“Every St. Patrick’s Day every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to.”
1 IMG 1497My blog debuted in July and I’ve been waiting all the many months since for March to arrive.  Oh, wonderful March, when for one day the whole world turns green.  You know what I’m talking about…St. Patrick’s Day! In the US, March has also been proclaimed as Irish-American Heritage Month by US Congress.  It’s kind of a big deal around here!
St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S.:
Did you know the Irish Society of Boston organised what was not only the first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the colonies but the first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the world on 18 March 1737. (The first parade in Ireland did not occur until 1931 in Dublin.) New York’s first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was held on 17 March 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. The first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1766, the parades were held as political and social statements because the Irish immigrants were being treated unfairly. (Wikipedia)
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To celebrate, I’m going to post only Irish recipes for the next couple of weeks and a bit about my Irish heritage. For starters, I’m sharing with you my favorite (and easiest) Irish Soda Bread.  It is devoid of raisins, seeds and embellishments because my children don’t like them.  I’ll be sharing some other Irish soda bread recipes with you as well.  There are many varieties.  After all, it’s really like a big scone, isn’t it?  This one is slightly sweet, light and addictive!  Warm from the oven with butter melting into it…one of life’s simple pleasures.  Very easy to whip up and to give as gifts too.  
Although I don’t cook Irish food exclusively, I do love it and to spread some inspiration, I’d like to share a fabulous Irish cookbook with one lucky reader. Here is what Ruth Reichl, Editor In Chief, GOURMET Magazine, had to say about it (from back cover of book):

“Reading this lovely book makes me want to do two things. Get on a plane and go straight to Ireland.  And run into the kitchen and start cooking.  This is an inspired introduction to an overlooked cuisine.”

Enter for a Chance to Win this Cookbook!
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This is a lovely, hardcover, beautifully written, 383 page book ($50 value) with wonderful Irish recipes that will inspire you. I’ll share a few of them here. 
All you have to do for a chance to win it, is leave a comment on any of my blog posts between now and March 17, 2011.  You’ll receive an automatic entry for every comment.  If you tweet about it, send a copy to @TheIrishMother and I’ll toss in an additional entry for you!
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 I’ll announce the winner on March 23, 2011.

Easy Irish Soda Bread

3 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Either grease a cookie sheet, or place a piece of parchment paper on it.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda and salt.  Pour in melted butter, buttermilk and egg and stir together JUST until it comes together.  Do not overbeat, or it will give it a tough crumb.
Turn dough onto a floured board and knead lightly, just 3 or 4 folds.  Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet.
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In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons cream.  Brush loaf with this mixture, sprinkle with sugar and using a sharp knife, cut and X into the top of the loaf.
Bake in a preheated oven 40 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

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