I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day! For me, it’s probably a bigger deal than Valentine’s Day. I’m half Irish, but I always say it’s my better half (sorry, Dad!). My mom’s side of the family is VERY proud of their Irish heritage. My Nana and PopPop had two giant green shamrocks decorating the outside of their house and kelly green carpet in the living room. I remember one St. Patrick’s Day when I was in middle school, my mom told me if I didn’t wear green my PopPop would roll over in his grave–I don’t think it was hyperbole!
When my PopPop died, his brother, Al, came and took care of my Nana. Nana and Uncle Al (technically great uncle) were best friends. For well over a decade, they traveled the world, sang loudly to songs in restaurants, danced when no one else was, and they never missed happy hour with their scotch on the rocks with a twist!
For me, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Irish spirit my grandparents (all three) embodied and makes me feel more connected to them and my heritage. Every St. Patrick’s Day, I make my Great Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread, a recipe she grew up making in Ireland before coming to America.
At 20 years old, my Great Grandma Beatrice stepped off the ship and into New York, on October 17, 1910, to be exact! She was 5’4″ with a fair Irish complexion, red hair, and grey eyes. She left a farming life behind in Leitrim to stay with her sister in Brooklyn. Eventually, she married another Irishman and had five kids. And as I make Beatrice’s recipe with my kids, I retell them all of the stories of our family and where they come from.
Since everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s, I’m sharing that very special recipe with you! Enjoy (with a green beer)!
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c. sugar
3 cups white or whole wheat flour
2 c. buttermilk
4 Tbsp melted butter
Raisins (Beatrice doesn’t specify how many. I use about 1/2 c.)
Combine all the dry ingredients. Toss the raisins with the flour mixture. Beat the egg, then add the milk and combine. Pour the egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Pour in the melted butter and combine. Add the dough to a greased 2-pound loaf pan or casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.
Erin Go Braugh!
This post was originally published in 2016