For St. Patrick’s Day, each of my kids made their own loaf of Irish Soda Bread. They are, proudly, one-quarter Irish. As I created a menu for two Irish evenings–a cocktail party for my book club and a family dinner, the choices came to me naturally, as I remember what my grandmother loved to eat. My dad grew up in a house where the food was simply all Irish. He remembers going away for a Boy Scout camp one summer and asking what that mysterious food was in the buffet line. It was his introduction to rice, which in his house was never a substitute for the great potato.
We made crab dip, mini-corned beef sandwiches, endive with herbed cheese, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for the cocktail party. These were all versions of things I ate in my grandparents’ house. The kids shaped the Irish Soda Bread into two loaves (we put one in a bundt pan which made for an interesting shape). The next evening, we had a slow-cooker meal of corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots. The soda bread is my family’s addition to the tradition–it’s definitely an Americanized version of the brown bread my ancestors ate.
My children love this part of their heritage, and had so much fun telling their friends and teachers about “my bread.” It was delicious, and most definitely theirs.