IRISH SCONES/ What the Guide Books Don't Tell you

. . . . about Ireland.

The Emerald Isle is as beautiful as they say and on a recent trip to my ancestral homeland, my husband and I discovered many things not in the guide books and travel websites. Such as:

Irish music is scarce in Ireland. No kidding! The young Irish generation does not like Celtic music.

Irish Pubs play 70’s music and folk singers belt out tunes from American musicians such as Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles and Van Morrison. Brown Eyed Girl was a big favorite!

Ham hocks and pork belly were common menu items. There was plenty of fish & chips but no baked potatoes. Servers do not leave your bill at your table until you ask for it.

There are lots of Italian restaurants and gelato shops … yum!

There is an O'Connell's Pub in every town. Good thing!

It doesn't always rain in Ireland; we had only one day of rain out of 14. May gave us a mix of sunny and cloudy weather, no crowds and temps from 48 to 78 degrees F.

The Irish are very happy and friendly people, like the Kiwis in New Zealand.

When we checked into hotels and asked about bad areas to avoid, we were met with perplexed looks from the clerks who replied … 'there is no crime in Ireland.'

Not everyone has an Irish accent; many are from Australia and Americans attending Irish colleges for a mere $3,000 annual tuition.

There are unisex bathrooms at a crowded and touristy Cliffs of Moher. Stay behind the safety barriers, skip the selfies and purchase a post card; we witnessed two tourists slip and nearly fall off the cliffs.

There are major highways connecting cities but most country roads are beyond narrow with no shoulders, prickly shrubs, stone walls, blind curves and high speed limits. We unwittingly drove Conor Pass along craggy cliffs with barely a lane and fog … it took a year off my life!

We stayed in 5-star hotels yet electrical outlets and mirrors were scarce. None of our seven hotels had a bathroom outlet; blow drying my hair was a challenge.

Most hotels have elevators (called the lift), but we often had to schlepp our luggage up a short staircase after getting off the elevator.

Leaving Ireland to fly home, Dublin Airport has two security checkpoints: Irish and American plus U.S. Immigration and Customs. Many Americans are unaware and miss their homebound flights. Pack your patience and plan to arrive at the airport 4 hours ahead of your flight. There are nearly two dozen European airports with this system.

The Irish Scones were the best and my favorite breakfast with clotted cream and jam. I whipped up my first batch ever for this Irish lass.

1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), chilled
1 Egg
1¼ cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
3 cups Flour

Cut cold butter into squares. Keep cold in refrigerator. Stir egg and cream with fork. Set aside.
Whisk sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Add butter and toss to coat. 
Using fingers or pastry blender, work butter into flour mixture until pea size.
Make a well in center. Pour egg and cream mixture into well. Mix all ingredients with fork until shaggy dough forms
(may look dry). Do not overwork dough. Lightly knead dough in bowl until it comes together.

Turn out onto floured surface and pat into square one to two inches thick. Cut into wedges using bench scraper.
Place on baking sheet. Brush dough with cream (optional) and sprinkle with sugar (optional).

Bake until golden brown for 25-30 minutes at 375. Makes 12-15 one-inch-thick scones or 8-10 two-inch-thick scones.
[This is the Best Cream Scones recipe at Bon Appetit]

Serve with soft butter and raspberry jam or ....

... with lemon curd



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SHAMROCK COOKIES/ Visiting Ireland

After so many years of researching my family history, last Spring I finally visited my ancestral homeland. My husband and I drove two weeks through the land of leprechauns and fairies starting in the city of Dublin, driving south to Kilkenny, Waterford and Cork, west to Dingle and north to Killarney, Limerick and Galway.

We began our trip in Dublin hitting the famous Guinness Brewery and retraced the steps of my paternal grandparents, who were born and raised in Dublin. Most of the houses are long gone but there was definitely a cool vibe to go back in time. It was a mix of feelings visiting the paupers’ graves of my Irish ancestors yet amazing to enter St. Kevin’s, the family church where my grandfather was baptized in 1886. From Dublin, we drove to Kilkenny to tour a luxurious castle, then to Waterford to witness craftmen create magnificent cut crystal. En route to County Cork, the home of my maternal ancestors, we stopped in Kinsale, a quaint seaside town. At Cohb Harbor in Cork, (called Queenstown in 1912), the last port of call for the Titanic, we stood where the passengers embarked on that fateful voyage. [As a side note: undeterred by the tragic sinking, my paternal grandfather set sail for America a mere three weeks later.] Then off to Kenmare for an afternoon, a charming harbor town before arriving in Killarney, with plenty of pubs and restaurants. Located at the tip of the Ring of Kerry, it is a jumping off point for day tours to the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and The Wild Atlantic Way in County Clare. We drove through scenic Moll’s Gap before heading to the breathtaking Dingle Penninsula on the western coast of Ireland. Looking across the vast sea, the next land mass was the United States. We drove to Limerick, overlooking the River Shannon before our final destination in Galway, a bustling town where street performers dance the Irish jig. It would have taken an additional two to three more weeks to tour the remaining counties in Ireland and Northern Ireland. So, it is common for tourists to make several trips to the Emerald Isle.

Passengers boarded the Titanic at white terminal building; Queenstown Harbor, Cork
Dingle Peninsula
The Wild Atlantic Way, along the North Atlantic Ocean
Irish castle on the River Shannon, Limerick
[We spent several weeks planning and researching tourist sites, Irish towns, hotels, etc. Anyone planning an Irish vacation, who may find our 14-day, driving itinerary a good starting point for your own trip, send me a message in the right margin.]

These cookies are apropos for our March holiday and stir emerald memories in this Irish lass.

[This stencil was a complimentary gift when I ordered stencils from The Cookie Countess]
Shamrock Cookies
Plaque Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted with AmeriColor Super White
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Green with AmeriColor Electric Green and AmeriColor Leaf Green
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
PME Decorating Tip #1.5
Shamrock Stencil
Toothpicks or Scribe Tool
CK White Sanding Sugar

Outline cookie with #2 tip in white icing. Flood cookie with white icing.

Pipe stripes around edge of cookie with #1.5 tip in green flood icing.
Using scribe tool, drag through icing to create marbling design. Let dry overnight.

Place shamrock stencil on cookie. Etch inside of stencil with scribe tool.

Outline and flood shamrock with #1.5 tip in green flood icing.

Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let dry 30 minutes.

Pipe outline with #1.5 tip in green icing.

Let dry overnight.





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