Go With Whatcha Got

Archived | March 11, 2013 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. The weather was, though. Sleeting, bone chilling, drizzling gray day. Not my first choice, but we don’t have much of a say in things weatherly, and it can always be worse. So I made the best of it, and paid bills and made some chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling and relaxed awhile with the kids, and visited the grocery store for a few things for the week ahead.
St. Patrick’s Day is not long off, and I picked up some corned beef for reubens, and had a hard time finding Irish bacon for colcannon so I settled for Canadian which will work just fine. I’m not Irish enough to be particular, but Irish enough to love my Irishness, and making a traditional Irish meal is something I do now and then. People make jokes that all you do is add some whiskey, and — poof — it’s Irish! There may be a bit of truth to that, but some of the best Irish food has nothing to do with whiskey, and more to do with simple and just plain good food.
I’ll confess, when it comes to food of a country or culture or ethnic bent, I wouldn’t put Irish cuisine at the top of my list. I’m German, and Danish, and French-Canadian too, and, frankly, I know more about Danish coffeecake and pasta carbonara and sweet and sour pork than I do about brown bread or cabbage or leeks or champ.
Thing is, everyone comes from somewhere and every somewhere has its spice, and, like the weather, you don’t have a choice so you go with whatcha got. Poland, Armenia, South Africa, Alaska, Nepal, Siberia, Egypt, Guam, Appalachia, Sumatra, India, France, Ireland. Feels good to be a part of a tradition, to know where you come from, and what that place is about. Celebrate it, I say, and pass the soda bread.
Here’s this St. Patrick’s Day menu: there will be reubens of course, with extra kraut for the Germans in the room, and colcannon and soda bread and cake for dessert. May the horns of your cattle always touch heather. May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.
Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!
3 cups cooked and mashed potatoes
2 cups chopped, boiled cabbage
4-6 slices Irish or Canadian bacon
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
4 T butter
1 cup bread crumbs, scant
Combine potatoes and cabbage together in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on clean paper towels; sauté onion, garlic and leek in same skillet. Add half of the butter to the skillet and stir in potato and cabbage mixture. Crumble/chop bacon and add half of it to the mixture. Mix and heat through. Transfer to a buttered casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with remaining butter. Place in 425°F oven and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining bacon.
Serves 4.
Irish Whiskey Cake
1 (18½ oz) pkg spice cake mix
1 large pkg instant vanilla pudding
¾ cup milk
½ cup oil
¾ cup Irish whiskey
4 large eggs
⅓ cup chopped walnuts
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp water
2 tsp whiskey
Blend cake mix and pudding mix in large bowl. In a separate bowl, blend milk, oil and whiskey, then add to dry ingredients. Mix for two minutes by hand, and make sure to scrape sides of bowl. Pour into a lightly greased tube pan. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake approximately 1½ hours at 300 until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
Melt butter in a saucepan, and add sugar, water and whiskey; stir. Boil gently for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool for 3 minutes. Pour over cake while it is still in the pan. Let cool for 1 hour, then remove cake from tube pan right side up, and place on cake plate. Leave it overnight and it’s even better.