50 Shades of Green

50? Pshaw. That’s for amateurs. Ireland has 1000.

The last time I was in Ireland was 17 and a half years ago. My husband and I went on our honeymoon and it really was a fabulous honeymoon, I have to say.  Despite my initial gawking at his suggestion (how about Italy? Paris?), Ireland turned out to be a (surprisingly) romantic and beautiful place to spend the first 10 days of our married life. Maybe that’s why I remember it so clearly…as if it wasn’t 17 and a half years ago. Yikes…this time-flying thing gets me a bit freaked out at times.

But back to Ireland. Land of a thousand greens, and they sure aren’t kidding about that. I’ve never seen a place look so much like a patchwork quilt of the most beautiful colors. Lush, clean and perfectly magical. And seeing as I love a good dose of magic, Ireland is a delightful place to be because it drips magic. Something about the old castles that simply stumble on as you are driving through the countryside (in people’s backyards-I kid you not. Hey, what’s that out behind your house? A castle in ruins.)…or the rugged coastline with it’s soaring cliffs and peaceful stretches of lengthy beaches…or the history and the sweet, old villages with their lively pubs.

Ireland is magical. I can also add that we saw 15 rainbows in 10 days while on our trip. So there! I always feel like a little girl when I mention that to people (rainbows! unicorns! candy!), but rainbows still have the uncanny ability to stop adults in their tracks, which just amuses me to no end. Mama Nature can still deliver some of the simplest, most arresting visuals in this highly mechanical and technological time or ours. And these were BIG rainbows, not wimpy, wispy ones that you glimpse just before they disappear. Big, arching rainbows that clearly must end in a pot of gold somewhere out there in the countryside.

I hope to take our girls to this delightful country sometime in the nearish future. Man, you really could spend your life traveling, couldn’t you? So many places out there to discover. This would be a unique trip for them…seeing a new country (they haven’t been out of ours yet) but one that is so easy-going, natural and wonderfully welcoming. Ireland is a great way to submerge yourself in history without it being the stop-and-read-the-plaque kind of history learning. You just amble through it and it finds you.

How beautiful. Or sar-alainn in Gaelic. 

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up (March 17) and I always get my Irish on, despite being not a single genealocigal drop of it. Everyone’s Irish on that day so the saying goes, if you’ve traveled there…ah, you love it even more so.

I made this recipe the other night for dinner and everyone around our table gobbled it up. It’s the prettiest light green color and will stick to your ribs. Serve with a side of kale salad and you’re on your way to your own 1000 shades of green. Forget 50.

Rustic Potato Leek Soup, courtesy of The Best 30-Minute Recipe cookbook (from the editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated)

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 lbs. red potatoes (4-5 medium), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tsp. fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste (I like white pepper here)
4 Tb. unsalted butter
3 lbs. leeks (8 medium), white and light green parts, halved and sliced thin*
2 garlic cloves, minced

*Do you know an easy way to wash out the very-gritty, sandy and dirty leeks? Cut the dark green parts off, slice the remaining stalks in half and then in 1/2″ slices. Take those slices and place in a large bowl of cool water. Separate the slices and start to swish around in the water. All the leeks will float and all the grit will sink to the bottom.

Begin by bringing broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil, covered, in large saucepan. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook, covered, until needed in step 3.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large soup pan over medium-high heat. Stir in leeks, garlic, adn 1/4 tsp. salt, cover and cook until leeks are wilted and softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in broth mixture to leek mixture. Bring to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, 4-7 minutes.

Off heat, remove bay leaves and mash some potatoes against side of pot to thicken the soup (or use an immersion blender like I did, as I wanted it creamier) to desired consistancy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

4 thoughts on “50 Shades of Green

    1. Yes, I have a lovely immersion blender and I use it all the time. BUT, next time a storm rips through here (maybe tomorrow?) I NOW know that it can be used for transportation as well. Thank you for that tip. Now, I just need a boat to attach it to…. 😉

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