Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter eggs?? ALREADY????!


Apparently, as of today, I should be trading in my Shamrock socks for the Easter Egg ones.

This is what my children told me, when I arrived at the breakfast table sporting a fresh, clean pair of socks with three-leafed-clovers on them... Admittedly, they are left-over from St Patrick's Day yesterday. But, with the stock markets being as horrific as they have been, and the US Fed announcement coming up this afternoon... I figured we could use a little boost in the "luck" department today.

(And before any of you go off on a tangent on how I shouldn't wear ONLY SOCKS to the breakfast table, I will clarify the previous paragraph to say that I WAS wearing a complete outfit, along with the socks. I save the socks-only routine for... Well, let's just suffice it to say that in THIS "family blog", you won't be getting any more details than that.)

Cripes!

I had actually totally forgotten that Easter falls SO EARLY this year.

And so, once we had shipped the eldest two girlies off to school, Wee Three and I trudged home, and dragged out yet another Holiday Box from the basement: the one marked "BUNNY".

We pulled out, arranged and decorated our little Easter tree. We carefully placed the china rabbit figurines underneath it, and a few tiny baskets around it... We put fresh, pink-and-green candles in all the candle holders, and flowery wreaths on the front and back doors.

We're "getting there".

Spring arrives on Thursday. Although, you'd never guess it, with all the snow, and the heavy-looking, grey clouds hanging in the sky today. But, the house is clean and freshened up, and winter is almost a thing of the past-- in our MINDS, anyway.

The girlies are SO READY for Easter to be here. They take after their mother: they're not going to let anything-- especially not a little snow and ice-- get in the way of their Chocolate. All I have to say is: The Bunny had better be a snowshoe hare, if he thinks he's got ANY chance at all of getting into this neighbourhood on Sunday...

My socks-of-choice are not the only "leftovers" from yesterday. Today for lunch, we will be finishing up the treats from last night's St. Patrick's Day dinner. The dinner that took hours to prepare, and the family only MINUTES to polish off. Yes, it was that good. We had a beautiful leek-and-potato soup that simmered gently all afternoon, before I laced it with heavy cream and sprinkled it with minced chives. We had fresh asparagus spears slathered with butter... and a beautiful, round loaf of Irish soda bread, still warm from the oven.

The soda bread recipe is one that I am especially fond of, and find to be particularly useful on those rotten days when I look in the fridge and pantry, and find nothing-in-particular to feed my children for lunch. It is quick to mix up, and calls for ingredients that, no matter what, I always seem to have on hand. The girlies just love it with a big bowl of soup, and I feel good knowing that their meal has been healthy, as well as warm and satisfying.

The woman who taught me how to make this bread has been a friend of mine, all of my life. She and my mother met years ago when they were in nursing school together, and the bond between the two of them, and indeed, between our two families, has remained firm and steadfast for well over forty years, now.

Brigid is one of the most jolly and thoroughly optimistic people I have ever met. She is warm, sensitive and nurturing, which makes her a marvellous mother, and an exceptional palliative-care nurse. The quality that I find the most fascinating about her, however, is the way in which she expresses herself. She communicates in long streams of delightful conversation. Indeed, she seldom pauses for breath, but rather, punctuates what she is saying with bubbles of laughter, and then resumes chatting away in her lilting Irish accent, exactly where she had left off.

The truly amazing thing about Brigid is that when you are with her, you never feel "left out" of the conversation, simply because you are doing more listening than talking. The way in which she catches your eye, or leans in towards you slightly, or tilts her head as she speaks, makes you feel thoroughly engaged, and fully participative in the exchange.

I remember her teaching me this bread one day when I was visiting her during my university years... And, as a good daughter of an Irish minister, she ended off by stating that carving a cross-shape in the top of the dough just before it is popped in the oven would ensure the success of the loaf.

And then she winked at me, looking every inch a mischievous leprechaun.

Irish Soda Bread

1 c rolled oats
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp softened butter
1 c buttermilk

In a mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the softened butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the buttermilk, just until moistened.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for 30 seconds, until smooth.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and turn the dough onto it. Pat the dough down into a six inch circle, and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Good Luck!!

4 comments:

painted maypole said...

i have a great soda bread recipe given to me by a gal I did Dancing at Lughnasa with. She would make the dough during the show, but we had lots of jokes about it because it never got finished. So the recipe includes instructions like "leave for the houseboy to put in the oven..." and "take a break from kneeding to have a smoke," etc.

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

That sounds like a yummy meal! I've got to try that bread :)

mrinz said...

I like the look and sound of the soda bread!

Hope that your Easter is a good one for you all. And that winter eases and hints of spring shine through!

We are off to Whangamata to a house full of visitors for the long weekend. But the weather is still very summery, the sea very warm, so all will be outside doing summery things - Easter is not always so warm.

Leeann said...

OH! OH! We made Irish bread growing up. I had forgotten all about it. It was so good!

 
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