Bread of Heaven

For breakfast this morning I had fresh strawberries drizzled in balsamic vinegar and just a smidgen of toasted almonds. My beverage of choice was iced tea with a hint of mint on the side. Waiting in the cool pantry was a slab of salt cured bacon and a huge wad of sausages parading themselves from the rafter by their string as only the cheekiest of saucey wee sausages can. Too be honest, last night was a tad heavy on the swally, my first course was a full pint of Alka-Seltzer and a good half hour on the lavvy until the rosy glow had returned to my cheeks.

It started with a kiss...

Actually, no. It didn't. It started in the kitchen in the back streets of a dirty wee midden which goes by the name of Roscommon, back in the day when the little singing fella and I were no more than probably knee high to the mammy's apron. One of us, sadly, still is.

In the early 80s, back when Map still had the type of face you could only find in the reflection  on the back of a tablespoon, his bright mop of ginger hair mottled and tightly curled. We would both sit in the mammy's kitchen praying that between her kind self, the co-op and the good lord we would have our bellies filled by something nice and wholesome to stave of the cauld. Me, with the good book open in front of me, himself with a drippy nose and freckles the size of the pennies upon a dead mans eyes.

We were seldom disappointed. Money was always in short supply, there were no many treats for two such wicked Catholic boys growing up in rural Ireland. The staple diet was the humble, traditional dish of tatties, and by jingo we loved them. Our favourite was of course the nourishing Murphy bread. Made in the traditional Irish way, with freshly mashed potatoes, this soft, light bread has a superbly rich flavour and moist texture. It’s at its grandest when thinly sliced and used for delicate sandwiches, or toasted and spread lightly with goose liver pate. The potatoes greatly improves the keeping qualities of the loaf and there was always plenty left for the faither when he got home fae his work.

Time marches on and trends as well as postcodes have changed. I never quite realised my boyhood calling as a priest. A boys dreams rarely came to fruition in an impoverished rural Ireland. As for the little fella, well.. he did make it to being a masseuse for a wee while, but the incident with his maths teacher just didnae add up. 'Practising', as it is still referred to by the few that know, but only when he is out of earshot or drunk, usually both, normally by his fifth pint of the black, or his second sniff of the gold.

Right so. To bring a wee bit of Irish culture into the lives of you non-Celtic heathen hordes fae the both of us, here's the recipe for you to hopefully enjoy.

You will need these.

400 g (14 oz) floury,waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large pieces

700 g (1 lb 9 oz) strong white (bread) flour

1 tsp salt

good handful of easy-blend dried yeast, about 7g

wee pinch of rosemary
a rosary or crucifix (just for authenticity you understand?)
Put the spuds in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Mash the potatoes until smooth, then leave to cool.


  1. Ah pal you have me longin' for the old days now. Did you ever wonder why I was yer only pal back then? Your lovely Mammy, a wonderful woman, insisted I take a penny each day to keep ya company. There was never any need for payment though, the love and the fondness I had for her cooking was reward enough!


  2. And then what? Butter, marge, cheddar,honey.dripping?
    But - please God - not Nutella.

  3. I often long for the oul days with the mammy in the kitchen singing as the big copper on the stove gurgled and bubbled furiously. "What you doing missus" the wee Map would say fluttering his long fiery lashes up at her."Making holy water son" she would say, "How do you make holy water?" he would reply.

    "Boil the hell out of it wee man..." would be her reply. He would laugh like a drain until he peed in his undies. He was always a happy wee soul, the girls loved him, especially when he used to dress up in their clothes. Nice to see some things dinnae change.

  4. Pat, the oul favourite was dripping, slathered upon each slice and sprinkled with white pepper. Of a Friday it would be treacle if the gas man had handed back the share of the shillings. The mammy would always save the outsiders for the oul fella to have with his fish supper after the Friday pint. Considering the size of him when he was in his prime, he must have lived on fresh air so that all of us could tuck in on his feast. To this day the smell of greasy chip wrappings reminds me how much they sacrificed for their weans.

  5. Ah, the dressing up, who'd have thought I'd make so much money from it?
    Speaking of which, your lads got that parcel to me. The stitching was the most exquisite I've seen to date. And from such big hands too.To think one as clumsy as yerself could be so adept with a needle! And my favourite pattern as well, green & white hoops! Clever man.

    Almost time for the Friday pint, I'd race ye to the bar but what with the wee legs and the long skirt....

  6. The last parcel I had delivered was a unique leather bound copy of the Kama Sutra that Map had kindly purchased for my birthday.

    It put me in a very awkward position with the wife.

    Your a wee bit late regarding the Friday pint my friend, we started on Thursday and it looks as though my thirst is gonnae last a while longer yet.

  7. Rural Ireland sure sounds a tad nicer than suburban Cleveland, where mammie would slap down a box of cereal and a carton of milk and i'd munch away quietly while reading the back of the box and listening to something akin to K-Billy's super sound of the 70's. Though having a wee ginger boy staring at me probably would've freaked me out a bit, just saying.

  8. Kono, to be fair to Map, god love him, his staring was only half as bad as it sounds. This was mostly due to the fact that we put a brown plaster over one lense of his spectacles. Not only did it help to correct his terrible squint, but we got cheaper groceries at the market because all the auld wans felt sorry for him.

    He had his uses. When we couldn't find the money for the electricity meter we used to stand him behind the sofa so that the glow from his hair was enough for the faither to read his newspaper by. Sometimes the neighbours would borrow him to light their way down to the outside privvy. As he got older the only sport he could play with his glasses was tennis. It's a non contact sport.

  9. I'll have to try that bread recipe. It sounds delicious! And despite having a love of nutella, anything with rosemary in it would never be touched by nutella. Fresh butter and perhaps some double smoked Balderson cheese would be a nice touch.

    Do you use dried rosemary or fresh? I happen to have a rosemary plant in the kitchen window...

    You're being a bit hard on the Map, don't you think? Despite the pennies your mammy slipped him in your younger days, he's stuck by your side as a loyal, if now gingerless, friend over the years. ;-)

  10. Pony-doll, dried rosemary would not be acceptable under any circumstances. I would urge you to trawl through your kitchen cupboards and remove any other dried items you may have... please.

    My all time favourite sandwich filler for tatty bread has to be thick slices of roast beef covered in mint sauce and English mustard. Accompanied by a cold glass of lager and maybe a few doritos.

    Worry your pretty head not about the Map man hen, he is like the ninth brother I never had. Without him I would not have such a cool lawnmower.

  11. ...of course it was pal. It is still the first head I look for when I enter any bar.

  12. I'm hungry for a roast beef sandwich on fresh bread, the aroma of which fills the kitchen of my mind!

    Sadly my nose is in the midst of pollen hell and has shut down the breathing/aroma part. This makes most food taste like cardboard.

    Ah Map, as a kid I always WANTED red hair! Mom said it was a fluke that 4 of the 6 kids on the block I played with had that hair color. (3 different families). Then we moved...and 2 our of 3 kids next door had red hair. I remember glaring at Mom.

    Nope, can't have it now. Refuse to dye my hair for any I have a bet with Mom that I never will. She thought the sight of my first grey hair would do it but since that grey one was thicker than the rest, I told it to bring friends. They're starting to show up...just barely.

    Okay, I did it again...derailed the original train of thought. I'll just go to the sink and finish washing the dishes. Quietly. :)

  13. Ahh dear lady, when the pollen count drops and your wee nose returns to being a cute wee button once more, try this on for size.

    Slather the inside of the bread with horseradish sauce. On each of the slices, layer 2 fresh tomato slices and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Top the tomatoes with some of the roast beef overlapped into "ruffles" and season with a mere whistle of English mustard. Top the beef with thinly sliced scallions, add watercress and close off the bread. I know you're no a drinker, so I would recommend a tall glass of chilled Dr Pepper. Enjoy...

  14. I'm saturated, intoxicated, liberated, refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated, and satisfied by Your love for this mans friend. I'm settled, safe, secure, and comforted by Your presence. I'm bursting full of Your joy. Jesus, I'm so in love with you and thank You for this mans friend.

  15. Mr Christ, sorry to disappoint you, but here in the real world Atheism is a non-prophet organisation.

  16. Jesus K ryste! Is he talkin' bout me?

    I believe in Bruce Springsteen. (But that's just me,and that's just today. Tomorrow? Could be I believe in Nokia.)

    Then again,right now I'm bursting full of Pinot Grigio (Yellow Tail, Australia.)

  17. Dearest Chef, considering winter lasts 6 months in these here parts, and that my cats tend to eat anything that remotely resembles a plant (the rosemary is on a window sill way up high but there's no room for any more ~ it's a small window, you see), dried stuff has to suffice for part of the year. I have a good friend who has a market garden and grows lots of herbs, so I get everything I can from her when in season, freeze what I can but it never lasts, you know?

    @Hope: Half the folks in my family are redheads. Maybe we were one of those families you lived near? ;-)

    @Map: My mum was auburn. It was gorgeous, before she started going grey. Then it started looking like the grass dying off in the fall in a field... eventually just a smidge of brown left right at the nape of her neck and the rest was pure white. Redheads don't turn grey gracefully. Now you don't have to worry about that. ;-)

  18. My dear Pony-doll, bonny Scotland is not known for its warm climate either, you do have my sympathies. However, fresh herbs are grown by my good lady in our greenhouse and are available all year round for our culinary needs. They are cheap to purchase if you buy used. Perhaps a new hobby for you when you get settled? Dried herbs are to cooking what beef jerky is to a banquet my dear.

    Come over for dinner one evening, taste the difference.

  19. I am quite familiar with fresh herbs, dear Chef. As I said, I use them when in season. Keeping a greenhouse operating in -40C is quite a challenge over here. Not something done here in the centre of the continent. Our climate is akin to Siberia and heating a greenhouse is way outside my budget!

    However, a dinner with you and your good lady would most lovely. Would Sunday next be good for you?


Thank you, the chef is currently preparing an answer for you in the kitchen. Do help yourself to more bread.