I grew up being trained with cooking skills that included making hamburger helper, tuna helper, and grilled cheese. So, in my world any culinary ability I've gained, gleaned or invented is a boon, and maybe even a miracle.
Baking has never really been my forte. My Mother-In-Law can mix flour, salt, and toaster stroodle chunks together to form an impromptu masterpiece which will pop out of the oven looking gourmet and which everyone will want as their birthday cake for the next 10 years.
My own baking experiments ended when I made an apple pie for Thanksgiving, brought it to her house, and nobody touched it. After that, I never tried to bake anything that Betty Crocker or Dunkin Hines didn't pre-prepare.
But times they are a changing, and my newly adopted mindset (to do, try, and think whatever I want) has left me willing to try things because I want to try them, vs trying them to bring pleasure to others, or to make others proud of me. (Let us not get into a co-dependency discussion here PLEASE.)
So this morning my classy farmer's-wife-friend called and asked, "remember that Irish Soda Bread we had in D.C. at that cool Irish pub?" Well, she had a recipe she'd successfully tried and tested on her family.
SOOooooo, I grabbed the closest crayola and a big envelope and wrote down her instructions...
4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Cups Buttermilk (keep reading to learn how to fudge this ingredient)
~Mix dry ingredients, mix in buttermilk and form a rough ball.
~Plop on floured counter and knead but don't over-knead into a ball.
~Put ball in a greased 8 inch round cake pan (I used a pie tin).
~Cut X on top about an inch deep
~Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes
~Wrap in damp towel and let cool for recommended 8 hrs. (or less if you can't stand the wait.)
And in between talk about our teens latest girlfriend/boyfriend trials and a quick lesson on how to make faux buttermilk for this recipe;
"Put two tablespoons of vinegar in your measuring cup (she used apple cider, I used white but put in a splash of rot-gut red wine) Then fill it to the two cup mark, let sit for a few minutes."
I made a healthy sized mess in my kitchen and mixed up a batch of bread.
Cut a big X on top...
Baked at 375 degrees for 48 minutes...
and set it out to cool for 6-8 hours (placing a damp cloth on top to cool).
It smells good and it even looks like bread.
My Jess sis is coming over for a crock pot chicken dinner tonight, my Navy Brother is visiting, and I am looking forward to seeing if everyone enjoys the Irish Soda bread, but mostly I'm just glad I broke loose, got my hands a little dirty and TRIED to bake something. (Even if nobody likes it in the end.)
It's so easy to decide you are no good at something and to stick with what you are confident you are good at. (It's also easy to hold a grudge over a 10 year old apple pie that nobody tried.)
But where is the fun in that? So today it took the kindness of a good friend thinking of me, a simple recipe that tantalized me to my Irish roots, and a healthy dose of disregard for the fear of failure, to remember why RebeccaFlys. And to remind me that the journey is often a lot simpler than I thought it was.
I hope that one loaf will be enough, maybe I should throw together another one with the girls when they get home?