Thank you for all comments about my patio and water garden! My gardens have been a 5 year long project, and I'm finally at a point where I can add just a few new things each spring. Copper's wife asked how much time we spend out on the patio. Starting now, until June, it will be very nice, weather wise. It is too hot in July, August and September since there is not much air flow. But once Autumn arrives, we are back out there eating our meals and just relaxing.
St. Patrick's Day is coming up, so I got out Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions" and read about the different ways to celebrate the holiday.
First of all, who was St. Patrick?
Saint Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.
Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became closer to God.
He escaped from slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years. During his training he became aware that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity.
His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
On Saturday we will talk about St. Patrick's life, cook Corned Beef, Colcannon and Irish Soda Bread, and have a treasure hunt in the back yard.
First, I will share some recipes with you. I have been making this Irish Soda Bread for several years now.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups sour milk
Preheat oven to 400F. Sift dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center. Add sour milk and stir together with a wooden spoon. The dough should be thick but not too wet. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form with hands into a round loaf. Place the loaf into a cast iron frying pan or heavy round casserole dish that has been greased with butter,. Score the top in the form of a cross with a wet knife. Bake for 40 minutes. Bread should cool for an hour before serving.
*Note: Soda bread is daily fare in Ireland, made fresh for breakfast and tea. If the loaf is made with whole-meal wheat flour, it is known as brown bread; if made with unbleached white flour, it's Irish soda bread. Authentic Irish soda bread is made with sour milk, not buttermilk, or milk soured by adding vinegar or lemon juice. To sour milk, simple leave it out overnight.
Next up is, Colcannon. It is the Ireland's National dish. It is *very* good and the cabbage makes it sweet.
1 pound new potatoes, peeled
4 leeks (or one bunch scallions), chopped
1 small cabbage, chopped
Milk (just enought to moisten potatoes)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground thyme
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes until tender. Slowly saute the chopped leeks and chopped cabbage separately until soft and limp (but not brown).
Mash the potatoes with a hand masher, then add the leeks and milk and mash together until smooth. Next mash in the cabbage, adding the heavy cream, butter, and thyme; blend well until smooth and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Put this mixture into an ovenproof dish and place under broiler to brown.
If the colcannon is prepared up to the point of browning ahead of time, reheat covered with foil in a 350 oven for a half hour. Uncover and brown under broiler.
Finally, I will share with you a fun St. Patrick's Day activity. We have a treasure hunt in the backyard and look for an Irish leprechaun and his pot of gold. Although not one leprechaun is spotted, small mesh bags of gold foil chocolate coins are found!
I would love to hear about your plans for Saturday! Oh, and don't forget to wear green...no one likes to be pinched!