Friday, March 16, 2007

Erin Go Bragh!

"If you're Irish, come into the parlour
There's a welcome there for you.
If your name is Timothy or Pat
[or Liz , Rise, Aunty, Lukey, Meggie,
Isabelle, Tanya, Jess, Karen,
Tracey, Kelli, Joyce, Stomper, MJD,
Float, Nutmeg, Diana, Ali, Squirrel,
or anyone who regularly lurks around these parts!]
So long as you come from Ireland
[or NZ, Australia, Scotland, the US or England!]
There's a welcome on the mat.
If you come from the Mountains of Mourne,
Or Killarney's lakes so blue,
We'll sing you a song, and we'll make a fuss,
Whoever you are, you're one of us.
If you're Irish, [or any of the above]
This is the place for you!"
With apologies to the unknown author.
I have one cake of soda bread in the oven and another one ready to go. It smells divine! Wish you all could come over to help eat it....
Sometimes, particularly in March[!] the stage-Irishry gets out of hand. The worst offenders are the OC and the YS, each of whom thinks he has the Irish accent nailed! But shure, "Gosh and Begorrah!" I do love it when I get cards from my far flung friends, just because St. Paddy's Day is coming!
I remember the first time my Dad, who worked for Aer Lingus, went to NY for the St. Patrick's Day parade. We never got that excited about it at home. Sure, we might have the day off from school, and we might wander into town to watch the local parade and, guaranteed, mother would buy pins with foil harps and real shamrocks on them, and expect us to wear them, which, in my teenage sophistication, I thought was an embarrassingly uncool display [ who can understand the workings of the teenage mind?] And inevitably St. Patrick's day would fall smack in the middle of Lent. So you couldn't even eat sweets without pangs of guilt.......
But, back to my Dad and the parade on Fifth Avenue. He was flabbergasted to meet people who couldn't find Ireland on the map if their lives depended on it, decked out, nevertheless, from head to toe in garish green outfits that would make any self-respecting Irishman, such as himself, squirm with embarrassment. He was mortified, I think, at the idea, that seemed rampant in the States, that we were a nation of yokels, running around looking for pots of gold at the ends of rainbows.
"They even painted the line down the middle of the avenue green!" he told us in wonderment.
If I do say so myself, that bread smells wonderful---the first is out, the second is in......two different recipes. Of course half the reason they smell so delicious is that they carry me back to my mother's kitchen. It was always great to be done with school for the day, but to come in the door and breathe in the warm inviting smell of freshly baked soda bread was bliss indeed. Not that mother would let us lay into it the way my lot would. You weren't allowed to have any until it was completely cooled, because, she said, it would "sit like a stone in your stomach." Even as a grownup I've never had the willpower to wait. It always tastes best while still warm , so what was that all about??
My grandmother's kitchen, out the road in Ardpatrick, was another haven of great baking aromas. I'm old enough [age has some compensations!] that I can remember the "old house" there, which burned down when I was about six or seven. In the "old house" there was no electricity. Only oil lamps. And water had to be carried in buckets from the spring. And the baking was done over the big open fire in the kitchen. The soda bread would be placed in a big black pot with a lid, and hung over the fire to bake. It was an exacting science, and Granny was the expert. She knew just how high or low to hang it, how vigorous the fire had to be, and whether or not it might be necessary to place some pieces of red hot peat on the lid to provide even heat. All I know is that it smelled like heaven.
So, just in case you'd like to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a few slices of delicious , good-for-you, Irish bread , here's a recipe.
O'Brien's Irish Bread
[from The Star Tribune in Minneapolis]
1 1/2 cups stone-ground whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour [I use 3/4 cup, plus 1/4 cup wheat germ]
1/4 cup dry oat-bran hot cereal
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
2 tblsps sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tblsps soft butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
3 tblsps melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Dust baking sheet with flour.
In large mixing bowl, combine flours, dry cereal, oats, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Cut in soft butter.
Stir in 1 1/4 cups buttermilk.
Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, kneading in the bowl as little as possible until dough is moist.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a seven inch round loaf.
Place on a baking sheet.
With a sharp knife cut an "x" on top.
Bake 40-45 mins. until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with a knife.
Remove to a wire rack and brush with melted butter. Keep your mitts off it for one hour, until completely cool. Wouldn't want you getting stones in your stomach!
This recipe is tried and true, the first one I made today. The second one into the oven was a recipe that I found in the food section of the paper this week. Very similar to the above, with the addition of raisins soaked beforehand in whiskey. Yum. Except....I was so wrapped up in writing this that, having learnt nothing from the Burnt Boiled Eggs Debacle, I missed the timer going best it will be super crispy, at worst I'll have a new doorstop.
Erin go Bragh means Ireland Forever. One creative interpretation, on a card that arrived this week, showed two Irish colleens. Colleen # 1 has perky boobs and a T-shirt that says "Erin go Bragh". Colleen # 2 has saggy boobs. Her T-shirt says "Erin go Braghless". Groan.
So, whether you identify with Colleen # 1 or Colleen # 2,
"Wishing you walls for the wind
And a roof for the rain
And tea beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you
And all that your heart might desire."


Lukey Barlow said...

Oh, that smells divine! I have printed your recipe and will hit the store for buttermilk first thing in the morning. I think I have everything else.

"May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door."

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

What a wonderfully warm, informative, funny and welcoming post! I felt like I had partaken a slice of your bread and shared the warmth of your hearth. Thank you.

nutmeg said...

Oh goody a bread recipe - I wish I was there to help you eat it!

Unfortunately the braghless one hits too close to home - now if I had a little guiness I suppose this all could be forgotten.

Happy St Patrick's Day Molly :-)

meggie said...

Happy St Patrick's Day Molly!
If my mother Mary was still walking among us, she would have been shining with pride for her Irish ancestors!
I must confess- these day I find Braghless is soooo comfortable!

keryn said...

The thing I remember from my Gran's kitchen is the pot of mashed potatoes on the woodstove. They smelt soooo good, but they were always for my uncle's meal. We used to beg for them, but always had to wait until he'd had enough before we got to clean out the pot. Smokey potatoes and butter, mmm....

Ali Honey said...

Happy St Patrick's Day to you Molly!
I'm sure it's better warm from the oven. Isn't smell a wonderful gift( sense ) to have.
Best Wishes from NZ.

Aunty Evil said...

Well here is something I haven't said before, just because I haven't had such a good opportunity as this.

My great grandparents' last name was CASEY!

Guess where they were from?

That's right, SCOTLAND!

But in actual fact, they migrated there from County Tyrone during the potato famine, so I claim both countries in my family tree.

Unfortunately though, I hate the colour green, so what is the best Scottish colour to wear in lieu?

Isabelle said...

Casey is not a Scottish name, Aunty Evil. I feel your Scottishness is but a veneer - but do consider yourself one of us, all the same.

That soda bread does indeed smell wonderful, and Happy St P's Day, Molly. (How old did you say you were, though? I'm ancient but my Granny had electricity, gas, even a washing machine towards the end of her life. A tv. Radio. Phone. Ah, the sophistication of urban life. Edinburgh, see. The seat of the Enlightenment.)

Could we not all come to tea if we set out now? You could make some more soda bread if the present lot would be all eaten by the time we arrived. I've never eaten or even seen this delicacy, here in the land of the Selkirk bannock. Deprived! Skinny! (no, not skinny, alas.)

riseoutofme said...

Thank the Lord for fond memories! The La le Feile Padraig of 2007 would have the grannie and the mammy turning in their graves!

Joke for the day thats in it.......

What did St. Patrick say when he was driving the snakes out of Ireland???

Are ye all right there in the back??

riseoutofme said...

Just read Aunty's comment .... what lengths will this woman go to to acquire a masterpiece??? Casey IS an Irish name ...

Tracey Petersen said...

This post exudes excitement and pride. Who could not feel that as they read it!! Today in Australia they would have been selling green bread and some pubs even put green food colouring in their beer! What woould your dad have said about that?

velcro said...

Happy St Patrick's Day Molly, and thanks for the Soda bread!

Aunty you must be in a state of happiness and sadness at present then as Australia thrashed Scotland at cricket. Mind you a team of kindergarteners could have done no worse.
here you go - your colour for the day

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a warm and lovely hearth - um, post. I am not Irish, but nobody's perfect. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I have copied your delicous recipe for Irish Soda Bread. I used to have one that called for currants, but yours sounds very yummy with the drunken raisins.

My nephew lives in County Wicklow with his family. I would love to visit Ireland.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I'll be back soon and often.

Aunty Evil said...

That's great, thanks Velcro! With my other Scottish clan maiden surname, I now can claim 2 tartans!

To all ye who thinks me dumb, I know Casey is Irish, I always thought it a bit odd that they came from Scotland but had that name. Until I did my research. Very proud of me ancestors, I am.

No long lost billionaires out there, but plenty of poor, honest folk.

mjd said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, Molly. Thank you for the welcome and the good wishes.

daysgoby said...

Thank you, Molly!

That bread must make your house smell like heaven. I'm a day late, but I think I'm going to have to make it....

Tanya Brown said...

Here's hoping you had a lovely Saint Patrick's Day!

Thank you for the soda bread recipe. I've been curious about it from reading books where people invariably whip out thick slabs of soda bread and mugs of something called "builder's tea" when crises occur.

Hopefully there won't be any crises around here, but perhaps I'd better whip up a loaf or two just in case.

stompergirl said...

I have been reading so much about soda bread over the last few days in blogland, so I am so happy to find a recipe! Thankyou. I will try not to burn it!

Happy St Patricks' Day.

I'm 7/8 Irish (and 1/8 Croatian.) and I've got the red hair and fair skin to prove it!!

Liz said...

So was the card from the OC? Can't wait to sample the bread, save some for us.

Kelli said...

A belated Happy St. Patricks day to you.
Boston was in fine form this weekend...

Zanna said...

Hope you had a lovely St P's day. Enjoyed the memories of Granny's kitchen - set me off on a parallel path of memory lane and lucky enough to always enjoy that trip.