Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Top O’ The Afternoon to you! Doesn’t flow as well as Top O’ The Mornin’ does it? Oh well. Couldn’t write this morning, Zoe and I were invited to a St. Patrick’s Day party at her friend William’s house. William’s Mommy Anne put out a fantastic spread of Green Shamrock Pancakes (Peanut Free and very yummy!!), Green Fruit (grapes, apples, melon) with some sort of scrumptious dip, Guacamole & Chips, Green Pirate’s Booty, Green Limeade, Green Twizzlers, Green Milk, Green Sushi (yes, cucumber & avocado), Green Tortellini with Broccoli & Pesto and Green Jello Shamrocks! Hope I didn’t miss anything. It was a nice, sunny day and the kids played so well together. Thank you Anne!
My Corned Beef is on the stove slowly simmering now. You can start now too. It only takes 2 to 3 hours to cook the brisket (which usually comes already prepared with the seasonings in a separate packet. Cover with water and cook away). I am going to cut up my veggies now, so they will be ready.
CityMama’s Corned Beef and Cabbage
When buying your brisket, plan on about 1 lb. per person (more if you want leftovers) since there usually is a fair amount of fat to account for and it shrinks quite a bit when cooking.
· 1 prepared corned beef brisket (these come already “corned” or brined and are sold prepackaged at supermarket).
· 3-4 garlic cloves
· 1 bay leaf
· 10 peppercorns
· 4 whole cloves
· peel from half an orange
· 1 savoy or regular cabbage, cut into six wedges
· 1 pound of carrots, scrubbed, ends trimmed, leave whole
· 2 turnips, peeled and quartered
· 4 parsnips, peeled, ends trimmed, leave whole (or if they are particularly large, cut in half lengthwise)
· potatoes, scrubbed (1 medium waxy potato [like white or Yukon Gold] or two new potatoes per person)
· finely chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish
Condiments for serving: freshly grated horseradish, coarse salt, whole grain mustard
Place brisket fat side up in a dutch over or other heavy bottomed pot and cover with cold water. Add garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, and orange peel and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer slowly according to package directions or until fork tender, 2-3 hours. Skim foamy impurities every so often.
Remove brisket to a large platter and tent with foil. Remove orange peel and discard. Raise temperature of liquid to medium, and add veggies to the pot. Simmer until root vegetable are just fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Slice corned beef on the bias against the grain and return to platter. Arrange vegetables around the meat and sprinkle parsley over all. Serve with condiments on the side.

Guinness anyone? Actually I forgot to pick some up on my way home today. I will have to ask Jim to pick some up. My Mom made some yummy Irish Soda Bread, which will be a nice accompaniment.
Here is a nice Irish Toast to start your meal:
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes form Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see those snakes again.
‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have a great day, I am off to find the elusive four leaf clover! We could all use a wee bit of luck couldn’t we?

Spring has Sprung!

Here in New England, the arrival of March, warmer days and slightly freezing temps at night mean the sap is flowing from the Maple Trees! Yes, it is Maple Sugar season! I love to take the girls to visit and observe the process of making Maple Syrup. Unfortunately, now that I live in Rhode Island, there are not as many sugar shacks to visit as there are in NH & Vermont. One of my favorites here in Rhode Island, is
Charlie’s Sugar Shack in Coventry. For tour hours and directions give
them a call at: 401-397-7102. For more info about Sugar Shacks near
you go to: North American Maple

The first sign of Daffodils and crocuses have inspired me to bake
something yummy for breakfast. I think I’ll pull out my newly acquired
gallon of local maple syrup and whip up some Scones! Enjoy this recipe from one of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

Ina’s Maple Scones
Serving: Makes 14
· 3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
· 1 Cup whole-wheat flour
· 1 Cup quick-cooking oats, such as McCann’s quick-cooking Irish oatmeal, plus more for sprinkling (optional)
· 2 Tablespoons baking powder
· 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
· 2 Teaspoons salt
· 1 Pound (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
· 1/2 Cup cold buttermilk
· 1/2 Cup pure maple syrup
· 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 extra-large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash
· 1 1/4 Cups confectioners’ sugar
· 1/2 Cup pure maple syrup
· 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; with rack in center. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Blend butter in at the lowest speed, and mix until butter is in pea-size pieces. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, maple syrup, and 4 eggs; mix to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough may be sticky.
2. Place dough on a well-floured surface. Roll dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness with a well-floured rolling pin (there will be lumps of butter in dough). Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Brush tops of scones with egg wash. Bake until tops are crisp and insides are done, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove baking sheet to wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
4. Make the glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Drizzle each cooled scone with 1 tablespoon glaze (the warmer the scones are when glazed, the thinner the glaze will be). Sprinkle with uncooked oats, if desired, and serve.

Sunday in The Park With: Emma, Zoe, and Jim

A few Sundays ago, Jim suggested we all go ice skating! Ooooh fun, I thought. I used to go all the time when I was growing up. We bundled up and headed over to
The Bank of America City Center in Providence, rented some skates and took to the ice! Emma skated pretty well (read: didn’t fall down much!) for someone that has hardly ever skated. Jim spent most of the time holding Zoe’s hands, while she let him pull her along. Me? Well, I was shaky at first, pretty sure I was going to fall quite a bit. But then I remembered the times growing up in Vermont when I would go to the skating rink at Living Memorial Park. I was there pretty much every weekend during the winter season. Took some lessons and was pretty sure I was going to become the next Dorothy Hamill (I mean come on, I had the hairstyle!)! Ok, I wasn’t that good, but at least I didn’t fall down all the time. The awesome music playing that afternoon took me back to my Jr. High & High School days when my friends and I would try to catch the attention of the high school hockey players waiting for ice time. Just as I was getting into the swing of things, feeling very confident on my ice skates, a 4 year old youngster dressed in full hockey regalia, whizzed by, almost knocking me over and brought me back to reality! Alas, no winter Olympic medal for me this year, but we did have fun! The best part was snack time! We enjoyed some yummy Sugar Cookies that Jim and Zoe had made the day before. Soon our legs couldn’t keep us up much longer so we packed up, headed home and warmed our insides with cups of hot cocoa. Jim and I enjoyed
Garrison Confections’ Spicy Hot Chocolate and the girls drank their steaming cups of Swiss Miss topped with mini marshmallows. A lovely way to end the weekend!