Some folks travel to learn about a culture while others gather books to read and digest the ways of the people. Another great way to learn about a culture is to participate in events at a festival. The Beaufort Irish Festival, which begins Feb. 25, affords this awareness with customs, dances and food.
A few years ago, Jim Glasson approached friends for help finding a way to send his daughter, Grace, to Ireland with her fiddle group for a summer. The idea arose for a concert fundraiser.
St. Peter Catholic Church had recently completed its new church, and since many wanted to get a view of the interior, it was thought to be the ideal place for such an event. Grace's group, Na Fidlieri, was excited, and the excitement overflowed to those of Irish descent who wanted to help.
Father Cellini, pastor at St. Peter, was enthusiastic and wanted the parish to become involved in the community. But there was concern about whether a concert could be called a festival. Certainly there would have to be more activities, but for the time being everyone had ideas of making a go of this fundraiser. It was just the beginning.
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More than 800 people attended the concert, raising more than $3,000. The Na Fidlieri group was on its way to Ireland. One month later, 20 people attended a committee meeting to plan what would become the inaugural Beaufort Irish Festival.
Nowadays, the festival is a way to bring awareness of the Irish culture, music and history to the community by offering events that highlight the traditions of the Irish.
You cannot think about the Irish culture without thinking about food. The cuisine has come a long way from the mid-1800s when potatoes were a dominant part of the daily Irish diet. Joe Kelley, head chef at Dataw Island's country club, is of Irish descent and has offered recipes featuring more than just potatoes.
Irish Soda Bread
4 cups buttermilk
8 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter, melted
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup raisins
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs and mix together with buttermilk. In another bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Combine both mixtures. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour.
Bailey's Irish Chocolate Souffles
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
4 teaspoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
4 teaspoons powdered sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Butter 5 souffle cups and place on a baking sheet.
In a heavy pan over very low heat, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. One at a time, beat in egg yolks and Bailey's cream and set aside.
Beat egg whites until fluffy. Add cream of tartar and beat until it reaches soft peaks. Add 4 teaspoons of powdered sugar.
Fold chocolate into egg whites and pour into souffle cups. Bake for 10 minutes; it should be soft in the center.
Dust souffles with remaining sugar.
Corned Beef, Cabbage and Potato Sliders
Makes: 50 sliders
4 pounds corned beef
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 head cabbage, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
2 onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup oats
2 teaspoons grain mustard
1 cup flour
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Guinness
Irish cheddar cheese, sliced (optional)
Slider rolls or 2-inch potato rolls
Cook the corned beef for 3 1/2 hours; add the onion, potatoes and cabbage for the last 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Strain all the juices and let cool, then mince meat, cabbage, potatoes and all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Use 2-ounce scoop to scoop out slider patties.
Cook on a flat top or skillet until golden brown on both sides. Top with sliced Irish cheddar cheese. Serve on rolls.