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3/22/2006 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

I got filled up on corned beef and cabbage this year (again). Oddens’

Grocery had corned beef on sale the week before St. Patrick’s Day for

$1.59 per pound! Now that’s a bargain, so I bought quite a bit and froze some for use at Easter. There’s no reason we should be limited to savoring this wonderful delicacy on St. Patrick’s Day only. Even though I had corned beef and cabbage in the refrigerator at home, my sweetie and I went to Miller’s Pub & Grub for more corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. I can’t get enough of it.

Here’s how I prepare it. Put the corned beef in a large pot and cover it with water. Sprinkle in the seasonings which are usually included with the meat. If you don’t have seasonings, add peppercorns and bay leaves and whatever else strikes your fancy. Then heat the water so it’s just barely moving and let it simmer for about four hours until fork tender. Drink a bottle of Guinness. Take out the meat and add potatoes and carrots to the same water. Cook ten minutes and then add onions. When the carrots and potatoes are fork-tender remove the carrots, onions and potatoes. Drink another bottle of Guinness. Put the cabbage in the same water (you might have to add water) and simmer until the cabbage is done. Put all the ingredients on a plate and cover them with water from the cooking process. Oh, for good!

I’m surprised that so many people tell me they’ve never eaten corned beef. I guess it isn’t all that common in German and Scandinavian circles which dominate the ethnic makeup of North Dakota. I’m not bad-mouthing anybody here because I’m very fond of sausage and sauerkraut and lutefisk and lefse. But Irish food (and drink) adds a great deal to life.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, corned beef and cabbage was supposedly a traditional dish served for Easter Sunday dinner in rural Ireland. The beef, because there was no refrigeration at that time, was salted or brined during the winter to preserve it.

It was then eaten after the long, meatless Lenten fast.

However, other Irish people feel that corned beef and cabbage is about as Irish as spaghetti and meatballs. Beef was a real delicacy, usually served only to the kings.

According to Bridgett Haggerty of the Web site Irish Cultures and Customs, most likely a "bacon joint" or a piece of salted pork boiled with cabbage and potatoes would more likely have shown up for an Easter Sunday feast in the rural parts of Ireland.

Since the advent of refrigeration, the trend in Ireland is to eat fresh meats. Today this peasant dish is more popular in the United States than in Ireland. Irish-Americans and lots of other people eat it on St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s principal feast day, as a nostalgic reminder of their Irish heritage.

Corning is a form of curing; it has nothing to do with corn. The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration. In those days, the meat was dry-cured in coarse "corns" of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it.

Today brining — the use of salt water — has replaced the dry salt cure, but the name "corned beef" is still used, rather than "brined"

or "pickled" beef. Commonly used spices that give corned beef its distinctive flavor are peppercorns and bay leaf. Of course, these spices may vary regionally.


From the e-mails:

Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease your nose will begin to itch or you’ll have to pee.

Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone: When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi: If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law: If you change traffic lanes, the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

Law of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with.

Law of the Result: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won’t work, it will.

Law of Biomechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Theatre Rule: At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy’s Law of Lockers: If there are only two people in a locker-room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Dirty Rugs/Carpets: The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location: No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.

Brown’s Law: If the shoe fits, it’s really ugly.

Oliver’s Law: A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Wilson’s Law: As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

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