I love crock pot recipes for the ease and convenience they offer in creating a healthy, hearty meal for the family with little time investment. But my personal experience with crock pot meals is that they typically result in food that is okay to pretty good, rather than delicious to mouthwatering. There was, however, one exception. On St. Patrick’s Day 2010, my crock pot turned out the most incredible corned beef and cabbage that the world has ever seen! I brought it to an office party where it was promptly devoured and exclaimed over.
|“Faces from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade” by Jeffrey|
Unfortunately, those were the days before I had any interest in cooking, so that recipe has pretty much disappeared. But with St. Patrick’s Day 2016 coming up, I did an online search for that corned beef and cabbage recipe. I only remembered that it called for the somewhat surprising additions of orange juice and brown sugar. A lot of recipes came up, but not the one I wanted.
I took a stab at melding the recipes that I found with memory. The result was a sweet and sour take on traditional corned beef. For those with traditional tastes and like a strictly salty corned beef, this is a recipe to skip. If you like sweet and sour and don’t mind mixing it with salty, it could be worth your walk on the wilder side. This was not a repeat of St. Paddy’s Day 2010, but added to white rice, I thought this version of corned beef tasted pretty good. And since pretty good is the hallmark of a decent crock pot recipe, why not share?
3 lb corned beef (with seasoning packet or already seasoned — I used one from Trader Joe’s)
1/2 head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
12 large red potatoes, quartered
1 onion, chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped (I used ready-to-eat carrots)
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cups water
Place potatoes, onion, carrots and cabbage in crock pot. Place seasoned corned beef on top of vegetables. (Tip: if veggies are a bit too bulky for the crock pot, place half of the cabbage in the pot and let it cook down first before adding the rest of the cabbage. Or, just wait until last hour of cooking to add cabbage, since otherwise it tends to disintegrate and disappear). Mix orange juice concentrate and brown sugar with water and pour over the beef. Cook in slow cooker on high for 3 hours, then switch to low for 5 hours or until done. Serve over fresh white rice.
After St. Paddy’s Day, I’m looking forward to trying out some naturally dyed Easter eggs. Last year, I dyed some eggs with natural food coloring with this result:
|The naturally dyed eggs are resting on a used Paas dyed eggs carton for drying. They are darker in color when I used brown eggs. Yellow on a white egg became orange to brown on a brown egg. I also attempted some two-tone striping that turned out a bit uneven.|
Last year’s experiment was a lesson. This year, I will try to remember a few things. First, I will buy white eggs instead of the brown that I normally get to achieve brighter colors. Second, I will add extra-plenty of the natural dye ingredients (spinach for green, turmeric for orange/yellow, beets for pink, and blueberries for blue) with vinegar to get a more vibrant color. Third, I’ll leave time to do a second or even third dip for stronger colors and clearer striping, since the natural dyes tend to be lighter than synthetic dyes.
What to do in the down time between cooking a St. Paddy’s Day meal and dying Easter eggs? I’m tempted to find a good recipe for making a glazed ham, because then I can change the color of egg yolks by injecting some food color . . . and voila, Green Eggs and Ham! Instant fun for my child’s breakfast, when accompanied by the well-loved Dr. Seuss story!
About the Author
Darlene W. Cancell is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom, and most recently, blog coordinator for Parent Talk.