We’re just over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Most years past we would simply go to Meghan’s mother’s house, and she would put on a traditional dinner: boiled corned beef, boiled potatoes, and boiled cabbage.
Last Year Was Different
Last year we ate a sad dinner on our own, as I had never made corned beef and cabbage before. I tried it in the slow cooker. It didn’t turn out very well. Lesson learned.
This Year Is Different
Due to the wonders of science and concentrated efforts, the world has vaccines in record time and we see the light at the end of the figurative tunnel. My mother-in-law has been vaccinated and graciously agreed to come to our house. And I’m taking another stab at making traditional Irish-American dinner.
Stovetop method: For a 5 pound brined corned beef brisket. Place the corned beef in a Dutch oven. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of pickling spice blend and pour in 4 cups beef broth. Add potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 3 1/2 hours. Add water if necessary to keep brisket covered. Slice across the grain.
I don’t mind saying, it was delicious. But it might have been a side-effect of having company for the first time in a very, very long time.
We made two exceptions from tradition: I added garlic mashed potatoes, and we didn’t have Irish coffee after dinner.
When I was a kid I disliked soups and stews, and hated even the idea of lentil soup. Fortunately I became more open-minded as an adult, and found that I absolutely love lentil soup. It’s very healthy for you, to boot.
The red lentils in this recipe break down and make a very creamy soup. Green and brown lentils may be substituted, but black lentils don’t work out well.
Dutch oven, or a large pot
2 medium carrots, diced or sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
olive oil (about 3 tablespoons)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, about 1 ½ boxes of store-bought
Substitute with vegetable broth for a vegan soup
2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound)
Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear, roughly a minute
You can try other vegetables as substitutes or additions, including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, celery, or whatever you have on hand.
Heat dutch oven over medium heat with olive oil, until it shimmers
Sauté carrots and onion until softened (maybe 5 minutes)
Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, thyme, and salt. Cook until fragrant (about a minute)
Stir in lentils, tomato sauce, and broth
Bring to a simmer and cover
Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
Optionally, stir in (up to) 5 cups of spinach before serving.
Last night, Beta spent half an hour out on the deck. She was wearing the wool cape I got her last Christmas. She had her new noise-cancelling headphones that block so many of the sounds that bother her. She used the new family telescope to check out the Pleiades.
I’m copying and posting this here to remind myself, from time to time, of the message.
Well hey, here’s a valuable piece of information for you.
Most things, fairly universally, you’re wrong about. Yes, it’s true. Most of the things which you believe you’re right about – you are in fact wrong about. To some degree, either by having an incomplete picture of facts but believing you’ve got a complete one, or holding differing viewpoints and not being aware of it, or making a judgement on an incorrect assumption or even bad information you’ve received…
It’s just that most of the time the amount of your inaccuracy doesn’t matter. But accepting that fact is important because it allows room for you to accept errors in your thinking on important issues.
You’re not infallible, you’re not so great, you don’t know much. But that’s OK. Because none of us are infallible, none of us are that great, none of us know all that much.
But if you’re humble enough – you’ll keep learning. Slowly decreasing the margin of our error is all we can hope to do. If you believe you’ve fully closed it…that it’s reached 0, that you’ve finally got it all figured out and there is no more error…well then you’re just flying blind now. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually crash – as any pilot with closed eyes eventually does.