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Happy-Gourmand

Infected With The Bug

by - Story: 24507


We’re infected with a bug, and we love it!

It had been years since I was overseas, and I didn’t realize how much I missed having a dose of another style of life until I was there. Once you have the travel bug, you see, it never really leaves your system, and as soon as you are in a foreign place it takes you under its spell and the world becomes a magical place, as if you have been sprinkled with fairy dust.

From the moment I saw the little copses of trees and rolling hills dotted with sheep, my heart began to pick up speed. Martin commented that the British seemed to have an aversion to straight roads, but I just loved that it was different. Those cozy little country roads with high hedgerows on either side, and “roundabouts” every few miles (not kilometers, thank you very much) spoke of the quaintness of the place. Once I heard that wonderful thump of the Immigration stamp into my passport, I knew it was official: I was across the Pond!

Martin was excited too, having a new stamp… he had never been across the Atlantic and was keen to see what it was like. Part of the thrill for me was enjoying his excitement as he rubbernecked his way through the trip! We shared a whole new world together, and those memories will last for years to come.

It is amazing how the little things can make a difference. We had to wait to take the bus to the town where our friends live, so we had a most needed hot drink. Martin is quite picky about his tea, usually only drinking Earl Grey and most often Twinings at that. However, here we were in the land of tea and milk, and so he decided to try what they had at the airport coffee shop. It was a good cup of tea! Well, I answered, they say it is one of the things the empire is built on. I was glad that we were off to a good start.

Tea is in fact a central part of English life, and is still considered a meal by some. To “have tea” doesn’t always mean just having a cup of the stuff, as afternoon tea can be a full-on formal affair with those little crust-less sandwiches and tiny cakes. It used to be closer to what we now call dinner actually, as that was often later and lighter in substance. As much as the pub is a staple where English get-togethers are concerned, when staying with friends the cup of tea becomes the ubiquitous choice when pausing in activities. When we finally arrived at the door of my old friend, deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, that was the first thing we did once the bags were put down – have a cup of tea! It really does warm the cockles of your heart, you know. (I never knew I even had cockles until they were warmed with this camaraderie and a bit of the historic beverage that made the Empire.)

I can highly recommend an afternoon tea as well, if you want to pass some time with friends and have just a “wee snack”. Try some scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam (a most traditional accompaniment) and a good pot of tea with nice cups and saucers, and a jug of milk and pot of sugar to keep them company on the table. (I am sure you can find that teapot in the back of the cupboard somewhere!) If you get into the spirit of it, you will discover this kind of thing is not just for grannies, and especially as the kitchen fills with Christmas cookies of all kinds, this becomes a nice way to enjoy them. I enjoyed my afternoon tea at Warwick Castle (hence the photo), which I highly recommend, but for the times when you can’t make the trip, you can sit back in your own castle and enjoy the lay of the land.
When we went to the Tower of London, the Beefeater Guard who guided us around joked about the unfortunate Americans, who if they had paid their taxes (and not dumped all that wonderful tea!!) could have stayed part of the Empire. I for one was happy to consider myself a member of the Realm. So, here’s to the Empire, and God save the Queen!

SCONES

Here is a simple and quick recipe for the scones. For the jam, buy the nicest one you can if you don’t have homemade – the kind with bits in it. Clotted cream is sometimes found in grocery stores. Double Devon cream will do if you whip it up a bit. In a pinch, try a small tub of spreadable cream cheese to which you mix in a tablespoon or two of icing sugar. It should be just a bit sweet. Then spread out your napkin over your lap, put out your little finger as you lift your teacup, and enjoy!

500 ml/2 cups cake flour
2 ml/1/2 tsp salt
15 ml/1 tbsp baking powder
60 ml/4 tbsp butter
125 ml/1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt
1 egg

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife of pastry blender, forming a crumbly mixture.
Mix the egg and yogurt (or milk) with a fork. Use this mixture to bind the flour. Use a small knife or spatula to mix, as a wooden spoon is too heavy. If the mixture is a little too dry, add a tablespoon or two of cold tap water until a “softish” dough is formed.
Knead lightly 5 or 6 times.
Pat the dough out to 1.5 cm/1/2 inch thickness.
Cut into squares or rounds as you prefer.
Bake at 220C/425 F for about 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet, until just golden on top. (You can brush the tops with milk to make them a bit more golden if you like.)


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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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