Monday, March 19, 2012

St Patty's Day

It's been a while since I've blogged.  Lots going on at the moment, both at church and at home.  Seems like this time of year is every bit as busy as Christmas; sometimes I think it's even more so.

Despite this, we found time to have a few friends from work over for dinner this past weekend.  When we set the date several weeks ago, I didn't realize it was also St. Patrick's Day.  But when it did finally dawn on me, I decided to go with it and made corn beef and cabbage, Shepperd's pie, and two kinds of soda bread.  One of our guests brought the dessert, which saved me a lot of work.  So kind.  Another guest brought a pretty Gerbera daisy in a pot, which served as a centerpiece.  Also so kind.  And our final guests brought drinks.  So very kind.

Thing is, since my husband never was a big fan of corn beef and hates cooked cabbage, I had never made it before.  Nor had I ever made soda bread.  But thanks to the internet I was able to find some great recipes.  I paid close attention to what others said after making them, whether or not they liked them or found them easy or difficult to make, so it was quite easy to narrow it down to a few good ones. 

One thing I learned about soda bread, though, is that the bread we commonly see in the stores, with the raisins and such, is not traditional soda bread, but rather Americanized soda bread.  American-Irish soda bread is sweeter and contains extra ingredients, like sugar, raisins, and sometimes an egg, caraway seeds, and sour cream or yogurt.  But traditional Irish soda bread contains only four ingredients — flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk.  It's not a festive "cake" but rather a daily bread, which doesn't keep long and has to be baked every few days.

Surprisingly (but perhaps not) corned beef and cabbage isn't an Irish tradition either. It too has been Americanized. Corned pork and cabbage is more common in Ireland, but Irish immigrants to the US found beef more plentiful in lower Manhattan, where the butchers were mostly kosher and pork was forbidden.

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