March 17, 2011By Kim Dannies
A lover of all things Irish, I always have my eye on the Emerald Isle. Today will not mark a happy St. Patrick’s Day there, or any day soon, I fear. Irish eyes are crying as their once flush economy has been flushed down the toilet by banks busting to the tune of $10 trillion. The Irish have set a new standard of economic destruction in an era of mind-boggling bank blunders.
With unemployment at 14 percent, the Irish are drinking at home, or leaving home permanently. The local pubs, once the political and cultural heartbeat of a community, are feeling the nasty pinch and closing in record numbers. While one in three beers is still a Guinness, the brand has dropped 8 percent since December. Despite a $93 billion bailout of the country’s banks, this once robust island has been rocked to its core.
For comfort I turn to “The Ballymaloe Cookbook” by Myrtle Allen. Myrtle embodies the essence of stability during times of distress. Her cooking is the most earthy, clean food I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Back in the 1970s, she single-handedly put Irish cooking on the map, where it thrives today. Maybe Allen’s hard-working, passionate style is just what the Irish need to get back to the green.
Myrtle Allen’s Brown Bread
4 cups whole-wheat flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon salt
Put the whole-wheat flour in a large mixing bowl and place in a warm oven. The flour and bowl should be warm when making the bread. Dissolve yeast in 4 ounces of warm water; blend in the molasses. Let proof. Add another 4 ounces of water. Combine the flour, yeast mixture, and salt. Add enough warm water to create wet, sticky dough. Place in a buttered 9-by-5-by-3-inch bread tin. Cover; set in a warm spot. Rise bread to 1/3 its original size. Preheat the oven and bake at 450 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove bread from the pan and leave on the rack of a cooling oven for 20 minutes.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.