Meal Plan; 19-24 March – The concierge died, St. Patrick’s Day, Triple Crown, and spring is here.

Just for the record. I’m not Irish, although I feel Irish. I’m proud to have lived in Ireland for almost 15 years. Ireland is our home, where our kids were born, and where we established our family. We left some close friends behind the day we moved to the US, but we have kept in touch.

Irish friends and colleagues adopted me as one of their own. I learned a long list of foul language (and still practice it to this date). I’m drinking Guinness, watching the Boys in Green (the proper sport Rugby), and cheering at St. Patrick’s parade. We eat rashers and black/white puddings and enjoy our regular meetups with Irish friends we’ve made in the US.

Every year for St. Patrick’s Day, we travel to a local village predominantly Irish and Italian to hang out with all our Irish friends and their families (and friends), to eat more rashers, cabbage, spuds, and of course, clear the throat with a few jars of whiskey and Guinness. The craic is on full display.

“Craic” (/kræk/ KRACK), or “crack” is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.

Irish Central

And Now Some Other News

Besides dressing up like a leprechaun, growing my red beard, and drinking Guinness, the past week was pretty quiet.

Except for Saturday afternoon when the family fully embraced our Irish connection. Our adopted home country of Ireland played their final game in the Six Nations (rugby) competition and beat every team they faced.

The tournament concluded with a less impressive performance by the Irish team, as they beat a hard-fighting English team in Dublin during St. Patrick’s Day weekend and lifted the trophy in front of a proud home crowd.

Fun Fact - Rugby was kicked off in the 1820s and was encouraged by the Rugby School's head master.  The legaues were formalized in 1895, and in 1995 the sport went professional.

Rugby is a proper sport, and the manly version of NFL.  It is extremely physical, but an exciting sport to watch and participate in. 

In addition, we did get a shitload of snow last Tuesday. The third snowstorm in 2 weeks did not disappoint.

Snow – again

The weather person (not allowed to say weatherman anymore) predicted 12-24 inches of snow in our area. I’m rather pessimistic when I read such forecasts, but they almost got it right this time.

By 6 am, an impressive 6 inches of snow covered the lawn, deck, and driveway – and it kept snowing. Schools were closed, and I decided to work from home. At 3.30 pm, the snow finally eased off, and I was staring at 12-14 inches of snow.

Inside I was crying like a kid who had lost his iPhone because he swore at his parents by mistake. How on earth would I clear this much snow with an oversized snowblower?

Thankfully the Knucklehead Gang showed why we are a great group bunch of strange men. One of my buddies suddenly pinged my phone, saying, “where are my beers for clearing your driveway?” To my utter surprise and delight, he had plowed my driveway and was looking for a fair payment.

This is what friendship means. Unselfish and kind approach to friends, and help when needed. We jump to the help of each other when we can. My Masonic brothers would say, within our cable-toe. It means we help as much as possible within our means, skills, and time.

the Oscars

Apparently, the Oscars were on, but we haven’t watched that show for a decade. Too political and other strange outbursts from actors who suddenly think they are relevant and knowledgeable on the Global economy, health, and political topics. Edjits the lot of them!

However, I was happy to see Brendan Fraser winning an Oscar, although I wouldn’t say I liked the movie and had hoped the Banshees of Inisherin would also walk away with a few Oscars.

a passing too soon

In other news, the world lost a great person on St. Patrick’s Day. Lance Reddick, who played the concierge in the John Wick series, passed away too soon. We enjoyed his acting in John Wick, Bosch, The Wire, and Resident Evil. He seemed like a great person in real life, and I’m saddened that he passed away at the early age of only 60 years old.

If he had any relations or connections to the Clintons, then we know it'll be ruled a suicide!

Keeping Our Irish Traditions Alive

Keeping traditions and cultures alive is essential, despite living away from our home countries. We attempt to cook special meals during the holidays, covering primarily Danish and Irish traditions, and have picked a few vital holidays that we always observe.

One of these traditions is the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

Yes, I know that 80% of the Earth’s population (significantly exaggerated) identify as Irish on this special day and will dress in green colors and consume gallons of Guinness. Famous phrases like Slainte becomes an internal greeting.

On Saturday, I brined and smoked a 3lbs corned beef brisket, cooked some fantastic Guinness steamed cabbage, and served it with the American version of fries.

We spent all day Sunday among great Irish and American-Irish friends and families. We saw the local parade and devoured fantastic dishes such as Shepards Pie, mini pork sausages, bacon (roast) with mashed potatoes, and more cabbage. It was all flushed down with an unhealthy amount of Guinness.

Prepping for the Week

Cooking food is therapy for me, especially after a hectic work week. It offers valuable time with my thoughts while learning new techniques and creating excellent meals. At times, I also listen to more audiobooks which is the closest to multi-tasking a man can get.

I try to keep meal planning alive despite having a busy schedule on weeknights and weekends. Either I cook and freeze some meals, or I may start cooking on Friday evening and during the day Saturday.

If I do not set aside time to cook during the weekend, I know the coming week will get busy and stressful, as I need to cook dinners every evening.

This weekend I cooked most meals Saturday. I started with my famous shrimp, bacon, and corn chowder and grilled an “interesting” approach to chicken sliders with guacamole. It is ground chicken with guacamole mixed in, add some herbs, and then grill them on the Traeger.

Another exciting school lunch is my skull-shaped breakfast muffins. Basically made with ground pork, herbs of your choice, some eggs, and then a Bisquick mix. I usually don’t use premade flour/baking mixtures, but happy to experiment.

For the rest of the week, the kids will enjoy a few homemade bread options; sandwiches and pizza sticks.

I also wanted to experiment with different approaches to the traditional meatloaf and found a Sicilian take on it. The Sicilian part of this recipe uses red peppers in the meat mixture and rolls up the meat like a roulade. It is stuffed with sliced meat and cheese, and I added some spinach. And it’s served with pasta smothered in garlic and olive oil.

The last dinner I made was the classic chicken pot pit with an Irish twist. Instead of using white wine for the sauce, I added some Guinness, giving it a smooth and hob flavor. Excellent, if you ask me. The pie was decorated with puff pastry and back for 30-40 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pit History

Initially, the chicken pot pie was “invented” in the old world of Greece and was called “Artocreas.” Something tells me that Aristotle and the gang played a role in creating the pot pie. Or was it some King Xerxes brought to Greece through the hot gates as he fought the might 300, or perhaps a dish Homer brought home from his Odyssey (Iliad)? One thing is sure; it probably looked nothing like the pot pie as we know it today.

The pie was re-invented by the British in the 16th century. However, English cuisine is not known for inventing culinary experiences, and the chicken pot pie was a dish that mainly the noble and royal people enjoyed.

Today, many British eat pot pies after a night on the piss or as a quick lunch treat from the local corner shop and deli.

The dish has experienced a few cultural-inspired changes throughout the last many centuries. The French had a more artistic approach to the pies, wrapped chicken and out poultry in pastry, sometimes stuffed smaller birds inside larger birds, and stuffed it all with berries and flowers.

Once the recipe “hit” the New World (Americas), another variation was created, using the Dutch oven and slow cooking. It became a hearty and nutritious meal to feed a hardworking family after a long day in the fields.

The British families and New World settlers added carrots and peas, and some also threw in a few potatoes.

Lunch & Dinner

MondayGrilled guacamole chicken slidersSicilian Meatloaf
TuesdaySausage breakfast muffinsBacon, Shrimp & Corn Chowder
WednesdayBushman bread sandwich with salami & mozzarellaQuiche Fiesta – Ham & Pineapple + Spinach & Mushrooms with Gruyere
ThursdayPizza sticksFrench & Irish-inspired chicken pot pie
FridayBushman bread sandwich with sliced turkey and pickled red onionTraeger Time!

One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!

Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is much easier to make food in advance, although you must invest several hours preparing meals during the weekend.

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