Category Archives: Foodie

Bringing The Indian to the First Thanksgiving

Wow! SO politically incorrect, except I really am talking about Indian (spices) and this was my very first Thanksgiving to do the cooking.

There’s some irony in the fact that I had to move to England (i.e. the land pilgrims were escaping) to finally roast my first turkey.

I was a little apprehensive, especially when I woke up at 4 am this morning after several dreams in which I blow up the kitchen. Not a good way to start the day.

Fortunately, I’ve spent the better part of this week researching recipes and roasting techniques, combining everything I learned into one massive production.

Along the way, I also learned that there are a LOT of American foods that the British find… well, gross.

For instance, mixing peanut butter and chocolate (a la delicious Reese Peanut Butter Cups) or combining sweet and savoury (a la marshmallows on sweet potatoes).

“No, that IS weird,” my one and only British friend confirmed.

To that I retort, “You eat Marmite…

marmite… and you love it!”

In any case, I opted to try a savoury recipe calling for chili powder and cumin,  both of which I found in the Indian food section of my grocery store. (read: They didn’t carry decent-sized marshmallows)

Okay. So Indian chili powder, even at 1/8th of what the recipe calls for, kicks our pansy-ass American chili powder in the butt fifty time over… and then it eats its shorts.

As for cumin… Yeah. Ground cumin and whole cumin seeds. Not interchangeable in the same quantities.

To put in another way, Mike, who is unfailingly good-natured about my “culinary experiments” (ahem, flops), tasted it before popping it into the oven. He turned to me and said…

(cough, cough) (raspy voice) “I’ll run to the store to get you more sweet potatoes” (gasping for air)

“Are you sure?”

(more coughing… possibly choking)

“NO! Really! (more gasping) I don’t mind”

(struggling out the front door)

So, here is the beginnings of a little dish I’ve dubbed “Sweet Potato Re-do”.

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By the way, I HAND mashed it with a wooden spoon in the absence of such turn-of-the-NINETEENTH-century appliances like my beloved food processor as a way of penance for turning my back on All-American Thanksgiving.

Oh, and I mixed in some butter and maple syrup. Yeah. That’s right it’s sweet and savoury… HA!

The mac n’ cheese was pretty, but not the same without Velveeta.

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The green bean casserole with dried onions in lieu of “French Fried Onions” was tasty in it’s own wrong way.

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The cinnamon-orange cranberry sauce was divine. No canned stuff for me!

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We were, however, divided on the bread stuffing…

img_1247Mike: Meh.

Me: Yeah.

Avery: Ice Cream now please?

(Shh! not until after you eat more sweet potatoes…)

… and for my crowning achievement of the day.

I did NOT blow up the kitchen.

Oh, and I made this.

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Happy Thanksgiving, Homies!

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Foodie, Holidays and Merrymaking, Life In The States

Playing Tea Party with Grown-ups

As soon as we announced our move to London, the threats requests to stay with us poured in immediately.

I tended to ignore the ones who framed their request as “Oh wow, a FREE place to stay in London” (Not quite. Get a hotel, freeloaders) versus the ones who said, “Oh, how we will miss you SO much. We just have to see you as soon as possible”…

It’s all in how you spin it, people.

So far, the only ones to make good on their promise will be my family, plus my sister’s boyfriend who might as well be family. The last time we talked, he said that he wanted to do the touristy stuff, but mainly wanted to experience what REAL Londoners do– where they go, where they drink, and peek in their tiny fridges.

I’m not sure if we qualify as “real Londoners” (or that we have any clue what the cool kids are doing). As much as we try to keep a low profile, there are just some things that are so ridiculously touristy that they BEG to be done…

Like leaving the kidlets at home with the Hubby for the afternoon and having a proper English tea…

… in the beautiful lobby…

… of The Landmark of London…

…with your girls…

… who are also Americans.

tea I did NOT take the foodie photo on the right and therefore deserve ZERO credit for it.

In fact, I yanked it from The Landmark’s site.

The lousy photo I took… the one with the bad lighting, boring composition, and strange angle simply did NOT do it justice.

I think we should have a do-over.

You’re welcome to join me, provided you’re not too embarrassed to be seen with the dorky girl toting the large camera?

I mean, doesn’t that just scream “tourist”…

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

6 Comments

Filed under Foodie, PhotoStory Friday, Sightseeing

It’s The Little Things That Make a Life More Bearable

With my entire family coming for the holidays, I’ve been kicking myself for leaving my favorite “family cookbooks” in the States– the ones sold to raise money for our parish or local hospital and have recipes titled “Aunt Susie’s Very Best Christmas Morning Casserole” or simply “Party Potatoes”.

These cookbooks contain only the tried and true. They’re the best for planning festive menus, and I foolishly put them in storage.

Gee, I can’t imagine why I didn’t think about Christmas when I was packing in MAY…

I’ve been making do, thanks to the Internet and “helpful hints” picked up at the grocery store.

Last week, we had roasted leg of lamb with ciabatta stuffing, delicious Jerusalem artichokes, and cranberry jelly and all because someone handed me the list of the ingredients and the instructions as I walked in the door…

I thought I was doing all right until I was invited to a cookie exchange. The instructions read:

…bring 4-5 dozen cookies, of one type, then you exchange with the other moms so that you end up with all types of cookies, but only have to bake one type!

Homemade Cookies?! …but, I left my stand mixer, baking sheets, and, most importantly of all, my COOKIE SCOOP behind too!

cookie-scoopI got online to locate new cookie scoops in the UK, but only retailers in the US carried what I was looking for. They were all rather inexpensive, but international shipping is crazy and I would be responsible for the customs charges…

In other words, I would be paying upwards of $30 or $40 for a $5 item.

I love springy little cookie scoops, but dude, not THAT much.

I huffed and I puffed and I told Mike, “I can’t live here anymore! It’s a good thing we’re (probably) going home soon… Wait! Let’s not even wait for your contract. Let’s go home NOW and be with all of our stuff! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

You could say I’d finally made peace with our situation… sort of.

As for the party, I was prepared to throw a box of store-bought cookies against that wall for that “homemade-look”. Then, the very next day, I walked past a modest kitchen store. My expectations were rather low, but I thought I’d give it one more shot.

After I bumbled my way through describing what a cookie scoop is, the kind shopkeeper pointed me to a shelf that had EXACTLY what I was looking for… along with new cookie sheets and much, much more.

The clouds parted. Angels sang. And I decided that I loved living in England all over again.

6 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Foodie, Packing Up and Moving

Aubergine?!

What would you call this?

Our friends and family reading this from across the ocean would call it an eggplant. Certain ones would  simply call it “ewww”…

(You know who you are?)

However, if you are one of my loyal British readers… or my TWO-YEAR OLD SON… it’s an aubergine. [pronounced: oh-ber-jeen]

Aubergine?!

Yes, the child who only six months ago was suspected to have and tested for a “speech delay” pointed to my dinner prep and said “aubergine”, a word I have certainly never used until today…

(Thank you, BBC. You seem to be worth every penny of my TV tax…)

Just to make sure I wasn’t hearing things, Mike quizzed him on it once he got home.

“Avery, what did Mommy cook for dinner?”

“Aubergine”, he said with perfect certainty and confidence.

I should note that he was not as interesting in actually eating it as he was in saying it…

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Foodie

Blogging Under The Influence

Last night, I ran a brush through my hair, put on eyeliner and a shirt WITHOUT peanut butter stains, and headed into the city to attend my very first London Bloggers Meetup…

I was nervous about going, especially as I looked over the profiles of the other attendees…

Strategic Online… Director of Internet… PR Guru… Techie Wonder… Boring American Housewife Complaining about Londoners… Huh?!

Although my background is in online advertising and I have an MBA in Marketing, let’s face it… that all feels like a lifetime ago (even though it really wasn’t) and I totally didn’t bring my “A game” to London.

When I worked as an agency, I used to attend “networking events” all the time. I’d toss back a few cocktails, make some small talk, exchange contact info… Not a bad way to earn a paycheck and win the client.

I’m friendly, talkative, and fun. You’d think I’d be good that that sort of stuff, but really… I’m not. I would sometimes drink a little too much, maybe forget to bring my business cards, and inevitably say the wrong thing… only to sober up the next morning afternoon day and kick myself.

So walking into this event…for the first time… alone… as a foreigner in a new country… Yeah, nervous can’t begin to describe. Turns out, I had no reason to fret.

IT WAS FABULOUS… and there were so many interesting new people to meet.

I should first mention that the event was sponsored by Smirnoff and Splendid Communications, and held at the private company bar at Diageo Headquarters (maker of  some fine favorites such as Guinness, Tanqueray, and Captain Morgan… just to name a few).

…and as if that wasn’t FUN enough, they had mixologists (bartenders) create a signature cocktail for each guest based on their blog.

Curious what concoction they came up with for the “American Mom in London”?

Why, red, white, and blue with a touch of sweetness, of course. It was a mix of apples with a bit of tea (from my URL), vodka, blueberries, and maple syrup.

And why maple syrup, you ask?

Because… and I quote, “It’s what you Americans put on your pancakes, right Love?”

(It always goes back to the pancakes, man…)

Also, it turns out I brought my “A game” to London after all. As I was heading out, I said good-bye to a guy with whom I had chatted when I first arrived. He was, at that point in the evening, holding TWO drinks.

I made a comment about him having a drink in each hand, using an old college expression from the States.

He gave me such a (mock) scandalized look and told me to “never, ever say that again” as the other people who had overheard me fought to suppress giggles. He explained that what I just said was “umm… a bit of a dodgy term here”.

We had a laugh about it though, but on the bright side, I guess some things never change. Only now, it makes for great blog fodder.

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Foodie, Life In The States, Misconceptions and Mishaps, Undiplomatic Behavior

Actual Size

I’ve never been great about judging exact weights and measures.

For instance, I couldn’t really tell you if my “glass” wine is the recommended 3.5 oz or more like the whole bottle…

Similarly, if I were to do my weekly grocery hoarding online and purchase something like… say, a 100g bag of tortilla chips, I wouldn’t know how that would translate in terms of guacamole consumption.

However, it stands to reason that if one were to purchase such a bag of tortilla chips, one would expect it to get a normal-size (read: LARGE) bag of chips.

The same goes for… umm, I don’t know… maybe, SOAP.

my iPod Nano, my "Avery-sized" chips, and my "trial size" soap

Au contraire, mon frère! We do not live in the land of plenty any longer.

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Filed under Daily Life, Foodie

Mexican Food: Instructions Not Included

Forty-one days since my last (real) Tex-Mex and it suddenly hit…

A CRAVING!

Earlier in the week, we grabbed dinner at a place proudly serving fajitas. We noticed that on a humongous blackboard by the bar someone had  carefully detailed step-by-step instructions on how to eat fajitas.

When a couple nearby ordered them, they came out on a sizzling iron platter with all the sides. Our hopes peaked…

That is, until the couple started eating them with a fork and knife, as is proper but JUST NOT RIGHT!

We opted to get burgers that day, as this is clearly not a country that does Tex-Mex. Still, the cravings persisted.

So, my gal pal, Heidi, and I got all dolled up and headed into town for a MUCH needed Girls’ Night Out at Wahaca.

Wahaca serves Mexican food (not Tex-Mex), but it received such rave reviews (one sent courtesy of my friend and fellow Texan, A’Dell) that I just had to check it out.

I was so excited, especially when Mike surprised me by coming home early from work that night. Something about power lines exploding, everyone taking off for France, servers crashing…

I was actually too busy slipping into a  sassy skirt and fancy kitten heels for the first time in months to actually listen to the reason…

As I emerged from the Tube half an hour early for our dinner date, I  planned to  leisurely walk around the area until our meeting time…

Wrong!

The restaurant is situated in a Covent Garden basement and the line to get in was up the stairs, out the door, and spilling down the street… on a Wednesday night!

This place was definitely CALIENTE.

I smiled at the maitre’d, but my Southern charm and American brazenness didn’t get  us any closer to an earlier seating.

Yep, I’m definitely a long way from being 21 and ha-cha-cha again… even in something other than my typical “mommy clothes” and trainers (sneakers).

I didn’t mind though. I had waited almost a month and a half, what’s another hour… and a half… or two?

Overall I was satisfied, but I was actually more thrilled to have night out. The atmosphere was lively and hip, and the food was definitely had some kick…

Shout out to Heidi for being a trooper. She accidentally bit into a habanero pepper and her head almost exploded, but I should let her tell you that story… Oops! I guess I already did.

5 Comments

Filed under Foodie