Fourth of July (and pie)

One of the advantages to being bi-national is that you get two sets of holidays! Maybe it isn’t politic to have a party celebrating American Independence in Britain and invite my British friends but we have fun and everyone gets pie!

Actually since I missed the Jubilee due to my boyfriend being in hospital we put up the British flags as well as American.

Kim and I made an eclectic mix of American style foods that you can actually make in England. She and her boyfriend brought over biscuits with gravy and pulled pork, which was delicious! Check out Kim’s site for her entry on the pulled pork. I think  The biscuits were whole-wheat which was new to me but definitely works. I love how my half English, half Scotish/Irish best friend and her completely Irish boyfriend will not only come over for an American party but will even contribute.

I made hamburgers, potato salad and green beans in mushroom soup.

My potato salad is an odd thing since Chris and Kim both love it but neither of them actually likes potato salad :s This either means my potato salad is very good or not very much like potato salad. I have had people who do like potato salad also enjoy it in fairness.

This potato salad consists of cooking up some new potatoes and hard boiling some eggs and then chilling them. Water down some mayonnaise and mix into it the chunked potatoes and eggs along with some chopped spring onion and red pepper. Chill again and eat!

Since last Saturday (yes we had July 4th on July 7th) was one of the few sunny days we have had this month we decided to take a blanket and head to the park for dessert. It wasn’t actually warm and as soon as we got there the sun went behind a cloud but, in true English style, we made the best of it! We discussed Star Wars, teenagers and late-20s then read our books and enjoyed the lack of rain! We also had apple pie and cream (which I promptly managed to tip off of my pathetic paper plate).

Mom said cherry is traditional but since Kim doesn’t like cherries, I prefer apples and, moreover, I have a recipe for this one, Apple Pie it was!

This is the apple pie my Mom always makes for Thanksgiving, which was made by her mother as well. I love baking but I always particularly enjoy making Grandma’s recipes. I feel close to both my Mom and my Grandma even though they may be very far away. Mom’s aim with her pie is always to see if it tastes like Grandma’s. Mine is to see if it tastes like Mom’s. I hope both of them would approve of this pie! The biggest baking compliment I have ever had was when Mom told me I make candy cane cookies as well as Grandma.

So here is the apple pie recipe as sent to me by my Mom.

Pastry
3 Cups of Sifted Flour
1 Cup of Shortening (crisco, butter or marg)
1 tsp Salt
6 Tbl of Water  (aproximately) (I always seem to use more than this)
Mix the ingredients together. The dough should form into a fairly solid ball.
Roll out on a pastry board. Use additional flour to cover the board and the rolling pin.
Apple Part
6 Cups Sliced Apples
1 Cup Sugar
Cinnamon (no amount was ever given. I guess just 1tsp is about right.)
1 Tbl Flour
A few pats of Butter
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and place into the raw shell. Put the pats of butter on the top.
Add the top crust if doing so.
Using a fork, prick the top to allow steam to escape. (Mom always did it in a shape if possible, like an apple with leaf.)
Bake at 425F Gas Mark 7 for 50-60 minutes (or longer if the apples till feel too crunchy if a knife is inserted inside)
(I often find it necessary to cover the crust so that it doesn’t burn and then take it off for the last 10 minutes or so to allow the crust to get a nice golden brown.
I have to say, I think it turned out well! Especially the crust, I brought Crisco back from the States 2 months ago so I could make it properly. There are a lot of things that they should definitely sell in England! Mom and I always stock up on baking goods when we go home.
So that’s how we celebrated 4th of July in England with only 1/8 of the group being American! And 3 days late! But with a lot of fun and a great appreciations for the freedoms we have, which ever country we’re in.
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The Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy…

…Live Radio Show!

This has been coming up on our calendar for a very long time. I saw this advertised last January and bought Chris tickets then. We are a very geeky couple and can already quote great swathes of the book by heart, it is one of the reasons we were originally going out. It also means that our friends tend to lose the thread of some conversations very quickly. It serves them right for not reading the right books.

Anyway, once I saw this was on in Manchester, and with most of the original cast from the radio show performing it, Chris and I had to go!

Chris was very excited!

It was strange watching a radio show, it was like a cross between a play and an expressive reading. They had a live band and a pair of guys at the side doing all the sound effects. The ‘Book’ also had a stage of his own from which to narrate. A comet-shaped screen provided the backgrounds for various spaceships and planets as well as the visual representation of the book.

The stage did not want to be photographed!

Since, sadly, the original voice of the book has passed away they have a different actor every few nights and the book for ours was Jon Culshaw. While it was evident he hadn’t gotten much practice his ad libing was highly entertaining so no one cared. It was obvious that the actors were all having a good time as well and still got along which is always good to see. There was a large portion of audience participation to simulate any crowd scenes, we also got to sing along!

The plot added yet another version to the Hitchhikers’ Mythos with part one being basically the same as Book one and part two being all the important parts of the rest. There was a lot of time saved by just alluding to jokes as opposed to doing the whole thing but since everyone already knows the joke just the reference is hilarious.

The props  were well done and fit well with overall feeling of the show. The new Marvin was adorable (I’m sure he’d hate that) and Colin was a lit up ball on the end of a stick, but very cute. The show also featured the most expressive umbrella I have ever seen as Agrajag.

Overall it was a great night out and a fantastic production. 10/10

Come Dine With Me Night 4

Finally! Since night 3 was 6 months ago I think this either proves that Kim and I are frequently busy or just lack organisational skills… no comment.

So finally it was Chris’ turn, his menu was originally designed for February but since this has been such a cold and wet summer so far it was absolutely perfect. Chris also had decided to have a different cocktail accompanying each course which gave a nice variety to the evening’s beverages.

Starter

Chris’ starter was a salad with salt and pepper chicken served with a cocktail he has deemed ‘The Hulk’. It is apple schnapps and white rum topped up with lemonade. It was a lovely, light starter.

 

Main

The main course was Taterash, a stew of minced beef, carrot, potato, gravy and various herbs and worcester sauce. Yummy. Served with bread to mop up all the gravy. The accompanying Toffee Apple cocktail was perfect with it.

Don’t you just love my Denby cups!

 

Toffee apple is a hot cocktail of apple juice, kalua and spiced rum. This was definitely the best loved cocktail of the evening.

Intermission

For our entertainment Chris provided a couple of games. First we played the Annoying Game. This is a game that gives you a topic, such as ‘golf courses’, ‘things a priest might say’ or ‘things that come in tins’, and you have to name a set number of them while the game makes irritating noises like car horns or babies crying. It was hilarious.

Dessert

Chris and I were watching Heston Blumenthal a while ago and saw this dessert. Chris promptly made about 3 in one week to practice but since it is delicious I was ok with that.

Dark chocolate and mint ganache! (We have also had it as chocolate and orange ganache and just chocolate but with strawberry popping candy in the shortcake base). This one was mostly dark chocolate so it was very fruity and rich. It also meant the at the sweeter cocktail was a perfect counterpart to it.

Strawberry milkshake is just strawberry and cream vodka mixed with milk and topped with cream and grenadine.

 

All of this was followed by a backstabbing game of zombies (as between friends of course) and more Toffee Apples. A very fun evening of good food and hanging out with friends. 10/10 Chris 🙂