How do you know you’re Irish?

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How do you know you’re Irish?

. . .During your youth much of your food was boiled in like potatoes

. . .Your mother’s maiden name was Marshall

. . .Her grandfather’s name was Meyers

. . .By age five you could repeat the history of the Irish Potato Famine

And your first grandchild was born on St. Patrick’s Day and she will be fourteen on Tuesday. 

Many of dishes prepared by my grandmother featured potatoes; Shepard’s Pie, Colcannon, Boxty and Donegal Pie all made with mashed potatoes.

The dish that has stood the test of time and tradition in our family is the Donegal Pie.  At Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other family celebration my Donegal Pie is on the must have list.

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Donegal Pie I use to make Donegal Pie (center picture) from scratch; pie dough made with lard, homemade mashed potatoes and diced fried bacon.  Nothing low cal about my Nana’s Donegal Pie.

 Ingredients: two pie crusts, 24 oz. of mashed potatoes, 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, 3/4 lb. of bacon, one stick of butter.

Instructions:  Now with all the conveniences of store bought pie crusts, mashed potatoes and cooked ready to use bacon the making of a Donegal Pie is easy! Truly, it’s so easy.  Line a 9” pie pan with  pie crust, a layer of mashed potatoes.(your favorite store bought mashed potatoes or leftover work just fine), 3-4 grated hard-boiled eggs, a layer of diced cooked bacon(so you can’t see the egg or potatoes.  Melt a stick of butter and pour over the ingredients.  Top with a second pie crust and crimp the edges.  Four or five fork pricks on top.  

Use a cream or egg wash if you feel so inclined. Bake at around 350 degrees until golden brown for around 45 minutes. I know you will want to cut into the pie immediately but it needs to rest for 5-8 minutes.  

Potato history: Potatoes are one the world’s most popular foods. Agriculturists in 17th century Europe found potatoes were easier to grow and sustain than many other crops and, when coupled with their nutritional value, potatoes gained popularity, particularly among the working class in Ireland.

Potatoes may be indelibly linked to Irish culture because of the widespread potato famine in the 19th Century that forced many people to emigrate from Ireland. But there is more to the modest potato than many people may know.

Potatoes are an important addition to any diet, as they are a starchy root food that contains plenty of carbohydrates, which makes them closer to grains than other vegetables. Potatoes were first cultivated by the Incas in Peru around 8,000 B.C. The word “potato” comes from the Spanish patata. When Spanish conquistadors traveled to Peru, they discovered potatoes and brought them back to Europe.

Potatoes did not reach North America until 1621, when the governor of Bermuda included potatoes in a care package sent to Governor Wyatt of Virginia in Jamestown. By the 1700s, permanent potato patches had been established.

Miscellaneous facts about potatoes: While there are thousands of varieties of potatoes, most of them are not commercially produced. Potatoes have been served hot, cold, sliced, pickled, and even as a dessert. Benjamin Franklin once attended a banquet where the food was nothing but potatoes served in 20 different ways.

Potato chips and French fries are favorite snack foods. Thomas Jefferson is credited for introducing Americans to French fries. The popularity of fries has skyrocketed, and millions are consumed each and every year.

Some believe that potatoes are an aphrodisiac, while others feel they have medicinal properties, including curing warts. The Incas used to place slices of potatoes on broken bones to promote healing. Some people believe you can ease a sore throat and alleviate aches and pains with potatoes.

Potatoes have been enjoyed for thousands of years and provide a wealth of nutrition. While potatoes may be most associated with the Irish, these beloved starchy plants are truly a worldwide favorite whether mashed, fried, or baked.

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