Reversepilgrims Blog

a northwest family moves to the UK

weather report October 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — reversepilgrims @ 10:28 pm

Steve Pool has been a weather forecaster for a TV station in Seattle, Washington for over 30 years now. The Emerald City is known for it’s annual rain festival, which lasts from January 1 – December 31st. As you can imagine, it didn’t get the seemingly endless evergreens or the nickname by staying dry and sunny most of the time. Given the uphill nature of Steve’s job, you’d think he would consider a career change at some point. Maybe he could try something a little less thankless, like being a brake mechanic in the Alps. Yet every time I catch the 6 o’clock news, there he is with his perky smile spinning tales about skies that give day trippers hope, yet offer those looking to cancel plans on account of the weather a solid way out.

His message is generally the same–it will rain some, but possibly not on you. He liberally uses classic northwest weather phrases such as “scattered showers”, “partly cloudy” and “partly sunny”. These words may indeed have specific meteorological definitions, but I suspect they are just our version of the glass half full vs. half empty.

However clever, I’m not sure I would bet on Steve in a contest for ‘covering the most bases in one meteorological sentence’ if he was up against the local forecasters here in Lincolnshire. Although they are equally vague, you tend to come away feeling as if they have been quite specific. Maybe it’s just the accent that gets me.

Here are some of my favorites compiled from recent forecasts. See if you can decide what you would wear.


Cloudy with spits and spots of rain about during the morning. Some more persistent, locally heavier rain will come along during the afternoon and evening.


Remaining rather cold. Showers at first Wednesday, perhaps wintry on the highest hills, with some sunshine. Mostly cloudy for Thursday and Friday, with rain at times.


Sunny intervals and a few scattered showers, though some places will stay dry. It will also stay quite windy and mild.


Rain easing and clearing for a time, but further rain spreading up from the south before the night is over. Some of the rain becoming heavy.


Staying unsettled and often cloudy and windy, with some rain from time to time but also staying generally quite mild.


Staying generally cloudy, very mild and quite breezy. Further rain is expected for a time overnight before giving way to drier, clearer conditions towards dawn.


So the good news is, my personal motto can remain the same–never leave home in less than three layers.


going native in the kitchen October 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — reversepilgrims @ 11:24 pm

When I moved to Virginia I learned to make biscuits. They were a far cry from the fluffy marvels that Judy, a seasoned southern cook and our adopted Nana, could whip together in her sleep, but they were white and puffy and did a good job of holding the bacon and egg together on Sunday mornings.

I wasn’t sure what I might learn to make here in England, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that it would be called “Toad-in-the-hole”. As I poked around on the internet before we moved, I read about a classic northern favorite called Yorkshire Pudding and actually googled it to find out what it was. When I found out it was not something sweet and creamy, but rather a bread like substance invented to make the most of pan drippings, I had written it off. There had to be something better to master.

Or so I thought. All that changed the day I discovered Lincolnshire sausages. I still remember that first proper English breakfast we had at the Leopold Hotel in Sheffield on our scouting trip in April. It was a typical English breakfast buffet, complete with baked beans and stewed prunes, but I still remember savoring every last bite of the sausages. If it was these drippings they were talking about, I was ready to reconsider. I even calmly asked one of the servers where the sausages came from, attempting to pull off ‘food connoisseur’ rather than ‘American tourist’. She waved her hand and shrugged her shoulders as she said, “oh, somewhere around here, but I’m sure they are local”. From the nonchalant way she spoke, it was clear that this was just an every day thing around here. Nice try on the connoisseur bit there, partner. But despite the slight embarrassment, something inside me leaped for joy (looking back, it was probably my gall bladder) just knowing that they were not a rare luxury item, a.k.a. outrageously expensive. I immediately added them to the “pro” column. At the time, I didn’t realize that there are still local butchers here–lots of them. Local meat is still the norm here and it certainly tastes like it. But I digress, back to the toad in the hole.

After being introduced to frozen Toad-in-the-hole, I couldn’t help but research the subject a bit, they were just too tasty and linguistically baffling to resist. I looked up some recipes only to find that it is actually a Yorkshire Pudding with sausages in it.

The origin of the name has stirred up quite a controversy on the internet. Although my experience has been brief here in northern England, I have found the locals quite fond of silly and/or slightly dirty jokes and choose to go along with the belief that the name is a rather unsavory nickname related to something one might see if they peered down the wooden seat of an outhouse. (To add credence to the legend, or more likely reveal a little about my family, it was also my aunt’s first thought on the appearance of the dish upon seeing the photo in an earlier post. Coming from an upstanding citizen and amazing cook, her comments may have also swayed my judgement). Call it disgusting, but if you could hear the accent and catch the grin, you’d be laughing, too.

So here it is, my version of Toad-in-the-hole, a hodge podge of all the recipes I looked at online, plus more salt of course, because I’m an American. This is obviously not a cooking blog, but if you are looking for something fun to try out on unsuspecting brunch guests, here you go.

4 eggs

1 1/2 C milk

3/4 C flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 t herbs

1/4 tsp garlic powder

8 great sausages

Cook the sausages in the oven in a 9 x 13 inch glass pan at 425 F. Turn them until browned, about 15 minutes. (You can cook them on the stove, too, but you need to get the pan good and hot in the oven anyways, so why not save the mess?).

Whisk the eggs and half of the milk (3/4 C) together until well blended. Add the rest of the milk, flour, salt, herbs and garlic powder and whisk until the batter is slightly frothy, about 2 minutes. Pour the batter over the sausages in the hot pan. Keep the oven door shut and don’t bump it while baking to insure that the Yorkshire Pudding puffs up around the sausages.

It takes about 35-45 minutes, but it will depend a lot on your pan and the weather, so keep an eye on it and pull it out when the top is dark brown. (If you take it out too soon, the bottom will be goopy. Trust me, just peek through the window and leave it alone until you see the puffed up edges getting a crispy brown.)

Onion gravy is traditionally served with it. Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.



The fungi is always funkier…

Filed under: Uncategorized — reversepilgrims @ 9:22 pm


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