March 17, 2016

Irish Quotes and Creamy Fudge: Feed Your Irish Spirit

What better time for witty Irish quotes and creamy fudge than on St. Patrick’s Day. In honor of my part-Irish roots (one-quarter Irish on my dad’s side through my great-grandmother, Bridget Mannix, from County Cork or Limerick), I’ve collected some of my favorite Irish quotes, along with a recipe for dark chocolate Irish cream fudge (yum!). In true Irish tradition may the celebrating continue throughout the month of March!    

Witty Irish Quotes

  • Never iron a four-leaf clover, you may be pressing your luck.
  • Time is a great storyteller.
  • A friend's eye is a good mirror.
  • Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools.
  • Put silk on a goat and it's still a goat.
  • A loud voice can make even the truth sound foolish.
  • A watched kettle never boils.
  • Never ask a fox to watch the hens.
  • Patience cures many an old complaint.
  • Never speak to the feet while the head is alive.
  • The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.
  • Trouble hates nothing as much as a smile.
  • An old broom knows the dirty corners best.
  • One eye in the corner is sharper than two about the house.
  • Be kind to those you meet as you rise, you may pass them again as you fall.
  • As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong way.
  • May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.
  • May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
  • May the sun shine bright on your windowpane, and may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
  • May your pockets be heavy, your heart be light, and may good luck pursue you morning and night.



Dark Chocolate Irish Cream Fudge

Dark Chocolate Fudge made with Baileys® Irish Cream liqueur. Easy and delicious.
(For a non-alcoholic version, replace the cream liqueur with 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract.)

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups dark chocolate chips
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream*
    Baileys Irish Cream is an Irish whiskey and cream-based liqueur that comes in flavors such as Carmel Crème, Coffee and Mint, so you can create delicious fudge in different flavors.

  1. Line a baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. (8-or 9-inch pan works well)
  2. Put chocolate chips, salt and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat until the chocolate chips are completely melted.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in Baileys and nuts, if adding nuts.
  4. Spread evenly into the foil-lined pan.
  5. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until firm. Cut into squares. Makes about 2 pounds of fudge.
Microwave Method:
  1. Put chocolate chips, salt and sweetened condensed milk into a quart glass bowl or measuring cup.
  2. Microwave on High for 3 minutes or until chocolate chips are melted, stirring after 1 ½ minutes.
  3. Remove from the microwave and stir in the remaining ingredients. Proceed as above.


Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

December 24, 2015

Season’s Greetings!

Wishing all my blog friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Bright New Year!

For this holiday season, I’d like to share a special Christmas memories post I originally wrote in 2012 and updated in 2013. Although I haven’t blogged much this past year (due to circumstances), I will be blogging more in the coming year. I want to sincerely thank everyone who stops by my blog; I truly appreciate all the likes and comments over the years. All the best to everyone, always!

Christmas Memories: the Musical Nativity

Remembering my Mom at Christmas
(updated from a previous post)

There's a musical nativity figurine I take out every December since 2002. It's a pretty ceramic piece that plays Away in a Manger and has beautifully painted figures of the Holy Family in the classic scene: Mary kneeling, hands folded in prayer, gazing adoringly at the Baby Jesus in the manger with Joseph standing watch over them, a staff in one hand and a lantern in the other. The bottom of this figurine has the date, December 2001, and my mother's name, Carmela. And that's the important part.

This particular figurine was not my first choice when I shopped for a musical nativity for my mother that Christmas. I had glanced at it quickly in the store then passed it by, moving on to other stores. My mom loved nativity scenes and musical boxes, and I was looking for one that revolved while playing a tune (this one is stationary), and one that was larger (this one is a bit over 6 inches tall), so my mother could more clearly see the details given her failing eyesight. After shopping for hours and not finding what I wanted, I went back to the first store and chose this one because it was pretty and colorful, and it played one of my mother's favorite Christmas tunes, 
Away in a Manger. I wasn't totally satisfied with it...the melody sounded rather tinny and the music didn't play very long before needing rewinding...but with time running short, I bought it with the idea that it was fine for now and I'd get her a better one the next Christmas.

Although I was raised Catholic with eight years of parochial school (three different grammar schools due to my family moving and my eighth-grade year at a Catholic orphanage due to Mom's illness), I am not particularly religious (although I consider myself to be spiritual), and a nativity was not a gift that initially came to mind for me. I had already purchased several Christmas gifts for my mother that year and thought I was done shopping. On Christmas Eve, however, I felt drawn to finding a musical nativity for her. Perhaps I was inspired by hearing Christmas music played in the stores while shopping, and remembering how my mother loved nativity scenes and music.      

Before wrapping the gift, I wrote the date and my mother's name on the bottom with a magic marker because she was staying in a nursing home. When I arrived to visit, she looked at me with the faraway blank stare that had become her daily expression. She said my name, as she always did, and nothing more. Sometimes you could not engage her at all, as if she just wasn't there. When I handed her the gifts, she reacted slightly, just giving a little head nod in acknowledgement. But when she saw the nativity, she smiled! For her to really smile at something was a big deal; she did not smile often anymore.

Mom opening gifts
With her failing eyesight, I wasn't even sure the figurine was big enough for her to see the wonderful detail in the figures. But no matter, she seemed to see it well enough to smile right away when it was unwrapped, and an even bigger smile that lit up her face when she heard, Away in a Manger.

My mother loved music; she loved to sing. In her younger days before the illness that left her body alone but took her mind...and oh, did it take her mind to places where a dark unreality could turn a warm summer day into a harsh winter night...she sang whenever she could. When my siblings and I were children, my mother sang along to the radio every day. She had a lovely singing voice. Then gradually, the illness took my mother's body, as well as her mind.

"Away in a manger, No crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus, Lay down his sweet head."

Mom lay down her head for her eternal rest just a few months later. I didn't know it at the time but December 2001 would be my mother's last Christmas. Much sooner then I was expecting. Was it a Christmas miracle that she smiled for me that day? Certainly, a Christmas miracle is anything you want it to be. And so it is for me. Every Christmas since then, when I play the musical nativity, I smile and think of my mother on that Christmas Day. The music I once thought sounded rather tinny, doesn't sound tinny anymore. Now it just sounds like a wonderful Christmas memory.

Text and photos ©2015 JerseyLil’s 2 Cents

March 25, 2015

Irish Soda Bread and Mischief Fairies

Bet you thought Irish Soda Bread was just good food. It’s delicious but did you know that the “x” at the top of the bread can also ward off pesky mischief fairies? Legend has it that putting the “x” on top before baking “lets the mischief fairies out” so they won’t jinx your bread; that “x” brings good luck. The original reason was most likely that it helped the bread expand while baking and made it easier to slice the hard crust into four quarters after baking, but scaring away “mischief fairies” and ensuring good luck is certainly an added benefit! Something to think about while you’re enjoying a slice with butter or jam.

To celebrate my part-Irish heritage this month, I made Irish soda bread and came upon the fascinating tidbit about mischief fairies while researching a little history to go with my recipe. Here are a few more crumbs of trivia:
  • Traditional Irish soda bread was baked in kitchens in cast iron pots called "bastibles" over open hearths rather than ovens. Offering freshly baked bread to your guests was considered a sign of respect. The Irish like to serve it with "lashings of butter." (now I know why I love butter so much, it's the Irish in me!)
  • The original recipe called for sour milk (the acid in sour milk mixed with baking soda would cause the bread to rise without yeast). Buttermilk has replaced sour milk in modern recipes.
  • Although versions of soda breads can be found in many cultures (it did not originate in Ireland), it became popular in Ireland during the potato famine of the 1800s because it could be easily made with few ingredients and was filling. Today, soda bread is often most associated with Ireland.
  • Another legend has it that Irish farmers' wives would wrap loaves of soda bread sometimes filled with fruit and/or whiskey and take them to those working in the fields, along with sweetened tea (or methinks something a tad bit stronger than just tea!).

One day I may explore why "mischief fairies" are bothering bread (hungry? bored?) but for now, here's a simple recipe I used when I made Irish soda bread. And don't forget the "x" on top or "mischief fairies" may visit!

Fairy Rings and Toadstools, Richard Doyle 1875 (image in public domain from wikiart)
After all that dancing those hungry fairies may be looking for your soda bread! 

Irish Soda Bread

Easy to make, no yeast. This is the traditional recipe using just four ingredients.


  • 4 cups flour (any all-purpose flour or gluten-free alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk (suggest 1% buttermilk for lighter texture since it’s a dense bread)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. Slowly stir in the buttermilk, mixing until dough is firm enough to be gathered into a ball (dough will be a little sticky). If dough crumbles, add up to ½ cup more of the buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together. 
  4. Place dough on a lightly-floured board. Dust hands with a little flour and lightly knead to shape into a somewhat round but flattened loaf (similar to the shape in my photo of the baked bread). Don’t overprocess, just shape, a light touch works best. 
  5. Transfer loaf to the baking sheet. Using a small, sharp knife, make a deep X in the top of the dough (about ½ inch deep). If desired, brush top of loaf with melted butter or margarine.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until top of loaf is a golden brown. (I found that 40 minutes worked well for me, but ovens vary so you’ll know when it’s done by the golden brown color.)
You’ll have a loaf that is crusty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. A dense, rustic bread, perfect as a companion to stews or with jam or honey spread on it. Soda bread is best eaten in two days. Day-old slices can be warmed for a few seconds in the microwave.


  • For a slightly sweet flavor, add a cup of raisins to the dough. This non-traditional version is called "Spotted Dog."
  • Make biscuits by breaking off equal portions of the dough and placing in a muffin tin (don't fill to the top, leave room to rise). Toss some raisins in the dough and you have "Spotted Pups."

Enjoy, and if any mischief fairies should stop by, just offer them some freshly baked bread and they'll be happy! 

©JerseyLils2Cents 2015