Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE – IDES WATCH MY BACK IF I WERE YOU!




I spent yesterday, 15th March, from sun-up until midnight, walking backwards.
To my surprise, and relief, not once did I stumble, nor did I fall over.  Miracles do happen!  In the meantime, I did cause a few bemused spectators to wonder if I was coming or going. 

The confused observers were obviously oblivious to the fact that yesterday, 15th March, was The Ides of March, the day/date in 44BC Big Julie aka Julius Caesar got stabbed in the back. 

A seer had warned Big Julie an assassination attempt was in the wind, but Caesar just blew off the seer’s prophecy.  The seer told Julius Caesar – “Julie!  Don’t go! Don’t go, Big Julie!’  But Big Julie believed he was too big a deal to heed a mere seer.

The attack by Brutus at a meeting of the senate was a brutal thing to do.  The political arena even back in 44BC was a dangerous place to hang about in. 

Who’d want to be a politician? Not me, not without a worthy amount of armour plate, anyway; either that or I’d ensure I was a backbencher, right up in the back row, with my back against the wall, allowing no room for anyone to be behind me! 

Trust no one...the brutes!

So that was yesterday, done, dusted, out of the way.  Whew! And, I’m still here to tell the story sans knife in my back! 

Today is today.

With some forward thinking while backward walking I managed to get through The Ides of March unscathed.

Tomorrow is tomorrow so I’m now readying myself for tomorrow -  St. Patrick’s Day. 

Actually, for months I’ve been preparing myself for Paddy’s arrival.  I didn’t allow the Ides, or anything else to get in my way. For hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month I’ve been practising my Riverdance steps. 

Although, yesterday, trying to execute complex foot actions with my arms stationary at my sides all the while being in backward mode was a bit awkward. There were moments, more than a few moments I resembled Kath, Kel and Sharon Karen Trzelecki’s performances (all wrapped up in one) in that memorable episode of the satirical Aussie TV comedy, “Kath & Kim”. 

Kath, Kel, Kim, Brett and Sharon caused much laughter when they entered our homes via our television screens from 2002 to 2005.  Aussie fans of the show will remember the “Riverdance” episode, I’m sure....how could you not?

Because of the myriad offers I received I was forced to flatly decline a most generous one from Michael Flatley to join his world-acclaimed troupe of dancers.

I’ve written much about St. Patrick, aka Paddy or Pat to his mates, over the years.  I guess there’s little else I can say about the dear old chap, except he didn’t actually drive snakes out of Ireland. 

Ireland never had any snakes before or after Paddy adorned in his cassock went charging through causing havoc while, below foot, treading on the shamrock. 

In the meanwhile, the flow of the Druids driven out to sea by Paddy was most fluid. 

Ever since Patrick’s death on 17th March, 461AD (appropriately, he was interred at “Downpatrick”) people all over go in search of a four leaf clover to bring them good fortune.

If you see me out and about tomorrow foraging on the grassy verges or in your garden ignore me.  Be on alert - here is a chance you may not notice me because I’ll be dressed in green. 

If you see a large clump of grass moving around while you’re mowing dodge it – it could be me. I’d like to keep all my limbs intact, in fact. 

The wearing of the green came into vogue long after St. Patrick had his day. However, the Irish brogue existed before brazen Paddy did his best to rid the country of its pagans.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were mostly influenced by the dispersion of the Irish to lands other than their homeland; the Irish diaspora who settled in the US, especially, kick-booted the sometimes boisterous celebration into gear. 

St. Patrick’s Day at the resort on Hinchinbrook Island was a hoot.  My barman made sure all the drinks ordered had drops of green food colouring added to them, much to the delight of our good-humoured holiday-making guests.

At lunch time a little boy was jumping for joy when he was served his lunch; that was until he tried what he thought was a huge blob of green ice cream on his plate.  When he discovered it was green mashed potatoes, his face took on a completely different appearance as he let out a very disappointed and loud, “Yuck!  I thought this was ice cream!” 

The young lad's reaction caused much laughter among the rest of the diners and my staff.

The following morning, Bronnie, one of my staff members came into my office, a very concerned look on her face.  In hushed tones, she told me she feared there was a virus of some sort going through the resort.  She believed there was a problem - bacteria of some sort - in the resort’s water supply. 

From her tone, I could’ve sworn everyone on the island was about to die or, at least, end up in hospital for weeks.  I broke into uncontrollable laughter, much to Bronnie's surprise.  There she was serious and very concerned, and all I could do was laugh.

The abundance of green food colouring used the day before in celebration of St. Paddy’s Day had caused a massive alteration in the colour of one’s bodily waste matter...if you know what I mean.  I’ve often wondered what the guests thought when they discovered the surprise that awaited them that morning. 

No one, other than Bronnie made mention to me of the rapidly contagious “disease” that had taken over the resort!  I would have immediately put them at ease that the black plague wasn't rampantly spreading!

In the early part of last century my paternal grandparents, shortly after marrying, came to Australia...all the way from County Armagh, Northern Ireland.   

My maternal forefathers and foremothers (how many can one person have?) were mostly Scottish, and Presbyterian; and when we were children my now late brother and I attended the Presbyterian Sunday School and Church...in days long gone by in the distant haze!

My paternal grandfather was Catholic; my paternal grandmother was not, but she jumped over to the green side to keep the peace.   

They settled in Rockhampton, Central Queeensland – and the rest is history... just like St. Patrick, Big Julie and Brutus, the brute!

Caesar Salad: Dressing: Place 4 whole anchovy fillets in processor/blender; add 2-3tbs Dijon mustard, 1tbs balsamic or red wine vinegar, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 garlic cloves and juice of half lemon; pulse on low for a few seconds. With processor/blender on, slowly drizzle in 1/2c x-virgin olive oil.  Add 1/4c freshly grated Parmesan, salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste; pulse until thoroughly combined; chill for a few hours before using it on the salad. Make croutons: Slice ½ loaf of crusty French bread into thick slices; then cut into 1-inch cubes. Place on baking sheet; Heat 1/4c olive oil in small pan over low heat; crush – don’t chop – 2 garlic cloves; add to oil; move the garlic around in pan for 3-5mins; remove garlic from the pan. Slowly drizzle the garlic-infused oil over the croutons; mix together with your hand; sprinkle lightly with salt; toss; then cook in pan until golden and crisp. (Add a little butter to enhance the flavour, if you like).  Salad: Wash and dry the hearts of 2 or 3 romaine/cos lettuce. Leave the hearts whole. Place in salad bowl. Drizzle about half of the dressing over the top of the hearts. Use vegetable peeler and shave off large thin slices of a block of Parmesan cheese; add a good handful of the shavings to the lettuce; give it a good toss; add more dressing and Parmesan to taste. For a variation on a theme...you can top the salad with 2 grilled chicken breast fillets, cut into 1cm thick slices and 4 cooked, crisp, rind-less bacon rashers cut into strips to the salad along with 4 soft, poached eggs gently sitting atop – with some Parmesan scattered over the lot – the choice is yours..Caesar won’t mind!

Colcannon-Bacon Bites with Caper Aioli: Aioli - Whiz 2 egg yolks, 2tbs lemon juice and 1/4tsp salt in processor. With motor running, slowly add 1c sunflower oil until thick and smooth; add 1tsp Dijon, 2tbs sour cream, 1tsp white wine vinegar, 1c flat-leaf parsley leaves and rinsed, drained, finely-chopped salted capers; whiz to combine; season. Transfer to bowl; chill. Boil 1kg starchy potatoes until tender; drain well. Heat olive oil in pan over med-high heat; cook 250g chopped, rind-less bacon until crisp; drain. Blanch 100g trimmed cabbage (or kale); drain; finely chop. Mash potatoes over low heat; add 20g butter and 1/4c cream; mash; add bacon and cabbage/kale; season; remove from heat. Roll mixture into 24 patties. Combine 3c fresh sourdough breadcrumbs, 1c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and finely grated zest of 1 lemon; season.  Whisk together 2 eggs and 2tbs milk; coat patties with egg wash; then with breadcrumbs. Heat 1cm olive oil in pan over med-high heat; shallow fry patties until golden and crisp; serve with aioli.

Spud Murphy Muffins: Oil-spray muffin pan. Stir together 3 packed cups left-over mashed spuds, 1 large egg, 3/4c shredded cheddar, 2tbs chopped chives, salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly into muffin pan, packing mashed spuds down into each cup. Bake in 190C oven 30-35mins; remove from oven; top each muffin with more shredded cheese; return to oven for 3-4mins; cool in pan 5mins; transfer to serving plate; eat! 


Paddy’s Lucky Slices: Preheat oven to 175C. Mix together 1-1/2c chocolate wafer biscuit crumbs (about 30 wafers) and 1/3c melted butter.  Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan. Chill until ready to use.  In a large bowl, beat together on med-speed, 240g softened cream cheese and 1c sugar until well blended.  Add 1/2c sour cream and 1tspn pure peppermint extract; mix well.  Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition...just until blended.  Pour half of the batter over crust.  Tint remaining batter green with food colouring.  Pour over batter in pan.  Bake 25-30mins or until centre is almost set.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Chill 4 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan; cut into bars.  Drizzle bars with melted chocolate.


Shimmy-Shimmy Shamrock Shake: Blend together until thick and smooth, 3-4 scoops vanilla ice cream, 1/2c Bailey’s Irish Cream, 4 ice cubes, 2tbs vanilla vodka, 1tbs Kahlua, 1/2c milk, mint extract to taste and 5 drops green food colouring ; if shake is too thin, add more ice cream; pour into glasses; top with whipped cream. 



26 comments:

  1. Well blow me down! Every year I tell myself I'm going to buy something green to wear for St Paddy's day and every year I forget. It's too late to be shopping now, I need more than a day to find something in the right shade of green that also looks good on me.
    There's nothing else to do but make green jelly slice instead. If I have the ingredients.

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    1. Go out and roll around in the grass for a while, River - that'll turn your clothes green! :)

      If you've not got any green jelly...just mash some spuds, instead! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. Crikey Lee ..... you make my Mum laugh ...... she particularly liked 'today is today' and tomorrow is tomorrow". Don't know why but she found those two statement hilarious. I'm looking forward to St Pat's day. Like you, Dad comes from Irish stock (Mum's from Scottish stock). On St Pat's day Dad and I enjoy a quiet moment or two in the late afternoon where we sit outside, contemplating nature and ... here's the good part ..... we share a guinness!! Yes ...... I get some too. I LOVE it.

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    1. Woof, Charlie! You should've gotten Mum to knit you a green waistcoat for you to wear tomorrow while you sip on your Guinness! I hope you've been practising your dance steps, me lad!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. Haha. Winner!
    Oh, those smoothies look delish.

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    1. Hi there Lux...they do look yummy, I agree. A few of those would put a lift in our step, I'm sure!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. Have no green ribbon to wear for St. Patrick's Day - however will wear something with green on it if I can find something!
    Remember the March 15, well as it was my youngest daughter in laws birthday! No stabbing in the back either :)
    Good to read about the barman - always something green.

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    1. Hey there, Margaret...I'm glad we all made it through the 15th with no holes in our backs!

      I'll have to dig through my wardrobe,too, to find something green. Maybe just a handful of grass pinned to my top will have to do!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. Nice segue to Caesar salad. Like you, Scottish Presbyterian background but no Irish that I know of. The green should have gone in the drinks the eve before St P's Day, so they could 'go green' for the day.

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    1. Starting off with a green breakfast and carrying the theme through until close of the bar that night was more than enough, Andrew! The makers of green food colouring did well out of us that particular St. Paddy's Day! A 24 hour black plague was long enough! Hahaha!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. I had totally forgotten about The Ides Of March. I think maybe that's the best way to get through them...just forget about it.
    So.....green peas (um...pees) on St Patdrick's Day. Delightful!

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    1. Caesar wished he'd not forgotten the seer's warning! ;)

      More than just green pees, Delores...it was the other that was Bronnie's concern! ;)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. Ooh, that shamrock shake looks good! Another one for my recipe book... And the cakes look delicious too. Somehow I have always liked the look of green cakes - usually they are peppermint, of course.

    These days I get a St Pat's day card every year, one of my daughters married an Irishman.

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    1. Hi Jenny...I'll be playing lots of Irish music today (am right now...and it will continue...just for the fun of it).

      Shake a leg and enjoy the shake! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. The day the Irish get drunk - again.
    St Pat didn't drink of course.

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    1. I think he might have snuck some of the sacramental wine when no one was looking, Mr. Ad-Man...or took a swig or three of Tullamore Dew, don't you? :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. Spud muffins, they sound good!

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    1. An easy snack for a rainy day, Kay. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. Here in England it is quite bizarre that we have grown to celebrate St Patrick's Day but there is hardly any mention of St George's Day. In my youth no one ever celebrated St Patrick's Day. It's mostly down to The Guinness Brewery and media hype.

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    1. All done in good fun, Yorkie. When the 23rd April comes round, I'll celebrate St. George's Day quietly - just with my two furry rascals. No one who likes to make a fuss or have a fuss made over me, I don't like to spread the word around that I'm a saint. I prefer to fly under the radar!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. Saint Lee or just saintly?

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    3. The former, of course, Yorkie! But, please, put your hat on and keep what you've learned under it!!

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  11. Belated Happy St. Pat's Day. Fun post:)
    Everything looks scrumptious, especially the cake.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the light-heartedness of my post, Sandra...that's what was meant to be. :)

      And there are no rules saying we can't have the cake and eat it, too...on any day!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Love those March "Ides"! My brother in law's birthday is on the Ides of March - I resisted the impulse to email the "beware" quote. :)

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    1. Your brother-in-law is probably thankful you didn't choose and Ides card for him, Lynn! I'm sure he's received a few over the years. Thanks for coming by. :)

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