Tag Archives | irish

My Guinness, a Pint-Sized savior!

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from 1 John 1: 4-7. John is talking about not just saying you know Jesus, but really “knowing” him in a way that makes it hard to fake.


A Pint of Guinness

The Holy Spirit is like a pint of Guinness. OK, I know that’s a bit of a leap, but I was talking with my Irish friends this morning via Facebook as they were about to eat dinner and I was about to eat breakfast, and my free-association logic kicked in.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I could sneak a glass of stout at home, sit in a dark room and drink it alone. I could then claim “Yes, I’ve had that drink.” But there would be something missing. Other than a possible drunken stupor, there would be no lasting emotional connection. What’s the big deal? I probably should have had water. I missed the point of the libation. I would not have understood it is meant to be enjoyed with others.

Or…I could enjoy a pint in a pub with my friends and my friend’s friends, enjoying music by a local fiddler and swapping stories. Now the beer is a vehicle for communication. It loosens everyone up, makes the laughter flow. I will have a whole different experience. The drink facilitates community. It is meant to be shared in communion with fellow pub patrons.

The reign of Jesus is like that…A child, a pint-sized savior came to show us the way to God, to intoxicate us with His love. We are meant to drink Him in, make Him part of us. When Jesus rose from the dead and Mary Magdalene saw Him in the garden, she was tempted to run to Him. He said, “Do not cling to me for I have not returned to the Father.” This line was always a bit mysterious to me, but perhaps he did not want us to cling to the earthly, physical version of himself like an idol. He came to teach us to cling to the hope beyond this world. He left us with the Holy Spirit to inspire us to bring hope TO the world. Like the drink, it opens us up to communicate, love each other, and work towards “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Don’t worship the drink. Live in the fellowship it creates.

No wonder the Irish call their land “God’s Country”.

This 10 x 10″ painting is available here.

Brown Bread for a Green Day

Irish Brown Bread Painting by Jen Norton

Arán Donn (Brown Bread), 30 x 30, Acrylic on canvas


We were treated to some warm, delicious home-baked Irish Brown Bread upon returning from a long, drizzly day of sight-seeing while visiting our good friends in Ireland a while ago. Topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or just plain butter, it’s quite a treat. I had to paint the recipe of “Arán Donn”, complete with locally-grown apples and the magpies you often see along the road. There’s an old superstition about the meanings behind the number of magpies you see together. Two is for Joy! Beannachtaí na féile Pádraig…Or, if you’re not up to speed on your Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Want to try it for yourself…here’s the recipe:

6 oz / 175g  whole wheatl flour
2 oz / 50g plain white flour
2 oz / 50g   steel cut oatmeal
1 oz / 25g   wheatgerm
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
10 fl oz / 275ml buttermilk

mix dry stuff in big bowl
whisk egg in the buttermilk
mix dry and wet stuff
put into buttered bread tin
make a deep cross on top and prick the four corners to let the fairies out! (very important, I hear)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 50-60mins

Let me know what you think!

PS: You can purchase prints of this piece here. Contact me directly to inquire about the original.


Oatmeal Can

John McCann's Oatmeal can painting

McCann's Oatmeal by Jen Norton, Acrylic on Paper

In my quest to paint everyday objects and food related themes, I recently rediscovered my “John McCann’s Steel Cut Oatmeal” can while preparing breakfast. Oatmeal is a great way to start the day. I love it with brown sugar and butter, or topped with nuts and berries. When I’m feeling especially healthy, I’ll add in a little flax seed. But one shouldn’t overlook the other true gem of John McCann’s…the can itself! A veritable Who’s Who of the historical oat world to study while your cereal simmers (and it may take you the whole-grain-30-minutes to read it).

The 200 year history of the Irish oats, including their award in 1893 for “Uniformity of Granulation” can be found here. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting competition to judge, but good for good ol’ John. I personally appreciate his attention to granulation.

Just in case you ever get an oatmeal question on Jeopardy, I’ve provided the text on the historical sections of the can for you. Let’s all pause to remember the lives of the oatmeal men listed:

Side One:
World’s Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893
John McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
Certificate of Award, Uniformity of Granulation
Approved: N.B. Critchfield, President of Departmental Committee
Signed: Chas Keith, Individual Judge
Approved: John Boyd Thacher, Chariman Executive Committee of Awards
Dated 28th June, 1894

Side Two:
International Exhibition 1876
Certificate of Award
John McCann Steel Cut Oatmeal
Group IV
United States Centennial Commission
(In accordance with the Act of Congress)
Philadelphia, September 27th, 1876.
John L Campbell, Secretary, A.T. Goshorn, Director General, Jos. R. Hawley, President

By coincidence I was introduced to The Sweet Beet, a blog about food origins, just after I painted my oatmeal can. They have a good discussion of the health benefits of various oatmeal styles here.

May the “Men of Oats” live on in our creative imaginations, blogs and breakfast bowls! Now, if I could only get my husband to eat them. What’s your favorite way to eat oatmeal?