As St. Patrick’s Day is this month, and because I’m part Irish, I decided March would be the perfect time to fake travel to the emerald isle. I had so many choices before me when I began planning my travel from home trip to Ireland that I ended up making a whole weekend out of the adventure. That meant multiple meals, desserts, movies, and books! It was time-consuming, especially as I’m not a cook, but I have no regrets.
I wasn’t so sure I was ready for all the cabbage likely to be found in Irish cuisine. Potatoes were a must, however. Remembering how much I loved the full Irish breakfasts I enjoyed during my previous real trips to Ireland, and figuring that I stood at least part of a chance at being able to cool that, I started researching Irish breakfast foods. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I adore breakfast food, so I ended up choosing a lot.
My Choices for Day 1
Meal: I started off by buying some delicious Irish soda bread (which I snacked on a little while cooking, I admit). Then came my breakfast for dinner and my first ever attempt at making French Toast with the aforementioned Irish soda bread.
- Irish Eggs in a Well with McCann’s Imported Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal- even though I made it with only one egg, this was actually much more delicious than I’d expected. I will most definitely be making this again, especially as I have a big tin of oatmeal to get through now. I even have plans for the tin when I’m done eating.
- Irish Soda Bread French Toast #1– I don’t drink, so I substituted almond milk for Bailey’s and half-and-half. And because I’m just 1 person, I cut this recipe in half. I also have no clue what vanilla bean paste is, so I used vanilla extract instead. I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top, and the result was marvelous, though I’m not 100% sure it was cooked fully as the middles were just a little soggy.
Book: I read The Joys of Being Irish while cooking the oatmeal the slow way on the stove. It was a birthday present from my friend last year that I’d never gotten around to reading. It was fun to discover that Terance McDevitt and I share a last name. While I couldn’t relate to some of the things in the book, my two favorite joys were “Table salt—the only spice you’ll ever need” (because I had to buy things like cinnamon specifically to cook with this weekend) and “wanting to become a writer and move back to the Old Country because writers don’t have to pay taxes there.” Overall, it was a fun little book and a quick read, but it was also geared toward Americans with Irish ancestry rather than Ireland itself.
Movie: I found a few lists of Irish movies available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Wind that Shakes the Barley was by far the highest rated, however, I was crushed to find that it wasn’t actually included in Amazon Prime’s regular subscription offerings. Of the movies on the lists I hadn’t seen, I settled on Song for a Raggy Boy. I do love a good inspirational teacher story. It was also Robert Sheehan’s debut film. At one point, while watching, I said to myself “the physical abuse toward the children at this school is horrible, but at least the priests aren’t sexually abusing them” and about ten minutes later, I had to take that statement back. It was a tough, heart-wrenching, powerful movie. The acting was amazing, and there were enough wonderful teacher moments to keep me powering through to the end.
Music: There’s no shortage of Irish pub songs in my playlists, but I ended up listening to this album of Ireland’s Finest on Amazon music. I was slightly confused at the several Scottish songs covered, but they were done well, so I’m not really complaining. I played this several times during the weekend, including while I cleaned to it on Sunday morning.
Dessert: I had a few spoonfuls of Irish Cream Brownie ice cream. It was the first time I’d tasted alcohol-flavor in more than a decade, so I didn’t end up having much. Besides, the French toast was pretty sweet and filling, so it could easily have counted as a dessert on its own. But a little taste of the ice cream was a nice way to end my first day of fake travel to Ireland.
My Choices for Day 2
Meal: Again, I’m a sucker for breakfast foods any time of day. So for the next day’s dinner I tried two more recipes:
- Irish Eggs– these were absolutely delicious. I cut this recipe in half as well and actually only included two potatoes because of their size. However, I wasn’t 100% convinced that I’d cooked the potatoes through enough. So I ate some that seemed soft and cooked and left the ones that I probably should have cooked longer. This was my first time cooking potatoes that didn’t come pre-cut in a bag, so I consider it a learning experience. The eggs were delicious, however. And as I have many potatoes leftover and regularly buy onion and peppers, I am certain that I will make this again until I perfect the recipe.
- Irish Soda Bread French Toast #2– Again, I substituted almond milk for the alcohol. I also used too much nutmeg and had to spoon a little out, realizing how overwhelming a flavor it is. I made half the recipe and this time kept cooking the French toast until it was almost black on each side. The middle was still slightly soft and gooey, which leads me to blame the soda bread’s excellent absorptive properties. It was delicious, but I think I liked the hint of vanilla in the first recipe more than the nutmeg in this one.
- A Little More Irish Soda Bread- I had some smaller pieces of the soda bread still, and I ended up snacking on those for the rest of the night. I definitely made good use of the small loaf and stretched it out.
Book: I started reading Great Folk Tales of Ireland by Mary McGarry, which I have owned for many years (possibly many decades) but have never read. There are several stories with which I am already familiar to some extent (The Children of Lir, Fin MacCumhail, Oisin in Tir Na Nog, and St. Brigid) but I look forward to reading these versions and the many other stories that aren’t familiar to me. I have read other folk tale books in this series printed by Muller, Blond & White, so it will be nice to dive more fully into these from Ireland.
Movie: I have seen the DVD of The Secret of Kills animated movie in my library for years, and I kept insisting one day I would watch it. This was finally my chance! Though there is also some child abuse, little Brendan is strong and driven as he ventures into the forest to befriend the spirits there and help scriptorians work on what was to become an epic illuminated manuscript. The animated style, derived directly from images in The Book of Kells itself, was used brilliantly to help tell the story. I had the chance to see pages from the book when I was in Ireland, and so this movie brought back a lot of memories (especially with the cat). It felt like I was heavily into folk tales this day, between the book and this movie, and I highly enjoyed this movie. I am considering watching it again with the commentary later this week, because I would love to know more about some of the artistic choices and any historical accuracy to an actual fortification and battle in Kells.
Dessert: I had a slice of Bailey’s Irish Cream Loaf Cake this time (though, again, the French toast was sweet enough that it could have counted). I was worried it would be rich and dripping like rum cake, but it had just hints of flavor. I enjoyed it more than the ice cream. However, I have much of both still, so I will probably be eating them all the way to St. Patrick’s Day and well beyond! No regrets.