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May the luck of the Irish…Happy St Patrick’s Day with a bit of lamb for dinner

St Patrick’s Day 2020 – what a memorable year thus far. We kicked off this decade with so many well wishes and never would I have thought that a mere 77 days after we watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve that we would be here, Covid-19. However, here we are! With such uncertainty, I wanted to go back and relive all those Irish memories again. However, this time I am focusing a bit more on the west coast of Ireland. Particularly just over the river Shannon and after the Cliffs of Moher, where the ocean meets the sky, and I will be sailing (did you sing that, I know I did). So join me and my family as we celebrate our heritage and our resilience as Americans and as Irishmen. This too shall pass my friend.

The ring of Kerry will forever be my favorite. When I was a little girl, I bought a poster at Walmart. It was of a winding road and lined by stone fences. An old horse and cart was hauling a load lavender headed to the market. It was of Ireland and for some reason, I was captivated by it. I was 10 years old and I used my money from my piggy bank to buy the poster. The caption on the bottom of the poster was County Kerry, Ireland. I made a promise to myself that I would go there someday. Well for those that know me well, know that when I set my mind to something, I follow through.

When I did go, I loved every ounce of it. The charm, the accent, the whiskey, and the landscape. It was all that I had ever wanted and more from a trip. We left Kerry and headed across the river Shannon on a ferry boat. I witnessed dolphins splashing around in the cold waters near our ferry as we headed to County Clare. We had the amazing opportunity to walk the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs raise 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The sheer force of the winds and the dramatic depths of the cliffs will make you speechless. To stand there is to stand in awe of the miraculousness of this earth. This area is known to over 20 native and protected seabird species. Falcons, razorbills, and puffins are just a few that call the Cliffs home. We were so lucky to have fair skies and good weather in November. We were able to walk the cliffs and explore so much of the area. County Clare, Galway, and County Mayo were so mesmerizing to me. Galway – if you don’t immediately think of Steve Earle, then we can’t be friends. When Steve Earle was living in Ireland and working with local musicians, he penned the famous Galway Girl song. If you are a bit younger than I am, Ed Sheeran, did a remake. You still get my point. There’s nothing like a Galway girl…..

When you look at the hotspots to go, these are not typically on the top of your list in Ireland with the exception of the Cliff’s. If you have the chance, slow down and enjoy the views and the slower pace of life (kind of like we are doing right now but in a non-forced way) while viewing the Irish landscape, do it.

In County Mayo, city of Cong, you will find a quaint area to relax and have a good drink while walking the streets of the town. I mentioned earlier in a blog about the movie with Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne called The Quiet Man, filmed in Cong, Ireland. We had so much fun touring the area and even recreating parts of the movie.

The colors are fascinating in the town of Cong, a statue of John Wayne and Maureen are near the production site, and then my husband, reenacted the priest who married a lovely couple (who were from Melbourne). Our trip with CIE tours was fascinating and the small number of folks traveling in November allowed our group to get to know each other a bit more. We still keep in touch with our friends from New Jersey and Australia. While traveling, you get to meet so many wonderful people from this beautiful planet and learn from them. I learned a ton of slang from our Aussie friends. Jumper for example is not to jump a person or to enact harm on someone but in fact a sweater. Yep, a sweater is a jumper. I know right! I am thinking back to standardized test: a baloo is a bear. No sense but hey when in Ireland do as an Aussie would do. We also learned that you cannot pump your own gas in New Jersey. Seriously? I thought that was for those rural gas stations and older people? Nope the entire state follows that logic, from what I am told. Our Irish bus driver talked to us about crack. Crack apparently is not an illegal substance but in fact a joke on the emerald isle. This is a bunch of crack (not illegal). I truly hope you travel. I pray that you have the opportunity to learn new slang from friends across the planet. I hope we will get to normalcy soon. So here are a few more pictures of our home away from home, Ireland.

For this St Patty’s Day 2020, with all that is happening in our neck of the woods, we went all out. I mean why not??? I have been quarantined for the last four days homeschooling my children. They have recently taken to not liking each other very much and it appears we still have 8-14 days of this isolation or more. Therefore, may the luck of the Irish be forever with us.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

8-12 lamb chops

Montreal Steak Seasoning

Wok Oil

Drizzle oil over chops, sprinkle the Montreal Steak seasoning over the chops. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your grill on high, place lamb chops down to sear, then reduce heat to low and slow cook them. 3-4 minutes each side. Super delicious and great with potatoes or rice.

Shepard’s Pie

1 lb ground lamb

1 12 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots or shredded carrots and canned peas

1 tbsp of minced garlic

1/2 red onion diced

1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese or mixed cheese

2 beef bouillon cubes

3/4 cup of heavy cream

Salt/Pepper to taste

2 lbs of potatoes

1/2 cup of milk

1/4 cup of butter

1 tsp of chives

Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan of a 9 x 9 baking dish.

In a skillet on medium heat, brown the ground lamb and onions. Add garlic. Cook for an additional minute. Add to a greased loaf pan. Add other veggies (onions, peas and carrots), salt and pepper.

Boil potatoes, when softed, drain, add milk and butter, salt and pepper. Mash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

With remaining grease from the lamb, add two bouillon cubes and the heavy cream. Stir until mixed, combined and thickened. Pour over the veggie and lamb mix, stir. Add 1/8 cup of shredded cheese to the mix.

Add mashed potatoes on top of the lamb mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Top with chives if desired.

P.S. if you want to cheat, you can buy mashed potatoes ready to go and you will cut your time down significantly. with these ready made items.

Yum, this was so delicious – kids had a second helping!!!

Keto Shepard’s Pie friendly version

1 lb ground lamb

2 12 oz bags of frozen cauliflower steamed according to package directions

8 oz of diced green beans

1/2 red onion, diced

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese

2 beef bouillon cubes

3/4 cup of heavy cream

Salt/Pepper to taste

2 beef bouillon cubes

3/4 cup of heavy cream

Salt/Pepper to taste

1/4 cup of butter

1 tsp of chives

Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan of a 9 x 9 baking dish.

In a skillet on medium heat, brown the ground lamb and onions. Add garlic. Cook for an additional minute. Add to a greased loaf pan. Add other veggies, salt and pepper.

Steam cauliflower, when softed, drain, add heavy cream and butter, salt and pepper. Mash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

With remaining grease from the lamb, add two bouillon cubes and the heavy cream. Stir until mixed, combined and thickened. Pour over the veggie and lamb mix, stir. Add 1/8 cup of shredded cheese to the mix.

Add mashed cauliflower on top of the lamb mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Top with chives if desired.

P.S. if you want to cheat, you can buy mashed cauliflower ready to go and you will cut your time down significantly. with these ready made items.

So we have had all kinds of fun things happening since my last blog, Upward Basketball for both girls, a new semester, husband going on the KETO diet (which has been good but a learning curve for me), two new programs to speed through the approval process at my university, and now COVID -19. I had hoped that our spring break would allow me to slow down and catch up but like anything in life, you never truly catch up. I hope you enjoy these dishes, our pictures of Ireland and a little bit of our quarantined time.

May the road rise to meet you, may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields, And, until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hands.

Slainte means health in Gaelic, what better time than now… Slainte to us all.

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