A Scandinavian Gal’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day

There are countless explanations interpretations regarding the symbolic heritage of the Celtic Cross, including the story of St. Patrick adding the cross of Christianity over the circular pagan symbol; however, none have been proven or substantiated, adding to the mystic lore of this Irish symbol

There are numerous explanations and interpretations with regard to the symbolic heritage of the Celtic Cross. One of the most cited is the story of St. Patrick adding the cross of Christianity over the circular pagan symbol; however, none of the interpretations have been proven or substantiated, adding to the mystic lore of this Irish symbol.

St. Patrick’s Day 2014 has arrived and this blue-eyed blonde Scandinavian is HAPPY OUT! On that note here are a few of “My Irish faves”:

Irish Drink: Irish Coffee (preferably from The Buena Vista in San Francisco)

Irish Food: Irish Stew and a pint of beer

Irish Movie: Waking Ned Devine (a hilariously funny story set in rural Ireland, about chasing the winnings of a dead lottery winner)

Irish Memoir: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (the gut-wrenching and disturbing memoir of McCourt’s adolescence in 1930s poverty-stricking Ireland). A continuation of his life story is found in ‘Tis and Teacher Man. (Yes, I know there is an abundance of exceptional Irish literature, but this Scandinavian does not excel at interpreting the Irish Brogue.)

Irish Band: U-2, of course!

Irish Drinking Toast: May your glass be ever full; may the roof over your head always be strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead. Sláinte!

Now, a wee bit of advice when you celebrate good ole St. Paddy, the Patron Saint of Ireland (who was born in Britain) and is credited for driving the snakes out of Ireland. (Science suggests that the water-locked country never had snakes, which may be important information for you Ophidiophobes.)

Sláinte!!!! Anocht, when you’re happy out at the pub, having a whale of a time getting pure ossified with shams on a naggin of Jameson and a few pints of Guinness, you’ll probably need to use the jacks. Keep in mind that “fir” is for the Bucks and “mná” is for the Bures. And when you’re quare scuttered from your lash for being a drunkin gowl and you couldn’t cop on, do NOT get arseways with the guards!

Maiden Amárach, when you wake to the clog beeping in your ear, you’ll surely be feeling gawk and fiercely wrecked with the fear when you discover you were acting the maggot in your stocious manner last night. Begorrah, you haven’t been that ossified of a yoke in donkeys years! Just put on your jumper, get to the press to wet the tea and work on that hangover. Steer clear of the scoops today and keep reminding yourself that Wednesday will be here soon. Aw’ sure look it!

You know what they say, “When Irish eyes are smiling, they’re usually up to something”. They also say, “God invented alcohol to keep the Irish from conquering the world.” Well I think we should all have a bit of Irish in us today, so let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a nod to our Irish shams. Now, I just can’t be so Irish as to stomach that whole “Corned Beef and Cabbage” thing, so you’ll need to settle on my recipe for some wickedly tasty Irish stew … and a pint or two.

Irish StewJan’s Adaptation on Traditional Irish Stew

(Yields approximately 6 meal-sized servings)

Vegetable oil for searing

3 lbs. beef chuck (or lamb shoulder), cut into 2” pieces
Flour for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced into 1” pieces
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, or to cover
7 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth (I prefer 3-1/2 cups of each)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
12 new red potatoes, diced or quartered
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into 2” pieces
28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed
1 cup of frozen peas
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Irish Stew

Sauté meat until browned on all sides

Heat a large Dutch Oven pan with a secure-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Pour in vegetable oil to about 1/4” deep. Scoop about 1 cup of flour into a 16”x9” pan. Season the beef (or lamb) generously with salt and pepper, dredge through the flour (shake off any excess). Sauté half of the meat, uncovered, turning occasionally, until all sides are well-browned, about 8 minutes. (Meat may splatter so if you have a splatter screen handy, use it!) Transfer the meat to a plate. Add more vegetable oil to the pan if needed, and repeat with the remaining meat. Discard excess oil and wipe out the pan.

Irish Stew

Sauté onions until golden

In the same pan on medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add diced onion; stir frequently until softened and browning, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 1 minute, then add the reserved meat. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of flour over the vegetables and meat and toss the mixture to lightly coat. Cook, stirring frequently until the meat is slightly toasted. Add the broth, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves to the mixture and bring to a simmer. Season with salt (about 2 tsp.) to taste. Cover tightly and simmer the stew on low heat. Cook about 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat is just tender.

Irish Stew

Add diced potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes

Skim any fat from the surface of the stew mixture. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer again. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Irish Stew

Add peas and vinegar then season to taste

Add the frozen peas to the stew and cook an additional 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls, grab a frosty mug of Guinness and a loaf of Irish Soda Bread, then serve immediately.

An Irish Toast

“May your pockets be heavy, your heart light. May good luck find you each morning and night. May you have all the happiness life can hold. May all your rainbows end with a pot of gold”. Sláinte!!!

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