Quick and delicious Individual Irish Soda breads slathered with chive butter. Made without eggs and kneaded in the food processor these rolls, adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, are as quick as biscuits but as versatile as yeasted bread.
Feeling Lucky: on finding four-leaf clovers
For my fifth and sixth grade years we lived in family student housing in Boulder, Colorado. I went to Lincoln Elementary School, which is now the site of the Naropa University (yes, the school where I wrote in my first journal is now home to The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics). My best friends were both younger: Brian, who liked chimpanzees, and Melanie, who was from Melbourne Australia. The apartments had concrete slab patios and wide expanses of green grass for us to play. When we weren’t getting in trouble by stuffing each other into the laundry room’s driers we were playing make-believe. Brian liked to pretend he was a chimp named Traxx with two x’s and there were songs and in the winter elaborate snow dances that resulted in at least one proper blizzard. One summer our search for four-leaf clovers paid out in spades (the idea of clovers paying out in spades is bothersome but I’ll take it).
Do you remember the song “I’m looking over a four-leaf clover that I’ve overlooked before”? When I heard that song I imagined a four-leaf clover so large I had to stand on tiptoe to look over it. The optimists’ version. So when Brian and I discovered a four-leaf clover out in the yard it seemed a natural turn of events. It was an average sized clover so to look over it I had to lie down in the grass and press my chin to the earth but I did it. And then we found the next one. A whole patch of four-leaf clovers. Enough that I picked them and put them into the pages of our giant atlas, not enough for every page, but enough luck for most of Europe and a fair swath of the United States. Everywhere I thought I might want to live someday I put a four-leaf clover.
And, occasional dark months aside, I feel pretty lucky. And what is luck but a state of mind? It’s not money. It’s not fame. A few years ago a group of coworkers in New York won the mega jackpot in the lottery. They pooled and played every week but the week they won one guy, who normally participated, didn’t because he ‘didn’t feel lucky’ that week. It’s all how you interpret the signs. Feeling lucky requires being able to imagine how things might be worse. Living with Eeyore reminds me of that almost every day. When I look at my father’s life I see luck. He sees failure. I feel lucky to feel lucky. And I just realized I’m not even wearing green 😉
Feeling Lucky: Individual Irish Soda Breads with chive butter
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup AP or bread flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- about ¾ cup yogurt or buttermilk
- ¼ cup fresh chives
- a few turns of fresh ground black pepper optional
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade attachment. Pulse for 5-10 seconds to thoroughly combine. Add the yogurt or buttermilk and process until the dough just comes together in a ball. Add the chopped chives and continue to process until the dough is somewhat elastic and smooth. My dough was a little wet so it didn’t quite come together in a ball but was barely sticky when poked with my finger.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and divide into four equal pieces.
- Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes and then form into slightly flattened balls, with a sharp knife score each roll with a cross cutting a little more than half way through the height of the roll.
- Bake in a cast iron skillet or on a prepared baking sheet for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- To make the chive butter simply soften about a half a stick of butter and stir in about ¼ cup fresh minced chives. Cover and chill just enough to set.