It is March again. No, I will not got into the rant about time moving so fast here, but I will invariably say it again somewhere along the line.
So here we are in March once more. Just in time for Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, the second week of March. There is nothing finer than a Nestle Tollhouse Cookie, still warm from the oven, so in honor of this week's celebration I whipped up a batch last night, right there in front of the Big E, and #2--how daring of me! I left them in the kitchen with about 4 dozen cookies or so, and when I returned from working on my paper for Communication and the Law there was not a cookie in sight. Although I was not surprised, I was, once again, a bit ticked.
It takes work to make those cookies, do they really have to eat them all in one sitting? I was so pleasantly surprised when my husband sent me under the pot and pan cabinet, and there in its own zip top bag, were 3 dozen cookies--they each had a couple and then put the rest out of sight so they would not be tempted.
They left some out later last night for #1 son and his girlfriend, but kept the bulk of the batch hidden. It was wonderful to be able to have a couple of cookies tonight as we watched TV together. Now this is nice.
The month of March is also the time to celebrate Flour, Frozen Food, Peanuts, Noodles, and it is Caffeine Awareness Month. As usual the Food celebration committee, whoever they may be, have given us a very diverse month. With St Patrick's day right smack dab in the middle, with National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day, we literally can celebrate soup to nuts
Corned beef and cabbage, currently lauded as an Irish heritage meal is in reality, anything but that. Reading 97 Orchard: an Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, by Jane Ziegelman I learned that it is a fallacy. Irish immigrants did not have a cuisine that diverse to represent their homeland, as their entire diet was based on the potato until the crop failed and the Irish Potato famine of the 1840's all but starved the entire country, at least the peasants.Another important piece to the Irish Potato Famine story is that most of the peasants were Catholic, as the laws at that time prohibited Catholics from owning property or holding down a job; they survived being tenant farmers, and when the potato crop failed for subsequent years they were left with nothing to pay their rents or to feed their families.
Not only did the peasants start starving to death, but they started fleeing the country in an attempt to merely survive. Landing in New York City, ending up on the Lower East side of Manhattan, they became neighbors with Jewish immigrants and as a result corned beef crossed over from Jewish households to Irish. Substituting the corned beef for their beloved bacon the boiled dinner was devised and now it is heralded as authentic Irish fare.
Over the 150 years since the potato famine and mass exodus of Irish peasants to the New World, the Irish have re-found pride in their heritage, their strength to survive such a national catastrophe that wiped out anywhere from 750,000 to 1.5 million of their people, depending on which statistics you want to believe. Either way, that was a lot of people who perished because of their reliance on one foodstuff.
Another misnomer, now that we are on the subject of misnomers, is that potatoes are not native to Ireland. No, they are not. They are native to South America and during the exploration of the New World, which began in the 1500's, the tuberous plant was brought back to Europe. Ireland just seemed to have the perfect climate for the crop, plus in the small plots peasants were allowed to farm they could grow an abundance of potatoes to pay their rents and feed their growing families.
Of course for St Patrick's day I made corned beef and cabbage, although I do make it more than once a year, as we all like it. This year, however, while I was snooping around the internet I kept finding recipes with a bit of a twist. After the corned beef is cooked you remove it from the briny water it has been cooking in pat it dry, slather it with mustard, sprinkle with brown sugar and put it in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes until the sugar melts and caramelizes. I read the directions to the Big E and he agreed it sounded great, so I tried it. Holy corned beef, Bat Man, this little "addition" brought the traditional corned beef to a whole new level. No, it wasn't kicked up a notch, Emeril, but about 30 notches. Who knew? Apparently all the people who posted the recipe on the internet.
I am a convert--I will never make corned beef again without that final step--it was that good.
How about you? Do you have any secrets that make a dish THAT much better? Sharing requested!