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It's a little later than I'd planned so I can't say "Top o' the mornin' to ye!" as I begin this post. Happy St Patrick's Day! It's a day that we all pretend we're a little bit Irish, even though the saint we honor wasn't an Irishman at all, and we wonder what cartoon leprechauns or green beer has to do with any of it.
Saint Patrick, the bishop and apostle of Ireland, died on March 17, 461 at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland. Much of what we know of Patrick's life comes from the Confessio, his autobiography written during his last years. He was born to a well-to-do Christian family in Roman Great Britain, possibly in Scotland; then captured and enslaved by Irish marauders while in his teens. He spent six years as a herder in Ireland, but he grew in faith during that time, and eventually escaped on a ship to Britain and was reunited with his family. Later he had a dream in which he heard the voices of Irishmen begging him to come and walk among them once more. He studied for the priesthood, was ordained, and returned to Ireland in 433. He spent the next forty years preaching the gospel and establishing Christian churches in Ireland.
Many legends and stories have grown up around the true story of Saint Patrick, such as the idea that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. The Irish people have observed this date as a religious feast day for centuries, celebrating with church services in the morning and with food and drink in the afternoon. The first St Patrick's Day parade was not in Ireland, but in New York City, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in 1762. Since then, the parades became a show of unity for the persecuted Irish-American immigrants. It wasn't until 1995 that the Irish government began to promote St Patrick's Day to drive tourism.
Personally, I'm inspired by Patrick's story - his willingness to serve as a missionary to the very people that had once enslaved him, and his commitment to preaching the gospel in his adopted country.
And whether we have Irish roots or not, it can be good fun to celebrate St Patrick's Day!
We have a silly tradition in our family - we have Lucky Charms for breakfast on St Patrick's Day!
And I love a good corned beef on rye sammich, so that is usually on our family's menu for dinner. I cheated this year - no time to bake my own rye bread, so I bought a loaf.
We've also made Irish Soda Bread - and I shared our recipe a couple months ago - See: A Taste of Europe - Irish Soda Bread.
I'm sharing another Irish recipe today, and it's one that requires a little planning ahead, so we won't be eating ours today. Barm Brack happens to be a favorite of mine - it's a slightly sweet loaf filled with raisins and currants, and it's often served toasted with butter, along with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The name may come from Irish words meaning "speckled loaf". Many years ago, the loaf was associated with Irish Halloween celebrations. Small tokens such as a stick and a coin were baked into the loaf, and these had a meaning sort of like fortune-telling for the person who received that slice.
1 cup cold tea (use leftover after brewing your hot cuppa!)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup citrus peel (or about 1/8 cup dried peel)
1/2 cup currants
1 cup sugar
1/4 melted butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Put raisin, peel, currants and sugar in a large bowl and stir in the cold tea. Cover and let stand overnight.
In the morning, beat egg till frothy, then stir into the fruit mixture. Stir in melted butter. Combine remaining dry ingredients and stir into fruit batter, just until blended. Spoon into a greased loaf pan, and bake at 350* for 60-70 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely. Serve sliced with butter.
This post is linked at Try a New Recipe Tuesday, hosted by Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos
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