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St. Patrick’s Day

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It was a great day for those with Irish spirit March 13 as the St. James Chamber of Commerce hosted a car parade where dozens of business owners traveled in their vehicles through the streets of the hamlet to wish everyone an early happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Kerry Maher-Weisse, parade director, chamber member and president of the Community Association of St. James, said parade organizers were caught off guard last year as they received news a few days before the 2020 parade that it could not be held due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

While New York State guidelines still don’t allow for a traditional parade, Maher-Weisse said the parade organizers felt something needed to be done to bring back some kind of normalcy to the hamlet. She said they decided on a car parade with a route that would go through various streets to keep spectators spread out.

“We don’t want to keep on losing the aspect of community, and this meant saying it’s okay to come out with a mask and to reinstate that we can go back to normal or somewhat of a new norm,” she said.

This year the grand marshal was not an individual but all St. James residents, Maher-Weisse said. The decision was to honor how neighbors and business owners came together to help each other during the pandemic. The parade director said an example was Norman Keil Nurseries delivering free pansies to everyone in St. James last spring. She said it may be something that seems small but raised spirits.

“We pulled together as neighbors, businesses, residents and families,” she said.

When talking about Ireland and its culture and symbolism, many different images come to mind. Affectionately known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is perhaps best known for its bright green hue. Irish flags and even harps are symbolic of the nation, but there is perhaps one symbol that most widely represents the country: the shamrock. 

A shamrock, by definition, is a young sprig of clover. However, plant experts actually have said that shamrocks are a distinct species of the clover plant, believed to be the white clover. The word “shamrock” is derived from the Irish “seamróg,” which translates as “young clover.” Over the centuries, this diminutive plant has come to symbolize Ireland and many things Irish. The shamrock also is a popular symbol of St. Patrick’s Day. 

The shamrock and Irish culture are so intertwined thanks to Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. Legends attest to St. Patrick using the three petals of the shamrock to illustrate the mysteries of the Holy Trinity to the Celtic pagans. Each leaf represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The shamrock of Ireland has three leaves, not four as many people believe. The number three had significance in Ireland long before St. Patrick began to convert the masses. According to Blarney.com, the number three was believed to have magical properties and was a recurring theme in Celtic folklore. Because the Celts were familiar with the shamrock, it became easy to convert their knowledge of the shamrock to the magic of the trinity. The three leaves are also said to stand for faith, hope and love. 

The four-leaf clover is a separate entity and a rarity. That is why the fourth leaf is deemed to be “lucky.” But that lucky clover is not the traditional Irish symbol.

Thanks to their connection with Ireland, shamrocks are often gifted by the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) to the President of the United States in the White House each St. Patrick’s Day. They are presented in a special Waterford crystal bowl featuring shamrocks in the design. This practice started in 1952.

Shamrocks also can be seen on Irish clothing designs, the Erin go Bragh flag and the uniforms of several Irish sports teams. Of course they also are seen during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The shamrock and Ireland will always be linked. 

Recipe courtesy of Family Features

It’s your lucky day because you don’t have to search for the pot of gold under the rainbow for this winning recipe. Throw out the old Irish classics and sweeten things up this year with some mint chocolate chip fun.  If you’re in a crunch for St. Patrick’s Day and need something glowing with green, here is a dessert that is sure to have everyone coming back for seconds (and more).

These Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies are as green as four-leaf clovers and have delicious chocolate chips mixed throughout for some extra sweet flavor. Served beside a big glass of milk, they are perfect treats for any St. Patrick’s Day party or virtual gathering.

To start the recipe, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, green food coloring and peppermint extract for that crisp mint flavor. Beat with a hand mixture and combine the ingredients in both bowls together.

Add chocolate chips to the mixed cookie batter. Scoop onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 11-24 minutes until the edges of the cookies are light brown. Cool on a wire rack before devouring.

With so much mixing and scooping to be done, this is a great recipe for kids to get involved in the kitchen, too. One of the  best parts is the eye-catching color. Watch children’s smiling little faces as the batter turns from light brown to dark green for a priceless reaction.

After being perfectly baked, these cookies are bright, fun and will be the hit of any celebration. Soft in the middle, a little crisp on the edges and as green as can be. You can’t ask for much more on St. Patrick’s Day.

Find more recipes, celebration ideas and dessert favorites for every occasion at Culinary.net.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Servings: 24-32
Ingredients:

2 1/2    cups flour

1          teaspoon baking soda

1/2       teaspoon salt

1          cup butter, softened

1 1/4    cups sugar

2          eggs

30        drops green food coloring

1          teaspoon peppermint extract

1          package (12 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt until blended. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs, food coloring and peppermint extract; beat until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto baking sheet. Bake 11-14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

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Part of what makes celebrating St. Patrick’s Day so enjoyable is the scores of traditions surrounding the holiday. The month of March ushers in parades, festive foods, lively music, and as much green attire as a person can handle.

As ubiquitous as it is each March, green attire has not always been symbolic of St. Patrick’s Day or Ireland. In fact, earlier depictions of St. Patrick had him royally clothed in a rich shade of blue. Some ancient Irish flags even sported the color blue. According to National Geographic, the color green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day in the 18th century, when the shamrock became a national symbol of Ireland. The color of the shamrock and Ireland’s natural landscape forever linked green to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the Emerald Isle.

There are reasons for donning green clothing on St. Patrick’s Day. If a person isn’t in green, he or she just may get pinched. According to Irish folklore, leprechauns wore green, and if anyone else wore the color that individual would be invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns are ornery sorts who like to pinch anyone they can see. Therefore, by wearing green clothing, a person is sure to avoid a painful tweak. It’s not only the leprechauns who might do the pinching. Celebrants are inclined to pinch people who don’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns might sneak up on them at any time.

Beyond shamrocks and leprechauns, other people are inclined to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day as a symbol of good luck and to honor their Irish ancestry. According to Brian Witt, the cultural exhibits coordinator for Milwaukee Irish fest, Irish Americans would wear green as a reminder that they are nationalists first and foremost. The Irish flag colors are green, white and orange. The green symbolizes Irish nationalism, the orange represents the “Orangemen” of Northern Ireland, which is an Irish Protestant political society, and the white symbolizes peace. 

Green is an integral color during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and it is tied to many different traditions.

Mint Brownies

Lucky Mint Brownie Perfection

Courtesy of Family Features

How lucky you must be to come across this recipe just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! This one is a twisted combination of mint and sweet chocolate that’s sure to have almost anyone’s taste buds screaming “yum.” This dessert might just be the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow this year.

These Mint Brownies have three delicious layers. First, a supreme brownie on bottom. Then a fluffy, green mint layer that’s full of flavor and color. Last, but definitely not least, a chocolate layer on top made with chocolate chips, butter and a little whipping cream.

All of these layers create a smooth, sweet, minty, bite-sized dessert perfect for any occasion but especially St. Patrick’s Day. The green mint color really pops off the plate, giving it some extra flare and an appetizing glow.

Mint Brownies

Servings: 9-12
Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray

1 box supreme brownie mix with chocolate syrup pouch

3 tablespoons water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

Filling:

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup whipping cream

5 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

5 drops green food color

Topping:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F.

Spray 8-by-8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix brownie mix, water, oil and egg until combined. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 35 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make filling: In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, whipping cream, cream cheese, peppermint extract and food coloring. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate 1 hour, or until set.

To make topping: In saucepan, melt whipping cream, chocolate chips and butter until smooth. Cool until lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Pour over filling; spread to cover. Refrigerate 2 hours, or until set.

Before serving, let brownies set 10 minutes at room temperature.

Tips: Cut brownies with wet knife for cleaner cuts. Store covered in refrigerator.

Visitors to a Stony Brook bar and restaurant were looking for more than food and drink March 15, they were aiming to help out a good cause.

The Bench hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser Sunday where participants got their heads shaved to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Lead organizer Christopher Pollina said with donations and a company match, participants surpassed the total event goal of $20,000.

According to the organizer the nonprofit group Three Village Dads raised more than half of that amount, and its foundation donated an additional $1,000.

Rob Meo raised the highest amount of the day with $5,000. During the event, Boy Scout troops 70 and 427, both from Setauket, stopped by to have their heads shaved by Amanda Bellavance of Dapper Cuts Barbershop and donate funds. Music was provided by Mike Rutowitcz of Sound’s Alive Entertainment.

Pollina and co-organizer Scott Montekew were pleased with the results from the second annual event at The Bench.

“We topped last year’s $12,500 raised, even during this trying time of COVID-19,” Pollina said.

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Every 10 years, the people at the head of the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade honor all the past community members who were lucky enough to be named grand marshal.

As the annual parade looks down the barrel of its 70th anniversary, the people who run the second oldest parade in Suffolk County have the task of respecting the past while looking to continue its run into the future.

The Friends of St. Patrick, a group of volunteers who have helped put on the parade for the last seven decades, hosted its third annual Luck of the Irish Casino Night March 6. During the group’s biggest yearly fundraiser, members said they were not only acknowledging the past, but trying to look toward the future.  

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help.”

— Hugh McCarrick

Unlike previous years when members would nominate a queen and her court, along with a grand marshal, this year members announced instead they would be supporting a local student with a $1,000 scholarship. 

“The applications for [the queen and her court] were going way down, and we were seeing it as sort of a bygone era,” said James McElhone, the recently installed treasurer of the Friends of St. Patrick. “We decided to make it a scholarship that would be rotating between several local high schools to encourage people to write an essay on their Irish heritage.”

This year, Alexa Zichinelli, a senior at Miller Place High School, won with her essay about her Irish heritage, particularly of her great grandmother on her father’s side who came from Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. 

Her grandmother often talks about that history, of when her own mother was in County Clare in Ireland. Zichinelli wrote about the Irish folklore her grandmother loves to talk about, along with the family she left behind.

“Going to where my great-grandmother was from in Ireland, she lived by these rocks that she described looked over a cliff, so it was just kind of magic, where she was from,” she said.

Zichinelli said she will put the scholarship to use, as she intends to go to college for premed, particularly on the path toward being a pediatric heart surgeon. 

Those who have been grand marshal in the past see the parade differently than most. It’s a tradition, yes, but it’s also been a way to celebrate and even define the North Shore communities along the Route 25A corridor. With 70 years of history, grand marshals have included noted community members like state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who was named grand marshal in 1989.

One family sticks out among those in the Rocky Point area. The McCarrick family owns property in the Rocky Point shopping district that once included the famed McCarrick’s Dairy before it closed in 2017 and later became a 7/11. Hugh McCarrick, one of the officers of the Friends of St. Patrick, said nine separate members of the McCarrick clan have been named grand marshal over the years. He and his brother Kevin, along with a slew of other past marshals, were both honored at the casino night March 6.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount.”

— Walter Colleran

Hugh McCarrick, who was named grand marshal in 1997, said going forward the objective is to make the parade more interesting every year, but with around 85 units in the parade this year, he added they are going strong. He thanked East Wind for hosting the fundraiser, which is easily its biggest of the year.

“It costs about $40,000 to put this parade on, so fundraisers like this really help,” he said.

Mike Tatilian, a grand marshal in 2015 and past president of the Friends of St. Patrick, said times have changed and they are always trying to bring in flesh blood to help out. Nothing else says that times have changed in seven decades than the number of St. Patrick’s Day parades around Suffolk County. While the Huntington parade is in its 86th year, hamlets like Kings Park and Jamesport are celebrating only their 10th and seventh years, respectively, of the annual parade. Tatilian said they’re always trying to compete for spectators, of which the MP-RP parade usually gets 25,000-30,000 along its 3-mile run. 

“There’s competition — you’re competing for fans,” he said. “When there used to be a few parades, now there’s many.”

Walter Colleran was named grand marshal in 2013 and said 70 years means a lot to a parade, also helping to display how its changed.

“Seventy means a tremendous amount — [the parade] started out years ago as an opportunity for everybody to hang out on the street and drink beer, but over the years it’s turned into a very family-oriented affair.”

Green was the color of choice from Miller Place to Rocky Point as thousands lined the roads to celebrate the 69thannual Miller Place – Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17.

With a cool, sunny day preceding the coming Spring, families sat along Route 25A from the Rocky Point Business District all the way into Miller Place and watched as members of the Miller Place, Rocky Point and Sound Beach fire departments walked in step to members of local family farms, the fife and pipe bands, marching bands, baton twirling teams and many, many more.

Before the parade even began, children and adults alike walked through the streets blasting from green plastic trumpets and horns, painted their faces with clovers and even brought their pets out dressed in Irish flair.

Irish Cream

By Barbara Beltrami

‘Tis a challenge to write about St. Patrick’s Day without resorting to the clichéd corned beef and cabbage. Sure and there are other Irish dishes that can also celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green.

There’s colcannon boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed together with butter and salt and pepper. Then there’s shepherd’s pie, a dish as hearty as they come, made with ground meat and veggies and topped with a mashed potato crust. I’d never made colcannon before, but after looking up a few recipes, it was easy to come up with my own version. I dug up shepherd’s pie from deep in my recipe files where I’d forgotten all about it and have happily restored it to my current repertoire. But I think my favorite is Irish cream, a whiskey blend with cream and an alcohol by volume content of 15 to 20 percent that will put green beer to shame.

Colcannon

 

Colcannon

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered

¼ pound unsalted butter

2 leeks (white and light green parts only) washed and thinly sliced

¼ large head cabbage, shredded

1¾ cups half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan over medium heat boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Meanwhile in another large saucepan melt half the butter over medium heat, add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, until soft; add half-and-half, stir and bring to simmer. Add potatoes, two tablespoons of the remaining butter and salt and pepper; stir and coarsely mash whole mixture. Transfer to serving bowl; melt final two tablespoons butter and drizzle over top.  Serve hot with fish, meat or poultry.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water until very tender

¼ pound unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1½ pounds ground beef

½ cup vegetable or beef broth

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. While potatoes are boiling, melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Add the broth and continue to cook, covered, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in thawed peas and season with salt and pepper. Mash potatoes with remaining butter. Spread meat and vegetable mixture in an 8×13-inch greased baking dish; spread potatoes on top to form a crust; bake until mashed potatoes turn slightly golden, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with a crisp green salad.

Irish Cream

Irish Cream

YIELD: Makes approximately 6 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup heavy cream

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1¾ cups Irish whiskey

½ cup coffee liqueur

¼ cup chocolate liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature with hot coffee, over ice or with crispy cookies such as biscotti or wafers. Top with whipped cream if desired.

By David Ackerman

As a part of its continuing series of highlighting cultural holidays from around the world, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at its Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village March 3.

The event kicked off with a lively performance from students of the highly acclaimed Mulvihill-Lynch School of Irish Dance, which competes in regional, national and international competitions. Students have won solo medals at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, the North American Irish Dance Championships, the All-Scotland Championships, the Great Britain Championships, the British National Championships, the All-Ireland and World Irish Dance Championships. Mulvihill-Lynch dancers have also won numerous regional and national gold, silver and bronze medals in ceili and figure dancing.

Children from the audience were invited on stage after the performance to see the costumes up close and learn some dance steps.

The celebration continued with the musical storytelling of The Bard and The Busker. Mike McCormack (the Bard), a noted journalist and broadcaster and the National Historian for the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and John Corr (the Busker), a member of the legendary Paddy Doyle’s Boots band, shared stories of Irish history in spoken word and in song.

The afternoon concluded with a delicious treat as the audience was invited to vote for the best tasting Irish Soda Bread in a contest that drew eight entries. Baker Priscilla Kirch of Hauppauge won first place and was rewarded with a $150 Stony Brook Village Center Gift Certificate.

To keep up with events at the WMHO Educational and Cultural Center visit www.stonybrookvillage.com/what-to-do-events/.