It is St. Patrick's Day week and lots of green is beginning to appear in Grace's wardrobe. The girl just loves this holiday! She adores the whole idea of playful leprechauns pulling pranks on unsuspecting people. (Try to say that 5 times fast!) She loves the green, the shamrocks (This kid found 3 4 leaf clovers in the park last Summer and thinks it means she is Irish through and through...well, except for the part that is Chinese and all). Of course, we have a Korean son named Daniel, now that is a pretty Irish name if ever there was one. Bill's ancestry can be traced straight back to Ireland. Of course, there was horse thievery involved and banishment and other assorted hooliganism (Okay, I made up that word) to make the story all the more enchanting.
Our Andi asked if I had actually made the dishes whose recipes I post. Pretty much. I decided that I would begin doing more cooking during my 50th year and, even when I do not get much of a meal on the table, I try to make something new or a favorite dish several times a week.
Don't ask me if my laundry is all folded and put away or if my carpets need a vacuum. I do not always get everything that needs doing done. There are times that a dish begs to be fixed so the dusting gets put aside...laundry gets piled up so
pizza is ordered. Would you believe that I was, as the comedians would say, anal retentive, not too long ago. Horribly. Truly. I have calmed down a bit and fight the urge to be so again on a daily basis. Still, I know I can not do it all, especially with a precocious 9 year old around! I guess this was a rather long winded answer to the "how do you find the time" question huh?
The things I try are usually easy, do not have too, too many ingredients involved and are well liked amongst the family and friends. I am no Martha Stewart (She is thinner, richer, has her own magazine
and says HERBs. *I* say 'erbs), Rachael Ray (Thinner, richer, has her own magazine and is MUCH perkier) or Alton Brown (Thinner, richer, has his own television show and is far cuter than I am) but I haven't killed anyone (That we KNOW about at least) with my food. I don't make all of them at the same time, all the time but do usually have a couple of hours each week that I can do something fun in the kitchen. And Grace loves to help me play....
The people in my family all love cabbage. I know a special lady who is a super cook and this is one of her mainstays, especially at this time of year. I had never made it prior to last Fall but it IS good and just perfect for a St. Patrick's Day
Cocannon is also made with kale but the people that frequent my kitchen prefer it with cabbage.
Colcannon is probably the single traditional Irish dish that is eaten by the largest number of modern Irish people. It's the food that's also a game... or an oracle for the year ahead... and there are even songs about it. Just don't ask me to sing one. It would scare the dog.
From "Irish Traditional Food":
"This is traditionally eaten in Ireland at Halloween. Until quite recently this was a fast day, when no meat was eaten. The name is from *cal ceann fhionn* -- white-headed cabbage. Colcannon should correctly be made with chopped kale (a member of the cabbage family) but it is also made with white cabbage; an interesting version is the Irish Folklore Commission's, which gives it as mashed potatoes mixed with onions, butter, and a boiled white cabbage in the center. Colcannon at Halloween used to contain a plain gold ring, a sixpence, a thimble or button: finding the ring meant marriage within the year for the person who found it, the sixpence meant wealth, the thimble spinsterhood and the button bachelorhood.
As in the two versions of the song, it can be made with kale or with greens, meaning cabbage. Those reared on the version made with kale can never understand how the cabbage version can be considered colcannon, and vice versa...."
3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes.
Peel them using a knife and fork.
Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps.
Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time.
Season with a few grinds of black pepper. Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes.
Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces. Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender.
Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces. Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.
Serve in individual soup plates.
Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon.
Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation.
Sprinkle with parsley.