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Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Saint Patrick’s Day and an Uncle Skip post made me think of soda bread or I guess more specifically Irish soda bread.

Irish cuisine is not among the best in the world.  Don’t get upset all you Mc’s and O’s, the Irish are wonderful people.  They are wonderful entertainers, poets, story tellers, leaders, and public servants.  They may not be the world’s best chefs.   

When it comes to food, you have to do with what you’ve got.  Ireland was not blessed with wonderful herbs and spices like Asia and Italy.  It does not have wonderful cheeses and wines like France.  Ireland had a lot of potatoes. 

The Irish don’t fry much, they don’t broil much, and they don’t BBQ.  The Irish boil.  They boil until the food has no flavor.  That may be why they enjoy a bit of the drink from time to time.

Perhaps this is also why there are few fine dining restaurants serving Irish style food.  Don’t get me wrong they are King of pub grub, and I do enjoy boiled corned beef, cabbage and potatoes…especially with a nice glass of beer. 

The food from Ireland I enjoy the most is soda bread.

My ex-wives both had a wonderful recipe for soda bread.  Dry, but just enough moisture to hold it together, lovely special flavor, texture, and raisins, smothered with butter…Yum friggin um!

I don’t miss my ex-wives; I do miss their soda bread.

Apparently Irish soda bread was a bit of a secret for some time in this country.  I know when I would bring in a fresh baked loaf to work, most everyone had not heard of soda bread.  Everyone did love it.

One year I had to do without my soda bread. 

Apparently the country caught on to this treat, especially for Saint Patrick’s Day; everyone that is, except grocery stores.  My wife ordered me to go to the store for buttermilk, a prime ingredient to Irish soda bread.  She instructed me to go out and buy this buttermilk on March 16.  I had heard of buttermilk, I had never tasted it and until that day I had no idea who the hell ever bought the stuff.  People who make soda bread buy it.  They especially buy it around St. Pat’s day when they cook their traditional soda bread.

I went to five different supermarkets looking for buttermilk.  At every store I was told they had sold out before noon.  Without buttermilk there could be no soda bread.

Grocery stores learn supply and demand pretty fast.  I suspect they now order an extra supply of buttermilk before Saint Patrick’s Day.  Still, if I want soda bread, I will buy the buttermilk early.

Then again, Mrs. Cranky is only half Irish, and that half does not do soda bread.   


  1. Any chance at all that you could post an Irish Soda Bread recipe here? I could google for one, but I'd get a million (maybe) options and I have no idea of knowing which one would be best.

  2. Nothing better than warm soda bread and LOTS of butter!

  3. i never tried soda bread. It's a well-kept secret around here. My grandparents, however, used to drink buttermilk. And eat pickled pigs feet. Which makes Irish cuisine sound delicious.

  4. Buy the powdered buttermilk and keep it in the freezer. It works great, and you don't have to buy a quart of buttermilk, use one cup of it, and watch the rest go bad in the fridge.

    1. Here in Australia, buttermilk comes in pint (600ml) cartons, so not too much is wasted if you don't use it all. I use it in a recipe I have for chicken burgers and I multiply all the other ingredients so as to use all the buttermilk. I end up with a freezer of ready-to-cook chicken burgers, which is handy.

  5. Interesting. I've heard of soda bread, but never tasted it. By itself I HATE buttermilk, but as an ingredient I'd be willing to give it a second chance.

  6. Not having soda bread with slabs of butter is called waist line control. So, I don't make it. But if I encounter a loaf near a butter dish, I could out eat you.

  7. nope, haven't heard of or had soda bread. now, pass me a plate of boiled cabbage and potatoes (throw in carrots and a bit of ham or sausage) and you're talking my language!

  8. So I went looking on the website of the magazine where the recipe PHG used for the soda bread was originally published.
    Regretfully, it is no longer there.

    This year she baked enough to have leftovers.
    I sliced some extra thick and made French toast with it.
    We'll be doing that again.

    BTW-whatever it is about buttermilk that nobody seems to like does not carry over to the soda bread.

  9. Hubby makes great soda bread. I mean great soda bread.

    You're talking about buttermilk made me remember my mother buying buttermilk and then adding pepper and then drinking it. Straight. Yikes that stuff is nasty. Great in Irish Soda Bread, but straight? I don't think so.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. ☺

  10. As you know, corned beef & cabbage is an American/Irish invention; I agree their cuisine is less than gourmet, as is the Brits cooking. Having said that, the best lamb stew I've had was in Dublin on a business trip. Very savory, and a big hunk of soda bread was on the side.

  11. Although I've heard of soda bread, I don't think I've tasted it. I'll try anything, so long as it doesn't have kale in it.

  12. I have never had soda bread, but now I want some. I love how you describe Irish food. There is an Irish restaurant here, but we read the reviews and weren't impressed to try it. Maybe we should go back and re-read the reviews with your take of Irish food and see if perhaps it might be worth a try.


  13. You know in Ireland, the soda bread is nothing like that. It's just plain brown bread. No sugar, no raisins. But it does have buttermilk. That and flour, salt, and baking soda. Easiest bread recipe ever, and made up of cheap ingredients, which is probably why the Irish invented it....

  14. You brought up a great point. There are tons of Irish pubs but I have never seen a place featuring Irish cuisine. Hum. I'm half Irish also but have never tasted soda bread. I now find my life lacking.

  15. I've heard of soda bread, but I've never tried it.

    If you don't have buttermilk, just add one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of regular milk.

  16. You may have missed some great soda bread.