Friday, March 12, 2010

Wicked Irish

Yes, I am of Irish descent.

That's it. I'm a descendant of Ireland. I have an Irish last name that most people can't spell or pronounce correctly, my grandparents both had an Irish last name and their parents both had Irish last names. That's as much as I know. Or care about for that matter......because on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish anyway, right?

I remember when I was very young, we would visit my paternal grandmother every weekend. She lived in an elderly housing community in the same town that we lived in. Her apartment was on the top floor of one of the residential buildings, accessible by one open staircase just inside the main door. Her one and only upstairs neighbor would always greet us first, because she left her inside door open all the time. This always annoyed my grandmother to no end. Her neighbor's name was Mrs. McGoldrick and everyone called her Goldie. She was short, she was tough, and yes........she was Irish. She also had a brogue so thick I could barely understand her. Which didn't matter of course because she always had candy for me and my sister Kathy. Who needs words when there's candy involved? This weekly ritual was accompanied by a rapid-fire line of questions as to where we were "goon" that afternoon and what "weeed" be "eat'n." When we finally were allowed to walk the remainder of the hallway to my grandmother's apartment, Goldie would stand at her doorway, arms folded, and watch us until we walked inside. My grandmother would glare at her and snort under her breath, "Busybody...mutter....mutter...mutter". We'd say, "What did you say Nana?" and she would reply brightly, "Nothing...just talking to myself. Now what shall we have for dinner?. " This was a moot point because she hardly ever cooked. But I do remember that she did make a mean Swansons T.V. dinner.

On the other hand, my maternal grandmother was always baking something delicious. I never saw the woman read a recipe. It always amazed me how she could go into the pantry and literally throw flour, sugar, eggs, and butter in a bowl and make the best bread you've ever tasted. But she did. Her recipes were simple, but oh so delicious! I can remember begging her to make me a soft boiled egg. Are you listening to this?? A soft boiled egg? She would serve it to me in this old cracked coffee mug, all mushed up with a piece of toasted homemade bread and salt and pepper. If she was out of bread, she used Saltines. When I was 8 years old, there was nothing better. Nothing. I would sit in my Nana's chair at that creaky kitchen table in complete bliss and eat it all. All the while, my sister Kathy stood as far away from the table as possible and gagged. Literally gagged.

She still does.

Anyway, one of my favorites was my Nana's Irish Soda Bread. Yum. I loved it best when it was toasted, then slathered with butter. ( Of course I did).

It's a snap to make and I'll bet if you look hard enough, you'll find that you have most of the ingredients already on hand. Go ahead. Look behind that old can of B & M Baked Beans with the freshness stamp from might find the baking soda.

Line up your ingredients and get ready to jig.

Nana's Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all purpose Flour
4 tablespoons of white Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 egg
1/2 cup Margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Set aside 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and 1/4 cup butter.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a large baking sheet.....or use a Silpat.

You'll notice that I suddenly threw some raisins into the dough. Most Irish Soda Bread recipes do not include raisins.....because according to some European cookbooks, when you add raisins to Irish Soda Bread, is called something else. Okay, okay. I'll say it. It's called Spotted Dick. I swear on my Kitchen Aid Mixer, that's what it's called.

My goodness, it's warm in here. Is the heat on? Who turned out the lights? I know my Nana never made a Spotted Dick........not on purpose anyway, but I have. I mean........she never put raisins in her Irish Soda Bread, but I do......oh sweet Moses. So now if anyone ever asks you how to make a, oh never mind.

And now.....back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...

In a large bowl (preferably with a mixer), combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of the buttermilk and the egg. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Take a small knife and make an "X" in the top of the loaf. Then, in a small bowl, combine the melted butter with the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk and brush it all over.

When it starts to run down the sides onto the baking sheet, that's enough, but make sure you cover the entire loaf.

Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool the loaf then slice and devour.

See how moist it is?? Is Buttermilk really nectar from the baking gods?

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go eat a soft boiled egg and crackers at my sister Kathy's.

Erin go Bragh!


One of many cuzzins! said...

I STILL love soft boiled eggs mixed together with squished up crackers. Yum...just the way we ate 'em on Clayborne St.

Did you eat ALL three loaves of that Irish Bread you just baked? Just asking....

Top of the morning!

SimplySweeter said...

Regina, I just sent them home with Kathy and the kids. Better hurry.....

EDNurseasauras said...

Mmm, Spotted Dick. Are there more Spots than...
(Shut up, Sandy).

I can smell the corned beef and cabbage from here.

Aunt Grace said...

I am definately with Kathy. Oh God did I hate the smell of thoes eggs. Thats why she liked you better than me

The Amazing Trips said...

My mother is the SAME way. She can just whip together ANYTHING and she makes everything look so EASY. She never follows a recipe, she just does it. God, I love that about her.

I never make eggs for myself, because they don't taste like my mom's. But whenever she's in town, I scarf 'em down. With saltines. Just like you said.

This bread looks great. Must try along with EVERYTHING else on your blog... you're killing me, you know.

The Amazing Trips said...

ps: You need to update your Twitter. How can you master the social network if you only post once every two months? Come on! Now's the time to tell the world about your spotted dick.

Whoa. I think the heat IS on...

SimplySweeter said...

Jen, I think I'm going to cancel my Twitter account anyway. Let's face it....unless your Tori Spelling, does anyone ever read them anyway??

Tia said...

happy sp day!!! great bread :)

Finnskimo said...

I'm not Irish, but we Finn's Celebrate St. Urho's Day, the day St. Urho drove all the grasshoppers out of Finland! haha. It was yesterday.

But we do eat soft boiled eggs, with cheese, rye krisps and tomatoes for breakfast. Yum!

And Corned Beef? Ick...Corned Moose for me!

Happy SP day though to the Irish! I'm going to def try the Soda Bread... :)

Snooky doodle said...

yummy this looks good! Nice blog. fantastic creations

Anonymous said...

I loved goin' into Nana's house to the smell of fresh bread! It was always sitting on the black iron stovetop covered with a dish towel. My fondest gift from Nana's kitchen was her jar filled with whole nutmeg. I still have the container, though the nuggets are dwindling, Thanks to your receipe I can now add that to my memories.

If golden raisins are used could we call it Spotted Dick, Golden Rod Variety?