Savory Soda-bread


I started this article as something boring about Irish soda bread and all that. It was stupid and long and pontificated on the amount of buttermilk. Who the hell would want to actually read that? In any case, I left it alone so I could submit it to the newspaper, but then didn’t because the guy I’ve been sending them to completely ignored a question about whether or not he actually wanted them. He prints them every week, which is cool, but just the courtesy of “oh yeah, this is a pretty shitty article, but we’d like to see more,” would be pretty nice. Plus, I don’t get paid for it which I suppose I don’t care much about, but I’d like to see that change. I mean, even a token per week would make me feel like the work is appreciated. Anyhow, here’s a slightly better story. It starts with my irrational and singular dislike of Bisquick.


My wife’s mother used to make these awesome AF sausage and cheese balls. Fast-forward a decade or so, and we land with a complete inability to make them. In part, it’s because you shred cheese into a bowl, which my wife can’t eat, and then you add some Bisquick and sausage, which I refuse to eat and need to avoid (respectively). Anyhow, because goat cheese doesn’t really melt like cow cheese, these generally don’t work without the cheese part anyhow. So, last week my wife got this fabulous idea that she’d make a savory soda-bread because it sounded like a neat idea and because it sounded like something that could replace the sausage and cheese balls. In the end, she decided not to burn her one free afternoon of the week to the ground by cooking. Instead, she read a book and something else, but I don’t remember what because I was only a little bit listening. What she did do, however, was plant the idea in my head, which resulted, nearly immediately, in the words “I can totally do that” falling from my mouth. So, that’s what I did. I went on-line, poked a few soda bread recipes with a stick, followed one recipe to the letter and promptly regretted that. The next time around, I used a variety of recipes to knock together on my own. Which, I might add, Stacy can eat because I used goat cheese (and buttermilk which was substituted from 3/4 C. Cashew milk + 3/4 Tbsp Lemon Juice.

What you need:

  • ¾ C. + 1 Tbsp Buttermilk (Or 3/4C milk + 1Tbsp Lemon or Vinegar)
  • 10.5 oz flour by weight (2 Cups)
  • ¼ C. flour for kneeding
  • 3 Tbsp shortening (preferably butter-flavor)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3.5oz cubed gouda cheese (I used goat gouda), this is on the order of a 3/4 Cup
  • ¼ C chopped green onions
  • ¼ C prosciutto ham
  • ¼ C chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 ½ tsp rosemary leaves (crush these a bit so they’re not too long)


Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, mix the powdered ingredients, holding back the ¼ cup flour for kneading with a wire whisk, then cut in the shortening. I like to just chop it up and then get in there with my hands to crumble it in. Once the shortening has been cut in, add the rosemary and mix with your hands. Add the cheese, onion, and ham and mix again. Add the buttermilk and olives and mix with your hands until you have a giant, sticky ball. Drop this onto a flat surface with about half of the flour for kneading. Spread the rest of the flour on top of your dough ball and knead. The dough should get smooth, but still sticky enough to hold it all together. Form into a round roughly 6” across and 1 1/2” deep and place on a well greased pan. Make two perpendicular slices across the top about 1/2” deep. Bake for 30 minutes, remove and place on a cooling rack covered in a cloth to cool. Because this recipe has so much in it, it’s pretty crumbly and barely holds together when sliced, however, it’s still pretty awesome.

Grandma Shafer Rolls!


by Stacy & Dave Koster

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is more about tradition
than anything else. It’s why those weird sweet potatoes with the
marshmallows on top is prepared for so many tables even though it’s
not even an outside consideration for any other meal of the year. I
mean, until I was an adult, I never even knew you could eat sweet
potatoes on days other than Thanksgiving. The point is, every family
has a favorite dish, and if that dish isn’t on the table when everyone
takes their seat, it’s not Thanksgiving. In our household, Grandma
Shafer’s rolls are one of those dishes. We make them every year,
whether Thanksgiving is at my house or someone else’s. What’s
interesting about this recipe isn’t the unique dense texture and
sweet-yeasty flavor; it’s in the making. The real tradition is in the
preparation. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom would
forget the recipe, and never the day or week before when it could
conveniently be obtained through a casual search and phone call. This
fact was always discovered when it was 30 minutes after we should have
started them. At this point, Grandma Shafer or Aunt Kim would be
called in to save the day, after pleasantries.

Of course, this is only part of the tradition. Once that recipe was
located, and the dough made and readied for baking, everyone would be
called in to the kitchen with calls of “Grease your hands,” amongst
grumbling and muttering. Then everyone would cover their hands in oil,
roll the dough into small balls, and drop them in threes in muffin
tins. In the end, we’d get our rolls and all would be well with the
dinner table. And also breakfast and lunch for the next few days,
because this recipe makes a prodigious number of rolls and they’re
awesome left over.

In a large bowl, stir together:

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 pkg. Fleishman’s Rapid Rise yeast
1 tsp. salt

On the stove, heat until finger warm:

1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and, with your hand mixer,
beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add 1 egg and 1 3/4 cup flour. At high speed, beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in 3 1/2 cups of flour (this is best done by hand. If you use
your hand mixer for this part, you are guaranteed to break it).

Spread 3/4 cups of flour on wax paper, or wherever you want to knead
the dough, and pour the batter onto it. Knead until smooth and

Let the dough rise in a greased and covered bowl for 1 hour. Punch the
dough down and let rise for another hour. In greased muffin tins,
place three dough balls in each spot, and let rise for another hour.

Bake at 425 for about 6 minutes, or until done.