Sunday, July 6, 2014

Home Again, Home Again


Well, I’m back from the first round of this summer’s travels–a trip to England, followed by a trip to Idaho (which is, trust me, almost as exotic a locale.)  It’s taken me awhile to readjust my internal clock and get to the point where I can sleep when I’m supposed to and stay awake when I want to,  but for the moment everything seems to be in balance.  Until the next round of travels, that is.

I spent the first three days of my visit to English in a small town called Grantham, about an hour north of London, exploring the mysteries of the old manor house pictured above.  Harlaxton Manor is the home of Harlaxton College, with which my university is a partner–that’s how I ended up making the trip.  If you click through that link, you’ll see some lovely photos of the manor.   I didn’t take as many foodie photos as I’d hoped to on this trip, mostly because all my meals happened within the context of meetings with host colleagues–so styling my food or whipping out my camera just never felt like the right thing to do.   I can, however, point you to some recipes for the delicious things I ate:

Poached Salmon

Sea Bass in Oyster Sauce

Summer Pudding

Lemon Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce

By far, my favorite item on that list was the lemon panna cotta, which was nicely tart without being too sour.  That’s a precarious balance to maintain, and it requires a lot of taste-testing while you’re making anything with lemons.

Once I got back to London, after the conference, I spent a day and a half sightseeing and exploring parts of the city that I hadn’t seen before.  That included a visit to the south bank of the Thames River, where I wandered through the Borough Market and enjoyed this for lunch:

Grilled Cheese London

This is reputedly the best toasted cheese sandwich in London, and I would not be surprised if it were found to be the best grilled cheese in the world.  I got it at the Kappacasein Dairy booth, where I waited patiently in line with half of the other people at the market.  The people at Kappacasein also sell a dish called Raclette, which involves scraping melted Ogleshield cheese right from the block over a plate of roasted potatoes, and if that line hadn’t been twice as long I might have tried it out–although this sandwich was, I have to say, unbelievably good.  I had no idea grilled cheese could be this tasty.  The sandwich includes a mixture of Montgomery cheddar, Ogleshield and Comte cheeses, along with five types of onions, all sandwiched between two slices of buttered sourdough bread.  (I should probably mention that I gave myself a break from strict adherence to my gluten-free diet while I was in London, but only when I saw something I really wanted to try.  Otherwise I tried to stay on the wagon, knowing I’d be sorry later if I didn’t.)

As if that weren’t enough gluteny gluttony, I also enjoyed the best muffin of my life in London. I have yet to find a recipe that’s anything like it, so I’ll have to come up with my own gluten-free version at some point.  Called an Orange and Lemon muffin, it featured candied orange peel and a sticky orange glaze on top, a moist and citrusy muffin below–and then, as if that weren’t enough, lemon curd in the middle.  I was very happy with my muffin purchase even before I made that discovery, but when I bit into a zingy bite of lemon curd, I was absolutely in heaven.

So, in a nutshell, that was London.  A few days later, The Hubs and I headed out for Boise, my hometown, where we spent some time with my mom–she’s recently moved into assisted living and put her home up for sale,which has been a difficult process. Cleaning out the house where she and my father lived for 45 years was a difficult project for my siblings, to say the least, but the house sold quickly once that was done.  Still, it was important to my mom that we pick the last of my dad’s raspberries before the new owners took possession of the house, so that’s what we did one morning.  We picked raspberries.  Lots and lots of raspberries.


We could have picked twice as many, but after a few hours of work, we figured we had all anyone was going to use or eat.  (As my dad liked to say, you have to leave some for the birds.)  I was sad to see that his rhubarb had finished for the season, and sadder still to see that the garden was so overrun with weeds.  The new owners are very excited about having a large garden space, though, as well as a big yard for their young daughters to play in, and it makes my mom happy to know they’ll take good care of the house we called our home for so many years.

No trip to Boise is complete without a visit to my favorite drive-in restaurant, Fanci Freez.  It’s just a few blocks from my old high school, and it’s one of my favorite places to feel like a kid again–the crazy selection of shake and sundae flavors still makes me feel a little giddy, even though I have my favorites and rarely deviate from them.  The Hubs and I met a friend there (oddly enough, a friend from graduate school in Kansas who now lives in my hometown–go figure) and enjoyed Boston shakes.

Fanci Freez Boston Shakes

A Boston shake is a regular milkshake, with one exception:  it’s topped with a sundae.  That’s right, you get both a shake and a sundae in one cup, and you can mix and match your flavors.  In the days of my youth, the Boston came in only one size–ginormous–so it was the sort of thing you ate only rarely.  Now, Fanci Freez makes it available to everyone, every day, by offering it in sizes mini through large.  I had a mini coconut shake with a marshmallow sundae on top; The Hubs had a small white chocolate shake with a huckleberry sundae on top.  Just enough ice cream to give us a nice sugar buzz.

I’ll be wriing another post about my mom’s china, which was part of the load we drove back from Boise, as well as a couple of kitchen implements I snagged from storage.  Even though our visit to Boise was only a few days long, it was good to bring back some pieces of my family’s legacy and think about how to make them part of a new generation.


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