Saturday, March 17, 2018

started by daylight next morning blithe and early

Happy Feast of Padraig! Bígi beannaithe!

This year, we're coming into things fairly tired, RL. So we're making things the easy way. We decided to modify this recipe for the slow cooker. We've washed and halved (and occasionally quartered) about sixteen red potatoes, we're using peeled "baby" carrots instead of peeling and chopping larger cooking ones, and we're just using minced garlic from a jar we had of it over peeling and mincing a few cloves on our own.

Rest of the conversion is surprisingly easy--in an empty slow cooker, layer in the potatoes and carrots, then lay the brisket atop them (usually we go for point cuts, this year we went with a flat cut roast, but there's not that much difference). We're cutting two onions into wedges after removing the onion skin, and those go on top. Then we pour over a bottle of Guinness and turn on the slow cooker. Before we add a box of beef broth, we're adding the spices (and generally, a tablespoon of our own pickling spice blend, too) over the meat, and that's it. Lid on, heat high, off y'go.

Maybe an hour before serving, we'll rinse and quarter a small cabbage, and toss that on the very top to steam. Over the course of the day, we're also planning on making a very simple soda bread (though we're American, so of course we're also tossing in black pepper, rosemary and grated cheddar cheese) to go with the corned beef and veg, and Guinness chocolate brownies for after. Plus, there's one other dish (I said we're tired, we're not planning our usual six or seven side dishes) we'll make closer to serving: hashed neeps.

Which takes a little explaining. There's a medieval recipe for bashed neeps we've been using for years. It's endlessly variable and works with just about anything can be thrown in without issue. Traditionally, the recipe goes like this:

Bashed Neeps

Ingredients:

6 large turnips, washed and chopped
2 large parsnips, washed, peeled and chopped
6 cups water
1 pound good butter
1 cup whole cream
1/4 tsp mace
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the chopped roots into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until roots are fork-tender. Drain, and mash with the butter and the cream. Salt and pepper to taste, and add the mace, stirring to mix.

Spoon into a buttered baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees until warmed through (about half an hour). Just before serving, make a well in the center and fill with cubes of reserved butter to melt. Serve.

Now, we've played with this recipe endlessly over the years. We've cut out the cream some years, or replaced it with whole milk or cashew milk. We've added in carrots, leeks, onions, radish, and green onions. The beauty of bashed neeps is it can be endlessly adapted, and it all still tastes good.

This year, we're doing a variation we made last year, which turned out to be something we like even better than root mash, namely:

Hashed Neeps

Ingredients:

4 turnips, washed
2 parsnips, washed and peeled
2 large carrots, washed and peeled

Grate all the roots, patting each root batch dry with a paper towel as you go, sprinkling with salt. After all the roots are grated, heat a pan with a bit of oil (or butter, just be careful to watch the butter so it doesn't burn). Add in spoonfuls of the grated roots, spreading them out to form basic patties. Cook as hash browns. Serve warm.

It's surprising how much crispy fried edges add to winter roots.

And while most years we also throw together Colccannon, again, this year, we just don't have the spoons. So we'll likely have that around October, when it's actually supposed to be served anyway.

In other news, caught a link in world to a Facebook page talking about the holiday:
Undoubtedly today you will hear at one point within a Pagan circle about how today is a day marking a mass murder of Pagans by referring to the snakes that St.Patrick drove out being the Druids. Unfortunately, like most tales brewed by/for the church... its grossly over exaggerated. I am not saying that St.Patrick did not fight Pagans and battle with Druids and even kill some or many in the name of the church (that much we know happened because it was properly recorded), that is how things were. What I am saying is that he was no amazing missionary and he was no especially skilled man in any way shape or form, and like most, his exaggerated stories surfaced hundreds of years after he had already died. The idea of saints driving out creatures from lands did not start or end with him, it was a very common tale they loved to recount to put aires upon a certain saint. Instead of over exaggerating the church's inevitable take over in Ireland... recount and celebrate the strength, perseverance, and resilience Ireland has had as they have had to fight for centuries. Instead celebrate the Fae, The Morrigan, Cú Chulainn, Brigid, The Faoladh and Conroicht and the plethora of Celtic deity and lore. I am Irish Canadian and my Nan was a classic secret keeping feisty Irish woman... these are the things I celebrate today, this is the magic that lurks in my veins. Research it yourself, that is what we are made for. Seek out the truth, but please don't go blindly into perpetuating a tale that only makes the ones hated more powerful. Druids faded with the invasion of the church, but they certainly did not and will not disappear.
Now, I do have a few problems with this, mainly that it completely neglects that Saint Patrick largely was invented from whole cloth to force the Irish to convert.

But, at least according to my researches, Brigid had a consort, named Padraig. And, considering there never were snakes in Ireland, Padraig never rid the Isles of them. So why worry about saints that never existed? Celebrate the faiths that survive. Celebrate that Brigid's Fire has never gone out, even when commanded to be snuffed by the Catholic Church. Celebrate that there are, always have been, and always will be pagans, heathens and Druids in Ireland. Celebrate that even moving to America, in terrible poverty, could not kill the Celtic spirit.

Ignore the rest. It's a feast day!

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