Country Kitchen: St. Patrick's Day Foods and Traditions

Country Kitchen: St. Patrick's Day Foods and Traditions
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st. patricks day"Top o’ the mornin’ to you" was a greeting from my childhood on March 17 when we vied to see what we could wear that was green as we went off to school. Although we weren't Irish, except far back in our ancestry, my sister, brothers, and I usually donned a bit of green, as did many of the children at the one-room schoolhouse.

The hired man on our farm, a surrogate grandfather since ours were no longer living, was of Irish descent. Dan always wore a small green bow on his blue and white striped work cap. We'd check, when he came in for breakfast, to see if he'd remembered. But Dan never forgot St. Patrick’s Day.

Origin of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day originated in Ireland to commemorate Bishop Patrick, an Irish patron saint. He journeyed from England to spread Christianity among the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle. This celebration became traditional in our country among the Irish immigrants, many of whom came during the potato famines. Nowadays, parades, banquets, and church services often commemorate this day.

Traditional Foods

Mother prepared Irish recipes for our St. Patrick’s Day meals and tried to include Dan’s favorites. Corned beef and cabbage, boiled shoulder or ham and cabbage served with potatoes appear the menu in many homes and restaurants on March 17.

In addition, you'll find Irish soda bread, scones, potatoes and eggs, or potatoes and fish for many meals.

BOILED DINNER - In our home at St. Patrick’s Day, Mother often prepared Corned Beef and Cabbage, a traditional boiled dinner. With this she would add carrots and potatoes. Nowadays, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, you'll often find corned beef and cabbage on sale as cooks prepare this dish for their family.

Lamb and mutton was a meat served frequently in Ireland with recipes then brought to this country by the immigrants. IRISH STEW can be made with mutton or lamb. It’s a variation of beef stew, usually made as you prepare this traditional English dish, with the meat cut into stew size pieces, browned in a skillet, then put into a Dutch oven or slow cooker with cubed potatoes, sliced onions, carrots.

Some cooks add some pieces of fried bacon for flavoring. Depending on how you like your stew, you can boil the stew until the potatoes are mushy and thicken the liquid. Or you might want to thicken the broth with a flour and water/milk paste.

IRISH SODA BREAD - This is a traditional bread for St. Patrick’s Day and has been served in Ireland for centuries. For variation, you can add currants or raisins, even chopped nuts, to the bread before baking.

Mix together 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add 1 cup buttermilk and make a soft dough. Add 1/2 cup currants or raisins, if desired. Also 1/4 cup nuts at this time, if you wish.

Turn onto a floured board and knead lightly. Then shape dough into a round loaf. Place in a greased pan or on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for approximately 40 minutes or until done, with bread sounding hollow when tapped.


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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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