So, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. Not being Irish, I never really had much of an appreciation for the holiday. That is, not until I married an Irishman and produced kids who all went to Catholic schools. I’m not Catholic, so I used to feel like a real duck out of water this time of year. Nothing like having your kid pinch you because you forgot to wear something green—their school uniforms are green so it’s a no–brainer for them!
My first lesson on the customs of St. Paddy’s Day came when my eldest was in kindergarten. She came home from school bursting with excitement about leprechauns. Apparently, a posse of the little buggers got into her classroom the night before and had some mischievous fun knocking over chairs and messing up the teacher’s desk. I wondered why the teachers would go out of their way to promote such behavior, even if it was all leprechaun antics. I had only heard about the old Catholic school days (i.e., Rich’s days) when a student would have to answer to Sister Mary Margaret and her ruler if they ever tried getting away with such acts of vandalism. Rich’s sister, who already experienced many St. Patrick’s Day classroom massacres with her sons, didn’t warn us about the teachers’ annual custom. She said her boys’ first leprechaun experience at school is what led her to recreating similar scenarios at home. After all, why should the leprechauns limit their pranks to just the classroom? So, I decided to follow suit and create our own family tradition of leprechaun shenanigans at home, too.
In the following years, catching the little culprits became a priority at school and the kids were told to design and build leprechaun traps. This wasn’t a problem until our boys grew older and finally got their opportunity. By this point, I had become a wee bit carried away with leprechaun lore at home. Why, those little mischief–makers began t–peeing the bathroom and relieving themselves in the sink! (Green food coloring is quite versatile this time of year.) Over the years, they (the leprechauns) progressed from mere pranksters to frat–rats with their destructive acts. They redeemed themselves, though, by leaving behind little Irish gifts. This inspired the boys to take their trap–making very seriously (they really wanted some leprechaun loot!). The youngest of the three decided in his earliest attempt that nothing short of a horrific death would help him attain leprechaun wealth. Inside his creation was a pit that was covered by a cleverly concealed trap–door. At the bottom was a 3–inch nail (pointed upwards, of course). He was hoping for a leprechaun shish kebab! Needless to say, I was appalled and made him remove it. It was already dangerous enough navigating through the bedroom with all the contraptions they had set up; nothing short of a giant Mouse Trap Game.
Our day of reckoning came the year St. Patrick’s Day and Easter fell during the same week and the boys were losing their teeth faster than we could remember to put quarters under their pillows. One of those nights, neither Rich nor I could manage to stay awake long enough to perform tooth fairy duties. We had hell to pay the next morning when one of the boys awoke to find his tooth still under the pillow instead of money. We decided it was fitting to blame the leprechauns for scaring off the tooth fairy. And the Easter bunny…he got props that year for just doing his egg–hiding job following such a scandal.
Since these folklore characters have long been exposed for the frauds they are and we no longer have to help perpetuate their legends, I stick to cooking and baking for holiday fun. You won’t find me making corned beef cabbage, though. I leave that to Rich (the Irishman). But after reading the poem below (from notcornedbeef), it sounds like he has grown up with a misconception or two about Irish customs. So for me, I’ll just play it safe and stick to green colored food recipes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
This cake turned out more yellow than green (thanks to the dark yolk eggs I use), but it is lime flavored and oh so good! It’s very moist and requires some kind of drink (preferably hot, like tea) to help it go down. This could easily be turned into any other kind of citrus–flavored cake. I’m going to try mandarin orange and Meyer lemon next (sort of a super Meyer lemon hybrid flavor). I added some left–over Meyer lemon zest I had on hand to this cake and, of course, the combo turned out all the better! It was a successful combination of my two citrus trees and I don’t have to worry if it’s a traditional Irish recipe because I already know it isn’t. But isn’t the lime zest on top a lovely shade of green!
GOOD GRIEF—NOT BEEF!
I just want to put something straight
About what should be on your plate,
If it’s corned beef you’re makin’
You’re sadly mistaken,
That isn’t what Irishmen ate.
If you ever go over the pond
You’ll find it’s of bacon they’re fond,
All crispy and fried,
With some cabbage beside,
And a big scoop of praties beyond.
Your average Pat was a peasant
Who could not afford beef or pheasant.
On the end of his fork
Was a bit of salt pork,
As a change from potatoes ’twas pleasant.
This custom the Yanks have invented,
Is an error they’ve never repented,
But bacon’s the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.
So please get it right this St. Paddy’s.
Don’t feed this old beef to your daddies.
It may be much flasher,
But a simple old rasher,
Is what you should eat with your tatties.
Lotsa Lime & a Lil’ Bit o’ Lemon Loaf
1–2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 cup Greek style plain yogurt (or drained regular style)
1/4 cup lime juice
1–1/2 tablespoons lime zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1–1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1–1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1–1/2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.
Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until combined. Add the eggs (one at a time) and beat until fully blended. Beat in the yogurt, lime juice and zest. Sift together the flour and baking powder and beat it into the batter until completely incorporated.
Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and allow the loaf to cool in the pan.
Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing the sugar, lime juice and water together until smooth. If a thicker glaze is desired, add more sugar. To thin out the glaze, add a few drops of water.
Once loaf has cooled completely, remove from pan and place on serving plate. Drizzle the glaze over the top, collecting excess if it pools too much at the bottom of the loaf. You can then re–drizzle it on the top of the loaf. Sprinkle desired amount of lime zest on top to finish.
March 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm
OOoh, that looks so pretty, I’ll bet it’s delicious. I went to a Catholic school too, and my grandfather’s parents were Irish, so there was a lot of boiled food (I know I’m mixing the posts) and singing going on – and whiskey drinking and loud arguing.. They were almost as loud as the Hungarian side of the family – no hungarian holidays here though.
Oh yeah, we built leprechaun traps with our kids too.
That’s funny, I’m part Hungarian. We followed all the usual religious holidays when I was a kid. You’re right, no Hungarian holidays to celebrate. We did (and still do) practice some unusual customs at Christmastime, tho, that involve garlic and honey and washing your face with water from a bowl of money (coins). We also tie a big rope around the dinner table when we eat our holiday meal. The kids still love doing it every year even though they’re getting older.
Love this recipe!
Great website as well!
Enjoyed it. Thanks!