Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What We Love Wednesdays!! The Great Tater!

Boil ‘em, bake ‘em, put ‘em in soup, fry ‘em, mash ‘em, make pancakes from ‘em too – have ‘em as a hash browns or if you’re British, enjoy the waffley versatile waffle! For breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, the humble potato is there, providing a dish that fills you up like no other food could dream to. It warms you on a cold day, satisfies your hunger, with more uses than anything else we can think of that’s edible – it really is a wonder to behold.

Who knows where it came from, or which country grows the most - all I know is we love the potato in every form and any time of day.

Welcome to this week’s edition of WWLW – this week, we love POTATOES!

Strange but true - Laura and I both have cultural links to the spud. Laura was brought up in Boise, Idaho - most Americans know Idaho as ‘the great potato state’ and I, well - I am half Scottish – quarter Irish - and every Brit knows that the Scots & Irish love a good potato!

It is generally assumed that the Irish & Scots’ love of potatoes came from the Irish famine (1845-1852) when one third of the population was entirely dependant on potatoes for food! Can you imagine all that mash! Yum! Since then it has formed a part of almost all our meals. In my family ‘a meal is not a meal without a potato’! So I was destined to love them.

The Idaho potato [AKA the Russet Burbank] is produced and used all over the world. Home of the late J.R. Simplot, who created and marketed the first commercially viable frozen french fries in the world in the ‘50s. In 1967 Simplot agreed with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc agreed by hand shake that the Simplot Company would provide frozen French fries to the restaurant chain. And the rest was history!
But back to why we love them – for me, if I was only allowed to eat only one food for the rest of my life it would be the potato - there are plenty of meal possibilities and it is SO versatile. Check out this ad for Birdseye Potato Waffles – it explains it better than I could:

Or you may have seen this advert lately – even Desperate Housewives (and I’m sure real housewives) LOVE potatoes! Click HERE!
Personally, we love to make whatever potato dish we are eating fresh – mash potato being our personal favourite! I have even competed with others to defend my title as ‘Best Mash Maker’ (after my mum of course)! Laura will add the recipe in soon.

However, if fresh potatoes can’t be found, we personally rely on Birdseye Potato Waffles (no other brand  is the same) - they go with EVERYTHING - watch THIS or McCain chips (any of them – wedges are perfect on their own or as a side, home made chips – always a great addition, oven chips make a great chip butty and the smiles (ok not technically chips) but they make us smile!). - See chip perfection in the making HERE!

Basically if you ever invite us to dinner make sure it contains potatoes! We love them taters!

Only kidding :)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tips & Recipes from an UN-Domestic Goddess : Chocolate Bowls

Hola! It's Laura here- welcome to my new segment! A little-known fact about me is I love love LOVE to cook, bake and more or less anything in the kitchen. It'd come as a shock to anyone who has known me for longer than this last year, because growing up I burned everything I touched- I blew up a frozen bagel in the microwave once, and I burned Easy Mac not once, not twice - but THREE times. Epic fail, I know.
It's cheese powder, pasta and water. How bad could it be?
Then, I met Sarah. This is a girl who hadn't tried a strawberry until she was 21. She wouldn't try anything, because she 'didn't like' [read: had never tried] it, and the worst bit - she didn't like CHEESE. *gasp* But then, somewhere mid-2010, while we were living in Australia, something amazing happened - Sarah started trying different foods! And LIKING them!
One of the first new things she tried and liked was a testament to how far she'd come - a full king prawn, which she had to de-head, and shell before eating. She survived an eyeballing from the bowl of prawns as well as my grandparents, with a little help from sweet chili sauce, and is now a pro! Very proud.

I decided that because Sarah was trying and liking so many new things, I should start cooking - after all, she was on a roll! So before I knew it, I was cooking up a storm - baking, and making all sorts of different things!

I don't claim to be an expert (as you can see by the title of this segment) - but I plan to share with the world easy, delicious recipes and useful household tips to help educate the un-domestic and the anti-cleaner (like myself) and turn them into a young (more stylish) Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker or Kitchen Barbie.
With that massive introduction behind us, lets move onto my first delicious dish.

Chocolate Bowls!
What exactly are they? Well, they are pretty self-explanatory - bowls made out of chocolate. We are hosting our first annual 'Thanksmas' dinner this weekend, (click HERE to see what Thanksmas is) and will be making these for dessert. They are easy, fun, and I think would also be a great activity to do with kids - with a sweet reward at the end!

What you need - 
  • Chocolate (Milk/dark (your choice) and white) - not just any chocolate will do, though - I recommend cooking chocolate, because it has a high cocao content. You'll need about 4 squares of each chocolate per bowl.
  • Balloons - one per bowl you want to make.
  • Tape - any sticky tape will do.
  • Cups - one per bowl you want to make.
Step 1 - Blow up the balloon and tie it shut. The chocolate will form over the balloon, so make it the size of the bowl you want. Mine was a bit bigger than a grapefruit.
Sarah not following directions
Step 2 - Stick a piece of tape flat to the side of the balloon, near the tied base. This will be useful to help let the air out of your balloon later. Secure the balloon to the cup, tie inside the cup, with tape.
Step 3 - Melt the chocolate in two different bowls - one for white, the other for milk/dark. We melted them in the microwave. Once it is a runny consistency, let it sit to cool, until it is body temperature. Too hot and it will pop the balloon, too cold and it will not coat the balloon the way you want it to.
TIP: You can test to see if the chocolate is body temperature by dabbing some on your lip - if you can't feel it, it's ready to use.

Step 4 - Use a spoon to pour milk/dark chocolate onto the balloon. It should run down the sides, but not too quickly. Try to pour it on the very top in order to start giving it a bowl shape. I recommend using 3 - 4 tablespoons of chocolate each time.
Step 5 - Do the same with the white chocolate - trying to fill in the gaps on the balloon from the milk/dark. Once you've finished with the first layer, put them in the refrigerator to cool, until they harden and are not gooey to the touch. 
TIP: The chocolate will lose its shine when it's ready.
Cooooolin' down
Step 6 - Repeat steps 4 - 6 at least two more times, or until you've run out of chocolate. 
Step 7 - Once the bowl is hard, turn it the right way up (on a clean, flat surface), and remove the cup from the balloon. Gently pierce the middle of the tape you earlier stuck to the side of the balloon. This should help let the air out gently instead of popping, and sending chocolate everywhere! Let the air out of the balloon and remove it. 
Voila, chocolate bowl!
Fill it with whipped cream and strawberries like we plan to on Thanksmas, or ice cream with the bits of chocolate that break off garnishing it. Either way it looks impressive, and tastes delicious!
Hope you've liked my first segment, please leave any comments below. I'd also love to hear your experiences if you make this at home!

Love always, Laura xo

Sunday, 27 November 2011

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?? 27/11/2011

Welcome to this weeks edition- Laura is currently surrounded with arts & craft preparing for our first annual Thanksmas dinner next Saturday. 'Thanksmas' is a combination of Thanksgiving & Christmas and will be an opportunity to showcase our baking and cooking capabilities (Laura's new segment will share some of her AMAZING recipes 'Tips and Recipes from an UN-domestic goddess' - see here).

For news this week:
Have you seen the video from the tram? If you haven't watch this here - but make sure you aren't in a public place or have the volume up to loud! This is ALL over the media here, the shocking, vile content is not at all representative of our views and has no place in the current world. Worst still the poor child with her has no choice but to listen - despicable. The latest news is that the woman has been charged with racist public disturbance. 

Following the shocking news here is something a little more light-hearted press here! And no we don't all do this on our dog walks!

Before I continue 1 final thing to raise a smile, don't ever let a partner tattoo you - if you have ever cheated! You never know if they know! And if they do know they might just do this: Click Here

It's almost the 1st of December and time to light the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree! OK so that's not really news, but Michael Barrymore is NO LONGER GAY!!!! Not sure what to even say to that, we very much doubt it's true, but if you want to know more check out Pink News! He's so attention-seeking, he's the British TV version of Lindsay Lohan! In other ridiculous news George Michael has a boyfriend called Fadi Fawaz haha- oh and he's recovering from pneumonia. Get well soon, just in time for his tour!

Roger Federer won a record sixth title at the ATP World Tour Finals today with a victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the O2 Arena. Sarah is a fan, of tennis and Federer, and Laura is not! It's a subject we're just going to have to agree to disagree on. 
Can you spot Federer?
By now you may have realised that (thankfully) nothing major has really happened this week, except maybe the loss of Gary Speed- Leeds & Wales football player. Very sad! Sarah saw him play many times and his death has shaken the football world and filled the news pages.(

RIP to the nicest man in football
On the other side of the world - Australia - 71% of the Labor parties voted in favour of Gay marriage! They are now pressuring the Prime Minister to change her opposition to marriage equality. As we spent a year living in Australia, we'd love for them to support the vote - especially for our friends over there. PM Julia Gillard has previously said that 'My position flows from my strong conviction that the institution of marriage has come to have a particular meaning and standing in our culture and nation and that should continue unchanged.'- hopefully she will see sense soon. From experience Julia is a smart, savvy leader on a lot of subjects it would be great if she took the lead on this subject!   
Did we mention she's a 'ranga?
Lady GaGa will be honoured with a Hero Award from the 'Trevor Project' - a US gay youth charity that works with LGBT youths to prevent suicide by offering support over the telephone and online! The award is great recognition and we are always interested in 'celebrities' supporting causes that are relevant to us. Lady GaGa's 'Born This Way Foundation' has been started to establish a standard of bravery & kindness in the face of bullying and abandonment and help youths work towards “youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development and will utilise digital mobilisation as one of the means to create positive change.”

In other news, have you seen the 'private Lady GaGa photos'? I read a book on how she masterminded her fame and you can't deny she has done a great job of it - aside from the music she has created an 'iconic' status that makes sure you always click a link when she's mentioned. So thats exactly what I did and was pleasantly surprised to find these photos of her looking 'normal'. We love a good biography (the official ones not the 'I once met her so can tell you everything about her' ones). A favourite story was when she made a teacup 'famous' by being seen with it everywhere - just to test how easily fame can be achieved nowadays - and it worked, within a day the teacup had been on the Jonathon Ross (talkshow) Show and had photos in The Sun! Smart lady!!! Anyway these photos are from Celebrity photographer Terry Richardson who took more than 100,000 photos of her then narrowed it down to 450 and put them together in a hardback book aptly named 'Lady GaGa X'

Christmas Countdown!- Our Weekly Christmas News

As we previously mentioned, the Christmas tree that's gifted to London every year for our support during the second World War is on its way here from Oslo, Norway. They will be lighting it December 1st, and will no doubt have carolers and other Christmasy delights, so we will of course be there after work, and you should too if you are in London!

Our first 'Christmas Movie Tuesday' will be happening this week- it's a pretty self-explanatory celebration, but I will tell you that our first movie of this holiday season will be the original 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'! 

The countdown to Thanksmas is on - we test drove some desserts and side dishes today - a resounding success from all, and only a little annoyance on Laura's part that England just doesn't seem to 'get' cornbread. It's one of the best side dishes at Thanksgiving, but they don't have it or anything like it here, so Sarah really didn't know what to expect when it was baked for her. Apparently 'it's somewhere between savoury cake and sweet bread' wasn't the best explanation. Any better ideas for how to explain cornbread at the dinner next weekend would be MUCH appreciated! Please comment below :)

Also, Laura got a Christmas apron this week! Because really, what is the point of baking Christmas dinner without a Christmas apron? Glad you agree. She got it on Etsy, and here is a picture and the link in case you'd like one of your own!

We hope you've enjoyed this week's news roundup - please leave your comments, follow us on our blog or on our Twitter!!

Have a good week

Laura & Sarah xo

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sarah's Fun Fact Fridays! - Back to Black!

Welcome to my Black Fun Fact Friday!

Why Black? Well Stateside today is officially Black Friday and the biggest shopping day of the year! From my limited experience last year I was told shops opened at 4am!!!! The ‘Black’ part was added to the Friday back in 1966 and referred to the ‘heavy and disruptive traffic’ that occurred in Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving- turning the air ‘black’.

More recently retailers have adopted the term to highlight today being the day they turn a profit ‘moving out of the red and into the black’.
On your mark, get set, oh- you've probably gone already...
If you are reading this after an epic Black Friday shopping trip – well done – you made it! It looks like others weren't so lucky- in L.A., shoppers got 'maced' in the face by a 'competitive shopper' at WalMart (read the article HERE!). We also heard Justin Bieber caused chaos at Macy's midnight opening For us Brits, we have to wait until Boxing Day for our sales to start or the 10th December for Oxford Street to become traffic free to enable us to shop easier.

Boxing Day (December 26th)– not just a shopping day actually – it’s officially still Christmas! Well, the 2nd day of Christmas! It is celebrated all over the Commonwealth and named after the ‘Christmas boxes’ that were handed out to workers on the first weekday after Christmas as a thank you for their hard work! More recently it has come to represent the tradition of ‘boxing up’ unwanted and leftover food & gifts to give to the needy.

But back to Thanksgiving, as it is the season. Thanksgiving is still all new to me; in fact I hadn’t had a Thanksgiving meal until 2010! (Thanks Mum Smith!). For Americans I understand it is a great family celebration, and a few days off, to celebrate things to be thankful for. And it’s been happening since 1621. Started in Plymouth (the US one not the UK one – although the name is the same because the Pilgrims weren’t very imaginative and wanted to feel at home, so named it after the town they left from) and prompted because of a good harvest.- although there are a lot of other theories. The ‘story’ is that the Plymouth Colony did not have enough food to feed half of the 102 colonists so the Wampandag native Americans provided seeds and taught them to fish, the next year the pilgrims had reason to be thankful – and so tradition was born!
What an odd bunch those pilgrams were...
In the UK we have no such celebration although our Plymouth has more of a history. Named because its at the ‘mouth of the river Plym’ – originally Plympton – or Plum-tree Town’, it’s been around since the Bronze Age and is one of the UK’s first trading ports.
Plymouth, where the country ends or maybe begins!
Oh and it holds a Thanksgiving event!

I hope you learned something new, and enjoy your left-over turkey!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Things We Are Thankful For This Thanksgiving Day!

On this 24th of November we would like to wish all our American readers a 'Happy Thanksgiving'! We spent a moment today (over a rather sad looking turkey sandwich) making a list of things we were thankful for and this is what we got:

We are thankful for each other - love is hard to come by, when you find it hold on to it - thankfully we plan to :)

We are thankful for our families - even though neither of us will see our families today. This matters more with Laura as her family will be sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner without her lovely smile. (sad!)

We are thankful for Laura's parents for their endless support, help and love.
(And master beer pulling skills!)
We are thankful for our friends - we have a pretty global spread and thankfully wherever we have lived we have had an amazing time surrounded by great friends.
In Australia

The UK

And the US of A!!

We are thankful for our health, without which we wouldn't have the ability to work, or afford our AMAZING life!

Our flat -
The view from our flat!

Ralph (our bargain of a car that gets us around and gives us FREEDOM!) -

Our lovely holidays:

We are thankful for our readers, of course!

And finally, we are thankful for Diet Coke (but you knew that already, didn't you?! (click HERE to see how thankful we are for it!))

Even though we aren't tucking into a nice Thanksgiving meal, we hope everyone enjoys theirs!

Please comment, follow the blog and follow us on Twitter!

With love, Laura and Sarah