Friday, March 18, 2011

I know it's a day past St. Patrick's Day but I had to link to this by my favorite Capital District writer. There will surely be a few appreciative Sound Off calls over it.

It's been a couple weeks since my print subscriptions expired, and I miss the Record more than the TU. I've subscribed to Dear Abby, Annie's Mailbox and a few comic strips, so aside from the "experience" of reading the morning paper, I'm not missing those. (Admittedly, there is something tangible and material about paper with A.M. coffee that the e-world can never replace.) 

In terms of content, Sound Off and John Gray's Wednesday column are two of the reasons I miss the Record more, but there are a few others; the website of the TU is much better, so it is an (almost) exact replacement (and it is a lot more expensive to subscribe), I love the size of the print Record, the comics layout is better in the Record (and it is in color), and finally, the TU's articles irritate me more.

That didn't start out to be the object of this post! My recent posts have (mostly) focused on students and the media acting foolishly over an event that was sparked by St. Patrick's Day (kegs and eggs). I'm inspired by the linked column's proud take on heritage to write about my connection to being Irish. You'd never know it, but I'm 1/4. Mimmie was 100%.

It's funny, but each of my grandparents had an impact on me. I write "funny" because I never knew my paternal grandparents who immigrated from Sicily and Italy, they died long before I was born, when my father was a small child. But I have my grandfather's surname and my grandmother's looks. Then, my maternal grandfather died when I was 9. I was born when he was 88. But I do have some memories of him, and I grew up in his hometown, West Shokan. I am a member of the eighth generation of his family to live there.

Still, my maternal grandmother was the most influential of all my grandparents. She died when I was 31. I spent many, many nights with her when I was a teenager. All four of her grandparents immigrated from Ireland. She was proud of her Irish heritage, and had no patience for tired jokes about being Irish and drinking.  Her mother, she said, would not touch birch beer or root beer either, just because of the word “beer.” On the card for my 18th birthday she wrote:
“Want to wish you Happy Birthday for Tuesday.  Hope my card gets there on time.  Eighteen is a lovely age to be isn’t it.  Just think you are now your own boss.  Have a Happy Birthday Tuesday and don’t drink too much (champagne).  Suppose that is spelled wrong, but guess you will know what I mean.  That horrible tasting drink that they always have at weddings.”
Irish Soda Bread was being sold at the Kiwanis Club barbecue at the firehouse last weekend, and Teagan's served it with dinner last night. I was not really familiar with it, so was wondering if Mimmie had a recipe for it. I looked, and couldn't find anything. (Guess that's why I am not familiar with it!)

As a newlywed, Mimmie started writing recipes in a spiral-bound notebook. On the cover is taped an illustration of a kitchen by Maxwell Mays that looks much like Mimmie’s at the old house. At some point she labeled this notebook “Old Book.” The stained pages inside are written in fountain pen and long ago started to crumble. At one place, they were sewn by Mimmie to the binding, and the thread remains intact. This old book begins with a recipe for Irish Wedding Cake. She wrote on the page: “I started this cookbook in 1926. My first recipe was given to me by Gladys Fox.”

Irish Wedding CakeFlour    2 cups
Baking Soda    1 teaspoon
Butter    1 tablespoon
Cinnamon    1 teaspoon
Cloves    1 teaspoon
Egg    1
Molasses    1 cup
Boiling Water    1 cup
Sift dry ingredients, add remaining ingredients and beat all together. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes in loaf pan, or recipe can be used to make layer cake. Use white icing.

Last night Bob and I shared Irish Apple Cake for dessert. Here's Mimmie's recipe; this one is not from the 1926 notebook, but from a later recipe file box that she used:

Irish Apple Cake
Flour, sifted    3 cups
Sugar    3/4 cup
Salt    ½ teaspoon
Egg Yolks    3
Butter    1 cup
Lemon Rind, grated    from one lemon
Applesauce    1-3/4 cup
Cinnamon    ½ teaspoon
Cloves    1/4 teaspoon
Mix flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter and lemon rind.  Divide mixture in two parts.  Press one part in bottom of pan.  Mix applesauce, cinnamon, cloves, and spread over mixture in pan.  Sprinkle rest of mixture over applesauce.  Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9x9x1-3/4-inch pan for 40 to 45 minutes.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

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