My Dad instilled in me and in my siblings a deep love for our Irish heritage. The man, with his deeply dimpled grin would share with us all the things he loved about being an Irishman. He had a wicked sense of humor, a wonderful singing voice, he would dance a jig and he loved to cook.
My Dad explored his love of cooking late in his life.
After 21 years in the Navy he retired and brought his wife and family of five children east to South Carolina. I believe he initially planned to move to either Virginia or North Carolina – where most of our extended family lives. But, when we drove from California to South Carolina we visited his sister and my uncle for a time. There was a house for sale – and some land at the other end of the neighborhood and there we made our home. I believe that was a wonderful turning point in our lives.
During those years Dad went back to school –
he got a degree in Agronomy – he wanted to be a farmer. My uncle had a 100 acre farm he sold to Dad and he helped him begin his farm. I spent my high school years helping him – taking care of the garden and the animals. There were a lot of idyllic moments in those years.
Then Dad got sick.
A few things happened at the same time that changed Dad’s plans for his senior years. A terrible disease hit the pigs causing him to lose the farm and he developed Emphysema. My Dad had been a smoker since he was a young boy. Dad wasn’t able to do a lot of what he liked to do.
Dad turned to another passion – cooking.
Dad would watch the early TV cooking shows – do you remember The Galloping Gourmet-Graham Kerr, Justin Wilson’s Cajun Cooking show as well as Julia Child’s show. When a recipe took his fancy, he would record the show, jot down the ingredients and send Mom to the store for the ingredients. We were his taste testers. Most of the recipes we loved – several we still cook.
Dad could cook just about anything.
One of the things that stumped him, was baking bread. He worked at it and worked at it until he conquered it. Everything else, he did exceptionally well.
Also, one of the things Dad loved was Country Music.
I know a lot of the old hits – because we heard them so often – we’d here Dad sing along – and sounded much like Merle Haggard. He would sing along with Willie Nelson, Tom T. Hall and others. He would sing and if we passed him by as he was trying his latest recipe – he would get us to dance with him.
Dad loved to be pampered by us children.
He would ask us to rub his back, brush his hair and say, ‘If you do….I’ll dance at your wedding’. We could never refuse him.
Dad instilled in me a lot of things.
I love to garden; I love animals – when I was a young I wanted to be a Veterinarian – but later changed my mind – I am too tender-hearted; I love family; Dad wanted each one of us to build a house and to always live around him, I love my ancestry – especially the Irish side of me and I do love to cook. I often ‘experiment‘ as Dad used to.
So, this review and recipe is for Dad.
I was thrilled with the opportunity to review Irish Country Cooking: More than 100 Recipes for Today’s Table by the Irish Countrywomen’s Association.
Dad would have loved this!
‘Over the 100 years of the history of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, a variety of local cookbooks have been written by the individual ICA Guilds and their members.’
The earlier cookbooks were aimed at practicality, to aid Irish women in improving their cooking skills. These cookbooks, as many family heirlooms, were passed down from family member to family member.
Today’s Guild brought together traditional Irish fare and more modern recipes in their latest cookbook edition.
With an eye for practicality still – you will find recipes for soups, salads, main dishes, vegetables, dips, sauces and stocks, baking and sweet things, an more. You’ll also find very helpful How-To segments which include – cooking for a crowd, cooking potatoes – an Irish staple, making preserves, baking and more.
This post, this review and this recipe is in honor of my Dad –
Irish Stew – one of the most traditional of Irish dishes. I may do a little singing and dancing as I cook – I don’t have as good of a singing voice, but I will thoroughly enjoy this moment – cooking something Dad would have loved and making something special for my family. This is also in memory of Mom – one of the best Mom’s and strongest women I know – I hope to be half the woman she was. This is also for my siblings – I hope you try this – and dance and sing remembering the love we shared in our little home – I love you much.
a slightly modern take on one of the most traditional of Irish dishes...
- 1 1/2 lb. stewing lamb, diced
- 1 3/4 pints stock - lamb, vegetable or chicken (recipe included in cookbook)
- you can substitute broth
- 1 lb potatoes
- 4 oz. carrots, peeled or scrubbed
- 4 oz. celery, trimmed
- 4 oz leeks, trimmed
- 4 oz white cabbage, sliced
- 1 medium onion, peeled
- 1 bouiquet garni*, tied together with twine
- 14 oz cooked cannellini beans
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- sald and freshly ground black pepper
- *a bouquet garni is a bundle of hardy herbs like parsley, thyme and bayleaf tied with string and removed before serving
- Put the lamb into a large pan cover with stock and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam and excess fat from the top and leave to simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat while you prepare the vegetables.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 1 inch dice. Cut all the vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces. Add these to the lamb together with the potatoes and bouquet garni. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 20 to 25 minutes until the lamb is tender.
- Add the cooked cannellini beans and simmer for a final five minutes to heat through. Remove the bouquet garni and check seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with warm soda bread.