Thanksgiving in England: How to not to die of homesickness

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  This time of year, we always get a LOT of emails from fellow expats that are trying to distract themselves from HHH (Heinous Holiday Homesickness).  I hold my arms open wide and give you all big, non-creepy hugs…

Because so many of your are hurtin’, I thought I’d write down my personal and extra-special check-list that I’ve developed to to kick HHH’s arse.

1 – PARTY!

We’re American and we are used to celebrating this day – don’t stop now just because of the tiny, insignificant fact that you don’t ACTUALLY LIVE THERE ANY MORE   Invite people over – heck, invite PERSON over and channel your inner pilgrim.  Drink ’til you’re merry then eat ’til you’re comatose.

Don’t worry about everyone being American, Brits go MENTAL of Thanksgiving.  There have been years that friends that live on the other side of the UK call me up 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE to ‘reserve’ their seats at Thanksgiving.  Once a friend even flew over from Spain just to be part of our Thanks-mania.

2 – Take the day off

It took me two years to realise that the single thing that pissed me off the most about missing American Thanksgiving was not getting any time off.  From the minute my alarm clock would go off on Thanksgiving morning, I felt like I wanted to throw things and burst into tears.

But the third year in, I took Thanksgiving day off from work and spent the whole day prepping for party-central and watching the original Miracle on 34th Street on constant loop.  BLOODY HELL, it made me feel SOOOOO much better.

Can’t recommend it highly enough.

3 – Do something REALLY American

I’ll give you three guesses about what I do on Thanksgiving Day every year (and have done since my first expat Thanksgiving all the way back in 2005).

Give up?

I GO TO STARBUCKS.

I swear I’m not paid to constantly talk about Starbucks – I don’t even go there all that often.  I just write about it on here a lot because it’s my go-to-screw-you-HHH solution.

Anyway – this is pretty much the first thing I do every Thanksgiving.  I take myself out for a giant eggnog latte and an enormous pastry.  I bring a book and I just sit, read, and soak in all that glorious caffeine and sugar.  I soak it up and I wear it like a sweater / armour all day long. HHH can’t touch me when I’ve got my American buzz on.

4 – Don’t try to EXACTLY duplicate your childhood Thanksgiving

This is another thing I tried to do for the first two years and I can hold my head up high and tell you that it TANKED.  BIG TIME.

Duplicating my American Thanksgiving caused all KINDS of trouble.  For example:

  • Trying to find certain ingredients was a nightmare (Canned pumpkin, fried onions, the right kind of stuffing mix)
  • Asking everyone around the table to say one thing they’re thankful for went down  like a lead balloon.  On the whole, everyone was TOTALLY embarrassed about it.  We didn’t even get all the way around the table.  The Brits staged a kind of silent revolt and gave up half-way through.  For an English twist, why not ask everyone to make a comment about the weather instead?  (Kidding kidding… that was kinda mean, sorry. Clearly I’m still bitter.)
  • Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes gave my English guest the heebies.  They’re weren’t a big fan of green bean casserole.  They were sceptical about candied yams and they were surprised (although not horrified) about the stuffing because it was so different to what they’re used to.
  • It’s worth noting that I’m a vegetarian and we also had quorn roast instead of turkey.  You’ll be SHOCKED to know that it didn’t go down that well. :)

5 – Talk to your family

This is both the absolute best and the super-most-difficult part every year – but it’s an absolute essential.  I always want to have a little tear-session after I talk to my fam, but I also know that I’d feel like a big ol’ pile of shite if I didn’t catch up with them.

———-

And that’s it!  I do these 5 things every year and really REALLY helps.

Does anyone have any tips or traditions that you’ve started since you’ve been an expat?  There’s freakin’ LOADS of room on my list for more traditions, so bring it on.

English candy bars – a quick translation

With Halloween upon us, there’s fancy-dress, ghosts and candy everywhere.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself having familiar conversations about what candy is like in the US verse the UK.  Questions like, “Do you have _________ in America?”, “Is __________ the same in America?”, “What’s your favo(u)rite American candy?  And your favo(u)rite English candy?”

So let’s take some time to look at English candy because ALL HELL can break loose if you’re an American living in England and you don’t know what you’re doing.  Some candies look similar, but underneath that layer of familiarity lurks a world of confusion.  Some candy bars have the same name, but don’t have the same sweet shenanigans inside.

So here’s a list of some of the candy that drops into my expat conversations the most often:

Smarties

Closest US equivalent:

M&M’s (although they have M&M’s in the UK, too)

How are they different?:

They’re brighter colours, each colour is a different flavour (they’re different flavours for realsies, though – I know some of you M&M enthusiasts insist that all M&M’s don’t  taste the same, but I refuse to believe it) .  Also, they’re colouring is all-natural and doesn’t contain any of those frisky E-numbers – and they come in a cardboard tube (which I think is awesome).

The verdict:

I come down hard in favour of M&M’s because I don’t actually like the flavours that Smarties use. It’s a shame though, cos I love that they don’t use E-nums.


Milky Way (UK)

Closest US Equivalent:

Three Musketeers

How are they different?

The UK Milky Way is teeny tiny (about a third of the size of an American 3 Musketeers) and it has a thinner layer of milk chocolate than the 3 Musketeers does.

Everybody stay calm – there’s a candy bar called Milky Way in the States and it has nougat, CARAMEL and milk chocolate. So don’t lose your rag if you buy a Milky Way over here and it seems suspicious.  They’re not discriminating against you because you’re American by shrinking your choccy bar and witholding your caramel.

The verdict:

My Lord, I LOVE the UK Milky Way. It’s the right size, the right amount of sweetness, and it’s a bit lower calorie than your average candy bar which can never hurt. My loyalties lie with the UK version.


Mars (UK)

Closest US Equivalent:

Milky Way  (I know, I know – I’m confused, too)

How are they different?

These are super super similar – I crave them interchangeably.

The verdict:

The US version of the Milky Way was a major fave when I was a kid, so I’d vote for it just for ol’ times sake.

Horrifying yet amazing fact:

They deep fry Mars bars in Scottish chip shops.


Bounty

Closest US Equivalent:

Mounds

How are they different?

Bounty has coconut in the middle and MILK CHOCOLATE on the outside.  Mounds has the same type of coconut, but DARK CHOCOLATE on the outside.

The verdict:

Since coconut was invented by God to be paired with dark chocolate – I’ve gotta go Mounds on this one.


This post is starting to make me feel like all I do is eat chocolate.  Or maybe it’s making me WISH that all I do is eat chocolate.

Actually, as I’m typing this there’s a Halloween candy bowl in front of me filled with mini UK Milky Ways and Mars bars.

YES!

How to have the best day in Bath, England – EVER.

I spent the most awesome day ever in Bath with my brother, Leonard and his wife Ella who were visiting from Chicago.  We had such a good time, that I though I should write about our itinerary in case anyone else is going to a pilgrimage to the beautiful Bath sometime soon.

Step 1 – Cream Tea at the Pump Rooms

You won’t regret hanging out in this gigantic, gorgeous, chandelier-y spot.  The cream tea is delish (two scones – one fruit and one plain – strawberry jam and clotted cream) and I can also happily recommend the Welsh Rarebit if you’re looking for something savoury.  It’s worth it for the atmosphere alone – there was a piano player tickling the ivories when we were there.  He did what we came to call The Moon Mash-up – he played Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon and Paper Moon in a single glorious medley.  Excellent.

(check out the Pump Rooms website for directions, menus, or just to oggle)

Step 2 – The Roman Baths

Ok.  I’m being serious.  Go here.  Shut down your computer, iPad, or smart phone.  Get your coat.  Finish reading this later.

The level of history is something that me and my American family-peeps were completely unprepared for.  I’ve never said the word ‘awesome’ so many times in 90 minutes.

It’s beautiful, fascinating, and comes with a top-notch free audio tour.  Legendary expat, Bill Bryson, has even done a set of audio segments that are priceless – not to be missed.

(check out the Roman Baths website – that is, if you haven’t stopped reading already as per my instructions)

Step 3 – Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Leonard, Ella and I are all carnivorous readers and so we couldn’t resist a trip to this gem in Bath’s crown.  The shop itself is lovely and has an outstanding selection of books (with all purtiest book covers, too) – but what makes it stand apart is the staff.  No question is too small and they make glorious recommendations.  They are SO FREAKING LOVELY there.

It’s worth mentioning that their gift wrap is also completely adorbs.

(check out Mr. B’s lovely website – it’s cute-patoot)

Step 4 – The Royal Crescent

We found our way to the Royal Crescent by asking a passing stranger where it was.  The exchange went something like this:

Me:  ”Excuse me.  I’ve heard there a big pretty row of houses somewhere that we should go and look at – do you know what that is?”

Friendly man: “You must mean the Royal Crescent… [insert directions and laughter here]

You’ll be shocked to know that ‘big pretty row of houses’ doesn’t quite do it justice.  It’s definitely worth a look!

(learn more about the Royal Crescent on your best-interweb-friend and mine, Wikipedia)

Step 5 – Thermae Bath Spa

Ok.  You have to go here, too.  Don’t go to Bath without coming here, just don’t.  It’s thermal.  It’s a bath.  It’s a spa.  For the love of God, what else do you want?

We opted to get in for ‘last orders’ at 7pm and spend two hours watching the sun set from the thermal roof-top pool.  We also frequented the scented steam rooms a couple of times (Sandalwood was our fave).  But most of our time was spent floating in perfectly heated mineral pools and looking at gorgeous views across Bath.

NICE.

(Fancy a warm floaty sunset-y Bath extravaganza?  What a dumb question, of course you do – here’s the Thermae Bath Spa website)

Step 6 – Eat food and drink wine

This last step is optional, but I highly recommend it.  We ended up in Carluccio’s where the happiest waiter on earth served us the tastiest garlic bread I’ve ever laid taste-buds on.

But there are far too many awesome restaurants in Bath to count – if anyone has any suggestions, bring it on!


And that’s the end of the recommended ‘Best day in Bath – EVER’ guide.  I’m sure that I’m missing things, but this list made for an awesome, but not too busy day out.

It’s going to be one of those days that ages in my head like a warm tasty whiskey – it’s going to get better and better the more I remember it.  And THAT is the sign of a good day.  A very good day, indeed.

Emotional Americans in England look no further…

 

Yeah, we know us 3 gals don’t always keep a steady stream of posts, and we will raise our SURE underarms to be the first to know we’ve been sporadic lately. But, our goal of SNFY even after 2 years  is still the same– we’re always trying to connect and help and  our fellow Americans living in England. We joyously came across this letter to us the other day in our in-box. So, if you are an expat yourself and are interested in meetin’ a lurvely sounding  American laydeh in Sheffield, do get in touch and we will forward her your email.

Hi! After the the most frustrating Christmas ever wherein my husband, new baby, and I ended up without anywhere to go for Christmas dinner because my Yorkshire in-laws didn’t want to “impose” by offering an invitation, I Googled “emotional Americans in England” to see if anyone else could validate my bafflement. I was taken to your blog! Hurrah! Anyway, I am a 38 year old American woman married to a Yorkshireman and living in Sheffield. I’ve just had a baby here in Sheffield. Anyway, are there any American women living in Sheffield who want to go for a drink? I am dying for American company! I don’t know anybody here and whenever I am frustrated by English culture, my husband looks at me as though I am insane. I am starting to believe him. I need some American commiseration in a major way. By the way, before I became imprisoned in Yorkshire, I was an international teacher. I have lived in several other countries and never have I felt so “foreign.”

Why getting fat(ter) in England and Sir Mix-A-lot can go hand in hand.

peacefulyorkshire

There once was an American girl named Ms. Peaceful, aged twenty, who hadn’t yet moved to Britain. She enjoyed sweaty daily Bikram yoga sessions and MorningStar Soya burgers. She did 10 Mile bike rides in the sunshine while wearing Lycra. Tanned and toned was she. (Gawd, she even tried all those odd do- it -yourself chair exercises in Self Magazine).

Fast-forward 9 years and meet a new Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire (me): A bulge that I swear looks like I must be in the early stage of pregnancy. Oh, and those fancy Victoria’s Secret undies originally that came in my suitcase from the USA now just don’t cover my Latina bum the same way. This is good viewing for Mr. Chill, my English man, but really folks, a place in Wedgie-Ville is not the best place to be when you are trying to negotiate your salary. I dread to think how many more rolls I would accumulate if I didn’t walk to work on a daily basis. Am I not talkin’ bout the sausage ones!

The Verdict? I am slowly getting fat in England.

It’s the yummy food like Sainsbury’s olives and Cadbury’s chocolate. I am weak around buttery crumpets, bacon sarnies, the cream teas I have with my American Sistahs at Betty’s in York. The cold weather indoor lifestyle I have (what you want me to run in this mizzle?) does not lend myself to be motivated to frolic outside.  Erm, ok.. it’s not England’s fault.

And, while walking home today I decided to take note of some fellow Yorkshire-ites and saw lots of other teacake lovers. Muffin tops rollin’ over jeans, big breasts spillin’ and straining in white work shirts. Ruddy double-chins. Men and women in trouser suits that need to be taken out. (And some British people think Americans are the only fatties on the block?)

Of course it bothers me. I would be such a liar if I said it doesn’t! Unlike my former American self I’ve just stopped obsessing so much. I enjoy turning on Sir MixA-lot to shake it when Yankeebean and I meet up to celebrate some curves-action. I love that many women (and men too) in the UK,  as Yankeebean wrote last week , don’t really seem to give a rip about toned abs and bingo wings so openly and obsessively.  Let’s face it, some British women dress like hookers when Saturday night rolls around, no matteh’ what their shape. I really admire that, even if its not my style.

I think one of our readers, Sandra Dee, summed it perfectly:

‘Not that I am against staying in shape, its just the Hollywood-ness of it all made me realise how obsessed I used to be too. I used to delight in my flat-abbed stomach. Now. well, I can’t be bothered to care. In England it is so cold that I normally don’t get the time to show it off anyway. Well, except to my English man. And you should see his stomach….. he does NOT have a six pack nor does he want one or care about my newly formed fat bulge.

British people receive bad service abroad because everyone thinks they’re bad tippers

yankeebean

I had an interesting chat with my brother-in-law and his wife awhile ago.  My BIL and his wife travel all over the place constantly.  They’ve been back and forth across the world again and again – from snazzy fancy places to places where you have to get a slew of shots before you’re allow to set foot in.

We were talking about waiting tables and how it’s bloody hard work for bugger-all cash.  I commented that I’d been a waitress both in the US and in the UK and that you could made a PACKET from tips in the US – but not in the UK.  Based on my experience, in the States tipping averaged out between 15% and 20% – in the UK it averaged out to roughly 1 pound per customer.

To compare – If 4 people went out and spent 50.00 GBP / 74.04 USD on a meal the tips might be:

  • 10.00 GBP / 14.81 USD in America (20% tip)
  • 4.00 GBP / 5.92 USD in England (1 pound per person tip)

(Rate conversion was done via Google)

When you’ve been on your feet for 8 hours and your ankles are the size of a couple of hams, the difference between those two amounts is HEEE-YOOOJE… I’m so glad I don’t wait tables any more…

Anyway… my BIL then said that they regularly receive terrible service while abroad, even in America.  He thinks that all Brits are up the international creek just because of their reputation as bad tippers.  Have any other Brits noticed this?

Mr Nice Guy hasn’t noticed really, but I usually do the talking when we’re out about because no one understands what he’s saying :)

I’m definitely guilty of rushing to judgement about UK tipping (probably because I’ve been on the wrong side of a bad tip WAY too many times) – but it never occurred to me that it would come back to bite the Brits…

———————————

UPDATE – I was watching Live at the Apollo last night and Jason Manford did a whole schpeal about why British people don’t tip.  Too good to be true – http://bbc.co.uk/i/r95jk/.  (This link will start right at the part about tipping and is only available until 15th May).

Before you start flinging mince pies: Surviving Christmas in the UK , a reminder

peacefulyorkshire

peacefulyorkshire

Sometimes I just want to bang my American head against my rented Victorian terrace house wall and fling all my Mr. Kipling mince pies at my window in my frustration with my airport delays. The pie box says they are ‘exceedingly merry’–I am so not feeling that way now as I am missing my holidays with my family. I am raising my hand and admitting that now I am having a very ungraceful moment as I am stranded in the UK as my flight getting home to America three days ago was cancelled. Long story short  I am still trying to get on a flight home. For those of you stranded in the UK with the current weather conditions of snow and cancelled flights (like me), this advice from our archives will keep you informed about the possibilities of spending Christmas in the UK– or some observations about a British Christmas.

As you readers know, Christmas in Britain brings on its own wacky traditions… no one tells you these things as an American in Britain that you might encounter:

The Grotto: No, not a ghetto, not Santa’s grotty. But a GRAW-DO…Yeah, I was confused at first, too. Yes, here in Britain Santa  lives in a cave called a grotto. Not a cottage! Not a cabin! Not a wonderland!Yes, grotto sounds like a dirty word but really, it is a place meant for little children to visit Santa. Don’t ask.

Christmas crackers: Under no circumstances should you win the Christmas cracker if you are pulling it with your well-meaning British Sister-in -law, her kids, or your mother-in-law. Trust me. Monitor your pulling effort and just let them ‘win’ the cracker. Do you really want cheapo nail clippers anyway? And don’t be fooled by the “Marks and Spencer Luxury Crackers” either, they have nail clippers in them, too. I would  like to add however that I have started a very nice collection of wire silver egg cups from Christmas cracker winnings.

The Christmas Hat– You might pull your Christmas Cracker too hard (to not win requires lots of practice) and you may need to put on the flimsy colored paper-hat inside. Depending on the British family you are with will dictate if you are required to do so. You need to be aware that yes, you will look ridiculous in a bright-orange-tissue-paper-crown. But if everyone else puts it on and you don’t you will look like a big stick in the mud and that is definitely a social no-no.

Style your hair so that it would look good with a bright-orange-tissue-paper-crown on top. Maybe you could plan ahead to coordinate your Christmas day outfit so that it would match these common Christmas hat colors: Red, Bright green, dark purple, bright yellow, bright orange, and dark blue or black. Pray that you get the black hat if you do pull too hard and win the Christmas cracker– it looks more suave then the other colors.

The Queen’s Speech: You should be prepared to watch the Queen’s Speech, regardless of what you think of the Royal Family. My soon to be mother-in-law has tons of collectible “Royal Plates” on her wall so I know it is going to be a given. Although some British families (probably not many) do not watch the Royal Christmas message, but just be prepared to stop your Christmas dinner to watch.

Or, your Christmas dinner will revolve around the Queen’s speech timed to absolute perfection when the teas and coffees are served (oh those Brits are so organised!!). Practice some lines beforehand saying nice things about the Queen even though her speech might seem fake, over-rehearsed and out of touch with reality. Easy for her to say: “I hope all the hungry children in the world get food to eat this Christmas”– she lives in a castle for heaven’s sake! Your British family will probably also agree she shouldn’t say such things since she is swimming in money but have learned to keep their traps shut in this matter.

Boxing Day: Just when you thought Christmas was over comes along Boxing day. You’ve gotta think positive: you have made it this far and at least you are not at work like a lot of American employees back home! Yet, it is another day where everyone sits around in a food coma and eats lots of left-over beef and mincers while watching football matches you probably don’t give a hoot about. Around this point you might have had a few scuffles with your British partner and their family, probably unintentionally and probably about topics like their mother-in-law offending you, and what time you are going to leave.

A lot of British families like to take walks in the country on this day– you could fake a headache or indigestion if the thought of that is not appealing. At that point Christmas is about over anyway. And you will have made it through. Score!

Thanks for reading and Happy Christ– I mean, Merry Christmas! And fingers crossed to get myself home for Christmas….or lord help the mincers and my windows.

Christmas pudding in England is freakin’ weird

I love it here – England is awesome in so many ways – but desserts at Christmas is NOT one of them.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard about Christmas Pudding… Made ages in advance, CHOCK full of dried fruit and nuts (like every English dessert on earth), full of booze, left to sit for weeks, steamed for hours ‘on the day’, LIT ON FIRE and then eaten with brandy butter (or, as I like to call it, booze cream)

After the description of Christmas Pudding was delivered, in monologue, by Mr Nice Guy – the silence of disbelief descended.

Was I curious about it?  Hell yeah.
Did I want to try it?  Abso-freakin’-lutely
Did I enjoy it? *shudder*

Dude, I have freakin’ FLASHBACKS about that action.  And after making the effort to adapt to Marmite, I really don’t feel the need to try and force the Christmas Pudding issue.

A Christmas Pudding being flamed after brandy has been poured over it - Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

A Christmas Pudding being flamed after brandy has been poured over it – Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of lots of dried fruit, and peel makes me wanna gag.  I like traditional American desserts which involve a lot of sugar and, sometimes, not much else.  Christmas cookies, baby!  Sugar and E numbers – what more could you freakin’ want?? :D  Or pie, in any formation… with ice cream (or custard if you want a little ‘English’ on the side).

But don’t worry – if you’re at your in-laws for Christmas, you don’t have to ’cause a scene’ – there’s a way out without anyone getting hurt.

For anyone struggling with the lack of Christmas cookies and pie – repeat after me “Could you please pass the chocolate log?”

(Or you can fake a nut allergy) :D

Converting an American recipe to British is tougher than you think!

redlillocksFirstly, I’d just like to thank the amazing ladies of SNFY for once again allowing me to contribute as a guest blogger and get some of my frustrations off my chest. Beats anger management classes anyday! You girls ROCK I tell ya.— REDLILOCKS

Autumn Baking…

Hey did anyone notice those couple of days of sunshine we had over the past few months? Yes, that is what they call here The British Summer. I know, I know, I almost missed it as well. I have to admit moving from Southeast England to the Northwest, I never realised that when people said it was cold and rainy in Manchester that they actually meant it! I just figured people were exaggerating (I mean, the whole country rains, right?). Well, much to my surprise, they weren’t. Dreams of pretty cotton dresses and drinking Mojitos in the sunshine never entirely materialised but as the weather turns, I find myself with new fantasies to occupy my time. Warm knits, knee high boots with opaque tights, snugly scarves and that cool nip in the evening air that tells you that autumn is well and truly upon us.

Despite our rather sorry stint of truly warm weather, I actually quite like the cool crisp September weather and having a taste of home the other day, I decided I wanted to make a Zucchini Cake. There’s nothing like a bit of baking to warm up the house and remind you of cozy nights in with hot mugs of tea and a bit of baking from scratch. As you probably know, they are called ‘Courgettes’ here (we Americans use the Italian word, the British use the French) but as it is, after all, an American recipe, I decided it’s only right to use its proper American name.

Now I do quite a bit of cooking in this country but it was first time I was going to actually attempt to BAKE. With my fabulous boyfriend’s (we’ll call him Mr. Lovely) vast array of culinary equipment and ingredients to hand (he’s a great cook) I decided it would be a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I knew, of course, the ingredients would be in imperial measurements but I was confident that with a bit of conversion using metric kitchen scales, I could easily manage the recipe – no problem. Well, the issue wasn’t the conversion. It was the ingredients.

My conversation with Mr. Lovely went something like this:

Sitting in the living room, I called out to Mr. Lovely in the kitchen, “Can we get ‘All Purpose flour’ here?”

Mr. L responded, calling back, “What’s ‘All purpose flour’?”

“I don’t know, I guess it’s just regular flour.”

“Umm. Yeah I would think so. Is that the same as Self-Raising Flour? I have some of that.”

I didn’t like the sound of flour that rose on its own willpower. “Self-Raising flour? Hmm. I don’t think so.”

Mr. L, already tired of the exchange, assured me, “It’s okay, we can nip to the shop and get some.”

“Ok…” I went back to my recipe but only for a moment. “What about Baking Soda?” I called again.

“Do you mean Bicarbonate of Soda?”

I thought about it for a second. I know I’ve heard of Bicarbonate of Soda but I’d never eaten it. “I think so. Aggy and Kim use it to clean everything; I think it’s the same thing…” I went back to the ingredient list.

I called again, “What about Baking Powder?”

It was at this point that Mr. L, realising this may be an extended conversation, came into the living room. “What’s Baking Powder?”

“I think it helps the cake to rise. Or wait, is that what Baking Soda does?”

“Well, that’s what self-raising flour does.”

“Ahh right. Do you think I can skip both of those then if I use the self-raising flour?”

“I’m sure you can. It’ll be fine, just use the self-raising flour,” he assured me. He’s good like that.

I pondered this for a second. “Wonder why we don’t use self-raising flour in the States? Seems a lot easier….” Back to the ingredient list again. “What about white sugar?”

Mr. L crinkled his brow. “What do they mean by white sugar?”

I shrugged. “I think they mean just regular sugar.”

Mr. L went back into the kitchen and brought back a white packet. “I have caster sugar,” he announced.

I looked inside the packet, examining the tiny crystals. “Hmm – this is a bit finer than regular sugar. Do you think it’ll be okay if I use this?”

“Yeah, it’ll be okay.” (I swear that should be his motto, he says it to me so often.)

“Ok, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” I said, reassured. “Oh wait, the frosting takes confectioner’s sugar. Can you get that in this country?”

“Never heard of it. What about icing sugar?”

“I don’t know. This is a soft icing, it’s not gonna go hard is it?”

By this point Mr. L put his hands on his head. “ Arghhh I don’t know…” and walked out of the room.

It was clear by this point, I was on my own!

Now, my dear readers, let me tell you that in the end, despite all the guessing and against all the odds, the cake came out rather fantastically well – I know, no one is more shocked than me. Turns out all my substitutions worked a treat. However, next time there’s a chill in the air and I fancy a bit of baked scrummy goodness, I might just save all the hassle and go to Greggs instead.

Want to see Redlilocks other popular guest post? Click here

It is National Cheesecake Day today-thank you, America!

yahooavatar15 Well, call us Americans over-excited if you must, because in general we do like to celebrate! For all you She’s Not from Yorkshire readers living in America today, I am envious. Today I have learned that The Cheesecake Factory is offering their cheesecake for $1.50 in honour of the national holiday– the same price as 1978 when the original restaurant opened in Beverly Schmills.

How do you explain an important American institution  like the Cheesecake Factory to someone who is not American? Its a toughie! I would start by mentioning the 146 locations dotted across the country (ok so I looked that one up), and that the restaurants are mostly located in/near shopping malls (to draw in those hungry consumers, I suppose.)

I would then go on to describe the decor. Oh, its supposed to look like really classy and fancy, like something those sophisticated “Europeans” would design. I am talking swirly- pink -marble -galore and Doric columns in abundance. I then explain that this place does food too, not just desserts (well, like cheesecake but its NOT a factory!). But some people go and have only cheesecake for their dinner. (That’s America for you! I explain, the freedom to have dessert for your main course).

You’d better be hungry because the portions are as big as your face bigger than your head. In fact, its usually so crowded with customers that you get a little buzzer when your table is ready as there is usually a huge queue for tables. I would end by explaining that unlike in the UK doggy bags are the norm. Sigh. Doggie bags full of cheesecake….