Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2010

Last week it was cold and windy, but not this week. The weather has been so unseasonably hot in coastal Orange County CA this week, that it’s hard to belive that it’s only mid-March. The heat is confusing my cabbage and it’s all bolting.

I got NO heads of cabbage this spring. Not one. The poor things were so sad looking, split heads or no heads, all chewed up by earwigs, that I’m giving them all to my chickens. They love cabbage and earwigs. No worries, the grocery store had cabbage at 25 cents a lb today.

Corned beef and cabbage, with carrots and potatoes, garnished with parsley from my garden.

I tore myself away from the garden long enough today to make some corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. I added potatoes, carrots, and onion, plus a spice packet of my own making. I washed off the black peppercorns (hate them), red chiles (ditto), and mustard seed that came with the Harris Ranch corned beef. I used a couple of locally grown bay leaves, a tsp of coriander seed from my garden, a half tsp of green peppercorns, a half tsp of whole allspice, and a couple of cloves, all tied up in a cheesecloth bag to keep the seeds out of the vegetables. Given the amount of water that I needed to cover the corned beef, I probably could have doubled all the spices.

Cover corned beef (about 2-3 lbs) with water, add spices tied in cheesecloth, and simmer for 2.5 hours. Add 5 sliced carrots, 1 yellow onion cut into sixths, 4 washed but unpeeled potatoes cut into bite sized chunks, and 1 head of cabbage cut into quarters. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all the vegetables are done. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and slice. Use a slotted spoon to put vegetables onto a serving platter, add the corned beef, garnish with parsley and serve with grated horseradish. Great dish.

However, I must say that I was terribly disappointed in the ratio of fat to beef in the Harris Ranch corned beef. It was nearly half fat. After cutting off the fat, there were only four small servings of beef. The chickens will get the fat over the next few days, so it won’t be wasted. But at $2.99 a lb, that’s some pretty high-priced chicken feed. It’s feedlot beef, not grass-fed beef or bison, but it should have been trimmed better.

The table is set for two for this St. Patrick's Day meal.

The salad was all homegrown. I used Black-seeded Simpson, Red Saladbowl and Green Oakleaf lettuce, sliced baby sorrel leaves, chopped cilantro, a small handful of snow peas and a few young pea tendrils, which are surprisingly tender and delicious in salads.

Note the bread on the plate. That’s a slice from a homemade loaf of whole wheat-pecan-currant bread. Here’s the recipe of my own making for a 2 lb loaf using a Welbilt bread machine. I put the ingredients in the order given into my bread machine, add the nuts and currants when the timer beeps and the machine does the rest. And yes, I really do mean “white whole wheat flour.” It’s more finely ground than regular whole wheat and baked goods don’t come out as dense. Very nice product if you can find it.

1 1/2 C + 2T water

2T extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp salt

1/3 C dark brown sugar

3 C white whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand)

1 1/4 C unbleached white bread flour

zest of one orange, using a microplane grater

3 T. Bob’s Red Mill dried buttermilk powder

1/2 C dried currants

1 C whole pecans (they get broken up by the bread machine)

Use the whole wheat cycle. This makes a great loaf of bread. Sometimes I use golden raisins instead of currants, using 3/4 C. Sometimes I use only 1 C of the white whole wheat, making up the rest with white bread flour. Give it a try.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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One Response to Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2010

  1. Slamdunk says:

    The corned beef and cabbage looks great.

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