By Rosie Moore
The potato famine in Ireland lasted from 1845-1852. In the 1800’s Ireland was an agricultural nation populated by eight million persons who were among the poorest people in the Western world. Only about a quarter of the population could read or write. Life expectancy was short, forty years for the men.
The potato became a staple crop in the 1800’s in the poorest regions. It was a vegetable rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Irish peasants were actually healthier than peasants in Europe where bread was the staple food.
The famine began quite mysteriously in September 1845 as leaves on the potato suddenly turned black and curled, then rotted, seemingly the result of a fog that had wafted across the fields of Ireland. The cause was actually an airborne fungus originally transported in the holds of ships traveling from North America to England.
It’s long story concerning this famine, too long to discuss here except to say that the British government’s efforts to relieve the famine were inadequate. During this disabling course of history the population of Ireland dwindled by two million. One million died of starvation or diseases connected to the famine and one million emigrated to North America or England.
Most of us are of Irish descent, I know I am, and on March 17th we remember this tragic event that occurred in that beautiful “green” country. Also to commemorate St. Patrick, Ireland’s faithful servant. We remember by parades, displaying shamrocks, and drinking “green” beer.
Let’s turn to a more genial subject and celebrate this holiday with a delicious Irish recipe.
Chocolate Mint fudge
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz)
1 -14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz./ white candy coating
2-3 tsp peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring
In a heavy saucepan melt chocolate chips with 1 cup condensed milk. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Spread half into a waxed paper-lined 8” square pan. Chill 10 minutes or until firm.
Meanwhile in a heavy saucepan over low heat, cook and stir candy coating with remaining condensed milk until coating is melted and mixture is smooth.. Stir in peppermint extract and food coloring.. spread over bottom layer, chill ten minutes or until firm.
Warm remaining chocolate mix if necessary, spread over mint layer.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!
Thought for the day: It’s not the honors and not the titles and not the power that is of ultimate importance. It’s what resides inside. Fred Rogers
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