Louisville’s Brown Hotel – Home Of The Kentucky Hot Brown

Louisville’s historic Brown Hotel will become home to many tourists visiting our city this week for the famous Kentucky Derby.  Revered as the finest hotel in the city its opulent two-story lobby is truly breathtaking.

To celebrate Derby Week I thought I might dedicate my posts to my new hometown and state.  So why not kick off with a photo tour of Louisville’s most loved hotel.

 

When I walk past The Brown,  I feel like I am once again walking in Dublin.  It’s Georgian-Renaissance facade reminds me of some of Dublin’s old hotels like the Gresham or the Shelbourne.  The elegant red awning offers shade from the sun and shelter from the rain, hearkening back to days long gone.  Somehow, this beautiful hotel makes me feel connected to Louisville and its illustrious past.

The hotel is probably most famous as the birthplace of The Hot Brown, a sandwich Louisville proudly claims as a true original.   In the 1920′s Chef Fred Schmidt created this delicious open-face turkey sandwich, smothered in a creamy mornay sauce and decorated with bacon, tomatoes and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Later this week I’ll try my hand at this classic Kentucky dish.  I picked up a copy of the recipe when I visited the Brown last week.  I may have to tweak it a little bit.  A full quart of cream is used for just two servings.  My arteries are screaming just thinking about it.  So stay tuned this week for my version of a Kentucky Hot Brown.

The welcoming hotel lobby is filled with decorative couches, chaise longues, grand pianos, decorative vases, wooden carvings and beautiful paintings.  Every corner seems to whisper:

“Sit down, relax and stay a while.”

 

Once seated my eyes were drawn upwards towards the ornate, hand-painted, coffered ceiling.  The plasterwork detail reminded me of some of the old castles and demesnes of Ireland, which were built in a bygone era when no expense was spared.

In the 1920′s over 1200 guests visited The Brown Hotel each night for dinner dances.  When midnight munchies struck hungry dancers invaded the restaurant, but grew tired of traditional ham and eggs.  The Hot Brown was born to satisfy these energetic dancers.

At every corner in the hotel my subconscious expected to bump into a dancer from yesteryear,  all decked out with hair freshly cut in a bouncing bob and a flapper dress with dancing fringes.

Or perhaps I might find a monocled gentleman reading in a quiet corner.

Louisville and The Brown Hotel are an integral part of Kentucky’s racing heritage.  Beautiful horse carvings stand proudly on marbled-topped tables, with decorative jockeys inspecting the “turf”.  The beautiful Bottocino marble flooring might be a little hard on those hooves.

Galloping horses remind me this town is dedicated to its favorite sport, a pastime my Irish compatriots also truly appreciate.

And so let the races begin.  Join me this week as we celebrate Kentucky, Louisville, and horse racing throughout the coming days.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Georgia On My Mind

In today’s post we skip down the tracks for a short photo tour of Georgia from my mind’s eye.

Georgia means breathtaking vistas framed by mountain pines.

Historic old towns in the shadow of tall water towers.

Quaint stores inviting passers-by to stop in for a chat.

Inspiring murals!

Historical railroads!

Shady benches to escape the midday sun!

Beautiful blossoms!

Stately columned homes!

Porches with rocking chairs!

Country churches!

Red, red clay!

A magnificent aquarium!

And oh, those Georgia pines.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Irish Sheep And Lambs

A hillside ramble or a drive on the winding roads of Ireland’s west coast will inevitably result in a sheep encounter.  Ireland is home to over 2 million sheep and spotting them on the wild and rugged terrain of the western shore, makes the landscape even more spectacular.

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This ram is definitely King of the Irish Hills!

 

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I think everyone loves sheep, probably because they are some of the most docile and harmless creatures to roam the earth.

The connection between ewes and their lambs just plucks on the heartstrings.  If you have ever heard the plaintive bleating of a mother separated from her little lamb, you know what I mean.

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When you see a little lamb, you realize why Mary took her lamb to school.  In rural Ireland children often raise pet lambs that have been separated from their flock or abandoned by their mothers.  As a city child I often wished I lived on my family’s farm in County Cork.  I dreamed of hand feeding a milk bottle to a suckling lamb.

But my family were dairy farmers.  I fed many calves in my youth but no lamb.  Still they hold a special place in my heart.

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Frosty mornings are barely noticed by sheep all wrapped up in their woolen coats.  Spinning and wool production are traditional Irish crafts dating back centuries.  To this day Ireland produces beautiful woolen sweaters, blankets, shawls and other handicrafts.

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As children we learned “The Spinningwheel Song” at school.  It tells the story of a young girl spinning wool.  She is torn between the calls of her admirer and her duty to stay home to care for her grandmother.

“Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring,

Spins the wheel, rings the wheel, while the foot’s stirring.

Sprightly and lightly and merrily ringing

Sounds the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.”

 

No prizes for guessing her choice.  The song ends with the sounds of the spinning wheel slowly dying.  Although Irish nuns taught us the tune, I doubt they approved of our young maiden’s flight with her lover.

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I think sheep become part of every Irish tourist’s memories of Ireland.

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 If lucky enough, they may even pose for a camera shot!

 

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“A sheep, is a sheep, is a sheep!”

So the old saying goes!

Not so!

Just take one look at the alien horns on this beauty.

 

Sheep come in many shapes, sizes, widths, and degrees of wooliness and hardiness.  Irish farmers are experts on the perfect breed for the specific conditions in their neck of the woods.

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Hardiness is definitely a criteria for the herds that roam the cliff tops of Ireland’s ocean battered coast.

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“Don’t look at me with those sheepish eyes!”

 

But who could resist these eyes.  The term “sheepish eyes” refers to the innate timid and shy nature of sheep.

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Lambs are possibly the cuddliest and softest creatures in the world.  Lambs skipping playfully around a field make springtime in Ireland ever so beautiful.  And trust me!  Lambs are plentiful in April’s fields.

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And of course Ireland is notorious for traffic jams!  That is traffic jams of the sheepish kind.

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When driving on Irish country roads proceed with caution.  You may think you are King of the Road, but you are wrong.  It’s the sheep who own the roads of Ireland.

Wishing you all happy days touring Ireland, and meeting the woolly friends of my homeland.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Banana Nut Wholewheat Muffins With Weetabix

Weetabix in a muffin!!!!  That’s my secret ingredient for delicious wholewheat banana nut muffins.  A little taste of Ireland and England, crumbled into the baking mix adds extra whole grains and fiber.

Muffins were a new concept for me when I first moved to America over twenty years ago.  Sweet breakfast treats were not on the menu in my Irish childhood years.

In the time I have lived in the United States I have grown to love muffins.  Using wholewheat flour and weetabix makes these special treats just a little less indulgent.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup crushed Weetabix (2 biscuits)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
  • 3 mashed bananas

Optional

  • 1/2 cup crushed banana chips (to decorate top of muffins)

or

  • 1/2 cup crushed Weetabix crumbles (to decorate top of muffins)

To get started preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten to turn the oven on before I start baking.  Then I try to put my bread or muffins into a cold oven.

It’s a disaster when using baking soda, since the chemical reaction gets started once the wet ingredients meet the dry.  Everything goes flat waiting for a warm oven.  Glad to get that little confession off my chest.  Luckily my husband eats my cooking disasters and isn’t at all fussy.

Line the muffin tray with paper liners too before you get started.

To make the muffins add the wheat germ to the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl.

Sift the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl.

You probably don’t need to sift the flour, but I do it all the time.  I can still hear my home economics teacher from Ireland warning:

“Always sieve white flour, girls.”

So sifting white flour is a habit of mine.

Toss the sugar in with the flour.

Next come the weetabix.  Here is a picture of two wholewheat biscuits before crumbling.  I just use my fingers to break them up into little pieces.  If you like you can put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.  I find my fingers do just fine.

Add the weetabix crumbles to the flour mixture.

Next come the walnuts.

Then the dessicated coconut.  Mix up all the dry ingredients.

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs and add the milk.

Then comes the vanilla extract.

Melted butter is poured in next.  Make sure the butter is not too hot or your eggs will curdle.  Add a little bit first and mix to let the eggs adjust to the slightly increased temperature, before drowning them in butter.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the liquids in.  Mix well together.

Mash the bananas.  I make this recipe whenever I have overripe bananas.  My kids love bananas.

Sometimes I have to buy bananas everyday and sometimes they sit for a day or two and go a little brown. My kids won’t touch them if they see any banana freckles.

Banana bread and these muffins help me use up those speckled bananas, without having to turn into a monkey myself and eat all the extra bananas.   I hate waste!!!!

Mix the bananas into the muffin mix.  It should look like this.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tray.  I love to use my ice cream scoop for this job.  I find I get exactly 24 equal muffins with this nifty little tool.

I like to decorate the top of my muffins with crushed banana chips.

I also like to use some more crushed weetabix as decoration.  Usually I do 12 of each kind.

Bake them in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.  When cooked a kinfe inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Cool a little before serving.  I love to eat my muffins with a lovely big glass of cold milk.

I hope you enjoy my Irish American fusion muffin recipe.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Banana Nut Whole Wheat Muffins

Serves 24
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Meal type Bread
Banana nut wholewheat muffins with a secret ingredient, Weetabix, to add extra whole grain goodness and fiber.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup crushed weetabix (2 biscuits)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
  • 3 mashed bananas

Optional

  • 1/2 cup crushed banana chips (to decorate top of muffins)

Directions

Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Step 2 Mix the wholewheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheatgerm, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
Step 3 Add the crumbled weetabix, chopped walnuts, and coconut to the flour and mix together.
Step 4 In another bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, vanilla essence and melted butter. Whisk together.
Step 5 Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the liquid ingredients. Mix together.
Step 6 Fold in the mashed bananas.
Step 7 Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to fill the prepared muffin tray. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with crushed banana chips.
Step 8 Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Weetabix – A Favorite Breakfast Cereal In Ireland

As an Irish child porridge or oatmeal served as winter breakfast, but once spring came Weetabix filled that breakfast cereal role.  Wholegrain biscuits with minimal sugar, we loved to pour ice-cold milk over them and sprinkle a little sugar on top.

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My kids love Weetabix and thankfully I can find this wholesome breakfast at some of my local grocery stores here in the United States.

Back in the 70′s I sprinkled plenty of sugar on top of my Weetabix, but my little ones have never been given a taste of that luxury.  They love them with whole fruit or freeze dried strawberries.

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Canadian Weetabix

Image Credit

My kids even eat them dry out of their hand, something I never did at their age.

Weetabix was first produced in Northamptonshire in England in 1932, and ever since has been a favorite breakfast in Britain and Ireland.

Not only do I love Weetabix as a breakfast, I actually like to make muffins using crumbled Weetabix biscuits to add extra fiber and whole wheat goodness.  I know it sounds strange, but take it from me, my Banana Nut Wholewheat Muffins are finger licking good.

I’ll share my recipe tomorrow.  I thought it best to show everyone what Weetabix is, so when I start crumbling them up for my muffins, there won’t be an exasperated sigh of “what on earth is that?”

Just a little Irish and English breakfast goodness!

So here’s to healthy wholesome breakfasts, even if disguised in a delicious muffin.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

P.S. This post is not endorsed by the makers of Weetabix – they have never heard of me.  The views expressed are completely my own.