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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
It is never too early to think about cooking for a holiday and St Patrick’s Day is next week so let’s think green!

My Dad was proud of his Irish ancestry and thankfully the computer came about in time for him to have fun doing ancestry research. He was able to locate the town his family immigrated from and was able to correspond with a great- great uncle, which really pleased him. Had he not become ill he had intended to visit Ireland but at least he was able to plan the trip and talk to family on the phone.

Unfortunately, Daddy was not fond of many of the Irish foods his Mom had made all his life and would often laugh about the only good food to come out of Ireland was the potato. Daddy hated corned beef and cabbage and apparently his Mom served it once a week and again as leftovers. Grandma McGarry’s house always smelled of cabbage, in a good way, and she made the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. They were made by boiling the potatoes in the same water she cooked the cabbage in but they did not taste like cabbage. Daddy did like her mashed potatoes which were made with leeks and parsnips and was her rendition of “colcannon”.

Beer bread was a staple in their house and Hubby and I have made beer bread for years. It is simple to make because the yeast is in the beer and I can’t possibly ruin that; I am not a good yeast baker. Soda bread was a staple in Daddy’s family household as well; this is another favorite recipe Hubby and I shared with my Dad. My Mom did not like either beer bread or soda bread so whenever I made it I would have to make extra for my Dad. Daddy would smear both breads with cream cheese and could probably eat a half of a loaf at one sitting which was quite a lot for a guy who was only five foot four.

Grandma McGarry was a great cook and even better at baking. She always had shortbread cookies in the house and made a clove cake I have never been able to replicate. It seems the Irish use a lot of clove, allspice and nutmeg in meat and dessert recipes and these are flavors of which I am quite fond. After many years of searching I finally found a clove cake recipe which tastes a lot like I remember eating in the McGarry house. This recipe is from 1957 and Grandma had been baking this cake since she was a child which would have been around 1890. I don’t know why I can’t find an Irish clove cake recipe but I like this one and will share it with you.

Fun facts about Ireland: Halloween is Irish, yep, this is one of those cool facts about Ireland that is true! Halloween may have Christian ties, with Allhallowtide beginning a three-day veneration of the dearly departed

The Longest Place Name In Ireland Is Muckanaghederdauhaulia; To be exact, this one-word place name is 22 letters of goodness that describe a boggy peninsula where basically no one lives.

The Shamrock isn’t the symbol of Ireland: The Anglicized form of seamróg – which simply means “young clover” – the shamrock isn’t any more a national symbol of the Republic of Ireland than Guinness is. It’s linked to St Patrick, who’s often depicted preaching while holding a shamrock. The real symbol? A harp – a Gaelic harp, to be precise. (

In contrast to the popular belief, only around nine percent of Irish people are actually natural gingers.

Carrageen moss pudding: This traditional Irish pudding is made using Chondrus crispus, a species of red seaweed also known as Irish moss or carrageen moss

Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula, was born in Dublin in the 19th century. He also attended Trinity College in Dublin. Dracula is said to have been inspired by the Irish legend of Abhartach.


It does not make any difference if you are Irish; eat the good foods attributed to the culture, think green and enjoy St Patrick’s Day. We all need a little luck of the Irish!

Clove Cake
* 1 cup shortening (part 


* 2-1/4 cups sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 5 eggs

*  3 cups sifted All-

Purpose Flour

* 1 tablespoon ground 


* 1 tablespoon cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

*  1 cup sour milk or 


1.   Grease and flour generously, 2- by 9-inch layer pans (1-1/2-inches deep) or a 9- by 13-inch oblong pan.

2.   Cream together until fluffy, the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs (5 minutes at high speed on mixer or by hand).

3.   Sift together the dry ingredients and mix in (at low speed) alternately with sour milk or buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

4.   Pour into prepared pans.

5.   Bake at 350 (F) for 45 to 50 minutes.

6.   Remove from pans and cool on racks.

7.   Frost with a fluffy white icing or whipped cream. (

Irish Beer Bread
* 3 cups (340g) flour

* 1 to 4 tablespoons (14g 

to 50g) granulated sugar, 

to taste

* 4 tablespoons (57g) 

butter, melted, divided*

* 1 1/2 cups (340g) beer

*Substitute 2 table

spoons vegetable oil for 

the butter in the batter 

and omit the butter 

topping to make a vegan 


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the beer, stirring until fairly smooth; don’t worry about a scattering of small lumps.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.

4. Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted about 1/2” into the top of the loaf comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

5. Adapted from a recipe at:

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