Food For Thought blog is
An Irish Christmas
by Melody Carlson.
Two of my favorite events in the blog
world fall on the
same Saturday this week!
I am joining Jain's
beautiful blog full of photos of luscious food,
elegant tablescapes and gorgeous outdoor views
Food For Thought
for the first time today
as well as participating
in the Saturday Blog Showcase
co-hosted by Lori at
All that Splatters
and Ann at
It is Lori's turn to host the Blog Showcase this week.
Try a new recipe each week that another blogger has shared.
Prepare the recipe during the week then link your post to Saturday Blog Showcase.
Include the recipe in the body of your post
(if it is not a copyright violation to do so)
and a link back to the recipe on the originating blog.
from The Good Mood Food Blog.
Donal Skehan's photos & text are copyrighted
so I won't paste his recipe here.
Visit his blog where you'll
find it & many more
Food references were sparse in this book
but I felt compelled to use an Irish staple
from a wonderful Irishman's blog
since the book I read was titled
An Irish Christmas
by Melody Carlson.
My dear sweet friend, Bobbie, sent me this book. She knows how much I love anything to do with my Irish heritage. My mother's grandmother followed her true love over to America from County Cork during the potato famine. My mother was a true & proud Irish woman, through & through. How could she not be, with the maiden name of Peggy O'Neil?
The book arrived a few days after my husband was hospitalized with a heart attack in early December. Little did Bobbie know, it would help me pass the many hours sitting in waiting rooms while he underwent multiple tests to access the damage done to his heart. It helped me get through the quiet hours while he slept & healed, when I was afraid to leave his side. I'd curl up in the comfy chair in his hospital room & listen to him snore, while I read. I will never again complain about his snoring! I'm so grateful that it continues nightly.
This book is a story of love, deception & secret passions that centers around an American family in the 1960's. When the father passes away, it brings the son home from college. The father had expected the son to take over the family shoe business but the son has dreams of becoming a musician instead. In an effort to build bridges, the mother, Colleen, takes her son, Jamie to Ireland for a Christmas vacation. When they get there, she confesses that Jamie's dad, who died, was really not his biological father. Magically, Colleen's first true love (who is also a talented musician) meets up with Jamie, his son in Ireland & the rest is history.
I enjoyed reading this book however, the plot was very predictable & sometimes it was a struggle to get through the leisurely paced narrative. The storyline seemed less-than-compelling but perhaps it was because I was so distracted by the health issues of my husband at the time.
It is written in chapters alternating between the mother's and son's voices. The story was a fairly quick read but the writing was less than stellar. It was much like comfort food on a rainy day. Not particularly challenging but that was good in a way. I don't think I could have concentrated on a deep & complex story at the time.
Reading this book did bring back fond memories of our trip to Ireland. We loved every minute of it even with hubby driving on the left side of the road & shifting gears with his left hand! We golfed & ate our way from Dublin down to Ballybunion (an incredible golf course comparable to Pebble Beach!) & County Cork with all the breathtaking landscapes to see & delicious food to eat in between. We stayed in teeny-tiny medieval villages & actually slept in a castle one night! The Irish serve amazing fish dishes, have the best dairy in the world....especially CHEESE, as well as spuds, fresh fruits and vegetables galore. We were served potatoes at almost every meal....hubby even got a side dish of them brought to him when he ordered potato soup!
There are so many wonderful places around Ireland with lots of archeological treasures to experience.
Melody Carlson does a good job making Ireland real and the Irish characters come alive in the pages of her story. Just like many of Ireland’s beloved writers, who fueled their imaginations with the history, myths and traditions associated with the Irish people.
According to legend, Sir Walter Raleigh, British explorer and historian known for his expeditions to the Americas, first brought the potato to Ireland and planted them at his Irish estate at Myrtle Grove, Youghal, near Cork, Ireland. The photo above was taken in Cork.
He made a gift of the potato plant to Queen Elizabeth I. The local gentry were invited to a royal banquet featuring the potato in every course. (just like our visit!) Unfortunately, the cooks who were uneducated in the matter of potatoes, tossed out the lumpy-looking tubers and brought to the royal table a dish of boiled stems and leaves (which are supposedly poisonous). It promptly made everyone deathly ill. The potatoes were then banned from court.
With the potato being such a pivotal ingredient in the culture of the Irish people, I made the recipe for fork crushed herb & roasted garlic mashed potatoes, only I cut it in half, since there were only two of us for dinner. Other than that, I made the recipe as written, adding a small pat of butter to the top just before serving.
Since I'm trying to serve hubby more heart healthy food, I also made baked cod to go with them, in honor of the magnificent fishing along Ireland's over 3000 miles of coastal waters.
I preheated the oven to 425°F.
I julienned a wee bit of asparagus, carrot, red & yellow peppers, red onion & garlic.
I added a few snips of parsley from my sunroom window pot.
Please notice my lovely white orchid blooming its pretty little head off between 2 pots of parsley in the dead of winter!
I topped each piece of fish with the veggies as well as some freshly cracked pepper & very little salt adding just a tiny bit of cheese. Setting both fillets, with their thin ends tucked beneath, (so they didn't over-cook) onto some parchment paper, I drizzled it all with fresh lemon juice & a little olive oil. Folded it up into a steaming packet & set it on a baking sheet. I cook fish for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness.
I prefer to err on the shorter cooking time, taking into consideration carry-over cooking. Fish will continue to cook for a minute or two off heat, especially in one of these folded packets. This means that the fish will be absolutely perfect if you stop cooking at the verge of doneness. If you cook it to complete doneness then the carry-over cooking will leave you with slightly overdone fish.
Cooking fish until it flakes is also misleading. In order to flake, the fish needs to be dry & dry fish is overdone. Instead, use the tip of a small knife to peek at the interior of the fish at the 8 minute mark. It should gently resist flaking but show signs of firming. Raw fish has a translucent appearance that turns opaque during cooking. Most types of fish are considered done when they’re just opaque throughout.
White fish such as cod, monkfish and haddock, are excellent low-calorie sources of protein (a four-ounce serving of cod provides 52.1% of the daily need for protein for only 119 calories). But because cod is a cold, deep-water fish, it is also loaded with a variety of important nutrients, most notably omega-3 fatty acids.....good for your heart!!
I always give him two choices:
Take it or Leave it!
Thanks for visiting & allowing me to participate in both memes.
Have a nice weekend!