Everything is green today! Clothes, food, the Chicago River, beer. I’m not Irish at all. But I sure do like to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. I never really knew anything about St. Patrick, other than something about snakes. Snakes? Yea…snakes. Let me start from the beginning.
A brief history: St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Although, he wasn’t Irish OR a very devout Christian. He was born in Britain but kidnapped at the age of 16 by a gang of Irish raiders. He spent the next years of his life in captivity. That is when he turned to religion. He ended up escaping and returning home to Britain. Although, he later went back to Ireland where he began to spread the Christian word. He is also known for driving snakes out of Ireland. “Wait a minute…there aren’t any snakes in Ireland!?” Right. And there may have never been any. However, many old pagan religions have symbols of serpents that they worshiped. So, perhaps driving the snakes out of Ireland was merely symbolic of St. Patrick abolishing paganism in Ireland and converting the people to Christianity. Did you know the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue? So, how did green come to represent the holiday? Green became associated with St. Patrick due to the landscape of Emerald Isle and the shamrock. A shamrock (or clover), having 3 leaves, is said to be how St. Patrick taught the pagans about the Holy Trinity. People would put shamrocks on their clothing which turned into wearing all green clothing. St. Patrick’s Day is always celebrated on March 17th because it is said that was the day he died. So, where do the leprechauns come in? Well, our idea of leprechauns are very different than the traditional leprechauns that are connected to the Celtic folk religions that predate Christianity. In the traditional sense, these beings, or spirits, would get angry if people went near sacred places. So, how did our version of leprechauns become so silly? They are taken from cartoons that we actually used against the Irish in the 19th Century. St. Patrick’s Day History.
Favorite recipes: St. Patrick’s Day Recipes.
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
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
Did you know…..? Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive texture from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent.
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.
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.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
5 pounds corned brisket of beef
6 peppercorns, or packaged pickling spices
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium-sized green cabbage, quartered or cut in wedges Melted butter (about 4 tablespoons)
Place the corned beef in water to cover with the peppercorns or mixed pickling spices (in supermarkets, these often come packaged with the corned beef). Cover the pot or kettle, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally. During the last hour, add the carrots and onions and cover again. During the last 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and brush the vegetables with the melted butter. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes, cooked separately. (The stock can be saved to add to a pot roast or stew instead of other liquid.)
Have a lucky day!!