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Celebrating the Celtic Season of Samhain

At the end of October, the doorway to the dark half of the Celtic year swings open. This is the festival of Samhain, meaning “Summer’s end.” For me, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and settle in for the season. What have I accomplished? What do I need to let go? This is a time to go forth with positive thoughts and new possibilities.

I usually prepare a feast and leave out an extra plate for anyone passing through—be it spirit or flesh and blood. A time when the veils between the worlds, seen and unseen, are verra thin.

I’m sharing a family favorite. I added a twist to the recipe a few years ago. Yams! It gives the dish a slighter sweeter taste.

However you celebrate, be safe and watch out for the faeries. They’ll be forever grateful if you leave them some milk, too.


Shepherd’s Pie


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 lbs. ground beef, or turkey

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef stock

1 cup Guinness


2 lbs. Russet or Yukon potatoes—OR Yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter

1/2 cup Kerrygold Irish Cheddar, grated (optional)

In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add your preference of meat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, and onions are soft. Add the carrots, parsley, and thyme. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the flour, cook for several minutes, and then add the stock and Guinness. Bring to a boil. Add the meat, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the potatoes for 12-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash. Add the milk and butter. Stir until smooth.

Transfer the stew to a large casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake for 10-12 minutes. Preheat the broiler and sprinkle the potatoes with the grated cheese, if using. Broil until potatoes are slightly brown and cheese is bubbling.

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