I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
While St. Patrick’s Day 2012 is behind us, the whole month of March is Irish American Heritage Month. So if you haven’t had some Irish Soda Bread yet, try Grandma Daly’s Bread. Recipe below.
I baked my bread and prepared our traditional Corned Beef feast a few days after St. Pat’s this year. And I’ve continued to think about my beloved Grandma Daly.
I was struck by what really was Grandma’s Daily Bread. She feasted on God’s Good News every day. This was in fact her daily bread, this was her sustenance. And it provided her with plenty, though she had very little.
Grandma emigrated from Ireland when she was about 20 years old. She left part of her family behind on the farm as she ventured out on a ship, likely a rough and crowded voyage, to meet other family members living in Bayonne, New Jersey and New York City. There was an Irish Wake when she left, which meant that family and friends gathered to say goodbye, to mourn the leaving of the young girl, knowing they would probably never see her again. And they didn’t, most of them, including her mother. Grandma would never step foot on the soil of the Emerald Isle again.
Grandma had a hard life. She married and was only able to have one child, my father Charlie. Oh how she loved Dad! Grandma lost her husband when Dad was only 13. Grandpa had lost his job through the devastation of the Depression and never worked again. So Grandma’s financial state forced her to sell her home and move into a couple of rooms with my father in the back of a doctor’s office. Grandma was an Irish washerwoman, scrubbing homes for the wealthy. Eventually, when Dad was grown and on his own, she became a nanny for a doctor’s family. When she could no longer perform these duties, she moved in with us for seven sacred years.
I can see her now…She would sit in the sun porch in a big buffalo plaid cushioned chair, rosaries entwined in her gnarled hands, crippled with arthritis. Her glasses were thick and didn’t improve her failing sight much. She relied on a cane to walk, disabled from a shin bone broken in two places that never healed. She was in physical pain for many years.
There she would sit, day after day, listening to Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale on her little AM Transistor radio. She fed on testimonies of faith and words of encouragement that streamed from that little plastic box. She meditated on God and His goodness every day of her life. She had long lists of prayer requests, which she prayed through daily. Pretty much everyone who entered my home would want a few minutes with Grandma, to share a heartfelt prayer request, knowing she would pray. It was now her life’s work.
Though she had nothing of material value, she was one of the richest, most grateful people I’ve ever known. And we, her descendents, have received the treasure she passed on, more valuable than gold. We inherited the gift of Grandma’s faith, the legacy of being thankful in all things (or at least trying to be), the belief that in prayer there is divine power, and we learned through her example that there is no greater daily bread than the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
Thanks Grandma. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Grandma Daly’s Irish Soda Bread
4 Cups Flour ( I used 2 cups wheat and 2 cups white)
½ Cup Sugar
1 Stick Butter or Margarine
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
Raisins to your liking
Optional: 1 Tbsp. of Caraway Seeds
Mix above ingredients in one bowl.
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/3 Cup Buttermilk
Mix above 3 ingredients in separate bowl. Add 2 bowls of ingredients together. Knead. Place dough in a hand-shaped round in the middle of a greased cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour at 350. Serve piping hot from the oven. Butter and jam is unnecessary but delish!