Cooking the Classics: St. Patrick’s Day Revisited

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one.  Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

I made our traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner late this year.  There are some reasons for this which don’t particularly make me glad.

I married into a clan and they are very family-oriented.  I have traded in much to fit into this family: my religion, my holidays, my free time.  (Kidding! Sort of.)  Most of the time, for many reasons complicated and varied, I am just fine with that decision.  Happy, even.  I didn’t grow up with extended family around, and my own parents and brother have moved across the country and we see them rarely.  So, family.  Good to have around.

There are some times however when I begin to chafe at the obligations.

I begin cooking my St. Patrick’s Day meal by boiling a large, four pound cut of corned beef.  It simmers with peppercorns and bay leafs for at least three hours.

After we had kids, my big line in the sand was St. Patrick’s Day.  My mom did some genealogical research recently, and it turns out my family is not as Irish as we thought.  In fact, we’re mostly English.  Be that as it may, every year growing up I looked forward to the annual, special St. Patrick’s Day feast.  The food, it was not gourmet.  It was not fancy.  But it was made with love, it was homemade and it was delicious.

While the corned beef is boiling, I start making the Irish Soda Bread.  Just the Joy of Cooking recipe, nothing special.  I whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and sugar together, then add the raisins and caraway seeds.  I had trouble finding those seeds at the grocery store.  Are they Irish?










I then whisk butter, egg and buttermilk together.  It all looks a bit granular.  Is that OK?










I mix the buttermilk batter with the dry ingredients, and it seems to be a sticky mess.










I pile it on a baking sheet and hope for the best.

It’s important to me that the kids experience at least one tradition that I had growing up.  So each year, I plan a St. Patty’s Day menu.  This year, the week of St. Patrick’s Day, I had two birthday dinners (one for a family member, one for a friend) and a pre-school religious festival that I helped plan and organize. St. Patrick’s Day got lost in the shuffle.

I have to double the baking time for the Irish Soda Bread.  I think our oven is really old?

I felt horribly guilty about this.  I decided to make the dinner on Sunday night, when Darcy was around to watch the kids.  Sunday night we have a standing date for a family dinner elsewhere.  We have already attended two family occasions this week, so we decided to invite the family over to our house for dinner instead.  I bought the ingredients.  I bought the lilies and Irish bells for the table.











I pick rosemary from our herb garden.  I wash it well.  I don’t want the “je ne sais quoi” of the meal to be radioactivity.








The family, not pleased.  Standing date claimed, the wish to have dinner at their own house cited.  Pressure was exerted.  Darcy held firm.

I roast the fancy small potatoes I got from Whole Foods with our local rosemary, garlic and olive oil.











I arrange the corned beef on a platter.









I boil the cabbage in the corned beef water.









I serve the soda bread, which looked and tasted like a giant scone.











And my perfect moment was the following:








My own home-cooked, hard won St Patty’s Day meal, served to my immediate family of four.  Served homemade, and with love.


Filed under Cooking the Classics, cooking?!?, Discovering joy, Perfect Moment, The Reluctant Cook

12 responses to “Cooking the Classics: St. Patrick’s Day Revisited

  1. A blog post after my own heart. Love the traditional corned beef and cabbage St. Patrick’s Day meal at our house (as I slice into a loaf of my mother’s freshly baked Irish Soda Bread). Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much! I love the soda bread the best I think 😉

  3. Oh, didn’t know it’s that traditional. Just noticed the day in the calendar but was clueless. That looks real good.

  4. It’s beautiful, and not to mention that it looks delicious! It makes me wish I’d done something besides go stand at a pub for five hours listening to Irish music and being man handled by the beered up crowd.

  5. I love that Darcy stood firm with you and you got your traditional meal at home with your immediate family, even if it was a few days late! Kudos to both of you!

  6. What a fantastic meal and memory for your family.

    You’ve made me very hungry suddenly. I can practically smell the corned beef and I would LOVE to try your soda bread. Mmmmmm, rosemary potatoes.

  7. 🙂 I didn’t eat this meal this year … thanks for serving it up, virtually!

  8. Liz

    This looks so delicious! Irish soda bread has long been a tradition in my family, too. These things are important, and our kids will remember them when they grow up!

  9. I am typing this just before dinner, which I am sure is adding to my mouth watering at the sight of and descriptions in your post. So fun that you shared pictures and details of the preparation and finished products! That meal looks delicious! Especially the potatoes and soda bread… YUMMY! I want to try to make a St. Patrick’s Day meal like this someday and am inspired by you and this post! 🙂

  10. I love it! It all looks beautiful. And I agree that traditions are so important…hold onto yours as much as you can–even when you have to be a little untraditional! 🙂

  11. My parents just found out the same thing about our genealogy! This whole time I thought we were Irish! Fooled!

    Your meal looks perfect! Nice work!

  12. Pingback: Perfect Moment: Recreating My Grandparents’ Fried Chicken | Too Many Fish to Fry

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