Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Essex! Don’t fret. There will be no lengthy parade to announce, rivers of green beer to consume, or “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” gags to endure. Far from the urban antics that often obscure holiday roots, I figured my Essex neighbors might nevertheless opt for some pre-spring greening.
St. Patrick’s Day Blessings
First I’ve culled a pair of Irish sayings/blessings that seemed singularly appropriate for our agrarian community.
May the rains sweep gentle across your fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed you have planted bear fruit,
And late summer find you standing in fields of plenty. (Island Ireland)
While I’d like to think we can skip the spring rains, I know we can’t. And it would inevitably be unfortunate if we did. So, like our Irish brethren, let’s embrace spring showers for their life-giving force that will stir sleeping seeds awake.
And this similarly “small farm feeling” Irish saying/blessing also seemed perfect for St. Patrick’s Day in Essex.
May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the leaves of your cabbage always be free from worms.
May the crows never pick your haystack.
If you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal. (Island Ireland)
Do any of our local farmers own donkeys? I’m not sure. But if so, perhaps they can explain the presence for foals?
St. Patrick’s Day Recipes
Green beer aside, there’s no better way to observe St. Patrick’s Day than hardy refreshment among family and friends.
It seems that potatoes come to mind if not first, at least early in an Irish food brainstorm, so let’s start off with some creative potato recipes for St. Patrick’s Day:
- Tara Noland’s grandmother’s Potato Pancakes Recipe
- Marilou Robinson’s Colcannon Potatoes Recipe
- Lisa’s Irish Potato Leek Soup Recipe
Of course St. Patrick’s Day is a time for “comfort food” so you won’t want to limit your starch intake to potatoes. Pull out all the stops and bake up some traditional Irish soda bread using one of the recipes provided by the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. Bet you didn’t even know the organization existed! (You can thank me later…)
Okay, now it’s time to choose your St. Patrick’s Day main course. While there are so many options to consider, I suggest you start with one of the following classics.
- Irish Chef Cathal Armstrong’s “Better Corned Beef“
- Mari Sitkiewicz’s Slow-Cooked Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
- Giulia Scarpaleggia’s Irish Beef Stew with Guinness
- Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Irish Lamb Stew
Did you detect a couple of decidedly un-Irish names? It’s always exciting to mix things up! And cuisine [almost] always profits from a little cross cultural pollination, in my humble opinion.
While your St. Patrick’s Day banquet may seem too celebratory an occasion to debut a piping hot batch of Irish Beef Hand Pies, you could always experiment with miniature hand pies as an appetizer. I know that the ingredients are plentiful in our farm share this time of year, so why not? Or at least consider making a batch to enjoy for lunch over the course of the week. (They’re perfect for school lunches!)
Enjoy Sarah Carey’s video instruction for how to prepare Irish Beef Hand Pies (below).
St. Patrick’s Day Libations
I opened with a dismissal of green beer. A personal bias, but certainly don’t hold back on my account.
I look forward to discovering a palatable Irish table wine, but until then beer and whiskey are the order of the day. A wee dram of Irish whiskey before and after your meal may be reasonable for medicinal purposes, and perhaps a steady stream of beer in between? Personally I’m holding out for a gluten free stout… Cheers to all my Essex friends, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!