Sunday, March 16, 2008

'Tis The Season To Be Irish....

Map Of The Emerald Isle

Genuine Shamrocks

Genuine Green Scenery In Eire

Very often it seems, at least to me, that when I mention I'm nearly 'full blooded'(as opposed to having less blood inna veins??) Indian(N.A.), it becomes necessary for whoever I'm talking to to declare their own Indian ancestry in terms such as "I'm 1/16 Cherokee" etc. Taking this as my cue, I decided to celebrate St Patrick's Day in several ways, Irish sayings, Irish recipes(or adaptations thereof), Ireland images, and a touch of Irish trivia. Oh yeah, I also want to declare here for all to see that I'm proud to be 1/16 Irish!! It would seem that a great-grandfather on my dad's side of the old clan was a red-haired, bearded, French/Irish mix. Not sure if my math's right, but it's good enough for me. Seems this gentleman left a two-part legacy, descendants who are either full-bearded and have somewhat Caucasian features with coppery skin tone(me), or who look like they stepped straight from the pages of an illustrated history of Native American Peoples. The other trait, at least according to me, is a taste for all things Irish, especially good Irish whiskey. Seems it takes very little to rearrange the old family gene pool for generations to come. I also like French pastries and French Maid outfits, but that's another whole post. Oh, did I mention that SWMBO is Irish/Scot? This would account for my love for single malt scotch perhaps. She definitely serves as an example of an 'Irish Woman's Temper'! But that's a whole string of other posts.

First up, something for the youngsters, St. Patrick's Day 'Cookie Pops'

Stuff For Making Them

20 vanilla wafer cookies
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
green and yellow gumdrops
green Dots® candies
green and yellow Nerd® candies
cake decorating writer gel in green, yellow, red, orange, and black
1 tube of green cake decorator frosting with tip
green and yellow decorator sugar
green food coloring
ice cream or lollipop sticks
wax paper or paper plates

How To Do It

Spread peanut butter onto the flat side of the cookies. Place an ice cream stick into the peanut butter on half the cookies. Top with another cookie so the stick is sandwiched between the two cookies.
Melt chocolate chips following directions on package. Before melting, separate the white chips into two bowls. After melting, add a few drops of green food coloring to one of the bowls of white chips to make green chocolate.
Dip cookie pops in the melted chips, covering completely. Sprinkle with green and yellow sugar and lay or stand on waxed paper or paper plates. Place in refrigerator to chill.


After coating with white chocolate, dip top of pop into green sugar. Slice two yellow gumdrops to make beard. Allow to dry on wax paper. Use black and red decorator gel for eyes and mouth, and for trim on hat.

Rainbow with Pot of Gold
After coating with white chocolate, cut a green Dot in half lengthwise, adhere to chocolate. Before chocolate has a chance to dry, place 3-5 yellow candy nerds "in" pot. Create a rainbow with various colored decorator gel.

After coating with white chocolate, sprinkle with yellow decorator sugar, then draw on a shamrock using green cake decorator icing.

Four Leaf Clover
After coating with green chocolate, use green sliced gumdrops to create clover leaves. Slice a small strip out of remaining gumdrop for stem. Use a green candy Nerd for the center of the clover.

Note: Another variation is to use vanilla or chocolate frosting instead of peanut butter for the filling. These can also be made without sticks. Use one stick to be able to dip the cookies in chocolate and roll in sprinkles, then remove the stick and put on wax paper or paper plates, then chill.
(Trivia: Per capita, the Irish eat more chocolate than Americans, Swedes, Danes, French, and Italians.)
For While You're Waiting For Dinner

Irish Coffee
"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat."
~~Alex Levine

Original Version
1 C hot coffee
1 1/2 oz. Irish Mist liqueur
whipped cream for garnish

Modern Version
1 C hot coffee
1 oz. Irish Whiskey
3 sugar cubes
whipped cream for garnish
And Finally, what better dinner for the day than:

Irish Potato Bisquits

Yield: Makes 12 to 18 biscuits.

6 to 8 potatoes
1 cup milk or cream
1 tablespoon melted butter
salt, to taste
1/2 cup flour (approximately)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Boil and mash the potatoes, making sure they are free of lumps. Add the milk, butter, and salt. Add just enough flour to make a soft dough, then lay it on a floured board and roll out quickly and lightly to a half-inch sheet. Cut into rounds; bake about 10 minutes, or until just crisp on the outside. Butter and eat before they fall.
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf
This delicious, wholesome loaf is quick to make and usually quick to disappear!
Try it slathered with butter and preserves -- perfect with a nice cup of tea.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a fork, making sure to break up any little lumps of brown sugar. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour the buttermilk into it. Using a wooden spoon, stir just until a soft dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 1 to 3 minutes until it is smooth. (You can add a little flour if the dough is too sticky, but too much will make a tough loaf.)
Shape the dough into a round loaf, flattened slightly, and place it on an ungreased baking sheet. Using a small sharp knife, cut a large X on the top of the loaf. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 40 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Cool completely before cutting. Slice very thin for serving.
Irish lamb Stew

Yield: Serves 6-8
Mint jelly and hot biscuits are a must with this traditional New England dish.

3-pound lamb shoulder
4 cups cold water
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
Flour for dredging
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup beef stock
2 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 onions, sliced
1 to 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into
1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim meat from bones, cube, and set aside. Combine bones, water, onions, and celery in Dutch oven. Simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid. Discard bones and vegetables. Cool and skim fat from top of liquid. Dredge meat in flour. Melt butter in frying pan and brown meat on all sides. Place in Dutch oven, add stock, reserved liquid, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer gently, partially covered, 1 hour. Remove bay leaf and parsley. Add additional onions, potatoes, and carrots and cook, partially covered, 30 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
And after the meal, something upon which to think while enjoying an Irish drink

"May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live."
~~Irish Proverb

"Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul's yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart."
~~Margaret Jackson

"People live in each other's shelter."
~~Irish Proverb

Trivial Stuff:
-The bubbles in Guiness beer sink to the bottom rather than float to the top as in other beers.
-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34 million United States residents claim Irish ancestry, or nearly ten times the entire population of Ireland today, which stands at 3.9 million. Among U.S. ethnic groups, the number of Irish-Americans in the U.S. is second only to the number of German-Americans.
-Since 1820, 4.8 million Irish have legally immigrated to the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency reports that only four countries—Germany, Italy, Mexico, and the United Kingdom—have sent more native-born residents to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
-Guinness stout, first brewed by Arthur Guinness in Dublin, Ireland, in 1759, has become synonymous with Ireland and Irish bars. According to the company's Web site, 1,883,200,000 (that's 1.9 billion) pints of Guinness are consumed around the world every year.

Until next time, enjoy yourselves, take care, and keep smiling.


Deanna said...

Mm, my mouth's watering, plus I enjoyed all the statistics. My relatives all claim to be some percentage Scotch-Irish, which I guess means their people left Scotland for Ireland at some point. I hear it's a great place.

George said...

OK Mike What if you are an Irish-German American, with a little English thrown in for good measure.
Irish Coffee brings back memory's of a G.E.T. school I attended in Missoula, Mt on St. Patrick's Day years ago. But that's a whole other post too.

patricia said...

Hi, Mike! Good Irish stuff that we all can appreciate. Not to worry, George. Everybody is allowed to be Irish today. Have a good day, Mike.

Cherie said...

I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this, Mike.

This - "alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat" - cracked me up.

Your soda bread is nearly the same recipe for the one I made today which I just pictured over on my site, and Irish Lamb stew - fills the belly and soothes the soul.

Loved the photos and the trivia. You set a festive mood here, buddy! Thanks!

(Your wife and I have that same trait - the Irish Woman's Temper. Ah, it settles so many things... ;)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Slainte Mike, enjoy your whiskey :-)

Natalie said...

i have no idea of my heritage being adopted and all. but sure...i'll be irish for a day. i might even be willing to be irish for a little longer than that if i can have some irish whiskey!

FENICLE said...

I have always wanted to visit Ireland. What a great time of year this would be to go. Maybe some day...

Brother Tim said...

About the Irish Coffee--

Irish Mist is for wimps. Should use 2 oz of Old Bushmills.