Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ripped from the headlines …

Take notes! This is appropriate acceptance award attire when you are presented with a Celebrity Mum of the Year award by a man in a fox suit representing Foxy Bingo.

The humor gods have been busy the past 24 hours. The proof is in the news headlines:

Exhibit A: After her revealing appearance at The Hunger Games premiere, Katie Price goes for a more family-friendly look as she’s named Celebrity Mum of the Year

Exhibit B: Mother finally allows five-year-old son to have haircut after playground bullying

Exhibit C: ‘Batman’ keeps watchful eye on southern Slovak town

Exhibit D: The first unflattering, awkward and comical photo of the Duchess of Cambridge

And lastly …

Exhibit E: Everest is in the UK! Survey reveals Britons’ shocking lack of knowledge on their own country

(Yes, I know it’s funny to laugh at Americans’ lack of geography, but according to this study, 20 percent of Britons don’t know which countries comprise the United Kingdom and these weren’t pageant competitors.)

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Apples and pears = stairs

Mince pies = eyes. Who knew? Photo credit: BBC

Yesterday morning, NPR covered a story on the London Olympics this summer – but it wasn’t the sports or the games that was the focus. Instead, they centered on the London cockney slang that visitors will encounter while visiting East London.

Have a listen – I’ve never gotten the cockney thing but it is fascinating.

Hot cross buns

When I was about five and first learning how to play the piano, one of my first songs was “Hot Cross Buns.” What were these things, I wondered. Cinnamon buns with an icing cross on top? The visuals in the songbook looked good enough to eat.

But it wasn’t until about fifteen years later that I actually had my first real hot cross bun in the U.K. What a revelation! A soft roll, studded with dried fruit and topped with a dough cross. My roommates toasted them and slathered them in butter and served them with tea. Other days, we’d toast them and top them with marmalade and cheddar cheese. Yes, cheese! It was a magical time.

Read the rest of this entry

The trickiest word in the English language is …

What’s the trickiest word in the English language?

According to Oxford University Press course book writer Vicki Hollett, it’s “quite.”

Quite? Sure. It means “very good” in American English, but only “fairly good” in British English.

Find out more! Thanks to Bethany for bringing this to my attention!

Self bagging

Tesco’s Fresh & Easy Market is making its way across our great land. Two just opened in our fair city this past week and I have yet to check them out. I am curious but early reports have not been the ringing endorsement that I would have hoped for.

What’s putting me off the most is not the vegetables and fruit pre-wrapped in plastic (not what I call “fresh”), but the British cost-saving measure of asking patrons to bag their own groceries (certainly not what I call “easy”). I hated bagging groceries when we lived in the UK – I don’t need the stress of having to quickly bag a week’s worth of items while the guy behind you tuts and waits so the cashier can ring him up (and then having to strongarm all five bags out of the shop, past the parking lot, over to the nearest bus stop, where there was inevitably a crazy person awaiting all too eager for a chat).

Read the rest of this entry

Banging on about bacon

I rarely beat my chest and shout, “We’re number 1! We’re number 1!” when speaking of America.

But in matters of bacon? Well, that’s when I will get all patriotic and bang the drum. American bacon is simply magnificent. Crispety, crunchety, peanut buttery Butterfinger … wait, where was I? Oh yeah, bacon! Crispety, crunchety, sublime, salty, smoky bacon is pure bliss.

If you’ve ever had Irish bacon (blah!!) or British bacon (double blah!!), you know what it’s like to taste rubbery, salty, greasy, limp fat. It’s ridiculous that it can even be called “bacon.” It should be called “snake-in” instead of bacon because it’s like a deceitful snake in bacon’s clothing.

The closest you’re going to get to American bacon is streaky bacon (aka rashers), which is the nearest cousin to our native bacon. Never be mistakin’ back bacon for bacon. It has far too much meat on it – not enough crispy fat – and is probably why people like to drown their bacon butties (bacon sandwiches, made from back bacon) in brown sauce, and why we, in contrast, celebrate our bacon sandwiches by topping them with lettuce and tomato and a thin spread of mayonnaise, so the baconyness really shines through.

What I really haven’t been able to figure out is why more countries don’t hop on the American bandwagon and make their bacon like we do. After all, a pig is a pig is a pig, no matter where you live. Answers on a postcard, please.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Last night, a tiny puzzle piece got pushed underneath one of our very heavy bookcases.

What could we do?

Well, we tried using paper since it was thin enough to slide under there but it wasn’t sturdy enough to push the piece out. Then we tried the vacuum. It vacuumed up a lot of dust – no puzzle piece. Lastly, my husband asked me to bring a kitchen knife.

Don't let the knifeyness confuse you. This is not a kitchen knife.

“You mean a steak knife?” I asked.

“No, you know, a kitchen knife,” he answered.

And so I immediately looked to the big butcher block of knives and grabbed for the longest ginsu wannabe knife that we have.

“I’ve got a really long knife we could try,” I announced.

“No, not a butcher knife … you know, a food knife.”

“What are you talking about? A food knife? WTH is a food knife? Aren’t all knives food knives?!”

Read the rest of this entry

The problem with 6’7″

Did you catch Stephen Merchant last week on “The Daily Show”?

I’ve always thought he was hilarious from his days writing for the UK version of “The Office” and “Extras” as well as his podcast with Ricky Gervais. He has a new project with Ricky Gervais called “Life’s Too Short,” which just started airing in the U.S. on HBO.

Check out his off-the-cuff interview with Jon Stewart, discussing the problem with being 6’7″. I love the back-and-forth and Stephen proves that he can definitely hold his own.

Tea first?

When I wake up in the morning, my first requirement is a hot cup of coffee. I can’t think of anything prior to this cup. It takes everything in me to walk to the kitchen to get that cup of coffee (already brewed, thank you programmable timer!) and then the rest of the day is a breeze by comparison.

It’s been my experience that most Brits begin their day with a cup of tea. Even if they are coffee lovers, tea welcomes the day. And that first cuppa is often accompanied by a little biscuit. Nothing excessive. Maybe a rich tea biscuit or a digestive. It’s a match made in heaven.

Then often they’ll go with a coffee mid-morning for a little boost.

I like this kind of routine when we are in Britain. There is something altogether comforting about the tea + biscuit first thing in the morning. Even more so when the tea is brewed in Britain. I’m not sure if it’s the water or the milk or the tea itself (we always use tea bags brought over from Britain so that can’t be it…) but it’s magic in a cup. Add a crunchy biscuit to the picture and you’ve got one of my favorite morning routines.

What do you think? Tea or coffee first?

Perfect scones

There’s always been something tremendously daunting to me about the prospect of making scones. Maybe it has something to do with all of that butter being crumbled or cut into really small pieces. I say, life is too short to do any of that. Maybe it has something to do with cutting out triangle shapes of dough. (Way more complicated than circles, right?)

I don’t know. I can’t put a finger on it. But after a co-worker brought in some fresh baked scones, still warm and slathered with butter, I became a believer. I decided to throw caution to the wind and try to make a batch at home.

What I’ve discovered is that a cream scone recipe is infinitely easier – no butter to mix in! – and the results are light, flaky, fluffy gorgeousness. My go-to recipe comes courtesy of Epicurious.

Read the rest of this entry