Irish Stew, 1908


This recipe for Irish Stew comes from the Rumford Complete Cookbook, 1908. The Rumford Baking Powder Company was founded in 1859 and was situated in East Providence, Rhode Island.


  • 3 lbs. mutton, suitable for stewing (mutton is lamb that is more than one year old)
  • 8 medium-sized potatoes
  • 6 small onions
  • 1 small carrot
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 pints of water

Cut the meat into pieces of convenient size for serving. Remove some of the fat and put the meat into a saucepan with the water, which should be almost at the boiling point; add the onions, peeled and cut into thin slices, also the carrot, scraped and sliced. Cook very gently. The water should only simmer, for hard boiling would toughen the meat. At the end of an hour, add the potatoes, peeled and cut into thick pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, then serve all together on one dish.



According to the Smithsonian, you won’t find green beer, leprechauns, or corned beef and cabbage in Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day. These traditions are very American. In Ireland, bacon and pork are more popular, and the Irish aren’t about to throw green food coloring into their pints. Furthermore, the corned beef we think of today is actually Jewish corned beef! The Jewish population in New York City typically tossed corned (salted to preserve) beef into a pot with cabbage and potatoes.

And, though the hordes of American tourists have changed Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland into a day of celebration, traditionally, March 17 has been a religious holiday. So, Irish in your heritage or not, pin a shamrock to your lapel and…..

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.




The Madness of March

How do you feel about the month of March? Is it all about Saint Patrick’s Day and green beer? Here in Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s Day (the 19th) is nearly as popular, mostly for the zeppoles.


My father-in-law, and now my husband, hate the month of March. Both believe that nothing good comes during the month. My husband’s father’s father died on March 18, 1968. His wife, my husband’s mother, died on the same day in 1993. My father-in-law’s birthday is March 6, but he doesn’t want to celebrate anymore, and presently we are awaiting the results of some medical tests that could hold good (whew) or difficult news. Since the results will be revealed in March, both men in my life are convinced the news will be bad.

I’ve never looked at March that way. March means spring in the northern hemisphere, and even though we may have a last burst of winter in March, snow that falls and sticks to the grass won’t last. The days are longer – Daylight Saving Time in the United States begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 10 this year! Here are some of the other, positive aspects of the month of March:

  • It’s International Francophone Month and International Francophone Day on March 22 (égalité, complémentarité, solidarité)
  • March 2 is National Reading Day (I have a suggestion!)
  • March 14 is Save a Spider Day (I know, my initial reaction is to stomp, too, but if I find one that day, I’ll be kind)
  • The only day in the calendar that’s also a command (think about it)*
  • It’s March Madness, baby! The Big Dance for college basketball (men and women), the annual pool (money, no-money), single elimination, and Cinderella stories.
  • Passover begins on March 26th, a festival of liberation and unleavened bread.
  • Easter this year is March 31st – joy and hope and promise. And Dove dark chocolate eggs.

I hope March is a happy and healthy transition month for all of you. Spring is on the way!

*March Fourth 🙂

M is for Frank McCourt

“Angela’s Ashes” won Frank McCourt the Pulitzer Prize – at age 66!  This memoir of growing up in the abject poverty of Limerick mixed heartbreaking tragedy with comedy, through the eyes of a child.   Before he was a published author, though, he had a career as an English teacher.  Oh, to have been a student in Mr. McCourt’s English class.  On his first day in the classroom, one of his students threw a sandwich at another kid.  McCourt picked it up and ate it in front of the class.  Then he taught about surviving starvation.

Frank McCourt told his stories to his students in the New York City classrooms, but he was unable to write them down.  The idea of writing in a child’s voice came to him while he was babysitting his granddaughter.  “I had this extraordinary illumination, or epiphany,” he said. “Children are almost deadly in their detachment from the world … They are absolutely pragmatic, and they tell the truth, and somehow that lodged in my subconscious when I started writing the book.”

Like Harper Lee, Frank McCourt did not expect fame.  “My dream was to have a Library of Congress catalog number, that’s all,” he said.  But it became first a critical sensation, then a runaway best seller. In 1997 McCourt won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Here is a four-minute video of Frank McCourt reading from “Angela’s Ashes.”  That’s author Toni Morrison with him.