Tuesday, February 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day - A Family Tradition

The heritage I was raised with growing up was to know and embrace my Irish roots.  It is with pride that I think on the land from which my family came.  There are fond memories of my Irish family members, their ambitions, their struggles and their triumphs.  My paternal grandparents did a wonderful job of instilling us with Irish pride.  Above everything, it was the greatest thing they gave me; my identity as an Irish American.

Growing up we celebrated St. Patrick's Day in a big way.  There was always wonderful food, stout, and the Chieftans on television.  I have vivid memories of gathering around the television in my grandparents basement, fire blazing, cozy blanket, and the lively Chieftans performing on screen.  Those memories are all happy.

As I got older I continued the tradition with my own family.  Mostly I did it for my dad, as few of my children even like corned beef.  What I didn't realize is that this is something they would grow to enjoy and look forward to as they got older and ventured on their own.  Imagine my surprise when some of my older children were still at home, and some of them were on their own, and I started getting phone calls asking what we were doing for St. Patrick's Day.  Over time our traditions have developed as such that we gather as a family twice a year; once at Christmas and once at St. Patrick's Day.  Since our family is so large we now make traditional Irish Stew instead of corned beef, which is rather costly to feed 30 people.  Sometimes I make Irish Soda Bread or Scones, and we keep it simple as it would have been at its origin.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your family?  Are you Irish by birth, or just Irish at heart?  Is there a different celebration that takes place in your family based on your cultural heritage?  I would absolutely love to hear about it.

Here are some of my favorite recipes and resources for making St. Patrick's Day special with family and friends:

The Food

My niece shared this recipe with me a couple years back, and I have been making it ever since.  It was a huge hit right from the start, and it is SO simple to make.  I make it in the crockpot, though.  It takes two large pots to feed our big family, with no leftovers!  Maybe I'll make three this year.

This recipe is very similar to how I make my corned beef.  I am inconsistent as to how I prepare it.  Some years I make it in a large roasting pan in the oven.  Other years I do the crockpot method.  It just depends on my schedule and my mood.  Both are simple and tasty.  My husband likes his served with horseradish, and I like mine with stone ground mustard.  No matter what I always make enough for leftovers.  It makes great hash, bubble and squeak, and sandwiches; on rye bread of course.

As a kid it was always something to look forward to getting a Shamrock Shake from a certain fast food restaurant.  That was before the state of our food system was in question, and most of the food we still ate was actually real.  As an adult I got a Shamrock Shake for old time sake, after which my name for it became "chemical spooge".  It's vile stuff that bears no resemblance to its former self.  This recipe from Your Homebased Mom is a refreshing alternative minus the chemical storm provided by the fast food industry.

Another one of my favorite St. Patrick's Day foods is Irish Soda Bread.  My family doesn't all like it.  However, making just one loaf is super simple, so I often make it just because I like it.  We all need those little things that we do just for us, and making soda bread is one of those things I don't mind doing just for myself.  I mean, it is only once a year, people.  This is one of those little effort equals big pay off kind of things.  I love things like that!  If you can get it, Gooseberry Jam is perfect on Irish Soda Bread, and Cooking Melangery dishes out the perfect recipe.

A Little Irish History

Fun Crafts and Activities for the Kids

A fun craft using free paint chips from the hardware store via the Child Care Land Blog.

Being Creative has a fun recipe for St. Pat's Day Play Dough.

There's a fun treasure hunt printable over at Oopsey Daisy.

For even more fun ideas for celebrating St. Patrick's Day with your family 
you can visit my Pinterest page.  

Don't forget to leave me a comment and share how you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, or your own personal cultural heritage, with your family!

1 comment:

Leah Courtney said...

Thank you for sharing these. We never make much of the holiday, but I love the story of st. Patrick, and I'd love to do some of these to celebrate.


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