There's nothing like true Irish soda bread loaded up with quality butter, especially to accompany a big Irish breakfast on St. Patrick's Day.

My cousin Maureen Meahan Kvam gave me this recipe for a great Irish Soda Bread. I adore my cousin Maureen whose great spirit and humor made it so enjoyable to hang out with her. My cousins lived in a large house in Atlantic Highlands that Maureen’s father, our grandfathers and uncles helped build.

I was five or six at the time and living in the Bronx when I would gladly hop in the car with my grandfather, uncles and Maureen’s grandfather, Pop, to head to Atlantic Highlands to build the house. Those days of hanging out listening to my grandfather and Pop and Maureen’s Nana tell stories were priceless.

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I loved coming to Atlantic Highlands to see Maureen and her brother, Chip, and their sisters but it was always a bonus when Pop and Nana were at the house. You knew you were going to eat well and you knew you were going to laugh, and laugh hard.

Maureen writes of this great relationship:

My mother’s parents, Nana and Pop, would come down on the bus from the Bronx to Atlantic Highlands for a visit. I eagerly awaited their arrival because they always brought along those lollipops from the 5 & 10 that were packaged in the long string of cellophane. Many nights were spent sitting around the dining room table my Dad had made; having tea and conversations that ultimately produced uncontrollable fits of laughter. I am now my grandparents’ age, living in Minneapolis, sitting at my Dad’s table, drinking tea with family and friends, and still falling into fits of laughter! What a gift!

 

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups sifted flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups seedless raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter

How to put it together:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a bread pan (or cake pan for a round loaf). Into a mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients. Add raisins and caraway seeds, mix to coat.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix lightly.

Turn batter into pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Its great warm out of the oven or sliced and toasted with a wee bit of butter and sugar. Serve it with a strong cup of tea and good conversation.

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