Here’s to another year among friends

Barton's 63rd 001 Back in ole West Point High we wore green because we were the Greenwave – the mighty Greenies who finally beat Starkville in football during our senior year.

Our school superintendent made good on his promise to waltz down main street wearing his night gown and cap if we ever beat the Yellow Jackets.  I remember it well.

Today we wore it again in honor of our Irish classmate who was celebrating her Fifty-thirteenth birthday – in Starkville, of all places.

This was a surprise party and Linda Barton Aultman of Hattiesburg was stunned.

Barton's 63rd 014 She even had two birthday cakes and had a hard time blowing out the candles on either. (Trick candles should be outlawed for folks over fifty-ten!

We took advantage of the beautiful spring weather by sitting out back wrapped in blankets and huddling around a small portable fire place.

Barton's 63rd 010

Marie brought us Irish caps to wear and we dined on Irish Stew and and a good fake Irish Soda Bread.  Only Marie was gutsy enough to sample the green beer.  It did look disgusting.

My favorite was the steamed fresh asparagus served with a curried mayonnaise.  I tried wrapping a few “asparagi” in bacon and roasting in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Definitely a keeper.

Barton's 63rd 007

And of course, Norma brought her famous pepper jelly made from last year’s crop of bell peppers – compliments to the cook..and to Bubba who grew the peppers.  There’s just something so much better about eating what you grew and prepared yourself.

If I do say so, my Irish Stew turned out pretty well.  I promised the girls I would include the recipe – so here it is.  It was kinda a lot of trouble, but hey, these are MY girls and they were worth every minute I spent in the kitchen.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • I cup of Guinness beer
  • 1 cup of fine red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Serves 4 to 6.  It’s another “keeper recipe” even though I thought the meat didn’t get as tender as I planned.  I think I purchased meat too lean, but I thought stew meat was stew meat.  Heed the note about using well marbled stew meat.

True Irish stew calls for lamb, but to this day I can’t eat a lamb.  It would be like eating Lucky.

The curried mayonnaise dip was delightful on the asparagus.  You combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 tsp. curry powder, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and a tsp. or two of grated onion.  We decided it would be good even without the asparagus.

5 thoughts on “Here’s to another year among friends

  1. Thanks for the Irish
    Stew recipe, cannot
    wait to try. We need
    to try growing our
    own asparagus. When
    I retire we can do a
    community garden.
    Today was another
    great day with good
    friends. Doesn’t get
    any better. Thanks
    for the hospitality!

  2. I enjoyed being with everyone and the food was wonderful. It’s so great to be able to spent our best years with such good friends. Thanks you so much for having us.

  3. Any leftovers?
    Miss you at Mass Sunday and lunch with Jill and Maire. There are plans in the works for new adventures.
    The Dulcimer Fest is April 16-17. No cabins available at Tish but maybe at Coleman SP only 15 miles away.
    Hope your stepmother is getting better. Don’t get down yourself.

  4. Is everyone going to Dulcimer. Do they know that’s Super Dawg weekend? Missed ya’ll yesterday too. Maybe we can do Palm Sunday together somewhere.

  5. Carolyn – and you are still getting babysitters! Who’d a thunk after all these years you’re still maintaining a list of potential sitters.

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