Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Feast: Corned Beef and Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick wa a Britain, sold into Irish slavery and called of God to bring the Gospel to the Emerald Isle.  He was one of the greatest evangelists in Christian History.  We can argue over chasing out the snakes and many other items of legend but he was a true Christian leader.  Sadly, his day-March 17, has lost its zeal for the Gospel and become an excuse to drink ones-self blind.  What's a poor pastor to do.  Feast on good food for one thing. Remember to pray on the other.

Image: Front Cover of the book, "St. Patrick's Breastplate."Christ is made as real at the dinner table as He is at the communion table.  In a denomination that doesn't do Saint's days, food is probably the greater means of grace.  We American-ized the traditional meal this year.

The potatoes:Rather than boiled we oven roasted them with olive oil, salt, and  pepper at 350 for 30 minutes.  Perfect Pinch Italian herb mix was stirred in and the potatoes  roasted for 10 or 15 minutes more.

The cabbage: We steamed it rather than boiling it with the corned beef.  Olive olive oil, salt, and pepper was added but no bacon.  Seems like a situation that needs a little pork fat but Teresa and I resisted.  Tragic but fewer calories.

The corned beef: It was store bought, rubbed with its herb packet, baked at 325 in a glass dish with 1" of boiling water added.  It was 3 pounds and baked for 3 hours covered with foil. Very tender.

The traditional Irish Soda bread recipe comes from a bit on the Today show.  It is easy and  a keeper for more than St. Patty's Day.  The recipe is as follows:

Mix the dry ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda

Mix the wet ingredients:
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk (light is good)

1/2 stick of melted margarine

Mix the wet with the dry.  Stir in the margarine last.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 325 for an hour and then check it with a knife.  Mine took 75 minutes.

We all enjoyed the meal and the time together.  St. Pat's occurred on our vacation this year and we had time to hang out and cook. The meat was on sale for $10 with a total cost of about $15. Not much clean up too.  Four of us ate about 1/2 of it.  I will have some brisket stirred in my scrambled eggs in the morning.

Patrick's brilliance had nothing to do with Corned Beef.  It was his ability to use the Trinity to bring people into that real and saving relationship with Christ.  He met them  in their pagan beliefs and led them to be a people who would send missionaries all over the world and literally save the Holy Bible through a system of copyist monks.  Before the wars and strife, Ireland was a cradle of Medieval Christianity.  Sad to see it all lost on Guiness and leprechauns.

The reason for the shamrock on St. Pat's is because he used it to show the trinity through its leaves.  He also left behind his "Breast Plate".  This is a teaching hymn and poem that has impacted many lives over the centuries.  Here is a portion for your dinner table.  May Christ be real to you today.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.....
You can read the rest at:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

" Hazel's Recipes"; More than a Cook Book

There are only two things that I would go back into a burning house to get.  One is the brown Bible from my father that I have preached from for 20 years and the other a 2" thick assortments of recipes that my aunt bound for the family when Granny  passed away.  Some recipes were hand written on cards while others were scraps from boxes or labels.  Many were her recipes from memory and other were sent by friends and family.  All were stuffed into her recipe box.  She could find anything in it but I doubt anyone else could.
Granny's Quilts 

Granny Mitchell, my maternal grandmother, was a complex country woman that loved deeply and communicated much of that love through her cooking.  Her mind was strong to the end even though her wisp of a body was wearing out.  My aunt Margaret moved her in to a mobile home next door to her and cared for her for those final 10 or so years.  Her cooking slowed down but her recipes carried on.

My aunt was diagnosed with cancer shortly after Granny died.  Her parting gift was to take every scrap and every card out of that box and have it scanned then finger bound at the office supply.  She organized it loosely by category and included photographs of family , memories and quilt tops.  There are dozens of pages of family lists and news clippings about many things.  She also added a list of the people who contributed recipes and how they were related. Much of the value is that most of it is in Granny's own hand.
One of these Cookie Munchers" is me

 Scrap booking is quite the rage and there are so many techniques and materials available.  I find this a wonderful and healthy thing.  My life is better for this collection of recipes as other lives are better for the snapshots of time captured in a scrapbook.  This book is more than recipes it is a piece of my past that touches me deeply.

This isn't just a project that can be done, it should be done.

The leaf was in the box.  Margaret put it in.
I am so grateful to have this book.  The technology for this project has gotten much easier.  You don't have to

hire this done but the Office Depot and other places
have gotten the cost down.  Your family history is important to your present and your kid's future.  So many people in my life have passed away and those scraps of paper that capture the essence were tossed.  There are plenty of those scraps.  What is often lacking is the will to recognize and preserve what our loving family leaves behind.  Got a scanner?  Grab a hold of those old photos, poems, journals and recipes.  Archive them for your sake and for those to come.
I sit here wishing for one of her cinnamon rolls.