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The Irish Boutique - Long Grove, IL (847 634 3540)

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847 634 0339

The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

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Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 


Two scoops in Every Batch: Raisin Bran Muffins

john barry

It’s funny how types of food, like people, can have stereotypes attached to them.  In America, it seems like whole grain flour and wheat bran are given a bad rap because of their (unfair) association with “bad-tasting health food”. Yet the Irish seem to embrace these products, with traditional baked goods like brown bread and oat cakes relying primarily on whole grain flours for taste and texture.

Odlums, an Irish flour milling and packaging company, originally established in Portlaoise by the Odlum family (in 1845!) has a whole range of flours, most of them whole grain (wholemeal). Odlums makes wholemeal self-raising flour, organic wholemeal flour, coarse wholemeal flour, extra coarse wholemeal flour and strong wholemeal flour to name just a few. It reminds me of the way Eskimos have so many words for snow. Like "aqilokoq" for "softly falling snow" and "piegnartoq" for "snow that is good for driving a sled".  

Sweet Ireland, the land of baked goods where so many varieties of flour get their due. How refreshing.

Recently, I saw an article entitled how to make Old-School Bran Muffins from Scratch online and, as a lover of whole grains and bran, I knew I had to make them.  I was sure they would be delicious but I needed to “spin this” so that I could describe them to my family as something other than whole wheat, bran or healthy. Any of those terms would be bound to conjure up images of dry, hockey-puck style muffins in Paul’s mind and through osmosis, in the minds of our children (and by “osmosis” I mean that if Paul isn't waiting by the oven door ready to pounce on any fresh baked goods that may emerge, the kids know there's something wrong).

Then it came to me...RAISIN BRAN! Everyone loves Raisin Bran.  Have you ever seen the amount of sugar sticking to those raisins? As if the raisins themselves were not basically pure sugar.  Sugar dipped in sugar. No matter. This was just marketing. The mere association with Raisin Bran would make them forget all about the whole wheat and surprisingly, even the bran. It seemed to work. We each ate one fresh out of the oven (they were delicious) and I froze the rest. The next day after school, when I turned my back on Emmett and Isla for an instant to unbuckle Eve from her carseat,  I turned back to find them each eating a muffin - straight out of the freezer! They were all smiles, even more so when I warmed up their muffins and slathered them with butter.

My deep thinker, contemplating...muffin.

My deep thinker, contemplating...muffin.

You can find the recipe for Raisin Bran Muffins here. I was one tablespoon short of butter so I replaced it with a tablespoon of coconut oil.  Otherwise I didn’t change a thing. And of course, I used Odlums Coarse Wholemeal Flour for the whole wheat flour called for in the recipe.  Odlums flour can be found at the Irish Boutique.