Thursday, March 18, 2010

The memorial of St. Patrick

St. Patrick's Day has forever been my island in the sea of Lent. In my twenties when I consistently gave up drinking for Lent I'd participate in the secular St. Patrick's Day bar hopping. Now my big thrill is enjoying Guinness beef stew at home. I got this recipe from my Mother; I'm not sure which one of her Irish cookbooks is the source. Since my father was Irish American, and my Mother is Catholic they had annual St. Patrick's Day parties for as long as I can remember.
In recent years I have been going to the All Ireland Cultural Society's celebration. It is a family friendly party with pipe bands, live music, and ceili dancing. When I was young I did Irish dancing. In those day's we wore our own hair and our dresses were hand made and hand embroidered. My mother, grandmother and aunt made my dress. When he gets a little older I'd like to sign up the littlest W to continue that tradition.
But this year I decided I'd rather stay home and make dinner. I planned to make Irish soda bread in addition to the Guinness Stew, but my mom had a loaf of Irish potato bread with caraway seeds leftover from her party. I started the stew early in the day so it would be nice and incorporated by dinner time.I set the table with an Irish linen tablecloth in the chrysanthemum pattern, a Belleek bowl and an oxalis plant. Since stew is hearty I felt my green everyday dishes would be appropriate. In these photos you can see that we finally hung one of the antique stained and leaded glass windows from my father's collection. This hung in his shop for years and I had intended to commission him to make a window for our tv room using this as inspiration. Things did not work out exactly as I had hoped. In any event the Macintosh roses of this panel work with the roses in the dining room's wallpaper, lace curtains and the portiere. My hope is that the rose motif is subtle and not overwhelming.Our friends the Fs joined us for dinner and we followed up our meal with a few rounds of Mah Jongg. Not exactly an Irish American tradition, but anytime is a good time to Jongg in my opinion!
The littlest W took a longer nap than anticipated yesterday, so I didn't get to have a St. Patrick's Day tea with him. We'll do that today instead.

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