Since I am not a particular fan of the color green, it occurred to me Friday evening that here I was, planning to host a fancy dinner party at my home Saturday night to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, and I had nothing of an appropriate hue to wear, save for a bright green novelty sweatshirt with white flocked shamrocks all over it which would be too heavy for cooking and serving dinner. Besides, I’d lost 70 pounds since the last time I wore that sweatshirt. It was way too big for me now.
As soon as my workday ended Friday, I flew to the mall and picked out a blue and green tie-dyed tunic at JCPenney by Unity World Wear with short flutter sleeves and intricate embroidery around the scoop neck. It was on sale. And I had a coupon. Perfect!
On Saturday I assembled my St. Patrick’s Day outfit by pairing the pretty tunic with vintage, stretchy black travel slacks which I bought at JCPenney back when I worked for them in the 1970s and 1980s. I added black platform high-heeled loafers by Studio Paolo and a gorgeous necklace and matching bracelet of Malachite disks framed by silver rings that my father had given to my mother back in the early 1970s. I finished my look by adding a green and black "Dea Dread" hair accessory by Thea Osato of Baltimore (http://DeaDreads.etsy.com) and headed into the kitchen, donning a green apron to protect my clothing, of course.
I set my dining room table for six with gold flatware I received as a gift from my mother back in 1980, gold-rimmed china that belonged to my grandmother and a scattering of glittery green shamrocks across a gold tablecloth. Then I set about preparing traditional corned beef and cabbage – with a twist. I corned the beef myself, marinating the seven-pound brisket in a heady combination of exotic spices, beer, orange juice and stone-ground mustard over a couple of days before covering it with red beets and onions and sticking it in the oven. Instead of new potatoes, I boiled tart apples with Yukon gold potatoes to create more healthful "Irish-apple" mashed potatoes.
As green cabbage wedges and baby carrots roasted in the oven with the corned beef, I par-boiled spring asparagus and topped it with fresh lemon zest and grated Parmesan. Then I assembled clever place settings by hollowing out potatoes and planting them with live shamrocks and a name card for each dinner guest.
When my guests arrived, I set out an assortment of stuffed olives and whole wheat baguette slices with warm Brie covered in walnuts and cranberries, and served Bellinis in tall flutes with a little green food coloring stirred into the champagne and peach schnapps. As we sat down to dinner, my guests opened the fine wines they brought and we all dug in to a home-cooked meal made memorable by the esprit de corps of wonderful acquaintances.
For dessert I surprised my dining companions with little glass flower pots filled with dark chocolate pudding made from scratch, topped with crumbled chocolate cookie "dirt" in which I had "planted" sprigs of fresh mint. My guests poured more wine. It was a splendid evening.