Easter requires a bit of planning so today began with an early morning shop. The first stop we made was at the cheese stall. Old Amsterdam, creamy, fresh, goat cheese and properly strong Stilton were among the varieties that went in the pile to become a cheese board. Pears and nuts were purchased and our next stop was the butcher shop for lamb. Our final stop was for bread. Easter dessert was discussed and ingredients purchased. Wine from California had been packed and brought from Pennsylvania. Once shopping chores were done, strong coffee was arranged and poured before a stately home was visited. Cross buns and cheese were assembled into lovely treats and some sloshing was involved. A good time was had all around and a fun time was had by all.
Visiting England offers many delights and among them is the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Visiting the Warner Brothers studio where all eight movies were filmed is a bit like visiting (what you imagine) the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory is like only British and better! You enter through the Great Hall and we got to see the Goblet of Fire and the table settings. We got to visit the Burrow kitchen set and make the needles knit, the iron iron and dish brush wash up the dishes. We drooled over the chocolate bunnies and other delights that graced the Hogwart tables. We made thunder and lightening in the Dark Forest and barely made it out alive after Aragog and his sons and daughters woke up. We sat in the magic car but did not get whomped by the willow. The 800 handmade pensieve memory bottles with their handwritten bottles dated 1943 and such and the potions classroom with it's creepy bottles were fantastic. The Night Bus stood 22 feet tall and we nearly caught our Hogwart's letter at Privet Drive. The model of Hogwart's School was incredible, truly.
Not much happens in Slough. Slough is where "The Office" was filmed. To be clear, Slough is pronounced slough, like take a bow; however, if you wish to be rude, say sluff. Slough is the brunt of many jokes but today, the end of the rainbow was in slough. Our family made our way through the moving parking lot called the M25 on the eve of both Easter and a bank holiday, through the rain on our way to dear, dear friends. We had come from Brighton to visit Stonehenge and had both rain and shine, the perfect combination for rainbows. Once we managed to get above 5 mph, the sky offered both single and double rainbows. I was just thinking I would love to stand in the multiple light when we drove through both Slough and the end of the rainbow! What blessings can be found where and when they are least expected!
'Stop eating those! Those are dessert!' I snapped at Mia, our younger daughter. (Mia was nibbling on the four remaining English strawberries which were meant to be eaten with ice cream and clotted cream short bread.) How dare she! I diced them up so we could share! Dinner is sizzling away on the stove and all the members of my family are sipping something delicious and surfing the internet on their phones. (Does this sound familiar, Dear Readers?) ALL I can think of is "Will Blog for Wine."
Having access to a kitchen on vacation is not just economical, it's fun! Now, STOP rolling your eyes! Cooking on holiday is super fun! It gives you an opportunity to try everything from local produce and meats to ice cream and drinks. You can purchase enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the same amount of money you might have spent at one restaurant meal. Tonight, our family ate fresh local beef burgers stuffed with Stilton and British butter. I made oven fries (I tossed with fresh chives) and steamed broccoli as sides and we had wine and a local ale. For dessert? Nothing but ice cream with crispy chocolate and salted caramel-speckled biscuits., strawberries and whipped cream would do for my crew. Cheers!
I posted a little something about packing bagged meals last time so I thought I would keep with the travel theme and offer some tips about travel buddies. Even if you are traveling alone, certain comforts can be helpful, maybe especially if you are traveling alone.
Here are a few tips:
1. Smile. Smile a lot!
2. Talk to locals.
3. Ask for directions because see #2. (Obviously this little tip is for women.)
4. Turn that corner and explore what is behind that door. (DO NOT do this if it's a dangerous corner or your gut is telling you not to do it.)
5. Listen to your gut.
6. Take a chance. (This one relates to 1-5.)
7. Be respectful.
8. For goodness sake wear comfortable shoes.
9. Pack a good travel pillow.
A travel buddy can be that person who offers to assist you with hulking your luggage up the stairs or points you in the right direction or helps you find where you are going. I am always amazed at the kindnesses I am shown and how much more comfortable I am when traveling because I follow the simple tips I offer above.
Please share any travel tips you have so we all can find a travel buddy or two the next time we go exploring.
It may not feel like it but Spring time is here. Notice I did not say Spring is here. If you live where snow is still covering ground the closest you feel to Spring is planting peas or coloring eggs. Springtime does bring planning trips and that means packing. Packing means bagged meals. Bagged meals do not have to mean boring!
Here are a few tips for making fun bagged meals:
1. Bacon (I do not need to elaborate.)
3. Dried fruit
4. Chocolate (I do not need to elaborate.)
Make an amazing bacon sandwich with good butter and mustard on super yummy bread. Add a sharp cheese and tender lettuce and you are good to go. The other stuff is SO easy and good you are guaranteed smiles and kisses from those lucky enough to share your bagged meal. I like to combine the nuts, dried fruit and chocolate for a super healthy mix that is a sustaining treat. Enjoy!
When our family travels, we try our best to book a room that has a kitchen. You are probably wondering why on Earth I would want to travel and cook. Isn't it supposed to be a holiday? You may have figured out, Dear Readers, I LOVE to cook. Sometimes I need a break, yes but for the most part, I never tire of cooking. When traveling, our family tries to limit how often we eat "out" at restaurants if possible. We try instead to gather yummy ingredients or dishes as we wander a neighborhood and picnic our way through the day. We gather cheese and bread and butter here and a rotisserie chicken there. We find fresh fruits and salad fixings. We seek out farmer's markets. If there is a breakfast bar where we're staying, I incorporate those foods as part of our snacks. I enjoy making the most of anything. I sometimes pack a little hotplate and cook up eggs, pasta dishes or grilled cheese. I augment these meals with what I found at the breakfast bar throughout the afternoon and we always eat well. Try it. It's a great way to save a little money and sample local foods. Remember to pack a few resealable bags in different sizes to make food more easily portable and you're good to go!
Do you ever feel like a floater? I do... A "floater" is someone who floats and flits about, doing whatever is needed, wherever it is needed. Isn't that by definition a woman? Isn't that by definition a mother? Isn't that by definition a wife?
If you answered "yes" to any one of these questions, you too are a floater, Dear Reader. I am not saying I have any issue with (or complaint about) the fact I am a floater, it's just sometimes I get a little tired. Don't you? Floating flitting about, doing whatever needs doing wherever it needs doing is exhausting sometimes. I see cleaning, I clean it. I see a weed, I pull it out. I see someone who needs nurturing, I nurture. I see I am needed, I am there and available. I see a problem that needs solving, I solve it. See a pattern? Yep. I am a Floater.
How about you, Dear Reader? Are you a floater? I bet you are and never thought about it before now. Lets pledge to clean, pull, nurture, be available and solve ourselves; otherwise, we might float away...
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Well Dear Readers, we in the East got whomped but good with yet another nor'easter. Those of us in the Lehigh Valley area got 13.5 inches of snow and compared to some areas, we got off easy! The snow is fluffy and piled on top of any exposed surface. Since the sun is shining, it is plopping down from the trees and bushes it fell upon and icicles are beginning to melt.
As for me, I am NOT digg'n it! Still, ever one to look for the bright side of a situation, the contrasts of this late winter storm are kinda sorta fun. For example, the singing birds. In the dead of winter we do not hear many birds but with Spring about to spring, the eager to play little birdies are everywhere! Their bright colors and even more vibrant songs fill the trees and air and it's exhilarating!
I had to shovel a poop path for our dog Lollipop this morning and I didn't have to whistle while I worked, the cardinals did it for me! Both male and female cardinals flitted about the bushes and trees or perched overhead on the wires singing songs and flirting. Sweet, tiny finches chittered and sang as they hopped from this twig to that twig and dodged falling snow.
I hope you notice a fun contrast where you live and share it in the comments section.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor