I’ll be more than happy to listen

Archived | March 5, 2012 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The house was quiet, with each of the kids out doing their thing: one away at school having dinner out with friends; one on a music trip for school, a four-day event as we’re now on Spring Break; and one at a friend’s house, an overnight gathering she organized, running through the woods and watching movies and eating bags of chips and plates of brownies. Mr. Sundberg was away giving a talk on “Perspectivity” (his word, not mine), and I was home–the house clean, laundry done, my feet up on the ottoman and a view of the stars from my living room window.
A person can think too much, and I have been. I’d been worried about the child who went on the field trip, and his anxieties about with whom to sit and how he really didn’t know anyone and there would be roommates at the hotel and how loneliness is so awful. He was feeling the stresses of Trying New Things and growing up and it was necessary. It was early Saturday morning when I dropped him off at the school with his bags and formalwear for performing and he looked so handsome, just recently as tall as I am.
“Bye, Mom,” he said, and pulled away when I moved to hug him and I hugged him anyway. I kissed him, too, and watched him walk away. I drove far enough away for privacy and cried awhile. You can imagine why. Helpless feeling, sometimes, doing what we are meant to do. Push those babies then young people out and away into the world. Ahhh. I told him on the way that grownups feel that same way now and then. Sometimes we don’t want to go to the party. What if we don’t know anyone? With whom will we sit? What if we are alone?
I saw the other side of it all and I was right. He is having a wonderful time. He’s not so eager to come home. All how it should be. First the fear, then the risk, then relief. I know this, that there is not impossible from here; it’s what’s in between that makes a life. So I’ll pick him up Tuesday evening, and I won’t say, See, I told you. I won’t say much at all. I imagine he’ll be doing all the talking, and I’ll be more than happy to listen. Sure will.
St. Patty’s Day isn’t far away, and I’ve been doing double-time digging up family recipes to share. Being a good bit Irish in a Scandinavian piece of the world, I don’t get many opportunities to shine a light on the Irish foods of my childhood, so here we go:
Irish Boiled Dinner
1 (3 1/2 lb) fresh beef brisket
2 (12 oz) bottles Lager beer
2 cups water (or enough to just cover)
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp. salt
2 T butter or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cups chopped and rinsed leeks (white parts only)
1 med. yellow onion, peeled and sliced
3/4 lb large carrots, cut into large pieces
3/4 lb small red potatoes
1 lb turnips, peeled and quartered
2 lbs green cabbage, cut in sixths (secure with toothpicks)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place an 8 to 10 qt Dutch oven on the burner and add the beef, beer, water, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley, and salt. Heat a frying pan and saute the garlic, leeks, and yellow onion for a few minutes then add to the Dutch oven.
Cover and simmer gently for 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender. (This will take about 1 hour per lb of brisket.) In the last 25 minutes of cooking, add the carrots and red potatoes. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the turnips, cabbage, salt, and pepper. If the vegetables are not done to your liking, cook them longer but do not overcook. Remove toothpicks from cabbage before serving.