The summer of my 15th year was spent in Ireland, friendships and memories were formed that will last my entire life.
Nicer people I have yet to meet, everyone I came across seemed genuine. My Grammy went over often to visit friends and family and that summer I was lucky enough to join her. I have so many wonderful memories…I have yet to go back, even though I really want to…maybe it’s because I just don’t know how can I compete with a summer full of me being a “local” – there were a ton of kids my age, some my distant relatives and some their friends. I spent endless hours roaming the fields and countryside, “ran” the pigs, went to the bog and cut the turf (which helps heat the homes), stayed outside in an enormous field almost till dawn one night, with everyone from the town I was in, as hay was being baled and came I even home with an accent… for real! It only lasted a few days, I guess when you spend your whole summer listening to everyone around you talk in the musical and infectious Irish lilt, it takes hold of you a bit.
That summer had an impact on my life:
1. Tea was served no less than 5 times a day – a full spread, chocolates, biscuits, chocolates scones and did I mention chocolates…I had not clue how into chocolate the Irish are! The result…. I love tea!
2. Potatoes were served in every way imaginable, the best was most nights around 8 pm or so they would fry up batches…..OMG! The result…I really love potatoes!
3. I witnessed first hand what was going on in Northern Ireland at the time.
The result….I am always aware and grateful for where I live.
4. Milk was put out at night in a small bowl for the fairies!
The result….I believe in fairies! (Seriously)
5. I forged relationships and bonds that have lasted and I think always will!
The result…Just this past summer (2013) the closest relationship I made came to visit us here in the US – My 9 year old daughter now has an amazing new friendship with her 2 daughters. They talk every weekend via Factime for hours – I now HAVE to get my kids over there for a summer visit 🙂
That summer I learned to dance more freely, kissed a boy, made lifelong friends AND all that eating during all of those fabulous “Tea’s” sent me home with the some of the curves I had been dreaming of for a loooong time! I was a late bloomer lol!
When I eat Irish Soda Bread, I remember being in Ireland as well as so many wonderful gatherings at my Grammy’s, and I just love that a simple loaf of bread can do that.
Here is my version – It is a little more cake-like and sweeter than traditional Irish Soda Bread, but you know what – My Irish “people” LOVE this. When I made it for them while they were here I was grimacing thinking they would be like “what the heck did you do to soda bread, Lol…But they loved it and my friend Brid said it was similar to how her mom made it, which made me very happy. I always make this in my Great Grandmom O’Donnells’ cast iron skillet that is 100 years old and counting! Love that!!
2 things I have to say about this ISB – Always serve it warm (either hot out of the oven or reheated just a bit) and always smear butter over one side of each wedge. Truly, nothing better!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups raisins
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Use a 10-12 inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch or better sides or 2 cake pans. Cut a circle of parchment paper out and line your pan(s). Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
Add in the butter and raisins and stir well. Add buttermilk and egg to the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated – do not over mix. Pour mixture into pan(s) and cook for one hour or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out dry. For smaller loaves, check after 45 minutes, it will most likely be done at the 1 hour mark. Once a wooden skewer inserted comes out not “wet” it’s done. Cool a bit then flip out of the pan(s) and peel off parchment paper.
Serve warm out of the oven with a bit of butter or heat up a slice in your microwave anytime and enjoy the added perk of the wonderful smell in your home! I love to bring this to new neighbors as a hello!
Bain sult as! (Gaelic for Enjoy!)