Irish Soda Bread

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment


February was a time for big projects at work, and also a time of snowstorms and snow days, and a week-long complete office flood. With February good and over, my projects off at the print house, our city all-time snowfall record beaten, the rain coming down, and (sometimes, sometimes) the sun coming out, I have a bit of a lull this week.

I’ve had some time to see people I haven’t seen for awhile. I brought this soda bread to a Sunday brunch gathering this past weekend in Beacon Hill. I placed it out on the table, alongside some whipped maple butter (salted, of course), and fell in love with the light coming in from the bay window. It was such a welcome change from photographing in my apartment, which often involves sweeping the coffee table for stacks of abandoned mail, opening the blinds, and cursing the layer of dust on the window panes preventing the light from shining through.

I’ve been mulling over a lot of life changes recently, and too often this seems to end in a feeling of frustrated dissatisfaction with the present. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much more than a moment admiring a friend’s window curtains to propel me into a state of “Why can’t I have that?” and “Why can’t my life look more like this?”

I keep trying to remember that the prospect of big decisions, and the anxiety that comes with making those choices, is a result of already having a whole lot that is good in my life. Hopefully, that thought will sink in soon. In the meantime, there’s soda bread, and that’s not bad either.


You can find the recipe here. My skillet soda bread didn’t poof up much in the center, and I wasn’t a big fan of it the next day, but hot from the oven with a pat of butter, it was delicious.

All ye faithful Dubliners

January 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Dublin on the final leg of Eurotrip 2010/2011 with no working phone, a pounding headache and seven hours to go until I get on an overnight ferry to Liverpool. It’s maybe a little lonely, and I’m so tired of travel that I can hardly manage wandering around my favorite city of the whole trip for more than two hours without becoming exhausted. Such is not the glamorous life of the world traveler. The hotel manager just told me I wasn’t allowed to eat my scone while sitting down in the hotel, which I think is a bizarre rule, and, as protest, I will not be purchasing the cappuccino I was thinking about ordering. This hotel is one of the most bizarre places I have ever stayed, a building caught preserving old-school charm without the renovation and management to make it enjoyable. My room had to be inspected the first time I took a shower because apparently, if you don’t properly close the shower door, which doesn’t actually fit the shower wall, the water drips through the floor into the lobby. The fire alarm went off by mistake my first night here, followed by a loud and continuous ringing that woke up everyone in the building.

Sure the Library Bar is charm itself but when someone stands in the way of me eating Guinness bread and butter, I have a major problem. Nevertheless, whenever I tell a local where I’m standing, I automatically gain “posh” status. I automatically become an art history major with ripped tights, sitting in the dimly-lit bar, sipping an espresso and reading La Chute by Camus. Opps, I actually am reading that. The thing about traveling alone is that you instantly become a philosopher, your people-watching becomes more in-depth, often involving more analyzing, more eavesdropping, I am never forced into restaurants and thus end up eating mostly scones and butter. I can take only 10-minutes for my 11 euro ticket at the Guinness Storehouse, because let’s admit it, it’s a Disneyland centered around the famous beer and more than a little tacky. I took one look at the top-floor bar of the window-encased tower with views of the entire city and headed back down the nine flights of stairs.

But despite all my complaints — really I have become very critical as this trip has progressed — and no matter how many museums and old churches I just can’t bring myself to visit anymore, I can picture myself living in Dublin as I could not in any other city I have visited, save Paris. It is rustic, with an eye to preserving Irish tradition and history — not European, World War II history — and while it is not the postcard-perfect Vienna or the bustling metropolis London, its rougher edges seem comfortably livable. It seems fitting that I would end here, after trekking across thirteen cities, when the edges of my journals are worn and torn and losing color and all my photos seem to blur together into outlines of rooftop views and butter. When I’m watching the sunset at 4 p.m. instead of 8 and I’m somehow still smiling when random people approach me on the street, even though Paris has taught me better than that. It’s funny that in a city whose center has been overrun by foreign chains, the Irish character still dominates one’s world view, that this country, which has failed in so many nationalism movements and rebellions against the British, really restores your faith that national identity still has a place in a world that is becoming more and more globalized.

I haven’t felt this comfortable with strangers in a long time. Because, and this feels funny saying as my family is British, if the Irish kept fighting, then so can I.

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