A Malvern Hills Ramble – Sustained by Hearty Granola

Earthworks at British Camp, Malvern Hills

Earthworks at the British Camp, Malvern Hills, England

If the word “ramble” brings to mind someone droning on without focus, you are probably not English.  In England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, a “ramble” is a walk. One “rambles” the public rights of way that lace through the UK countryside – paths established before the days of Downton Abbey.  And, like many things English, time has done little to change them.   Continue reading

Rural England at its Best – Including a Shepherd’s Pie

Worcestershire from The Malverns (AKA The Shire)

Worcestershire (AKA The Shire) from the Malvern Hills

When I lived in England, my American friends often inquired about our home across the pond.  My response was that “I live in the Shire” – J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical green land, bordered by rivers and fertile valleys.  The statement, inspired by my mental image of the land of the Hobbits, was in fact remarkably close to the truth.  I later discovered that Tolkien modeled his Shire after rural Worcestershire, where he spent his childhood and where I lived more than a century later.

Mr. Tolkien, you were so right – it was and still is a lovely green land. Continue reading

Victoria Sponge Cake – From Stranger to Old Friend

Gloucestershire Village with Characteristic Cotswold Stone Architecture

When I was still “commuting” to England in my job as a scientist, a friend living in Gloucestershire introduced me to a fabulous opportunity. They knew someone who owned a local restaurant who was looking for an extra pair of hands to fill in for a missing-in-action cook. Would I be interested?

Either the restaurant owner was desperate or my friend over sold my skills, but they were eager to have me.   Continue reading

Historic Hawkstone Park, English Golfing Ladies and Steamed Vegetables

Grotto Hill in Hawkstone Park

On a trip to England this spring, I caught up with my golfing friends at their annual “away” outing.  This year the golf was set in Shropshire’s historic Hawkstone Park.  The Park boasts the usual English history complete with lords, barons, castles, gory battles and executions.  In this case, it also has fascinating geography. Continue reading

Do-Ahead Party for a Crowd – Easy Appetizer Menu (Part 1 of 3)

“Cabbage Bowl” and Vegetables Ready for Dressing and Service

When our son Alex, who lives in New York City, asked for help with his upcoming “house-warming” party, I was delighted.

ME:  Would you like me to fly out and help?  The party sounds like fun!

ALEX:  Well, I hate to trouble you.  If you could just send me some ideas, that would be nice.  I was especially interested in the recipe for those Asian rolls.  

ME:  Oh, I’m shocked.  You don’t want your parents to attend your first big party?? 🙂

Needless to say, the end result was not a trip to New York – Continue reading