Ms Treva, since this was totally your idea and I had never heard of such a thing, I wanted to share with you how it all turned out. Please bask in all your craftsmanship my dear friend…
I am a big fan of Saint Patrick’s Day. I suppose it could be the corned beef and cabbage simmering in the crock pot and the family gathered around the table to share in its deliciousness, or the multitude of Irish blessings being passed around and spoken in a make-believe Irish accent all day, of course. Maybe it’s the promise of spring just starting to round that corner from the long cold winter, or the warm, lavish rains that promise to bring forth life in the plants and trees. It might be the colorful rainbows and puffy white clouds that decorate the blue skies above. Perhaps its the hope that I’ll finally find a 4-leaf clover in spite of my life-long futile search (I’m convinced they don’t exist), but I love that our lawns are begining to turn green again and I don’t care if it’s mostly clover and weeds so long as it’s green! And what can be more visually appealing than the beautiful wildflowers that clothe the meadows as chirping birds and mischievous squirrels hail that it’s time to reset our clocks (gosh what a stupid practice – I’m so bloody tired).
So, my Bestie and I were chatting by phone a few days ago and she suggested a fun something to do with the grandkids this Saint Patrick’s Day —– Leprechan Traps. Have you heard of them? I never had. She told me all about them and I decided it would be a fun, not a lot of hassle, way to bring some fun to the holiday and pass the hours bonding with my two favorite people out in the beautiful sunshine.
First we goobled some dinner…
…And then the girls and I sat down to make our Leprechaun traps. We used some old shoe boxes I found out in my garage, plus some construction paper, glitter paint, and wooden kabob skewers. We sure could have made them a whole LOT cuter, but we were in a bit of a hurry, anxious to hopefully catch one of these little creatures. So once the girls had hastily constructed two traps each, we were ready to go find some good places in the yard to set them up, hopefully some places with clusters of lush, green clover.
We hoped to make up for our lack of decorating panache by dusting the grass and shamrocks with lots of glitter, as Leprechauns are attracted to things that sparkle (so I am told). The girls decided they would fill their empty glitter tubes with water and leave them under the traps to draw the Leprechaun’s attention. We tried to be very quiet and sneaky in case the Leprechauns were watching us and listening.
Since a watched trap never catches anything we went back in the house and granny Googled to see if anyone had ever gotten a picture of a Leprechaun, so we could see what they looked like. Alas, we were pleasantly surprised to find someone had. They sure must have been sneaky, and had a really really nice camera with a big telephoto lens to catch this little guy taking a siesta on a tree branch. Isn’t he cute? How lucky for us to get to see what one looks like!
To pass the time we decided to watch a movie and give the leprechauns some time to be lured to our traps. About halfway through the movie we checked outside the window and found one of our traps had been sprung (thanks to grandpa who was secretly in on the charade ;)). Oh how exciting!!! The girls and I could barely get outside fast enough, and when we did we found all four of our traps were sprung. We were a little bit nervous at first to lift the boxes, sure that one of the little guys would dash out and maybe kick us or try to bite us as they ran away. But we mustered some bravado and carefully lifted each box (in retrospect a person standing back with a fishing net would have been good for effect) hoping to have caught a leprechaun, but darnit, not a one. Shucky darns!!!
But, to our utter delight, our sweet little guy must have appreciated the clover in our yard, or the glitter we sprinkled all over, or perhaps felt sorry for us for our shabby looking traps, because there were little presents under each box. The leprechauns must have left them. Each had a small black kettle filled with either gold nuggets gum, or gold foil covered chocolate coins. We gathered up all the little gifts and as we were walking back to the house, we spotted a big black kettle by the well house with even more little surprises inside. The girls squealed! How awesome was this? Our sweet little leprechaun had left the girls some fun little craft projects to do, along with some hair ties, and candy necklaces. He must have liked their giggles as he spied us setting those traps.
We spent the rest of the day doing our little crafts, eating second helpings of dinner, making an Irish whiskey cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberries on top, using the freshly picked strawberries we picked the day before from a farm outside of Poteet. It was all very delicious.
Gosh, what a fun Saint Patrick’s Day! Who knew you could catch leprechauns in south Texas?
Of course, everybody knows there’s no such thing as leprechauns, right?
* * *
“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself toward godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7
Now, a girl with the name COLLEEN simply must, absolutely recognize Saint Patty’s Day with a dainty feast fit for a leprechaun, don’tcha think? Yes, she simply must!
And this Colleen (Irish Gaelic for “girl”) is a BIG fan of corned beef and cabbage, even though I met an Irish laddy once who said he’d never heard of it until he came to America. Apparently it isn’t an Irish dish at all. Well, I guess my family has been here too long and we’ve forgotten. Anyway, I don’t care. I must have it at least for St. Patty’s Day. And the leftovers make for a right amazing Reuben sandwich (dark rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, 1,000 Island dressing, Swiss cheese, and then grilled like a Panini) – YUM, …or… Reuben Cream Cheese Dip on little rye melba toasts.
And this is how I make my Corned Beef…
CORNED BEEF, CABBAGE, AND BABY NEW POTATOES
2 large corned beef, (will shrink in size when cooked)
2 Tbsp Pickling Spices
2 small bags of baby red or yellow Potatoes
2 sticks of butter
1 large green cabbage chopped into bite-size pieces
Seasoned Salt (or Creole Seasoning)
Preheat oven to 325*F. Rinse corned beef well and pat dry with paper towels. Place fat side up in a large crock pot, early in the day. Add clean, cool water until meat is almost totally covered. Sprinkle the fatty tops with the pickling spices that came with the roast, and also an extra Tbsp of pickling spices per portion of meat. Cover with lid and let cook on high setting all day (at least six hours or more). Check for doneness at the sixth hour and if meat falls apart easily it is done. If not, cover and allow to continue cooking another hour. Check and repeat as necessary. When meat is tender, turn the temp to warm and proceed making the rest of the meal.
Place potatoes (whole and unpeeled) in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil (you can use the broth from the meat if you desire, but if you do, then do NOT add salt). Boil gently for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, as the potatoes are nearing done, in a large frying pan, melt a stick of butter until it has separated and clarified. With the heat on medium high, place chopped cabbage in the butter and stir fry it until just tender and slightly translucent — just a minute or two. Turn heat down to low, add another stick of butter, and the cooked potatoes (cutting them in quarters as you add them). Toss both together until completely coated in melted butter. Taste to see if it needs salt and add Creole Seasoning as necessary.
Remove meat from crock pot to a serving dish, slice the meat with a sharp knife, and drizzle with reserve liquid (make sure pickling spices have been filtered out). You can whip up a quick batch of horseradish sauce for those who desire it (my husband must have it). To make this sauce I add about a teaspoon of prepared horseradish to about half a cup of dairy sour cream and stir.
TO SERVE: Pile slices of meat on plates and spoon cabbage and potatoes on the side. Serve while piping hot, with a little prepared horseradish sauce dalloped on top of the meat, if desired.
EASY IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPE
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round ball and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. HINT: To give a real authentic look, before baking any Irish bread recipe use a knife to cut a cross in the top of the loaf. According to old Irish folklore, the cross will ward off the devil. The Irish are a quirky superstitious people! Don’t you love us?
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. You may continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.
This Irish bread recipe makes 1 (1 1/2 pound) loaf, 15 servings.
IRISH BEEF STEW WITH GUINNESS® STOUT
Ingredients: (may want to double or triple for a large crowd)
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 bay leaves
2 pounds beef stew meat cut in 2 inch cubes
1 large white onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, whole
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (mixed with a little cold water)
2 14-oz cans beef stock
1/2 cup Guinness® stout
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound carrots, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven. Add the oil and the bay leaves. Cook the bay leaves for a moment, toss the meat in flour and then add to pot. Brown the meat on both sides on high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook for a few minutes until it is clear. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and flour, and stir well until smooth. Add the beef stock and stout; simmer, stirring, until the stew thickens a bit. Add the remaining ingredients and cover. (No potatoes? This must have been a recipe from the potato famine era – you may add a couple large Yukon gold potatoes if you wish).
Place the pot in a 275° F oven for about 2 hours, stirring a couple of times. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serves 4. Delicious served with a big GREEN SALAD with GREEN GODDESS dressing!!!
And for Dessert… EASY IRISH WHISKEY CAKE
1 yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup Irish whiskey
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 cup Irish whiskey (to your taste)
Strawberries and whipped cream
Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour a Bundt or tube pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool; invert onto plate. Prick holes in cake with wooded kabob skewer. Melt butter in saucepan. Add water and sugar. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; slowly stir in whiskey. Drizzle over top and sides of cake, allowing it to be absorbed into cake. Continue until all glaze is used. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream on top.
HINT: The secret to success with this Irish dessert recipe is that it tastes best when it has been made the day before serving. And, what’s really special is to find fresh, ripe strawberries growing on your strawberry plants for a garnish!!!
CHEF SHERIDAN’S ORIGINAL IRISH COFFEE RECIPE:
• Heat up a stemmed whiskey goblet, or coffee mug.
• Pour in one shot of Irish whiskey.
• Drop in three white sugar cubes.
• Fill nearly to the top of the goblet with strong black coffee (stop about an inch from the rim).
• Stir gently.
• Pouring it over the back of a spoon, gently add heavy cream to fill the goblet, floating it on top of the coffee.
• Do not stir – the full flavor as intended is achieved by sipping this drink through the cream.
Hint: If at all possible, use fresh cream with no additives for the best effect. Most heavy cream for sale in stores in the United States contains additives, which can actually make it difficult to float the cream on the coffee. If you find that you’re having this trouble, try beating the cream only until thickened, not fully whipped and carefully sliding a dollop on top.
Now what about the table?
I like to scatter my table with little paper shamrocks (I’ve written little Irish blessings on all of mine and laminated them so I can use them year after year), and gold foil chocolate coins.
Now we can’t just have supper all by itself. That would be boring. It has to also SOUND Irish while we are eating and so while you are out shopping for groceries, grab yourself a CD of Irish music and have it playing while you make your supper, and also while your guests arrive to help you eat it. One of my favorite CD’s is Celtic Tribute Players, Tribute to Flogging Molly. It is just instrumental. But you can look for another Celtic CD selection at Wal-mart. There is always something Irish in their line up of mood music, usually near the candle section.
Here’s a fun song from The Celtic Tribute Players tribute to Flogging Molly:
And after supper, cuddle everybody up on the couch and watch a movie. I happen to like Far and Away, because even though my family did not come across an ocean or build the railroad tracks that brought them there, my beloved family did come all the way across the country to do the Oklahoma Land run, featured in this movie. And even more than that, the cannon used to signal the start of the race (in the movie) was borrowed from old Fort Casper (or was it Old Fort Laramie?) in Wyoming. So, it is a wonderful little tradition to watch it every Saint Patrick’s Day. 🙂
I’ll leave you with some of my most favorite Irish Blessings…
May the blessing of the five loaves and the two fishes which God divided among the five thousand be ours; and may the King who made the division put luck in our food and in our portion.
Bless, O Lord, this food we are about to eat; and we pray You, O God, that it may be good for our body and soul; and if there be any poor creature hungry or thirsty walking along the road, send them into us that we can share the food with them, just as You share your gifts with us.
May this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs, new thoughts to weary minds. May this drink restore our souls, giving new vision to dry spirits, new warmth to cold hearts. And once refreshed, may we give new pleasure to You, who gives us all.
The grace of God and the favor of St. Patrick on all that we see and all that we do. The blessing that God put on the five loaves and the two fishes, may He put on this food.
From the orchards of Armagh
to the fields of Wicklow,
May God bless the farmer’s work
and help his crops to grow.
And St. Swithin intercede for him
that weather rain or shine
his labors are rewarded
this coming harvest time.
Like the gold of the sun, like the light of the day, may the luck of the Irish shine bright on your way. Like the glow of a star, and the lilt of a song may these be your joys all your life long.
Bless the house
and bless the hearth,
bless the work
and bless all here.
May your faith be strong
May your heart be true
and the devil n’er
make a liar of you.
May you be blessed with
warmth in your home,
love in your heart,
peace in your soul
and joy in your life.
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.
May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
May your blessings outnumber
The Shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
He who loses money, loses much;
He who loses a friend, loses more;
He who loses faith, loses all.
May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live.
May the grass grow long
on the road to hell for want of use.
As you slide down the banisters of life
may the splinters never point the wrong way.
May your troubles be as few and as far apart
as my Grandmothers teeth.
May the roof above us never fall in,
and may we friends gathered below never fall out.
May the Lord keep you in His hand
and never close His fist too tight.
May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.
May I see you grey and combing your children’s hair.
May your doctor never earn a dollar out of you
and may your heart never give out.
May the ten toes of your feet steer you clear
of all misfortune, and before you’re much older,
may you hear much better toasts than this.
May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings,
slow to make enemies, quick to make friends.
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the outside leaves of your cabbage
always be free from worms.
May the crow never pick your haystack,
and may your donkey always be in foal.
Here’s to you and yours, and to mine and ours.
And if mine and ours ever come across to you and yours,
I hope you and yours will do as much for mine and ours,
As mine and ours have done for you and yours!
May you live to be a hundred years,
With one extra year to repent!
May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
“So he brought him into his house and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.” Judges 19:21
*This entry taken from the book Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, by Colleen Hill Hoffman. If you enjoyed it you might also enjoy my Asian Hot Pot party, Polynesian luau supper, Cajun crab boil for a crowd, or Brazilian steak house home feast. Look for my book at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and lulu.com. or search for it in Google Books. Thanks for reading and God bless you. 🙂