Elevenses! Woohoo!

yankeebeanAccording to Wikipedia:

In the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth realms, elevenses is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning.  It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11 am.

According to me:

Freakin’ awesome!

Seriously, people  - how did we cope in America without Elevenses!?!  Ok, ok, I can hear you speaking to me through the blogosphere – We do have elevenses in America.  But we don’t call it elevenses and it’s just not the same.

In the States I seem to remember doughnuts, Starbucks or Entenmann’s being involved, and coffee… always coffee.  There’s a lot of good things on that list.  Good, tasty, artery-clogging things.

But there’s something gorgeous about a cup of tea and one single biscuit (ok, 2… cheeky).  And if you manage to wangle the jammy dodger out of the biscuit selection then SCORE, baby!!!

Points to England for inventing the most descriptive word for the occassion.  Half a point lost for not having a grocery store that sells Entenmann’s near my house right now, though…

I don't want to buy American stuff in the UK

yankeebeanI recently found this awesome website called American Soda where you can buy American food online and have it the next day.  With essentials like Hidden Valley Ranch, Cheetos and canned pumpkin… this is a really really really really REALLY awesome store…

But right after I found this site, it occurred to me that I don’t really want to buy any of this stuff when I’m in the UK.  I think what I actually MISS about these American beauties is being able to go out and buy/see them – and for it to be normal.  Does that make any sense?

It not like I want to buy a bag of Nestle Toll House Morsels and make the biggest be-all-end-all-giant-batch of chocolate chip cookies ever.  What I MISS is being able to mention Nestle Toll House Morsels and have everyone know what I’m talking about, or to go shopping and see them at the grocery store, or to go to my Grandma’s house and see them in the pantry.

I guess, if I put the shoe on the British foot for a minute, the same goes for English stuff in America.  I don’t really want to go back to the States and drink squash, or eat Marmite, or have baked beans for breakfast.  Although I would do all those things, I certainly wouldn’t object – I just wouldn’t go out of my way.

Although, having said all that, I can feel my first American Soda order brewing beneath the surface – even if it’s just for the ranch dressing…

Back in America, people forget to make teas and coffees

avt_kapyork_large115Not long ago I was posting about what a waste of time it was to ask each of my colleagues if they wanted a cup of tea or coffee.   If I wanted a cup of tea I could spend 30 seconds making one, or I could make a hot drink for everyone in the office and walk the drinks slowly over to them without spilling.  By the time I got back to working I had forgotten completely what I was doing before. 

Anyways, I did grow to appreciate offering tea/coffee to any guests or visitors to my home.  And I loved when visiting others I was sure to get a cup of tea to warm me up.  In fact, I learned that the warming tea was a great way to feel more comfortable because I used to leave my coat on when visiting others because I am pretty much always cold and British people thought it strange indeed.  What can I say, I never learned that people want you to remove your outer layer upon entering their home.  Whatever, thank goodness for hot tea. 

So I was sitting at a relative’s house in my American home city and was there for over an hour and never once was offered a drink.  It was so strange.  The seven other American women didn’t seem to mind.  None of them were fidgeting because they had nothing in their hands.  But I was sitting there preoccupied that my relative must have run out of coffee because I couldn’t even smell any brewing in the kitchen.  Not that I wanted coffee, I wanted tea.  But it wouldn’t have been the same anyways. 

Mr. Charismatic’s family arrive tomorrow for our wedding.  I bought them an electric kettle to use for the 2 weeks they are around and  plan to go round to theirs and drink tea with them often.  This will be one of the pleasures I look forward to when we come back to visit Britain.  Maybe it will be my British “Chipotle”.  mmmm

ps. I haven’t yet been to Chipotle and I’ve been here almost 4 weeks!  Its funny that when there is no sense of urgency to satisfy my American food cravings, I don’t even bother.   Perhaps if I wasn’t a little worried about fitting into my wedding dress perfectly I would have had a big yummy burrito by now.

Chewing Gum in England is like getting punched in the face with mint

yankeebeanJust a small observation, really… but do remember the first time you bought a packet of Extra chewing gum in England?

Same brand – Extra.  Same shape – tall and thin.  Excellent, just what I expected… surely this experience will not involve my expat outlook at all.

I was (foolishly) expecting 5 long, flat, thin, relatively squishy bits of minty goodness.  But what did I find?  Double-digits of tiny white pucks, stacked up… they seemed so small and unassuming.  But pop one in your mouth and

BAM!

Mint extravaganza!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it, I think English gum really delivers.  And the puck-ness means you have to work for it a little.  You have to EARN your mint…

Although I love Trident Original so I think America should get a mention, too…

Costco in England, an American confession

yahooavatar15Don’t think I am not embarrassed about this lil’ post. I am. I take pride in my anti-consumerism, bulk buying stance. “No need to hoard” has always been a motto of mine. Well, if your fridge was the size of a shoe box you would need that motto too. But I know secretly I am as materialistic as anyone other average joe, which is why I need to tell you something:

I love going to Costco in Leeds. I look forward to pushing my oversize cart (wait, I mean trolley) through the  wide aisles stacked to the ceiling with American products. And bulk-sized American products, in the UK at that!! Get your Krusteaz pancake mix, your family size 560 count Oreos, your 4 gallons of Grade A maple syrup. It is all there waiting for you! Craving some donuts? Well you better be off Weight Watchers because darlin’, you’ll have to buy 24! My imported Oprah magazine is 20% off, I can buy a ready-made pizza the size of my coffee table, and you can sample Gatorade to your mouth’s desire. But guess what? The ironic thing is when I am there I don’t feel the need to buy any of it  (except the donuts -ha!). Somehow, when I know where I can get a taste of America my desire for Root beer disappears. Ironic.

Now, there are all kinds of ways to beat homesickness, but may I suggest a trip to your local Costco? You would be surprised about how comforting it feels…

How do the British celebrate Easter? One English pub manager gives his opinion.

yahooavatar15Tell our She’s Not from Yorkshire readers about yourself:

My name is Rodders and I am the pub manager here at this pub, age 39. I am a Man city supporter, umm, I am not sure what else to say, like.  I have 1 kid named Sophie and it will be the first Easter that she will be aware of what’s going on so I will be looking forward to that. This time of the year is great for my pub as people have 4 days of consistent drinking ahead.

What is a popular Easter drink then since you run a pub?

Just the usual really, pints.

So, how do the Brits celebrate Easter in general?

We give each other Easter eggs. Eat lots of chocolate, best of all Easter also starts the British summertime. We have 4 days off, its a lot of laughter, everyone is happier, so it feels a positive time. Everyone goes on day trips, ice cream vans are back out…. it s a good time of year. There is also a lot of flowers blooming everywhere. This time of year is probably the prettiest time of year in Britain. Its more about the natural season then any religious holiday. But thanks to the religious aspect part of it we get 4 days off to enjoy it.

Yeah, the four day off thing is fantastic. So, what have you done to celebrate this year?

So far I haven’t done anything.

Do you have any plans then?

Yes, I am going to buy my little girl an Easter egg .

There are only 104 different kinds to choose from last time I went to Tesco’s– gosh, now there are even organic ones, fair-trade ones, luxury one’s at twice the price–

(laughs) Think that I’ll just buy her the biggest one, no doubt like (laughs some more)

Some of our American readers might not know what the “easter egg” thing is since we do more selling of pre-made baskets in the states.

Its a chocolate egg the size of an adult hand. They come wrapped in a purple foil. Or gold too. Inside there is a toy or more chocolates. My favourite is the Minstrel egg. Everyone used to stayed clear of Revels Easter eggs because all the kids hated the coffee flavoured one.

What are some British traditional Easter foods?

Hot cross buns, Simnel cake, spring lamb. I like hot cross buns more than Easter eggs, they’re more savoury. (He then starts singing the theme song to Hot Cross Buns jokingly)

In America there are lots of easter egg hunts, would you say Brits do the same thing?

Yes

And the Easter bunny? Does he make an appearance?

Not like that American twat bunny you see (laughs) The American ones are everywhere over there. Its more about the bunny then it is Jesus in America! The Easter bunny thing arrived when I was older, probably from America. I always wondered why its an Easter bunny that brings eggs? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a chocolate chicken that laid chocolate eggs?

Britain doesn’t seem very “Jesus” orientated either.

No, its not, my parents go to church but I don’t. I used to have to get all dressed up when I was little for the Easter meal and church, I hated that.

Anything else that you would like to say about how the Brits celebrate Easter?

Everyone forgets to put suntan lotion on if its warm and comes back with red faces. People drink too much beer and come back to work Tuesday with a hang-over. Dads spend half of the day trying to steal the kids chocolate (laughs)

Thanks for the interview and enlightening me.


Descaling your tea kettle as a feisty American in the UK:the why and how

yahooavatar15Let’s remind ourselves of The Mysterious Things you might discover upon moving to the UK as a feisty and intelligent American lady. Oh darling,  will there be plenty. No one tells you (well besides us, I mean)  that you might notice your British partner doesn’t rinse the suds off dishesduvet covers might wean you from your beloved sheets for good, that in this country Asbestos is no biggie despite what you thought, and that you will need to be able to make tea for 10 Brits and get them all right. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! But– amongst those initial discoveries is the reality that you might need to descale the tea kettle at some point to get rid of rust and limescale buildup. Descaling the tea kettle is a frequent joke amongst us 3 American women and a frequent laughing point when we have one of our Betty’s tea parties (wait, I hope Betty’s descales their kettle?!).

Us three American ladies on this blog are very different, and it is highlighted by our approach to the tea kettle descaling. Do you fall into any of these categories?

yankeebeanYankee bean: She doesn’t bother with descaling and actually didn’t know what the heck I was talking about at our first mention of descaling. She said something along the lines of  “Descaling? You mean cutting fish open?” Needless, to say she happily drinks her tea regardless of the mineral buildup– she won’t mind me telling you that the bottom of her tea kettle looks like a dandruff  storm that has settled for life.  I admire her relaxed nature to this and wish I could be so chilled about it.

avt_kapyork_large115Pacificbird: She only uses natural ingredients to descale to coincide with her uber-healthy lifestyle. She has tried numerous natural recipes and the most popular ones include using citric acid, lemon, vinegar, water… this goes along perfectly with her decision to give up caffeine and drink herbal cuppas instead.

Well, then there is me here–I can’t stand drinking tea from a nasty scaled tea kettle, with weird white things floating in the water. It just grosses me out. For example, I teach at a very posh college, but do those Old Boys bother to descale their very schmancy fancy silver coated kettle? No! So, I decline tea very politely. But in my home I descale my Tesco 5 quid bargain kettle every four months with those little descaling packets you can buy. By descaling I have had my cheapo kettle for years! Click here for a great little article on how and why to complete this important task. Gosh it’s so satisfying.

English cheese – proof that there is a God and he loves me

yankeebeanI think this might be my second post about the glories of cheese in Britain (and the whole of Europe for that matter).

Let me begin by admitting my love for dairy products in America.  I love Montery Jack, Colby, ‘American Cheese’ (genius!), and even Velveeta in melty cheesy dips.  I’m not a fan of that spray-cheese-in-a-can, but, hey, you can’t win ‘em all…

But when I moved to England my cheese education truly began.  The incredible variety of cheeses (all clearly marked as Vegetarian or not) being sold at resonable prices is FREAKIN STAGGERING.  Somerset Camembert, French Brie, Wendslydale, Oak-smoked Cheddar, Goat’s cheese of every shape, size and texture, Halloumi, Stilton…the list could easily go on and on.

It’s not that I discovered these cheese when I arrived the UK, but I didn’t really experience them very much until I got here.  In the States (at least in all my local super markets in the Midwest) there was a cavernous gap in price between the Kraft-cheeses (usually located near the butter and yoghurt) and the snazzy ‘exotic’ cheese that you’d find at the highly-polished cheese counter.  It was this price gap that meant I grew up eating (and loving) Kraft cheeses.

But in England – the ‘Kraft cheese section’ (for lack of a better term) comes fully stocked with a crazy-good selection of all kind of different dairy-treats.  And it seems to be constantly changing, every time we check out the selections there’s some kind of new Edam or Emmental or something, yum!  I approach each visit with an open mind (and stomach), ready to learn and love something new…

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my Kraft cheese because I do, but I’d also like to personally thank my local English grocery store for providing me with my new-found cheese education!

'Let's go to the pub and' *place any activity here*

yankeebeanAhhhhhh, the pub.  The PUB.  The pub the pub the pub the pub the pub…

Say it out loud and notice how NICE it is… even just to speak the phrase.

There’s something round and hug-able about the pub.  Something non-threatening and comforting, like the guy-friend you know will never put the moves on you.

The pub is a category in which England wins – there is no competition – no equivalent.  The pub stands alone on the 1st-place podium with nothing coming even close to 2nd or 3rd.  They say it’s lonely at the top, but the pub is never lonely…

No matter how many tube maps, pictures of Diana, cobbles stones, red phone booths, bowler hats or Big-Bens an American place plasters all over their walls, it can not, and will not, make it a pub.

You can celebrate, commiserate, relax, party, chat, sing, and even quiz at the pub.

You can eat, drink and snack at the pub.

You can get dressed up and go to the pub, or wear old jeans and a t-shirt to the pub.  (Especially since the smoking ban, since your clothes won’t end up pong-tastic)

You can meet old friends or new friends at the pub.

Almost any phrase you could come up with, you could precede with ‘Let’s go to the pub and…’ and it would work!

I case you haven’t guessed, I like the pub…

Kraft – Its the Cheesiest! And other care package desirables

avt_kapyork_large115I received a care package yesterday!  My Mom sent 9 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and 2 bags of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips!!  That’s right Ladies, semi-sweet morsels!!  :)

Care packages are just automatic ways to lift spirits and be reminded of favourite treats from home.  Any of the yucky feelings left over from a rough day at work yesterday suddenly lifted.   Note to self: bring small baggies of morsels to work every day. 

It got me thinking – what things will I want in a care package from the UK when I’m back in America?

Here’s a quick list:

Cheese and onion pasties or veg pasties if from Thomas the Bakers (not suitable for overseas travel, sigh)

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

Lemsip – Flu strength

Yorkshire Tea

Any number of vegetable curries (also not a good shipping contestant)

Louie Theroux documentaries

Episodes of Never Mind the Buzzcocks with Simon Amstel

Umm, this one is embarrassing but… I really like all the reruns of Murder, She Wrote that you can get everyday if you have Sky.  I don’t think you can still get that show in America anymore. 

What would you put in your care packages Ladies?