Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From a Clear Lake Kitchen -- Early ICE-OUT after a very short winter and getting the jump on St. Pat's

Waves lapping against some of the remaining "burgy-bits" 
on Clear Lake March 7, 2017 ice-out.

By North Iowa standards this past winter 2016-17 was fairly mild and short. Only one brutally cold night -- 25 below overnight will get your attention -- with some days in the high 50s and low 60s mixed in.  And just three months between ice-in on December 8, 2016 and the overnight ice-out. I wasn't looking out the window at midnight to know if it was clear then. But at dawn it was obvious that yesterday's 71 degree high followed by heavy rain during the evening thunderstorm had made their impact!  The geese are very happy to have a wet place to land! 

So with a spring lake sparkling before our eyes, it's time to turn our attention to traditional seasonal meals. Irish Soda Bread fits the bill. Easy to make from ingredients readily at hand, there's nothing like homemade bread. 

Now the weather predictors are suggesting snow and cold again for the weekend. And it is a bit too soon to see what St. Patrick Day will bring. But whether you'll serve a warm and hearty Irish Stew, tasty Corned Beef and Cabbage, or a hot-weather light chicken salad, this easily made loaf is the perfect go-along. 

The craggy surface of traditional Irish Soda Bread 
is perfect for dunking in gravy or spreading with butter and jam. 

Rae's Irish Soda Bread

1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add milk to make one cup. Set aside for a couple of minutes until it sours. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt if using, and cream of tartar. Pour in about 3/4 cup of the soured milk and mix quickly with a fork. Then begin to knead gently to form a rough, slightly damp dough. You may need to add a bit more milk, a tablespoon at a time. DO NOT OVER KNEAD. This is a roughly textured dough. If you over knead the dough will be tough. Form the dough into a circle about 6-inches in diameter. Flatten to about an inch and a half thick. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife make an "x" cut almost halfway through the dough. Bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool before slicing.  

Copyright 2017, Rae Katherine Eighmey. All rights reserved. 

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