October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween Once More

Reposting a short Halloween blog piece written a couple years go. Watch out for ghosts and goblins, ‘tis All Hallows’ Eve, the witching night. 

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble…
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth


My candle was nearly burnt out when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light,
I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open. 
~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein



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Happy Halloween!


"Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1886
Don't take this guy to a barbeque
!



©2012-2014 jerseylils2cents

June 6, 2014

Beautiful Music

Reposting a piece originally written in April 2012. Since I was just a novice blogger then many of those currently reading my blog probably have not seen it before…here's the link:




Hope you enjoy it!


March 24, 2014

Irish Guinness Stew and Irish Soda Bread


True to the very cold and snowy winter we have been having this year, it snowed on the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, which is only a few days before the official start of spring. That storm brought eight inches of snow, on top of the snow we already had. It was an excellent day for Irish comfort food to celebrate my part-Irish heritage!  

Irish Guinness Stew (Irish Coddle)

Irish Coddle (sometimes called Dublin Coddle) is traditional Irish comfort food. The name “coddle” derives from the slow simmering or “coddling” of the stew. This is a stove-top recipe using a Dutch oven. (For a vegetarian alternative, just leave out the meat, still tasty.)




Ingredients:

  • I lb. of sausage (Irish bangers* are traditional and what I used, but any sausage will do, just don't use small links) 
  • 4 to 6 slices of thick, dry rubbed bacon, fat trimmed 
  • 1 bottle Guinness dark stout 
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 large carrots, cut into large rounds 
  • 6 medium potatoes, cut into large chucks (I used Yukon Gold potatoes for the lower starch content) Note: No need to peel onions, especially if using Yukon Gold, unless peeling is preferred
  • 4 cloves garlic, cut into large chucks
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • Handful of fresh parsley, minced (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 4 cups low fat chicken broth

    *Irish bangers are a particular type of pork sausage. (In Ireland and England, sausages are called bangers.) To make my recipe authentic, I wanted to use Irish bangers and found them at my local Whole Foods Market (they make their own organic sausages). If there’s no Whole Foods Market nearby, a butcher shop might have them. If not, any sausage would do (just don’t use small links). Per an excellent question from my friend, Mimi, I called Whole Foods and asked about the seasonings for Irish bangers: Sea salt, black, red and white pepper, coriander, ginger, mace, nutmeg, parsley, canola oil, bread crumbs and wheat flour.





Directions:

  1. Sauté  bacon in large skillet over high heat for a few minutes to brown and lightly crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the sausages. Cut bacon and sausages into large, bite-size pieces.
  2. Sauté  onions and garlic in skillet over medium heat until just softened and lightly browned.
  3. Place the cut-up bacon and sausages at the bottom of a large Dutch oven or stew pot. Add the sautéd onions and garlic. Add the cut-up potatoes and carrots.
  4. Stir in the broth and Guinness stout.
  5. Toss in parsley, bay leaves and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste (note: I find that if the bacon is salty, no added salt is needed).
  6. Cover and simmer for one hour or until all ingredients are blended together and thoroughly cooked, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve the stew with traditional Irish Soda Bread (see recipe below), or any hearty bread.





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Irish Soda Bread




My first time making Irish Soda Bread and I was pleased with the way it came out. It’s really easy to make, no yeast. Besides serving it with the stew for dinner, I find it’s also great with jam and coffee or tea in the morning.  

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour but you can use all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush a baking sheet with melted butter or margarine (or use a cooking spray).
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. Slowly stir in the buttermilk, mixing until the dough is firm enough to be gathered into a ball. If dough crumbles, add up to ½ cup more of the buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together. 
  4. Place dough on a lightly-floured board and shape into a somewhat flattened round loaf. (Don’t overprocess, just shape, a light touch works best.)
  5. Transfer loaf to the baking sheet. Using a small, sharp knife, make a deep X in the top of the dough (about ½ inch deep).
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until top of loaf is a golden brown. 
You’ll have a loaf that is crusty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. A dense, rustic bread, perfect as a companion to the Irish stew.

Enjoy!


Spring is officially here and we’ve had a few nice days recently with mild temperatures. However, there are weather reports of yet another snowstorm due this week. Hopefully, just a minor storm that won't leave much snow. Winter just refuses to exit quietly this year. Looks like time to make another batch of Irish Stew! 

©2014 JerseyLil’s2Cents all text and photos