St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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This is the day that most people claim some sort of Irish heritage.  And perhaps with good reason.  My family left Scotland in the 1600’s, stopped off in Ireland to get a bride, then migrated over to America settling in the Alabama/Georgia area.  That is my maternal grandmother’s ancestry anyway.  So I am Scotch-Irish from her side.

My Shamrocks

My Shamrocks

I’m very proud of my Irish ancestry, as well as my Scottish, and I always like to do something special on the day.  Whether just flying the flag, baking some soda bread, preparing a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ or just wearing green.  Here are a few things that we have done.  I’m hoping to fill it with more things as the year’s go by.

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The Flag of Ireland

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Bailey’s Irish Cream and my Claddagh Ring

A renter of our condo from that U.K. brought these lovely vintage sherry glasses to me a few years ago.  (Thank you again, Heidi.)

The claddagh ring I found at a thrift store in Maryland for $6.00 several years ago.  It’s handcrafted and it does have writing in it but it is too small for me to read even with a magnifying glass.

To my Irish Ancestors on this day!

Here’s a toast to your enemies’ enemies!

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

Slainte!

Julie

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Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

The rains fall soft upon your fields and,

until we meet again.

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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Julie making Irish Soda Bread_small

My Version of Irish Soda Bread

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It’s not 100% Irish but then again, neither am I.

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Fresh out of the Oven

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3 Different Loaves

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This one is a sweet and a more traditional loaf.

The Recipe:

(My daughter found this recipe somewhere, probably online, many years ago.  We did alter it a little bit by adding some chocolate and currants.  Here is the original recipe.  It is for a sweet bread.)

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The Ingredients

(We doubled this recipe.)

  • 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Splenda Granulated Sugar (You can use regular granulated sugar)
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t. Salt
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  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 16 oz. Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup Currants
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  • ( 1 1/2 Cups Melted Chocolate) Optional
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  • Adding Chocolate to the batter mix.

We made 3 loaves of this bread.  One loaf is by the recipe above, minus the chocolate.  The other loaf is with the chocolate added to it.  And the third loaf is a combination of both the regular recipe, and the chocolate version. 

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The last one was not mixed together, but patched together.  It also looks very nice that way.

You first want to preheat your oven to 325F.  Then you want to grease your loaf pans with Crisco.  We used a 5 x 9 or 1.5 quart loaf dish.  We doubled the recipe so we ended up using a total of 3 5 x 9 quart loaf baking dishes.

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You first want to mix all of the dry ingredients, your all purpose flour, Splenda sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

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Then once that is combined add the eggs and sour cream, mix together. 

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Then add the raisins and currants and mix all together.

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Bake the loaves of bread for about an hour.  Although every oven is different, I would check the loaves periodically to make sure they aren’t burning.  Try inserting a toothpick or wooden skewer into the bread.  If it comes out clean then it is ready.

Ready to make Irish Soda Bread_small

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Using the recipe above we also added some chocolate chunks to another loaf. 

We also found the largest raisins I’ve ever seen!

This Red Tin Loaf was a gift to our Future Son-in-Law

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Irish Tomato Chutney

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  Beautiful Vine Ripened Tomatoes

The recipe calls for plum tomatoes because they are very meaty but we used these vine ripened tomatoes and they worked very nicely.

Tomato Chutney

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1 cup of sugar (we use the Splenda sugar)

1 ½ cups cider vinegar

2 teaspoons crushed cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 ½ pounds plum tomatoes, quartered

1 medium onion (we used a red onion)

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

1 Tablespoon olive oil

½ cup golden raisins

Freshly ground pepper to taste

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The Ingredients

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The Irish Pub Cookbook

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, salt, cardamom, ginger, mustard seeds, and cloves.  Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, raisins, and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until the mixture is thickened.  (After a few minutes cooking time, the tomato skins will separate from the pulp.  Remove the skins with a fork and discard.)  Spoon the chutney into a clean jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.  Makes about 2 cups. 

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Here are the cardamom seeds and beside it a teaspoon of cardamom powder.  I just wanted to show you what the seeds look like before they are ground.

 

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Adding your onions and garlic

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Bringing your ingredients to a boil.  

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Adding your tomatoes.  I cannot even begin to describe to you how heavenly this smells.  And tastes!

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As the tomatoes cook the skins will start to come off and you are to scoop them out of the pot. 

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We like for the chutney to cook down for a few hours on a low heat.  When the chutney is ready then just put into these jars.  I always look out for these jars when I am out at thrift stores and antique malls. 

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The chutney looks so good in them.  They also make great Christmas gifts.  The lovely red color is perfect for that.  

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The Ploughman’s Lunch

This is Excellent!

I am copying this from The Irish Pub Cookbook.

3 ounces mixed salad greens

whole grain mustard vinaigrette

8 to 12 slices honey baked ham, cut into triangles

8 to 12 slices of Kerrygold Vintage Cheddar cheese, cut into triangles

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1/2 red onion, grated

1 carrot, peeled and julienned

1 cucumber, sliced

8 to 10 black olives

Tomato Chutney for Serving

Brown Soda Bread

To make the salad:

Divide the mixed greens among 4 salad plates.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette.  Arrange the slices of meat and cheese over the greens and garnish with the tomato wedges, red onion, carrot, cucumber, and olives.  Spoon the chutney into a ramekin and serve with the salad and slice of bread.

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The Vinaigrette

Whole Grain Mustard Vinagrette

1 T. Whole Grain Mustard

1 T. Dijon Mustard

1 t. Honey

2 T. White Wine Vinegar or White Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 t. Fresh Lemon Juice

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to Taste

In a small bowl whisk all the ingredients until well blended.

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Perfect when eaten with the Tomato Chutney above.

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A Few of My Favorite “Irish” Things

Well, some are Irish, some have been dubbed, Irish by me.

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A Rosette Hand Crocheted by my Great-Aunt Margie

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This green box above is an old silverware box that once belonged to a friend of my grandmother’s.  Her name was Annelle Barnes.  I first met Annelle when she drove with my grandmother to Atlanta to pick up my brother, Johnny, and myself, from the bus station.  We were living in North Carolina at the time and Johnny and I took the bus into Georgia to visit with our grandmother for the summer.   I think I was still in high school at the time. 

Annelle was very outspoken and a ‘take charge’ kind of person.  I was a bit put off with her when I met her, but Johnny liked her.  He thought she was great.  As I got to know her I came to like her as well.  She also became very close to my grandmother so whenever we were in Rome, Annelle was always around.

As the years went by and my grandmother died we still kept in touch with Annelle through my mother, Mary Keith.  So when Annelle was aging she decided to sell her house and her possessions to go into an assisted living environment to spend out the rest of her days.  As my mother and I went over to her house to see what all she was getting rid of, I spotted that old green box.  I opened it up and it was so beautiful on the inside.  It has a mirror on the top lid, green satin lined the bottom.  It held lots of silverware odds and ends.  I loved it and I purchased it, with all the silverware intact.

I still have the box, of course.  But I do love to bring it out for St. Patrick’s Day, place some shamrocks inside of it with a few little bits and pieces, and just enjoy it.

 

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Irish Coffee with some Irish Cream

So whatever happened to Annelle?  She was talking on her phone while living in that assisted living home when she tripped and fell on the carpet and broke her leg.  So the assisted living home kicked her out and she had to go to a nursing home.  When I was in Rome, my mother and I would visit with Annelle in that nursing home and it was such a pathetic and horrible environment.  Annelle has no possessions as they were all stolen by other residents and perhaps even the nursing home workers.  She owned NOTHING!  All of her money was gone, and what possessions she had left, stolen.  She had no family, nothing.  My mother and I asked her if we could get her anything?  She said, “No, it will just get stolen.” 

Annelle finally died at age 101, she spent a few years in that horrible place just wanting to die.  She finally did.

RIP Annelle.  I think of you every time I see this beautiful green box.

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And Don’t Forget Kerrygold Butter for all your Irish Dishes

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Julie and Gordon