Several years ago I did my DNA analysis with 23andMe. At the time it was one of the only companies doing comprehensive ancestry breakdown. Now there are several from which to choose.
At the time, I knew my heritage. I didn’t need some company to tell me I was, according to my parents, 75% Polish and 25% Slovak. (the Polish jokes were warranted)
Friends did their tests which were revealing “crazy” results. Unbelievable notions that by chance they were disproving their 100% nationalities. (WTF? I’m NOT 100%______? (fill in the blank) That just can’t be! 🤬
These tests reveal nationality traits that make complete sense given the region where they “claimed“ to be strictly from. And really we all know that human evolution evolved and migrated. A person from one region could’ve settled in another region and procreated in that region- and yet the subsequent generations are from the new region. The blurred lines of nationalities. Some people won’t even take the tests for the same fears they fear when they go to the doctor. They don’t want to know.
After receiving my results I pretty much knew I hailed predominately from Eastern Europe. Now 23andMe has extensive data to analyze and has updated their finding confirming I am 97.6% Eastern European, “highly likely“ match of Poland 🇵🇱 with a “likely” match to Ukraine 🇺🇦 and possible match to Slovakia, Hungary, Russia.
The other 2.4% you ask? 1.8% Scandinavian (Viking through and through)
0.3%East Asian (which explains my infinity for Mongolian Beef! 0.3% North African (thank you mitochondrial Eve!)
and, I have “more Neanderthal DNA than 70% of other customers“ This explains A LOT!
But every year even if just for a day, we all identify Irish.
St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the death date of Ireland’s patron saint. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking and a whole lot of green.
Irish cuisine is more complex and expansive then we give it credit.
According to Great British Chefs, the Irish landscape is, after all, as awe-inspiring as it is hard working. First of all, there is the soil, of which about two-thirds is agricultural land. Irish beef, lamb and dairy are the island’s most well-known exports, and yet the seafood travels the widest. There are loughs, fast-flowing rivers, and the ocean. The Atlantic coast is life to oyster farmers and lobster fishermen, as indeed are the eastern shores, where the largest fishing fleet is based in Kilkeel and Portavogie is home to a world-famous prawn.
For me, St. Patrick‘s Day is all about the food. And special food at that. I have been making this dinner for over 10 years now. Always paired with a great Black and Tan— more on my menu later.
I was introduced to the real St. Patrick’s Day experience from my adopted parents, Don and Maria Colbert when I lived in Albany, NY. They never needed a reason to go out and celebrate, but St. Patrick’s Day was extra special for my friends.
And of course where did we go for a great St Patrick’s Day meal? Verdile’s Italian Restaurant in Troy NY.
The staple of Italian cuisine in Troy, NY since 1948, Verdile’s offered a $5 corned beef dinner, including boiled parsley potatoes and carrots 1997 prices, in 2022 $10.75!
Maria, of Italian heritage would convincingly argue ‘why not St Patrick‘s Day meal at an Italian restaurant? He was Italian after all.’ Don, a man of few word, would just shake his Irish head and smile at his wife.
I wonder if Maewyn Succat, aka St Patrick did his ancestry DNA, would he and others accept his real heritage? Either way, I’m glad both Irish and Italians claim him as their own! I accept him as a steward of Christianity — and a great man for bringing everyone together for celebration, regardless of your heritage.
Cooking Class with Carol
Things to Consider
Like every other recipe, it's up to your interpretation. I do a lot of reading of recipes and history of food before I make it. Then, once I make it, I make it my own my adding a bit of this and removing a bit of that. Do you!!
Brisket is a cut of meat that needs to be cooked at a low temperature for a long time, so we’re talking about a braise. Here are some general tips and tricks. If you’re cooking a brisket flat or a brisket point on its own, it will cook in 3 to 3 1/2 hours. A whole brisket may take an extra hour. Be sure to check 30 minutes before the time is up: the brisket should be fork-tender and still juicy. Over cooking will dry it out. Your best bet is to cook your brisket the day before you’ll be slicing and serving it. Let it cool in the sauce that is in the pot, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day it will be really easy to remove all of the solidified fat from the top and discard it. Slicing the brisket cold is your best option for nice, even slices. If you want to serve it warm, you can reheat quickly in the braising liquid.
Don’t be afraid to cook meat in a pressure cooker, Insta Pot, or slow cooker. Roasting in oven or even barbecued is amazing.
Slicing Against the Grain
The grain of the meat is easier to identify in certain cuts of meat. It’s more clearly defined and easier to see in tougher cuts — like flank, hanger, and skirt steak — than it is in lean cuts, like tenderloin. To identify which direction the grain of the meat is running, look for the parallel lines of muscle fiber running down the meat, and slice perpendicular to them. For those cuts that have fibers running in different directions, it’s vital to “read the meat” and adjust the direction in which you’re slicing.
The name colcannon is Irish, but it is very similar to a Scottish dish called Rumbledethumps and the English Bubble and Squeak.
All combine potato and cabbage (or other greens), both common crops in the region. They can also all be made with leftovers, making sure no food goes to waste.
Don't be afraid to try all of the different varieties of cabbage- savoy, nappa, red, bok choy. You can cook it according to the recipe, or if you like cabbage crunchy, cook it for less time. Softer, cook for longer period of time on low heat. You can add other types of greens like kale and spinach. Again, this is YOUR interpretation.
Yukon gold (any style of gold or butter potatoes) make very good mash potatoes. These high starch potatoes make the fluffiest, smoothest and most flavor-packed mash. They have a naturally buttery flavor and creamy dense consistency. Waxy potatoes, like white or red varieties have firmer flesh and require more mashing to become creamy, which could lead to the dreaded "potato paste"
Leeks are a great addition to the "greens" of the colcannon. Cut off bottoms and clean in cold water. Towel dry. Cut the white part of the leek from top to bottom. Do NOT cut off. Chop starting at end of white and finish at the start of the green. Save greens for another recipe or for the compost.
Roasting carrots may be my favorite way in which to prepare. I like larger carrots, peeled and quartered. I feel the flavor of a large carrot resembles that of well....a carrot. Sometimes baby carrots in a bag at the grocery store don't have much of a carrot flavor. However, if you can find fresh baby carrots (with the stems and greens still attached), buy them!!! They are the sweetest carrots around and don't need much in ways of added sugar for them to taste sweet after roasting.
Braised Corned Beef Brisket with
Colcannon and Roasted Carrots
1 four-pound beef brisket (with pickling spices)
1 bottle (12 oz) Harp lager (or your favorite lager)
8-12 cups cold water
1. In a heavy bottom stock pot, add brisket with spices, beer and water.
2. bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer (or low). The brisket tends to float- flip it around (every 30 minutes or submerge in water with weight
3. Cook uncovered for 3 hours, meat should be fork tender.
4. Remove from heat and let set in braising liquid for 30 minutes
5. Remove brisket from liquid and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
6. Slice brisket ‘against the grain’.
2 pounds potato, well scrubbed (cut any large ones in half)
1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
4 ounces sliced bacon, finely chopped
1 medium-large Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
2 med-large leeks, chopped
1 small onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c heavy cream
Place the potatoes into a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 mins, or until the flesh is tender when pierced.
Meanwhile, heat quarter of the butter in a saucepan, then fry the bacon and half the cabbage for 5 mins
Turn off the heat and set aside. Drain potatoes in a colander and peel while still hot.
Mash potato until smooth. Heat cream with remaining butter and, when almost boiling, beat into the potato. Add bacon and cabbage to potato and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
6-8 large carrots, peeled and cut into eighths
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
peel and cut large carrots into quarters or eighths
Mix together 1/2 stick butter and 1 tbsp brown sugar, heat for 30 seconds in microwave
Toss carrots into butter until well coated. Salt and pepper to taste
Roast for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and tender.