With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, it’s time to make some Irish soda bread. Perfect to serve with a hot bowl of ham & three bean soup. This recipe is a variation of one from my friend’s (Irish) grandmother. I whipped up some fresh butter serve with along with it.
4 cups of Irish flour or cake flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. fresh ground sea salt, 1 3/4 c. buttermilk or stout
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease and flour two round cake pans and set aside. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Stir in buttermilk to form dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead dough. Shape into a flattened ball and place in round cake pan. Using a knife, cut across the top. Cover the pan with the remaining pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Keep bread wrapped in a towel and lightly mist towel with water to keep moist.
What’s on your table tonight?
Last night I was feeling miserable… when I got home from work, I crawled into Hubster’s recliner, covered in three blankets and waited (asleep) for him to get home from his late night. On his way home, Hubster went to a local restaurant shortly before they closed and asked them to make chicken soup for me, and it’s not even on their menu (after all it’s an Italian joint). Well, I thought it was a really sweet thing for him to do… and he must’ve appealed to the romantic in them because they made me soup (a lot of soup). It was a lot better than him running out to get Campbell’s. The kindness of the restaurant combined with the sweetness of Hubster, made me feel better.
Today, still a little under the weather, I was feeling the need for soup. Tonight, I made one of my favorite seasonal soups… Roasted Butter Nut Squash & Pear Soup…
1 medium butternut squash, 2 pears, 2 c. vegetable stock, 2 c. heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar, 1 shallot, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, turkey bacon (for vegetarian version substitute roasted butternut squash seeds), gorgonzola cheese
Cut squash into cubes and bake in oven (you can also steam, but I prefer the roasted flavor). In stock pan, sauté minced shallot in butter. Core and cut pears. In food processor blend together all ingredients except cream, bacon & cheese. Return mixture to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add cream allow to simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with gorgonzola and crumbled turkey bacon, or gorgonzola and roasted butternut squash seeds (vegetarian version).
What’s something sweet someone has done for you recently?
Last summer Pumpkin and I picked a multitude of red raspberries, we had over 25 bushes behind our house. I made fresh berry Pavlovas, raspberry jam, raspberry pies, raspberry pancakes, raspberry smoothies… We had red raspberries in our cereal, salads, iced-tea, water… It was the summer of raspberries. The summer before that was the summer of strawberries (from Hubster’s grandparents’ neighbor’s garden). Three summers ago, it was the year of blueberries (from the pick-your-own farm).
This summer I was able to get a few black raspberries already, enough to pop into our mouths. There aren’t too many bushes, since my neighbor can’t get into the woods to pick the red raspberries, I usually leave him the black raspberries.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Last year we also froze many raspberries to last us through out the year. I used the last of my raspberries near the end of February. If done properly, you can have delicious berries the entire year. It’s a great way to extend your berry season and save yourself money.
How to Freeze Berries:
1. Wash berries and thoroughly dry them.
2. Pick out any extremely ripe berries and eat them now, they will not freeze well.
3. Arrange berries in a single layer, not touching, on a cookie sheet.
*If freezing strawberries, prepare them how you want to use them later; half or slice them before freezing.
4. Place trays in freezer over night.
5. Once berries are completely frozen, place them in a freezer bag or plastic container and return to freezer.
How do you save sweet bits of your summer to enjoy during the winter?
There are many reasons why people today do not cook and bake. Some feminist think they’re making a point by refusing to cook, some people claim they have no time, some say they were never taught (their mothers were liberating themselves from the kitchen, seriously, giving up control make you stronger?). Whatever the reason, it’s time for you to take the challenge. You need to eat to live, why not eat something that tastes good? Please do not tell me McDonald’s cheeseburgers or a frozen dinner actually satisfy your taste buds.
In college I was shocked at how few of my girlfriends knew how to cook. Growing up, my mother always made new and exciting things (and sometimes “interesting” things). I got to help her, so it instilled the passion for food. It wasn’t a chore, or a hassle; it was creative, an art form. It didn’t feel like we were perpetuating the stereotypical rolls, afterall we were cooking for us.
YoungWifey’s Challenge: Cook one new recipe a week (this works for new cooks as well as old)! If you think you don’t have time, you can make an entire meal in 30 minutes (Thanks Rachel Ray!). Use a recipe on a food package, from a friend or relative, a cookbook, a television show or online. It could be a meal, a side dish, dessert or candy! If it turned out well, take a picture and save the recipe. If it didn’t turn out, blame the recipe. Let me know what recipes you’ve tried by posting a comment here or on my Facebook page!
What did you make and how did it turn out? Where did you get your recipe? Will you make it again?
One of our sweet new teachers is getting married next month (yay! a new young wifey) and yesterday we surprised her with a bridal shower.
Usually we order a cake from a bakery or have someone local and talented make a nice cake. Our school’s social committee has an unspoken rule, chocolate peanut-butter cakes for every baby or bridal shower. Of course if you deviate from the tradition, they’ll tell you about it. Our cake plan fell through, so I offered to take over. I love any excuse to use my cupcake tree and cupcake carriers, so I asked the committee if cupcakes would suffice. Now, I’m not a fan of the chocolate peanut-butter combinations (except, Reese’s Pieces or GS Peanut-butter Patties), so I used this opportunity to my advantage (plus with all the peanut allergies!). I made half of the cupcakes chocolate peanut-butter and make the other half yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I added chocolate curls and chocolate shavings to the top of the peanut-butter frosting.
I didn’t have time to make the cupcakes from scratch, so I doctored up the cake mix with pudding mix and other add-ins. I made the cupcakes the day before and enjoyed using my icing press to decorate the tops. I lost my peanut-butter icing recipe, so a friend gave me her husband’s creation. I started to whip up a batch and quickly changed several things. I’ll post the recipe later…
During my planning time, I had to have another teacher hold open a side door, so I could sneak them in and hide them from the bride-to-be. We set up her shower in the school library, where we thought she was attending an after-school meeting. We pulled off the surprise! And everyone enjoyed the cupcakes (only two more peanut-butter one were eaten than chocolate). I always get just as many comments on my cupcake stand and carriers!
Every New Year’s Eve, Hubster and I make a gourmet pizza from scratch and fill up before we go somewhere to celebrate. This year, with the house full of boys, we were going to skip this tradition. After finding this post, I decided not to omit but to alter our tradition. Each child made their personal dough from scratch, measuring their own ingredients and kneading. Only one child’s dough didn’t rise, so I quickly swapped bowls with one that I had Hubster make. It was surprising how mindful the kids were, taking in the smell of the yeasty dough and the tacky feeling as they kneaded it with their floured fingertips.
We used this recipe for our pizza dough, the boys had to mentally cut the measurements in half (look at me sneaking in mental math) and come to a consensus before measuring. After patting (or pounding) out the dough, we rubbed olive oil on the top and sprinkled it with basil, oregano, garlic, thyme and marjoram. Hubster and I split a pizza and each boy had their own. On my half, I swapped the tomato sauce for greek dressing. I topped my half with feta cheese and artichoke hearts (the other blog reminded me of the artichoke hearts I had on hand). At least one pizza was gourmet. Hubster had an Italian blend of cheeses and turkey pepperoni. The boys all chose turkey pepperoni and (get this!) mushrooms.
The boys were so excited to be part of the process and extremely proud of their end product. We were so excited and hungry, that I forgot to take a picture before they were devoured! The boys toasted the New Year with sparkling cider and Hubster and I toasted with sparkling wine. I topped the glasses off with frozen raspberries (which I had picked this summer).