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Hot cross buns – one a penny, two a penny

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but we are in the last week of Hot Cross Bun season — the final stretch.

Well, at least the Brits in the room are probably well aware. For Americans, well, it’s been a season of abominations. I’ve come across all kinds, including sweet dinner rolls studded with red and green fruit, others with lemon curd-like stuff where the dough cross should have been. The devil’s spawn in bread form.

It’s been enough to draw us into the kitchen. My husband has already made two batches of hot cross buns from a Delia Smith recipe (from her “Complete Cookery Course” cookbook) and it really has been a revelation. Is it easy? Not by any stretch of the imagination. But is it worth it? Oh yes!

Read the rest of this entry

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Gordon Ramsey tries Girl Scout cookies

When I was living in the U.K., I really missed Girl Scout cookies and this general season of Thin Mints, Samoas (now better known as Caramel Delites) and Tagalongs. There was simply nothing like it in the U.K. Sure, they had biscuits, but none delivered via the tradition of Girl Scouts. I think that’s part of the beauty of them – they’re part tasty treat and part walk-down-memory-lane. And as a former Girl Scout, I look back on that time of knocking on doors and confirming cookie orders with such fondness!

And so I found it amusing to see Gordon Ramsey try Girl Scout cookies for the first time on Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

How do you feel about Girl Scout cookies? Yea or nay?

Can you pass for a proper Brit?

Can you pass for a proper Brit?

I just took the USA Today test measuring one’s proper Britishness and scored 9 out of 10. I am feeling exceedingly proud of myself, despite also wanting to kick myself for missing one.

Take the test for yourself and let me know your score!

You sound like you’re from London …

I quite like this. My Brit-speak is getting rusty so always good to get a little refresher!

You Sound Like You're From London

The snackers guide to British cakes

Americans have funfetti. German chocolate cake (which is not actually German, go figure!). We can even count New York cheesecake under the banner of “Proud Cakes from the USA.” But we’ve got nothing compared to the Brits.

I love this infographic, designed by Flokkcreative, and the sheer variety of British cakes with amazingly quirky names like eccles (pronounced eckles) cake, Battenburg cake or Victoria sponge. What’s your favorite British cake?

Snackers Guide to British Cakes

20 British words that mean something totally different in the U.S.

I really love this list by Big Stock Photo, which captures 20 words that mean something totally different in the U.K. and the U.S.

Simple things like “trolley.”

Trolley

And “dummy.”

dummy

See the full list, which was curated by Big Stock’s British receptionist Ryan Lovett!

(Apologies in advance if you spotted this blog post for a short time yesterday – I jumped the gun and posted it before it was scheduled to go!)

Stateside Candy Company

Stateside Candy Co.

Americans who are homesick for their favorite candies can get them delivered in the U.K. now, thanks to the Stateside Candy Company.

The selection is impressive, including Hershey’s and Twizzlers, Life Savers, Willy Wonka candies, salt water taffy, Mike and Ike’s, jumbo gummy bears and the list goes on and on! Grocery items like American cereals, pancake mixes, cookies, cake mixes and barbecue sauces are also offered. U.K. delivery charges start at £4.50.

Top 10 baby names – U.S. vs. U.K.

Amelia Earheart

Amelia tops the list of British baby names in 2013. (Amelia Earheart shown here).

So what names are most popular in the U.K. and the U.S.? Surely Kate after Kate Middleton has to top the list, right? Babycentre.co.uk and Babycenter.com have unveiled their top 10 most popular baby names in 2013 and the results may surprise you!

The top 10 girls’ names in the U.K.
1. Amelia
2. Lily
3. Emily
4. Sophia
5. Isabelle
6. Sophie
7. Olivia
8. Jessica
9. Chloe
10. Mia

The top 10 girls’ names in the U.S.
1. Emma
2. Sophia
3. Olivia
4. Isabella
5. Ava
6. Mia
7. Emily
8. Charlotte
9. Ella
10. Lily

The top 10 boys’ names in the U.K.
1. Harry
2. Jack
3. Oliver
4. Charlie
5. James
6. George
7. Thomas
8. Ethan
9. Jacob
10. William

The top 10 boys’ names in the U.S.
1. Liam
2. Noah
3. Mason
4. Ethan
5. Jack
6. Jackson
7. Jacob
8. Lucas
9. Aiden
10. Logan

The way to say shhh…

My sister-in-law is visiting us for a few days from England – and am getting lots of good blog material!

Here’s something I didn’t know:

In England, kids are taught to do this in class when teachers want them to be quiet:

In the U.S., we do this:

See the subtle turn of the finger? Fascinating!

Make mine a (British) pint

I used to think that measurements were standard. An inch is an inch. A cup is a cup. No matter where you are in the world, right?

Well, apparently not.

Order a pint at the pub in the UK and you’ll get 20 ounces. Order a pint in the US and you’ll get a mere 16 ounces. Yes, a British pint is about 20% bigger than an American one.

This is usually the point when Brits can rightly beat their chests and guffaw at Americans with their tiny pints and their extra-cold lager and their “American football” played with all of that padding (sorry, that has nothing to do with beer. I just felt like throwing that in).

But here’s the science: Pints are units of measurements in something called US customary units as well as the imperial system, which is what the UK uses. And so, although they have the same name, they are two different animals.

Even more fascinating is this little tidbit, courtesy of Wikipedia: “A ‘pint’ of beer served in a tavern outside Great Britain and the United States may be a British pint, an American pint, or something different, depending on local laws and customs.”

The moral of this tale? If you must choose between a pint in the UK or the US, go with the British pint and choose some real ale, while you’re at it!