Skip to content

Archive for February 17th, 2012

My Petunias See Some Action And We Eat Irish Soda Bread

The greatest homework assignment I ever got was to collect “soft things.”  The plan was to hang the soft things in a mesh bag from a tree so birds could pad their nests with them.

I was in kindergarten.  For the second time.  It was important that I get this right.

So I went home and thought it over.

I asked myself: If I were a bird, how would I pimp out my nest?

And I decided that a clean, nice-smelling floor was a good place to start. 

My hair was clean and smelled like Winnie the Poo shampoo, so I got out the safety scissors and cut it off.

I brought my clippings to school in a little baggie and I added them to the class pile of ripped up t-shirts and tissue paper.

The other kids were all HOLY CRAP, YOU CUT YOUR HAIR OFF.

And I was all HOLY CRAP, YOU GUYS DIDN’T CUT YOUR HAIR OFF?!

And the teacher was all HOLY CRAP, I DIDN’T KNOW ANY OF YOU KNEW HOW TO USE SCISSORS.

Check plus.

I continued nailing my homework assignments all the way through school, and now I don’t have to do them anymore. 

But today a bird started nesting in my hanging basket, and it’s stressing me out.

Now there are two of them, they’re occupying both baskets, and they’re pecking, preening and circling each other.

You don’t need to work at National Geographic to know this is going to result in some bird-on-bird action in my petunias.

Mourning doves have six sets of babies each spring.

Part of me feels responsible for these damn birds and their uncomfortable nest.  Another part of me says I’m not getting extra credit for this, so screw it.

And the part of me that is a special kind of genius is standing behind the door with a pair of scissors, waiting for Scott to come home.

Thankfully, I have Irish soda bread to withhold if he gets mad at me.

And this bread is for real.

It’s my friend Norah’s family recipe.  She says this one isn’t the most traditional because it has raisins and butter in it.  (For straight-up brown bread, check out The Bite House for a tasty-looking loaf.)

But guess what Norah’s mom’s name is? Eileen O’Callaghan.

That’s really all I need to know.  This bread is legit.

The best part is you can make it in one go.  There’s barely any kneading.  There’s no yeast, so you don’t have to wait for it to rise.

I can’t stand how good it is with butter.

Irish Soda Bread {Download & Print Recipe}

Family recipe of Eileen O’Callaghan and her daughter, Norah Cooney, reworded a little by me.

Ingredients:

3 c. flour

1 c. whole-wheat flour

3 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

6 tbsp. butter

1 1/2 c. raisins (yellow or brown, as you prefer)

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 2-quart round casserole dish or two smaller round dishes (I used a large souffle dish and a Le Creuset pot.)

Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut the butter into pieces and, with your hands, work it into the dough until the butter is in small crumbs.  (You can also use a pastry blender or cut it in with two knives, scissor-fashion.)

Stir in the raisins.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs slightly with a fork.  Remove 1 tbsp. of the egg and reserve.

Stir buttermilk into the remaining egg, and stir the egg mixture into the flour just until the flour is moistened.  The dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead about 10 strokes to mix thoroughly.  Stop kneading as soon as you can shape the dough into a ball (or two balls, as you prefer).

Place in the casserole dish(es).  With a sharp knife, cut a 4 inch cross about 1/4 inch deep.  Brush dough with reserved egg.

If baking 1 loaf, bake 1 hr. and 15 or 20 minutes, until the loaf is golden and a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

If baking 2 loaves, the baking time should be shorter.  I baked my two loaves at the same time, and they took about an hour.

Cool in the dish about 10 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

~~~

The bread was a huge hit with Thunder, who went into her best stealth mode.

The photography session drove her bonkers.

She can’t eat raisins, but she was looking at it so wistfully that I gave her lots of treats.

We sat around eating treats and bread until we were tired.

Follow Me on Pinterest