I’m not dressing up as a leprechaun; I washed my outfit; it shrunk. Neither am I going to emulate Michael Flatley and Riverdance my way along Main Western Road up here on the mountain upon which I dwell. I did that last year. The hunt for a four-leaf clover isn’t on my agenda, either. Although, after all the rain there’re probably thousands of multi-leafed green shamrocks flourishing in the dense grass carpeting our very own front, side and back yards up here on the hill; down yonder in the dale; in the meadows and leas. I’m definitely not going to don green. If I do, I won’t be setting either my left foot or my right foot outside my door. Being dressed in emerald these days could be a dangerous pastime. With the mountain’s verdant vegetation being so lush I’m fearful if I go outside dressed in green I’d blend into the landscape so much so my landlord could mistakenly mow me down on his ride-on. There’s living on the edge…and there’s living dangerously on the edge of the lawn, I do declare! I’ll be steering clear of pastures.
Just so you know - I have no intention of being a bride any time soon (or later) - but, did you know, according to superstition, the unluckiest colour for a bride to wear is green?
Oh! I also refuse to kiss the Blarney Stone; even if I knew where it was. I haven’t a clue where the Blarney Stone is and I have no idea who or how many have kissed it. I don’t want to catch their germs! According to legend, whoever kisses the Blarney Stone is gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness. Does that mean only the persuasive, eloquently gifted are the ones who kiss the stone; or is it only those who flirt with danger by kissing a rock who are thenceforth gifted with persuasive eloquence because they recklessly placed their lips on it? Only the Irish could invent such an ambiguous saying. Whether I kiss a stone or not will make no difference because no one listens to me now when I attempt eloquence; and my powers of persuasion are pretty pathetic; a stone won’t alter the situation. The Blarney is baloney! I might go looking for a green frog, instead!
I won’t be dyeing any rivers green in celebration of St. Paddy’s Day, either, like the folk in Chicago did back in 1962. Our waterways remain muddy from the copious rainfalls. Attempts at dyeing them green would be impossible tasks. If you use your imagination you can get away with calling the present colour of our rivers “khaki” - just for old Pat’s sake! Khaki is a drab green; a dull olive - if you squint; but vivid viridity they are not!
While on the subject of colour; for a long time St. Patrick’s hue wasn’t green, it was blue. Paddy’s intimate association with the shamrock aka purple field clover supposedly is the reason for the colour change. The flowers are purple; the plant, green – to diffuse confusion.
St. Patrick’s Day was first observed in Boston in 1737 by Irish immigrants, not in Ireland as one would imagine! Paddy was too busy ridding Ireland of snakes to party! His thoughtless actions impress me not, to be sure! Not having the good manners to ask us if we wanted them, he expelled all the Emerald Isle’s snakes to our shores! It isn’t what I’d call a saintly act! Erroneously Patrick gave no thought to his careless tactic - extremely antagonistic! You can’t even blame the Irish sense of humour for such an antic!
Young Patrick wasn’t even Irish! Therein folks the problem does recline!
Paddy, prove your goodwill is genuine! A favour is owed! Come on Down Under, Paddy! Repeat the deed once again, but in reverse this time! Paddy, me lad - another miracle is overdue! I’ll throw a barbecue if you rid us of all snakes here in the Land of Oz! I don't mean I'll throw the barbecue at you (although I should), but I'll throw a barbecue feast fit for a saint in your honour! It’ll be on the house - well, on the verandah! I dislike heights almost as much as I abhor snakes!
The Irish were slow off the mark in throwing Paddy a party. It surely was a long time between drinks from the 400s until 1737! This snippet of information surprises me! Such a lengthy delay is out of character for the Irish! Not to "Harp" on it, but perhaps Jameson Whiskey had to come of age first!
Couldn’t Cooper find enough trees to lop to make the barrels? Was old Guinness so stout he needed to trim down before celebrations could begin? Maybe Mulligan was too busy practicing his golf swing (golfers will understand), or “Col Cannon” was too engrossed in pickling his cabbage and shallots in cream before tossing in dollops of butter at completion to consider wasting his energy on frivolous pastimes!
Whatever the reasons, the Irish worldwide (and those who become Irish for this one day of the year) have since made up for the lack of celebrations prior to those conceived by the Bostonian-Irish who swilled swags of Smithwick’s and kicked up their heels in an inaugural jig.
One day, celebrating old Paddy, I added green mashed potatoes to the restaurant menu. When presented with his meal, an excited little boy’s eyes lit up like beacons. Upon taking his first mouthful, his eyes widened further in shocked horror! His naïve expectations were crushed by one foul morsel! He’d thought it was lime ice-cream on his plate, the poor misguided little tyke! It was his introduction to life’s disappointments! He had to start somewhere! I was happy to oblige!
The story of St. Paddy continues - if you eat shamrocks you will become speedy and nimble of strength. I guess all those Irish step-dancers must eat shamrocks. The secret of their prowess, strength and endurance is out!
Here’s to being single; drinking doubles; and seeing triple – Sláinte!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day; everyone’s Irish on Paddy’s Day!
Colcannon: Preheat oven to 180C. Place 10 unpeeled Desiree potatoes on tray lined with 500g rock salt; bake until tender (45mins to 1 hour. Working quickly while spuds are hot; hold them in clean tea towel; scoop flesh from skin; pass through mouli or potato ricer into saucepan. Add 1 small bunch of kale, stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (or green cabbage), 3 small spring onions, thinly-sliced, 200ml warmed pouring cream and 50gm softened butter; stir over low heat to warm through. Add 1/2 cup firmly-packed flat-leaf parsley, coarsely-chopped; season to taste; dress with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil; serve hot with crusty bread.
Leprechaun Mash: Cut 500g spuds into wedges; steam 10mins; place 4c chopped broccoli crowns on top; steam until both are tender. Transfer broccoli to bowl; coarsely mash; add spuds, 3/4c shredded gouda, edam or gruyere and 1/2c warm milk; season; mash to desired consistency.
Shamrock Soup: Croutons; toss 2c cubed sourdough in 2tbs ex-virgin olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove and 1tbs finely-chopped rosemary. Spread in on tray; bake in 190C oven until golden and crisp. Meanwhile, melt 1tbs butter in saucepan; add 1 chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1tbs finely-chopped rosemary; season; reduce heat to med-low; cook, stirring, 5mins. Add 2c diced, peeled spuds; cook 3mins; pour in 4c chicken or veggie broth; bring to simmer; cook until potatoes are soft; stir in 6c spinach leaves - no stems; simmer. Puree in batches; serve garnished with nutmeg and croutons.
St. Paddy’s Pasta: Toss 1 bunch trimmed, halved asparagus and 2 minced garlic cloves in 1tsp olive oil and vegetable seasoning; bake 20mins in 200C oven. Process asparagus with garlic, 2tbs chicken broth and ½ shredded parmesan cheese until smooth. Toss sauce with 4-1/2c prepared pasta of choice.
Irish Boxty: Place 1 cup raw grated potatoes in clean cloth; twist to remove excess moisture. Combine 1c plain flour, salt and 2tsp baking powder; mix into raw potatoes; add 1c mashed spuds, 2 lightly-beaten eggs and about 1/4c milk; just enough to make a batter. Heat pan; add butter or oil; drop tablespoons of batter in hot pan; brown on both sides; butter each boxty; serve hot with or without sugar.
Green Velvet Cupcakes: Preheat oven 180C; place 10 paper liners into muffin tray. Using electric mixer beat together 3/4c each sugar and veg oil, 1 egg, 2tsp white vinegar, 1/2tsp green food colouring and 1tsp vanilla until combined. In another bowl, combine 1-1/4c plain flour and 1/2tsp baking soda; add to egg mixture alternately with 1/2c buttermilk, in 2 or 3 lots, beating well after each addition. Spoon batter into liners; bake 20-25mins. When cool, decorate with green-coloured cream cheese icing; top with green sprinkles or shamrock-shapes cut out of green jelly jubes.
Rumpledethumps: Peel and coarsely chop 5 large spuds; cook until tender. Steam 2-1/2c chopped cabbage, 2 chopped leeks and 2-1/2c coarsely-chopped broccoli. Melt 2tbs butter; add 1/4tsp mace or nutmeg. Add the greens to the butter. Mash spuds with 1/4c milk and 4tbs butter; add to other vegies; season; spread mixture into oiled 9x13 pan; sprinkle with grated cheddar. Place under grill until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
Paddy’s Cailín (Colleen): Put a shot each of Baileys, Irish whiskey, Kahlua and espresso into blender; blend until creamy; pour into margarita glass; decorate with chocolate curls or cinnamon.