EandA-1This blog started as a bit of a lark.  I was at a professional cross-roads with lots of options and nothing to lose.  The only unacceptable choice was doing nothing.  To live is to keep moving, right?  So I jumped in the deep end and committed to a year of professional culinary school.  I am also living an ocean away from my family and I am pretty terrible at staying in touch. My mom and sister convinced me to create this space so that they could follow my adventures.  As for the name, the game Rock Paper Scissors captured how I felt at the time about committing to culinary school and hitting the pause button on my legal career.  But I live in London.  You know, two nations separated by a common language, and all that.  So of course Rock Paper Scissors had to be Paper Scissors Stone.

So what happened?  Culinary school was invigorating, challenging, fun, fulfilling and generally awesome.  It opened doors to ideas, passions and opportunities that wouldn’t have been there before.  I can say the same thing for blogging.  It turns out that I actually like writing.

So here I am, in a different and unexpected place.  Read More →

oatmeal3

Everyone in our home headed back to work or school today.  The weather here has been grim, so we’re getting off to the right start with the most traditional of English breakfasts: porridge.  Except that I am American, and I call it oatmeal.  Sorry, porridge just sounds so dreary.  Either way, it’s so good for you with its whole grains and protein.  But all of that warming nourishment is wasted if it is gluey, gloppy and boring.

Here are some of my tricks for keeping it easy and manageable. Read More →

Lunch crowd at River Cafe

Lunch crowd at River Cafe

Cross-posted at West London Mum.

Take Me to the River

Do you ever wonder how things work behind the scenes at fine restaurants? I was lucky to get the chance to interview Sian Wyn Owen, head chef at the River Cafe, while shadowing her through an entire lunch shift. Here is a peek at the inner workings of one of west London’s best restaurants and some Q&A with a very cool working mum. Read More →

Thanksgiving is the ultimate eating holiday, but not necessarily the ultimate “foodie” holiday. Seriously, would you ever have another meal with both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and bread-based stuffing together? Even if you aren’t avoiding carbs, that is just a crazy menu with too many side dishes. But here is the cool thing about Thanksgiving, it is one day of the year when the menu isn’t driven by perfect balance and elegance, it is driven by family and traditions and enjoyment and love. One can’t eat like that everyday, but it is a lot of fun to eat certain things once a year because they remind you of your grandmother or your family back in the South or that time when my sister made some gnarly cranberry sauce at school and brought it home in a dixie cup. No one wanted to eat it but we did anyway and now we laugh about it every year.

Here is our menu. I’ll update with some photos tomorrow night, but I really hope you’ll leave a comment sharing your must-have Thanksgiving dish. The kind of thing that really makes it feel like Thanksgiving. I won’t bore you with the details, but I assure you that I never would have chosen this menu on my own.  I love it anyway because each dish represents a dear family member or friend, even if they won’t be at my table.

place settings

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November always brings cornbread.  Not only is it delicious, but the early colonists actually learned to cultivate and mill corn (or maize) from the Native Americans.  This is seriously historical Thanksgiving food.  But making it here in the UK led me to unexpected ex-pat confusion: even though cornbread is a simple quick bread made with cornmeal, eggs and milk, it is hard to find traditional cornmeal most of the year.  At Thanksgiving a few shops that cater to ex-pats stock up on Jiffy and Quaker Oats, but the rest of the time the recommendation is to substitute polenta.  After a little trial and error, I’ve been fully converted and don’t plan to ever go back to the commercial brands of cornmeal.
Skillet Cornbread

When we moved to London on six weeks notice, we dropped the Fives (then Threes) into a local nursery school that was convenient, warm, kind and fun. This little nursery also had the most amazing lunch program, hot lunches cooked on-site every day. Real food — things like turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes and broccoli served family-style at a low table. They even gave the kids real knives and forks, trusting there would be no casualties. The most amazing bit, all of this lovely nutritious real food was being cooked by someone else.

But they don’t go to school there anymore.

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Sweet conkers

Sweet conkers

Every September and October, the Fives come home with pockets full of chestnuts that have fallen from the trees in London. For weeks, I find them everywhere — school bags, shoes, buckets, drawers… In the face of my exasperation, and dodging the actual point I was making about hoarding, they informed me that these weren’t chestnuts at all. They are CONKERS. Silly mum. They even taught me the conker song:

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One stop on our summer holiday included a visit with family in the French countryside. Behind their home, they look after a very large veg patch full of tomatoes, squash, aubergine, melon, pumpkins, corn, lettuce, herbs. Their lush and beautiful crop made my little urban plot seem like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of veg patches.  No matter.  I’m not the jealous type.  As they say, when life give you, um, courgette flowers, make something delicious.  Even if they are from someone else’s garden.

courgette/zucchini blossom

This was actually my husband’s inspired idea.  While helping with the garden chores, he realised that there were nearly twenty beautiful blossoms on the courgette plants and squash vines.  This in addition to the courgette already fully ripened and ready to eat.  Seriously, these courgette were the as long as my forearm and as heavy as a small child. So our lunch idea would also serve as a much needed crop reduction.  (He grew up on a farm.  He is very clever.)

He asked if the flowers were the same kind they use at the Salt Yard for that amazing fried courgette blossom dish? Yes. Did they teach me how to do that in school? No, but we can wing it. And use Google.  And let’s just say that a crunchy, creamy, salty and sweet courgette recipe was an easy sell.

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Back in the Spring, desperate for sunshine and warmth, I was so infatuated with my veg patch that I conveniently ignored that fact that I was leaving town for most of the summer.  I was in denial about the fact that the fledgling plants, already set back by the dreadful Spring of 2013, were going to have to go it on their own while I took the Fives back to the States to visit family and friends.

How did the crop fare?  Anything that grew faster than weeds thrived.  Anything that couldn’t was stunted.  Thought pretty much everything did survive.  Ain’t mother nature great? The biggest winners: rainbow chard, kale and courgette (zucchini for my American friends).  The Fives and I harvested bags full last weekend (along with twice as many bags full of weeds…).

Chard and kale will be with us for a while, but the curse of courgette is that when it is in season, it is so prolific that people run out of ways to use it.  So I offer you two ways to use up your courgette bounty without being bored to death.  First up, a simple salad that takes mere minutes to make and doesn’t require an oven or stove.  Tomorrow, I’ll share something a little more sophisticated. Read More →

Five years ago, I was stuck in the hospital with preeclampsia, a magnesium drip and two preemies in the NICU.  My life has changed so much since then — homes, countries, employers, careers, hobbies — but these two little kidlets have been a constant grounding force for me.  Which is not to say they have been constant.  They seem to grow before my very eyes.  And they are always revealing details of their hysterical little personalities that we hadn’t seen before.

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