Cooking

Irish Breads For St. Patrick’s Day

Irish breads are rustic and hearty. These are the breads of my childhood.  Unsweetened  soda breads are full of tasty homemade goodness, and simply delicious with soups and stews. A hint of sweetness in raisin breads and scones makes them perfect with a cup of tea. Here is a selection of my recipes:

 Bread And Cakes

 

Irish Raisin Soda Bread In Baking PanIrish Raisin Soda Bread

Ireland is famous for delicious soda bread made with simple ingredients.  It gets its name from the bicarbonate of soda or baking soda used as the leavening agent. Growing up I loved my Granny’s “sweet cake”.  Here’s my Americanized version of her raisin soda bread….. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

 

4 slices of brown bread

Irish Brown Bread

A nice wedge of brown bread perfectly partners soups and stews.  Here’s my recipe, created with all-American ingredients. No expensive baking mixes required for an authentic Irish brown bread…. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

 

 

Sliced Potato BreadIrish Potato Bread – Yeast Recipe

Potato bread made with yeast, flour and mashed potato is a hearty bread.  I love to make sandwiches with this bread.  Here’s my step-by-step photo instructions for baking these rustic loaves……. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

 

 

 

Kerry or Irish Apple CakeKerry Apple Cake

Kerry Apple Cake, also known as Irish Apple Cake, is a moist cake with a crunchy top, and can be served cold or warm with chilled cream or custard. An Irish Apple Cake is technically not a cake at all.  Apple bread is a better description, but I suppose our ancestors assigned the title cake to any baked good with a little bit of precious sugar added….. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

 

 

Scones

 Irish Raisin Tea Scones

One of my fondest memories of Ireland is sitting down to an afternoon cup of tea and a hot buttered scone.  My mother makes delicious raisin tea scones, so when I lived in New York, I promptly tried to replicate her recipe. The secret to scone success, I discovered, is all in the flour…. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

 

 Tea Brack in Cake PanIrish Tea Brack

Brack is a traditional Irish cake baked at Halloween.  The name comes from the Irish word ‘breac’, which means speckled.  Fruit freckles every slice of this delicious cake or bread….. Read more and get the full recipe here.

 

For all the cooks out there planning their St. Patrick’s Day menus, I hope these recipes help you choose the perfect bread to accompany your dishes.

 

 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

(St. Patrick’s Day Blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Chicken Curry With Apple And Raisins

Chicken curry may have originated in India, but it is a firm dinner favorite throughout the Emerald Isle. Many Irish people purchase their curries at local Chinese take-outs, but I prefer to cook mine from scratch.

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A few chopped apples and raisins add a perfect sweet surprise to this dish. Whether you like to eat your curries with rice, or naan bread, or Irish style with a side of chips (french fries), I hope you enjoy this recipe.

If you prefer a smoother curry sauce to pour over your chips, my recipe for chips and curry sauce can be found here.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 small granny smith apples (diced)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 4 cups water
  • chopped cilantro (to garnish if desired)
  • cooked rice (to serve)

 

Spices for Chicken Curry

Most curry recipes simply use store bought curry powder. I like to use curry powder as the base for a special spice mix to enhance the flavors in this recipe.

Create your own spice blend by mixing curry powder, turmeric, coriander, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and chili powder. If you like a very spicy curry you can add more chili powder.

You can use two to three teaspoons of this blend for a milder curry, but if like me you like a spicier dish, you can use the complete blend in your dish.

Onion, garlic and curry powder for chicken curry

Melt the butter in a large skillet, or you can use a large pot or Dutch oven like me. Sauté the chopped onions and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the spices and stir continuously as you cook the spices for another 5 minutes.

Adding chicken to curry chicken

Add the chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring to completely coat the chicken pieces with the spices.

Mixing yogurt and tomato paste

Mix the yogurt and tomato paste together.

Making chicken curry

Add it to the chicken together with the water.

Simmering chicken curry

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 40 minutes.

Adding apple to chicken curry

Add the diced apple and raisins, and simmer for an additional 10 to 20 minutes. Peel and dice your apples just before adding them to the dish. If sliced to early the apples can turn brown, and don’t look very appealing in the finished dish.

Boiled basmati rice

Prepare the rice according to the package directions. I like to use basmati rice for a true taste of India.

Chicken Curry with apples and raisins served over rice

Serve the curry hot over cooked rice.

I hope you enjoy this little taste of India, enjoyed by so many Irish people today.

Here is the printable recipe:

Chicken Curry With Apple And Raisins

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Chicken curry may have originated in India but it is a firm dinner favorite throughout the Emerald Isle. Chopped apples and raisins add an extra dimension and sweetness to this spicy dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 large chicken breasts (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 small granny smith apples (diced)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 4 cups water
  • chopped cilantro (to garnish if desired)
  • cooked rice (to serve)

Directions

Step 1 Combine the spices and mix well together.
Step 2 Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until onion starts to soften.
Step 3 Add the spices. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
Step 4 Add the chicken, mixing to fully coat it in spices. Cook for 10 minutes.
Step 5 Blend the yogurt and tomato paste together and add to the chicken mixture.
Step 6 Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the curry for 40 minutes.
Step 7 Add the apples and raisins and simmer for an additional 10 to 20 minutes.
Step 8 Serve over hot rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Happy curry cooking. And since tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day, why not spice things up by trying this hot dish.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

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Baileys Irish Cream Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecake spiked with Irish cream liqueur is a perfect dessert for celebrating Thanksgiving, attending a holiday gathering or hosting a party. The distinctive flavor of Baileys perfectly compliments a creamy, pumpkin cheesecake filling.

Cheesecake

I created this Irish-American fusion pie especially for Thanksgiving. Bailey’s cheesecake meets pumpkin pie, resulting in a hybrid Baileys pumpkin cheesecake.  It boasts the requisite flavors of Thanksgiving, while it’s light texture makes it a perfect dessert after a heavy turkey dinner.

This is a baked cheesecake. Technically, it probably should be called a cheese pie, but whether you call it cake or pie, cheese, pumpkin and Baileys are the perfect trio for scrumptiousness.

Pie Base

  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (8 cookie sheets)
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (25 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter (1/2 stick)

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 8oz 1/3-less fat cream cheese (1 block)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (Baileys or any other brand)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Pie Topping

  • 1 and 1/2 cups low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Whipped heavy cream to decorate if desired

The first step is to create the biscuit crumb base. In Ireland I use digestive biscuits for all my cheesecake bases.  When I can’t find my favorite McVite’s biscuits in America I compromise by using a mixture of graham crackers and vanilla wafers.

Place the graham cracker cookie sheets and vanilla wafers in a large plastic bag and zip closed.  Using a rolling pin crush the cookies to form crumbs.  This step can be completed in a food processor.

Toss the cookie crumbs into a large mixing bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of sugar and mix well.

Pour the melted butter into the cookie crumb and sugar mixture and combine using a fork.  Mix well to moisten all of the crumbs.  Just enough butter is used to hold the crumb base together.  The mixture shouldn’t be too wet.

Press the cookie crumb mixture into the base and up the sides of a 10-inch round spring form pan, coated in cooking spray.  Place the pie base in the refrigerator while making the filling, allowing it to chill.

Next it’s time to make the pie filling and a blender can do most of the work.

Add the sugar, cottage cheese, cream cheese, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, Baileys, flour, salt, 2 eggs and egg yolks to a blender.

I don’t add typical pumpkin pie spices to my filling, since I like how the Irish cream and pumpkin flavors blend.  Too many spices overwhelm the creamy liqueur.  But feel free to spice up the pie filling to satisfy your taste buds. Toss in some cinnamon, nutmeg or all-spice  into the blender with the cheese filling and blend away, if you can’t handle pumpkin without a hint of cinnamon.

Look at the lovely fall colors in the blender.

Process until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

I’m hoping for a nice big food processor for Christmas this year. With my trusty twenty year old blender I’ve got to hold down the lid to make sure this mixture doesn’t explode all over the walls when I flip that switch.

Using a hand mixer beat the two egg whites in a separate bowl until the eggs form firm peaks.  Add the powdered sugar.

Beat again until the eggs become glossy and form stiff peaks.  You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the eggs moving in the slightest.

Combine the pumpkin cheese blend and the beaten egg whites.  Use a large spoon to gently blend the egg whites into the mixture.  Do not beat them with the hand mixer.

A lovely light orange creamy mixture should be the result.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.   Bake at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes.  When the cheesecake is ready the surface will be a light golden color.  The center will jiggle just slightly when the pan is moved.  The center will firm up during the cooling time.

A typical cooked-cake test using a knife or tooth pick doesn’t work for a cheesecake. A knife may crack the top of a cheesecake made with sour cream. The test will never be accurate since cheesecake is supposed to be a little moist and gooey. The knife will never come out clean. Cheesecakes, like this one, made with sour cream still jiggle when cooked and have a soft spot in the center.

Here is a photo of the cheesecake as it came out of the oven.

Next, add the ingredients for the pie topping (sour cream, powdered sugar and Baileys) to a small mixing bowl.

Whisk them together to form a glossy topping.  Pour the topping over the cheesecake, spreading it evenly to cover the cooked filling.

Return the cake to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes at 325 degrees.   Most of the alcohol will burn off at this temperature.

Cheesecake Topping

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.  Cover it and place it in the refrigerator to cool over night, or for a minimum of 4 hours.

The surface of my cheesecake is not as pretty as I wished.  A little, wandering finger tested it as it was waiting to be photographed.  I tried to smooth over the evidence, but I’m afraid the damage was done.

Cheesecake2After chilling the pie overnight, I concealed some of the surface damage with whipped cream. I’m afraid my cream piping was not perfect either, but you get the idea.

To serve, remove the sides of the spring form pan and slice.

Hope you enjoy this delicious taste of fall.

Cheesecake 4

Here’s the printable recipe:

Irish Cream Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Serves 12
Prep time 45 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Occasion Thanksgiving

Ingredients

Pie Base

  • 1 and 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 cookie sheets)
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (25 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter (1/2 stick)

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese (1 block)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Baileys Irish cream
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Pie Topping

  • 1 and 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Step 1 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Step 2 Make cookie crumbs from the graham crackers and vanilla wafers by pulsing in a food processor, or by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
Step 3 Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl using a fork. Mix well to moisten the cookie crumbs with the melted butter.
Step 4 Coat a 10-inch round quick-release baking pan with cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place in the refrigerator to chill, while making the pie filling.
Step 5 Add the sugar, cottage cheese, cream cheese, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, Baileys, flour, salt, 2 eggs and egg yolks to a blender. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Step 6 In a second large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and small peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the pumpkin cheese mixture. Do not beat.
Step 7 Pour the pie filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees F for 50 minutes. When the pie is ready the surface will be a light golden brown. The center of the pie will jiggle just slightly when the pan is moved.
Step 8 Make the topping by whisking the sour cream, powdered sugar and Baileys in a bowl. Pour over the cheesecake and spread evenly over the top. Return the pie to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes at 325 degrees.
Step 9 Let the pie cool in the pan on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of four hours. Remove the side of the pan to slice and serve.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes are the perfect start to a fall day, a delicious treat for Sunday brunch or a weekday lunch. And to tell you the truth, I’ve been known to indulge in these delicious pancakes for dinner too.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Today I thought I would veer a little away from my usual offerings of traditional Irish recipes to concentrate on a true American favorite. However, I did promise Irish American fusion food, and these pancakes definitely fall within that category.

I make whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with added flax meal and wheat germ, creating a distinctive nutty flavor reminiscent of Irish brown bread.  There is no shortage of fiber in these pumpkin pancakes.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour can also be used)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • butter or oil (to cook)

Grains for whole wheat pumpkin pancakes.

Add the flours, wheat germ and flax meal to a large mixing or batter bowl, and blend together using a whisk.

Spices for whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Toss in the spices and mix together with the flours.

Raising agents for whole wheat pumpkin pancakes.

Then add the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Adding sugar to pumpkin pancakes

Now it’s time to add a little sugar.  I use up to a 1/4 cup to suit my kid’s palates, but a tablespoon or two is just fine if you prefer your pancakes a little less sweet.  Brown sugar works great too.

Set the dry ingredients aside, to prepare the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Adding eggs to buttermilk

First add the buttermilk, then two eggs. Most American pancake recipes call for only one egg, but I can’t resist throwing another one in. Since my little ones love these pancakes I like to sneak in a little extra protein.

If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, just use whole milk and add a tablespoon of vinegar.

Pumpkin puree for pumpkin pancakes

Now toss in the pumpkin puree.

Melted butter for pancakes

Melt the butter for 20 seconds in a microwave safe bowl or pitcher, then add to the wet ingredients.

Mixing wet and dry ingredients for pumpkin pancakes

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.

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Stir everything together. This mixture is thicker than most pancake batters.

Melting butter in skillet

Melt some butter or heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Pan temperature is key to successful pumpkin pancakes.  If cooked over a high heat the outside burns before the inside cooks. Cutting into a lovely crispy pancake to release a gooey mess is always a big disappointment.

If the pan is too cold, you don’t get nice crispy pancakes on the outside. A good medium heat works best, but remember every pan and stove top is different, so your first pancake may be an experiment.

Cooking a pumpkin pancake

Use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to scoop up some batter and pour it into the center of the hot pan.  Since the batter is pretty thick it helps to take the back of a spoon to spread the batter out into a nice circular shape about 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Cook the pancake over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side.

A flipped pumpkin pancake

When larger bubbles start forming in the center of the cooking pancake, it’s ready for flipping.  Brown the pancake on both sides.

Cooking pancakes on every burner

I love cooking pancakes in my cast iron skillet, but my kitchen reality means every pan I own and every burner on my stove top is called into action, to meet my kiddos’ urgent pleas for pancakes NOW.  Every one of my pans and burners requires a different pancake cooking time.

Stack of pumpkin pancakes

Have fun stacking your pancakes as they cook. This recipe yields around twelve.

Wholewheat pumpkin pancakes with melting butter

Serve hot with melting butter and maple syrup.  If you can, use real maple syrup. It’s a little taste of America I adore, and perfectly compliments the nutty flavor of these wholewheat pumpkin pancakes.

Wishing you all happy pancake flipping this fall.

Here is my printable recipe.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Serves 12
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Breakfast
Misc Serve Hot
Pumpkin pancakes are the perfect start to a fall day, a delicious treat for Sunday brunch or a weekday lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour can also be used)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • butter or oil (to cook)

Directions

Step 1 In a large batter bowl combine the whole wheat flours, flax meal and wheat germ. Add the spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix well together.
Step 2 In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, and melted butter.
Step 3 Stir the wet ingredients into the dry to make a thick batter.
Step 4 Heat a lightly oiled or buttered frying pan over medium heat.
Step 5 Pour a 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan and brown on the first side. Flip the pancake when large bubbles start forming in the center of the pancake. Brown the second side.
Step 6 Use about 1/4 cup of batter to form individual pancakes, browning them on both sides over medium heat. If cooked on high heat, the outside will burn, before the pancake is fully cooked.
Step 7 Serve pancakes hot with butter and maple syrup.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Blackcurrants – A Taste Of Ireland I Miss In America

I love the intense tart flavor of black currants, a distinctive taste of the British Isles I have missed during the past twenty-something years spent living in America. 

Black Currants

Last week my sister’s backyard black currant bushes were laden with fruit ready for harvesting. I willingly volunteered to be her fruit picker for the day.

Blackcurrants remind me of my Granny. Her garden boasted many fruitful shrubs. During the last week of July each year her finger tips were stained purple as she picked thousands of black currants for jam.

Black Currants Close-Up

Few Americans know the taste of fresh black currants, or have ever even heard of the fruit.  I never understood why, until I decided to do a little bit of research for this post.

I was surprised to learn most states banned cultivation of black currants for most of the last century.  Brought to America by early English settlers, the 20th century brought a quick end to their earlier popularity.

Apparently the bushes can be carriers of a fungus lethal to pine trees. Identified as a threat to the vital logging industry in the U.S. black currants were simply outlawed in 1911.

Blackcurrant Bush

And over the next one hundred years the poor black currant was simply forgotten.  They faded from the American countryside, supermarket, and memory.

New disease-resistant varieties of currants were developed in the 1960′s. When the federal ban on growing currants was transferred to individual state jurisdiction in 1966, this lowly berry made no comeback whatsoever.

Not until recent years did a few states in the north east repeal the ban on their cultivation. Black currant growing is still outlawed in several states. I hope in years to come more and more Americans will welcome back the black currant, and farmers will start jumping on the currant cart so-to-speak.

Bowl Of Black Currants

With a deep and musky aroma, these dark berries are no where as sweet as the favored American blueberry.  Their distinctive mouth-puckering sourness mean they are best when tempered with a little sugar

Black currants grow in bunches of small, glossy, black fruit and are perfect for making jams, jellies and syrups.  Their perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, make them an ideal ingredient for sauces to accompany fattier meats.

Used in Europe for making juices and cordials, delicious purple sorbets, or compote’s for ice cream, the fruit is extremely popular in Ireland.

Growing Black Currants

The currants ripen fairly evenly, with harvest typically taking place during the last week of July. My sister’s berries ripened on cue this year, especially after all the wonderful sunshine enjoyed over this amazing Irish summer.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out black currants have four times more vitamin C than oranges, and twice the antioxidants of blueberries.

Are blackcurrants after all the berry best fruit for you?

And so I hope you have enjoyed my photos and ramblings through an Irish fruit garden where last week I spent some very relaxing hours picking the berries of my childhood, with happy thoughts of days gone by swirling through my mind.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

 

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