My American Kitchen: Philly Cheese Steak

philly cheese steak graphic

Ingredients:

4 tbsp olive oil

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 tsp garlic, minced

generous pinch of salt and pepper

1 lb shaved beef

4 sub rolls

4 slices of provolone cheese (use Cheez Whiz for an alternative more modern day recipe)

the ingredients

– the ingredients –

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 425°F

Cover bottom of large frying pan with the olive oil and make hot over a medium-high heat

Add the green bell pepper and onion and cook until soft and starting to caramelise

- onions & bell pepper, thinly sliced -

– onions & bell pepper, thinly sliced –

Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir in for a few more minutes until onions have caramelised nicely

Set aside the onion and bell pepper mix on a plate – then add the shaved beef to the frying pan

Pull apart and continuously stir until the beef is fully cooked through (this will not take long)

- onion/pepper mix & beef waiting to be combined -

– onion/pepper mix & beef waiting to be combined –

Mix together the beef and onion/pepper mixture and combine well

Divide mixture between the sub rolls and add a slice of cheese to the top

Place in the oven on a baking sheet for a few minutes until the cheese has melted

Enjoy!

- served with garlic & pepper steak fries -

– served with garlic & pepper steak fries –

What do you think? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Slice of Americana: Pepsi & Peanuts

Welcome to my food review blog series Slice of Americana, where I get to try different iconic American foods!

I will be tasting most things for the first time, and will give an honest opinion of all that I consume – it is important to note that, unless stated,  I am not receiving any payment or endorsements of any kind.

With that said, on with my review of . . . Pepsi & Peanuts

pepsi & peanuts food review graphic

The Information

I saw an episode of ‘A Chef’s Life’ which follows the amazingly talented Vivian Howard, a chef based in North Carolina, who uses her Southern food traditions and roots as inspiration for the dishes she creates for her restaurants.

One particular episode showed an old Southern tradition of putting peanuts in a glass bottle of Pepsi, something the Hubby grew up with as a child in West Virginia. I was really curious about it and decided to give it a try.

The history of it seems to come from the 1920s and farmers/farm workers being able to easily carry around some food to keep them going through the day. It became a bit of a tradition in the South, particularly among agricultural regions, but is not widely known outside of the Southern states.

The Taste Test

I got a small packet of salted peanuts, dusted off the salt a bit and made sure I did not tip all the loose salt that is left in the bottom, drank some of the Pepsi to make room, and poured the peanuts into the glass bottle.

I left it for a bit, then gave it a try … The saltiness is a little odd but not entirely unpleasant and the taste of the peanuts does not alter really at all – so really it is more a textural combination rather than a flavour enhancer/changer.

pepsi & peanuts 1

pepsi & peanuts 2

pepsi & peanuts 3

The Verdict

It did have a slightly odd flavour, but not unpleasant, and I actually really liked the texture of crunching and chewing a peanut through the fizzy Pepsi. It was particularly nice drinking/snacking all in one while sitting on my porch watching the world go by. I will be having it again I think!

Have you tried Pepsi and Peanuts? Is there something similar to this that you have tried or grown up with? If you have not had one before, do you think you would like it?

What would you like to see me try next?

a slice of americana

Life Lately | Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

life through a lens

Life Lately has involved spending more time wandering around the local metroparks and admiring the nature and wildlife in this bustling area of Ohio.

I have also been going through the many, many photographs I have taken each time but thought I would share more photographs of the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly that I encountered on a previous walk. I really was so happy I could get so close to this handsome fellow (he was not bothered by me in the slightest – there was an angry bee that kept dive bombing me as I was in the way) and I think I managed to get some great shots. What do you think?

What have you been up to lately?

Click on the photographs below for a closer look …

 

OneDad3Girls

Expat Life: Adopting Americanisms

As expected, after being here for a little while, I have found myself starting to use some American words instead of the British ones I have used for most of my life. I would even say that I am using them with more ease than before – and shock, horror – may now even be starting to forget what the British equivalent is.

Could it be I am going ‘native’ and becoming an Ohioan?

Essentially, the answer to that is a resounding no, but I must admit that certain words and terms are creeping in.

Here are the Americanisms that I seem to have adopted:

Awesome!

Everything is decidedly not awesome, and I do not use the word too much, but my usage of this has increased … I may even have been heard to utter excitedly that something is “so freaking awesome” – Oh, sweet marmalade!

Trash

It now seems normal to say trash, trash can and the like. I still use the term ‘rubbish’ as it is also commonly used here, but I never used the t-word until I got here!

keep calm and british on

Pop/Soda

I got laughed at one too many times when I would say ‘fizzy drink’ so it just saves my own embarrassment to say pop or soda.

Zeeeeeee

I thought it would never happen, but it has. I now find it easier to say the letter ‘z’ as the Americans do. I always thought this would never happen, but zed is dead.

Have you noticed yourself adopting new words or interesting phrases? Have you gone ‘native’?

A Lakeside Metropark Nature Walk in Toledo, Ohio

metropark lake walk graphic

I saw on the local news that a new part of the metroparks of Toledo, Ohio had been upgraded/reopened and so decided to head on over to have a look.

This one may now be by favourite place as it is a trail that goes around a large lake that is teeming with fish, turtles, dragonflies and much more! It was so great to be by water, as the islander in me really misses being close to it, and so I got to spend a few very happy hours wandering around and taking some photographs.

To see more from my nature walks, follow me on Instagram!

To see part one of my metropark post, click here or scroll on to the previous post.

Decking by the lake which you can kayak on too

Decking by the lake

Beautiful flowers everywhere

Beautiful flowers everywhere

So many interesting trees

So many interesting trees

A male eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

A male eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Curled up cow parsley

Curled up cow parsley

Blue sky and quiet water

Blue sky and quiet water

 Do you have any special places you like to visit in your area? Where do you go to touch base with nature?

OneDad3Girls

Metropark Nature Walks in Toledo, Ohio

metropark nature walk graphic

Part of the joys of my expat life is being able to have access to some beautiful nature trails, metroparks and areas of greenery. Toledo is a pretty bustling city, and so it is fantastic to be able to feel like you are in the countryside and just be close to nature.

To put a spotlight on my new, adopted hometown, have a look through these photographs I took on a recent early morning visit …

toledo metropark 1

toledo metropark 2

toledo metropark 3

toledo metropark 4

toledo metropark 5

toledo metropark 6

Do you have any special places you like to visit in your area? Where do you go to touch base with nature?

OneDad3Girls

Living Abroad – Preparing for Everyday Life

I get quite a few emails about moving to America and the visa process etc, but a couple of recent queries have been about what to do to prepare for everyday life both before and after you move.

I thought I would share a few things that I found useful throughout my move to America, and I think they can be transferred to other places, not just moving to America.

If you are an expat – what else would you add to the list below to help those people who need advice about how to prepare for everyday life when living abroad?

preparing for everyday american life graphic

The first thing I will say is no matter how much preparing you do, the only way to get used to the everyday is to live it. Get out there and be a part of your new surroundings. If, however, you do want to do some preparation, I found that looking at the following really helped me:

Politics

Getting to know the politics and government of a country helps you figure out a bit about how a place works. Having some knowledge of the cogs and gears that keep a country running is a must!

Living Costs & Healthcare

Before considering an actual move, look realistically (e.g. do some research) about what the everyday living costs are – housing, food, petrol, public transportation (cost and availability) taxes, entertainment, healthcare (how it operates and what it may or will cost) etc. Going on expat forums are a really great way to get information.

For more of my everyday life in America, follow me on Instagram

For more of my everyday life in America, follow me on Instagram

New Surroundings

Explore your surroundings, I find the best way is to just walk around and talk to people, go into stores and be personable with the locals, find out from people who live there where the best places are to go etc. Some of the best chats and information I have gathered are from the amazing girls who work in the place I rent my furniture. Gold mine of information!
Before you move to an area, it is great to find out what is available for you too – food stores, entertainment etc.

Building Credit

Depending on how the country you are moving to operates, credit may not be a priority, but moving to America, it really is. If you want to rent anything, get a loan or get approved for various things (upgrading a phone for example) then you need it. I have been slow about getting on with doing this but I am now well on my way. There are various ways to do it, and if you want further information about it, I wrote an article about it here.

The easiest way is going to your bank provider and getting a credit builder (card). You put the money on it upfront (usually between $200 and $300 – depends on the card – and it acts as your credit, and credit limit). If you make small purchases (petrol or some food) and pay it off in full straightaway, it builds your credit quite steadily. What is available to you is all down to where you live, but this is a good option for most people, if you are responsible and careful with it.

Where are you thinking of moving to? What else do you think would be useful for you to know?

What Americans Think Is Weird About the British

what americans think is weird graphic

Lately I have been having a few discussions with people about what they think is weird about us Brits. I came across some hilarious thoughts/perceptions that were not really based on any kind of firm reality – but, I have recently been told that there are things I have done that have been met with amusement/horror/ridicule/curiosity – whatever you wish to call it – from my Stateside chums.

So, tell me  – what do you think is weird about the British?

Here is my little list …

5  //  No Air-Con

Until recently, I was rather reluctant to have the a/c on as I did not have it back in the UK, so spent 30+ years not using one. I now, of course, greatly appreciate it, but it is still very much the norm to not have air-conditioning in homes in Britain. It does not really get hot enough – we just crack a window open and complain about the heat.

4  //  Full English Breakfast

The concept and content of this wonderful traditional breakfast treat can be lost upon my American friends – especially baked beans. It was the baked beans that completely threw some of them into a ‘baked-beans-are-not-a-breakfast-food’ tailspin.
What can I say? It is a meaty, heart-stopping feast for when you do not plan on eating anything else because you will be out doing something very British all day!

This does not have the beans! Shame on you!

This does not have the beans! Shame on you!

3  //  Cockney Rhyming Slang

I do not speak it, nor do I know that much about it, save for a few phrases I will admit to trotting out every now and then for a joke … but it seems to be met with much, much confusion and amusement when I talk about it with someone because they have brought up the incredibly funny scene from Austin Powers. It is not the most common form of communication in London, but it does make for great comedic moments …

2  //  Mayo with Fries

I do not know if every Brit does this, but I love to dip my fries in mayonnaise. When I first did it out and about with polite company, it was like I had picked my nose to use as burger relish – they thought it was disgusting. Thoughts?

1  //  Egg Cups

Little did I realise that egg cups were not really a thing over here. I love a good boiled egg and have some truly amazing egg cups (you can see them here) and every time I use them, I get laughed at. Apparently, over here you just boil them, peel them and slice them – how do you have yours?

What have people found weird about what you do? I would love to hear all about it!

My American Kitchen: Focaccia

I have recently been having the most fun making and baking focaccia! I have had this well loved, flour covered and curly cornered recipe written in my kitchen journal for some years and have made this seriously delicious Italian bread many times for a nice weekend treat.

focaccia recipe graphic

Ingredients:

500g white bread flour, sifted

7g sachet of fast action dried yeast

6 tbsp olive oil

300ml warm water

2 tsp fine salt

2 heaped tsp sea salt flakes (Maldon salt) – can be more/less depending on your taste

2 tbsp dried rosemary – I tend to use a bit less, but again it is up to you how much of it you use

Extras:

flour for kneading

olive oil for brushing & drizzling before baking etc

sifted flour & yeast with oil & water in a well in the middle

sifted flour & yeast with oil, water & salt in a well in the centre

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift the flour then carefully stir in the dried yeast

Create a well in the middle of the sifted flour/yeast and add 3 tbsp of the olive oil, the fine salt and warm water – mix well together with a spoon

flour, yeast, oil, salt & water all mixed in together

flour, yeast, oil, salt & water all mixed in together

Lightly flour a clean surface and knead the mixture together for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (add flour as necessary if the dough gets very sticky)

Fold and rotate the dough to form a smooth ball then place it in a greased (with olive oil) bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave it to double in size for about an hour in a warm, dry place

dough once kneaded and rounded to a ball

the dough kneaded and rounded to a ball

Grease (with olive oil) a large baking tray and place the dough on it, flattening out the dough to about an inch thick using your fingertips to create dimples

Brush more olive oil over the flattened out dough and return, covered by a layer of greased cling wrap and a tea towel, to rise in a warm, dry place for another 40 minutes

dough before and after rising for about an hour

dough before and after rising for about an hour

Pre-heat oven to 450°F (220°C)

Use fingertips again to put more ‘dimples’ in the dough, drizzle with another 3 tbsp olive oil, then evenly sprinkle on the Maldon salt and dried rosemary to your taste (I use roughly the amount I have stated in the recipe, but just kind of eyeball the right amount)

dimpled dough brushed with olive oil before rising for 40 minutes & drizzled with olive oil, salt & rosemary

dimpled dough brushed with olive oil before rising for 40 minutes  ||  drizzled with olive oil, salt & rosemary before baking

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes until nicely golden brown

Cool on a wire rack so the focaccia does not get moist underneath from sweating

cooling on a wire rack

cooling on a wire rack

Once it has cooled to a warm temperature, enjoy drizzled with some garlic and herb infused olive oil – or however you like!

focaccia recipe 8

What do you think? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Weird Things I Do As a Brit in America

We all go through changes as we progress through life, but some I have noticed recently are as a direct result of being a Brit abroad … I am not saying every former Old Blighty dweller will do these, but I think some of them may have common ground with those of you who are far from home.

So tell me, what weird things do you do when living in a new/different country? Or is it just me?

weirg things i do as a brit in america graphic

1 || Religiously watch British TV shows I would never have been interested in before – I would go so far as to say that I actively seek them out.

2 || Talk to every British person I encounter (admittedly there has not been that many) and swap immigration experiences like old war dog stories.

3 || Buy any and all British food I find in my local grocery store, even if it is stuff I hate, and make my American chums try it even though I will not eat it myself!

To be fair, I pretty much love everything in this photo from ym grocery store

To be fair, I pretty much love everything in this photo from my grocery store

4 || Every time I get in a car, I exclaim excitedly that it feels like I am the driver because “you drive on the wrong side”. Every time. Seriously.

5 ||  Use British slang words I never, ever used back on the fair shores of Britannia – I mean, Lord luv a duck, are you having a giraffe?!

6 || Have a minor (or major – depending on the size) flappy insect freak-out when I see a bug. I grew up collecting, handling and being fascinated by all things creepy-crawly (except spiders), but because I do not at first recognise them here, I have a bit of a meltdown.

A mayfly, and a building covered in them - yes it gets that bad around here

A mayfly, and a building covered in them – yes it gets that bad around here

7 || Ask anyone who is not American “how do you find it?” – meaning life here in the US and get in a rather excited discussion when I find that the things that confuse me also confuse others!

8 || Becoming slightly obsessed with having the Union Jack on things. Currently seeking a throw cushion to add to my growing collection.

9 || Answer questions on all things British that I know nothing about, but said with absolute authority just because someone asked.

A little touch on the Union Jack in my home

A little touch of the Union Jack in my home

10 || Make a point of spelling things the British way – cannot quite bring myself to write in American just yet.

11 || Knife and fork my burgers, pizza and any other fast food much to the amusement of those around me.

12 || Develop a strong attraction to Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and Henry Cavill … ok, maybe that is not so weird – common sense really!