Friday, March 23, 2012

Springing Into Summer

Spring may have arrived on the calendar but according to the temperatures this week, Summer weather is upon us. Mother Nature has completely lost her mind. I think she may be menopausal.

Fearful that the cold weather will come back and harm all of the early blooms, Heidi and I decided to capture the rebirth of nature. Hopefully, Mother Nature's hormones get back to normal soon!

My gnomes are up and ready to do whatever it is they do when no one is looking!


I wonder what the little guys are planning?

Gorgeous picture! Miss Heidi, you done good!

Looks like this guy is done for the day. For his sake and the sake of my other gnomes, I hope the temperature moderates.  Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Dame Nature gets her hands on some St. John's wort or some ginseng.

Photos by: Heidi Blanchard

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

My Mom asked me to make Irish Soda Bread for her so I obliged because I am such a good daughter. I don't remember ever making this bread before. In the past, I have bought it from the local Irish bakery and from the bakery in my local grocery store. Well, I don't think I will ever buy a loaf again. This is one of the easiest breads I have ever made! Even if it wasn't easy, I would still make it because of it is just plain, downright delicious. As soon as it came out of the oven, I cut the bread, spread unsalted butter on a steaming slice and the next thing you know, half the loaf was gone... My husband and I had to actually leave the kitchen because we wanted to devour the rest! Lucky for my Mom, this recipe makes two loaves!

 Irish Soda Bread

1 cup raisins
4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line large baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease baking sheet. Soak raisins in hot tap water for 5 minutes. Drain. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix in raisins. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough. Remove from bowl onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Do not overwork the dough or you will end up with a brick instead of bread! Form two round loaves and place on baking sheet. Cut a large X in center of the loaves. Bake bread for 45 minutes. Smother with butter and devour! Mmm, yum!  I suppose the bread can be eaten cooled but really, why wait?

I did some quick research on this bread. When it is made with raisins soaked in water, the Irish call it "Spotted Dog". The bread can also be made with the raisins soaked in Irish Whiskey which is called "Sotted Dog". LOL I think I am going to try the Irish Whiskey next!

Note: This recipe was given to me by my Mom. It was a newspaper clipping so I do not know who to credit for it.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.