By Sherrie Norris
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and many of us will likely wear a little something green on the 17th, a tradition we’ve held for hundreds of years to pay tribute to the patron saint of Ireland. The shamrock, which symbolizes the “trinity,” is a special St. Patrick’s Day icon for many of us, as well, and something I like to display.
This special time of year, usually one of merriment for so many — whether Irish blood flows through our veins or not — brings to mind some of the more commonly known celebrations and related food.
Corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and ales are some of the more traditional foods and drinks that show up on tables and in super market circulars this week to entice us into revelry. Hopefully, there will be a bit more of that than we saw in 2020.
Around this same time last year, we all had a rude awakening as life as we had known if came to a basic standstill. I will never forget.
On Sunday morning, March 15, we had already learned of the first local case of COVID-19. I was to celebrate my 60th birthday that day, and I did, thanks to my son’s family who said the “party,” such as it was, must go on.
Church services had been called off, but we sat around the family computer, enjoying an online service, a new kind of worship that we had no idea would eventually become our weekly “norm” for several months.
We solemnly ate my favorite and most requested meal of delicious homemade tomato soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches along with an amazing dessert; I opened my gifts with the help of my grands.
It was a good day, all things considered — but strained — as we glanced every few minutes at our cell phones, watching the COVID-related posts and “numbers” climb all around us and reported on social media at alarming speed.
We came home that afternoon in a state of bewilderment. What was happening? For once, my husband’s words of wisdom and encouragement were in question. Even he didn’t know what to say to make things better, which is very unusual. But he tried.
There’s little I could say in a nutshell, in this cooking column, to describe what was awaiting us in the coming months. I can’t find one word, or even a sentence to sum up how I really felt then or feel even now.
But, here we are, one year later. Some of us have made it COVID-free, so far. As I write these words, and as you read them, hopefully we all
realize that we are extremely blessed to have made it to where we are.
Many friends, relatives and acquaintances, if not we, ourselves, have made it through the devastating effects of COVID. At the same time, we know of countless others, personally, and so many others around the world, who have struggled and/or died with complications from the evil virus.
We’ve all suffered, some in ways we never expected. Individuals, families, businesses, and organizations, especially the nonprofits, have suffered greatly — and many have not survived. Front-line staff members/first-responders, medical personnel and volunteers have sacrificed their own wellbeing for others, and many have paid the ultimate price. The stress of it all, even if not the diagnosis itself, has altered lives, hopes and dreams.
But, again, I reiterate, we made it.
While our doubts and fears have still not been put to rest, hope is on the horizon; we’re thankful for the vaccines that will (hopefully) put this beast to sleep, once and for all. I’ve had my first and am anxious for the last.
So, let’s move forward into this new Spring season with optimism, with the peace, strength and grace we’ve been given. In my own struggles, I finally realized, it’s all there, I just have to accept it.
Yes, it’s true that very little even looks or feels the same this year, but I bet we can still find a little green to spread around in the coming days. We can at least pretend to be “normal,” right? At least for one day.
¼ cup milk
¼ tsp. each garlic and onion powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 cups raw potatoes, peeled and grated
1/2 small onion, grated
Mix first six ingredients until smooth; can use blender or food processor. In bowl, grate potatoes and onion; remove any excess liquid that might be present. Add other ingredients and mix well.
Pour as pancake batter onto a hot, well-greased griddle and brown on both sides, pressing down with a spatula. These should be thin. Top with butter, sour cream or applesauce.
Irish Shamrock Cookies
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (3 oz.) pkg. instant pistachio pudding mix
1 1/3 cup baking mix (like Bisquick)
1 Tbsp. white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet. Cream together butter or margarine and pudding mix. Blend in the baking mix, egg and sugar; mix well. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, about a ¼-inch thickness and cut into cookies with a shamrock cookie cutter.
Place cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Let cookies cool on rack. Frost with green colored icing if desired. (Just a dab of green food coloring added to prepared white icing will do the trick.)
Easy Lime Pie
1 small pkg. lime Jell-O
2/3 cup boiling water
½ tsp. grated lime peel
3 Tbs. lime juice
½ cup cold water
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip whipped topping, thawed (plus extra for topping)
1 prepared graham cracker crumb crust
Lime slices, cut into quarters (optional)
Dissolve gelatin completely in boiling water in large bowl. Stir in lime peel and juice. Mix cold water and ice to make 1¼ cups. Add to gelatin, stirring until ice is melted. Stir in whipped topping with wire whisk until smooth. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes or until mixture is very thick and will mound. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Garnish with additional whipped topping and lime slices. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.
Pistachio- Seven-Up Cake
1 pkg. white cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup 7-Up
1 small pkg. pistachio instant pudding mix
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 4 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake in 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes, cool.
1 small pkg. pistachio instant pudding mix
1½ cups milk
1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip
Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat for two minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over cake. Chill until served.
Irish Minted Peas
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen green peas
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. sugar
Boiling salted water
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook peas, mint and sugar in boiling salted water 5-7 minutes, until peas are tender. Drain, stir in butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Easy Irish Potato Soup
8 medium potatoes, peeled and drained
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small onions, diced
2 sticks butter or margarine
Cook vegetables in water until tender. Pour off water, add milk to cover, add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Recipe may be doubled as needed.
St. Patrick’s Parfaits
2 cups cold milk
1 small package Jell-O pistachio flavored instant pudding and pie filling
2 cups thawed Cool Whip
Chocolate shamrock cutouts (optional)
Pour milk into large bowl; add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 1 to 2 minutes. Layer pudding, chocolate sauce, and 1 cup whipped topping alternately in parfait glasses, repeat.
Garnish with remaining whipped topping and chocolate shamrocks. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Shamrock cutouts: Melt 4 squares of semisweet chocolate, pour onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet; spread to 1/8-inch thickness with spatula. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Immediately lift shapes carefully from wax paper with spatula and knife. Refrigerate until ready to use.