March is finally here. This is the month of changes—the last big snowfall, hopefully, going from winter and dangerous times for survival (remember the Ides of March – not even the great Julius Caesar survived that one) to the first day of spring and the promise of renewal and rebirth. Not to forget the Irish and St. Patrick´s Day because as they say “We all have a bit o´ the Irish in us”.
And this year Easter falls in March: Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets for the kids, decorating eggs, Holy Week parades and celebrations and best of all – holidays and spring break. This will be the first year ever that we celebrate Easter with either two popes (albeit one retired) or with a living vacant papacy and in expectation of the last pope before the end of the Holy Roman Catholic Church according to St. Malachy (by the way, he was an Irish archbishop).
My personal prophecy: The world will keep on turning and most of us will live to see another day and historically, even in the worst of times, things will eventually get better. The trick is to keep on going – one day at a time.
What has all this got to do with entertaining? Whether things are going well or not, we can still have fun, smile, talk to one another and make life more enjoyable for ourselves and everyone we meet. Here are some suggestions for your celebrations of this month´s holidays and every day.
You´re in good company: Albert Einstein, Sharon Stone, Justin Bieber, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Alexander Graham Bell, Nat King Cole, Harry Houdini, William Shatner (Star Trek), Michelangelo, Johann Sebastian Bach, Vincent Van Gogh…
Gift Giving: People born in March have the aquamarine as their birthstone and the daffodil as their birth flower. Both make wonderful personal gifts for March babies.
A Little History: Aquamarines belong to the beryl gemstone family which includes emeralds. They can go from the palest blue to deep blue and blue-green. The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans, “aqua” (water) and “mare” (sea), because the stone looked like sea water. Known from antiquity as “The sailor’s stone”, they were considered sacred to Neptune, god of the sea. Legend says they are a treasure of mermaids and wearing or possessing the stone assures safe voyages as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Aquamarines were thought to be the source of power for soothsayers, who called it the “magic mirror”, and they used these gemstones for telling fortunes and answering questions about the future.
Physical Properties: Aquamarine was believed to possess medicinal and healing powers, curing ailments of the stomach, liver, jaws and throat. During the Middle Ages, it was believed to be an effective antidote against poison.
Mystical Properties: Aquamarine enhances creative self-expression and gives strength, wisdom and clarity of mind. Attuned to the ocean, it provides soothing calm, alleviating phobias and fears. This stone helps the judgmental become more tolerant of others, inspiring peace and tranquility. Aquamarine rekindles love in married couples and signifies making new friends.
In the secret language of flowers the giving or receiving of daffodils means rebirth, friendship, optimism and unrequited love.
Personality traits associated with the daffodil: compassionate, dreamy, artistic, independent, sensitive, loving, impractical and timid. People with this birth flower can easily adapt to different situations and can handle different tasks at the same time. They usually avoid conflict whenever possible and are inclined to act as peacemakers when others fight.
St. Patrick´s Day is celebrated not only in Ireland. There are parades in most of the States and everyone likes to wear “something green” because we all like to feel a little bit Irish. In Chicago, the main river crossing the city literally turns green that day. Even green beer is served in Irish pubs! So many traditions come from the Emerald Isle and her people: the pot o´gold at the end of the rainbow, our wily leprechauns and lucky clovers, Irish tenors and all that wonderful blarney only they know how to spout so brilliantly.
On this St. Patrick´s Day we wish you and yours “All the Luck of the Irish” and send you one of the most beloved Old Irish Blessings to stay with you throughout the year.
“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.“
Just in time for St. Patrick´s Day: Copycat Bailey´s Irish Cream for the older folks and an Emerald Isle Mint Milkshake for the wee folk.
We do great copycat recipes. Of course they aren´t the original recipes, but some, like this one, get very darn close. Our copycat Irish Cream is also so very easy to make and much cheaper. Try it; you will definitely be surprised. Lasts about a month in the fridge, if it doesn´t disappear long before that. Make it for yourself or surprise someone as a gift in a lovely decanter or special container. Your friends will love it. You can see how it´s made on my channel in En Casa Contigo on YouTube.
NOTE: There are some recipes that also use an egg but this recipe is perfect without it.
1 cup – 240 ml double cream or whipping cream, • 1 and ¾ cup – 424 ml condensed milk, 1 cup and 2/3 – 395 ml whiskey – Irish if possible, • 1 tsp instant coffee, – 2 tblsp chocolate syrup, 1 tsp vanilla, (optional) 1 tsp almond extract
Mix instant coffee in a teaspoon of water, • Combine all ingredients in a blender or blend with a MiniPimer or similar for 30 seconds • Pour into a sealed container and refrigerate. • Shake well before using. • It will keep for up to 1 month.
• 2 cups vanilla ice cream, 1 cup whole milk, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract*, 1/4 tspn. green food coloring (if you don´t have green combine blue and yellow), Whipped cream
• Blend the ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, green food coloring in a blender or use an upright blender like a Mini Primer.
• Pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with green sprinkles, a fresh mint leaf, or chocolate curls. Serve immediately.
• * I know it´s hard to find peppermint extract here in Spain. You can also get the peppermint flavor by boiling peppermint candies in very little water or directly in the milk. Once they have dissolved (if in water) add to the milk and when the milk is cold, proceed to make the milkshake as directed.
Since we´re supposed to be expecting the end of the world any time soon now, I´ve decided to entice you with what has been reported by Forbes as voted the worst food in America of 2013 because of its caloric content. Of course, it is also rich, decadent, gooey, tasty, delicious and more so. And it´s only breakfast. Not surprising that hundreds of thousands of people have this every day in the USA.
This is our version of the star breakfast treat from the famous U.S. Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain. Make it once a year or share it with a friend, but this may be one of the things you want to “try before you die” – hopefully not from indigestion. Please check out the how to video on YouTube En Casa Contigo channel. We´ll be posting it this week.
Ingredients for one:
• 3 slices brioche bread or thick bread slices, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, ¼ cup heavy cream ½ tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon butter , 1 cup whipped cream , 1 ½ cup thinly sliced ripe strawberries, 1 teaspoon sugar, ¼ cup walnuts, warm maple or caramel syrup
• Combine the sliced strawberries with a teaspoon of sugar and set aside. • Beat eggs, ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup heavy cream, vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Preheat the griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. •Place brioche slices in the egg and milk mixture first one side and then the other ensuring that the mixture penetrates the slice. • Melt butter in pan, spreading evenly over the surface. • Cook over medium heat the slices of brioche in the buttered skillet until the bread is golden brown and crispy on each side.• Keep the cooked slices in a hot oven until all the slices are done.
• For each serving: • Make sure that the serving dishes are warm. • Place the 1st slice of French toast on the plate. • Distribute ½ cup mixture of sliced strawberries and sugar evenly on top • Place another slice and repeat with another ½ cup strawberries • Put the last slice with the last ¼ cup strawberries. Place remaining ¼ cup of strawberries around the toast on the plate. – Top with 1 cup whipped cream over the French Toast • Sprinkle walnuts over the whipped cream and plate. • Sprinkle the entire thing with 1 teaspoon powdered sugar. • Serve with a jug of warm maple or caramel syrup.