Tag Archives: UK

Scones. Just scones.

Real flour from a working water mill.

As skeptical as I am of the whole royalty thing, I felt I had to watch the wedding today, if only to join in the general Twitter levity – which was fun. And then, this afternoon, I had the urge to make scones, which I hadn’t done in over a year. Shocking, I know, given how much I like them.

I started with a recipe from Houghton Mill, a National Trust property just outside St. Ives in Cambridgeshire, where we’d stopped on a recent walk with friends. We’d nodded and smiled briefly at the mill itself but were famished and tucked right into their cream tea, with scones made from the mill’s wholemeal flour. Of course, I bought a bag of it, and the nice people there also insisted I take free packets of vegetable seeds, which I was happy to do.

The original recipe called for cream of tartar, which – too tired to figure out the substitution – I went out and bought, and margarine, for which, naturally, I subbed in butter. The scones were pretty tasty, a worthy showcase for their flour, with raspberry jam and cream.

Houghton Mill Whole-Wheat Scones

275 g whole-wheat flour
125 g plain white flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
75 g chilled butter, diced
50 g sultanas
300 ml milk (replace a little of the milk with lemon juice to make it sour, or use buttermlk)

Flour lightly a nonstick oven tray. Heat oven to 200°C. Sift together flours, aking soda, cream of tartar. Rub in margarine with your fingers. Add milk and mix to stuff dough. Roll out on a floured board to 3 cm thick and cut out with a large pastry cutter. Brush the tops with milk and place on baking tray. Let stand for 15 min then place in centre of oven for 15 mins. Remove and cool on rack.

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Yarrr! Here we be at Ye Olde Elme Tree in Cambridge Towne, enjoyin’ a wee jug o’ grog. Shiver me timbers and avast me hearties!

Right, I’ll get my coat now.

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Things (some) English people eat

Pork snacks with free beer. What’s not to like?

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Free food from nature, Part II: Margaret’s cobbler

Typical cobbler, by Quixotic Pixels via Flickr Creative Commons

As much as muffins, cobblers are an American food, but it’s a big country and I wouldn’t want to pretend that there’s a definitive cobbler out there. Even the Irish can’t agree on a canonical soda bread. For this recipe (I’m appending weights so that folks without measuring cups can make it, but it’s otherwise untouched), I thank my friend Ann Cornelison. Ann lives in Maine, but her family is from Texas, and the recipe she sent is from her mom’s first cousin Margaret,  “a pretty darned good cook.” In the Texas Hill Country, says Ann, the preferred fruit was peaches, but any fruit will do. That’s my experience as well. My Dad’s favorite, when we lived in New Hampshire, was black raspberries, but those are really hard to find most other places. Red raspberries are a bit too soft, and to my tastebuds, they’re best eaten uncooked.

Margaret’s cobbler

Melt 1 stick (114 g) butter in a baking dish of the approximately 8×12-inch variety.

Mix:
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (110 g) flour
1 cup (230 g) milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
dash salt
(per Ann: I always add cinnamon to the batter because I really really like cinnamon, but it isn’t necessary and it isn’t in MH’s original recipe.)
Pour this batter over the butter relatively but not obsessively evenly.

Top with a layer of the fruit of choice. Don’t crowd the fruit in so much that it totally obscures the batter.

Bake at 350-375°F (180°C) for 30 to 45 minutes until batter has risen up through the fruit and the top is golden and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or custard. If you want to eat the leftovers for breakfast with some nice yogurt, I won’t tell.

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End-of-summer produce

A few items from our garden. Not quite enough to live on, but we'll get there.

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Oatmeal Stout’s Yank roots?

After meeting Andrew in DC the week of Obama’s inauguration, we fell immediately into a lovely daily email habit that was only slightly fraught, on my part. Before stepping fully into my role as the pushy American girl and buying the fateful airline ticket to London, I happened one day to wander into one of several local liquor stores just inside the DC line, to buy a bottle of red wine for a recipe. There, as in a dream, I looked up and beheld the most colorful array of beers from seemingly every country in the world that I have ever seen, arranged bottle by bottle to show off the full variety; among them were at least half a dozen shelves of beers from the UK.  I immediately thought of Andrew’s interest in beer, and knew he’d be fascinated at my find, so I asked the proprietor if I could snap a few pics with my phone and he was happy to oblige. Andrew’s first recommendation from the lot was to try all of the Sam Smith’s beers, particularly the Oatmeal Stout, and sure enough, I loved it: with its full body and dark caramel-coffee-slightly-sweetness, it did indeed taste breakfast-y, though a lot easier to clean up than a pot of porridge! (KIDDING; I only drink IPA for breakfast.)

The same Oatmeal Stout has now won the 2010 Washington Post’s Beer Madness competition. According to the article, this beer was developed by the Sam Smith Brewing Company in Tadcaster, UK, by commission and in collaboration with  an American importer, based on (British) historical notes about what it should taste like. Originally, it was only available in the US, but now you can get it in imperial pint-sized (read: big) bottles on both sides of the pond, and there are many Sam Smith-licensed pubs around the UK.

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Brits do love their snacks…

And here is a blog that assiduously tracks the new, the old, the weird, and the exotic, and where to find them. But unlike Cyber Candy in London, which I wrote about here, the focus of this blog is, really, on crisps. Which I can never stay away from, even if they do get stuck between my teeth and cause more dental damage than sweets.

Speaking of crisps, Walker’s 2010 Crisps Flavour Cup is on; they’re promoting a bunch of experimental flavors, none of which reach the weirdness of last year’s Cajun Squirrel flavor. (OK, maybe Australian BBQ Kangaroo, but after last year with the squirrel crisps it should be clear that there isn’t literally any kangaroo in there…) I won’t be systematic about it, but I will try some of the less meaty-sounding flavors, or at least those that are more or less vegetarian, and will try to post some pics and reactions. Lovely, snarky Charlie Brooker called my attention to this event in today’s Guardian.

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