Here comes Saint Patrick’s Day … a time when foods like corned beef and cabbage fill the hearts and stomachs of people around the South Shore and globe. The first link to Saint Patrick and the shamrock goes back to the 15th century. The lucky shamrock — a symbol I embrace — is still connected to Saint Patrick’s Day. March 17 is when Irish wear green and eat green foods.
I almost made dark chocolate cupcakes with dark green frosting, but something lighter came to mind. Irish Breakfast Tea and Shamrock Shortbread Cookies (shortbread cookies are a type of biscuit made in Ireland) made the cut in my kitchen and heart. And these cuties, paired with hot tea, brought me back to memories of a kid one Sunday afternoon in San Jose on St. Patrick’s Day.
My mother with Irish roots began early on the overcast Sunday to prepare the beef, cabbage, potatoes, and cupcakes with fluffy green frosting. I recall smelling the aroma of Irish food lingering in my bedroom that I shared with my older sister, Debbie. She, a popular teen, was at the beach with her friends; I was solo writing poetry and listening to Bob Dylan songs. I looked at the tangerine painted walls decorated with pictures of the Beach Boys. I replaced the dudes with magazine photos of Irish dog breeds — Irish Setters and Poodles. When my sibling came home, she had a hissy fit. At that moment that I knew we were different — worlds apart. As I licked the green frosting on the St. Patrick’s cupcake with shamrock decorations, we compromised: half the dog photos stayed like a pooch on command.
Shamrock Shortbread Cookies
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup European-style butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large organic brown egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
White Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup European style butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar,
1/2 cup premium white chocolate chips, melted,
A few tablespoons low-fat milk.
Melt chocolate in microwave. Cool. Add butter, milk, and sugar. Green sugar sprinkles.
In a mixing bowl, combine butter, eggs, sugar. Add vanilla, and lemon juice. Add flour. Form into a large ball and put in fridge for a few hours. Remove and roll out on a floured surface. Use shamrock cookie cutters found online at amazon (or make do with circle shaped ones). Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees till golden brown. Cool. Frost. Makes about two dozen cookies (depending on size of cookie cutters).
On Wednesday afternoon, flanked by my two good luck charms — Brittany Simon and Aussie Skyler, I savored a cup of hot English Breakfast Tea with a couple of cookies with frosting. (If you don’t have time to bake, you can take a shortcut and use store bought shortbread cookies.) I sat in the dining room and scrutinized the photos on the fridge and enjoyed memories of my past and present canine companions in the Sierra. But I know now that there comes a time when we need to let go of differences that keep us apart from all our loved ones. And with a bit of luck we can do just that.
Motto: “I offer you peace.” – Mahatma Gandhi
(In memory of my beloved sister.)
Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com.