You will need lots of these Red Norland potatoes from Olsen Farms this week to cook with your corned beef on St. Patrick's Day, that 1,600-year-old holiday that celebrates St. Patrick running the snakes (read "Pagans") out of Ireland (as if), leaving behind Catholicism, which ultimately led to all that much more brutal oppression of the Irish by the English hundreds of years later when the Pope wouldn't let England's king get a divorce, and the king kicked the Church out of the British Empire. Of course, my Irish ancestors who helped colonize New York in the late 1600s after being thrown out of the old country by the Brits for being poor ended up giving up their Catholicism anyway, since it was no more legal to be Catholic in the 13 colonies than it was in England or Ireland. Thus, St. Patrick's Day has become for my family, and for most other folks, really, a celebration of Irish heritage and all things Irish. And that is fine, I suppose, as long as we never forget that the holiday has as its foundation genocide. (And now you know why we Irish drink so much on St. Patrick's Day.)
But I digress. (No kidding, you are thinking.) Good, firm red potatoes like the Red Norlands, or these Desiree potatoes, also from Olsen, are a must for cooking with your corned beef, both for tradition's sake, and because you need a potato that will hold up to a long cooking time in salty water with the beef without crumbling to starchy mush. These two kinds of spuds fit the bill, and lucky for you, Olsen has them on sale today -- 5 pound bags for $6! Yukon Golds, too, which you will need for latkes for Passover and for boiled or mashed potatoes for Easter. Olsen Farms also has plenty of briskets for Passover and Easter, and they have sirloin tips on sale this week for $9/pound.
You'll need cabbage for your corned beef, too. For that, check out Nash's Organic Produce (above). Green cabbage is most traditional, but I like using Savoy cabbage because it is less dense and full of lots of crinkly pockets that allow it to cook more quickly in the hot, salty, spicy beef broth, where it soaks up all that brothy deliciousness.
It is also traditional to throw some lovely winter roots into the pot with the beef. They cook nice and slowly, and they, too, soak up all the spices from the broth. Carrots are commonly used, but I like tossing in rutabagas, like these from Alm Hill Gardens. Their denseness holds up well to the long cooking time, whereas things like turnips and parsnips turn to mush, and rutabagas balance well with the flavor of the rest of the meal. Besides, rutabagas are about as Irish as potatoes. The Vikings left them behind in Ireland forever ago -- longer ago than potatoes. In fact, in Ireland, they simply call rutabagas "turnips".
What is St. Patrick's Day without butter? Lots of butter to slather all over those boiled potatoes and rutabagas. Butter is sacred stuff in Ireland. In Irish lore, there is an entire type of fairies that are dedicated to butter. And if you make fresh soda bread or brown bread (which you can make with flour from Nash's, by the way), you will need even more butter. Get that butter from Golden Glen Creamery. And if you are making a famous chocolate wafer cake, too, you will need heavy cream for whipping, which Golden Glen also has, as well as lots of other milky goodness to aid your Irish Coffees and homemade Irish Creams.
And what is St. Patrick's Day without that aforementioned drinking, right? Well, it is also tradition at my St. Paddy's Day table to raise a glass of Rockridge Orchard's finest and toast Wade & Judy Bennett for making it for us. So pick up a bottle or three of hard cider or wine and party like its the Stone Age, just like the Irish have been since the Stone Age!
Here is something many folks think we Irish are full of when they hear us waxing poetic about just about anything. It is "Very, Very Potent Chicken Poo Compost" from Prana Farms. It is some serious fertilizer, folks. If only I could package some of the bovine feces that comes out of my mouth. I'd be a gagillionaire!
Hey, there is other stuff to be had at your Ballard Farmers Market this week, and hopefully that will include some more of these lovely morel mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Unfortunately, while our warm winter led to these bad boys being at the market last Sunday, the cold week we just had might have set them back a few weeks more, so check with them early if you have any hope of getting any.
Port Madison returned to your Ballard Farmers Market with their lovely goat cheese last week, so if you were in serious chevre withdrawal, you are in luck. Their girls have begun producing milk again for cheese making.
Stoney Plains continues to roll out more and more early spring greens. Check out these dandelion greens. Cleanse that liver with a dandelion green salad tonight! (It'll get it ready for all the damage you are going to do to it on Wednesday.)
Another sure sign of spring are these French Breakfast radishes from Full Circle Farm. Add them to the salads you will be eating in abundance on either side of St. Patrick's Day, or just eat them straight, with a little truffle salt. Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.
And if you just don't feel like doing any cooking yourself, why not pick up one of these tasty frozen prepared meals from Cibo Pronto, based right here in Ballard. I enjoyed some of their Split Pea & Bacon soup this past week that was out of this world.
And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.
p.s., Did you set your clock forward for Daylight Savings Time?