Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

To all who are celebrating today, I hope you are having a lovely and safe holiday! This is my favorite Irish Blessing, which hangs in our hallway.

I got a later start this morning than I planned on, thanks to waking up with a migraine, but dinner is finished and ready for 5pm with a few hours to spare.

The corned beef brisket I buy doesn't have a spice packet, but that's alright because I use my own seasonings anyhow. I cover the brisket with water and add a few bay leaves, lots of fresh ground pepper, two dashes of mustard seeds, a dash of garlic powder, and a tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the pot comes up to a boil, I skim off the foam (and re-add some pepper if a lot came out with the foam), and then I simmer the corned beef for 3 hours, turning it over every so often if any of it is sticking out about the water line so it cooks evenly.

Corned beef and cabbage, with potatoes and with or without onions and carrots, is traditionally served to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day here in the US, and wasn't eaten in Ireland. At least not in my Nana's day! It was a religious holiday and traditionally a thick slab of bacon (about the size of a brisket) would be made with cabbage. 

In a separate pot, I prepare the potatoes and cabbage. (Because I do not have a pot large enough for the stove top to do it all in one). I take two cups of the liquid from the corned beef pot and pour it into this pot. (I then replace that with two cups of hot tap water which goes into the corned beef pot). I add all of the spices I noted above to this new pot. I take a fork and poke holes in several places all over red potatoes and put about ten of those into the pot. Then I cut up some cabbage, about half a head, and put that into the pot followed by however much water is needed to cover potatoes and cabbage, or within an inch and a half from the lip of the pot. I bring the pot to a boil, and eave it boiling for 15 minutes, or until the red skins have faded and a fork easily is able to spear the potato, then leave it on the lowest setting until the corned beef is finished.

This is only the second loaf of soda bread I've ever made! At the last moment, I decided to skip the raisins and caraway seeds in honor of my Nana, who *hated* either in soda bread. It looks and smells delish! I only hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells. (If it does, I'll share the recipe!)

My Nana is so much a part of this day for me. I miss her more than I can begin to tell all of you. I spend much of the day on the verge of, or in tears, as a result. It's difficult to talk about, especially today. And she was born on Christmas Day, but today it's harder. I don't know why. I've only one photo of her (and I) up in our home. When I've had more up, I dream about her constantly, and wake up sobbing every time as though she's just passed away, not now 15 years ago. It's too much. Anyhoo...

Once the corned beef finished its' three hour simmer, I placed it into a large dutch oven along with the cabbage, potatoes and all of the liquid from that pot. I skimmed as much fat as I could from the liquid in the corned beef pot, and then added several ladles full to the dutch oven to help nearly cover the corned beef. I added a bit more of the spices, covered the dutch oven and placed it in the oven at 225* to keep warm until it is time for dinner. It's just myself, the Marine and Mom, but as with any other holiday, I enjoy having a family meal with favorite foods.

All the while I've been in the kitchen, it has been another moody March weather day! Dark and gloomy to blindingly sunny and back again. Ridiculously windy again, too!

This is the view from our front porch earlier this afternoon! I couldn't see my phone screen much less that rainbow around the sun, it was so bright out there. It's fairly warm, and the windows are open, but that's supposed to end tomorrow with another cold front, so I'll enjoy this while it lasts!

For now I'll leave with with some last photos for today:

If you're celebrating today, what are you doing to celebrate?

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