Monkey Business

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While we were at the Chicago Food and Wine Festival last weekend (official recap here) we came across The Infinite Monkey Theorem wine. This was served in cute little cans featuring the cheeky primate in the picture above.

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Father’s Day: Worth Every Penny

Since my husband works in finance and we’ve just had our second child, it was easy to pull together a theme for this year’s Father’s Day gift…

When our first daughter was born I purchased a onesie with an amusing slogan and took a photo of her wearing it. The not-so-amused expression was priceless and made a treasured picture for my husband’s desk. So now that we have our second daughter I searched out a similar item, took a photo in the same vein, placed it in another leather frame, and wrapped it for Father’s Day.

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In keeping with the monetary theme I also got him a British coin marking this year’s royal birth. (Both of our children were born in the same year as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children, and he has the other coin.) I packaged it all in financial green: green bag, green tissue, green tag and green ribbon. Then in amongst the layers I scattered foil covered chocolate coins, adding one to the tag for a touch of the Midas. I heard yesterday on television that the average American spends $115 on Dad for Father’s Day – worth every penny I would suggest!

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What did you give for Father’s Day?

Neat As A Pin

Like so many others I’m addicted to Pinterest. I love the thrill of finding a perfect something and the simplicity with which you can share it in a visually appealing format. I’ve been using the site to gather together gift ideas, sorting them into various categories based upon recipients’ interests. Amongst other things I’m inspired by my British roots, creating boards such as Resoundingly Royal and Tea For Two. One of my favorite is Cool Britannia, for this allows me to seek out interesting pieces with an overtly Anglo feel. Feel free to check it out:

Culinary Comfort

A friend stopped by with a thoughtful baby gift on behalf of a moms group I belong to. I was touched by this kind gesture, but even more so by the meal she brought along with it: a homemade chicken dish, tasty salad, and healthy dessert. As fellow mothers they understand that what I really need right now are offers of help. We really enjoyed dinner that someone else cooked for a change.

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Photo: Delia online

When I want to take a meal to a friend in need I make the traditional British recipe of cottage pie. This potato and meat creation was given its name when potatoes became widely available to the lower classes in England, cottage being a humble dwelling. At this time potato was often combined with leftover meat for a hearty supper. Often mistakenly called shepherd’s pie, this version is made with beef (shepherds pie is made with lamb). I always refer to the Delia Smith version for she is the (ageless) doyenne of British cooking. As one friend’s husband put it: “her recipes always work; she ever lies”. With it’s sweet cinnamon flavor and a creamy potato and leek topping this a perennial favorite, it’s one pot meal status making it particularly easy for the recipient.

Dinner With Churchill

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I’ve just finished reading Dinner with Churchill by Cita Stelzer and have been immersed in the world of British cooking. Churchill proclaimed to prefer simple foods, but to him that meant roast beef, champagne and other expensive items, all prepared to exacting standards and mostly served elaborately, with great attention to detail. It was a fascinating little book to a modern history buff who also relishes her food and entertaining. I very much enjoyed discussing it with my Book Club recently.
We each take it in turns hosting our Book Club and I always like to take a little something as a hostess gift. I decided against the Prime Minister’s favored Pol Roger champagne or Romeo y Julieta cigars, and deemed a British food item more appropriate. I went with treacle pudding, a classic winter dessert that is impossible not to devour: steamed sponge cake topped with golden syrup, a sticky, sugary substance. I used a Union Jack paper napkin and simple red and white tape to wrap the tin, following a British theme but with a picnic feel. (Picnics – of the Churchill variety – also feature in the book.)
Here are a few of my go to British treats that I like to give:
British Gifts
a – Cadbury’s chocolate – the only chocolate according to the British
b – Twinings tea – British breakfast tea at its best
c – Ribena – a blackcurrant drink, traditionally a popular cold buster
d – Bakewell tarts – an almond flavored pastry and sponge confection
e – Lemon curd – a creamy and citrus jam alternative
f – Coleman’s mustard – English mustard with instantly recognizable yellow branding
g – Walker’s shortbread – a Scottish favorite