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.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
“Anyone for a roast beef portsmouth?” I asked.
We thought about it for a moment; it did not sound as strange as I expected.
“Could work,” said Frances. “Although roast beef ‘rye’ would be better.”
“Rye! Yes. Clever. Very.” I smiled.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Here’s a refreshing, very simple starter to add to your repertoire. The Stilton cheese make this a very proper English dish. This recipe is enough for at least four servings, with a half a pear per guest. Of course, you might like this so much you’ll need a whole pear!
You need two ounces of Stilton and the same amount of cream cheese. Two ripe pears, salad fixings, a lemon, and olive oil.
Here’s what you do.
Crumble the Stilton (no nibbling!), then combine with the cream cheese and whip—we use a mini food-processor for this—until well blended. Use any pears that look and feels nice and ripe. Chill down the pears for an hour or two, then peel and slice in half. Use a spoon to core them out, then spoon the cheese mixture into the hollows you have so cleverly created. I serve the pear halves on a little bed of lettuce garnished with endive spears, and walnut halves that have been sautéed in butter for just a minute.
The pear halves and salad bits are dressed with a vinaigrette made of lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little sugar. Freshly ground pepper is the final touch.
This is a refreshing and delicious starter, and so simple to put together. Too simple? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
“God, no. One plane a day. Maybe two. Been there for ages, that airport, it’s right close to a Battle of Britain station. Spitfires.”
“Spitfires?” My interest rose as my support for airplane noise abatement declined.
“The old airfield runs almost parallel with the new one. But the new one never caught on. Hardly anyone uses it.” Then he turned and said, “Oh, I’m Roy by the way. If you need anything, just come by, I’m always around. No problem.”
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Doesn't this look like a great spot for a book signing?
Monday, April 5, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
We also saw a Baker Street Pub with a charming Sherlock Holmes sign, but were running late and did not take a photo.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Friday March 26, 7:30 pm
Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Triangle (Broadway & 66)
Professional actors take on all your favorite characters from A Yank Back to England in a theatrical interpretation of one expat’s rediscovery of his former homeland. Plus, don't miss a chance to win one of three fish & chip dinners for two at the ChipShop!
If you come early, pop into the cafe on the 4th floor and say hi to the old Prodigal Wife, who will be there with the little one.
Sunday March 28, 2-4 pm
Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant
14 East 47th Street (between Madison and 5th)
The Daughters of the British Empire invite you to a afternoon of nibbles, drinkies, and humour with the entire Prodigal Clan—and a raffle! Tickets are $30, with all profits benefiting the Victoria Home. For more info & reservations, call Vicki Downey (646) 220 2309 or email Vickilou67@aol.com
Hope to see some of you this weekend!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
“Gasping for a cuppa tea, son,” said Lew.
Friday, March 12, 2010
It's only 60 seconds, please check it out and let us know!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
“Don’t wake her, for Gawd’s sake!” Lew’s face registered fear. “She’ll start doing a ‘knees up’ or get all funny. Either way, I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“A knees up?” Frances whispered. I explained it was an East London dance that is only difficult to do if very drunk, which is the only time it is ever performed. A “knees up” requires the linkage of arms, the stomping of feet, and high-kicking legs in order to get the required “knees up” while singing “Knees Up Mother Brown.”
The image of my drunken aunts performing like inebriated Rockettes, trampling on each other’s feet, was not far from my mind.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
“Not really. What about you?” Frances asked.
“Well, I went off with some friends and we did Italy. Madly impressed that we were going to stay in a fourteenth century turret, until I discovered everyone stays in fourteenth century Tuscan turrets. So I didn’t feel quite as spesh as I thought I might. And now we’re all here.” He looked around. “In Tunbridge Wells. Hmm.”
Monday, February 22, 2010
“Come on, Mum, you don’t like the theatre,” I jumped in, gently teasing her. “When was the last time you went to the theatre?”
“The Palladium, the London Palladium! We saw Liberace!”
“Years ago, it was. She wanted to see him.” Lew pointed to Jessie.
“Well, of course I did, a wonderful man, he was. An entertainer, a real entertainer.”
“A showman, he was that alright,” Lew conceded.
“He had all these outfits, diamonds, furs. And then he was all lit up. Lovely!”
“Well, he appealed to old ducks like you, Mum.”
“What’d you mean?” She looked taken aback.
“Well, you tell me, who was in the audience apart from funny old things like you. I bet there weren’t any men there.”
“There was men, remember, Lew? There was men there. Up in the balcony, lots of young men, all dressed up! Just like Liberace!” said Mum innocently.
Lew pulled a face and raised his eyes to the ceiling. Diplomatically, he said nothing.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
And don't forget your friends--really, where can you get six trips to England for less than $12!!
Click here to check it out.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Frances told me to get a grip, but I continued laughing. With thoughtful eagerness, she offered to smack me. I declined her kindly offer and took deep breaths instead.
“Better?” asked Frances, sounding a little disappointed, then asked me to help put out the tea things. Good idea. So that’s what I did, and my hysteria gradually subsided.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Chris has kindly donated three fish and chips dinners for two to be raffled off at the Yank Back to England New York event on Friday March 26, at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble.
So everyone in the tristate area: come on out! It's going to be fun, we're finalizing the actors now. In the meantime, if you pop into one of Chris' Chip Shops, tell him we sent you.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
"I know what's going to happen. You're going to eat all my food!"
"No, I won't - I'm still feeling rather fragile."
"Serves you right."
How can we loathe those we love? Besides my headache, the price of the full English breakfast had also curbed my appetite. "Maybe toast - that'll be enough for me."
"Let's order some extra sausages," suggested Frances. "That way, you'll have something in case you change your mind."
"I said, a little toast will be fine," I insisted, stubbornly.
"Fine, have toast then. Look, Kate, look! Ponies!" said Frances. Much excitement.
A silvered canopy was whisked away with a flourish, revealing two large, juicy Cumberland sausages. Kate's eyes and smile widened accordingly. A vast platter showed up for Frances, with eggs, sausages, bacon, fried bread, baked beans, and hash browns. Then toast triangles were placed before me, imprisoned within a wire frame.
"Oh, splendid." I tried to sound nonchalant and not as hungry as I was beginning to feel.
"I told you-" said Frances, knowingly.
I grumbled and mumbled as I freed toast from its silver cage. Kate was madly happy with her sausages. Her English side was obviously asserting itself. Then we both started dipping buttered toast into Frances' baked beans. I was now feeling much better and bitterly regretting my cheap moment. Frances felt the same, as Kate and I picked continuously at her plate. But it all worked out. I consumed lashings of buttered toast and marmalade and drank endless cups of excellent coffee. By the time we finished we all felt revived enough for a long nap.
(Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, photo is from the English breakfast-brunch I cooked recently for a couple of close friends who braved the snow rather than cancel. We don't fry bread, sadly.)
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Agnes and the Cats in the Evening
A Agnes, the Mama Cat
P Precious, the Siamese tabby
R Riley, the famous red tabby
P: Mama, Mama, I sink its bedtime.
A: Okay, let's read a little first. (Fluffs pillows and lies against them. Reaches for A Yank Back to England.)
P: Goody, goody! A real book. I love how they smell. (Rubs face across the pages, then lies down sweetly at A's side.)
R: Hey! That's my place! (Considers the situation; then sits on A's chest, purring deeply.)
A: Riley, sweetheart, I can't see the book. (Holds tome up above R and proceeds to read. After first paragraph gets up, trots into library, and returns with DK Great Britain.) To self: Oomph, this is even heavier.
P: I can't hear it.
A: No, dear, this is a real book. We're being old-fashioned tonight.
P: Oh goody! Costumes and horses!
A: Riley, honey, don't sit on the book. Now, how do I get it to turn the page? Where's the button? Oh, right.
P: What, Mama?
A: LOL. These blokes are really funny! Especially the younger male.
R: Scritch, scritch, scritch.
A: LOL. I feel as if I'm really there. (Gets up and heads for bathroom.)
P: Mum! Mum! Come back!
A: Okay, where was I?
A: Oh, right.
P: I want my tea, right now!
A: Lie down, sweetie. Let me read to you for a while.
A: The heater for the bath water! This reminds me of Enchanted April. Only the bath part, though. Close your eyes, Precious!
R: Can we have some of that gravy on our Fancy Feast tomorrow?
A: No, dear. Only in England.
P: I wants milk in my tea.
R: And can we do this again tomorrow?
A: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Now get down into the knee basket and let's all sleep. We're going touring tomorrow.
R and P: Purrrrrrrrr!
Thanks Agnes, for sending this to us--we loved it!