Irish Soda Bread

 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. I am neither Irish nor religious, but I do love to make food with a theme. And, of course, I am completely on board with a holiday that is synonymous with boozing.

Now, I’m no expert (as I base my definition on the contents of a car bomb), but I generally do not care for Irish booze. Jameson? I’d rather not. Guinness? Just can’t do it. Bailey’s is an exception, but there is no way I could consume enough spiked cream to get a good buzz happening. Ew.

And about the food. I’ve never really had authentic Irish food. This is especially sad considering I visited Dublin for a week during my semester in London. But what can I say? Food is expensive in Dublin! We made do with our free hostel breakfast (toast and cereal; not exactly a full Irish) and pb&j sandwiches. That was a fun week for my colon.

I wanted to make Guinness stew and Irish soda bread, but I absolutely refuse to buy an entire case of beer I cannot stand to drink. So…I just went with the soda bread. I don’t bake a lot of bread, mostly because of that whole yeast nonsense. But soda bread just uses baking soda (kind of obvious given the name, but I didn’t really put two and two together, so there’s that). I used this recipe, figuring Ina Garten would never let me down. She may not be Irish, but she is a goddess AND she has an MBA from my alma mater, so we’re basically bff and I trust her with my life.

Ina’s recipe calls for currants, but do you know how hard currants are to find in a regular grocery store? Ok, I didn’t really look that hard, but, yeah I couldn’t find them. I used raisins instead.

I wasn’t really sure how to score the top of the bread, but I think it came out looking alright. Shall we call this rustic? Also, I learned after slicing that you’re supposed to break the loaf up into four chunks along those score marks. Whatever. I’m not Irish, remember?

Right out of the oven, this bread was, um, not great. It was extremely dry and borderline tasteless. Again, I’m a complete newb, so that might be normal. I don’t know. Maybe it just needed some Guinness stew for dipping?

I did, however, have some for breakfast the next day, and it was so much better. The crust wasn’t so mouth-shreddingly crunchy, and the interior was dense and moist and vaguely scone-like. Maybe I just like my bread a little stale, but If I make this again I’ll be sure to bake it off the day before I plan on eating it. And I will most certainly be serving it with Bailey’s-spiked coffee. Obviously.

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Friends With Kids

As an avid Parks and Recreation watcher (and a warm-blooded female…), it follows that I have a huge crush on Ben Wyatt, aka Adam Scott. I mean, how cute is he? Very. I’m not saying I saw the movie Friends With Kids solely because he plays the main male character, but it certainly helped get me to the theater. Unfortunately, that Ben Wyatt let me down in a big way.

The gist. Ben Wyatt and Jennifer Westfeldt play Jason and Julie, who are bff. Totes platonic, of course. All of their married friends start poppin’ out dem babies and fighting with each other and not having time to hang out anymore. WHAT? People with babies are busy? Thank you, Friends With Kids, for opening up my eyes!

And, although they don’t even seem to like their friends’ children all that much, Jason and Julie decide they want babies too, but they don’t want all the messy marriage dramz that comes with it. They decide to do the only logical thing and have a baby together without actually becoming a couple. Brilliant. What could go wrong? Nothing, not ever!

Ugh. Besides being predictable, this movie was just not funny. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but considering the cast is basically Bridesmaids revisited, I thought I’d at least laugh once or twice. But no. I was completely distracted by the dearth of chemistry between Ben Wyatt and Jennifer Westfeldt. As much as I love him on Parks and Rec, I really think he was miscast in this role. His character was supposed to be kind of a dick, but I didn’t buy it. He’s just so lil’ and…Ben Wyatt! The douchebaggery did not compute.

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Friends With Kids: Miscellaneous Notes

Pros:

  • Bridesmaids cast
  • Jon Hamm (and Ben Wyatt and Ed Burns)
  • Jason and Julie’s baby is unfairly adorable

Neutral:

  • Megan Fox as Megan Fox, essentially

Cons:

  • Script is nonsensical (plot line is mediocre at best, but what really bothered me is the fact that Jason kept calling Julie “doll.” I cannot.)
  • Jon Hamm’s BEARD
  • Overuse of phrase “cavernous vagina”
  • Obligatory baby diarrhea

Overall: No. Save those dolla billz.

M&M Cookies

Last weekend was not my most productive. I spent the majority watching the entire first season of Laguna Beach on Netflix Instant before falling into a minor depression upon realizing the second season was not available. I’m not proud.

But I did manage to find the time to bake something for my grandmother’s birthday party on Sunday. Someone else had already offered to bring cake, so I went with cookies.

I used this recipe for M&M cookies, mainly because I haven’t had an M&M cookie in ages. Although, I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of M&M’s. I know. My sister used to love them, so we’d always have a giant Costco bag of M&M’s open in the pantry for her to snack on. I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t dip into the bag every once in a blue (M&M’s and Skippy Extra Chunky, amirite?), but they just weren’t my favorite. But the minis are a different animal entirely. Probably because they are just so tiny and adorable. I’m a sucker for cuteness.

The recipe is a variation of Cook’s Illustrated’s chocolate chip cookie. I attempted to make those once before with disastrous results thanks to a temperamental dorm room oven. I still can’t talk about it.

But lookit! No disasters here! And thank God, I don’t think my heart could take more disappointment after that Laguna fiasco.

These cookies are super simple to make–the dough came together in less than 15 minutes. I ended up making the dough the day before baking and storing it in the fridge overnight. I adjusted the baking time a bit (they took about 17 minutes), and they turned out beautifully. The outside edges were slightly crisp, but the center stayed soft and chewy thanks to the double-stacking technique. I may have a new go-to cookie recipe, y’all!