|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Mar. 17, 2017 - 6:37 p.m.
You know that today, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day, right?
I do too!
However, yesterday I did not know this. Well, I knew that March 17 is St. Patrick's Day. But I didn't know that yesterday wasn't today. See?
Funny thing about being on the radio, especially when you've been doing it for as long as I have: nothing sticks. I talk about so many things during my shift that if I my brain tried to retain it all it would pop like one of those 140psi back cysts in a Doctor Pimple Popper video. (Ok, seriously, what is the allure??)
Yesterday, from 5am to 1pm, I spent practically every mic break talking about some aspect of what would be today's festivities. Most of my newscasts began with one of the following:
"The NYPD is beefing up security for tomorrow's parade..."
"Sanitation crews are working overtime to clear any remaining snow in advance of tomorrow's parade up 5th Avenue...."
"The nation's oldest St. Patrick's Day parade is expected to draw 2 million people to the Big Apple tomorrow...."
"You'll need more than the Luck of the Irish if you want to land that prime viewing spot at the parade tomorrow...."
"Cases of green food color poisonings are predicted to reach historic levels tomorrow...."
Ok, that last one is just one I wished I could have used. But the others were taken pretty much verbatim from my reports. Notice here they all feature the word "tomorrow".
On top of that, during my non-news mic breaks the word "tomorrow" featured prominently during discussions with listeners and co-hosts on subjects like corned beef recipes, beer selection, and hangover cures.
I think I said the word "tomorrow" yesterday more than I said the word "Trumpocalypse", a first since last November.
So, of course, yesterday the first think I thought when I got off the air was, 'Oh my god - it's St. Patrick's Day today. I gotta hurry home and cook!'
Early in the week, before Stella the Snowstorm hit, I picked up 3 full corned beef briskets* that I'd found on sale at my local grocer's. I don't normally buy 3, but for the past several years NewWifey(tm) and I have been arguing over which of the many ways I've cooked corned beef is the best. Last year we finally narrowed it down to two. I voted for my original method, which is to steam the brisket over beer. NewWifey(tm) praised the time I simmered one in ginger ale, no doubt because it sings to her Trailer Trash soul. We agreed we couldn't come to a consensus however unless we tasted them side by side.
That's why I purchased two of the briskets. So we could settle this thing once and for all. The third brisket was carted home because I want to try a new method: baked in an unglazed clay vessel (a Römertopf) that's been soaked in apple cider.
*I know you're dying to know: point cut. The flat cut is a flavorless abomination foisted on us by marketers who can't get rid of them any other way. "The point cut is leaner!" they say, knowing that's a magic phrase that makes fat Americans go all doe eyed. Don't fall for it. Leaner is not better when it comes to corned beef. Insist on the thicker, juicer, more flavorful point cut. Yes, it's fattier. No, it won't kill you. At least not immediately.
All week long I've been obsessing about this. What sides would best showcase each method? Would a different beer be appropriate for each, or is that overkill? (Answer: it's not overkill. Do it.) Should I make the authentic, but hard as Dick Cheney's various hearts, whole wheat soda bread again, or have mercy on my teeth this year and make the wussy-but-heavenly version? (Answer: wussy.) Will I have enough oven space for that monster Römertopf AND the 7 quart Le Creuset that traditionally cooks my Amazing Patented Guaranteed Fartless Braised Cabbage and Apple concoction every year? (Probably...I hope...maybe.)
Things came to a head yesterday. My mouth was on auto-pilot my entire shift, talking on the air about parades and colcannon - tomorrow - while my mind was furiously running down a checklist of ingredients I still had to buy, and worrying about whether I should plump my raisins in Irish whisky before adding them to the soda bread batter. (Answer: duh.)
By the end of my shift I had pretty much worked out my ingredients list, the order of cooking, how I would rotate burners, which beer to have with which brisket, etc. When I turned my mic off for the last time I was satisfied that all my ducks, er, briskets, were in a row, and I was good to go.
But somewhere along the way that fevered contemplation got so intense that it must have warped time. Or at least my perception of time. When I left my studio I was sure, with the certainty one has of things that don't even need contemplating, like one's name or shoe size, that it was St. Patrick's Day. Even though I must have said "for tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day celebration" at least a hundred times over the previous 8 hours. Like I said, nothing sticks.
So, convinced I had to hurry home to cook a big feast before bedtime, I hurried home and cooked a big feast before bedtime. NewWifey(tm) was away at a friend's for the afternoon so I was alone with my kitchen skills, and my delusion.
First up, since it cooks the quickest: Irish Soda Bread. The wussied-up American version, with whisky soaked raisins, caraway seeds, and grated orange zest (a variation NewWifey(tm) particularly enjoys). Baked in a Le Creuset dutch ovens. Le Creuset dutch ovens are god. I bet they can cure cancer:
Next: everything else. I turned into the cartoon Tasmanian Devil, a blur of knives and whisks and meat and vegetable peels whirling around the kitchen, all landing in various pans, pots, and bins right on cue.
Four hours later, right on cue, NewWifey(tm) walked in the door. "Happy Saint Patty's Day, honey!" I said, handing her a green beer.
She looked startled (but took the beer) and said, "What's that smell?"
"What's that smell?" I laughed. "It's Saint Patrick's Day! I just spent the last 5 hours in the kitchen cranking out 9 pounds of brisket, 5 pounds of potatoes, glazed carrots, braised cabbage, and an Irish Soda Bread with orange zest. Come look!" And I led her by the elbow into the dining room.
She stood staring at the table laden with the fruits of my labor, and several 6-packs of beer.
"You mean the three corned beefs?" I said. "Yeah, well, I know we were just gonna do two this year so we could compare the beer steamed version to the ginger ale. But I really wanted to see how the Römertopf would do it also, so I bought an third one and tried it that way. I hope you don't mind."
She kept staring at the table. "No, that's not what I meant. Why...why are we doing this today?"
"Waddaya mean, why? Because today's St. Patrick's Day!" I ran around the table and grabbed our novelty green bowlers off the place settings, put one on my head, then reached to put NewWifey(tm)'s on.
She swatted my hand away. "Honey. Did you say today is St. Patrick's Day?"
"Well, yeah. I mean, every March 17th is, right? What's the problem? We do this every year!"
She grabbed my wrist and lifted it to my face. "Look at your watch."
She drained her glass and set it on the table. "Thanks for the beer. I'm gonna get changed while you pack this stuff up. We can have it tomorrow."
An hour later, at 8pm on March 16, 2017, 3 briskets, 1 head of braised cabbage, 5 pounds of potatoes, 2 pounds of glazed carrots, an Irish Soda Bread, and 3 6-packs of beer (now minus 4 bottles *buuuurp*) were packed and put up until March 17, 2017.
Which it is now. So if you'll excuse me, I have to go re-set the table and put my green bowler on. Like I do every year. On St. Patrick's Day.
And sometimes the day before.
Because nothing sticks....