I am the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant who arrived in the US through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. I grew up in a place where I was surrounded by people just like me, Irish Catholics. Some of the grandparents still held on to their Irish brogue and I struggled to understand them. Irish Soda Bread and corned beef and cabbage were eaten just because it is what we ate on Sunday. I know it wasn’t what the Irish from the homeland ate but it is what Irish Americans ate.
As an adult, I still have a soft spot for a boiled dinner and Irish Soda bread which, these days, I only make for St. Patrick’s Day. This morning, before I left for school, I tossed all of the ingredients into the crock pot with a deviation from my grandmother’s recipe… I added beer for the meat and vegetable to cook in all day.
When I arrived home after a long school day with conferences tagged onto the end, I couldn’t wait for dinner. My family had set the table so all I had to do was get the dinner on the table.
When I took the lid off the crock pot, it released a scent that took me back to the homes of any one of my neighbors on a Sunday afternoon. I scooped the meat and vegetables out of the crock pot and they were cooked to perfection. Potatoes just right, tender vegetables and meat coming apart.
When my family and I sat down, I was able to relax and enjoy myself more than normal for a school night dinner. I enjoyed every bite. Of course, one advantage I have now is I can enjoy my dinner with a pint of stout. Which, of course, also adds to the relaxation and ability to unwind at the end of a long day.