St. Patrick's Day Memories Past and Present

St. Patrick’s Day Memories Past and Present


st. patrick s day

On  St. Patrick’s Day we had a saying in our house that “there were those that were Irish and those who wished they were!”

Growing up in New York and a stone’s throw from the Bronx. a veritable stronghold of an Irish community, my Irish roots were celebrated almost daily especially since I lived with my grandmother Mary Rosalee Reilly along with my mother and brother.

I was not fully Irish however as my Dad was Italian, I was reminded almost daily that my loud voice and temper were part of my Italian heritage along with my dark eyes and dark hair.

Each and every St. Paddy’s Day my Nana would serve up a delicious boiled dinner of corned beef and cabbage…not one of my favorites, although some years later I did develop taste buds for it. It was a celebration with our extended family in our small apartment filled with Irish music, drinks good eating and many laughs all around.

Those days are long gone but never forgotten… the memories have lasted and tonight I will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with my own family. I too am now a grandmother and will be serving corned beef and cabbage from Mario Batali’s Eataly Chicago, with all due respect to my Italian heritage. We may share some Irish music to which my husband and I are partial from our many trips to the ol’ sod of Ireland.

It is a day steeped in tradition for me not so much for him as he is Jewish but he has adopted some of Ireland over the years.

I do miss my days running into my Catholic school’s lounge between classes to take a peek at the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade which my brother’s high school always marched in… and grab a piece of soda bread to munch. It was a right of passage in NY that I will never forget.

Erin Go Bragh!

Ballymaloe House Irish Soda Bread-Shanagarry Ireland

Preheat the oven to 250deg C

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour in all the milk at once. Using 1 hand, with your fingers stiff and outstretched like a claw, stir in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl in ever increasing circles. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.

Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round, about 4cm deep. Cut a deep cross on the loaf and prick in the four corners. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then turn down to 200deg C for 30 minutes until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, when it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

Tip! Soda breads are best eaten on the day they are made but are still good for a day or so more.

Spotted Dog
Follow the recipe above adding:
1 dessertspoon of sugar
100g sultanas
1 egg

Add the sugar and the sultanas with the flour and drop the egg in with the milk before missing.
Spotted dog is also called railway cake in some parts of the country ‘a currant for each station’.

Stripy Cat
Follow the spotted dog recipe replacing the sultanas with 75g of roughly chopped best quality chocolate.

Recipe Details

450g plain white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (bread soda)
About 450ml sour milk or butter milk


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