Posted tagged ‘corned beef and cabbage’

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2016

St. Patrick became part of my life when I was six. I went to St. Patrick’s Elementary School for eight years. From age 10 until age 16 I was a member of St. Patrick’s drill team. We were called the Shamrocks. Our uniforms were adorned with shamrocks. The color guard had one in the middle of their blouses and on the sash between the blouse and the skirt. The drill team also had shamrocks on their sashes. We represented St. Patrick’s parish, though, most times we used just St. Pat’s. The parish considered St. Patrick’s Day a holiday so we had no school.

When I was in college, my friends and I used to go to South Boston to watch the parade and visit the pubs. I do believe we often missed chunks of the parade while exploring those pubs. With a name like Kathleen Ryan, I was always welcomed. Two of my friends were Polish but on March 17th they were pseudo Irish. I think every one was.

My mother always made corned beef and cabbage with carrots, potatoes, onions and turnip. I’ve told you the famous story of the disappearing potatoes, but I like it well enough to tell it again. One St. Patrick’s day my dad was at the pot using a large spoon to fill his dish with the vegetables. His dish already had meat, carrots and onions on it. He wasn’t fond of turnips. He kept turning the spoon in the stew pot without picking up any more vegetables. Finally he asked my mother if she had forgotten the potatoes, his favorite vegetable. No, she hadn’t and nor would she ever. She took over the spoon and went hunting, but, like my father, found no potatoes. They had disappeared. That a leprechaun made off with them was always a possibility, but the truth was they had pretty much fallen apart having been in the liquid too long. There were a couple of small clumps but that was it for the potatoes. I had never seen a more disappointed look on my father’s face than when he realized the potatoes were gone.

My friends are serving corned beef and cabbage tonight. I’ll wear my Ryan sweatshirt and my shamrock socks.

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“… food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savoured at the peak of perfection.”

March 19, 2015

Last night my friends and I sat around the table enjoying each other’s company. We also shared a wonderful dinner, my St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage, a day late maybe but still a tasty dinner to celebrate the occasion. Last night was also bitterly cold. Today is sunny and warmer, but it is in no way warm enough to welcome spring.

The paper today said this winter and the first two months of 2015 were the hottest on record globally, with a chilly east coast sticking out like a cold thumb in a toastier world. Yup, that would be me.

This morning I could go back in time. On TV I had my choice of Daniel Boone, Dragnet, McHale’s Navy or Quincy. All I was missing was a bowl of cereal, my Rice Krispies, a seat on the floor in front of the TV, and my mother telling me to move away from the screen or I’d go blind.

Yesterday the window on my back door got steamy while dinner was cooking. I was reminded of the kitchen in the duplex where we lived until my sister was born. The kitchen was small, almost a galley kitchen. At one end of it was a window and the table and chairs were in front of the window. Every night my mother cooked supper and every night that window got steamy. I’d sit at the table and use my sleeve to clear the window so I could look outside. I’d watch my mother cook. She’d stand over the stove stirring whatever was in the pots and would sometimes open the oven to check on the meat. I know potatoes were in one of those pots. We always had potatoes.

Today is an empty dance card. I’m glad as I’m tired from the last couple of days of kitchen duty, of setting the table, peeling veggies and cleaning up after dinner. All that’s left for today is to empty the dishwasher and take a nap.

“May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, May good luck pursue you each morning and night.”

March 17, 2015

We’re back to rainy and bleak. We’re also back to cold as it will get down to 18˚ tonight. This melt and freeze cycle is creating  potholes all over the roads. I’ve been lucky so far as I’ve seen the holes in time to avoid them. Some people weren’t so lucky as a few hub caps are lying near the biggest holes.

What’s left of the snow is ugly. More of it will disappear because of the rain. All the roads are finally clear of the icy ruts. I’m just hoping the combination of the clear roads, rain and 18˚ won’t cause black ice.

My mother, father, two aunts, my 80-year-old grandfather and I visited Ireland together. It was my second trip there. It was the first for everyone else. I loved traveling with my parents and my grandfather was a trooper. He kept right up with us. One aunt always went with the flow; however, the other aunt I would have sold to the Irish Travellers whose caravans we saw throughout Ireland. She had a couple of heavy suitcases filled with enough clothes for an around the world trip. Every night my dad had to haul them out of the van to her room and then back to the van in the morning. We generally stayed only one night in each spot, usually a B&B, so why she needed both suitcases I never understood. I did ask and she said she didn’t know we would be stopping night by night. She thought we’d stay in one place. That still didn’t explain the amount of clothes and why both suitcases every night. I suggested she bring in what she needed just for the night and the next day, and she got huffy. That aunt is only five months younger than I am; she is number 8, the baby of my mother’s family. That gave her a strange sense of entitlement. Huffy should have been her middle.

My father loved boiled dinners, corned beef and cabbage for those of you living outside of New England. My mother would make the dinner a couple of times a year and always on St. Patrick’s Day. My favorite memory is one dinner when the potatoes disappeared. My mother was filling my dad’s plate with the carrots, cabbage, onions and meat. She used her spoon to hunt for the potatoes. There were none. She saw a couple of lumps of what might have been potatoes floating but that was the only sighting. When she brought dinner to my dad, he wanted to know right away where the potatoes, his favorites, were. My mother admitted she thought they disintegrated. My dad rushed out and hunted through the pan. He didn’t find any either. It became a family legend: the year of no potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

” St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! I am, of course, wearing green. With a name like Ryan, green is an essential part of today’s wardrobe. Gracie too is dressed for the day and is wearing her St. Patrick’s Day collar. Tonight I will dine on traditional corned beef and cabbage with my friends. I checked the TV for St. Paddy’s Day movies and had two channel choices. I can watch TCM and Finian’s Rainbow or Syfy and Leprechaun, a movie about a maniacal, murderous leprechaun. I’m opting for Finian.

I went to St. Patrick’s Grammar School, and we never went to school on St. Patrick’s Day. Boston schools never did either only because it is also Evacuation Day, the day the British left Boston harbor during the Revolutionary War. Why that event has a holiday of its own I’ll never understand, but that piece tends to get overlooked and even forgotten. It is St. Patrick who is honored today.

My parents had many parties. I remember their smoke-filled kitchen was always packed with people, mostly relatives, and they always sang. I, with the worst of all voices, comes from a family which loves to sing. On St. Patrick’s Day they sang every song, and that’s how I learned the words. Of all the people, it’s my Dad I remember the most. I can still see him standing by the counter near the table. He had this great voice, and he sang with such vigor his face would sometimes turn red from the effort. He loved the Irish songs. My Dad also loved corned beef and cabbage, and my mother always made it for him. When I was there for one St. Patrick’s Day dinner, my Dad gave my dog Shauna a dish of corned beef. It was her first St. Patrick’s Day, and my Dad thought she ought to celebrate. One time the potatoes in the corned beef and cabbage disappeared: they fell apart and were absorbed. My Dad hunted through that pot in vain. He just couldn’t understand where they went. He was horrified when he realized there were no potatoes. He was a lover of meat and potatoes, and the loss of  those potatoes was a blow he never forgot. It became a family story: St. Patrick’s Day and the disappearing potatoes.

Even if you’re not Irish, celebrate the day. We don’t celebrate enough so grab any day you can and enjoy it!!