My husband recently learned the meaning of his last name is “World Ruler.” This certainly did not help with the I’m-100%-Irish-I-have-no-impurities jokes. But being that Thursday was the day that every Irishman cheers at dawn and every wannabe Irishman puts on a green shirt and drinks beer as if that will magically change their DNA, I celebrated Rob’s origin and lineage as he was figuratively crowned World Ruler – if just for the day. 🙂
I am a fan of St. Patrick’s Day, and yes, thanks for our Nana, my sister and I do have some Irish in us. Growing up, our mom would surprise us on many fun holidays (and still does!) with treaties; humble and memorable, those treats would be waiting for us when we woke up in the morning, whether it was Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or any other day with cause for a celebration. During my teen years I would even take longer than normal in the morning before coming downstairs, prolonging the anticipation of seeing what Mom had planned (weird, teenage mentality). But there was always one staple on St. Patrick’s Day that was made so special for us, that it hardly lasted through the day: Lucky Charms.
We only had Lucky Charms on St. Patrick’s Day. It was a solid tradition that having the sugary, fake-marshmallowy breakfast food on any other day was simply out of the question. In college, I remember the giant row of all-you-can-eat tubs of cereals in the cafeterias, Lucky Charms being one that was almost always empty. But I was strong and stuck true to tradition and went with a more suitable option: Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Anywho, being lucky enough to marry an Irishman, he was happy to carry on the St. Paddy’s Day breakfast treat tradition (though he’s still pressing why the cereal is limited to just St. Patrick’s Day – there are heart marshmallows, those are for Valentines Day! There are pots of gold, those are for pay-day!).
So Wednesday evening, like a couple of silly kids we bounded into the grocery store and I flew right passed the cereal isle, causing Rob to have to physically point me in the right direction.
“Where is it? Where is it?” It was kind of ridiculous that two late-twenty-somethings were borderline frantic over finding a cereal.
“Oh no! They’re sold out!” Rob’s whine preempted my shoulders to hunch. “I’m sorry, babe.”
As we started walking away, our eyes were caught by a glimmer of green, sitting proudly on the bottom shelf. The colorful, sugary tastes came to our mouths and my memories came flooding back , with only one tiny difference standing out.
“I don’t remember these being whole grain,” Rob went to put down the initially chosen box to pick up one that was not quite as healthy, when we realized they all had the small, but noticeable,”Whole Grain!!” label stamped on, hiding the over-sized pictures of many-a-marshmallow. So all this time, my mom was giving us a somewhat healthy grain cereal covered up by the addictive addition of colorful shapes of sugar. Go, Mom!
Rob picked up the biggest box they had (large enough to probably pass as a warehouse box).
“No. No, we are not getting that box. We do not need pounds of this cereal.” I was adamant. After all, if something like Lucky Charms is in the house, I will most likely – no, I just will – eat it. I took the box from him, and bent down to put it back. At which point, Rob also bends down, grabs another gigantor box, knocks into me knocking other boxes onto the floor, takes his loot and runs. Literally. A 26-year old man (a Coast Guard Pilot, mind you), arms clutching a heart-attack sized box of cereal to his chest, running down the isle in the grocery store. The 5-year old in him took over and got away! Well, I guess Lucky Charms will do that to you.
I put the fallen boxes back, and Rob reluctantly succumbed to the smaller box and we completely enjoyed our cereal treat Thursday morning.
We also had the regular Irish fare for dinner – corned beef and cabbage (it’s the only day of the year I will actually boil meat), steak fries, and Irish Soda Bread. When Rob and I were dating long-distance, I would send him Irish Soda Bread and mint jelly on his World Ruler Day, and I’ve changed the recipe somewhat since then, the more and more I learn about making bread. Soda Bread does not use any yeast, but rises in the oven with egg and cold butter, and has that distinctive baking soda tang, cut nicely by a bit of sugar and dried fruit. Topped with a dollop of salted Irish butter, and you’ve got yourself a perfect breakfast, snack, or desert, perfect with a strong cup of coffee.
By our standards, you’ll have to wait another 353 days to get Lucky Charms, but try out the soda bread. It might just bring out your inner-Irishman.
Irish Soda Bread (makes 1 round loaf)
- 4 1/3 c all purpose unbleached flour, plus more for dusting
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 c buttermilk (shake it before pouring)
- 1/2 c soda water
- 1 c dried currants, cranberries, or raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a stand mixer, pour in flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda, and mix to combine. Using your hands, break up the chunks of butter in the flour mixture until they look like small peas. Add in the egg slowly, while keeping the mixer on low. When incorporated, add in the buttermilk, and then the soda water. Mix well to combine, and then fold in the dried fruit of your choice (NOTE: dust the fruit a bit of flour, so when they are incorporated into the dough, they don’t sink to the bottom). The dough should be a bit wet, but shapeable.
Pour out the dough onto a lined baking sheet (you may need to dust a bit with flour) and shape into a round loaf. Using a sharp knife, make an X in the top of the dough.
Bake until bread is golden brown and crusty on top. The bread should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
** Try topping a toasted piece of Soda Bread with a poached egg, a touch of sea salt, and generous pepper. You will thank yourself. 🙂