Put a Little Bit of Ireland on Your Table: Irish Brown Bread

It’s St. Patrick’s day on Saturday, and as I’m genetically 50% Irish I feel I would be highly remiss if I didn’t share something of my heritage with you. I love all things Irish – I was extremely lucky growing up and got to visit Ireland every summer. My boyfriend D says I can spot an Irish flag from any distance (For some reason he finds this odd – he’s never been and therefore doesn’t understand how wonderful a country Ireland is), and the sound of an Irish accent always makes me smile. I debated just what to share – there’s the picture of me in the leprechaun hat (I decided that would most likely cause permanent damage to your retinas given the hat came complete with a red beard), but then remembered this recipe for brown bread that is quite similar to one my grandmother used to make (and still does) whenever I visit her in Dublin.

Irish Brown Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp. wheat Bran
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups buttermilk *

* If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own. Pour 2 tbsp of lemon juice into a measuring cup. Fill to the 2 cup mark with milk, and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it’s curdled.

Preheat your over to 400 degrees and grease a large loaf pan (I use a spray)

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk, and stir to form a thick batter. Pour it into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1.5 hrs, or until the top is nicely browned. You’ll know the loaf is done when there is a hollow sound when you tap on the bottom of the pan. Remove the loaf from the pan and wrap it in a damp dish towel until cooled – this softens the crust (although it will still require a good bread knife)

This recipe makes one loaf.This bread is lovely served with plain cream cheese and lox, or even toasted with peanut butter.

Irish Brown Bread with Cream cheese and Lox

Linked to: Addicted 2 Decorating

I’d Like to Thank the Academy . .

Last week, Janet over at HouseFour very kindly awarded me the Liebster award! The award is awarded by fellow bloggers to blogs with fewer than 200 followers to introduce them to a larger audience.Anyways, when I heard about this me first thought was ‘What the heck is a liebster’, so being the pseudo-nerd that I am I turned to the all-knowing wizard otherwise known as Google and asked. Apparently leibster is a German word meaning sweetheart, beloved person, darling or liked very much.

When you’re awarded the Liebster award there are 5 rules that you must follow. They are:

  1. Choose five up-and-coming blogs to award the Liebster to. These five blogs must have fewer than 200 followers.
  2. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. List the bloggers you gave the award to with links to their sites. Leave comments on their blogs so they know about the award.
  5. Share 5 random facts about yourself.

Anyways, I mentioned at the start of this post that Janet gave me this award last week, and you’d think that I’d immediately do a post about it. I would have except for one wee problem – it turns out that most of the blogs I read on a regular basis are quite well established and don’t qualify as much as I’d love to recognise them. What was I to do? Well, I did what any self-respecting blog addict would do, and set out to discover a few new-to-me blogs who might qualify. So, after poking around quite a number of blogs over the past few days I’ve managed to round up a list of 5 blogs I really like. Some of the blogs below I’ve been reading for quite some time, some are fairly new to me – I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Anyways, here is the list of blogs I like (In no particular order)

(If I’ve awarded you this award and you have more than 200 followers I apologise – sometimes it’s really hard to tell)

Okay, and on to that boring part of ever award show – you know, when those uncomfortable looking accountants come out and explain how the results were tabulated:

5 random facts about me:

  • I was born in Montreal, but grew up in Toronto
  • I HATE the cold. This can be a problem given I live in Canada
  • I was a synchronized swimmer growing up – even going to Nationals
  • I don’t float, which makes the preceding random fact rather ironic
  • I LOVE to travel – the list of places I’ve visited is fairly long, but the list of places I want to see is even longer.

It Squishes Beneath My Toes

When I first moved into my condo, one of the first things I decided I needed to buy was a  rug for my living room.  I didn’t have one in my old apartment, and even if I had it wouldn’t have fit in my new 12’x16′ space.  I’d read in a few different decor magazines that if you’re starting a room from scratch it’s always better to purchase a rug first, as apparently it’s easier to match upholstery to a rug than the other way around (If you read my earlier post, I had some difficulty finding a fabric for my sofa to match my new rug so I can’t begin to imagine trying to match a rug to an upholstered piece).

I was somewhat focused in my living room rug search in that I only went to one store.  That’s right, just one.  I did however visit every single location of that store in the Greater Toronto Area (I’m not kidding, we looked at every one from Mississauga, to Scarborough and even north to Vaughan).  The store in question was HomeSense.  HomeSense is great for all sorts of things, but unfortunately for me being carless makes it a little difficult to visit.  There are a couple of locations in the city, but they just aren’t as massive and magical as the ones you can find in suburbia.  Handily my mom came to town for a week or so to help me move, so I made use of her car.  Aren’t moms wonderful??

When you go into HomeSense the rugs are hung very neatly from the walls which is great – you can flip through them quickly and see the whole rug easily – not like some carpet stores where they’re piled up on the floor and in order to see one you fold back the corner of the one above it, and invariably the only rug you’re even slightly interested in seeing is the one on the bottom, so you have to somehow lift up the 25 or so rugs above it. . . . Ugh! I get winded just thinking about it . .

Stacks of rugs vs. HomeSense’s neatly hung rugs

Anyways, back to the way HomeSense does it.  It’s so much smarter, making it easy to flip through their rugs in just a couple of minutes.  In theory, if you’re just looking for a rug as I was you could walk in, make a bee-line to the rug section, and if you don’t find anything be back out at the car in under 10 minutes.  I’ve never managed to do that.  Sigh – did I mention I think HomeSense is magical??  I’m like a kid at Disneyland – I walk through the doors and stop and stare, and can’t decide what to look at first – I’m sure I look like the spectators at Wimbledon with my head bobbing back and forth.

Does Popeye deliver?

The only problem with buying a huge rug a HomeSense is you have to get it home yourself.  Rugs are pretty heavy, and they’re rather unwieldy.  I think regular rug stores roll them up for delivery, but a rolled up 8’x11′ rug won’t fit in any car so the people at HomeSense  fold it  several times like a piece of paper, and place it on top of a cart so you can roll it out to your vehicle.  That part’s not so bad, it’s the part when you get to your destination that causes regular folk to wish they had a friend or relative who looks like Popeye.

Given that delivering rugs is oh-so fun,  my mom and I did it twice as the first one I bought looked decidedly washed out against my hardwood floor.  The second rug purchase worked much better, and thankfully it stayed on my floor once we’d heaved it into my home – have I mentioned that my condo in on the second floor in a building with no elevator?

My new rug (please ignore the 90’s lamp in the corner)

The Sofa Saga

When I moved into my home and contemplated the vast amount of furniture I’d need to purchase in order to make it a ‘home’ I vowed that I wouldn’t just buy anything to fill the space – I’d wait and purchase pieces that I really liked, and hopefully I’d be able to find pieces I liked at a price point I could also afford!!

Given my unit is only a one bedroom, when considering the purchase of a sofa, I decided that a sofa-bed would be my best choice.  There was only one problem – have you seen what’s readily available in sofa beds??  UGLY!!

Eventually (after months of looking) I found a sofa that really liked – Yay!  It’s the Monterey Sofa from Ethan Allen, and I fell in love.

Ethan Allen – Monterey Sofa

Unfortunately they don’t make it in sofa bed – Boo!

The next step in my sofa search was the realisation that in order  to get the sofa style I wanted, in the format I wanted – I was going to have to go custom.  Oh boy – did I ever underestimate just how difficult a process this would be.

The first problem was I had no idea where I could get a sofa made.  A Google search solved this fairly readily – of course sofa manufactures are not located in Midtown Toronto – they’re all in the suburbs.  This was a wee problem as I don’t have a car.  Let’s just say I became  quite familiar with a few of the GTA’s transit systems during my quest.

The second issue was the actual choosing of fabric.   The designers make it look so easy on all those shows on HGTV, but for people like me with no design training it’s a little bit of a nightmare.  I’d select some fabric that I thought would work, schlep a sample home only to discover that the shade changed completely once in my space.  Part of the problem was I’d already purchased a rug which is a bit of an odd colour – not gray, nor blue or green, but somewhere in the middle, and finding a fabric that didn’t clash was surprisingly difficult (It’s even more surprising when you consider I was looking for a beige fabric – who knew beige could clash with anything?).

At the start of June, after several weekend jaunts to the dreaded suburbs, I’d finally chosen my fabric and was told my sofa would be ready in 6 – 8 weeks.  I figured at this point the hard part was done – I was wrong.  Six, and then eight weeks went by, and still no call from the manufacturer to arrange for delivery.  When I called them I was told there had been a  delay in receiving the fabric, but I’d get my sofa in 2 weeks.  Okay a small delay, but nothing to get too worked-up about.  Three weeks passed.  Four.

I finally got the call that my sofa was ready (Hallelujah!) and arranged for it to be delivered.  I should probably admit something here – delivery services make me uncomfortable.  Not because there’s some strange people in your home, but because I always feel really stupid just standing there – I feel like I should be helping.  I know it’s their job, but still I feel weird just watching them lift and carry my stuff.

Anyways, the two gentlemen showed up with my sofa, and I squirmed in the corner as they maneuvered it into my apartment.  It looked pretty good in its packaging, and I waited impatiently for them to remove it so I could really take a look at what I had waited so long for.  They removed the plastic, and after a cursory look at the sofa I found this:

Sofa boo-boo

That’s right – I hole right there on the front of my very tardy, newly delivered, pricey sofa.  As there wasn’t anything the guys could do about it, they took their leave and advised me to call the manufacturer in the morning.  I admit it was a small hole, and I’m sure some would have just lived with it, but I knew I just couldn’t (remember the problem I had with the hole in my foyer wall?).

After the delivery guys left I stood back to admire it in its new home – I’d waited so long for it to be here that despite its little flaw I was excited to finally have it.  Strangely it didn’t look quite as magnificent as the original, and it took me a moment to realise why. As you know I’m not a trained interior designer, nor am I a person who builds furniture for a living, but it only took a quick look to realise that there was a serious problem with the sofa:

The gap between the sofa and it’s cushions

To this day I don’t understand how they missed the fact that the pillows were the wrong size.

In an effort to make this massive post shorter, the guys came back for the sofa and  at the end of October I got a call to say it was fixed and ready for delivery.  Given the issues I’d had before, this time I went there to inspect the sofa first before it was delivered – I figured that as much of a pain traveling to the suburbs was, it was less painful than watching two guys deliver a sofa again only to have to again send it back.  This attempt was much better.

On Monday November 1st, only 5 months after it was first ordered, my sofa finally took its place in my living room.

Finally! It’s arrived!

Am I completely happy with it? Honestly? No, but I finally reached the point where I couldn’t think about it any more.  One thing I do know – if I ever decide to buy another place, one item on my ‘must have’ list for the real estate agent – a living room that will fit this sofa – there is NO WAY I’m ever purchasing another one! Once was quite enough thank you!