Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Holiday of Coolness

Éirinn go Brách!

I love St. Patrick's Day. Truly, honestly love it. I decorate the house in green. I decorate myself in green. I bake Irish soda bread. I listen to Irish folk music all day. I pretend to have an Irish accent. I turn a year older. I dance jigs intermittently. All-in-all a fabulous day.

In honor of this coolest of holidays, here is my list of some great Irish things:

1. Me! (I am allowed to include myself, right?)
I'm as American as they come, but prick me and I bleed just a bit Irish. My people come from County Donegal in the Ulster province of Ireland.
(On the map, Donegal is the bright red bit up there to the north. The brighter green is Ulster, and if you look really close, there's a thicker line running through part of Ulster. That is the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK). County Donnegal is in the Ireland part of Ulster.)

2. Irish Soda Bread!

450 g flour (about 3-3.5 cups)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
200-300 ml buttermilk (about 1-1.25 cups)

Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine all dry ingredients. Once the oven is preheated stir in buttermilk until the dough begins to hold together. (You may have to add a teeny bit more buttermilk if the dough isn't wet enough to stick together.) It won't be a smooth dough like yeast breads, but more clumpy and raggedy (like what we in America refer to as biscuits). Dump the lump onto a floured surface and knead just enough to get a ball of dough, probably no more than 15 seconds. Don't over-knead, you'll ruin it!
Shape into an ever-so-slightly domed circle. Take a really sharp knife and cut across the center of the dough twice at right angles (so you make an X). Cut deeply enough that you don't quite cut all the way through. This is important for allowing it to rise properly.
Place on a lightly floured baking sheet in preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 300* and bake an additional 35 minutes. When bread is done it will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

[In Ulster, they make a variety of soda bread called "farl," but for the sake of simplicity, we're sticking with this recipe for now. Maybe next Holiday of Coolness!]

3. Irish music!!
Everything from upbeat, quirky music that pokes a bit of fun at themselves...

to beautiful songs sung in Gaelic...

to lovely and sentimental songs of loss, heartache and hope...

to fantastic modern music!

FYI--this is The Script, a fantastic group out of Ireland. I stumbled across them a couple years ago and have been a huge fan ever since. Love!
4. Irish Blessings!
I will likely post this every single year on the Holiday of Coolness because I absolutely love it. Here ya go. My favorite Irish Blessing:

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he can not turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.


Becca said...

Best Irish Blessing ever. It reminds me of the "Grant me Serenity..." prayer that ends with "and the wisdom to bury the bodies so no-one will find them."

Kristi said...

Love that blessing! I've always wanted to know the recipe for soda bread. Thanks for sharing! Happy Birthday!!

russandkatie said...

love it love it love it!!!

p.s. I bought your book yesterday!!!

Krista said...

Happy Birthday, Sarah! Loved the music. Thank you for sharing your love of this holiday!

Éirinn go Brách!

Aydil said...

Love the Blessing. In love St. Patrick's day. Some people think I'm crazy because I'm Hispanic. but I just though I believe in luck and pride. those are some of the reason i like it. I love to bake I will be baking me some Soda Bread. Happy Belated Birthday.

All these Halls said...

Happy Birthday to an awesome cousin!!!

Stephanie Black said...

Beautiful music! Thanks, Sarah. Ahh, I want to go back to Ireland.

Here's a song I like, with the Corrs and the Chieftains:

Nari said...

I love St. Paddy's day as well. Great blessing by the way!


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