Celebrate with Irish Soda Bread
Over 33 million Americans claim to have at least some Irish blood coursing through their veins. My siblings and I were always told our little pinky was Irish thanks to the teensy little bit of Irish blood we inherited from a few generations back on our dad's mother's side. Since I have not had a DNA test to map my heritage, I decided that based on family lore, I have enough Irish in me to warrant wearing green as well as eating green-dyed cuisine in observance of St. Patrick's Day. I draw the line at wearing a "Kiss Me I'm Irish" button. I'll leave that honor to the red-haired direct descendants of Ireland.
St. Patrick's Day does give us all, Irish or not, a great excuse to read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss as well as add a few drops of green food coloring to our own eggs. It's also hard to resist glancing down at plush green clover beds for that perfect, three-petaled specimen, especially now the sun is shining later each day and the weather is trending toward milder temperatures.
My grandmother always made Irish soda bread in March. About a decade or so ago, I had the good sense to ask her for her recipe. She wrote it out on a blank recipe card and included all her secret tips to ensure delicious bread. While I am not willing to share my grandmother's secret family recipe, you can find lots of equally delectable recipes online.
Irish soda bread is a delicious, calorie-laden way to mark the holiday and can also serve as a family activity. Children can easily pitch in and help with this one. My grandmother suggested the butter or margarine be hand mixed to get the best results, so have the little ones smash and smoosh the butter or margarine into the dry ingredients. They can also add the raisins, which should be done after the butter or margarine is incorporated, but before the buttermilk is added. Stir green food coloring into the buttermilk before adding it to the flour mixture for green Irish soda bread. Oh, and if you are of the camp that prefers caraway seeds in your Irish soda bread, which I had not heard of before yesterday, those should be added at the same time as the raisins.
And if you don't have time to whip up Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, that's okay, too. Add your favorite pastel color to the buttermilk and you have a great addition to any springtime meal.