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Day 3: Limerick, Ireland
Leaving London on the train was a real experience. We shared a small room with an old lady whose name was Mrs. O'Leary. We had a great time. By the way, she was no relation to the story of the Great Chicago Fire and Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. We asked her and actually, she was quite an interesting lady.

I couldn't believe my ears was she started communicating with Ziggy in cat talk. I thought I was the only one who could talk to cats. But the entire trip was filled with songs, laughter, stories and just general chit chat.

During the train ride to Liverpool, we found out she lived in the countryside of Limerick, Ireland. What a coincidence! That's where we were headed! Not only that, but on her farm, she housed several hundred homeless Irish cats. Ziggy couldn't wait. She told us of her favorite cat Sylvester and his funny limericks. She said he could make a limerick right there on the spot. We couldn't wait to meet him.

When we arrived in Liverpool, we took a boat over to Ireland across the Irish Sea. The sailors looked as though they were about ready to raise the Irish Flag. On the boat was this bulldog that kept giving Ziggy looks. Ziggy tried to ignore the dog, but he just kept staring. I could tell Ziggy was nervous but told her to stay cool. Mrs. O'Leary and I started talking about different recipes when I observed Ziggy tying the leash to the rope that hoisted the flag. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Apparently, it's a tradition to raise the flag because there was a trumpet player playing an Irish tune while a drummer drummed. Then, someone blew a whistle. Well, you guess it. As they hoisted the flag, I could see the bulldog being drug across the deck and up the flag pole. People were aghast. They let the dog down gently and untied him from the rope. When the Captain asked if anyone knew who was responsible, Ziggy just looked up and rolled her eyes.

When the boat docked, Mrs. O'Leary offered us a place to stay and we gratefully accepted. It took awhile to get there but it was certainly one of the most beautiful Irish cottages you could ever imagine. There were hundreds of cats roaming about. When they saw Mrs. O'Leary, they all ran to her brushing up against her and leaping for joy.

As she prepared dinner for us, we met Sylvestor who asked us a few questions. Then without blinking an eye, he recited his first limerick.

Kieto and Ziggy are touring the world.
Their kinship can't ever be unfurled.
They're buddies thru and thru
To the end of the oceans blue,
And you'll really love Mrs. O'Leary's stew its true.

Mrs. O'Leary, Ziggy and me and all the cats applauded Sylvestor. We chowed down with some of the best stew I ever had! Here's the recipe.

Irish Stew with Mint Sour Cream

(4 servings)

12 ounces lean, boneless lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups beef broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium onions, cut into wedges
1-1/2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 cup cold beer or water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons snipped fresh mint

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven combine lamb, broth, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Skim fat off meat mixture. Add potatoes, onions, carrots, thyme, and basil.
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.
Discard bay leaf.

In a small bowl stir beer or water into flour. Stir into meat mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more.

To serve, stir together the sour cream and mint. Dollop each serving with sour cream mixture.

Make-Ahead Tip: Combine sour cream and mint; cover and chill up to 24 hours.

Then, while on his back, Sylvestor reeled off another limerick while sipping milk.

There once was a cat named Pat.
Who wore a big ugly red hat
He meow'd with a growl
And hooted like and Owl
Cause Pat with the red hat was a fat cat.

In the morning, we thanked Mrs. O'Leary and said our good-byes waving for what seemed miles down the road.

We took a small plane to Edinburgh, Scotland where Ziggy and I tried a Haggis. When we heard what it was and what it was made with, it didn't sound too appetizing. However, it was quite delicious. You'll get that recipe tomorrow though I doubt you will make it. hehehe.

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