The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


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Eating In London:Westminster Arms

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Mary Poppins has been digitally added to this photograph in order to create a more accurate view of the London skyline.

Over the Christmas holidays my husband, my sister-in-law and I jetted away for a whirlwind, two day trip to London. We were going to spend several days in the city, but (London Fun Fact) the trains shut down on Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23rd) so we shortened the trip.

Since we only had two days we hit the highlights and stuck to the most stereotypically touristy parts of London: Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, fish and chips, tea, etc., but it was still immensely fun.

Now let’s be honest, Great Britain isn’t exactly known for their culinary prowess. True they have tea, scones, and fish and chips, all of which are lovely, but they also have a mysterious, slightly scary, tar-like substance called Marmite, which I’ve gathered you eat on toast (Is it like jam or closer to peanut butter?) and Stargazy Pie, which maybe delicious, but honestly just looks terrifying. (Are you supposed to eat the fish heads?) My point being, I had very mixed expectations when it came to English cuisine.

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By Krista – Baked Stargazy Pie Uploaded by Diadoco, CC by 2.0

I am happy to report that most of the dishes were wonderfully delicious and I would eat them again.  That being said, I played it pretty safe and avoided the fish head pies and jellied eels (look it up).

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A view of what my husband was convinced was London Bridge, but was in fact not London Bridge. It was London Bridge adjacent.

In the morning went sightseeing, shot the obligatory photo at Big Ben, toured Westminster Abbey with an audio recording by Jeremy Irons (fancy), complained about the pesky tourists (Wow, Americans are SO loud! Sorry rest of the world), and in general enjoyed this wonderful, exciting city.

When we finally decided to stop for lunch we had no plan, so we picked the first interesting place we across: Westminster Arms. Apparently we picked well because in addition to being frequented by politicians and journalists, it has also been visited by Desmond Tutu, Angelina Jolie and Bill Clinton. All of this I learned after I got back to the States.Untitled-1We walked downstairs to the crowded restaurant portion of the pub and I fully expected to be turned away or a long wait.

“Are you here to eat?” asked a man brusquely.  He definitely seemed like the owner, so from henceforth I will refer to him as such.

“Yes” I answered.  I reined in my Americanness and said it with polite, deference rather than the exuberant, enthusiasm I’m used to in the States. Polite, deference would never fly at T.G.I.Fridays. They waitstaff would harass you until you faked absolute bliss to be eating artichoke dip. Being an American can be exhausting, who wants to be that upbeat and energetic all the time.

The owner walked up to a table filled with pint sipping patrons and said to the people “These people are eating, you need to leave.”

My husband and I were shocked, but the people seemed to take it in stride, got up and headed upstairs so we could take their table.  I guess it is tavern protocol.

I ordered the most tourist dish possible, fish and chips, which was more for the mashed peas than the fish and chips. I’ve tasted canned Mushy, which I wasn’t a fan off, but it made me want to try the real stuff. As I suspected, real mushy peas are delicious! Of course the fish and chips were also wonderful. 9My husband went for the second most touristy dish, bangers and mash, which was also quite good. I’d like to visit again and try something less obvious, but overall everything was well-cooked and plated.   Untitled-1a The tavern itself was nice with booths, tables and a bar at the front. Everything was covered in wood and complimented with appropriate art and decor.

The ladies’ toilets were also an adventure.  There was a sink with two facets: one for hot water and one for cold water, but none for comfortable temperature water.  I’ve been told this is fairly common in Great Britain, but this was the only sink I encountered like this, granted I was only there for 2 days.IMG_2737The restroom also had charming wall art to keep you entertained during your visit. IMG_2736I’m not sure what ‘cor scrummy’ means but I take it to mean something good.  ‘Sexy’ maybe, ‘tasty’, it’s possible.  If anyone knows please feel free to educate me.


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Chantenay Heirloom Carrot and Ginger Soup

Heirloom Carrot and Ginger SoupOn this gloomy, rainy Autumn day nothing is more perfect than a lunch of warm heirloom carrot and ginger soup. It is especially perfect when paired with fresh rolls and garnished with chives and dill.  Fresh RollsAnother great recipe for Chef Chris at The Bottle!fresh ginger

HEIRLOOM CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

(Serves 8 people)

2 tbs. whole butter

1 medium Vidalia onion

1 small clove of garlic

2 fresh bay leaves

1 tsp. salt and fresh ground pepper.

2 lbs. Chantenay carrots (any good sweet heirloom variety)

1 small piece of peeled fresh ginger (2 oz.)

6 cups vegetable stock (carrots, onions and celery)

1 cup heavy cream

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, sauté the roughly chopped vegetables in whole butter for five minutes. Add the vegetable stock, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Simmer for five minutes or until the carrots are tender. Puree and strain the mixture into another sauce pot and add the heavy cream. Bring to a light simmer and check seasoning. A few drops of lemon juice will help to bring out the flavor of the carrots. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, your favorite crusty bread and fresh herbs.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

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Tea with CC

feature8Alas, I could say that for the photos of this post were to pay homage to the photography greats Brassaï or Robert Doisneau, but that would be a lie. The truth is I was invited to a tea-themed cooking class and as an afterthought I brought my camera with me to get a few pictures. Much of photography is planning and I did not do that on this venture, so I ended up with dull, off-colored photographs. Oh well, it happens to the best of us and there are several courses of action when it occurs.

1. Spend countless hours attempting to color correct each image. Lame, who as time for that.

2. Use the off-colored photos and endure people telling you about how Instagram has really ‘professional’ editing features now. Also, knowing they are judging you for your bad photography, which is rarely fun.

3. Convert all the images to black and white and convince people it is because you are so artistic and deep. It helps if you say things like ‘The black and white removes all the distraction of color so you really SEE the image”, while rubbing your chin in an intelligent manner.

I went with a version of option 3 and converted to black/white… but admitted  it was because I had taken crappy pictures. I guess sometimes honesty is the best policy. Please do notice the subtle influence of Brassaï‘s bar images reflected in the chaos of the tea party. You can’t see me, as this is text, but know that I am rubbing my chin intelligently as I type this.

feature7I met CC last year at a blogging function. It was my first event with the group Rocket City Bloggers and every time I told someone I was a food photographer they would ask if I had met CC yet. Toward the end of the evening I finally did meet CC and he was worth all the hype. CC is a very talent chef that teaches cooking classes and has a food blog, in addition to his day job. Since then I have had dinner with CC and his lovely family several times, in addition to taking two of his cooking classes. Check out his blog and Facebook page.  There is very premium and interesting information on both.

The class that I poorly photographed was his Downton Abbey High Tea Class.feature2In addition to not planning my photo shoot, I should also mention that I showed up late and the class was well on its way by the time I finally arrived.  I am a disaster. sconesCC was mid way through making scones when I arrived. As he cooked and demonstrated the proper technique for each dish we sipped delicious teas, some of which he’d shipped in from Boston.  Pastry flakesAfter the scones were safely tucked in the oven he made pastry crisps and lemon curd. So delicious! My favorite desserts are alway citrus-based, so I was a huge fan of this portion of the tea.Lemon CurdWhenever I take a cooking class I always feel like I am being shown the secret to a magic trick. Despite working in the food industry a lot of it is still a mysterious to me and I love when it is revealed. Photographing food and creating it are two vastly different things. french pressWe had more tea as the scones, pastry crisps and lemon curd cooked. Like a circus plate spinner CC added more dishes to the mix, salmon triple layered sandwiches and a cake. Whew! I was exhausted and I wasn’t even cooking anything, just sipping my tea and making the occasional comment. feature14At this point the smells of the pastries and lemon curd were filling the kitchen. It was unbearable, like when your mother is making cookies but there are still 5 more minutes in the oven, plus cool down time. feature9Finally we were able to have the pastries and more tea.  The lemon curd, as I said was my favorite, but it was all very good.  Cooking with CCNext came the sandwiches, which I didn’t get a photo of, just take my word they were amazing.feature13The last course was the cake, which was of course perfect.  feature10Even the Queen approved! And I imagine she is a stickler for good tea and scones.

I highly recommend taking a class with CC. It is always entertaining, informative and delicious, the three ingredients needed for a fun evening!feature11

 

 


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Celebrate National Beer Day with Craft Beer Ice Pops

Straight to Ale Ice Pops

 No longer do you have to choose to cool down with a beer or an ice pop, instead you can enjoy your beer in a refreshing, icy block on a stick.  straight2ale2

This recipe was created by the always-talented Lily Plauché for an article we did together for NoAla Magazine.  Some articles can be tiresome to work on, but whenever beer is involved it is always a pleasure and this one was no exception.  straighttoale

We both got to visit Straight to Ale, a great brewery in Huntsville, sample their delicious fares, and got the grand tour of the brewery.  As with every brewery I have ever visited the people were very accommodating and lovely.  Though I’m sure there out there, I have yet to meet a mean brewer.  straighttoale14

Despite using a pretty hoppy IPA, Monkeynaut, this recipe is light and refreshing, with a little kick of beer taste at the end.  Enjoy the recipe below and Happy National Beer Day!IPA Ice Pop

IPA Ice Pops

Lily Plauché

Beer: Monkeynaut

 Serves: 9

 1 cup sugar

½ cup water

1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 cup Straight to Ale Monkeynaut IPA beer

9 wooden craft sticks

1. In a medium pot, combine sugar, water, strawberries, and pineapple. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool.

2. Place fruit mixture and beer in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds, insert wooden craft stick into each, and freeze 8 hours or until firm.

These are a soft-frozen treat due to the high alcohol content. Dip the molds briefly into hot water to assist in removing from the pops the molds. You can also freeze them in small paper cups if you don’t have ice pop molds.straighttoale2

 


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Peanut Butter Pupcakes

Untitled-1 copySeveral months ago I had the opportunity to photograph Ms. Lacey, a sweet dog with lots of energy.  The shoot was for an article about homemade dog treats for the magazine Rocket City Pets.  So my plan was to create mini scenes, dress my friends dogs in costumes, place the treats on the plate in front of the dog and effortlessly get amazing photographs.  Sometimes I can be really naive.Untitled-3The idea for the shoot was a good one.  I wanted to create a birthday scene, with the pup cakes front and center, candles lit, and Lacey dressed in her birthday finest complete with a tiara and tutu.  I bought a tiara and custom fit it with elastic to stay on Lacey’s head.  I converted a tutu with a tie on the front so it would be easier to fit onto a dog.  I even got tissue paper balls to create a nice birthday feel.  But alas, “the best-laid plans of mice and men, often goes awry” to paraphrase Robert Burns.  This quote is nearly always true when it comes to photographing children or animals… and sometimes awkward adults.  Untitled-2Lacey was surprisingly blasé about wearing the tutu, but the tiara was really asking a lot.  Every time we would get the tiara on her she would shake it off and then we would put it on her again and she would shake it off.  We played this game for quite a while until Lacey gave up and let the tiara stay, but she wasn’t happy about it.  She turned her back to the camera, laid on the ground and sulked.  Her owner and I thought she might cheer up with a pupcake, and she did, immensely.  The problem was she LOVED them and every time her owner (human mother) would place one on the plate she would gobble it up before I could snap the shutter.  I got shot after shot of a blurry Lacey licking her lips after inhaling the treat.  There was also an alarming moment when we thought she had eaten the candle, which I at least had the foresight to not light.  I began to worry she would get sick after eating so many treats, and yet I didn’t have a usable image.  At this point I opted to photograph Lacey in front of an empty plate and Photoshop the cake into the image later.coverHere is the before and after shots.  I don’t usually do this much post-production work, but this just goes to show you even dogs get unrealistic makeovers for their cover shoots.

Below is the recipe to make your own peanut butter banana pupcakes.  I can’t speak for all dogs, but Lacey is a HUGE fan.

Also I wanted to give a shout out to Lacey’s adoption agency Two by Two Rescue in Helena, Alabama.  I don’t currently own a dog, but I am a big advocate for adopting rescue and shelter dogs.  If you get one half as sweet as Lacey you have hit the jackpot.lacey1

 

Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes

1 cup peanut butter, divided

1 ¾ cups brown rice flour (for gluten-free) or whole wheat flour

1 cup milk

½ cup mashed ripe banana

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 12 regular-sized muffin tins or 36 mini muffin tins.

2. Combine ½ cup peanut butter and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling cups almost full. Bake 18-20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes; 12-15 minutes for minis. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with remaining ½ cup peanut butter.

If you would like more dog treat recipes visit my other blog posts: Doggie Pumpkin Biscuits  and Oatmeal-Cinnamon Biscuits.lily8


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Frushi {Fruit + Sushi}

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I was 16 years old the first time I ate sushi. My friend Mandy had a car and with our new-found freedom we did what any rebellious teenagers would do and started experimenting with eating new foods.  I know, super hardcore.  Each weekend we would eat at a different restaurant and one weekend we found ourselves at Bubba’s Sushi Bar.  I have doubts about its authenticity (it was called Bubba’s), but it was Alabama and we had limited options.

We confidently told the waitress that we were here to eat sushi, but that confidence quickly dwindled when the waitress brought us a long list of sushi options and a little red pencil to place our order.  The list was overwhelming with words like and we were confused about how the portion sizes, surely it wasn’t $3.25 for 1 tiny roll.  We muddled through the order, selecting a couple of options that seemed safe.  We tried to watch other people to see how the whole sushi experience worked, but no one in our vicinity seemed to be eating sushi.  Despite being a “sushi bar” Bubba’s also sold burgers and barbecue, which was much more palatable to the North Alabama population.feature2

When our sushi arrived we realized we were out of our element and had no idea how to eat it.  There were all these neatly wrapped rolls, which we expected, but there was also thin, pink slices of some foreign.. vegetable.. maybe a fruit, a strange, green dollop of something, and an inexplicable, tiny, empty bowl.  Mandy and I re-consulted the menu, trying to decipher the various elements and figure out how to eat it.  We decided that the green blob MUST be avocado, like a guacamole for your roll.  I thankfully only tasted a little, but for anyone that has ever gotten a little heavy-handed with the wasabi a little can go a long way.

“That’s NOT avocado,” I choked, as the tears filled my eyes and my sinuses sprang open.Untitled-1

 

 

We finally admitted defeat and asked the waitress how to eat sushi.  She kindly explained each element, and showed us how to mix the soy sauce (THAT’S what the little bowl is for).  Now I eat sushi all the time and it seems ridiculous that I didn’t know how to eat it then.feature4

 

Here is a very lovely recipe for dessert sushi, frushi.  It’s a nice, fresh dessert, perfect for the spring.  The rice has cocoanut milk and is lightly sweetened.  I found it delicious just on its own.  Recipe Below.feature3

 

Fruit Sushi

1 cup uncooked sushi or other short-grain rice

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup coconut milk

¼ teaspoon salt

Thinly sliced fresh fruit (suggested: kiwi, pineapple, strawberries, blackberries)

¾ cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

 

1. Bring 1 ¼ cups water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

2. Place rice in a large bowl; add sugar, coconut milk, and salt. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

3. Divide rice into 20 equal portions; shape each portion into an oval. Top with fruit. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and honey. Serve as a dipping sauce with the sushi.

Can be made ahead. Just cover and chill until ready to serve.feature5

As always enjoy and bon appétit!

 


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RED: Red Velvet Cake Recipe with an Arthropod Twist

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Red Velvet Cake

Cake:

2 ½ cups cake flour

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons cocoa powder

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 (1 ounce) bottle red food coloring

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of 3 (8 inch) round baking pans with cooking parchment paper or grease and flour the pans. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (cake will also slightly pull away from sides of pan. This is a very moist cake so it will not be totally dry when pressed with a finger. My time of 15-20 min is a guess so you may need to check and change it!)

3. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. (this is important. Cakes will be soggy and difficult to remove if they are allowed to completely cool in the pans. However, if you try to remove them from the pans right out of the oven they are more likely to stick to the pan)

4. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed 1 minute or until creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla. (sometimes I turn the mixer up to high and beat for a minute or two to get out powdered sugar lumps). Use frosting between layers and to frost the outside of the cake. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour before serving.

To read about Red Food Dyes Click Here!

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