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.