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Sunday, March 13, 2011


Sometimes it seems that Saint Patrick's Day is a holiday to celebrate crazy green wigs, outrageous headgear and of course alcohol. Anyone who has experienced Irish hospitality or has had the opportunity to actually visit Ireland realizes that there is so much more to the Irish warmth.

One of the things I remember most about growing up with an Irish grandmother was when you would walk into her house to aroma of fresh baked Irish soda bread. The first few years after I was born, I actually lived next door to her and my grandfather, in the same house my father grew up in.

After we eventually moved to a new home I looked forward to the overnight stays at their home since it almost always meant fresh baked "Irish bread". After "Grammy" passed away in 1974, the Irish bread became a thing of the past except for the occasions when my mother would make it.

A few years ago, my mother gave me my grandmother's "Irish Cookbook" after she found it out at a tag sale that my sister was having at her house. Inside the back cover was the handwritten recipe for "Grammy's" Irish Soda Bread.

It wasn't half bad the first time I made it, but something wasn't the same when I took it out of the pyrex cooking dish. I eventually found out that the only way to cook "authentic" Irish bread is to bake it in a cast iron frying pan. That made a huge difference in the texture and crust.

I bake the Irish bread regularly, especially this time of year, and I have quite a few people that begin asking about the beginning of March when the Irish bread will be ready.

Recently I had a conversation with Governor Malloy and we somehow got on the subject of Irish soda bread. He asked if I made it with or without caraway seeds? When I told him with, he asked me to be sure I saved some for him. I have a few in the oven now, if I can get by his security detail I may share my Grandmother's Irish heritage with our new Governor, that would surely make Grammy's day if she knew that.

I don't believe in "secret" family recipes. What good it is if you can't share it. So here is my grandmothers Irish Soda Bread recipe. If you want to be real authentic, the easiest place that I have found cast iron frying pans have been at Target, in case you don't already have one.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven with butter


3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in a greased cast iron frying pan or glass if you don't have a frying pan.

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