Well, Mother Nature still can’t make up her mind as to whether it’s spring or still winter. Last week and the early part of this past week, we had freezing, or near freezing temperatures, then the rest of the week we had high 60s and over the weekend lots of fog, drizzle, 99% humidity and temps in the 70s and 80s! The huisache trees are covered in their golden puff-balls, but the pecan trees and the mesquite trees still don’t have any leaves. My elm trees put leaves on, then we had the freeze and the blooms fell off, and now they’ve put on tiny green leaves. The Anaqua trees haven’t yet made up their minds as to whether to leaf out or not and I still haven’t seen any “Scissor-tail” fly catchers on the fences or in the trees, so, I am patiently waiting to see what comes next.
It is Sunday morning, and I drove to Mass in fog and came home in heavier fog an hour later, and it is still hanging around. The grass is wet to the roots from the moisture and my yardman thinks he needs to mow today or tomorrow. Hope he waits until tomorrow as the last time it was cut, it was too wet and what a mess we had from that!
The first week of the month is always a busy one for me and this one was no different, not only did I have my usual meetings, but my brother and his wife were in and got to stay an extra several days, due to the weather in North Texas, so I got to hang around with them a couple of extra times. My sister, sister-in-law and I went shopping and antiquing on Tuesday afternoon, had lunch out and then a little more shopping. Fun was the main word in our itinerary and laughter was our main topic. Needless to say, it was a truly great afternoon with a couple of my favorite people. Wednesday, I had to be at home in the afternoon as the ‘cable people’ were due at my home. They got there within the time frame, but weren’t able to fix my problem. Hopefully when they come on Sunday they will be able to complete the job. Not much fun watching TV with closed captioning…it has errors and sometimes by the time I figure out the word it’s three or four sentences further down and I’m frustrated beyond belief.
This time change is a mess, the newest clock in my bedroom did not change itself as I thought it would, but, thank goodness the alarm on my phone did and it went off on time.
Well, we have a semi-holiday on our horizon. St. Patrick’s Day is next Sunday, and as far as I am aware, there are no special programs in our area. In other parts of the nation, there are lots of celebrations, especially in New York and Chicago, and probably places in Texas also, however, I’m not aware of them. Put on your best green shirt, make some scones for breakfast, have a ‘green’ beer and enjoy your day!
“St. Patrick’s Day, no more we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen, they’ve passed a bloody law ‘agin, (against) the wearing of the green”. Thus went the words of a song we sang when I was in grade school. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the word ‘bloody’ was a curse word, and not used in polite company! The 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, a day the Irish and the “wanna be” Irish celebrate. “Erin go Bragh”, shillelagh, shamrocks, green ribbons, scones, and Irish stew will be the order of the day. Over the years in reading different books and articles, I’ve come across the Irish cop (usually in Chicago, sometimes in New York) telling someone to straighten out, “Before I lay me shillelagh up alongside your head”.
The San Antonio River used to be dyed green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. In other parts of the United States, it is celebrated with a lot more pomp and circumstance than it is in our area with parades and lots of parties etc.
Some of the following information about Ireland and St. Patrick’s was gleaned from the Internet several years ago, and some of it is from our older papers. Hope it doesn’t sound too familiar.
When it comes to stories about St. Patrick, legend and truth are totally intertwined.
The young man who was to later become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales around AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and due to lack of required scholarship, he almost didn’t get the job of Bishop of Ireland.
Until the age of 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that time, after a raid on his village, he and other young men were sold into slavery in Ireland. During his time of captivity, he learned the Irish language and also moved closer to God.
After six years, he was able to escape from slavery and went to Gaul. There, he studied in the Monastery under St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, for a period of 12 years. While he was in training, he became aware that he was being called to convert the pagans to Christianity. He was ordained as a deacon, then as a priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him to Ireland to preach the gospel. He became a great traveler, especially in the Celtic countries, as they are numerous places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland named after him.
St. Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small, and the discussion became very heated. Finally, the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St. Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.
While it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, chances are that there never have been since the time the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the ice age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
The legend of the shamrock is also connected with the banishment of snakes from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions.
While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara, and abolished their pagan rights. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the holy Wells, which still bear that name.
According to tradition, St. Patrick died in AD 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba at Donpatrick County. According to other information I have found, St. Patrick died on March 17, in AD 461 and that day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.
Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury abbey. There is evidence of an Irish pilgrimage to his tomb during the reign of the Saxon King Ine in Ad 688, when a group of pilgrims headed by St. Indractus were murdered.
The shamrock has long been Associated with St. Patrick. He used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. It was used in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. At one time, the shamrock was called the “Seamroy,” and symbolizes and cross and the Trinity. Before the era of Christianity, it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad.
The followers of Patrick adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day. The custom of celebrating St. Patricks Day came to America in 1737, when it was celebrated publicly in Boston for the first time.
The Irish have their own language, Gaelic. Now, not only do they have their own language, they also use different names for things they might over here in America. Here are a few of the more common; biscuits-cookies; bangers-sausage; colcannon-boiled cabbage and potatoes; coddle-a stew made from pork, sausage, potatoes and onions; champ or poundies-mashed potatoes with green onions and a well of butter in the middle; praties-potatoes; biscuits-cookies; rasher-slice of bacon; crubeens-pigs feet (trotters) cooked with carrots, onions and spices or dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried; and, believe it or not, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish!
So, you ask, what is traditional food? One could start the day with a dish of porridge with a topping of cream or honey, followed by a full Irish breakfast fry, consisting of sausage, bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding, toast and brown soda bread. In accompaniment, there would also be a large pot of fresh tea, marmalade and honey. Here are a few more items that are considered traditional Irish recipes (those that are at least fifty years old). Soda bread, oatcakes, gingerbread loaf, seed cake*, basic scones, porter cake, Irish whiskey cake, Irish omelet, oatmeal bacon pancakes, sorrel soup, boiled bacon and cabbage, beef and stout casserole, potted chicken, baked tripe, chicken and leek pie, apple mash and Irish stew or lamb stew. Irish stew is traditionally made of lamb or mutton, potatoes, onions and parsley. Frequently, lamb or mutton neck bones, shanks and other trimmings were the basis for the stock. The root vegetables, turnips, parsnips or carrots add further flavor and thickening power, as well as filling sustenance. (I checked the recipe for seed cake that is in a cookbook that my grandchildren sent me from New Zealand and it is a cake made with whisky or brandy and caraway seeds!).
Oatmeal Raisin Scones
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teapsoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chilled butter (do not substitute)
1½ cups oatmeal (either old-fashioned or quick-cooking, but not instant)
½ cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375ºF Mix together, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut chilled butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oatmeal and raisins. Add buttermilk and mix with fork until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead 6 to 8 minutes. Pat dough into ½-inch thickness and then cut into 8 to 10 rounds or shape into large circle and cut into 8 to 10 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Here is the recipe for a pretty, green pie to make for dessert when you have your corned beef and cabbage or your Irish Stew for dinner!
(Makes 1 pie)
1 Graham cracker pie crust
1 carton (8-oz) whipped topping, thawed (light if desired)
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese (light if desired)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 envelopes Holland House® Margarita Mix (powdered mix)*
Soften cream cheese to room temperature and then beat with an electric mixer until very smooth, add sugar and Margarita mix and beat until well combined. Thoroughly mix in the whipped topping until totally incorporated and then spoon into crust and smooth top. Freeze for at least 1 to 2 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Makes 8 to 10 servings. *If this is unavailable, 2 packages of lime flavored, unsweetened drink mix works well. (i.e. Kool Aid, Flavor-ade).
Pretzel Crust for Margarita Pie
1½ cups finely crushed pretzel sticks
¼ cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
Combine crushed pretzel sticks, sugar and butter. Press into a buttered 9-in. pie pan and chill thoroughly. When chilled, pour in pie filling and freeze according to above directions.