Saturday, 30 June 2012

Impressively Easy Entertaining: Raspberry Crumble Tart

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A few weeks ago, the BF had a bunch of his med school friends over for dinner. All together, we made 8, which was a larger party than we'd done before and a bit of a stretch for our dishes (we have all sets of 6), and I'd never met most of these people, so I was a bit nervous.  But we planned way in advance, ordering wines online and choosing side dishes from one of our favorite dinner party cookbooks (I have photos, and will try to post a couple of our fave recipes soon), and I spent days trying to decide what to bake for dessert. 

Should I make something dependable, like cookies, or something more impressive, like a pie?  Something American, to show my British guests what we have to offer, or something English, to prove my loyalty, or something neutral?  Pumpkin pieSnickerdoodle blondiesCarrot cake?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

On Compromise: Budgeting and Backup Banana Bread

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Life has been a wee bit stressful lately.  I picked up more work and was finally able to break away (hey, better late than never!) from the financial help my parents were giving me when I was in school, but it wasn't until I got my first amended paycheck, post-tax-gouge, that I realized just how much of a cut my monthly budget had taken.  I have to admit, it knocked the wind out of me, and it's taken me a good month or so to begin to think I'm capable of managing.

But I am capable, and I will manage, and it feels so good being completely responsible for my own finances, and completely independent, that I don't think I could go back, even if my parents had a windfall and suddenly wanted to throw money at me like there was no tomorrow.  I love the sense of pride I get from earning my own keep, and if the trade-off for that is a much tighter budget and a restricted social life, so be it.  Everybody makes sacrifices and compromises in this world, and as long as I can afford to stay in my lovely flat and spend time with my lovely boyfriend and bake delicious comfort foods, then I'm doing pretty well I think.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Going Native: Lemon Drizzle Cake

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There are some very American things I will never give up, no matter how long I live in England – peanut butter, Trader Joe's chocolate, and Peet's coffee, among others – but recently I've been forced to admit that, despite my best efforts, some English traditions have gotten under my skin.  For example, the BF and I spent the Jubilee weekend in Devon with his family, and after a long, cold, rainy wander through one of the nearby towns (gotta love that British summer), I crouched through the door of the little thatched cottage where we were staying and headed straight for the kettle, mumbling incoherently about how badly I needed a cup of tea.  Then, this morning, the BF made coffee in our stovetop espresso pot and I had one cup, relishing the flavor of Bay Area-roasted beans, and then made another cup of tea.  Yup, I'm totally addicted to a good old English brew.

I also use words like 'bin', 'lift', and 'post', and never ask where the bathroom is in a restaurant anymore, preferring the colloquial 'loo' (less graphic somehow than asking for the toilet!).  But if there's one area of life in which I staunchly support America's superiority, it's the kitchen.  Not that I can't appreciate a good Sunday roast or a nice slice of banoffi pie, but given the choice I'd always rather stick with a US favorite, like lasagne or pumpkin pie or brownies or banana bread... the list goes on.