Monday, July 9, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
PS: And keep an eye out for the odd Prodigal article in UK:Cue!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
My new Christmas pudding is happily imbibing as I write, happily awaiting the big day. Here is a photo of last year's, before we doused it with brandy. And ate it, of course.
If you'd like to try your hand at this traditional taste of Britain, my recipe is posted here.
It takes a bit of effort, but it's worth it...and Tiptree puds are $30 this year!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Prodigal Wife and I have discovered Doc Martin, a quirky Brit show about a surgeon who can't stand the sight of blood so he takes over a small practice in beautiful Cornwall. The villagers aren't exactly warm and friendly, but, oh, the scenery is spectacular!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
"Look at my roses, look at the foxglove! And look, look at my potentilla!"
It was a huge sunburst of yellow.
"And my hydrangea. That'll be out soon!"
Six feet across, covered in green leafy frond-like leaves, Mum's shockingly pink hydrangea flowers would soon dominate the small garden and might even eclipse the potentilla.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Also, during the past twelve months, Frances and I have been really overwhelmed by the letters (well, emails) we have received and the comments readers have left on our website. Some say they've read the book more than once! We've been especially touched by those readers who fell in love with my funny old folks, along with my extended family and some of the oddballs we met along the way. It is so gratifying to discover the book has hit a familiar cadence with so many. Of course, not everyone has aging Cockney parents, but most everyone seems to have family experiences my story helped evoke.
Apart from the family story, our travels have also resonated with a good many readers. We have received quite a few notes from readers planning to take Yank on their next trip! Very gratifying to think that a lot more people will be discovering the wonderful literary landmarks and fascinating historical sites we found on our travels in Southern England (I encourage everyone to avoid Dagenham though, but few listen to my words of wisdom).
I hope you'll forgive the indulgence, we thought we'd post here a few of the comments and observations we've received (we won't mention names, but these are real quotes from real people). Many were accompanied by personal stories and memories evoked, which we enjoyed very much.
"The perfect blend of humor, poignancy, history, culture, and character. Well BLOODY done!!!!"
"I hated to come to the end, so I have read it over several times...thanks for sharing your family & your travels with us. I fell in love with them all!!"
"Wonderful book, but so painfully close to home as I struggle with my own aging parents and recall my own version of an English childhood. I connected with this on so many levels!! Couldn't put it down."
"I bought (Yank) simply because I like travel writing and it sounded interesting. But your book connected with me in ways I did not expect at all."
"I spent some time in school (in England) and get back every few years... so reading your descriptions of places, food and feelings brought back a lot of good memories--although I don't miss the Archers!"
"Wonderful book, I relished most every part of it."
"As a Brit who became a Yank and now takes his family back to the UK every year to visit family it really struck a chord."
And the very first personal note we received, which said, in part:
"I am almost at the end of A Yank Back to England and I will be sorry when it's over. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and getting to know your family and your travels." (This lovely reader wrote again when she'd completed the book! Very nice indeed.)
Of course, the book was not everyone's cup of tea. But that's okay by me. After all, not everyone likes tea with milk! But regardless of how you take you tea, thank you all for taking the time and trouble to write to us.
For those of you who haven't heard, I'm also pleased to report the book has now been reprinted. And yes, I'm still doing events. Meanwhile, do continue to write and tell us if the book inspired you to take a trip to the Green and Pleasant. And don't forget to tell your friends! If they can't make the royal wedding, they can still catch up on a couple of royal events and discover the other Kate--the one in A Yank Back To England.
Happy New Year to all,
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Anyway, we took a photo of the fruit (after it had imbibed quite a bit) and it looked to us like beautiful lights, and it certainly is Christmassy, so here it is.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Cy gently rocked the car back and forth until he had enough room to launch it into the road. He drove so slowly, he looked as if he was prowling, which was just as well because, when Cy was behind the wheel, he insisted on looking at the person he was speaking to, not at the road.
“Cy, look out!”
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
"I like a bit of sweet," Mum went on, ignoring Lew's effusive praises.
She finished the cake and washed it down with another big swig of Benedictine. "I'm willing to try anything once, I am."
It was the closest she ever got to complimenting someone else’s cooking.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Not sure if it's stocked with tea or if the house comes with a working phone, but if you're interested, the "balancing barn" is available for a mere $2,300+ for three days from living-architecture.co.uk.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
So let's turn to the exotic East, the lazy days of the Raj and a lovely Goan-inspired shrimp dish with coconut and cream. I know I'm taking a bit of liberty but then, is not Indian food a cornerstone of English cuisine? In fact, in a recent poll taken in Britain, the second favorite dish nationwide turned out to be chicken tikka! (No prizes if you guess what the number one fave was!*)
I've adapted this recipe over time. It began life as a mussel starter but I've switched in shrimp, added cream or yogurt, toned down the heat for the Americans in my midst, and I now serve it up over a bed of salad as opposed to rice. By increasing the portions I've turned this recipe into a delightfully light supper dish.
Here's what you will need
A pound and half of large shrimp. I use fresh-frozen, but use whatever looks good in the market. Do use large or extra large shrimp, smaller prawns tend to disappear.
You'll also require a "finger" of ginger; use powder if you must, but fresh is so much better. A few cloves of garlic and cup of grated coconut, dried or fresh but unsweetened. One small chili pepper chopped up, or use a few dried pepper flakes. If using fresh chili, do taste a smidge beforehand. You want the dish to have a little kick, but not too much. Chop up half a bunch of green onions. Have a wedge of butter on hand or a little pot of ghee if you're feeling exotic. You'll also need a quarter cup of lemon juice, but do peel the rind from said lemon, chop it up, and keep it to one side.
Now bring out the big guns: a cup of cream, sour cream, or yogurt or a combination of all three. I'm trying to watch my weight so I use low fat yogurt. Mind you, the cream adds a wonderful richness, so it's your choice. You can add a half teaspoon of salt, but it really isn't necessary Last but not least, you'll need a teaspoon of turmeric and coriander. I usually add a few cardamom pods in the final dish to torment the wife.... This of course, is also an optional addition. If you cannot find any of these spices at your local Indian shop, use the light-colored curry powder found in regular grocery stores.
You will also need a bunch of coriander or cilantro, chop half the leaves for the sauce, retain the uncut leaves for the salad. Did I mention salad?
Let's address the salad
This is a simple green affair, you need enough leaves to cover four dinner plates. Make sure the salad is torn into small pieces, Use a spring mix type; rocket, dandelion, watercress, or what have you. Whatever you use, do add small shavings of green olives and grated flecks of lemon peel and mix in the whole leaves of coriander you cleverly kept to one side. Make a one-to-one vinaigrette using lemon juice and olive oil. Toss at the last minute then divide, forming beds of salad on the four plates.
Now let's get to the main attraction, which can easily be prepped in advance of your dinner party. Drinks at six on the patio...we eat in five? No probs!
First peel, de-vein, and sauté the shrimp. Thirty seconds a side. No more. Use butter, oil, or ghee if you want! You just want the little chaps pink on both sides. Add lemon juice to the pan and remove the happily sizzling shrimp to a side dish. They will finish cooking off heat. Prior to service, you pop them into the sauce to warm them up. And that's all. The key thing is not to overcook the shrimp, which can be made ahead and rest in the fridge until you are ready to make the sauce...
If you have the time, you can make a little stock using the shrimp shells. This will add a very nice flavor enhancement to the sauce but it's not essential.
In a mini prep gadget, put in the finger of ginger, the garlic cloves and the green bits from your spring onions. Add half a cup of water. Whir up this mixture.
In the unwashed sauté pan in which you part-cooked the shrimp, soften the remaining chopped onion bits in a pat of butter (or oil or ghee) for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic-ginger mixture, stir fry for half a minute before adding the chili, turmeric and cumin, along with the coconut. Now add the shrimp stock you so cleverly made (or a quarter cup of water) to the sauce and cook over a low heat for a few minutes. Take sauce off the heat and pour in the yogurt, cream, or what have you. Put back on low heat for a minute. When everything is nicely incorporated and the sauce is just coating the back of a spoon, pile in the part cooked shrimp and mix into the sauce for another minute. If the sauce is too thick add a few tablespoons of water, or cream --you naughty thing, you! Then turn off the heat.
Now toss your salad in a simple lemony vinaigrette. Plate up the salad forming beds. Top with shrimp and curry sauce. Serve with nan or pita bread, or nothing at all. Oh, nearly forgot. Once plated, sprinkle the chopped coriander over the shrimp.
So there we are! An Englishman's Goan-style curry dish to beat the last of the summer heat, a little spicy but very fresh tasting, light, and delicious. Do try it, I know you'll like this one!
*Yes, you guessed it --fish and chips!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Many of you have, very oddly it seems to me, expressed a desire to visit Dagenham after reading A Yank Back to England. Well, this one's for you (don't say I didn't warn you!).
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Because of my parents’ age, I missed several generations of popular culture: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Anthony Eden, Ban the Bomb, Big Bands. Beatniks. My parents missed them, too. My points of reference were Fred Astaire, the Gershwins, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby. Not a problem unless I ran into a parent of one of my school friends or a friend would meet my parents. That was always a shock for everyone. When my parents dressed up to go out for the evening, they always looked like Nick and Nora or any movie couple from the thirties. Mum wore lots of rabbit fur and hats with feathers and smelled of talc, and Lew always wore double-breasted suits with baggy trousers. He was always clean shaved, always had a short back and sides hair cut brilliantined like Ramon Navarro – whoever he was.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
*my Goodreads buddy, Jersey Girl, who tagged, posted, voted, and more (thanks, darling!).
*Prodigal Wife's faithful friend Syl, who was the first to enter our giveaway.
We have emails, so getting info for HarperCollins should be easy.
One little thing--I know we haven't posted as regularly as we might have over the summer. Hopefully that will change as the weather cools...
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This book is barely out but great reviews are already pouring in (OK, green-eyed monster, get back in the closet):
"intricate twists and plenty of viable suspects" (Publishers Weekly)
A "plucky, determined sleuth and a thrilling mystery" (Library Journal)
“A smartly plotted, well-told mystery.” (Booklist on An Impartial Witness )
Here is what the publisher says:
Tending to the soldiers in the trenches of France during the First World War, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford is sent back to England in the early summer of 1917 with a convoy of severely burned men. One of her patients, a young pilot, has clung to a photograph of his wife since his plane went down, and Bess can’t help but notice the photo every time she tends to him. After the patients are transferred to a clinic in Hampshire, Bess is ready for her two-day leave, planning to return to her flat in London to catch up on some much-needed rest. But at the railway station, in a mob of troops leaving for the front, Bess catches a glimpse of a familiar face. Could that be the pilot’s wife? And why is she bidding a very emotional farewell to a soldier who is not her husband?
Back in France, Bess discovers an old newspaper with a drawing of the woman’s face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard looking for information from anyone who has seen her. The woman was murdered-the very day Bess saw her at the terminal. Granted leave to visit Scotland Yard to report what she knows, Bess soon finds herself on the search for a devious and very dangerous killer-a search that will put her own life in jeopardy.
Sounds appealing, yes? If you want to try your hand at one of the two free copies, just leave a comment below before September 15. If you wish, you may earn additional entries in the following ways:
*post/tweet/share this giveaway
*tag my own little tome, A Yank Back to England, on Amazon -- England, memoir, travel, travelogue, and travelogues PLEASE!
*if you've already tagged Yank (THANK YOU!), tagging the Kindle edition works too!
*put Yank on your shelf in Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing. (one entry each)
*TWO entries if you vote for Yank on Goodreads' Favourite Travel Book list or Have Passport will Travel or Best Traveling Vicariously (FIVE if you do all 3)
That's it! Oh--US only please, sorry. And if we don't have your email yet, please leave it so we can contact you if you win. Winners will be announced on September 16, at which time you'll have 48 hours to send us your address, which we will pass along to HarperCollins.
Good luck everyone!
Monday, August 16, 2010
A Gaelic shrug of the mouth. “Wiz ze toon-el... iz no problem.”
We had found a Normandy farmer’s wife, with tight curly black hair an easy smile and an English accent as thick as Camembert. She had a stall with a huge array of French cheeses and not much else. We walked on, past fruit and vegetable stalls, a poultry vendor, a pork butcher, a baker’s stall with different breads as well as fruit and savory pies. There was even a knife grinder selling cutlery, and flatware. I thought I might even find a candlestick maker! It was fun. The noise, the banter, the odd blares from radios volumed up for sale. Kate slept through it all.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Why, you may ask, is a former secondary modern school kid waxing lyrically about such an upper class treat? Well, the answer is simple: It is delicious. And with the Prodigal addition of chocolate this wonderful confection becomes extra special. Plus, it's so easy to throw together!
Here's what you need for 6-8 servings.
A pound and a half or more of strawberries, nice and ripe, two cups of whipping cream, a tablespoon of sugar, and a drop of vanilla.
Twelve small meringues, or more if you like lots of crunch. If you have the patience, you can, of course, make them yourself, but I prefer to buy them.
One third cup of Kirsch, white rum, or flavorful spirit (optional)
Two ounces of good quality, semi-sweet chocolate, grated or shaved.
Here's what you do.
Put the cleansed and hulled berries in a bowl, halved or sliced or quartered depending on size of the fruits. Now add the booze if you so desire. As we have a child and I don't want the police on my doorstep I don't, and it works very well without. At this point, resist the desire to add sugar to the bowl. If you do, the strawberries will weep and turn your dessert a gooey pink, and you don't want that. Instead, add a tablespoon of sugar to the cream and beat it to soft peaks. Add a little vanilla if you so desire, especially if you abstain on the Kirsch.
Crush/chop the meringues into rough chunks then add to the strawberries and whipped cream, then "mess" everything gently together. And there you have it: Eton Mess. More of an assembly job than a real recipe.
Serve in tall sundae glasses and top each portion with generous sprinkles of chocolate shavings. The addition of the chocolate is mine but it really works a treat.
Even if you're not strolling the playing fields of Eton with the sun glazing the Thames a shimmering gold, it will certainly feel like it when you taste this wonderful concoction. Evocative of summer and lazy afternoons, Eton Mess is destined to become a family favourite.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
"Everything alright, gel?" Lew sounded loud and happy. Yes, yes of course it was. Mary was having a good time. We all were.
"Oh, it's lovely, isn't it, Lew, it weally is. Getting the family together like this, and it's not even a funeral! Ah, ha, ha!" Mary burst out laughing at her own remark. Lew grinned and nodded, unable to speak or even laugh.
"Bloody funny, that is, bloody funny, but you're right!" he finally blurted out.