Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My First Corned Beef

Although I always want to be Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, I am not and I don’t usually celebrate. Oh, I always wear green, and I made sure my kids had something green to wear, so they would not be pinched or have their foot stomped on. But that was about all the celebrating we did. I started wondering about this pinching/stomping tradition this week. Is this just something that is done in our area, or is it universal among school children?

However, I not only wore green this year, I cooked my first corned beef. I bought two from Kroger with the spice packages wrapped inside and directions for cooking on the outside of the plastic wrapper. I had decided to serve corned beef sandwiches to the church women who were coming to our house on Monday night.

A group of volunteers were having a fund raiser up at West Frankfort today and one of the names and phone numbers given for the event was a writer friend I had lost contact with. I phoned Kay and asked her for serving advice. In addition to the flax bread I love and had planned to serve, I found out I needed to offer rye bread and Swiss cheese and even sauerkraut could be available. I ran out of time and decided to forgo the sauerkraut, which I was somewhat uneasy might smell up the kitchen.

I fixed a large relish plate of green items with only bright red pepper slices in the middle to give a mite of color. I made pea salad, lime punch, and used a special Irish coffee packet I had been given for Christmas in addition to making a decaf pot. Chips and candies. Angel food cakes, with and without icing (icing colored green, of course), lime sherbet, and green grapes were offered for dessert.

Mary Ellen had given me beautiful green place mats two or three years ago as well as two new sets of Christmas tablecloths at the same time. With so many choices at Christmas, I had not yet used the emerald place mats, and they really brightened up the yellow cloth which I have used throughout the years since Gerry and Vickie’s wedding rehearsal dinner 30 years ago!

In fact, I looked through the house and found every green dish or vase or candle available, and green took over the environment. I had bought three beautiful candles for 25 cents apiece at the Carbondale mall in the Christmas season’s leftovers. So they decked the dining room table sitting in a dish I bought from Salvation Army to hold them. Yes, I did have a lovely vase of daffodils in the living room. If you read my last blog, you know where they came from.

After singing and prayer requests for friends and loved ones, Deana Odom gave a devotional. In our business meeting, spring plans were completed. We are preparing ten large buckets of carefully chosen food items to feed a family and then we will be tightly packing them. Someone in our area is to take them down to Haiti along with many other churches’ buckets.

Not so important but enjoyed by the children in our village as well as by visiting grandchildren will be our Easter egg hunt followed by lunch the day before Easter. I certainly enjoy not having to fix lunch that day for my gang since egg dying and other activities keep us busy. Then there will be the sunrise breakfast (I never make that) the next morning and finally our annual women’s banquet in May when we invite our friends and neighbors. The men serve our meal and clean up afterwards. Can’t beat that! We have fun decorating for it, and Jo Barger plans and executes the meal, which the men also enjoy after their serving work while we go upstairs for a program. I can’t imagine planning food for this large group every year, but Jo is more than capable. Our meal is always delicious.

Jo is one of the most knowledgeable food experts in our area and has a cook book to prove it. (I am sure she has been a valuable resource for her son’s popular Goreville restaurant.) She delights in serving family and friends at gatherings in her home or down in her special little backyard cabin with an old-fashioned cook stove to make biscuits and enormous old-fashioned breakfasts.

After all our plans were made and ready volunteers were quickly secured for every project, we moved to the kitchen/dining room to enjoy my efforts at green food. Better than the food was the visiting seasoned with laughter. There wasn’t much corned beef left over, but enough that Katherine’s family as well as Gerald and I were able to have a sandwich again today. I felt I made Saint Patrick proud this year.

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