Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween from Count Dogula

Be afraid, be VERY afraid...

The very distinguished Count Dogula
Count Dogula flashes his fangs!
He may be a vampire, but he is also a gentleman
Showing those fangs again!
I vant to suck your blood and lick your face!

This is actually a child's costume set, it was only £4 at Tesco (kind of like the British version of Meijer) and he already had the fangs! I was surprised that he didn't try to shake off the cape, he just pranced around in it like it was no big deal.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pie, and why it represents me

Pumpkin pie is DEFINITELY an American thing, but what many people don't know about pumpkin pie is that it was actually created using traditional English baking recipes. English settlers were introduced to the pumpkin by Native Americans, they saw it had similar properties to some English produce and created pumpkin pie by substituting pumpkin for ingredients they were used to in England but didn't have access to in colonial America. The first pumpkin pies probably resembled mince pies, with a full covering of shortcrust pastry.

I think that is why it kind of represents me, the English settlers took something very American and adapted it to be a kind of American-English hybrid.

I have been craving pumpkin pie since last year but never had a chance to make one because I didn't anticipate that the pumpkins would be available only for a few weeks in October. This year a friend of mine from choir was growing pumpkins in his garden and gave me one of his a couple weeks ago. My mom also brought me a can of pumpkin when she came to visit this year, so now I have a freezer full of pumpkin just waiting to become some delicious holiday recipes. However, even though its only October I just couldn't wait another minute for a piece of pumpkin pie so I made one yesterday.

First I cut the pumpkin in half and scooped out the guts. I saved the seeds and plan on roasting them today for a little snack.
I placed the pumpkin halves on a greased baking sheet and baked them for 1 1/4 hours at 350º until the flesh was soft. I let them cool for a bit so I could handle them and scoop out the flesh.
Then I pureed the pumpkin, most of the recipes I looked at suggested straining water from the puree but my puree was incredibly thick so I never had to drain it. It was a really rich sweet pumpkin, perfect for pie making.
I quickly whipped up a basic shortcrust pastry in my food processor and chilled it in the fridge while I mixed up the filling. I used a recipe that called for beating 3 eggs then adding two cups of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup of brown sugar as well as a blend of cinnamon, allspice and ginger.
Once the pie was ready I baked it in a 375º oven for 45 minutes and it turned out perfect!
I whipped up some heavy whipping cream and confectioner's sugar (by hand with a whisk, it was hard work) for some fresh homemade whipped cream. The first bite was magical, it was instant taste memory and it was such a comforting taste. It was definitely worth all the work of making it totally from scratch!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Yes, I passed my UK Driving Test on the second try. According to everyone "All of the good drivers pass on the second try". I have had so many people say this to me, and it rolls of their tongue like they have said it a million times before. It is counterintuitive that the good drivers would pass on the second try, if they are good drivers why wouldn't they pass on the first try? I am alone in that assessment though, and it seems the rule is that good drivers pass on their second try so I guess that must mean I am a good driver.

I do a have confession though, and this confession will probably cause my family to disown me. I really really really miss driving the Toyota Yaris I learned to drive in. The ride was smooth and for a tiny car with a diesel engine it had a lot of get-up-and-go. I am now driving Jason's Vauxhall Astra. For those who don't know, Vauxhall is the UK branch of GM, or at least it was at one time. So the Vauxhall Astra is similar to a Chevy Malibu I think.
A Vauxhall Astra, similar to the one I drive

I am grateful to have a nice car to drive, but I have to say its a bit of a let down after driving around the Toyota Yaris for several months. The Yaris zoomed along and got up to speed so smoothly, but driving the Astra it feels like it takes a lot of effort to accelerate and its just clunky to put it in the nicest terms I can think of. I am getting used to it and starting to learn how to get it to perform at its best but it takes a lot more effort than getting the Yaris to perform like I want it to. Alas...

Friday, October 9, 2009

My 15 seconds of semi-fame (I kid)

Check it out! Today I was quoted in The Guardian Life & Style section in this blog about parmo! The Guardian is a large, well respected national newspaper. (Although, this little article probably only made it to their website.) Still, I am flattered that this columnist quoted me in his article.

I am the "one American blogger" referenced in the article, and the article links to my original Anglotopia post about the beloved Teesside delicacy. Maybe I will become famous for coining the term "delinquent nephew of veal Parmigiana" and soon after pigs will probably fly, but one can dream.

This was a nice little ego boost today after a very stressful week.