In England, where I started my 3-week Europe trip, I was stunned by the sheer variety of food that I encountered. Okay, so maybe the fish-‘n-chips and beer British stereotype I had always entertained wasn’t exactly a fair one–though they do like their beer–but I wasn’t ready for the amount of GOOD STUFF I inhaled during my 6 days around Kent, London, Oxford, Cambridge, and York. From tea time scones & jam to gratins and savory pies, there simply was no shortage of perfect nibbles to fuel our packed daily schedules.
By far my favorite eateries to visit were the pastry and bread shops. There’s something infinitely comforting about the smell of freshly baked goods wafting in the air as you peruse shelves with strange, quaintly British names like “Bakewell Tart” and “Eton Mess” scribbled underneath them. Even familiar-looking desserts had unfamiliar names: biscuits for shortbreads, knickerbocker glory for a particular type of ice cream sundae, and puddings for desserts in general.
Though I didn’t encounter this particular dessert in the UK until we arrived in Edinburgh after our England tour, the Millionaire’s Shortbread–or what most online recipes would just call Millionaire Bar–was one of those known-yet-unknown foods that I felt I was meeting for the first time halfway across the world. We were at the Edinburgh Castle whiskey gift shop, where we had just finished sampling two extremely disappointing creme-flavored whiskeys, when I spotted these little gems sitting on a white tray next to the castle-themed hip flasks: just a scant layer of caramel sandwiched between an even scantier layer of chocolate on top and a hefty, THICK slab of shortbread on the bottom. The caramel and chocolate looked thinner than the woefully optimistic sundresses and cardigans that I had brought with me to the freezing, wet city.
The boy (who, by the way, is originally from England) came over and laughed when I expressed my surprise at these Frankensteinian versions.… Read more
I’m not sure how we’re already halfway through the summer–nobody ever consulted with me about this matter, or I would’ve veto’d it faster than you can say “pandas on a water slide”–but here we are, even so…and in spite of me, it seems!
These past two weeks have been unusually crazy ones…which is my way of excusing myself for the recent lack of updates. Whoops! Thankfully, we’ve finally hammered out our final plans for le big Europe trip, which is exciting because I hate travel planning with a passion, and more than one late evening ended with me simply drooping my head onto the table while the boy (bless his much more patient, level-headed penchant for these things) continued to click away at various online bookings and ticket listings, and basically making sure that the rest of the trip actually happened.
Aside from that, there hasn’t been much time for baking or photography because apart from travel planning, we’ve been having a bit of fun around here! We spent this past long weekend moseying around town, attending various picnics and potlucks, and having an early surprise birthday day for him since he’ll be home when it happens later this month. We started the day by getting massages, watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople(a VERY good film–it earned 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and we both loved it for its wit, fast-paced humor, and general ability to tell a spot-on story), and then getting dressed up to see a play called Big Skyat the local playhouse (it was also VERY good–the perfect mix of humor and dramatic insight into the workings of a dysfunctional family). Needless to say, I’ve been playing a lot of blog catch-up since he left for home yesterday, and I can’t wait to share all of the other exciting developments happening around here lately!… Read more
For anyone who is currently sitting in an office, classroom, library, or other public setting, you may want to bookmark this page and come back to it later…unless you don’t mind running the risk of accidentally salivating onto your keyboard in front of your boss. If that’s the case, then by all means: scroll on!
I was editing the photos for these treats this weekend when the boy poked his nose hopefully over my shoulder and stared at my computer monitor. “What are those?” he asked with an air of studied nonchalance that wasn’t fooling anyone. When I told him that they were caramel shortbread cocoa krispies bars, he asked whether I had made them earlier that day and was disappointed to find that I had not.
“Yesterday, then?” he prompted expectantly.
” I made these last month.”
“Oh.” Pause. “Sooo….I suppose that means there aren’t any left?”
Sadly, if you’re asking the same question as you sit there drooling at your screen in your office right now, I regret to inform you that these bars are long (I mean long) gone.I brought them to a class film screening back in April and they were gone lickety-split. With a buttery layer of shortbread, rich oozing caramel, and fluffy rice cereal infused with marshmallows and chocolate, these bars are pretty much one of the most amazing things you’ll ever try.
And hey, never fear–the recipe is here! (Er, below.) Happy Tuesday to you!
What about you: do you know someone who always wants to know where the sweet treats are at?
These bars are insane--and insanely delicious! Start with a buttery shortbread crust, topped with gooey rich caramel, and topped off with a surprisingly fluffy layer of rice cereal and marshmallows infused with the deep tones of chocolate.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeItAMovieNight #CollectiveBias
Animated films are my jam, my cup of tea, my sweet love, my obsession and my vampiric life blood. If you don’t like animation, you may as well leave now because I’m pretty sure we can’t ever be friends again.
And no, you can’t have any of these bars on your way out. Hmph!
Animated movie nights are one of my favorite bonding activities ever. If you want to find the want to my heart–because lezzbereal here, everyone does–you might suggest having a snack-filled animation marathon night and I might love you forever.
Every time I go home, my family and I make it a point to watch at least one animated film together, which is so delightful because sometimes I spend more time watching them than watching the film itself. This winter break, we decided to watch Hotel Transylvania 2, which is an adorable film about Dracula’s attempts to turn his half-human grandson into a true vampire. The plot was cute overload, but you know you’re watching a real gem when Blobby the Blob needs to use the bathroom in the middle of a dramatic race sequence and suddenly your dad is cracking up so bad that he is alternately coughing and laughing and quite literally falling off his chair for three minutes straight.
Ahh, families. Gotta love ‘em!
The only thing that could have made the night better was having about a bajillion snacks on hand. My family and I are a bunch of huge snackers, so we decided to stock up on Orville Redenbacher 6 pack Movie Theater Popcorn Bowls (a very good idea), Milk Chocolate M&M’S®, and Coca-Cola.
Why these particular snacks? I’m so glad you asked!… Read more
I’ve just started reading Morton N. Cohen’s edition of Lewis Carroll’s collected letters and the pitter-patter of rain outside seems bent on creating the perfect England-esque backdrop for my rambles into this bizarre British author’s mind. I’ve reached a sort of rut as far as my dissertation writing is concerned, so after rereading what I had written so far, I’m taking a step back this week and trying to focus on gathering as many clues as I can around the creation of the Alice stories. It’s kind of like playing a game of Clue, only you’re the only one playing and the clues appear in pell-mell fashion, willy-nilly and wherever they please. I never imagined that the whirlwind after the World Food Champs would take so long to calm down, but things are mostly settled now and (as odd as it sounds) thankfully I can get back to my research with minimal interruptions during the holiday break. My inner homebody is beyond pleased at this quiet change.
As I sift through Carroll’s letters from Oxford (where he served as a Mathematical Lecturer until 1881), I can’t help but fall in love with the author and his writing all over again. On Saturday, my British friend and I went on a long amble to the beach, where we strolled along the pier listening to live music and padded our way across the sand, far down the shore. I listened, fascinated, as he described his college at Cambridge and the lifelong groundkeepers who maintain the landscape and the ancient architecture that has seen so many developments yet stayed essentially the same since the 1300s. As we rolled up our jeans and waded into the Pacific, I found myself marveling at the fact that a place as many oceans and centuries away as 19th-century England could feel so close at the same time.… Read more
Before I begin, I just want to say that I’m not at all sorry for sharing this dessert with you. Yes, it’s a crazy dessert–yes, it’s so insanely good that I nearly picked through half of the pan before I managed to pry my paws off of these layered bars long enough to package them and ship them off. But will I say sorry?
The thing is, I’m a chronic sorry-sayer. If you’re not one yourself, you know one: that friend who, even when she is doing you a favor, will say “sorry” out of instinct more than anything else. And then of course, there’s the neverending loop of sorries, which usually happens when somebody points out that you’re saying sorry way too much, so your first response is to apologize for saying sorry so often–and thus begins the Great Chain of Apologies.
But as I said, I won’t be apologizing for these bars. Not even a tiny morsel, because they are unforgivingly knock-your-socks-off good.
I won’t apologize for the way your jeans fit after you eat them.
I won’t apologize for the incessant daydreams and steady stream of drool that these bars may incur during your regular work/schoolday routine, most probably (knowing your luck) right as your boss/teacher is asking you an important question.
In all seriousness, though: saying sorry really is an infliction, since the act of saying sorry when one has little to nothing for which to be sorry is really an indicator of something deeper happening. Several times in the past six months or so, I’ve called up some of my closest friends in the hopes of talking through some difficult issues–moral compasses, ethical dilemmas, others’ emotions, my own repeated near-meltdowns (or actual meltdowns, as earlier this week proved). The first words out of my mouth on every call were: “Sorry, do you have time to talk?” One text I sent said: “Sorry, can I be honest?”
And the first words my friends–all of them–said were not “of course” or “sure!” but: “Dude, don’t apologize.”
Followed by: “This is what friends are for.… Read more
There are three things I am loving right now. The first is surprises! Because who doesn’t love a good surprise? I know I do.
The second thing is babies. I mean, if you don’t like babies, does that mean you hate puppies and rainbows and unicorns and cupcakes and all things happy and cute, too? Nobody wants to be THAT person. In my mind, it’s safest to just love the cuddly creatures and get on with it <3
The third thing I love is…showers. Don’t get me wrong: the idea of a hot, luxurious bath at the end of a long day sounds as wonderful to me as it does to Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman. But since the idea of stewing in my own juices has always sort of weirded me out – showers it is.
And speaking of showers… Congratulations, you have stumbled across this surprise baby shower for our wonderful blogger friend, Courtney!
A group of 12 bloggers, including myself, have put our heads together on this lovely day to celebrate the amazing Courtney from Neighbor Food. I met this fantastic lady almost 2 years ago now, back when I was just a wee blogger with bright wide eyes looking for a friend or just a warm smile to welcome me into the big wide world of food blogging. Courtney was so gracious and was one of the rare few who would light up every single blog post of mine with a thoughtful comment, even when the photos were blurry or the writing was crap or my mind was plain jarbled up and my thoughts made zero sense.
In short, Courtney quickly grew to become a wonderful friend.
Now, with a wee one on the way in just a few short weeks, I’m so excited to be sharing a recipe with all of you today that epitomizes the best of all worlds when it comes to dessert time.… Read more
You’d think that with summer vacation finally here and in full swing, I’d find more time to do summery things like frolic through lush fields of berries or buy fresh produce every week from the farmer’s market down the street from us. Instead, in the 4 weeks that have elapsed since my last academic conference, I have done goodness-knows-what with my time: running all of the annoying errands I never bothered to do during the school year, catching up here on the blog, and trying to earn a few extra bucks here and there when I can.
I never understood what all of my aunts meant when they said that they are “ten times busier now that they have retired,” but now I’m starting to get the point. Vacationing is rough, there’s no denying it.
The struggle is real.
No, I’m kidding–of course, I know I’ve got it good. What is summer vacation anyway? Just a kid’s recess session on the playground of life. In the adult world, there is no recess. In the adult world, there is no nap time (unless you’re in Spain). There is no playground, and there definitely is no such thing as a “summer vacation.”
That being said……….
“Adulting” (verb: the act of acting like a real, honest-to-goodness, bona fide adult) is actually kind of all kinds of awesome in its own way. Sure, you don’t get official nap time at work–but when you’re working a real job, nobody will stop you from vegging out on your couch watching Netflix for so long that you actually end up falling asleep with your face in the bowl of buttered popcorn (none of this “no butter” nonsense). And okay, maybe our metabolisms work precisely 9.5 times slower than they did five years ago – let’s be honest, it feels good to know that if you’ve had a rough day at work, nothing stands between you and that half-gallon of cookies ‘n cream special edition toffee crunch ice cream sitting in your freezer.… Read more
If it’s felt quiet around here lately, you’re completely right. But guys. Guys.
Guess who’s penning this post as a newly baptized English PhD candidate? (eeks!) Excuse me while I bust-a-move around the room a la old-school 90s arcade game.
So for those of you who are just like, Ala you big nut what are you even talking about we have no idea please speak English okay, I have basically spent the past few months working furiously toward writing a dissertation proposal (called a “prospectus”) that I finally discussed with my entire exam committee on Monday. For a little shy of two hours, we sat in a room and questioned and brainstormed and pontificated about my ideas on the construction of children’s fantasy literature (and yes, that’s my dissertation topic–booyeah!).
Then they sent me out of the room and were all like GO STEW IN YOUR SWEATY INSECURITY and closed the door and deliberated.
Okay, actually they sent me out at a really nice and comfortable point in our conversation, and basically everyone was grinning as I walked out and everyone was still grinning when I walked back in. I was honestly a little bit scared because I have never seen my advisor beaming so broadly before at me, and I expected a terrifying green imp to burst out of his skin at any second and shout, “NYAH NYAH, you failed!”
But thankfully, my advisor’s skin stayed intact and he actually shook me heartily by the hand as he said: “I am so happy to congratulate you on successfully passing your exam!”
I imagine there being a palpable exclamation mark at the end of that sentence. Like, never ever have I heard him use an exclamation mark and the word “you” in the same sentence before, so you know–pretty big deal!… Read more
Almost a year ago now, I wrote this post on Defining Your Self-Worth, which received tons of amazing, thought-provoking, vulnerable, and deeply genuine comments from all of you readers out there. Today, in the midst of one of the craziest and most turbulent but also “happiest” periods of my life, I want to continue the discussion by bringing up another related topic: the Difficulty of Loving Yourself.
This is going to be a long post, so if you’re here for the S’mores Bars recipe (which is phenomenal BTW), go ahead and skip to the bottom of this post. I promise I won’t be offended!
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” This is the catchphrase of that wonderful coming-of-age book-turned-film that I’m watching alone tonight, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Having always identified as a Wallflour/Wallflower myself, that line always resonated with me. We accept the love we think we deserve. Fine. But what if there was no love to accept? What if, at the heart of it all, the problem wasn’t that I wasn’t accepting love, but that I didn’t deserve to be loved in the first place?
At my lowest moments, these are the thoughts that hang over my mind like an invisible but palpable cloud that blocks out all sunlight. Despite considering myself to be a fairly cheerful and positive person, the difficulty of loving myself has been something with which I have always struggled, but exponentially more so in the past six or seven years since all this crappiness happened. What makes the whole experience even more trying is–or at least was, as I’ll explain in a moment–what I perceived as a lack of stable support systems on which I could rely to actually talk about my problems. My blog has provided a surrogate version of that outlet for the past three years, but at some point the irreplaceability of face-to-face human warmth and contact just hits you, and suddenly the whole illusion of knowing what you’re doing and being the person the world thinks you are crumbles, leaving you to reconstruct some semblance of order from out of the rubble.… Read more