March 2002 Corned Beef and Mixed Vegetables Irish Soda Bread Scrambled Egg Casserole Howdy, Howdy, Howdy! Ah yes, the winds of March will soon be upon us again. As the old saying goes, "They come upon us with the wrath of a Lion, but they leave with the gentleness of a Lamb!" And in their wake they always bring nice, warm, spring weather and the mountains come alive again with a new coat of wild flowers. Springtime in the mountains of Calaveras County is one of the prettiest things that you’ll ever see in all your natural born days! Also in the month of March we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th. What else would fit in better than a couple of traditional Irish recipes here in the ol’ Bluegrass Kitchen this month? Along with St. Patrick’s Day, I also celebrate the anniversary of my birth this month. On the 21st day of the month I will be 64 years young! When I turned 60 I threw a big party here on Bluegrass Acres, complete with a live bluegrass band, plenty of barbecued meat, strong drink and all the trimmings! A good crowd of family and friends showed up and we had one heck of a good time! Maybe when I turn 70 we’ll do it again. Everybody up and down Lily Gap Road is still talking about the last party! We definitely had a good time but about once every decade is sufficient! (The only wild life in the area for two or three days was us!) While in the process of getting recipes together for last month’s column, I ran across two of my favorite traditional Irish recipes, so I stuck them in the Bluegrass Kitchen binder. So, without further ado, come on into the kitchen where its nice and sunny and warm this morning; pour yourself a big cup of cowboy coffee; and we’ll palaver over some good Irish vittles! When I think of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (other than a bottle of Paddy’s Irish Whiskey), the first thing I usually think of is a pot full of Corned Beef that is so huge, two Irishmen would have trouble shaking hands over it! Just the thought of a big plate full of Corned Beef and Cabbage almost gives me a terminal case of the slobbers! Suffice it to say; when I was doing my monthly grocery buying this month, I bought a hunk of Corned Beef about the size of an elephant’s ear! I’d done throwed a cravin’ on myself! (This cravin’ is easy to fix though – its not like one of those cravings you get for some fresh corn on the cob in the middle of January!) Here’s how to cure a craving for Corned Beef that works every time. Corned Beef and Mixed Vegetables 1 corned beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed 6 to 8 small red potatoes 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces 3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces 2 TBSP chopped celery leaves 2 turnips, peeled and cut into wedges 1 medium head cabbage, cut into 6 to 8 wedges 1/2-pound fresh green beans 3 to 4 ears fresh corn, halved Place corned beef and enclosed seasoning packet in an 8-quart Dutch oven. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, celery leaves and turnips; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cabbage, beans and corn; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Yield: 6-8 servings. I’ll never forget the winter day in 1965 when my ol’ hunting partner Don Clapperton and I came in from a day of hunting in the mountains. There was a big pot full of corned beef and cabbage on the stove that my wife had cooked up and the two of us sat down and ate the whole darn thing! We still talk about that wonderful meal 37 years later! I’ve never met an Irishman, whether real of imagined, that doesn’t like corned beef! While you’ve got the corned beef and vegetables cooking in the pot, you’ve got plenty of time to whip up a most traditional addition to go with it. An Irish meal wouldn’t be complete with a lovely loaf of Irish Soda Bread. This recipe makes a wonderful high loaf of bread dotted with sweet raisins. I love this when it is sliced, toasted and buttered to eat with that first cup of coffee on a chilly spring morning. Irish Soda Bread 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 TBSP brown sugar 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3 TBSP butter or margarine 2 eggs 3/4-cup buttermilk 1/3-cup raisins In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Combine 1 egg and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in raisins. Knead on a floured surface for 1 minute. Shape to a round loaf; place on a greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4-in.-deep cross in the top of loaf. Beat remaining egg; brush on loaf. Bake at 375º for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Yield: 6-8 servings. When I was a young’un back in the 40s and 50s, my mother had a recipe for this and she would fix it at least once a year. Needless to say, a loaf of this bread never had a life span of over 4-5 hours around our house! A big slab of soda bread hot from the oven, buttered and a big glass of cold milk, wow! Nuff said. Now this last recipe isn’t what you’d call an Irish traditional dish, but you can have it for breakfast or even lunch on St. Patrick’s Day, and no one will be the wiser. This recipe is especially good for when you have company. Mix it up when you’re fixing supper the night before; slide it in the refrigerator; simply pop it in the oven the next morning and breakfast is cooked! This recipe makes quite a bit, so for two healthy appetites just half the ingredients and believe me, you’ll have plenty! If you take time to mix up a batch of biscuits or hot cornbread to have with this dish, as my ol’ pickin’ buddy Sunny Hammond used to say, "you’ll be the King Boss!" Whether you end up the King or Queen boss, I know your family and friends will sure love this one. Scrambled Egg Casserole 1/2 cup butter or margarine, divided 2 TBSP all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper 2 cups milk 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded process American cheese 1 cup cubed fully cooked ham 1/4 cup sliced green onions 12 eggs, beaten 1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained 1-1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs Additional sliced green onions, optional In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook and stir until mixture begins to bubble. Gradually stir in milk; cook, until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Add cheese; mix well and set aside. In a large skillet, sauté ham and onions in 2 tablespoons butter until onions are tender. Add eggs; cook and stir until they begin to set. Add the mushrooms and cheese sauce; mix well. Pour into a greased 11-in. X 7-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Melt remaining butter; toss with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with onions if desired. Yield: 6-8 servings. Well folks, its deadline time again. I don’t know where the weeks and months slide off to! I’ve got to fire up the ol’ truck and get this over to Suzanne to decipher and try to make sense of my chicken scratch writing. But, good news! On my desk is a new computer and as soon as I’m "knowed up" enough to operate it, I’m buying one of those high falutin’ programs for it, where you just talk into it and it prints everything you say! Then all I do is press the "send" button and there it is, all typed and everything right there in Suzanne’s office! We live in exciting times, folks. Why I’ll bet that pretty soon you’ll be able to send money through the mail! What will they think of next? Until next month, may God grant you all peace and health. God bless America and pray for all of those who are far from home protecting our country. Yer friend, J.D. Rhynes


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