My suggestions: replace half the flour with whole wheat flour. My conscience delivers a small electric shock to my brain whenever I don't eat whole grains these days, and I suspect even the most refined flours of the past were browner and grittier than today's all-purpose flour. Contemporary cultured buttermilk sort of stinks. I recommend whole milk kefir--and it has live probiotic cultures!
I have a complicated relationship with Irishness and St. Patrick's Day. As I grew up I understood that the wearin' of the green was not for us Protestant Ulstermen: we should be wearing orange, were that not nearly as dangerous in my very Irish community as it was when my grandfather walked through the Catholic side of town wearing his orange-trimmed band uniform and had rocks thrown at him. I never played up the Irish thing even though my grandfather had a brogue, the gift of gab, a fondness for potatoes and soda bread, and a ruddy complexion--all of which, except the brogue, were passed down.
Now, of course, I am Catholic. And I wish St. Patrick's Day had just a tiny bit to do with St. Patrick in this country. I just heard a representative of the county sheriff's office on the radio saying, "On this day, of course, we all have a little Irish in us. All we ask is that you please don't get behind the wheel." I would love to hear this public relations strategy applied to other holidays: "On Cinco de Mayo, of course, we all have a little Mexican in us...On Columbus Day, we all have a little Italian in us..." I'm going to leave the offensive stereotype up to you.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
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