Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh! The Weather Outside is Frightful ...

Ok, I will concede to any readers living in more Northerly climes that the weather in Savannah today is not necessarily "frightful", but it is ... COLD! The temperature as I write this is 35f with a wind chill that makes it feel like 26f and we are not expected to get above 45f. In semi-tropical Savannah that is beyond cold-that is bone chilling, frostbite producing, hibernate until spring cold!
I know, ya'll Northerners are laughing at me. You're probably shaking your heads as you look out at inches of ,used to be, white stuff piled on the side of the road. Your probably thinking to yourself, "silly southerner, doesn't know what cold is. Now, I could tell her about cold! The type of cold that makes your fingers burn and your lungs raw ... yeah, she doesn't know a thing about real cold."
Well, to that I'd say, "yes, I do because I was born and raised in a small town just outside of Akron, Ohio and I walked, uphill, (honest, we lived at the bottom of a steep hill on a dead end street!), through snow that sometimes reached above my knees, and stood by the stop sign for upwards of an hour waiting on the school bus. So, this southerner really does know what cold is :).
But, I digress. It might not be a horrible, minus zero windchill, 3-5 inch snow accumulation lake effect kind of day here in Savannah but to the natives it might as well be. See, we aren't prepared for this kind of weather. Speaking for myself, I don't own boots, hats, wool coat- you get the idea. during the winter, I usually wear a long sleeved t-shirt and carry a lightweight jacket -just in case. But today's temperatures call for heavy duty outerwear- shoot, I'm freezing in the house!
Our average winter temperatures are overnight lows in the 30's with daily highs in the mid 50's-in fact, next week we're supposed to be back in the 60's; now that is more like Savannah in December! On the few days of the year we experience this *&^@# I just stay inside; the luxury of working from home!
So, now that I've thoroughly peeved off all of you living in the land of snow and ice by bragging about our, usually, wonderful climate, I'll coax you back into good humor by offering my solution to those "horrible, no good, stinkin' snow and/or frigid" days, (lol, can you tell I'm not a fan of snow or cold?). I'm thinking today's bitter cold calls for a steaming bowl of potato soup!
In my soon to be released novel, Ring of Lies, the heroine is a chef who has just opened a cafe. In one of the scenes she is preparing, (or trying to-mean author that I am I give the girl so many problems she can't focus on her work!), potato soup and Irish Soda Bread for the expected pre-St. Patrick's Day crowds, and what could be more Irish than a meal based on potatoes :)?
Because it is likely that you are experiencing a day at least as cold as mine, I will share my recipe for Potato soup and Irish Soda Bread-feel privileged, because this is a family recipe passed down from my Irish Gram :)!

Gram's Potato Soup
(makes 6-8 cups)
3-5 pounds of all purpose or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
2 tablespoons dried parsley, crushed
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1 14.5 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 cup of regular milk
2 slices of American cheese

1. Place diced potatoes, onion, and parsley in a large soup pot. Add water, Just To Cover the Potatoes, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. (Potatoes suck up salt so give 'em a couple teaspoons :))
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook just until the potatoes are tender. Don't Over Cook!
3. Remove pan from heat, DO NOT DRAIN, and mash the potatoes lightly, leave some chunks-it's good that way!
4. Add the butter and evaporated milk. If too thick, add the regular milk, a few drops at a time, until it reaches the consistency you desire.
5. Break the cheese into small pieces and stir until incorporated. Test for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed, sprinkle a bit more parsley and ... EAT!

*variation: add some cooked bacon, crumbled-really good!

Irish Soda Bread
This is a quick bread: no yeast, no proofing, no rising time. Just combine the ingredients and bake-sooo good!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 oz Buttermilk, (buttermilk substitute: 14 oz regular milk +
2-8 or 9 inch cake pans

1. Preheat oven to 425f. Lightly grease and flour an 8 or 9 inch ROUND CAKE pan.
2. In a large bowl, sift and combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Add buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Turn onto floured surface and LIGHTLY knead (too much makes it tough-all you really want to do is turn it over a few times while shaping it; basically you are completing the combining ingredients process)
4. Shape into a round flat shape and place in the cake pan. Lightly score the top with a cross.
5. Now the interesting part: Cover the cake pan containing the bread with THE OTHER cake pan. (This simulates a traditional bastible pot-like a Dutch oven- traditionally used to bake this bread.)
6. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more. You'll know it is done by tapping on the bottom of the bread-it'll sound hollow.
7. Cover the bread with a clean tea towel and sprinkle the towel with water-this will keep it moist while you're dishing out that soup!
8. Slice and add lots of butter!! Then let me know how you liked it :)!
Wishing you a warm and sunny day ...


  1. Awesome recipe Rachel. Have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You're welcome Jeannene! Both are super easy to make and soooo good! Just writing about this made my mouth water :)!

  3. Oh! I just noticed that I forgot to complete the instructions on how to make a substitute for buttermilk! One Tablespoon plus about 1/4 tsp. of vinegar and regular milk to make 1 & 1/4 cups milk. Let stand 5 minutes.
    You have to have buttermilk or the substitute because the acidic nature of the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to make the bread rise!