Emerald Ice

Emerald Ice

There are cold weather people and there are hot weather people. I fall firmly into the former category. Give me a frigid day crackling with icy energy any time, over the dripping humidity that is more often my fate in Washington. I got a bracing dose of perfect cold weather on a recent family vacation to Ireland. As the Irish would say, we had a grand time, from exploring Dublin pubs to lazy breakfasts of honey porridge and Irish soda bread. We walked through brilliant green woods sparkling with ice, flew falcons (with the guidance of an experienced falconer), and, best of all, I had an invigorating morning riding the County Laois countryside on a fine Connemara pony

The food was very, very good. Lots of game and good Irish beef, not to mention a wide variety of gifts from the sea – cockles, winkles, plaice, and prawns. I didn’t take as many photos of food as I should have, because whenever I get really excited about the food on offer I forget to snap and just start eating. I often realize that I ate the money shot just as I’m finishing the last bite, so my photos from this trip are more about the magical beauty of Ireland, rather than a list of good places to eat.

I do want to share the recipe for Irish soda bread that I was given. It’s the simplest thing ever, with only five ingredients, and it takes about five minutes to assemble. I was firmly admonished that real Irish soda bread has no fruit or caraway seed in it, because that would make it a “dessert cake.” There’s a reassuring hollow thud when you knock on the loaf to see if it’s done, and it’s the perfect consistency for dipping into a hearty winter stew or cheese fondue. Happy trails from the icy emerald isle!

County Laois from an equine perspective on America's Table

County Laois from an equine perspective

Steamed Lemon Meringue with Strawberry Puree on America's Table

Steamed lemon meringue with strawberry puree

Dusk on the River Liffey in Dublin on America's Table

Dusk on the River Liffey in Dublin

Lovely Irish Cheeses from County Cork on America's Table

Lovely Irish cheeses from County Cork

A Rising Moon Over Falling Waters on America's Table

A rising moon over falling waters

Grilled Prawns and tomatoes over linguini on America's Table

Grilled prawns and tomatoes over linguine

The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin on America's Table

The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Rhubarb and Basil Sugar Beignet on America's Table

Vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb and basil sugar beignet

Angus the Sea Eagle on America's Table

Angus the sea eagle

An Icy Waterfall on America's Table

An icy waterfall trickling through the moss and stones of an old ruin

Wellies Lined up in the Hall on America's Table

Wellies lined up in the hall, ready for trekkers

A Classic Gregorian Hall on America's Table

A Classic Georgian Hall Gregorian Hall on America's Table

A classic Georgian hall, with a floor too pretty to walk on


Irish Soda Bread on America's Table

Serves 4

Prep time: five minutes to assemble, 25minutes to bake

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 3 cups of wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces of butter, cut into pea-sized pieces
  • 14 ounces buttermilk

Grease and flour a round cake pan.

Sift flours, salt and baking soda together. Mix in the butter with your hands, making the dough a little crumbly.

Add buttermilk to dough and place on a floured board. Shape into a round, flat loaf until it is just mixed together, but don’t over-knead.

Cut a cross in the top of the loaf and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. When the bread is done it will sound hollow when tapped. Serve immediately.

Irish Soda Bread on America's Table

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