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What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin | Lucky Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

Bruce Orey / Submitted to the Tribune
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Saint Patrick’s Day means a lot to me. I’m Catholic, so this religious holiday celebrated on March 17 (tagged after Saint Patrick of Ireland) hits home – and in the kitchen, past and present-day. As a kid, I remember my mom, a cultured woman, part Irish and named Patricia (“Patty”), put her heart and soul into making an Irish breakfast and dinner from scratch for our family. Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, sweetbread, cupcakes with green icing and Irish coffee were part of the feast. And it was worth her hard work.

When I was in my 20s, one summer I purchased a paperback book on traveling to Europe (like my mom did in her 30s). It was my dream to visit Ireland, a place famous for its authors. I dog-eared pages about Dublin and Belfast. I could taste fish and chips, and see the lush green countryside. I’d sing out to friends and family, “I’m going to Ireland. I can do it for five bucks a day with hostels, hiking and a backpack.” The result: I ended up staying home with my fur kids, human mate, and finished graduate school. While I never got to Ireland or the UK, earthy Irish cuisine will always be with me – even at Lake Tahoe.

As an adult, I still acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day, but my choice of Irish foods are a bit different from my mom’s dishes. This year, I turned to an Irish soda bread made with flour, baking soda, and buttermilk. It is ideal paired with a cup of Irish breakfast tea or a cup of Irish coffee (minus the whisky and double the whipped cream for me).



Irish Soda Bread with Blueberries

21⁄4 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour



1 cup buttermilk

3⁄4 cup light brown sugar

2 brown eggs

1⁄4 cup European-style butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup blueberries, fresh

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, combine dry ingredients. Then, add mixture of eggs, butter milk and blueberries. Mix well. Pour batter into a 9″ by 5″ bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool. Dust top with flour or confectioners’ sugar to give it that fresh sierra snow flair. Garnish with fresh green mint and leftover blueberries. Serves 12.

The luck of the Irish wasn’t on my side and this recipe called for a redo. The first version sunk in the middle like the Titanic. So, I zapped the orange juice, added more flour and baking powder and less blueberries. I blamed the collapsed bread on the high altitude. The second time around, I covered the bread with foil to allow it to bake evenly. It worked like a lucky charm. This quick bread (without yeast or kneading), is not a super moist cake, so topping it with orange-blossom honey or a pat of real butter can give it a superb texture. So, here I sit in my Sierra cabin, amid green pine trees and enjoying a warm slice of Irish soda bread and cup of Irish breakfast tea. Cheers. Yah, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Motto: If you want a bit of luck in your life, befriend Irish foods. To up your odds of good health and happiness, include green vegetables in your daily diet.

– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.


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