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Column: Celebrating, Irish style

On March 17 hardly a person with Irish blood or those who wish they had some, forgets to wear the traditional Emerald Isle green honoring the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

The shamrock symbolizes the Trinity and is one of the best known symbols of St Patrick's Day today.

Decades ago in Ireland, the 17th of March was a holy day. People spent the day in church with prayers, songs and dance. Pubs were closed and green was considered an unlucky color. The 17th was the date St. Patrick died.

He was the Christian missionary who converted Ireland from paganism. The tradition of wearing the green grew slowly with Western influence. The dark lush foliage and crops were abundant in the valleys.

Ireland, because of its 10-month growing season, is a wealthy nation. They have the finest organic diet including lamb, beef, seafood, fruits, cheese and vegetables. People in Ireland eat simple but organic foods. Over the years they have always loved their big portions of potatoes. Desserts are not included in their meals.

The price of eating out remains as high as the taxes. Friends gather in homes to celebrate rather in pubs. Every home has a tea kettle of hot water for brewing tea. In Ireland St Patrick's Day is still religious but has changed with our Western influence, with emphasis on eating healthy.

In America St Pat's has gotten a bad rap in our modern society as the biggest party day of spring. We celebrate with corned beef and cabbage (the true Irish celebrate with ham or bacon and cabbage), parades, dances, green refreshments and lots of people decked out in green wearing a shamrock.

Regardless where or if you celebrate on the 17th, remember to act responsibly. If you drink, don't drive. Designate a driver, hire a cab. Remember, law enforcement isn't out there to punish you for having a good time, but they are out there to protect others.

Left over corned beef casserole

1 can sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

1 small onion, shredded fine

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

2/3 cup Russian dressing

1 pound very thinly sliced cooked corn beef

3 slices rye bread, cubed and tossed with two tablespoon melted butter

Combine sauerkraut and onion in bottom of 9x13 pan. Top with cheese, dressing and corned beef. Sprinkle buttered bread cubes over. Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Yield: four servings

St Patrick's Day salad

4 pounds sweet green grapes, cut in half

8 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces sour cream

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Wash, dry and cut grapes. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla, add to grapes. Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans over top and mix together.

Refrigerate until serving. Yield: eight servings