Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lovely Day

Yesterday was one of the nicest days I've had in London. 
Under sunny blue skies with the temperature a crisp 60 degrees (15c),
we walked along the South Bank of the Thames from Westminster Bridge to home just past Tower Bridge.  
 We were traveling light so the only pictures I have are from my iPhone.


We started at Westminster Bridge before noon and headed East past the London Aquarium and the London Eye. 

This is one of my favorite views of London. 

Someday I'm going to get up the nerve to ride this thing.
It would be a shame to live in London and never see the views from up there.  
This area was full of tourists, but the crowds thinned out nicely as we continued on.  

There was a food market this weekend that added to the sights and smells. 
We popped in to Giraffe for a burger and sweet potato fries. 
Do you know how excited I was to have a burger with American cheese and dill pickles!?!
It's harder than you think to find that over here.  

Tables and tables of books!  What a terrific site at the South Bank Book Market under Waterloo Bridge.

There are buskers and entertainers all along the way.  Some very talented, some just silly.  

Gabriel's Wharf was a nice surprise of quirky little shops and wooden rocking animals.

We just took our time stopping along the way at shops and pubs... wherever took our fancy.  

I love how people just plop down in the sun in these grassy areas to share a bottle of wine and a snack.  

Outside of the Tate Modern we caught a concert that was part of the Bankside Merge Festival that's running through October 21st.  (Thanks, Emm, for the scoop.)

Ballpoint pen art outside of the Tate Modern.

The Millennium Bridge which I wrote about previously here

This is the replica of Shakespeare's Globe.  I'm dying to get back there to see a performance.  

We popped into the Anchor for some refreshment.  The pub was originally built in 1615 and it's rumored that Shakespeare visited.  It's pretty touristy but still a great place to stop. 

This busker had a group of young Londoners helping him out as back up singers and dancers. 
Everyone was in such a good mood and enjoying the gorgeous Fall (Autumn) weather. 

Just past The Clink, we visited Laithwaites Wine Shop. 

"This stone is a remnant of the London Bridge designed by Sir John Rennie.  The bridge spanned the river from 1831 to 1967.  It was sold to Robert P. McCulloch an American entrepreneur and today can be found in Arizona, USA."

Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church in London and is where Shakespeare worshiped.  I haven't visited the cathedral yet, but it's on my list.  We did visit the gift shop and they also have a tea room.  

The next section of our route was London Bridge to Tower Bridge which I wrote about here

We arrived home about 7 hours later as the sun started to set and the moon was in view.
It was the perfect London day.   I am so in love with this city. 

Any suggestions for our next day of London exploration?


Friday, September 28, 2012

I Spy Friday with Texas Sheet Cake

After my post about The Great British Bake Off,
I was feeling guilty inspired to actually bake something.
The first thing that popped into my head was the Texas Sheet Cake!

If you've ever been to a Baptist potluck in the great State of Texas, you have had this cake. 
It's the bomdiggity.  (Sorry.  It had to be said.)
It's moist and gooey and oh-so-chocolatey.  And, hey, it's from Texas!

I knew that if I made the whole cake and left it here,
we would be sick from eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
So, I told TE that we would share with his co-workers.  

I was thinking of making a cupcake version so that they would be easy to carry
but then at Tesco, I found these cute little baking containers.
Perfect!  Little Mini Texas Sheet Cakes! 
 I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman with the addition of a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

I put on Pandora, poured a glass of wine and set to baking.
I'm definitely no food blogger.  (Do you know hard it is to get a good picture of food?)
But I have a few for you.

Okay.  My first obstacle was the butter.  The recipe called for 3 and 3/4 sticks of butter.
(Yes, that's right. Almost a pound of butter.  Southern cooking, ya'll.)

The problem is that butter is not sold in sticks here.  It's sold in bricks.
So, after some google conversions, we were in business. 
I also had to convert the measurements for the powdered sugar, which is sold here as icing sugar.

In the end it all came together.  The cake is dense and gooey, like a brownie.
The icing is poured onto the cake while both are warm and then it hardens like a fudge.
It really is a decadent cake.  

Check out the globs of powdered sugar in the one on the left.
If you add chopped pecans to the icing it will hide those imperfections.
That's the one I kept back for me & TE to eat.  

As I write this, TE is sharing these little babies with his coworkers.
Should be a productive sugar rush morning.
I hope they like them!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Favo(u)rite Things - The Great British Bake Off

I've decided to start a new weekly post series to go with I Spy Friday.
Since moving here I've discovered some wonderful new things...
food, words, shows and more.  Things that I never knew I was missing.
So each week, I'm going to share one of those things with you.

This week, it's one of my favo(u)rite new television programs.

The Great British Bake Off

I had this brilliant idea that once we settled into our new London flat, 
I would somehow transform into a domestic goddess. 

I would get up each morning and skip to the market to fill a basket with fresh produce.
Each evening I would produce a beautiful, healthy meal worthy of a photo spread.

I even have a special bookshelf for our cookbooks and my new Jamie subscription.

But, alas.  I've only rediscovered what I already knew.
I much prefer watching other people cook to actually cooking myself.

I do cook most days, but I find myself going back to the old easy standbys... 
tacos, spaghetti or frozen kievs.  Poor TE.  

I can cook a decent meal.
Mr. B declared my salmon the best ever!  (Made my day.)
I just have a little trouble with daily motivation.

So each Tuesday, we snuggle on the couch to watch The Great British Bake Off on BBC2.

It's in its third season and is watched every week by over 4 million people.

Each week, home bakers are put through three baking challenges and judged on the results.
Each week a top baker is awarded and someone is sent home.
Eventually the champion amateur baker is named. 
The judges are Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
They are the perfect combination of good cop/bad cop.
And they are constantly on the look out for "soggy bottoms."

It's basically an hour of stressed out bakers, sitting on the floor, gazing into the ovens, talking to their sticky buns and willing them to have a "good bake."

 It's a brilliant show!  And full of drama.
Is there enough jelly in that donut?
Is the pastry flaky enough?
Will the sixth batch of caramel turn out?

I love this show.

How about you?  Do you watch?
Do you prefer to be in the kitchen or just watch others cook?


Pics are mine and this is not a sponsored post. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Au Revoir, Paris. (Part 5)

Here are the last of my pictures from our Paris visit.

In planning our trip, I consulted the Paris Travel Guide from Aspiring Kennedy for some terrific pointers. 
We included several of her recommendations.
Our favorite was the steak dinner at le "Relais de l'Entrecote" which was just superb!

We also turned the corner one morning to find the the Rue Cler food market that she mentioned.
The perfect place to take pictures.

At dinner one night at Le Suffren, I discovered my new favorite dessert.

Lemon Sorbet with a chilled shot of vodka.  Makes my lips pucker just thinking about it.
TE had one that was chocolate chip ice cream with a mint liqueur shot.

Speaking of desserts...

We had breakfast each morning at this little patisserie A la Petite Marquise.
They were so friendly and the croissants were perfect.  

Mom was craving an Apple Martini so we popped into Paris London.

Paris is lovely, but certainly not cheap.

Like most big cities there are many who would like to get a hold of your money.

 Some by entertaining or inspiring you. (Others by less enterprising methods.  Be cautious.)

Don't you just love how every city has it's own distinctive flavor?
Paris is romantic and alive... it has a sparkle to it.  

And what a great place to people watch.
There is a certain style to Parisians.  They carry themselves like they are in on a great secret.

But, I don't think I'd want to drive in Paris.  
(I thought the roundabouts in the UK were free-for-all's.)

I'm also learning that as beautiful as any city is, there is a comparably dark side to that city.
We saw many things that didn't fit the mold of the City of Light... the lonely and disconnected, the haughty and judgmental, the predatory and dangerous.

As hard as some of those things are to see,
it's still a very important part of the experience of travel.
Those dark things inspire me to think and consider as much as the beautiful things.

Do you agree?



Happy Birthday to my gorgeous Momma!!!!  
I can't wait for your next visit!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Les Invalides (Paris part 4)

While in Paris we also made a stop at Les Invalides
to see the French Military Museum and Napoleon's Tomb.  

Louis XIV had it built in the late 1600's as a 
hospital for elderly and injured soldiers.

It happened to be free to enter that weekend in honor of European Heritage Days.
We spent several hours in the Musee de l'Armee
which covers French military history through WWII.
We only toured the WWI and WWII area which took a few hours.  
It it a terrific museum, very thorough and interesting with plenty of English translations. 

In 1840, Napoleon was entombed under the dome.
Some of his family members and some other military heroes
are also buried at Les Invalides. 


The French Baroque dome is fantastic.  
It takes your breath away when you step into the space.  

This museum visit went much better than the previous day's visit.
No wars at the war museum.