Breads, Breakfast & Breads, Recipes

The Original Irish Baked Good: Brown Bread

Homemade Brown Bread with Local Butter & Cherry Preserves
Homemade Brown Bread with Local Ronnybrook Butter & Homemade Cherry Preserves

St. Patrick’s Day causes a frenzy of leprechauns, shamrocks, green beer and everything Irish people can get their hands on. I’ve lived in the same building for almost 7 years and while I don’t know everyone, I don’t think we have any Irish, yet I can the scent of corned beef and cabbage is already permeating the halls, and wafting its way into my apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no exception. I already have some brisket brining and the strong scent of cabbage will take over in a few hours.

Any holiday or reason to cook, I’m all over it. And St. Patrick’s Day is no different…with maybe one exception, the Soda Bread. People get so excited about Soda Bread, with its crunchy caraway seeds and plump raisins, it’s almost like a dessert. The first time I visited Ireland, I was astonished to see our version of soda bread is really nothing like theirs. It’s still yeast free, using baking soda instead as a levener, but it wasn’t sweet at all. No raisins, no caraway seeds, just a simple bread, toasted with plenty of butter. I’m not going to pretend I know why the recipe changed to more of a dessert like bread moving across the Atlantic pond, but it did. Soda bread in both forms is good, but it’s not the bread I fell in love with. There was something about a hearty, ridiculously dense slice of brown bread that just made me swoon.

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Beverages, Recipes

Local Luck of the Irish

Irish Boozy hiding in a Mason Jar
Irish Booze Hidden in a Mason Jar

I’m not Irish, not in the littlest bit. A pure bred Polish girl is what you’re looking at. But when my mom remarried over a decade ago, she chose an Irishman, with roots from Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast. I met his family for 5 minutes when they came for the wedding in 2001. When I really met them for first time we went to Ireland in 2002 and spent barely a week with them, but they welcomed me like I had always been part of the family. Two years later when my friend and I backpacked across Europe, my stepfather’s parents welcomed us into their home and insisted on taking us to visit every tourist location and castle within a 50 mile radius. I swear his mom, then in her 70s had more spunk and energy than we did at 21. We weren’t allowed to sleep in or lounge around–there was always something to see and do. His niece, my cousin in law, took us out on the town in Belfast and introduced us to Spuds (loaded baked potatoes–the Irish solution to our late night post bar diner food). So while I have no actual Irish blood in me, I think a bit has rubbed off.

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Recipes, Salads & Sides, Vegetables

Sweet & Savory Brussels Sprouts

SweetSavoryBrussels

Honestly, if I went back in time and told my 10 year old self I loved Brussels Sprouts, she’d probably cry. No, I wasn’t really one to cry. Kicked or bitten would be more like it. Luckily she’s back there, and my present self is safe so I can go back to shoveling mounds of Brussels Sprouts into my mouth.

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Cakes, Dessert, Recipes

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas Recipes: The Perfect Dessert

RedWineVelvet (1)

I’ve noted may times throughout this Twelve Recipes of Christmas series that Christmas is all about sweets and booze. So why not combine the two into a perfect holiday dessert?

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Cakes, Dessert, Recipes

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas Recipes: Fruitcake

Photo from Huffington Post
Photo from Huffington Post

One of the first things I think of with Christmas (besides cookies and booze) is fruitcake. I never really understood the symbolism of it and am proud to say I’ve never tried the stuff. But I do remember hearing threats of people re-gifting fruitcakes over and over and rumors that the stuff could last for decades, if wrapped properly. It does seem festive, with it’s red and green “fruits” and I couldn’t imagine writing a 12 Days of Christmas series without it. I planned on spending hours researching scouring the internet checking Wikipedia to learn about its origins, until I came across this article on the Huffington Post. While I could research and write for days, I don’t think I could ever come close to their thoughts as to why fruit cake is the most hated feared Christmas dessert cake food. Just go ahead and read it.

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