The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 12, 2013

Luck and customs of the Irish

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News & Eagle

— Do you have the luck of the Irish? Think about it.

Oh, how I remember my wonderful old grandpa speaking about “that jolly ARSH feller” that lived down the road. I had no idea who he was. All I knew was that Grandpa always referred to him as “ARSH.”

Grandma never failed to plant her ARSH potatoes by March 17, no matter what the moon sign was or the weather. Back then, I didn’t know there was any kind of potato except ARSH. Oh, I knew of sweet potatoes, but ARSH had to meet the deadline of planting.

I guess it was not until I started to school and learned to read that I figured out what they were talking about. They meant “Irish.” To this day, I still have difficulty saying “Irish.”

When this country was settled, many immigrants came from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and other countries to seek a better life or for wanderlust or adventure. Whatever the reason, they left their home country for this new land, the United States of America. It became a melting pot of nationalities. It still is. Every country is represented in our makeup. I think that variety makes our country unique, diverse, and interesting. We all learn from each other.

I have read that some of the Irish people came to this country to escape the potato famine. That must have been awful to have an entire country hungry. No wonder they think this country is a land of milk and honey.

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we are all feeling a little Irish. Do we have their luck? I have always believed that those who work the hardest have the best luck. Luck may just happen, but it takes effort to use it wisely. I really feel sorry for people who have to depend on winning the lottery to have money. So often, the fame and fortune is short-lived, and they are right back living like they originally were with the same problems and the same quality of life. Money does not bring happiness. Therefore, luck does not bring happiness. Happiness comes from within.

If someone kissed the Blarney Stone, they are lucky if they don’t fall trying to do it. I have not seen the stone, but I have read about it and seen it on television. It looks awkward and dangerous to stretch to kiss it. Maybe it is worth it to the Irish, but my luck probably wouldn’t hold out, and I would end up with a strain or break. Guess I am just not Irish enough to chance it.

A traditional food of St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef. I remember when Mother used to make corned beef in huge pickle crocks. She mixed the spices and added the meat and it cured in that brine for some time before it was ready to cook and eat. It had a wonderful flavor, and we used every last scrap of it on sandwiches and such. Now, we purchase it in the store already cured and ready to cook and eat. It was the curing and the waiting that made it so delicious back then.

The last batch I made was when Daddy was alive, so that would have been about 15 years ago. I had made a huge pot of corned beef with potatoes and cabbage, and Daddy dropped by. Well, he ate as much as he could, and I sent the rest of it home with him. He absolutely loved it. And I enjoyed cooking it. I was so glad he came to help us eat it. He thought it tasted like Mother made it.

We will all wear a little green to keep from getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day. It is tradition. We just must. My friend, Karen, got one nail polished with a green decal when she had her manicure. She is ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Her nails looked beautiful, and that decal looked so cute and appropriate for the holiday. It has to be green that shows for it to count, or one can get pinched.

I wonder where that tradition came from.

The Irish have traditions that include leprechauns. I have never seen one, but maybe I don’t believe hard enough. I have never found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but it must be there somewhere. I can’t do an Irish jig, either, but we still celebrate with the Irish and enjoy their fun and parades. We celebrate with them and appreciate their strength and culture.

This St. Patrick’s Day, we just have to have corned beef and cabbage or beef pot roast and colcannon (mashed potatoes with steamed cabbage and a little onion and seasoning and butter).

The day also calls for “Arsh Sodie Bread.” In Ireland, the cooled baked loaf is broken along the cross marks into four pieces. Each fourth, called a “farl,” is placed broken-side down and sliced. This makes wonderful sandwiches and bread pudding.

Now, for dessert, you’ve got to try this easy-to-fix specialty made with a frozen pound cake purchased at the market.

Irish Shamrock Dessert

1 (10-ounce) pound cake loaf

1 (15-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 (3.4-ounce) box instant pistachio pudding mix

1 (8-ounce) carton whipped topping

green food coloring (enough to make the desired color you want)

Slice cake horizontally, making three layers. Combine pineapple and pudding, beating until mixture begins to thicken. Fold in whipped topping and food coloring, blending well. Spread on each layer and on top of pound cake. Refrigerate. Garnish with shamrocks for good luck.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. May you have the luck of the Irish.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.