Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pure Collection

A catalog arrived at our house on Saturday from something called Pure Collection. Its tagline read “Best of British Style.”

What exactly is the best of British style, according to Pure?

Well, a lot of neutral hues in linen, silk and cashmere. Actually, mostly cashmere. The top three of their “Top 10 Key Styles” are all … you guessed it … cashmere.

Cashmere Batwing Sweater, $173

Cashmere Roll Sleeve Tunic, $130

Cashmere Round Neck Sweater, $98



See the full collection here.

7 reasons

I found this on weheartit.com and it made me smile.

Yep, sounds right! Have a good weekend, all!

Dippy egg and soldiers

The Perfect Soldiers Toast Cutter makes the ideal soldier.

Last weekend — with our bountiful supply of Easter eggs — we had a simple Saturday supper of dippy eggs and soldiers.

Huh?

Well, dippy eggs is British shorthand for soft-boiled eggs, still in the shell, with the top lopped off to make for easy dipping. The soldiers are simple buttered toast strips to dip into said egg. It is easy, simple comfort food. The kind of food you dig into after a warm bath, pajamas and maybe some retro episodes of  “Wonder Woman” or “The A-Team” on TV.

And for those who are insecure about their toast cutting ability, there is a Perfect Soldiers Toast Cutter, which cuts eight perfect soldiers.

PS. I should add that steamed asparagus also make perfect soldiers. More refined, but still every bit as delish.

Britain’s best-selling album?

The answer is not Adele.

This might be one for Trivial Pursuit (if anyone still plays Trivial Pursuit?!) …

Question: What is the best-selling album of the past 50 years in Britain?

Go on … take a guess … Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”? Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”? The Beatles’ “White Album”?

Click for the answer!

Best budget stays in Britain

Charlie Brown's in Colchester is included in Rough Guides' "Best Budget Places to Stay in Britain."

Let’s face it. We all don’t have the coinage to spend a mini-break at Babington House or Stoke Park. But £50 a room at Charlie Brown’s in Colchester? Well, sure! I think this is something we could do.

Rough Guides has just released its “Best Budget Places to Stay in Britain,” which details plenty of lovely staycation locales for Brits on a budget.

Check out some of their picks!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! Check out our eggs – we blew out the middles!

Have a wonderful day – I’ll see you back here on Tuesday!

British retailer does vintage Americana

I was amused to see this new Marks & Spencer’s line called “Vintage Americana.” This limited collection is described as “a quirky cool summer trend inspired by 50s Americana styling. Colours are bold, prints are fun and silhouettes are unashamedly feminine!”

I’m thinking they’re trying to go for a Mad Men look, perhaps, but not all of the clothes follow that lead. What do you think?

Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful

Oh, Samantha Brick, let's be clear. You are no Kelly LeBrock.

Have you heard about the self-centered musings of one journalist Samantha Brick, who claims to be all that and a bag of chips?

Well, you can read the infamous head-swelling Daily Mail column here that has the British media and its public going for her jugular (which isn’t an attractive jugular, I should add).

You can also view her photos and make up your own mind. (Personally, I say we offer it up to the Ugly Meter iPhone app and let it decide.)

Pain at the pump

The next time you start to whinge about the rising prices of gas at your local gas station, think for a moment of the Brits.

Fuel prices are currently running £1.50 per litre of petrol (translation: gas) as fuel shortages are hitting the U.K. hard in the run up to Easter.

£1.50 per litre? What’s that in real money?

Well, one litre is equal to .26 U.S. gallons so we’re talking about roughly £6 per gallon. At the current exchange rate, that is an exchange of $9.50 a gallon. To fill a mid-size car with a 16-gallon tank, that’s $152!

By comparison, gas prices in the U.S. are averaging about $3.92 per gallon.

I guess the message is that gas prices here are bad, but not that bad.

Fish pie

Sunday night, we had fish pie. Think firm white fish (we went with cod and tilapia this time), cooked in a creamy roux, added some peas, topped with a layer of sliced boiled eggs, and then topped again with mashed potatoes and grated cheddar cheese. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until the top is crispy and browned (we used the broiler to give it an extra oomph of crispiness) and voila! Dinner was done.

It is a supremely delicious and comforting British dish. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Nigella Lawson.

Nursery Fish Pie

Serves 8

3lbs all-purpose potatoes
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 lbs haddock
2lbs 4oz smoked haddock
2 cups whole milk
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
3 hard-boiled eggs

Peel the potatoes and cut them in half or quarters, depending on size, and put them in a pan of salted water to cook from cold. When they’re tender, drain and then mash them with 3/4 stick of the butter, seasoning to taste.

Put the fish into a large skillet with the milk, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring the milk in the pan to a boil, then immediately turn down and simmer the fish until it is just cooked through. Remove the fish to a plate and pour the cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup, straining out the bay leaves and peppercorns.

Meanwhile, put the frozen peas in a bowl, pour over some boiling water and preheat the oven to 375°F, slipping in a baking sheet as you do so.

Melt the remaining 3/4 stick butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Take this off the heat briefly, just while you gradually whisk in the fishy milk, then put back over a medium heat and keep stirring until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Let it bubble away for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat and stir in most of the cheese (leaving some to sprinkle over the top of the pie later) and the drained peas.

Flake the fish, making sure not to let it disintegrate too much, and use it to line a 12-cup ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over, using a rubber spatula to help you distribute it equally and meld it with the fish. Cut the hard-boiled eggs into slices and arrange the golden-centered discs over the top of the fish in sauce. Top with the mashed potato, using a spatula, again, to help you coax it right over the sides. With a fork, scrape lines up and down the length of the dish and then sprinkle with a little grated Cheddar cheese before putting it on the sheet in the oven for 20–40 minutes, depending on whether you’re putting the pie in hot or cold.