For two people with absolutely no Irish roots whatsoever, each year we approach St. Patrick’s Day with a culinary fervor that’s hard to match. It begins with the usual quest to find the perfect corned beef complete with brine packets and directions, even though we could master the process in our sleep.
Then, it’s off to buy the traditional cabbage and argue over what root vegetables belong in the mix. Potatoes are a must, although Jim likes the small yellow ones while Ann favors the strange shapes of fingerling potatoes. We both agree on turnips and small onions but have the same argument every year over the carrots.
While Ann loves to chomp on raw carrots, the minute they’re steamed, boiled, broiled or otherwise altered from their natural state of dwelling in the ground, she refuses to have anything to do with them. Jim, on the other hand, believes carrots add a certain sweetness to the overall combination of meat and veggies. And, unlike Ann, he’ll eat them microwaved, stewed, or heated over an open flame.
Once we’ve secured the ingredients, it’s into a pot of boiling water and off we go. Up until this year we’ve used an 8 quart pot that simmers nicely on the stove, but now, things have changed. We recently purchased our first crock-pot and have been debating whether or not to cook our traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage in it. So far, no verdict has been reached.
Then there’s the matter of Irish soda bread. When we lived in New York we were able to purchase freshly baked Irish soda bread from a wonderful bakery in downtown Geneva. Now, living in the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, the breads are packaged and pre-made. Not a great option for two foodies who want to have an authentic meal. Needless to say, we’ve learned to make our own bread.
Irish soda bread isn’t all that different from regular bread except that it calls for baking soda instead of yeast. Probably a good thing since we tend to overdo it with yeast and find ourselves scraping out burnt bread from the sides of our oven.
With the main meal and bread taken care of, that leaves the butter. For the other 364 days a year, regular salted butter works fine for us. But not on St. Patrick’s Day. We insist on hunting down Kerrygold’s Salted Irish Butter. Not too difficult since most major supermarkets carry it.
Dessert is always a chocolate cake since someone once told us that’s what they serve in Ireland. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t seem to matter. It’s chocolate, after all, and who can resist.
We did learn that although corned beef and cabbage is the traditional fare in the U.S., most people in Ireland consume shepherd’s pie or lamb stew on St. Patrick’s Day. Since Ann won’t go near lamb because “they’re just too darn cute,” and Jim prefers his beef and potatoes eaten separately, these meals most likely won’t be seen on our kitchen table any time soon.
In any case, we’ll be sitting down to a savory plate of corned beef and cabbage and hope that you, our readers, will enjoy the holiday as well, no matter what you decide to cook up!
As the vineyards in Seneca Lake, New York, prepare for the seasonal “Deck the Halls Around the Lake” festivities, someone is determined to keep pinot noir off the wine list. Hijacked trucks and sabotaged ingredients have made it a hard-to-acquire vintage for the six local wineries—including Norrie Ellington’s Two Witches Winery.
The case of the stolen and spoiled wines gets stranger when Arnold Mowen, owner of the company distributing the wine, is found dead, the apparent victim of a hunting accident. As Norrie tries to find the connections between the pinot’s problems and Arnold’s death, she uncovers a conspiracy among many locals whose hatred for the wine distributor was bottled up for far too long. . .