Did you know the real St. Patrick wasn’t Irish and the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue? Why then is Saint Patrick the patron saint of Ireland and around the world people parade in the streets wearing green?
The son of a British Christian church deacon, Patrick was kidnapped at age 16 and sent to Ireland. There he was enslaved as a sheep herder on a chilly Irish mountainside. After escaping bondage, he made his way back to Britain, but returned to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. When explaining the Trinity to the pagan Irish, he reportedly used the three leafed shamrock plant.
Centuries later, St. Patrick became known as a patron saint of Ireland and in the 1600’s Saint Patrick’s feast day became a holiday in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1903, St. Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. Wearing of the green meant to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in NY City is the largest parade in the world.
For us, St. Patrick’s Day is a fun celebration of our Irish heritage and it centers on an annual meal of corned beef. For an easy healthy holiday dinner, corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes and Irish Freckle Bread are favorites.
Corned beef is common in many cuisines. Corned is a term from “corns of salt” used to preserve the meat. Irish corned beef was traded in the 17th century and used as provisions for British naval fleets and North American armies. The preserved meat has a long a sordid history with use on ships involved in slave markets. When fresh meat was rationed during World War II, this salt-cured product became important. The preserved beef, often cooked and canned, was preserved in “tins” and exported from Ireland around the world. Kosher cured beef became popular with the Jewish population. Today South America is a major supplier of canned corned beef.
Corned beef is found in most deli shops and the favorite Reuben sandwiches. Pastrami is smoked corned beef with added spices. Preserved and salted food, such as corned beef, are not for those on low salt diets, but for the rest of us, an occasional meal is acceptable.
Crock Pot Beef in Beer
3-4 pounds corned beef brisket
Trim all visible fat from meat
Vegetable selections: potatoes (peeled and quartered), 2 medium onions (peeled and quartered), 1 cup thinly sliced carrots, 1 small cabbage cut in wedges.
Place vegetables of choice with one bay leaf in crock pot.
Place meat atop vegetables.
Pour beer or one cup of water over beef.
Cover and cook on LOW heat for 10 hours.
Cool meat on cutting board for 10 minutes, then cut across the grain in thin slices.
Irish Freckle Bread
1 pkg dry yeast
8 tablespoons sugar (divided)
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup warm mashed potatoes without butter or milk
3 ¼- 4 cups flour
1 cup raisins
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon sugar. Add the butter, eggs, potatoes, salt, remaining sugar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
· Turn onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
· Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf, 12 servings.
WISHING YOU A HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!