Colcannon on Saint Patrick’s Day

 For me and the friends I hang out with in the West Country, kale is the ingredient in colcannon. Many Irish cooks use cabbage – of many kinds. A few use only green onions. All use plenty of butter.

I cook the potatoes and carrots like you always would. Make mashed potatoes whatever way you want. Then fold in parboiled kale to the mashed potatoes. Parboiling make them softer and don’t compete with the texture of the potatoes. If you have kids, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Also this is a great way to get that one kid to eat more roughage and vegetables. If you have never tried this and like mashed potatoes, go for it!

So here is the dinner or lunch. In the background is a cross-bun from the bakery. I’ll always tell you if I didn’t make it. I have gotten “hot dogs” and colcannon in pubs, but it is usually sausages.

The religious significance of the cross-bun and upcoming Easter is ancient. Saint Patrick is somewhat related.

There are a few things about St. Paddy we don’t need to mention. (I can hear Sister Mary from Ennis, County Clare now, “Are ya causin’ trouble Maírtín?”)

– don’t know really?

But Saint Patrick wasn’t that Irish. He was born in the border lands between Wales and Scotland, not on the isle at all. He also spent most of his life living in France. And, there were plenty of places in Ireland Saint Patrick didn’t go; Clare, County Ennis was one of them. And, all those snakes?? Not so much. Many scholars believe it was symbolic for driving the pagans under ground.

But there is much to be proud about. And, today it is all about Colcannon for me. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!


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Warm Shrimp at the Docks

Shrimp OsloMy first taste of fresh shrimp came as a little boy exploring among the returning shrimp boats at the dock. The smell of warm and freshly cooked shrimp wasn’t all. It was about handing coins over to a fisherman and a stranger. It was about returning with a full bag, feeling like a big boy. It was about uncles and family, peeling and eating the shrimp, throwing the shells into the harbor – along with me. But more than anything it was about tasting your first shrimp, cooked the way they should be cooked, by a man who knew how.

In the picture below there is also the ferry that would take us to our summer cabin a few miles out.

Shrimp Boat and Ferry

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Scandinavian Shrimp Sandwich

Shrimp Sandwich 002

Good food and feeding friends are really one thing to me. Sometimes I stand in a store, looking at food, and say to myself, “I know who would like this.” I cook. I feed friends.

Above are the ingredients for an open-faced shrimp sandwich that you can get in any deli or coffee shop in Scandinavia. This is the nine minutes miniature version.

With the nine minutes, this requires some shrimp, dill, mayo, lemon wedges, a sliced tomato, and slices of baguette. Looking at the picture below, just assemble. When you are ready to eat, squeeze some lemon juice on top of the shrimp and “dig” in.

Take a slice. Close your eyes and see yourself at the edge of a fjord – with gentle summer breezes washing over you. In other words, “A good life.”

Shrimp Sandwich 003

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