St. Patrick’s Day Food, And Why We Celebrate!

St. Patrick's Day Food, And Why We Celebrate! - St. Patrick's Day Celebration

By Debbie Carollo

There is a magnet on my fridge that reads as follows: “I’m Irish and you’re not.” That is for me and my kiddos. Another beside the first one states: “There is reason to believe that some people can marry an Irish person and still go on to lead a normal and productive life” That one is for my dear husband, who had no idea what he was getting into when he married me. Because you see, I am over 25% Irish, and that is a big deal in the Dillon-Donnelly clan. In this article, I’ll share some of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day food and explain why we celebrate this day.

My Irish Family History

Carollo_St Patricks Day photo 1640
My great-grandmother Ellen Donnelly

According to family lore, my great-great-grandparents had to leave ol’ Erin’s Isle in a hurry. Rumor has it that my great-great-grandpapa was a member of the IRA, and he was a wanted man. What we do know for sure is that my poor great-great-grandmother was nine months pregnant and ended up giving birth on the boat to America … while it was still docked in Liverpool. Which was a horrifying embarrassment to my great-grandmother. Gasp—an Irishwoman born in England!

Anyway, my mother was quite close to her Irish grandma, and she learned to cherish her heritage. My mom is a festive sort, and as my siblings and I grew up, she made a very big deal out of the 17th day of March. We attended the annual parade all decked out in Irish t-shirts, jewelry, and hats. She cooked a feast of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and all the fixings. In her opinion, the more the merrier, so friends joined along with family in our yearly celebratory dinner.

I am thankful my mom passed along her love of all things Irish. We have continued the traditional yearly feast, complete with Irish-Italian sodas (which is really too perfect, since I married an Italian), in our own family. And I am happy to report that friends frequently participate, as well.

It’s All About The St. Patrick’s Day Food

Carollo_St Patricks Day_photo 3640As our children are now grown up (with two married), time together as a family is something to be savored and treasured. I must confess I really love Saint Patrick’s Day because it is a holiday that is relatively easy to plan for. Other families don’t normally celebrate like we do, so our kiddos are usually free to come over the weekend before or after and enjoy the family feast. And that, dear reader, makes my mama’s heart oh-so-happy!

In addition to our Irish-Italian sodas (a must), we have the traditional corned beef untraditionally, without the cabbage. Instead, we have carrots, potatoes, and melt-in-your-mouth soda bread. Again, I am untraditional, for my recipe is not your typical Irish soda bread recipe. Instead, it is inspired by one I stumbled upon in a murder mystery many, many years ago. It is, however, the highlight of the dinner, only slightly less essential than the corned beef itself.

And so I give you:

The Carollo Family’s Irish-Italian Soda Bread


  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. cold butter
  • 1 c. raisins (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk (no substitutions!)
  • 1/4 c. sour cream (I recommend real full-of-fat-and-goodness sour cream)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350º.
  2. Spray a 9” round cake pan with non-stick spray or coat liberally with butter.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Slice the butter into chunks, then cut it into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas. If you are adding raisins, throw them in now.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk, and sour cream together until well blended. Add this to the flour mixture, stirring only until moistened and combined.
  6. Transfer the dough to the prepared cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, checking regularly for a light golden top and a toothpick to come out clean.
  7. Let it cool 10 minutes or so, then remove from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.
  8. Slice and serve with butter.

Our family is mostly of the raisins-are-gross-in-stuff camp, so I make two loaves without raisins and one with (for me and my dad).

While the holiday of Saint Patrick’s Day in the U.S. has become a day of green beer and parties, let’s not forget that the man we celebrate truly loved his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Since we homeschooled all four of our kiddos, I made sure we took the time to study the life of Saint Patrick.

The Life Of St. Patrick

Did you know that Patrick wasn’t Irish? He was kidnapped and trafficked as a slave to Ireland. When he finally gained his freedom, God called him to go back and minister to the lost people on the Emerald Isle.

There are several good books out there, including Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland, by Michael J. McHugh, published by Christian Liberty Press, copyright 1999.
Here is an excerpt, from p. 148-149, “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”:

“… Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to me abundance of reward.

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I rise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

“I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity. Through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.”

Suddenly I find my heart singing the lovely song by Leeland and All Sons and Daughters, Christ Be All Around Me …

“As I rise, strength of God
Go before, lift me up
As I wake, eyes of God
Look upon, be my sight
As I wait, heart of God
Satisfy and sustain
As I hear, voice of God
Lead me on, be my guide
Oh be my guide
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me . . .”

Now I am excited and ready to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day feast—anyone else?

Debbie savors life with her hubby and youngest daughter on their transplanted-to-the-suburbs Sonflower Ranch. Writing, gardening, quilting, petting cats, and partaking in “kitchen therapy” are her favorite to-do’s, but spending time with family trumps them all. For more ranch life antics, visit her personal blog at

2 thoughts on “St. Patrick’s Day Food, And Why We Celebrate!”

  1. Before we went to Ireland in 2015, we read a book called How the Irish Saved Civilization and some not quite so detailed books about St. Patrick. That definitely made going there much more meaningful. It has made St. Patrick’s Day one that I would actually want to celebrate now. We always come back from trips and try to re-create dishes for our family. Be sure to have some Banoffee pie to celebrate!!

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