Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my Irish family and friends, and to my family and friends that are only Irish today!
Here’s a favorite from two years ago, celebrating my favorite Irish food.
I don’t care what my sisters say, Shepherd’s Pie is Christ in a bowl. On each of our birthdays, Mom would ask us what we wanted her to fix for dinner. My sisters would usually respond with Pizza, Tacos or Cheeseburgers. My request was Shepherd’s Pie. This probably explains why my sisters always wanted to beat the crap out of me (and why on Shepherd’s Pie afternoons, I would find my youngest sister Melissa eating roly polys out of the garden).
After hearing the word’s “Shepherd’s Pie,” Tracy would chase me into our bedroom where I would fling myself onto my bed face up in what I like to call the “Younger Sibling Survival Maneuver” … kicking my legs frantically into the air to try to block the left and right hooks being delivered by my older sister. But I could take a pop or two on behalf of my Birthday Dinner, and in knowing that a Donny Osmond album was possibly among the wrapped gifts waiting for me.
When I was nine, I knew I would marry Donny Osmond. He was so dreamy and nice that I knew my parents would approve. My Mom and Dad actually took me and Tracy to Lake Tahoe to see the Osmonds in concert. It was my first concert ever, and I couldn’t believe how amazing my parents were. (Just think how thrilling it must’ve been for them … and think how hard it must’ve been to plan. No i-Phone, no internet— just a phone book!)
The thought of actually seeing Donny Osmond was like a dream come true. I remember pulling in to the casino parking lot that evening and seeing a stretch limo parked on the side and just imagining the Donald sitting in it. (Yeah, that’s right Donald Trump … you weren’t the first “Donald” … take a number.)
I only remember bits and pieces of that night … for all I know, I was passing out left and right at the thought of seeing Donny Osmond in the flesh. Our seats were in the second section. We had a fancy booth with a circular seat. I remember first seeing Jimmy Osmond for his first public appearance singing “Blue Suede Shoes” Yawn … where’s Donny … then Marie singing “Paper Roses” … c’mon people, enough with the siblings! Bring out the Big Guns! And then it happened. Donny came out singing “Puppy Love.” It was magical. He jumped off the stage and started walking down the aisle shaking girls’ hands. I was excited and freaked out all at the same time. I would’ve killed for Donny to come to our table and shake my hand, but at the same time, I was so nervous I drank three whole Shirley Temples.
Okay, back to my Birthday Dinner Meal and the fancy recipe. Even though both my Mom and Dad have lots of Irish ancestry, our Shepherd’s Pie wasn’t really the delicacy you find at Irish Pubs. I probably wouldn’t touch this version today, but spuds are a main ingredient here, and I love me some spuds.
• 1 pound of hamburger
• ¼ cup minced onions – or chop up an actual small onion to make it fancy
• 1 big can of peas and carrots
• 2 cups of prepared mashed potatoes*
• Gravy: I don’t know what my Mom used, or what she considered gravy for that matter, so you’ll need to improvise this ingredient. I liked whatever she used, but I’m fairly certain I don’t want to know what it was.
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• Salt and pepper to taste
*Peel and cut up about 6 potatoes. Boil them until tender, about 20 minutes. Mash them up in a bowl with some butter (I mean margarine! Save yourself about 50 cents here!)
Fry up the hamburger and onions in a skillet. When almost done, add the canned peas and carrots. Add “gravy,” Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.
Pour the beef and vegetable mixture into a 9×9-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes carefully over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown.
Reward your efforts in the kitchen with a pint of Guinness. I mean, crack open an Oly. Serve up to your little leprechauns (the Shepherd’s pie, not the beer).
Watch one child devour the dish as if she lived in Ireland during the Great Potato Famine. Watch the other children either fill their cheeks like chipmunks with the entrée until they are excused to the bathroom, or sneakily push the contents under their plates, or “accidentally” drop spoonfuls onto the floor for the dog.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s one of my favorite Irish Blessings, or Irish Curses — whichever