Ginger Nuts or Ginger Snaps

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Sherlock Holmes eating ginger nuts

In the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Australia, and New Zealand and most of the former British Empire, they are often called ginger nuts. Ginger nuts are not to be confused with pepper nuts, which are a variety of gingerbread, somewhat smaller in diameter, but thicker. McVitie’s ginger nuts was listed as the tenth most popular biscuit in the UK to “dunk” into tea.[4]

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Ginger nuts are the most popular biscuit in New Zealand, normally attributed to its tough texture which can withstand dunking into liquid. Leading biscuit manufacturer Griffin’s estimates 60 million of them are produced each year. This has become the title of a book, 60 Million Gingernuts, a chronicle of New Zealand records.[5][6][7]

Scandinavian ginger nuts, also called ginger bread or “brunkage” in Danish (literally meaning “brown biscuits”), pepparkakor in Swedish, piparkakut in Finnish, piparkūkas in Latvian, piparkoogid in Estonian and pepperkaker in Norwegian (literally, pepper cookies), are rolled quite thin (often under 3 mm (1/8-inch) thick), and cut into shapes; they are smooth and are usually much thinner and hence crisper (and in some cases, more strongly flavoured) than most global varieties. Cloves, cinnamon and cardamom are important ingredients of these, and the actual ginger taste is not prominent. Allspice was used formerly to season ginger biscuits, but cloves replaced it later.[8]

In the United States, the usual term is ginger snaps, and they are generally round drop cookies, usually between 3 mm (1/8-inch) and 6 mm (1/4-inch) thick, with prominent cracks in the top surface. One recipe for these cookies contains maple syrup.

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The British Tradition of Wearing Paper Crowns on Christmas day

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It is quite common for British people to wear King’s paper crown on Christmas Day and at Christmas dinner parties. Apparently, this tradition dates back to Roman times when participant to the Roman Saturnalia celebrations – held around 25th December – used to wear hats.

The idea of wearing paper crown probably derives from the Twelfth Night celebrations, where a King or Queen used to be appointed to supervise the proceedings.

Bangers & Mash History & Recipe

Bangers and mash

British dish made of mashed potatoes and sausages, the latter of which may be one of a variety of flavoured sausage made of pork or beef or a Cumberland sausage.

The dish is sometimes served with a rich onion gravy. It can also often be found served with fried onions.

This dish may, even when cooked at home, be thought of as an example of pub grub — relatively quick and easy to make in large quantities as well as being tasty and satisfying. More up-market varieties, with exotic sausages and mashes, are sold in gastropubs, as well as less exotic alternatives being available in regular public houses.

Along with jellied eels and pie and mash, the dish has particular iconic significance as traditional British working-class dishes.

Although it is sometimes stated that the term “bangers” has its origins in World War II, the term was actually in use at least as far back as 1919.[1] The term “bangers” is attributed to the fact that sausages, particularly the kind made during World War II under rationing, were made with water so they were more likely to explode under high heat if not cooked carefully; modern sausages do not have this attribute.

See Bangers and Mash Recipe:

The Christmas Caroling and Figgy Pudding Connection

We wish you a Merry Christmas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “ Hark the Heralds Angels Sing” – what is your Figgy puddingfirst thought when you hear these titles? Christmas carols, right? Oh how we love to sing these songs at this most wonderful time of the year. We are instantly filled with the joy of the season as we sing along on with the local radio station that has now converted its programming to Christmas carols 24-7. However, don’t be mistaken everything you hear on these stations is not considered a Christmas carol; some are merely Christmas songs.

Once upon a time people went out a-wassailing, going from door to door sharing good cheer and merriment. The practice of Christmas caroling as we know it dates back to the 19th century in Victorian England. Before the culture of carols, wassailing, a word deriving from the Old English term that encouraged good health for your neighbors, had  an ulterior motive. Behind the door-to-door singing,  for instance, in the song “Here We Come-A-Wassailing,” (now known as ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’) the intent stated tells neighbors to “Bring us some figgy pudding.” And they meant it! Figgy pudding is a dessert dating back to the 16th century in England. It is a white Christmas pudding containing figs, which can be boiled, baked, steamed in the oven or fried. It is also considered a spice-cake-like souffle (See the recipe).

For as much as we see commercials with carolers caroling about the latest deals for the holidays, and for as much as we sing Christmas carols on the radio,  the days of caroling are almost extinct as an every-man custom. Of course there are some that keep the tradition alive.  Groups like A Little Dickens Carolers went from a group of four friends performing at charity events to over 30 carolers performing at over 100 events per year. A Little Dickens Carolers are based out of Los Angeles and perform at local and celebrity events . On the East Coast in New York,  you can find The Dickens Victorian Carollers.  These professional carolers have performed for four presidential administrations including: father and son Bush, Clinton and a private function for the Obama’s.

Caroling doesn’t have to go the way of the VCR and 8-track tape. If caroling is something that you love, round up a few of your friends and organize a caroling party. You might want to center it around your tree-decorating, and in the old wassailing tradition ask everyone to bring an ornament or maybe some kind of Christmas treat. Make it fun and festive with traditional Christmas desserts and drinks.

If you are feeling adventurous and ready for a fun-filled experience of bringing good cheer to your neighbors, find a safe place to go in your neighborhood, bring some hot apple cider,hot cocoa or tea and Fa –la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la with your friends and family.  You never know, you might get some figgy pudding out of it!

London Olympics 2012: Olympians Served High Tea

By JULIE LEVIN Cronkite News-LONDON – At the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel, you can be an Olympic queen for one afternoon. Or an Olympic king, for that matter.

Tea, anyone? And here’s your chocolate gold medal to go with it.

Afternoon royal tea, a British staple, and dishes inspired by Queen Elizabeth II are served in the Wellington Lounge at the swanky hotel. Pastry chef Luis Meza even caters to the Olympians staying at the hotel, creating chocolate gold medals to deliver to their hotel rooms.

The hotel is on the site of the queen’s childhood residence at 145 Piccadilly. The queen’s current residence at Buckingham Palace is nearby.

READ MORE

UK Healthy Snacking & Eatwell Plate

British Nutrition Foundation-It is fine to snack – so long as you maintain a healthy balance of foods and keep yourself active. If you
feel hungry between meals, or you know it will be a while before you eat your next meal choose snacks that provide energy (preferably in the form of starchy carbohydrate), vitamins and minerals and not too much fat, sugar or salt.
You can use the eatwell plate as a quick, at-a-glance guide for choosing healthier snacks. The eatwell plate shows the types and proportions of foods that we need to eat to make up a varied and well balanced diet, so foods from the four main food groups make good choices for snacks. Try to make sure that that snacks you choose compliment other foods you eat during the day, i.e. choose a snack from a food group you may not have already had. For example if you had toast and fruit juice for breakfast, a yogurt would make a good morning snack. If you ate cereal and milk for breakfast, a banana would be a good morning snack choice.

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta 
These foods contain plenty of starchy carbohydrate to provide the body with energy throughout the day. They are a good choice if you are particularly active, especially before or after sport. They are low in fat, and contain even more fibre and minerals if you choose wholegrain types.

Try these easy snack suggestions:

  • A plain or fruit scone (with low fat spread and jam)
  • A small bowl of wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk
  • A small sandwich or slice of toast with banana and a little honey
  • A handful of rice crackers or a rice cake
  • Half a bagel with low-fat cheese spread
  • A hot cross bun or two slices of malt loaf with low fat spread

SEE FRUIT, MEAT & DAIRY SUGGESTIONS

Wimbledon Tradition of Strawberries and Cream

freshbitesblog.com-The world’s oldest tennis tournament is steeped in tradition, with the most delicious of them all featuring everyone’s favorite ruby red summer fruit! Just like Americans look forward to hot dogs at the ballpark, British tennis fans have been enjoying pots of strawberries served with lashings of cream ever since Wimbledon began in the 1800s.

How big is the tradition? This year alone, spectators will devour more than 65,000 pounds of strawberries and 1,800 gallons of cream during the 13 days at Wimbledon. To remember the experience, they can even take home a souvenir strawberry mug or asterling silver strawberry dipped in cream.

And if you’re courtside, you need something to wash it all down, of course! Age-old favorites are Champagne or Pimm’s and Lemonade.

Beef Wellington Recipe

Wikipedia-The origin of the name is unclear.There are theories that suggest that beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Some theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but there is a noted lack of evidence supporting this. In addition to the dearth of evidence attaching this dish to the famous Duke, the earliest recorded recipe to bear this name appeared in a 1966 cookbook.

 

Try this tasty Beef Wellington recipe from Tasteofhome.com

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

·beef tenderloin roast (4 to 5 pounds)

 

MADEIRA SAUCE:

·

2 cans (10-1/2 ounces each) condensed beef consomme, undiluted

· 2 tablespoons tomato paste

· 1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

· 2 tablespoons butter, softened

· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

· 1/2 cup Madeira wine

· FILLING:

· 2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms

· 4 shallots, chopped

· 1/4 pound sliced deli ham, chopped

· 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

· 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

· 2 tablespoons milk

 

DIRECTIONS

· Place the tenderloin in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan; fold ends under tenderloin. Bake, uncovered, at 475° for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until chilled.

· For sauce, in a large saucepan, combine the consomme, tomato paste and bouillon granules. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups.

· Combine butter and flour until smooth. Stir into sauce, a teaspoon at a time. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in wine and set aside.

· For the filling, in a large skillet, combine the mushrooms, shallots, ham and 2 tablespoons Madeira sauce. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley; cook 10 minutes longer or until liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

· On a lightly floured surface, unfold one puff pastry sheet; cut lengthwise along one fold line, forming two rectangles. Cut smaller rectangle into a 6-in. x 3-in. rectangle; use remaining piece for decorations if desired. Moisten a 6-in. edge of large rectangle with water. Attach smaller rectangle along that edge, pressing lightly to seal. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.

· Spread half of the filling down the center of pastry. Place the tenderloin on the filling. Spread the remaining filling over the top of meat. Roll out remaining puff pastry into a rectangle 8 in. wide and 5 in. longer than the tenderloin; place over the meat. Brush pastry edges with milk; fold edges under meat.

· Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 40 minutes (meat will be medium); cover lightly with foil if needed. Transfer to a serving platter. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Rewarm Madeira sauce if necessary. Serve with tenderloin. Yield: 12-16 servings.

 

 

 

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe, a British Favorite

Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie) A British or Irish meat pie made with beef mince and with a crust made from mashed potato. A variation on this dish is known as shepherd’s pie.The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791,[ when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. “cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).
In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until the 1870s, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton.  Having a British roommate, this is a staple meal.

Ingredients

  • Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Can of carrots
  • 1 can of peas
  • 1 Can of Beef Broth

 

Directions

 

Prepared Mashed potatos adding broth to the mixture for enhanced flavor.  Brown meat of choice with onion.  Season with and pepper to taste.  Turn off stove.  Add Carrots and Peas to the browned meat.  In a long glass pan layer mashed potatoes, the meat/vegetable mixture and add last layer of Mashed potatoes.  Baked at 350 for 50 Minutes.

 

Festival Globetrotting: Shakespeare Performances

Some version of Shakespeake in the Park exists in several parts of the world but here are few locations that you don’t want to miss:

New York: Shakespeare in the Park

Los Angeles (Topanga Canyon) Shakespeare at the  Theatricum Botanicum

Spain: Santa Sussana Shakespeare Festival