During the CV19 Pandemic we are all told that the best thing we can do to help ourselves and everyone else, is to Stay Home, but purchasing an Oximeter might be even more advisable. click on the link below or paste into your browser to find out how to do this.
According to a report on this evenings Radio 4 PM Programme, the early use of a Pulse Oximeter, could save CV 19 patients lives.
These instruments are widely available online, and prices can be as low as about £10 to about £30 each.
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Use this link to listen to BBC Radio 4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000hfrz
and find at 1:16:48 You may find that you need to sign in to BBC Sounds in order to listen.
See two videos… please scroll to bottom of recipe to view.
How to make Irish Soda Bread is what I have called this recipe, because the very idea of Soda Bread is so closely associated with home, Ireland.
The idea of using Soda in baking became popular in the early 1800’s and it meant that everyone in Ireland could make bread, even though, almost nobody had an oven, as they cooked everything over the Open Hearth Turf Fire.
So instead the bread was baked whilst suspended on a Crane that allowed a cast iron pot, which was called an ‘Oven Pot’ and was lidded. also known as a ‘bastible’… although I have always associated the word Bastible with Basting, in reality it appears that it comes from the fact that these cast iron Bastible Pots were made in the English town of Barnstable…. Modern versions of Bastible Pots often have raised lids with protruding handle for lifting the lid… these are invariably of a design that would be more of a Dutch Oven Origin, and obviously not designed for making Irish Soda Bread, as the hot coals would fall off the lid.
Towards the end of the baking process, when people used an open hearth fire, it was normal to add some burning coals on top of the lidded metal Oven Pot. The coals were lifted with long metal tongues, which were also used to lift the lid off the oven.
Bicarbonate of Soda, or Bread Soda, is a fine powder derived from Salt which when added to Buttermilk or Milk causes a reaction that helps bread to rise, and Leavens it without the use of Yeast and also means that there is no Kneading required.
Buttermilk was originally a byproduct of churning butter, which was commonly done in Irish Country Homes, but nowadays, buttermilk can be bought from supermarkets, usually in the Fresh Milk section of the shops.
Soda Bread is just about as simple as it gets in breadmaking, and the fact that you do not need the live yeast, nor even fresh milk, means that, even if you live up a Lonnen or a Boreen, and a long way from any shop, you can still survive for weeks, while using your available ingredients. The thought of Such self sufficiency in this day and age is quite satisfying.
Bread was made freshly every day in homes in the Irish Countryside, and it has always had more status than it would in other countries such as the UK, where bread is sometimes regarded as a filler, or something to hold a sandwich together.
The idea of Home Baking, in recent years, seems to have taken on an elevated image, and it is sometimes even referred to as being a therapeutic activity, but its difficult to imagine a person in an Irish Farm Kitchen, having such thoughts during their lifetime of baking their Daily Bread…. I think it’s unlikely that such a thought would even occur to those people, as they had never experienced the unease of modern humans, being now so detached from our roots, that we cannot even imagine what it must have been like to devote some hours every day, to make our own bread, using only ingredients that we had produced ourselves, around our own farm
Even to this day, it would seem strange to be offered only a cup of tea when visiting an Irish home, without also expecting to be sat down to a selection of breads, often including Soda Bread, or Wheaten Bread, although modern life often dictates that these breads are now bought from shops.
2 Cups of Buttermilk*
4 1/2 Cups of Plain Flour
1 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1 Cup of Raisins, if using.
*If buttermilk is not available, Sour Milk can be used. Fresh Milk can be soured, by whisking in plain yogurt or squeezing in lemon juice, or adding some clear distilled vinegar. But, even fresh milk can be used, but not always a success, because the soda doesn’t react so well.
The simplest way of obtaining Soured Milk is to leave it out of the fridge for about three days.
Mix the Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt in a bowl. Use a few tablespoons of flour/soda mix to cover the baking tray. and keep back a few tablespoons of the dry flour/soda mix, to adjust mix if needed. Add raisins, and stir in if using, Quickly add the buttermilk while folding it into the flour with a wooden spoon. Avoid handling more than the minimum, as the less handling, the lighter the bread will turn out to be.
There should be no dry flour to be seen in the mix, but if so, just add some more flour/soda mix. The mix should not be sticky.
Once mixed, lightly press the dough into a round shape onto a floured baking tray, to about 1 inch thickness and cut a deep cross pattern into the dough. This Cross allows the bread to cook more in the deepest centre, and also means that when baked, the scone of bread can be easily be divided into quarters, or Farls as they are called. It was also believed that the cutting the cross into the scone of bread would keep out the evil spirits. It is also a good idea to stab a few holes across the top with a knife before placing into the oven, as this also assists with getting the heat towards the centre of the baking bread. You may have to put the stab cuts through open fingers holding down the top crust as the dough mix may stick to the knife, and break up otherwise.
It will often be shown in many online recipes that the scone of bread is almost an oval topped mound shape. this was never traditional, and although it may look attractive on camera, because the scone centre would be so dense, it would very likely end up uncooked inside, or burnt on the top, before being baked, so if the Irish Farmhouse Kitchens have discovered that baking a scone from a flat, approximately, 1 inch round shape works, I would be reluctant to try to do it differently.
Bake in a Pre Heated Oven for about 40 mins on 180 degrees Cent. or until a light golden brown colour.,, ,
As well as the colour of the bread being a guide, another test is to tap the underneath of the scone, and you should hear a hollow sound, when fully baked.
Once baked, remove the tray from the oven, and leave to stand for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool and cover with a tea towel which can even be a damp tea towel, as this will assist with keeping the crust a bit softer. The bread is ready to be sliced within about half an hour of cooling on the wire rack, but would normally not be eaten while still hot, as it is usually too doughy, and difficult to digest.
Once sliced, it can be enjoyed with butter and jam and stores well for a couple of days, if kept sealed.
Other variations include using wholemeal floor, but it is easier to mix half and half plain and wholemeal flour, so as to not to have bread that ends up too heavy. Ironically, although Wholemeal bread is considered very respectable these days, and highly approved for our health, in the distant past, Wholemeal Bread was the most common daily fare, and white flour was only for special high days or holiday treats, as it was more expensive, because it required more of a refining process…. how the world changes fashions!
Other acceptable additions that can be added and mixed to the dry flour, are Porridge Oats, or even Museli , or an egg beaten in to the milk, and even cut up cold butter and sometimes sugar can be added to taste.
My recipe of how to make Rhubarb Jam should really be How to make Rhubarb and Ginger Jam, because to me Ginger is such an essential ingredient, that leaving it out would be strange.
Having grown up in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains of Co Tyrone in the centre of Mid Ulster province of Ireland, we were very far from any towns, or shops, so, being able to grow rhubarb in our farm garden, meant we had a ready supply of fresh rhubarb during the summer months, and by making jam, it lasted well into the following winter too.
Ginger was usually powdered, as it was not perishable, but I do also remember we used root ginger too for cooking.
I fondly remember the taste of homemade Soda Bread, home churned butter, and the Rhubarb Jam was also a real treat.
Very Simple ingredients required.
Use Equal Parts Rhubarb and Jam Sugar .. so if using two pounds of Rhubarb, then add a two pound bag of sugar.
Cut off the leaves and discard them, as they are known to be toxic, but can be put into compost.
Peel the skin off the rhubarb.
The rhubarb should be cut in approximately thumbnail lengths and placed in a heavy pan, but aluminum or reactive material pans are not recommended, as the rhubarb is acidic. Ideally use a heavy brass preserve pan, or a heavy enamel cast iron pan. it has to be heavy to avoid the sugar burning and sticking.
Add 50 ml of finely grated root ginger per two pound of fruit. but it is easier to add diced Stem Ginger, as it is softer and also will avoid possible stringiness of the root being found in the jam. The other alternative, is Powdered Ginger, but it will have less flavour, and should have been kept sealed and not lost its pungency.
Add the sugar to the fruit and if possible leave it to stand overnight so that the cut rhubarb softens while sitting in the sugar. if leaving it to stand, it should be stirred to mix, occasionally.
Whether leaving to stand, or not, is a matter of choice.
To ensure good setting, without having to boil too long, pectin should be added, as directed by the pectin product instructions.
As there is little or almost no Pectin in the rhubarb if none is added, more boiling is required, to reach setting point, so it is more difficult to retain the texture, and tart taste.
The Rhubarb, Ginger and Sugar mixture will need rapid boiling for about 15 mins per two pounds of fruit. And to reduce the forming of foam during cooking, it is worth adding a knob of butter, before starting to heat.
Once it appears to have softened the fruit, take a half of teaspoonful of the jam from the pan and let it cool for a few minutes, and test whether it is set by drawing a finger across the surface of the jam on the spoon, and if the surface wrinkles, it can be seen as being set.
If it appears not be be set, just boil for about five minutes longer, and test again till satisfied with set.
Then Pour the jam into sterilised jam jars and place tight fitting lids immediately so as to form a seal, and add labels when cooled.
The jam will normally last well into the following winter, so that the taste of summer can be experienced if the jam has not been over cooked and is still tart. The final colour should be a dark olive green, and have a thick syrup consistency with pieces of fruit still intact when spread on bread, then you will have had the same experience as I had in my Sperrin Mountains Childhood.
We may have sensibly locked down in good time, in consideration of everyone, to beat this CV 19 But we are still able to manage without vehicles, … well almost, while McCrorys Removals Adapting to CV Lockdown
We can still use our Carrier Bike for small removals and deliveries, or at least our shopping!
This was our last removal trip to Ireland, before the CV19 Lockdown, which shows the lorry travelling past O’Connell St and towards the docks along the Liffey, showing a few people already wearing masks, but a lot less traffic than usual.
This was recorded on Firday evening 27th March 2020
This is a Traditional Fruit Tea Bread and the recipe will explain How to make Irish Barmbrack Tea Bread.
Barmbrack is a Fruit Loaf that has always been enjoyed in Ireland, and is associated particularly with Halloween when it would be eaten with butter, but also was popular at other High Days, and Feasts, including St Patrick’s day, even though that falls during the Lent Fast, the fact that it does not contain fat, it was considered to be allowed, although it does contain the Yolk of Eggs, which might bother the conscience of the more devout.
This Tea Bread is now eaten throughout the year all over Ireland, and, is sold in most large supermarkets, but most manufactured versions, are fairly bland, compared to the Home Made versions.
The recipe shown in the video, should start with all the ingredients as below, but also as mentioned in the video, the weights and measures used are not too critical, and can vary provided the final consistency is produced when ‘pouring’ into the baking tin.
To Make the Brack
400g Dried Fruit
350 ml of Strong Black Tea
50g Mixed Peel, or can use rind of orange or lemons
250g Wholemeal Self Raising Flour
150g Dark Muscovado Sugar
Qtr Teaspoon fine Salt
1tsp Mixed Spice
1 Beaten Egg
Optional additional ingredients that may be added, Four Tablespoons of Porridge Oats, 50ml Whiskey, 3 tablespoonfuls Black Treacle… if used, adjust the sugar. Tablespoonful Flaked Crystalised Ginger, Two tablespoon Desiccated Coconut.
Pour the tea over the Fruit, Peel and Spice, the tea is normally let cool first, but I prefer to use hot or warm tea, as it should, I imagine, help to soften the fruit better. Add the beaten egg.
Leave the tea and fruit mixture stand overnight or even 24 hours to let the fruit swell and take on the flavour of the strong tea.
Then in a different bowl, mix into the flour with the salt and then gradually pour the fruit and tea liquid mixture, while stirring and folding a little at a time, making sure that there is no dry flour showing in the mix, when the bottom of the mix is stirred up.
To Grease, Brush melted butter or vegetable oil around the baking tin and then pour the thick mix into the tin, to about an inch below the top, to allow it to rise while baking.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 4/180C for 90 minutes, but if becoming too dark brown coloured, cover with foil till baked.
To test, insert a skewer, and if fully baked, it should be clean when withdrawn and not have any dough sticking to it.
It should be left to stand in the tin for about 20 minutes. Then turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool.
The Brack can be eaten with butter or without, and can also be stored for some time, if well wrapped, and kept cool.
Enjoy it with a good cup of tea.
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