sunday routine and not really irish soda bread

The Sunday New York Times runs a series in its magazine section called Sunday Routine. It’s my favorite part of the magazine and I love curling up with the paper and discovering how other people spend their Sunday off.  This prompted me to want to share my Sunday routine with all of you, my readers.  It hasn’t changed much in years and although it isn’t as  glamorous as spending a day in Manhattan exploring museums or strolling over the Brooklyn Bridge,its mine and  I happen to like it.

Oh yeah, and there’s a recipe for (not really) Irish soda bread, which happens to be my favorite and makes me look forward to St. Paddy’s Day every year. 

Sunday Routine

Wake up and walk-out.  I’m a morning person so I’m usually up and out by 6:30 no later than seven.  Leaving after 8am is a big no-no, to me it’s like half the morning is over already. The first thing I do is have my morning walk-out.  A brisk, invigorating walk for health benefits as well as a time for me to contemplate the goings on in my life from the past week.

Groceries, fresh bread.  After my walk I head straight to the grocery store.  I like grocery shopping and early morning is the best time to go.  I always make a stop at the local bakery for fresh bread and bagels immediately after buying groceries.  Calling it a local Bakery is somewhat of an overstatement   It’s actually a cross between a factory that pushes out mounds of fresh bread, a bakery and a cozy little delicatessen.  Now that my car smells of warm just baked bread and onion bagels I head home.

Late morning breakfast and mid-afternoon.  By the time the groceries are put away, the bread and bagels sliced and tucked into ziplock bags and in the freezer its time for coffee.  I make a full pot on weekends and drink every drop.  I flick the television to my favorite Sunday politics/news show and listen to it as I make breakfast and drink coffee.  Everyone else in my home is still asleep.  I take this quite time to make breakfast and talk back at the television when I don’t agree with something some politician or talk show host has said.  I don’t wake anyone until breakfast is done-I like my precious alone time.   We rarely go out to eat because I love cooking.  Breakfast can be buttermilk pancakes or grits with homemade biscuits. Immediately after breakfast and as soon as the last breakfast dish has been put away I work  on Sunday dinner.   I do spend a good portion of my Sunday in the kitchen but I don’t mind.

Dinner with family.  Sunday dinner is a big deal and we always have a big comforting meal.  Everyone must be home for this meal and my oldest son comes over with his fiance.  This is not a quite affair we laugh, joke and debate just about any issue.  Oh and we enjoy the food.  After every belly bulging meal I always threaten to serve salad for next Sunday’s meal.  The men folk plop down in front of the television and the women folk clean the kitchen then browse the internet looking for ideas for the upcomimg wedding.

Evening and winding down.   I like to be finished with the cooking and eating early.  Sunday for me is about having a balance of  time to myself,  time with my family and getting us all in a good place so we can be prepared for the work and school week ahead.  By late evening we’ve given in to the pull of electronics and everyone is either watching some sports game on tv,  listening to loud music on the laptop, playing a video game on the computer or reading on an iPhone.  It’s a nice way to end the week. 

I didn’t stop at the bakery this past Sunday because I knew I would be making Irish soda bread in honor of St. Patricks’ Day.  I absolutely love soda bread.  A  few years ago I found out that the soda bread we have here in the U.S. is not Irish soda bread at all.  In fact when I saw the recipe for real Irish soda bread I was like “huh”?   I won’t go into all the details of how the two breads differ, let’s just say I’m acting like I never knew there was any other Irish soda bread and sticking with what I know.  I did tweak my recipe by adding a little whole wheat flour.  I like the taste and texture of whole wheat in baked goods.  I also added an egg which some recipes do not.  This gives it a soft cake like texture when its warm from the oven but true to soda bread form, after cooling off it gets a nice crumbly crumb.  I also used cake flour and soaked the raisins in whiskey.  Soaking the raisins turned out to be a good thing.  Soda bread doesn’t hold up very well and by the next day it’s hard and not even toastable.  But those whiskey soaked raisins?  Plump and sweet as ever.   

Recipe: Irish soda bread

 Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour or substitute 1 cup cake flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins
To soak raisins:  add 2 Tablespoons rum to raisins in a small bowl leave for a few minutes. Drain before using.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk cake flour,whole wheat flour 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture.  In a large bowl whisk egg lightly and add buttermilk.  Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.




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