Royal Irish Soda Bread – My Favorite!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

I look forward to this Irish Soda Bread every St. Patrick’s Day as much as I do my cheesecake and Irish coffee. It is that good. To be fair, it is not authentic Irish Soda Bread. It has butter in it. And a touch of sugar. And raisins. Not something the Irish of old had ready in their pantries back in the day.

The Recipe (a link)

My recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible.” I am going to link to the recipe posted on Reddit [click here] because, well, I’m feeling a bit lazy after spending all day cooking Irish Stew…and Stout Cheddar Cheese Cheesecake…and Guinness Bread (a new recipe this year!)…and Chocolate Stout Ice Cream (also new this year)…and Whiskey Butter…and finally, these lovely Royal Soda Breads…

All I need to do tomorrow (which it almost is as I write this…) is to prepare the mashed potatoes to go with the Irish Stew, make sure the Guinness is cold, and if I’m not too tired, make a smoked fish appetizer to start it all off. I did smoke the fish for that earlier today, so we are ready to go!

Happy St. Patrick’s to everyone out there. Hope you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow before that sneaky little leprechaun gets it first!





Happy Valentine’s Day!

16708258_10209986816124643_7932271701458263212_nIt’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here on Cleansed Palate. The Ultimate Blog Challenge I had signed up for has now finished, though I did not finish with it this time around. I gave it my best shot considering the time constraints I had during the month, and I feel good with the effort I put out for it.

There are a couple of personal projects I’ve been working on in the past few weeks. At the mid-to-end of January time period I participated in a short story contest via NYC Midnight. I only learned of it a few days in advance of its onset, signing up on the final day possible. I had eight days to write a 2500 word (or less) essay. All of the entrants were divided into groups, and each group was assigned a genre, a character, and a subject. Our group’s categories were: historical fiction; an only child; and a test. It was my job to design a story around those parameters. Despite a 4.5 day migraine (note: that was 4.5 days out of the eight) I completed my story. And I’m happy with it. I have no idea what my chances are of proceeding to the next round – there are three rounds total – but I know I did my best.

We have also been entertaining visitors. My in-laws were able to spend ten days with us, a visit we enjoyed immensely. During their time here I cooked up a storm, creating some healthy yet delicious dinners. I will post on a couple of those meals later this week. Just to tease a bit, Pasta Bolognese was on the menu one night. It was an all day affair so I decided to make enough to put in the freezer for later. Mmmm…

The other major project I’ve been working on is my novel. About a year or so ago I began writing a book. I got stuck early on and put it down for awhile (as in: a few months ago). November is traditionally the month for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and would have been a great time to work on it. It is a time thousands of writers commit to writing 50,000 words in that one month. Fifty thousand words is the equivalent of a small novel, around 200 pages worth of writing. Not a small feat with all I have going on in November.

And I did give it a go. I did what I could. But, well, it was November. And as you know November is already a super busy month for me. There’s Thanksgiving. And pie. And we have a house full of family and company for about a week of that time. And then Christmas season begins and there is decorating that goes with that. So November just doesn’t work for me.

Like I said, I gave it a pretty decent shot. I tried. Really I did. However, I fell well short of the word count, coming in at somewhere around 6,000 words instead of 50,000. But every word counts. Again, as with the Ultimate Blog Challenge in January, I did what I could. There is no shame in trying. There is never shame in trying.

I looked at my calendar and realized that February is my most wide open month. So I did the next best thing: I deemed February to be my writing month. I committed to writing those same 50,000 words from November, only I’m doing it now, this month; February. I have an online NaNo writing group from my July project, and though I may not have the support of the masses who are writing in November, I do feel I have a group I can turn to this month if I have questions regarding how they may have handled something, or if I just need a bit of encouragement to keep going.

I have gotten a little behind in my word count with our family visiting last week; however, I spent much of today cutting that almost in half. I was about 10,000+ words behind, and now I am only lagging by about 5,700. I know tomorrow I have a semi-busy day, so I more than likely will not make-up those 5700 words then. It will probably take me two or three days to catch up, but I am confident I will do so.

Speaking of semi-busy days, my semi-busy day tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I am planning to make a special dinner for my husband. The menu is still a work in progress, so I’ll have to fill you all in with that later this week. But dessert seems to be under control. La dolce vita, eh?

And that, my friends, is much of what I have been up to during my absence here. Lots of writing, a multi-day migraine, visitors, and tons of cooking. Other than the migraine part, I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

Chicken Soup and a Manhattan: Soul Food by the Fire

Manhattan by a cozy wood fire
Manhattan by a cozy wood fire

Cozy fires, Chicken Soup and a Manhattan

Today is my favorite kind of day. Texas has been hit with another cold spell, cold enough to have a wood fire burning in our fireplace. And so we do. To go with that cozy fire is my traditional Manhattan. I’m not sure how long I have been pairing the two, but somehow when I think of a roaring fire, a Manhattan* [see recipe below] goes along with it.

What else pairs with a cold, wintery day besides a toasty fire and a nice cocktail? Continue reading

Audacity Beer Dinner at Taverna Rossa


Friends. You just cannot underestimate the value of good friendships in your life. This has been brought home to me these past few years living away for extended periods of time. Now settled back in our permanent home, we truly appreciate the time we have with our loved ones. It has been a blessing to share in both good times and bad, and the fact that we remain connected is something I am so very thankful about.

One of the things I really missed Continue reading

Welcome to the Dog Days…or is that Daze?

Time to make-your-own taco!

It’s that time: the dog days of summer. Oh, I am feeling it mightily! We have a backyard project that has essentially eaten up our entire summer. What was supposed to be a month-long project turned into two months…actually more as we are at the two month mark today. It looks as if it will end up being closer to three months all in, but two more weeks for sure. I must say, it has been one of our more challenging endeavors. The twenty-twenty hindsight offers would have us handling things quite a bit differently. However, in the long run these three months will look less ‘long’ and we will [or should] end up with a beautiful finished product. Continue reading