Monday, March 17, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

Did you remember to wear green today? I sure did.

Our family found out just how Irish we are in the last few years, since some thirteenth cousin thrice removed researched selected branches of our family tree. We may act Norwegian most of the time, but that’s just the way we roll.

Does anyone know the reason we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Who was this man? And why is it okay for someone to pinch you if you aren’t wearing green? How many holidays do we celebrate simply for the turkey and candy and beer, without knowing why we are celebrating? I feel silly sometimes not knowing what’s up, but I was never very good in History class. I would rather concentrate on what’s happening today, and not reflect on the past unless it was an event that really affects me, and helped to shape who I am or will be in the future.

Past events can certainly affect our lives, but only in the way that we let them. I have a tendency to think most things happen for a reason, even if it seems insane. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to make it through some of the stuff I have. But no matter what trying things I have been through, everything seems to work out in the end, and if it doesn’t kill me, it just makes me stronger.

The same can be for you.

I see friends struggling with jobs and homes and children, and I try to convince them that things can be really good, if we let them. And have a ton of patience. We never know what our friends are going through, but we can surely use our experiences to help them and give them advice. You can choose to let things get you down, or be strong and figure out how to get through it with your wits intact.

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when you wish people good luck and good fortune. So I wish that to all of you, today and every day.

I won’t be making any corned beef and cabbage for dinner, but I might have a green beer, hopefully while Riley tells me what he learned about St. Patrick in school.


I got to talking to one of the gals at work about what Irish dish I should make, and though I don't think I will make this tonight, this recipe for Shepherd's Pie is my favorite, and my family's favorite too. There are shortcuts you can take, like buying prepared mashed potatoes (Country Crock makes excellent ones) or instant in the box, using a jar of gravy, but I find it tastes the best when you follow all the steps to the T. Or close to it.

Shepherd's Pie

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed (I like Yukon Gold)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped (I buy the frozen chopped onions)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves , or 1 tsp. dried

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or turkey. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy for 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.

Preheat the broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with fresh chopped parsley (or mix dried parsley into the potatoes before topping meat mixture. Serve.

We eat this dipped in ketchup or HP sauce, which is a steak sauce that comes from a far away land. If you can find it, get a bottle, it's yummy.