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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It’s so Easy Being Green…

Today, everybody’s Irish as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the wearing-o-the-green.

Even our President and First Lady (the O’Bamas) marked the day with White House festivities and made sure the fountain at the nation’s mansion was playfully spouting emerald green spray.

And, everywhere else pomp, circumstance and parties abounded from Dublin (where thousands of people gathered together along a 2.5 km route to celebrate with a two hour parade consisting of almost 3000 performers) to crowds of onlookers lining the banks of the Chicago River, which since 1962, has been dyed a brilliant green to honor the man, who as legend has it, drove all the snakes from Ireland.

Historically speaking, that tale may be a metaphorical interpretation for the spiritual legacy of St Patrick, whose missionary works are credited for converting Ireland’s early pagan population to Christianity. Well before the time of computers and PowerPoint, it is said Patrick went chieftain-to-chieftain spreading the story of the Holy Trinity and establishing over 300 churches using the three-leafed clover as its symbol.

In honor of today’s special fete, the History Channel offered a plethora of facts in a number of video clips that are not only entertaining but enlightening.
History of St. Patrick's Day

After viewing the various videos, why not try your hand at whipping up some authentic Irish Brown Bread - it’s a wonderful accompaniment to the traditional corned beef, cabbage and potato meal and it’s inexpensive to make.

The following recipe was gently pried from the loving hands of my dearest childhood friend and absolutely fabulous gourmet cook, Kathleen O’Rourke-Fahey.

Irish Brown Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection or 375 regular

1 1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 rounded tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter or margarine & optional 1 or 2 more melted for brushing
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats- not instant
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Scoop and level flour into mixing bowl; add ingredients through salt; whisk to combine. Use fingers to rub butter into flour until you have course crumbs; stir in wheat flour and oats. Make a deep well in the center; add buttermilk; stir lightly until all flour is moistened. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead 5 or 6 times; gather into ball. Don't over knead! Place on greased baking sheet or line with non-stick foil. Pat into 7 " circle. Flour a sharp knife; cut a cross edge to edge and about 1/4" deep.

Bake at 350 degrees convection or 375 regular for about 40 minutes. It should be browned, and will sound hollow when tapped on underside. If desired brush with optional butter. Place on rack to cool. When completely cooled wrap in foil or pop into a baggie.

Now while your bread is baking and your beef is boiling, and perhaps you are tippling a bit of brew, I also want to share with you with this beautiful Irish blessing that was a gift to our family, many years ago, from another beloved friend, who is an Irish scholar and a Master’s graduate from University College Galway. The translated words are simple and heartfelt, and they have been spoken at our family’s most important life passages.

May God bless you
From Halloween to February 1st
From February 1st to May Day
From May Day to August 1st
And from August 1st to Halloween

The blessing of good fortune to you
The blessing of sons and daughters to you
The blessing of sea and land to you

May love bless you
May faithfulness bless you
May heaven bless you

The bounty of the sea to you
The bounty of the land to you
The bounty of Paradise to you

May your every day be happy
May no day be bad
May you have honor and respect
And everybody’s love

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you! I think this year we all could use the blessings of the Irish.


Grandslam said...

The fountain looks pretty cool with the green water!

BarryGillogly said...

And a blessing to you too! The bread sounds wonderful... I need to try it. Thanks!