Mar 132011

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and as I’m a person with a “Mc” in front of his last name I believe I am legally obligated to eat Corned Beef and Cabbage while drinking beer on that day. I’m pretty sure the Irish Mafia will come take me out if I don’t or something. In any case, I found a recipe a VERY long time ago for pretty much the greatest corned beef and cabbage I have ever had. It was in a book called All Around The World Cooking by Sheila Lukins, which is apparently out of print so I don’t feel bad about posting the recipe here (I can’t say that fact really comes as much a surprise to me, as this is one of the cookbooks I lost in my divorce back in 2001).

And now, without further ado, the recipe of awesomeness…

  • 1 lean corned beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 3 medium onions, peeled
  • 9 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 ribs of celery, with leaves
  • 14 carrots, peeled, 6 halved and 8 cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 6 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Strips of whole peel from 1 orange, pith removed
  • 16 small new red potatoes
  • 8 medium leeks (2 inches green left on), roots trimmed, rinsed well
  • 1 medium-sized green cabbage (3 to 3 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Rinse the corned beef and pat dry. Place in a large ovenproof casserole. Stud each onion with 3 cloves and add to the casserole along with the 6 halved carrots, the garlic, celery, parsley sprigs, and orange peel.

2. Cover the meat with vegetables and cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Skim off any foam and turn the meat every 30 minutes. When the meat can easily be pierced with a fork, it is done. Remove to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and keep warm.

3. Meanwhile, trim the roots and tough outer leaves from the leeks and discard. Trim the remaining leaves to about 2 inches and cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Stir the vinegar into a large bowl of water, add the leeks, and leave for about 30 minutes. Then rinse and drain the leeks.

4. Strain the broth and return it to the casserole. Discard the cooked vegetables. Add the potatoes, leeks, cabbage, 8 cut-up carrots, salt, and pepper. Bring the broth to a boil, then simmer uncovered over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley.

5. Before serving, slice the corned beef and place on a large decorative serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around the corned beef. Ladle some hot broth over all to moisten. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. At this point the recipe says to serve with two sauces that follow in the cook book, but I do not have those recipes. I generally just serve it with horseradish sauce, if I serve it with any sauce at all. It stands perfectly well on its own.

Mar 052011

I recently made the decision to cut the cable cord in our household and convert all of our televisions over to internet and over-the-air programming. By dropping cable television and our cable based phone service (all four of us have cellular phones) I’ll be saving about $135 a month. I spent about $300 on equipment needed to facilitate this transition, which I figure I will make up in about 4 months of not having to pay the monthly bill (I will still be paying $20 a month for Netflix and Hulu Plus).

What’s surprised me the most about all of this is how much anxiety the decision has caused me.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? I’ve had cable television since I was very, very young. We were one of the first families on our block to have cable, and it has never been an option NOT to have cable in a household I lived in. I’ve lived with having cable so long that I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like it’s something I “have” to have as opposed to something I “want” to have.

Isn’t that strange?

I’ve actually found myself wondering if I’m doing the “right thing.” Yes, those exact words went through my head. The “right thing.” Like it could possibly be some kind of monumental mistake to cancel our cable television and phone service.

I wonder if it’s not one of many signs of how hard we’re pushed to consider these kind of things necessities by “the man.”

In any case, the transition continues apace. I have one more television left to hook up the antenna to and after that we’re pretty much done with cable. I’ll just need to return the equipment. We will undoubtedly miss having access to Bay News 9, but I can no longer justify spending that kind of money for 10 minutes of news every night. Besides, I’ve already found a 24 hours weather broadcast channel from one of the local stations.