Welcome to the 13 Days of Halloween
So, today is St. Patrick’s Day, and in honor of the occasion, I thought I would do an Irish-themed 13 Days. Ireland has a fascinating history and mythology; it also has no shortage of chilling ghost stories. During one of my visits to Iowa (my fave place away from home to be) last year, I bought a book of Irish ghost stories (you can find it here). It was a frightfully good read, to say the least! There’s just something about a good Irish ghost story that I love, and today, I decided to share that love with you. So in this post, I will feature a few of Ireland’s finer (and freakier) mythical creatures, a fine Irish ditty, a movie that I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised and freaked out by, and a few other surprises along the way. Also, the entire post has a smattering of bonus links so that if you so choose, you can explore each topic further. Let’s get started.
In this post
- song of the day
- 3 of Ireland’s mythical creatures
- movie of the day
- food, beverage, and dessert
Song of the Day
This is a great song. Love the lyrics. Love the music. And the video is like a little play. Plus, they’re singin’ about whiskey–simply can’t go wrong. Sláinte!
Irish Mythical Creatures
Here is my pick on 3 of Ireland’s mythical creatures that, if encountered, are guaranteed to scare the bejeezus outta you.
Banshee (woman of the fairy mound)
According to Irish mythology, the Banshee heralds the impending death of a family member by keening loudly. She can appear as a frightful, old hag or a young, beautiful woman if she chooses. Rest easy, for Irish legend tells us that only those of families having pure Irish blood will hear the Banshee shrieks. Whew! For your viewing pleasure: Ghost Finders “The Banshee“.
So although variations of these mythical creatures can be found in other cultures, they are primarily of Celtic folklore. These shapeshifters have been known to take the shape of black horses, goats, and rabbits. They have been described as being both malevolent or benevolent in nature. I remember hearing a story once about a man walking a trail alone late at night and encountering a large, black horse. The horse offered the man a ride and the man accepted. But once the man was on the horse’s back, the horse took off in a different direction than the one given by the man. Once the man was many, many miles from where they started, the horse abruptly stopped his break-kneck pace and tossed the man from his back, and disappeared. Good times.
This guy was an actual Irish Chieftan, known for being a brutal warlord who was feared by his people. In some versions of the lore, it is said that he would rise from the dead and drink the blood of his victims. Yet other versions say he is one of the walking dead. As a matter of fact, it has been frequently claimed that Brom Stoker actually based the vampire in his novel Dracula after this guy–not Vlad the Impaler. See, I didn’t know any of this. I had actually never heard of Abartach until I started researching for this post. That’s right, I’ll admit it!! Until this very day, I knew nothing of this dude or the fact that Bram Stoker was Irish. Kind of embarrassing since I’m both Irish and an enthusiast of vampiric lore. Sorry . . .
Movie of the Day
So for today’s movie pick, I decided to forgo the obvious gore fests (insert any of the Leprechaun movies here) and keep with today’s theme of Irish ghost stories. I rate the quality of a scary movie I’m watching by how many times I catch myself doing this and/or this. Now, if a movie has me doing this–Winner, winner, I’m a big chicken dinner! And this one delivers–big time. It not only has all the elements of a great thriller (spooky tension and yikes!) but it’s also a great Gothic love story, which I feel enhances a good ghost story.
For tonight’s dinner, beverage, and dessert, I’m laying out some fine Irish fare. Don’t chew my ass about how this isn’t one of my typical Halloween-themed dinners, either. Any day you get to munch on some delish Irish food is a damn good day. Spook it up if it bothers you overly. Otherwise–eat up and cheers! I also didn’t include a dessert with this menu because, well, that Tipsy Leprechaun you’ll be enjoyin’ serves a dual purpose. And yes, everything’s made with Guinness because its feckin’ good!
GUINNESS SHEPHERD’S PIE
This is sooo good, of course, I don’t include the onion (blech).
INGREDIENTS FOR POTATOES
- 1 & 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup half & half milk
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
INGREDIENTS FOR MEAT FILLING
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 & 1/2 pounds ground round
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup Guinness Irish beer
- 1/2 cup beef broth (or chicken broth)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups frozen vegetable medley, thawed (corn, peas, carrots, green beans)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Optional: sprig of fresh thyme for garnishing
INSTRUCTIONS FOR POTATOES
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into fourths. Place them in a medium pot and cover with cold water.
- Boil the potatoes over medium-high heat until they are fork tender.
- (While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the meat filling.)
- Remove the potatoes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.
- Transfer them to the stainless steel mixing bowl of a stand mixer.
- Immediately add butter and mash the potatoes with a flat beater on low speed.
- Gradually pour in the half & half while the mixer is still on.
- Stop the mixer and lower the bowl. Add in salt, pepper, and cheese.
- Resume mixing until all ingredients are incorporated and the mashed potatoes are beautifully smooth.
- Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEAT FILLING
- In a saute pan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil flickers in the pan add the onion.
- Saute the onion until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and continue to saute.
- Add in the ground round, salt, and pepper. Cook until the beef is completely brown with no pink.
- Sprinkle flour on the meat and fold it into the mixture.
- Add the tomato paste, Guinness beer, beef or chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme.
- Stir to mix everything together. Bring meat filling to a brief boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the saute pan and let the mixture simmer for about 12 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.
PREPARING THE SHEPHERD’S PIE
- Fold the vegetable medley into the meat mixture until everything is combined.
- Transfer the meat filling to an 8 X 8 inch baking dish. Using a spatula spread it evenly on the bottom.
- With a clean spatula, spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the meat mixture.
- Around the edges of the meat mixture make sure the potatoes form a nice seal within the baking dish to prevent overflow of the filling while baking.
- Put the baking dish on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to catch any overflow.
- Place the Shepherd’s Pie in the middle of the oven to ensure good heat circulation.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes become lightly golden.
- Remove the Guinness Shepherd’s Pie to a trivet and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Guinness Irish Soda Bread
A delish alternative to traditional Soda Bread.
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour sifted
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 bottle of Guinness beer or any other dark beer
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 4 tablespoons of butter chilled and cut into little pieces
- 1 egg lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit
Mix the flour with the sugar, salt, and baking soda
Add the butter chunks to the flour and with your hands mix it in until the butter is evenly distributed in the flour
Place the flour in a mixer bowl and using the dough hook mix thoroughly
Add the egg and mix
Add the beer and mix for 4-5 minutes on high speed until the dough comes together and becomes elastic
Place the dough on a floured surface and give it your desired shape. The dough will be very sticky so flour your hands
Place dough on a sheet pan fitted with parchment paper or a silicone mat
Using a knife, make a vertical indentation and then a horizontal one without cutting all the way through. The top should resemble a cross shape
Sprinkle flour on the top of the bread
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until you knock on the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow
Remove from oven
Tipsy Leprechaun Cocktail
Guinness, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream Liqueur, and ice cream?! Yes, please!!
- 1.5 ounces Irish Whiskey, such as Jameson’s
- 1 ounce Irish Cream Liqueur, such as Bailey’s
- 3 ounces Guinness Stout
- 2 scoops vanilla
- 2 ounces chocolate syrup
- Optional garnish: Maraschino cherry
- Glaze a pint glass with chocolate syrup.
- Blend ingredients and add to glass. Garnish with cherry.
Since this blog is in fact about Halloween, and all things creepy, here’s a bonus for you: A tutorial showing you how to re-create the Banshee make-up for this post’s featured image. Enjoy.
Until next time . . .
Erin go Bragh