top o' the morning to ya

St. Patrick's Day is approaching, and unlike other years, this year I actually have Ireland on my mind a little bit. It started a few weeks back when I was running with my dog, Bryna, and we passed an affable middle-aged man who burst out with, "Top o' the morning to ya!" At first I was confused. Then, I realized, he was trying to talk like an Irishman. Bryna's an Irish Setter. Her name is Irish/Gaelic. I found it on a name website after the name we'd picked for her didn't quite fit the day we met her.Bryna likes cool rainy weather. Not too hot, not too cold. We like to imagine it's because of her Irish roots. Even thought she's actually from Ohio. Turns out I'm very much from Ohio as well: I've been pretty obsessed with recently. It all stemmed from the recent Top Chef episode when genealogists compiled binders on each cheftestant's family roots, and they then cooked a dish inspired by their heritage. So we decided to look into our heritage. My family goes back generations in Ohio. A little bit in Pennsylvania and New Jersey too. My goal has been to trace things back to Europe. I've gotten there with a few relatives - found my way back to Baden-Baden in Germany, France, and Ireland. I didn't know I had Irish roots. Although I do have reddish hair...

Anyway, the dog, ancestry, and upcoming holiday inspired me to cook something Irish. It was also partly thanks to an unknown colleague who printed a recipe for Irish Soda Bread on our work printer. It looked delicious. So I did some Googleing, and found the recipe. It was from Smitten Kitchen. She adapted it from New York Times. And so I adapted from both. It has made the weekend. Which has been pretty rainy and cool. Not cold though. Kind of like I imagine Ireland to be. Bryna likes it.

Irish Soda Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from NYT. Yield: 1 10-inch round loaf.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour scant
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (whole milk + 1T lemon juice)
2 eggs, well beaten
~2 cups raisins
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1. In a bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder & soda, and salt. In another bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Then add two eggs and butter and whisk until combined.

2. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350.

3. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds.

4. Pour batter into skillet. Bake until toothpick comes out clean and top is golden. 50 minutes to an hour. Cool before slicing. And if you're picky like me be sure to cut into slices, not wedges. Wedges are for cake. Slices are for soda bread.

Happy St. Patrick's Day week.