Have you ever missed a place you’ve never been?
That’s how I feel about Ireland.
I’ve wanted to go there my entire life, and I can’t really pinpoint why. True, I’m about 50% Irish, but I’m also German, Scottish, English, and French. I would love to travel to all those countries, too, but Ireland remains my main priority.
I convinced my Mom to turn my room into a castle when I was in middle school. My favorite band is Flogging Molly. Every year since college, I have thrown a St. Paddy’s Day hoopla with traditional Irish food and drink. Our wedding bands are Celtic knots, and my engagement ring stars an emerald instead of a diamond (Emerald Isle?).Our coffee table is an artistic replica of the Irish flag. The Irish accent makes me swoon even more than a British accent (luckily, Dave is pretty good at it…). And I make a habit every Christmas of re-reading my favorite story, The Dead, by one of my favorite Irish authors, James Joyce.
I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed. Just enthusiastic.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb lamb, cut into 1 inch chunks
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tbsp wheat flour
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- cheddar cheese, grated (optional…unless you’re me)
To start filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 1/2 tbsp of the oil. Add lamb and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer the meat to a large bowl.
Add remaining oil to pan. Stir in the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add the carrots, peas, parsley, and thyme, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the vegetables are covered with oil. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the broth. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the meat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thickened.
To make the topping: Add potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with salted water. Cover and bring to a boil; continue to let boil 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and mash. Add the milk and butter and stir until smooth.
Transfer the stew to a large casserole dish or individual ramekins. Decoratively spread (with a fork) or pipe the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is hot. Preheat the broiler for a few minutes and sprinkle potatoes with the cheese, if using. Place the pie under the preheated broiler and broil 1 to 2 minutes, or until potatoes are lightly browned and cheese is melting. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
I invited my sisters over to watch the anxiously anticipated Mrs. Santa Claus. Unlike Beethoven, this childhood favorite lived up to my expectations. A made-for-TV musical with nearly all good songs? It’s a Christmas miracle!
We dined on the delicious Shepherd’s Pie (since I eat meat so rarely, it tastes awesome when I do), and I made some amazing (ly easy) Chai Tea Lattes using a new concentrate my mom now sells. Just mix with milk and top with whipped cream and cinnamon for a fancy-pants drink.
After Mrs. Santa Claus, we put on Elf and watched Aurelia pull off and try to eat her sock.
This kid cracks me up.