Happy St. Patrick’s day. As far as I know, I’m not Irish in any way, so I probably have no right to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of green-beer-drinking Americans, so why should I let it stop me? Actually I don’t have any Ceilidhs planned, but I did spend some time Reading Yeats’ poems today, in keeping with the situation. I’d never noticed how preoccupied Yeats is with growing older, but now that I’ve started to become more preoccupied with the subject myself, it seems that his poems are suffused with memories and regrets of youth, and fear of growing old and of bodily decay. Many of them are filled with sadness and disappointment, and though they’re beautiful, they’re not easy to read. I love this one, though. I love the idea of thinking in a marrow bone.
A Prayer for Old Age
God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;
From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?
I pray—for word is out
And prayer comes round again—
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.
Colcannon is, I’m told “An Irish dish of cabbage and potatoes boiled and pounded.” I made this with kale, rather than cabbage, but they’re both brassicae, so I think that’s okay. Basically this is mashed potatoes with kale, cheese, eggs and herbs mixed in, and then baked in olive oil till they’re crispy outside and soft inside. You can use any herbs you like (or no herbs at all). I used tarragon, rosemary and basil, because I like them and that’s what I had. I made an olive hazelnut sauce to eat these with, but the boys actually at them with catsup!
Here’s The Sickbed of Cuchlainn by the Pogues.
4 largish potatoes, peeled and chopped into big chunks
1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed
1/2 cup milk
3 T butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
fresh herbs…I used rosemary, basil and tarragon
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
olive oil to cook
Boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water until they’re just tender. Drain and put the pot back on the warm burner (turn off the burner) to dry out a bit.
Meanwhile, boil the kale in plenty of salted water until tender but bright, 5 – 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Mash the potatoes with the butter and milk. Leave to cool slightly. Beat in the eggs and the cheese. Chop the kale finely and stir that in, too. Add whatever herbs you’d like. I like a big mix of herbs, usually, but because I used tarragon, which is a strong unusual flavor, I kept it simple this time. Season well with salt and pepper.
Lightly coat a large baking sheet with olive oil. Drop the batter by big spoonfuls onto the sheet.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until they’re browned underneath, and puffed and golden brown on top.