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Blog Archives

Rachel’s English trifle in real life

Okay, who remembers Rachel’s English trifle from “Friends”?

Well, someone in the U.K. has made it – with beef sautéed with peas and onions. And the sight of this might be one of the highlights of my day.

Rachel's English trifle

If you missed seeing that winning episode the first go round, here is a snippet!

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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

Happy Pancakes

Making crepes

I don’t think Pancake Day really became a part of my life until I lived in the U.K. I thought it was a sweet, whimsical holiday that the Brits invented (they didn’t, by the way. More info on the origins here). But very quickly, it became an annual thing. And then after our kids were born, it became a tasty tradition — one that annually takes us by surprise (I actually didn’t realize it was Pancake Day until yesterday morning), but part of the tradition includes that fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants scramble to get ingredients on a school night and pull this thing off.

I’m happy to report we had success yesterday — and even better, my husband made the pancakes this year.

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Crisp sandwich, anyone?

crisp sandwich

Leave it to the British masterminds who created the chip butty (fries in a roll) to also attempt the crisp (translation: potato chip) sandwich.

Yes, crisp sandwiches are now being sold at the Stock Exchange Bakery in Bristol. The bakery offers patrons the choice of granary bread or a white bun (baked fresh on the premises! and I’ve blogged before about how granary bread is the Best Bread on the Planet!) and a choice of 20 different crisps (the Brits have so much variety in flavors from roast beef to prawn cocktail and everything in between) to put inside. All this for £2.50 each. The Bristol Post reports that they’ve had queues around the block!

Not since this sandwich have I been so intrigued. Sigh. Will someone report on this from across the pond? Is it as good as it sounds?

The chewy joy of wine gums

Wine gums

When I first moved to the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago, I discovered the Maynards Wine Gums and being a Haribo convert and loving anything gummy, sweet and black currant flavored, I became an instant fan.

And then the whole Mad Cow Disease broke and there was rumor/conjecture/fact that wine gums were made out of gelatin (made from those mad cow’s joints or muscle, bones or gristle, I’m not quite sure) and they fell out of favor with me. I stopped buying them (I was a vegetarian at the time and did think it would be tragic and also ironic if I got Mad Cow Disease, not from eating cheap burgers or sausages, but from these blissfully nearly blameless fruit candies), but that decision did come with anguish every time I spotted them in the grocery checkout aisle.

Fast forward to this past year and I started thinking about those wine gums again. When my mother-in-law was packing her bag to visit us in November, I asked her if she could bring some. It only took a couple of bites into the black and red (the only flavors worth mentioning, in my opinion) and I was transported to those days at uni. I love the density of them. The hearty chewiness of them (not weak and loose in bite like some excessively jubbly candies you can buy). The black currant-y smell of them. They don’t stick to your teeth or make you worry that you’ll loose a filling. They’re just a burst of sweet berry joy and I can’t compare them to anything here in the U.S. Needless to say that packet of wine gums went quickly.

My sister-in-law came to visit us this month and also brought a box of wine gums along with Percy Pigs (more on this delicacy in a future post…) and it was again like a tasty reunion of memories and nostalgia, wrapped in animal gelatin and black currant flavors (or lime, lemon or orange, if you prefer the green, yellow or orange, which I don’t touch).

Have you tried wine gums? What do you think of them?

Another year, another coffee and walnut cake

Coffee walnut cake

My husband celebrated his birthday on Saturday, which, of course means one thing: Coffee and walnut cake.

I was running around on Saturday morning, making a nice birthday breakfast, getting ready to take my daughter to a birthday party, wrapping presents, brushing teeth and negotiating the time it would take to bake the cake. Thankfully, I had blogged last year sending a message to Future Me about the ease of cooking this Nigella Lawson recipe and Past Me was entirely correct.

It was a breeze to make. 10 minutes prep. 25 minutes in the oven. Then boom! Done.

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26 times Waitrose outright ruined the lives of decent people

For Waitrose fans and foes alike, this might bring a smile: Buzzfeed.com’s collection of 26 times that Waitrose outright ruined the lives of decent people. I love these #firstworldproblems. My favorite is #4.

And for the record, my #firstworldproblem with Waitrose would be the following: “I’m looking for eggs. Just eggs. How am I supposed to know what to pick?” Check out the Waitrose egg selection. When was the last time you found “Clarence Court Old Cotswald Legbar mixed weight British free range eggs” in the supermarket?

Waitrose problems

Waitrose problems

Waitrose problems

So hi, hi, American pie

Apple pie

I did something very American last weekend. I baked some apple pie.

I’m not a pie maker, but the whole autumn-ness of this season struck me and I decided I needed to eschew crumble for something doughy, flaky and piping hot. My husband picked up some really good pie crust from the Co-op – so much better than Pillsbury (hey, don’t judge me, I don’t judge you) and it proved to make all the difference.

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Choc Noodle?

Choc Noodle

So, when I first moved to the U.K., I discovered Pot Noodle.

To the untrained American eye, you’d think this creation was a Cup Noodles lookalike. But noooo… Cup Noodles is a completely different, dare I say, beast of a noodle in a cup.
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A Guinness pie

I know, I know. It’s not pie weather. In fact, here in Sacramento, the temps have been in the mid-100’s, which is positively skorchio. However, the stomach wants what the stomach wants and lately, I’ve been craving the comfort of a good British pie.

Steak and Guinness pie

Holland’s has recently launched a steak and Guinness pie, which is available at Tesco (for the Brits in the room). Prime steak, dark rich gravy infused with Guinness beer, and shortcrust pastry.

Trader Joe's Steak and Ale Pies

And for the Americans in the room, I stumbled upon steak and ale pies at Trader Joe’s. I haven’t tried it yet but I did buy a box and will do a little review on a future blog post!

What do you think? Are you a fan of steak and ale pie?