I shed a tear the day I changed my last name.
My little weep was not because I had conformed to societal norms (never could flatter myself as a rebel), cried with despair at DMV inefficiency (I stay continually entertained in lines via “Fruit Ninja”), or had taken on a married name that a) rhymed with my first name, b) already belong to someone famous (Brochovitch) or c) would cause a room filled with 6th-graders to giggle.
In fact, amongst the slew of eastern European/Nordic/excessively German last names that permeate the Midwest, my married name—Clarke—is just about as inoffensive as it gets. It’s one syllable, boasts a reasonable vowel-to-consonant ratio, and can be easily pronounced by anyone with a moderate command of the English language. Sure, the lurking silent e on the end is kind of a pain, but I can deal.
My single issue with my married name and the source of my sadness: Clarke is not Irish.
I grew up the loud, the proud Erin O’Neill. My grandfather had our family coat of arms displayed proudly in the living room; my dad regaled me with the violent tale of the Red Hand of Ulster, our family symbol; I even invested my meager Jamba Juice paycheck into O’Neill-brand surf tees, just to sport my name further. Yes, it was good to be an Irish girl.
Though my last name is no longer O’Neill, I still regard myself as all Irish, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day. (Check back with me at Oktoberfest. I’ll confess that I’m actually 75% German.) Come March 17th, you can believe I’ll be baking Irish soda bread, sporting Kelly green Chuck Taylors, and sipping a glass of Jameson. Yes, I really am that cliché.
Comfortably in touch with my inner-child and outer-cheese ball, I love any excuse for a holiday theme meal; Irish cuisine, however, does not enjoy the warm repute of some of the country’s more celebrated exports (i.e. Guinness). The fact that I associate a blended mint ice cream product with the holiday is probably a decent sign that not many Irish dishes are competing for culinary fame, at least here in the land of the Shamrock Shake.
Irish food is hearty, starchy, and generally designed to fuel farmers to withstand long days in soggy fields. Key ingredients include potatoes, sausages, potatoes, barely, potatoes, cabbage, and potatoes. Cheers for the super spud.
To celebrate St. Paddy’s with a tasty, satisfying meal, I chose three traditional ingredients, added some sweetly sautéed onions, dried oregano, and punchy garlic, popped it all into the slow cooker, and rubbed my good luck charm. Lucky me! Irish Slow Cooker Potatoes, Sausage, and Cabbage is one of the easiest, most filling, and crowd-pleasing dinners I’ve made recently.
Every time I find a new slow cooker recipe I love, I ask myself why I don’t use this magic kitchen appliance every night of the week. Let’s try it. With a bit of imagination, we can trick ourselves into believing that we have a personal chef. While we (frequent the spa) (attend extravagant fundraisers) (sculpt our calves) (whatever else it is people with personal chefs do in their spare, non-cooking time), our personal chef (slow cooker) does all of the work for us. We pop in the ingredients, go about our Very Important Business (facial), and our slow cooker rewards us with a tender, aromatic meal.
Irish Slow Cooker Potatoes, Sausage, and Cabbage is an ideal option to celebrate St. Paddy’s, and it’s healthy too! Yukon gold potatoes add buttery taste and texture without the added fat, lean smoked turkey sausage brings depth and spice, and shredded cabbage acts as a vehicle for all that smoky-buttery flavor goodness, plus packs texture and nutrients of its own.
Though I created Irish Slow Cooker Potatoes, Sausage, and Cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s no-fuss prep and great tastes makes it an ideal healthy choice any night of the week. Give the ingredients a quick chop and sauté the night before you plan to serve, dump them all into your slow cooker in the morning, and then return home to the warm smell of dinner, ready to be served.
I just love having a personal chef. Don’t you?
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! Wishing you love, luck, and charms a plenty.