By Anita Stafford of Sugar, Spice and Spilled Milk
As a child, St. Patrick’s Day meant little more to me than being sure to remember to wear something green to school so that the classroom pranksters wouldn’t catch me at every chance and give me a painful pinch and a hearty laugh. Since those guarded days of being sure to prominently wear my green, I have learned that there is much more to the history of St. Patrick and the country of Ireland than the “wearing of the green.”
According to history St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland, and he was so revered for his work there that his death on March 17 is now commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day. He used the three leaves of the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity in his missions. The green shamrock is still a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in many countries. My thinking is that St. Patrick could have never envisioned that someday little girls would wear green to protect themselves from pinches on a day set aside in his honor.
Throughout the years the people of Ireland have suffered from civil war, occupation, and famine. During the 1800’s millions of Irish emigrated because of famine and political structure. Even with all the hardships the Irish people have historically endured, they have been characterized to be generally hardworking, yet easy-going and humorous people.
When I look at my own family tree, I get a glimpse of the American melting-pot, and I find back in 1836 my mother’s great grandfather was born in Ohio with a decidedly Irish name. Abraham McHenry was born to parents who lived at the precise time in history to have possibly fled Ireland due to famine or the exploitation of the tenant farmer. My family roots grow in several directions, and one of those roots leads to Ireland.
Probably much of what I know about the Irish people is stereotypical, but I do believe it is a fact that potatoes were an important crop on their farms. Because St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated next week, I’d like to honor my wee bit of Irish heritage from the McHenry clan with some recipes that perhaps are similar to the kind prepared by Irish women long ago. But even if you can’t find an Irish name anywhere on your family tree, go ahead, don your green and speak a little brogue, after all, isn’t everyone a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?
- Potato Soup
- 6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 ¾ pounds)
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Combine potatoes, onion, garlic, chicken broth, butter, salt, and pepper in a crock pot.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours, or until potatoes are tender.
- Mash some of the potatoes until mixture is slightly thickened; stir in half-and-half, cheese, and chives. . Serve in bowls, sprinkled with toppings as desired.
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup steel-cut oats
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon wheat germ
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, then line the pan with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray
- In a large bowl, combine both flours, oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- combine buttermilk and egg, then add to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Invert bread onto a wire rack, remove parchment paper. Cool before slicing.
AnitaStafford lives in NE Arkansas and blogs at Sugar, Spice and Spilled Milk. She believes a house can never have too many bookshelves, andconfesses that she has seldom met a food she didn’t like. Her favorite Irish saying is, “May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.”