Looking Back Toward Home
Listened to the show Sunday, in Ireland, and it was not bad. Sunday night instead, time difference and all, and it made me a bit homesick, tell you the truth. Just a wee bit of heartache. Don’t get me wrong — Ireland is lovely, in most every way. The people, the food, the landscape. There’s a conversational way all around, with a bit of brooding now and then, and I think it must be the Life. People here work hard, very hard, always have. And though the weather is never to the extremes with heat or cold, it’s often rough weather, and it can change from season to season within the hour. The history here is something, too, arduous and sometimes terrible, which might account for the happy-go-luckiness of many a person. As Peter, our guide, says, “Life is short; have a good time while you’re here.”
And so we are. Today we drove around the Ring of Kerry. Breathtaking landscapes, really. Did a little shopping (which I prefer to a lot of shopping) and visited Skellig where there’s a great story of the monks of Skellig Michael. Again, hardship. What people have done to get closer to God… Had some Irish stew with lamb, and more brown bread, and visited Kate Kearney’s Cottage for dinner and entertainment.
A great blessing of a visit to another place — the greatest, perhaps — is looking back toward home and seeing what you really do have there. Missing things, people, places you didn’t imagine missing, and feeling a kind of loyalty and groundedness when you think of where you come from when you tell people, “I live in Minnesota, in the Midwest of the United States.” I love to say this to people I meet, and I smile when I say it, and I feel that small, very real ache.
Some people never get to have a far-away adventure with their mother, and I feel blessed, and I’m living in the moment, and gathering very fine memories. And, in the moments between, I think of the smell of the air at home; the sound of the woods at night; the neighbors’ lights on in the evening, their shadows on the walls; Mr. Sundberg calling my name from out on the porch; the hum of the kids as they do their thing; the feel of a wooden spoon in my hand as I mix another batch of cookie bars, the taste of homemade pizza, hot chocolate, and lemon bars.
I love to travel; I’ve been to many places. Fact is, dear ones, the USA, Midwest, Minnesota — that’s where my heart is, wherever I may be.
I’m told by many bakers in Ireland that every person has his or her own recipe for brown bread. Here’s one as close to the best brown bread I’ve had. Try it, and change it a bit to suit your liking. Some use no eggs; some add raisins. Most use buttermilk, and many vary the type(s) of flour. Honey isn’t common, either, but I’ve a thing for sweetness.
Irish Brown Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 T wheat germ
2 T honey
1 T butter
2¼ cups buttermilk (approx)
Mix together all dry ingredients. Rub in butter. Form a well in center and pour in honey and buttermilk; mix well. Turn out on floured board and knead lightly. Form into a round and cut across the top to prevent cracking. Put into greased and floured 8 or 9 inch cake pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.