Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If You're Lucky to be Irish - You're lucky enough!

Hello fellow readers :) It is now the fine month of March - not only is it the month of my birthday, but it's also the month of Saint Patrick's Day. Growing up Irish not only meant being instilled with the fine values of hard work and laughing much, but also wearing of the green on Saint Patrick's Day. As children, my brother and I were so hardcore in this tradition that we wore green to bed so neither one of us would be pinched in the morning (or, at least that's how I remember it!).

As an adult, I've taken things to a new level, culinary-wise. Last year, I tried my hand with corned beef. I might do that again this year if I'm able to chew (this lucky gal is getting much dental work done - I'm getting fit for a cap on Friday and then, hopefully, some cavities dealt with so I can chew on the other side!). If not, I will just put green dye in my mashed potatoes, have an extra mudslide, and call it a celebration :) Potatoes, of course, are an Irish staple. So are cabbage and Irish soda bread (which I make gluten free, courtesy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef), and Irish cheese. One of the most filling, inexpensive, and nutritious dishes I've been able to create as of yet is "Cabbage Stew", which at the request of a coworker I have posted below.

So, without further ado, Cabbage Stew!

4 quart or so crock pot.
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped into bite-size pieces [Whole Foods will chop a cabbage in half - just as the produce peeps; if using a crock pot larger than 4 quarts, you might need a whole cabbage].
1 cartoon of vegetable or chicken broth (I use low sodium)
1/2 pack of raw bacon (I use low sodium, uncured - for St. Patrick's day, I splurge and use Irish bacon).

1 "stew pack" - or two turnips, 2-4 parsnips, 1-3 carrots, 1/2 an onion if using vegetable broth (or a whole onion if using chicken broth), two small potatoes (or one really big one) and whatever else veggies float your boat. All veggies need to be chopped in bite-sized pieces, but make sure they're big enough so as to not turn to mush in the crock pot!.

Herbs & Seasonings
Herbs to your liking - I use some dill and parsley (it comes in the stew pack). You can use these or whatever herbs float you're boat. You can used dried or the real deal.
Seasonings - a dash of pepper and a big heap of diced garlic works well. Sometimes I use some freshly ground mustard seed.

If I'm in the mood to go vegan, I'll toss in a can of kidney beans - kidney beans are also a lot cheaper than bacon. Or, you can do both - experiment!

Pour veggie or chicken broth into crock pot. Add herbs and seasonings. Taste and adjust according to your taste. Add cabbage, veggies, and bacon (yup, raw - it'll cook in the crock pot, no worries about deadly bacteria or germs!). Leave about 1/2 inch gap between the food and the lid - if you need to add some water or extra broth, feel free to do. Just be careful not to overfill - believe me, you don't want the stuff boiling all over the place! Turn on low, leave for work, and voila! Instant Irish dinner (well, except for the Irish soda bread - I haven't tried that in the crock pot ... yet).

Until the next time, May the road rise up to meet you. / May the wind always be at your back. / May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. /And until we meet again, /May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

... and may your guinea pigs give you much joy :)

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