St. Patrick’s Day Feast

I’ve never made corned beef before…what better excuse than March 17?

Of course, I intended to buy a plain brisket and do the 10 days of curing myself. But let’s all remember for a moment what a tremendously gifted procrastinator I am. Right. So that means instead of curing a brisket for the past 10 days I was out this morning going from store to store to find one that someone else had brined for me. And luck was with me!

A corned beef brisket, rubbed with spices and simmering in broth

So for those of you who have also never made one of these delights, the corned beef comes brined or cured in a solution, but uncooked. I added spices and seasoned the broth and then it was submerged and simmered in the mixture for several hours. I’ll admit that this Texas girl hesitated a moment before dropping that pretty brisket down into a pot of liquid to be boiled…but I managed. And I’m glad I was able to overcome.

Here it is, resting, after being removed from the broth

I threw some vegetables in the broth after it was finished cooking…carrots, potatoes, turnips. I know, I know, what about the cabbage? Don’t worry, there was cabbage; but I could NOT bring myself to throw it into a pot of liquid to be boiled. It got its own special treatment.

Anyway, back to that corned beef. Huge hit with the boys, for sure.

My delightful mother was over for the afternoon and stayed for dinner. In fact, if it hadn’t been for her help with the kiddos, dinner probably still wouldn’t be ready. Anyway, she tries to not eat too much red meat, so I wanted to make sure she could fully join in our St Patty’s celebration. After all, it’s her mother’s family who brings the Irish into our line. So there was also Shepherd’s Pie (with turkey instead of beef.)

I think my favorite part of dinner was the beer bread. Mmmmmmm. And I don’t even like beer.

It was that perfect almost-crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. And it was a mix. As in, it came in a bag and I poured it in a bowl and dumped in one bottle of beer and stuck it in the oven…and an hour later the house was full of this smell:

An "action shot!" My mom doing the slicing...and keeping my 5-year-old from eating the entire loaf.

All in all, it was a pretty good nod to some Irish culinary traditions…and it was an even better evening with family around the table.

Oh right – the cabbage. I almost forgot. Sautéed in butter until it is nice and tender and just a touch sweet. Perfect. I just can’t boil it – I have awful flashbacks to the cabbage soup diet fad.

So there it is with all its browned-butter goodness

My five-year-old was pretty stoked about the beef…and the bread…but he’s so weird about potatoes. He doesn’t like them. So he was less than thrilled with the Shepherd’s Pie…and don’t even mention the cabbage. Mostly he was excited about the hats.

And the light-up shamrock earrings that I was wearing. No, there’s not going to be a photo of those.

Last, but not least, there was a cake. A falling-apart cake. Good thing it was yummy since it was broken. A broken Irish Spice Cake.

It didn’t start out broken. It started out boiling on the stove top.

Then a bunch of flour got added. It was all poured into a pan and baked for almost an hour. Then I set it on the counter to cool. It was still in the pan. Then I left. I went to T-Mobile to see if I could get another phone because mine died today. None of the buttons would work. It was beeping at me all day – telling me every time I got an email or a text message – but it wouldn’t let me look at them. All day. My phone was taunting me. So I went and got another one. But I should have taken the cake out of the pan first.

By the time I got home, the top part had cooled way more than the rest of the cake and shrunk a little. So when it got turned upside down it split apart.

Don’t be like me. Don’t let technology ruin a perfectly good spice cake.

OK, maybe “ruin” is a little strong. Because, of course, we still ate it. And it was awfully good.

I mean, really, once it was all sliced up you could hardly tell. I was wishing I had thought to make some Irish coffee to go with it, though. That would have been a good idea.

Here’s a bunch of information that we read through today so I could answer my son’s questions – he asks a lot of questions – about why he was wearing green and why we were searching for corned beef and why Daddy brought home silly hats.

And here are some other links of potential interest:

The Shepherd’s Pie recipe that was a guideline for ours.

The Corned Beef and Vegetables recipe that was a guideline for ours.

The Broken Irish Spice Cake recipe.

And the Beer Bread Mix. Highly recommended. In fact, I think my mother was successful in keeping  my oldest out of it after his third piece…which means there must still be some in the kitchen somewhere. I think I have to go.

Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!!

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